060: Cate Shanahan on Deep Nutrition & the Four Pillars of Health

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Deep Nutrition and the Four Pillars of Health with Dr Cate Shanahan
Wellness Mama » Episode » 060: Cate Shanahan on Deep Nutrition & the Four Pillars of Health
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The Wellness Mama Podcast
060: Cate Shanahan on Deep Nutrition & the Four Pillars of Health

Cate Shanahan M.D, author of Deep Nutrition (one of my favorite books), is a board-certified family physician. She trained in biochemistry and genetics at Cornell University before attending Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. For ten years, she practiced medicine in Hawaii, where she studied ethnobotany and the culinary habits of her healthiest patients.

Her own health crisis led her to re-evaluate her understanding of the body and the importance of certain types of food. She currently runs a metabolic health clinic in Denver, Colorado and serves as the Director of the Los Angeles Lakers PRO Nutrition Program. Her mission is to highlight and create change around the fact that our modern diet may literally be altering our DNA and changing the future of humanity:

In a sense, our lifestyles teach our genes how to behave. In choosing between healthy or unhealthy foods and habits, we are programming our genes for either good or bad conduct. Scientists are identifying numerous techniques by which two sets of identical DNA can be coerced into functioning dissimilarly.

In This Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • What one food you should absolutely avoid at all costs
  • The four pillars of every traditionally healthy culture (and how to get these benefits in the modern world)
  • The biggest problem with the conventional medical model, but why it isn’t your doctor’s fault
  • More evidence that saturated fat isn’t the enemy
  • How food directs our cellular growth and how food can alter our DNA
  • Why a family history of cancer or heart disease doesn’t mean you’ll get it too
  • How Dr. Cate became the LA Lakers go-to for nutrition

Resources Mentioned:

More From Wellness Mama

[toggle title=”Read Transcript”]
Katie: Welcome to the Healthy Moms Podcast. I’m Katie from
wellnessmama.com, and I could not be more excited about today’s guest
because I have been a fan of her for a very long time. In fact, her book is
one of the reasons that I really got into the health side of things in the first
place and it started a lot of my research.

Dr. Cate Shanahan is a Board-Certified Family Physician. She trained in
Biochemistry in genetics at Cornell University before attending the Robert
Wood Johnson Medical School. For 10 years, she practiced medicine in
Hawaii where she studied ethnobotany and the culinary habits of her
healthiest patients. She currently runs a metabolic health clinic in Denver,
Colorado, and serves as the Director of the Los Angeles Lakers PRO Nutrition
Program. And as I mentioned, she is the author of the book “Deep Nutrition”
which is one of my favorite books of all time.
Dr. Cate, thanks for being here.

Dr. Cate: I’m so glad to be here, and thank you so much for the kind back
story there. I didn’t realize that. Well, that’s very flattering to hear.

Katie: Oh, absolutely. I have been a fan of your work for a really long time,
and it’s an honor to get to talk to you today and share you with the listeners.
And I think this is gonna be an amazing episode. So I wanna jump right in.
So, from what I understand, your own health condition which was a knee
problem prompted you to look past the science and into more natural and
nutritional healing side of things. And I think your perspective is super
valuable because you came from the medical model, and then you dove into
the natural and the nutritional model, and I feel like you have the best
perspective with kind of a fusion of those.

So can you start with that story of how your own experiences
impacted…how you viewed nutrition and how it impacts health, and also
how it got you into this side of things.

Dr. Cate: Well, yeah, for sure. So what happened with me was that after I
completed my medical training and then I was practicing medicine in Hawaii,
I got sick myself and I had a problem with my knee. I couldn’t walk. That
was the problem. And if I stood on it too long, I’d get fevers and you know,
get really tired and it was a bizarre problem and I had all the usual
specialists look at it from rheumatologists to surgeons. I even had surgery,
and nothing helped so it was like I was A, desperate, and B, because I was a
former athlete, I had all this like free time suddenly where normally anytime
I had a day off, I would’ve been like biking or something for two, three
hours. Suddenly, I didn’t have that time. I mean I had all this time to think
about medicine and what I was doing with my career and what was
happening with my health and why like there was no answer.

So, I started looking in the direction of nutrition because my husband, who
likes cooking, said to me, “Well, you know, you do eat a lot of sugar and
maybe that’s good for insects, but you’re not an insect. Yet, you eat like
one.” And so that was the first time I really took him seriously. He had been
making those kind of comments for years because I had a terrible sweet
tooth. Like if I went for a 10-mile run, I would reward myself with a pound of

So I started just looking into nutritional, other ways of thinking about health
actually and medicine, and that led me to nutrition because Andrew Weil had
written called “Spontaneous Healing,” and in that book, he mentioned
something called a mega three fatty acids which were fats that were good
for you so this was way back in 2001. Now, like every fourth grader knows
what a mega three fatty acids are and everyone’s taking a fish oil, but back
then, it was a completely new thing and I had…I was actually like somewhat
outraged because I had gone to medical school and paid all this money for
my medical education, yet, I didn’t learn about these essential fatty acids
and how they affected our health in ways that had nothing to do with

And so, that was the opening of getting into questioning, how can I put my
medical education that I had learned all this stuff about self-physiology and
biochemistry, how can I put nutrition into that context? Because I realized
that what that thought there, what Andrew Weil’s book did was open the
door to this whole other idea of how food affects our body which is…became
when I understood a mega three fatty acids do and the difference between a
mega three and a mega six, it was amazing because what I learned was that
omega three fatty acids can actually turn off cancer growth, and omega six
fatty acids actually turn on cancer growth, and what that meant was that
food was connecting, was communicating information to our bodies. It was
instructing our cells.

And so that was really the missing piece of my medical education so that
suddenly I had a framework to include all the important biochemistry I had
learned, but put it in the framework of food rather than just like abstract,
chemical reactions in our bodies that…well, they’re going on and everything
but really the only way to change them is with drugs.

We, as medical students, learn a lot about that and how drugs affect our cell
physiology, and direct changes within our bodies, but we did not learn how
nutrition, how food can do this. And so, that’s when I decided I was gonna
learn everything I possibly could about what we knew about fats and sugar
and then from there it just unfolded into what ultimately became our book,
“Deep Nutrition.”

But the book is a…it’s different than any other diet book and I think you…I
don’t know, I’ll see if you agree with that. It’s like, a lot of diet books are
like, “Well, don’t eat grains or eat more fat” or they’re…you can summarize
the concept fairly quickly. It’s very amenable to describing in a sound bite,
but for years I’ve struggled with a way to encapsulate all the information in
“Deep Nutrition.” And, I don’t know, did you feel like it was a little bit more
like big picture than… Am I like a…patting myself on the back when I
shouldn’t be or?

Katie: No, I absolutely agree. In fact, I’ve said that before. When I first read
it years ago, I wanted to tell my husband about it and then also my parents
because of certain history in our family. I figured it would be really helpful
for my dad. And when I did that, I went to them and I was trying to think of
how to summarize it in my head, and I felt I needed to be like, “Okay. Here
you go. Take a deep breath. Sit down. I’ll try to explain this all to you.” And I
had bought copies over the years for a lot of different relatives for that
reason. But I agree, you really do address the big picture and I felt like you
tied in really comprehensively much more so than a lot of diet books like you
said that just focus on one aspect. And many of those obviously are very
important aspects, but I felt like you made it very cohesive and made it
make sense in altogether.

And I know your book is raved about for that reason, especially with
explaining what you call the four pillars of these nutritional habits. And so
could we talk about that a little bit? Dive into the four pillars and what they

Dr. Cate: Yeah. Definitely, I wanna do that, but, before I do that, I wanna
explain what’s going on with our book. Because you’ve read the book and
yet it’s not available. So what we’re doing is, we re-released it. So what
happened was that we self-published back in 2008, and it did very well,
surprisingly because we had no platform or anything, but, it was thanks to
people like you who were promoting it and talking about it.

And then over last year, right around last year at this time we were
contacted by a publisher who was interested in re-releasing it, and I had to
start thinking about, “Well, what would this book do that’s different than the
original version?” And what I came up with was that I wanted to just
encapsulate a little more clearly what our book is all about. And so in putting
the new edition together, I realized that “Deep Nutrition” really tells a story,
and it’s perhaps it’s the most important story that the next generation will
hear because it’s the story that we are on the verge of losing our humanity,
and it tells the story of how we got here where…and the story started back
at the end of…right around the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s where
our food supply had become a lot more mechanized and there was
introduction of…we were getting away from traditions basically. People were
doing a lot more shortcuts. We were using a lot more like white flour, and we
were starting to use industrial fats like shortenings.

And as this was happening, doctors, physicians around the world were on
the verge of realizing that this shift which had impacted certain cultures
much more dramatically…like certain pockets had been really dramatically
impacted by this. Like certain areas of…in this country of folks on Indian
reservations, and Eskimos and what we now call Native American
reservations. Doctors were realizing that where these folks who were still
independent, they were not on the reservation or they were not really reliant
on the reservation food, they were not getting the diseases that the doctors
had seen a lot more back in civilization, like back in the rest of the United
States. They were basically not getting cancer and they were not getting
tuberculosis the way everyone else was. And this started a huge
conversation among doctors to try and understand what was going on here.
And ultimately, one of the forerunners of this kind of way of thinking
emerged, his name was Weston Price and he was a dentist, and I’m sure
you’ve mentioned his work before. He has a fantastic book called “Nutrition
and Physical Degeneration.”

And what he showed was that when people simply followed their traditions,
they were resistant to all of these diseases they were calling at the time
diseases of civilization which were a lot of the infectious diseases and
cancers and what Weston Price was interested in was facial asymmetries
that necessitated braces and painful surgeries and all kinds of horrible jaw
surgery that he was really distressed about having to do on so many
children. This was happening at the end of the 1930s, and Price’s book came
out at right at that point in time.

We were on the verge, medicine, when I say “we” I mean medicine at this
point, were on the verge of taking this big leap into understanding the
importance of vitamins and nutrition and grass-based, animal feeding for our
cows, when it was all literally blown away by World War II and the changes
that occurred there around the mechanization of food production. And so
I’ve said the forerunner in this way of thinking in this story here of the good
way of thinking that we were on the verge of discovering was Weston Price.

Well, his counterpart, his bad guy if you will, the bad guy in nutrition is a
man named Ancel Keys, and you might of heard this name before because
he’s been promoted by Harvard as the father of like I guess it’s genius, this
father of the diet-heart hypothesis, the idea that fat is bad for heart health,
but he came along…when he came along he actually tricked us physicians
into discarding or suggesting that people discard what remained of our
respect for culinary traditions and culinary practices at the time because he
said we should now get rid of, butter and eggs and things like this because
they were causing heart disease. And he used statistics to confuse doctors
rather than using physiology, right?

So doctors don’t typically learn, certainly at that point in time, statistical
analysis was not something that doctors learned. It was not part of the
medical conversation, statistics, but this was something he brought in and
emphasized. And so when doctors heard, oh, well these statistics now it was
like well, we really couldn’t argue with it because it’s…we don’t know, we
didn’t do the survey, we don’t know how to analyze these things.
And what Ancel Keys was doing was he was using statistics to promote the
kinds of processed foods that made a…that he used to make a name for
himself in the first place. So it gets back to World War II because Ancel Keys
invented the K-ration which was what the military were fed with during
World War II, and K-rations, K stands for Keys. So it was processed food that
brought Ancel Keys into ascendancy, and what he did with that position was
to use statistics and some chemical confusion, but primarily statistical
manipulation to destroy what was left of our respect for traditional culinary
practices in the United States. And it was all in the name of promoting the
kinds of processed foods he put in his K-rations. And he ultimately was
successful in getting Americans to follow a cheap food diet.

And I’m acting a little bit as a medical investigator here and I’m pointing the
finger at Keys even though I don’t really have a lot of strong evidence that
he was connected to. I personally haven’t found a lot of strong evidence that
he was connected to the processed food industry, but other people have
written about it. Other people like Nina Teicholz who wrote a book called the
“Big Fat Surprise” and Tim Naughton who wrote a book called “The Big
Fat…” Oh wait, oh, “Fat Head.” Not a book, it was a movie called “Fat Head.”
So other people have talked about how Ancel Keys really was kind of in thick
with the processed food industry.

And so, his goal was basically to get people on a cheap food diet, and what
that cheap food diet is, is a lot of carbohydrates and a lot of processed
vegetable oils. This shift in our mentality though would never have flown if
medical doctors insisted that we stop talking about statistics and continue
talking about what doctors learned in the first place which is physiology and
chemistry. Like I went to school for seven years learning about physiology
and chemistry, and when I got out of medical school, suddenly everything
was about statistics. And the surveys that they do to try to figure out, who
benefits from what kind of a drug for what kind of a disease and we don’t
think about the physiology of how these drugs affect our body anymore.
And because we’re busy talking about statistics, and in doing this, doctors
have just…in allowing this to happen, doctors have totally relinquished
control of medical practice to statisticians, and statisticians are pretty much
bought and sold by whoever it is that is paying their bill at the time, and
that’s kind of a sweeping statement to make as well, but there was a study
that came out in…there was a Cochrane Review that was published on
December 12, 2012, an easy date to remember, about this and about how
whenever there is a funder for a study, in this case, it was pharmaceutical
studies, the findings are, for hundreds of percentages points above chance
of finding something favorable for the funder of the study. And so this is how
we’ve gotten into the situation where doctors are not very helpful anymore
in terms of helping people eat a healthy diet.

So “Deep Nutrition” tells the whole story of how we got to this point where
doctors don’t really understand what’s causing disease and who the enemy
is which is big food, and we talk about the cost of all of this to our genes.
What is happening to our genes because we’ve all been on this cheap food
diet for generations now. And it shows what we should be doing to take
control back. And so that’s where we get to the four pillars.

Katie: Yeah, absolutely. I’m glad you took us through the whole story and I
know that that has been part of my own frustration in my own health
journey with trying to find doctors who could actually figure out what was
wrong with me which turned out to be Hashimoto’s. But I went through so
many doctors who were like, “Well, there’s no…nutrition has no bearing on
your thyroid or no bearing on health and that’s definitely not the reason.”
And just it’s very frustrating when you are looking in the medical community
and I feel like a lot of them don’t have that whole picture and they don’t
understand the whole story. And yet, they very strongly stand behind these
beliefs that they have that like you just explained trace back to what we now
see could be very flawed data to begin with. And I feel like especially where
we see this is with saturated fat because it’s almost become so ingrained
that you can say, artery clogging and most people will say saturated fat. And
like you’ll hear like heart-healthy, monounsaturated fats and they have all
these like very strong programmed responses about which fats are healthy
and which aren’t.

And thankfully, I have seen some research coming out recently about the
sugar industry and how that all played out like you were talking about in the
story but let’s go back to saturated fat for a minute because I think probably
most of my listeners are pretty well-educated on this, but I also think you
have some really good interesting, additional perspective on this. So what is
the real story with saturated fat?

Dr. Cate: So, the real story with saturated fat is that we only started talking
about it because of people like Ancel Keys who gave us this idea, this
simplistic image created in our minds of solid fat because animal fats tend to
be more solid than vegetable oils, oils are liquid. So solid fat can clog up a
pipe under the kitchen sink, and so he created this thought and this image
of just eating fat and the fat just gets stuck in your arteries and causes
arteriosclerosis and heart attacks and strokes. But that absurd because
doctors know that fat doesn’t simply just defuse into your bloodstream
where it can congeal on the sides of your arteries. Nature knows that oil and
water, fat and water, don’t mix well and so it’s created these particles called
lipoproteins which carry fat.

So that model is absurd on its face that eating solid fat will somehow
congeal in your arteries. It’s no more reasonable to say that we should just
all have a liquid diet because liquids can flow in our bloodstream. Just solids
are the problem. I mean it’s that absurd.

Katie: Exactly.

Dr. Cate: But Ancel Keys was very clever. He knew that doctors didn’t
understand a lot of chemical terms and we had no idea what hydrogenated
vegetable oils were. So now I think, I’m sure your audience knows that they
are oils that come from corn and soy that have been extracted in industrial
process and then they’ve been further processed to harden them into a more
solid state. And this is what shortenings and margarines were made out of.
So Ancel Keys did all these studies on margarines and the effect of
margarine on cholesterol and animals, and showed that margarines did
indeed elevate cholesterol and cause arteriosclerosis in animal models. And
so when he was talking about his studies though, he said saturated fat even
though he was using margarine which is really hydrogenated oil which is
going to become a blend of saturated fat and trans-fat which is so toxic that
it’s been made illegal in like Manhattan and San Francisco.

But when he was talking about his studies to the media, and he did go on a
media blitz, he was on TV, he made the cover of “Time Magazine” so he
would use words like butter and eggs, and then use saturated fat in the
same sentence implying that what he was studying in his animal models that
he was referring to that had been published was butter and eggs, but he
never used those things. He used hydrogenated vegetable oils which are the
worst possible kind of man-made industrial food you could’ve made so he
was…I mean I have to see this as a purposeful deception. He was telling
people butter and eggs were saturated fat and then in his studies he was
using saturated fat from margarine which is hydrogenated vegetable oil.
And of course, he had this connection to processed food because that’s what
he made his bones on and by K-rations were nothing but processed food.
And so he was essentially a mouthpiece for the processed food industry
trying to get people to eat more vegetable oil instead of the natural kind of
animal fats that people have been eating forever. Suddenly, now these
things are bad for us.

And the consequences of that shift away from natural fat and towards these
vegetable oils are still underexamined and that’s another reason why I
wanted to add to the book that we wrote, “Deep Nutrition” and expand. We
have a huge chapter and a lot of focus on what’s happening with these
vegetable oils, what do they do to our arterial health, to our genetic health
and to our brains, to our mental health.

So nobody’s talking about this. Nobody is talking about this, but soy oil
consumption has gone up about two thousandfold, 2,000 times over the past
century since 1909. Nobody is talking about this. Soy oil is not bad for us
because soy is bad for us although you can eat too much soy and it’s not
good for you and it can cause thyroid problems, but soy oil is bad because it
is a polyunsaturated vegetable oil that is processed, all the vitamins are
stripped away and we end up eating so much of these polyunsaturated fatty
acids now that our bodies are literally composed of different chemicals than
they were 100 years ago.

I was just speaking to a researcher at UC Davis, and he was telling me
that…or he was telling me about a study that he did of where they biopsy
the fat, women fat, fat in women, in our subcutaneous fat. I don’t know why
they didn’t do men, but they did women, and so back in 1945, the
composition of female fat was about 6% of this kind of a polyunsaturated
fatty acid called linoleic acid which is the most common fatty acid,
polyunsaturated fatty acid, and soy oil. Six percent, 6% maybe 7% of a
woman’s fat was composed of that.

Now, you biopsy a woman’s adipose tissue and it’s somewhere between 20%
and 25% of linoleic acid, okay? So linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty
acid, and it is very susceptible to oxidation and these things called free
radical cascades which we write about which promote inflammation, and
which essentially accelerate aging, they weaken our connective tissues so
that we are more prone to developing cellulite because of this and then they
don’t burn as well for energy so it makes it harder for us to lose weight, plus
our brains now are made out of this polyunsaturated fatty acid that is prone
to oxidation, and because we have not been eating normal food, we don’t
have enough antioxidants to control all the oxidation. And so what we have
is abnormalities of our fat tissue where we get cellulite a lot more easily than
we should. I’ve seen babies with cellulite.

Katie: Oh, my goodness.

Dr. Cate: Yeah. I mean you’re supposed to be able to pinch a baby’s skin and
it just…you have like an adorable little fold of fat in your fingertips. But what
happens now is you can moosh the baby belly fat together and you see
dimpling in there. And that never happened before. Well, I remember when I
was a kid which is back into the 1800s practically. My little brothers and
sisters, their skin didn’t do that. They didn’t get that dimpling.
And you look at celebrities and the nasty pictures that the paparazzi take
and even though their body fat percentage is somewhere…it’s low, it’s like
10% to 12%, you still see cellulite. And it’s because cellulite fat lacks
adequate collagen support because it’s been eaten away literally by the
inflammation caused by the fact that our fat is now composed of this
proinflammatory fatty acid. We are different chemically than we were 50 years
ago, and no one is talking about this so that’s why I needed to talk about it
by updating our book.

Katie: Absolutely. In fact, I know quite a few women who are so horrified by
their cellulite that they’ve gone to doctors and plastic surgeons trying to fix
it and they’ve all been told across the board, it’s just genetic. There’s
nothing you can do to control it except for surgery or except for whatever
the thing is that they’re peddling. And so that’s why it’s really striking to me
that you make that connection because like you said, nobody’s talking about

Dr. Cate: Yeah. And it’s true that once you have the supporting structures in
your cellulite, I’m sorry, in your fat, once the supporting structures are worn
away by inflammation, it will take a very long time for them to come back.
This is like bone replacement occurs on a seven-year cycle. It’s a slow
process, and while… it’s not that there’s nothing you can do about it, you get
your body fat percentage down low enough, and yeah, you won’t have the
dimpling but it’s not really the way it’s… We, in the past, you wouldn’t see
cellulite until you got up to be somewhere around like 30%-40% body fat.
Now you see it in people with 10% body fat which is bordering on an
unhealthy low amount of body fat. For reproduction, you need about 10%
body fat for your pituitary, ovarian, adrenal gland access to all function
normally for optimal fertility.

Katie: Yeah, absolutely. Well, to also tie in another thing that’s often lumped
into this equation is the cholesterol thing. And I have so many readers who
leave comments along the lines of “I agree with you and saturated fats are
obviously healthy. I just can’t eat them because I have high cholesterol” So
talk about how cholesterol fits into this.

Dr. Cate: We have a whole chapter on this because it is so important to
understand. So as I mentioned, saturated fat does not travel in your
bloodstream freely. Like grease traveling…it travels in these structures called
lipoproteins and we can eat more saturated fat and our body will just make
more lipoproteins, and the lipoproteins’ job is to ensure that whatever fat
we’re eating, and in fact, whatever we’re eating because it’s not all just like
fat, it’s also fat-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble antioxidants and things that
we wouldn’t necessarily consider fat. So like vitamin A, for example, is in our
lipoproteins, vitamin E is carried in our lipoproteins.

So the job of these lipoproteins is to form…they’re originally formed in our
intestine by our intestine right at the point where fats enter our body, they
are packaged immediately into a type of lipoprotein that’s the biggest type
of all called kilo micron. It’s the biggest type of all because it’s full of fat and
its job is to flow around in the bloodstream and deliver these nutrients to the
tissues that need it. So, all of our body tissues…or cell membranes of all of
our body tissues are made of fat and cholesterol. And so all of our body
tissues need a fresh supply.

And so that’s what these things do, and as they deliver a little bit of fat here
and there, they shrink down and get a little smaller, and at some point they
get absorbed by the liver that repackages them with some goodies that the
liver makes because the liver makes also some fat-soluble vitamins and
things. It processes vitamin D from one form into another form, and then
can package that into lipid-protein, and also can just keep the lipoproteins
refreshed. It’s sort of like getting your laundry done. You need to get the lint
off and stuff. Well, you need the same thing with your lipoproteins.
They get refreshed in the liver and then they get spit out by the liver,
significantly smaller than the original size of the kilo micron, but still pretty
darn big and they’re called VLDL lipoproteins, and then they circulate around
until they’re a little bit smaller, little bit smaller and then become LDL.

Now, LDL you’ve probably heard is the so-called bad cholesterol, but it’s not
correctly named. It is not bad. It doesn’t do anything wrong. It was not
designed by nature to kill us. What we are finding, though, is that there’s
this just big mix up between…we’re still thinking like Ancel Keys. We’re still
thinking that inherently somehow this fat is gonna clog in our artery, and it’s
because fat is solid and because nature just doesn’t know how to solve this
unsolvable problem of getting fat to circulate properly in the arteries. So
maybe it’s not saturated fat that literally clogs and congeals in our arteries,
but it’s one of these lipoproteins. And right now, they have targeted the LDL.
It doesn’t really matter why, but although I do it for the sake of
understanding it, but I do go into why for those people who are interested in
“Deep Nutrition” chapter seven. But what they’re not understanding the
whole problem that they have is that it’s not that lipoproteins are bad, it’s
like anything else, they can become dysfunctional. Like every type of cell can
become dysfunctional and lead to a disease, and it’s caused by the crummy
diet that we’re all on, all this cheap, processed food.

So what happens when we’re on all this cheap processed food, is that our
lipoproteins don’t function properly. And just because of the way we can
measure certain lipoproteins, LDL happens to be one of the lipoproteins that
we’ve had our eye on for a long time because we found it first, basically. And
so, LDL lipoprotein, like all the other lipoprotein becomes dysfunctional, and
sometimes the numbers climb a little bit when it becomes dysfunctional. But
the number is not the problem. The fact that it is dysfunctional is the
problem as you might imagine. You might be wondering, “What do I mean
by dysfunctional?”

Katie: Yeah, definitely because you’re right that they are definitely the bad
guys, and it frustrates me because having read your book and seeing some
of the same research, they really aren’t the problem at all but yet that’s
what so much of the conventional model is based on. In fact, even if you go
to get life insurance, which my husband and I have been working on lately
just because we have small children, they measure your cholesterol and if
any of those are high, it’s considered a risk factor. So yeah, go little deeper
into that. Like what is the actual problem? What is that dysfunction and what
does that stem from?

Dr. Cate: So the dysfunction is that the lipoproteins can no longer do their
job and their job is to deliver that fat. Their job is to carry the fatty nutrients
through the bloodstream, through the circulation until they arrive at a tissue
that wants them, and then deliver some of the fat to that tissue and then
move on.

So when they’re dysfunctional, they can’t do that. And so they can be
dysfunctional by not being recognized by cells so that they stay in circulation
too long and that’s when a person’s LDL will go up from a bad diet, and
that’s the whole reason that everybody thinks LDL cholesterol is bad. That is
the whole reason right there in a nutshell because when they are
dysfunctional in the way that they cannot be absorbed by the cell, LDL stays
in the blood circulation, and so LDL numbers will go up because of that. And
even though it’s just a tiny little bit up, it’s maybe 10% higher than it would
be otherwise, that little blip has been blamed for all of heart disease, and it’s
absolutely absurd.

So they stay in your circulation when they are dysfunctional, and it is only
because of the processed food diet, because of the high carbohydrates and
the vegetable oils that I mentioned our bodies are now composed of
because, and I didn’t mention this, our diets are composed of them and
around…like I did allude to it. I said they went up around 2,000 times soy
oil, but the average American is getting about probably 35% to 45% of their
total daily calories from these kinds of unnatural fats. And that has never
happened before and our bodies cannot handle them. And the consequence
is that they…the reason that we can’t handle them is because they’re prone
to oxidation and we can only have so much of them until we start to lose
control of oxidation reactions. And its oxidation reactions that cause the
lipoproteins to become dysfunctional because the oxidation destroys the
functionality of the lipoprotein particle.

It’s like a laser…imagine like Star Wars where they’re having like…they’re
attacking like the Death Star with all those lasers and stuff like that, and the
laser beams are making stuff on the surface of the Death Star blow up. Well,
that’s kind of what happens to the lipoproteins because the oxidation
reactions cause free radical cascades which kinda sorta blow up the proteins
on the surface of these lipoproteins that are trying to direct their job is to
make sure that that fat gets delivered. And when those proteins are
destroyed, that functionality is destroyed, the fat can’t get delivered so they
just stay in circulation and they stay and they stay and they stay, and
eventually, the lipoprotein just disintegrates over time, and now you have fat
that cannot stay suspended and now you’re getting to that congealing on the
lining of the artery situation. And that’s how you get arteriosclerosis, that’s
how you get plaque building up.

Katie: My sons will love your Star Wars analogy to help explain that. So
based on what you’ve said, then how do statins fit into the equation because
you hear a lot about them and they’re one of the most commonly prescribed
drugs right now if I understand it and there have even been suggestions of
giving them to children and putting them in the water supply. But based on
what you just said, it seems like not only is that not gonna be effective, but
it could be pretty dangerous. How do statins fit in?

Dr. Cate: So statins do help some people and they help those people who
are unwilling or unable to stop eating these pro-inflammatory vegetable oils,
or they’re unwilling or unable to reduce their dietary carb intake because
both of those things will damage your lipoproteins, and the third thing is
they’re unwilling or unable to quit smoking because smoking promotes
oxidative stress and also damages lipoproteins. So statins are going to help
those people a little bit, and the reason they help those people is because
when you poison your liver with statins, your body is less able to
manufacture cholesterol so it becomes hungrier for those lipoproteins so that
they’re absorbed more quickly. So it gets them out of the circulation more
quickly and that’s a good thing because the longer they stay in circulation,
the greater chance they have of that laser attack damaging the proteins that
are on the surface of the lipoprotein particles.

So statins because they like…I mean they really do poison the liver and the
rest of the body tissues that they enter, they block enzymes for the
manufacture of a precursor to cholesterol so that they impair even your
brain’s ability to make cholesterol. And ultimately, they’re going to cause
some other problem, they’re gonna reduce your risk of heart disease and
stroke, but my belief is that they will almost always…they’re just shifting
around what disease you’re gonna die from because they poison your body’s
ability to make not just cholesterol, but also some important things for
immune system function and muscle function, so they weaken the heart
muscle, they weaken muscle tissue in general, they reduce the brain’s ability
to manufacture cholesterol so I believe we’re going to find that they shrink
brain tissue. They actually use a statin to promote or to cause an animal
model of dementia. So, you know, what does that tell ya?

Katie: Yeah, that’s definitely…it should give people pause before making that
decision and should I change my diet or should I just take statins.
So before we get too deep into this, I wanna circle back and talk about the
four pillars that you have in your book because I feel like we’re touching on
a lot of the points that are really relevant to them. So can you give us an
overview of what those four pillars are and how they’re so important?

Dr. Cate: Yeah, so they’re important because the four pillars are how we can
take control back, take control of our health back. And what they are, is they
are elements of all traditional cuisines that are universal to every traditional
cuisine that I looked at which is hundreds around the world. And the four
elements that are common to all traditional cuisines…they’re actually
strategies more so than like ingredients. So, do you want me to list them?
Katie: Yeah, that would be awesome.

Dr. Cate: Okay. So we have fresh food like salad or unprocessed, uncooked
animal products, so like sushi is an example of fresh food or raw milk. I’m a
big fan of raw dairy products. And then we have fermented and sprouted
foods, and those are like sauerkraut or yogurt or live-cultured Lactofermented
foods and sprouted being like you can soak your grains or you
can soak your nuts and seeds for a little while before cooking them. And it
actually enhances their nutritional value. And that’s pillar two.
And the third pillar is meat on the bone so you cook the whole meat part of
the animal like with all the fat and if it’s appropriate, like with chicken with
the skin as well and even the bones, and you go beyond that and you make
use of the bones and all the joint and connective tissue that holds the bones
together, and you extract some really important compounds that act like
growth factors for your joints and all your collagen materials.

And then the final pillar is organ meat. And organ meats are really…they
were the first thing to disappear from the American table because I
think…well, partly because they were diverted for things like glue, carpet
backing and pet food, but also because they’re not gonna taste good unless
they’re absolutely fresh, and part of what happened with the…over the past
50 years is that, we centralized everything so that our food is processed
thousands of miles away from where we live and it just…you can’t always
get those organ meats circulated around fresh. And they also take a lot of
skill to prepare so most Americans have some experience with liver.

But, when this country was founded, actually, there’s a…George Washington
and our Founding Fathers, they ate like heart and they would have sausage
made with kidneys stuffed inside it and bone marrow and ears and nose and
everything. And this is what all traditional cultures did, and all of these
different body parts are loaded with a different profile of nutrient. And so
that’s why they’re important because muscle meat is important too. It gives
us a lot of protein and we were talking about cow, it gives you also iron
when you’re talking about chicken, it gives you also B vitamins and pork the
same. But the organs also have their own unique nutrient profiles and
they’re loaded with a lot of vitamins and other things that we don’t always
think about as vitamins like choline and lecithin and different types of fatty
acids and stuff. And its stuff that we need, but that we’re just not getting
now because we’re really mostly focusing on animal products equaling
muscle meat.

So those four strategies are how people all around the world for thousands
of generations extracted the maximum amount of nutrition from their
environment. And that is the definition of really a healthy diet, no matter
where you live. So it worked in Alaska where people didn’t have a lot of
fresh vegetables but they still had a lot…what they did instead was have a
lot of raw and animal, like raw seal and they would actually ferment like
whale because a whale is so ginormous that you can’t eat it all so they
buried some underground where it would ferment. They never cooked it
because where were they gonna get…it’s not like they had a lot of firewood

Alaskan natives, really northern climates, ate a lot of their animal products
raw and when you do that, you don’t need so much vegetable material
because one of the best things about vegetables is that they give us a lot of
antioxidants but if you’re not cooking, you don’t…you’re not destroying the
antioxidants in meat. So your animal products are gonna be loaded with
antioxidants as well.

Katie: Yeah, I feel like you have the most balanced view of it I’ve ever seen
and that’s because it’s not like let’s all jump on the Mediterranean
bandwagon and eat the exact same foods that they eat in the Mediterranean
that work for them, and it’s not just let’s all jump on whichever dietary thing
is popular at the time, but looking at all of them across the board and
finding the commonalities. And what I also love about your approach is like
you meld the traditional and all the wisdom that we know from thousands
and thousands of years of just traditional cultures eating in an intuitive way
with the science of today.

So you talk about how food directs our cellular growth and how food can
actually alter our DNA, and I love this. This is the research that I love
reading and it keeps me up at night because we once thought that DNA was
stagnant and that it doesn’t really change and once you got it, that’s…you’re
stuck with it, but your research contradicts this and you have found some
fascinating stuff that you talk about so I would love to delve into how does
food impact our DNA and that whole picture. Explain that to us.

Dr. Cate: So yeah. So I mean the idea is that our DNA is just, it’s really old,
it’s humongous, there are billions and billions of bits of data encoded in
our…the DNA that’s in every single one of our cells, and it’s a survivor. It’s
been around for as long as life on earth has been around. So, some folks
think that life on earth began three and a half billion years ago and so that
means that our DNA can have extended back all that time. And every year it
survives by getting smarter and learning new strategies and actually getting

So we have some pretty long DNA now compared to the original life forms
on earth that weren’t even bacteria, they were archaebacteria which were
very different and can live like thousands of years. They’ve actually found
some discovered in solid rock. It’s really amazing what life on earth can do,
but all this time DNA has survived by making decisions and it’s really
impossible to talk about this without anthropomorphizing a little bit and
acting like DNA really has its own intelligence because it responds to what
we eat.

For example, if we eat less protein, well, our DNA responds by preparing the
next generation to be physically smaller because our bones are like 90%
protein. If we eat more protein, then our DNA responds by, of course, if
we’re a child by programming us to grow bigger, but also by preparing the
DNA that’s in a woman’s ovaries or a man’s testes to prepare the next
generation to be ready for all that protein to make use of it. It’s not just
protein, it also has to come along with all the minerals that bones are made
out of and all this other stuff. But this is why some races are taller than
others. It’s just because for generation after generation they’ve gotten
relatively more or less protein and all the other bone-building minerals. So
that’s just one example.

But, all the difference between all the species are based on examples like
this so it’s not random mutation and selection. So that model was proposed
as one of the possible models in 1880s but there were also people that were
saying there’s something else. There’s something inherent to DNA that
directs this, the decisions that DNA make. So it’s not all random. This isn’t
actually, I’m not saying really anything brand new. We just have lots of new
evidence now as to what is the mechanism by which our DNA has always
made intelligent decisions that were non-random. And so, you know, I’m
kind of offended by the idea that all life on earth is just a series of random
mutations. It’s not random. There is intelligence encoded in our DNA, and
we’re just beginning to understand the incredibly complex mechanisms
behind that.

But what we’re talking about though is how…not just how gene expression
changes so that like you can have the same DNA maybe as your father but
end up being taller because your bones…the expression of the cells in your
bones for making more bone material was just greater. So they grew faster.
So you can have the same DNA, but it expresses differently. But over time,
you do that over and over again, and you can actually get mutations.
I mean, we call them mutations but they’re not random, not entirely random
and they are actually changes to the letter code, and they can be beneficial
or they can be detrimental. They tend to be beneficial and something that
we can adapt to when it’s driven by an excess of nutrient and it tends to be
maladaptive when it’s rapid and it’s driven by toxin, okay, and so we now
have been consuming these toxins for 50, 60, 70 years, these
polyunsaturated fatty acids, and one of the biggest discoveries, biggest
breakthroughs in understanding autism was that we understand that it is
50…almost 50% of it is genetic and by genetic I mean there are new
mutations in the children with autism that their parents did not have.

Katie: Wow. That’s really, really striking.

Dr. Cate: Yeah. And so about 50% of it is caused by these genetic mutations,
and it’s not just one mutation, it’s like 10 new mutations that children with
autism have that did not exist in their parents and that don’t exist in their
siblings. And I make the case that it’s coming primarily from these vegetable
oils because when they break down, they break down into known
genotoxins. One of the examples is 4HNE, it’s a chemical name 4-
hydroxynonenal that is a known carcinogen and it causes DNA breaks. So it
causes DNA mutations in a random way, in a maladaptive way that whatever
this intelligence system is that’s built into our DNA, cannot handle that
because it is a literally random toxin.

It is like radiation. We can’t handle all of it. So there’s like no antidote to it.
The only solution is to avoid it. And so this is why I say one of the most
important things for pregnant women to do is while they’re thinking about
cutting down on their alcohol and staying away from people who are
smoking, it’s important to stay away from chips, fries, snack food, storebought
salad dressing, store-bought dips and fast food, anything fried fast
food certainly because that is going to be absolutely loaded with these
horrible toxic compounds from vegetable oils that have been heated and

Katie: Yeah, that’s such important advice and I think it’s scary and amazing
when you start looking at labels how pretty much every processed food has
those kind of fats in it, almost without exception. And so you talk a lot about
going back to the traditional types of food and making as much from home
as possible. I think that is so key but especially like you say during
pregnancy because you are quite literally building a human being during that

Dr. Cate: Yeah. And it’s not just women. Men actually have been found to
have an increasing number of mutations in their sperm as they get older.
And so I like to think about it as like if you are a guy and you’re walking into
McDonald’s and you got…you had your giant pail of fries or maybe it’s KFC,
have your greasy chicken, by the time you walk out, you’ve consumed
enough toxic compounds that you’ve actually aged your gonads significantly.
And you’re accelerating that process of creating new mutations in the DNA
that is inside your sperm by that meal. So the fewer of those meals that you
have, if you’re a guy, the fewer of those mutations that are gonna

Like we talk a lot about how important it is for women to be healthy and
what we need to do for fertility, but it’s actually the men who are producing
these furious amounts of sperm. Like I think they produce a brand-new
batch every 28 days whereas we’re born with all the eggs that we’re ever
gonna have. But they produce like billions, and that is a scenario in which if
you are not having a good diet, there’s gonna be a lot more mistakes being
made, and those mistakes, many of them are permanently going to affect
the future of your family legacy.

Katie: Yeah. How important is that to know and also, I have to ask because I
feel like this…there is more knowledge right now about genetics and people
can get the tests like 23andMe to find out about gene mutations and that
kind of thing. So understanding that DNA is not stagnant and that it’s
adapting for very important reasons, can it adapt in the course of one’s
lifetime? Like could a person actually see different results on a test like that
based on changes they make or do we know?

Dr. Cate: Well, yes, because usually, it’s not going to be a good change,
unfortunately. So one type of cancer called chronic myelogenous leukemia is
a mutation that develops during a person’s lifetime. It’s called the
Philadelphia Chromosome, and it causes white blood cells to divide out of
control, and that’s what leads to that type of leukemia. So absolutely. But in
terms of like can you fix like a previously developed…or like in a mutation
that you inherited. That’s not likely, unfortunately. I’d love to say yes, but
the fact is that it’s not likely.

But if you eat a really good diet because I insist that our DNA is quite
capable of adapting, it has this intelligence which we don’t really understand,
it’s able to better make decisions about okay, well, so maybe this gene has
been taken out of commission so we won’t rely on it so much. We’ll try to
make more of this other gene instead. And there’s actually evidence that
certain areas of the brain called hot spots are more prone to mutation than
others, and these were found in the course of trying to understand autism,
they found that there’s been a lot more mutations recently around…or, I’m
sorry, that the mutations that we see in children with autism are in these hot
spots. And these hot spots are in locations where the DNA winds around a
histone which is an organizing part of the DNA in the cell very sharply, so
has a very sharp turn there so it’s more like chemically, it’s under more
stress anyway.

So that is occurring more often in areas that are recently…or that distinguish
us from chimpanzees. That where we have different genes for making brain
than like a chimpanzee because our brains are so much bigger than a
chimpanzee’s, well, those are fairly recent changes and they are these hot
spots that are now susceptible to all these mutations with autism so the
structure of DNA is…what I’m getting at is the structure of DNA is such that
you’re going to have mutations in certain specific places that were adaptive,
right? Whenever we went from, you know, having smaller brains to having
bigger brains that was because our diets were changing in such a way that
we had the extra material to make bigger brain but now our diets are
changing in such a way that our brain material cannot be manufactured

And so again, the DNA is trying to adapt by changing our brain. It’s just that
this is a toxic kind of exposure that we’ve never had to deal with before.
There’s just nothing in our genetic history that can cope with this so it’s not
going to lead to positive changes. It’s only going to lead to disease and
that’s what we’re seeing. So that’s why we have to get away from these

Katie: That makes so much sense, and so we hear more and more about
things like epigenetics and I feel like that’s where this comes into play, and I
have much less of an understanding than you, but it seems reasonable to
me, and feel free to correct me, that when you’re giving your body building
blocks that it’s essentially not use to so your body has to use what it has.
And that old saying of you are what you eat is eventually true, but when
you’ve given your body cells that it doesn’t recognize and doesn’t know how
to use, but say it has to so in like a skin cell. Does that increase the
likelihood of certain types of cancers?

For instance, skin cancer because we know the sun is vastly important in a
lot of ways, we need it for vitamin D and light signaling and circadian
rhythm, but also now people think that sun equals skin cancer and sun
exposure is bad. How does that come into play there and could it be that
basically altering our cells in our body is causing this to some degree?

Dr. Cate: Yeah, absolutely, because as I mentioned when we tested what the
adipose tissue is made out of, it’s changed from being 6% to 7% of that
polyunsaturated fatty acid called linoleic acid to somewhere around 20% to
25%, Well, those polyunsaturated fatty acids, when they get hit by UV
radiation, they can cause a lot more inflammation than when
monounsaturated or saturated fatty acids that are in our skin get hit by
radiation. So that inflammation is going to ultimately, well, they call it free
radical cascades which are the very things that…the very reason that
radiation causes cancer has to do with free radicals and high energy
molecules that damage DNA.

So when your skin…you’ve got this ticking time bomb of linoleic acid sitting
in your skin…I guess you could compare it to like a dry tinder in a dry
forest. And a lightning strike is going to cause a lot more fire if it’s dry and
that linoleic acid is the dry tinder. Whereas, if you had more antioxidants or
more saturated fatty acid, it’d be like a more moist forest so that if you have
a lightning strike from the UV, lightning is the UV analogy of the sun, you’re
going to have that be much more that energy, but much more rapidly
quenched. It’s not gonna cause a widespread wildfire.
So that’s why I think that we’re seeing so much of a increase in the incidents
of skin cancer.

Katie: That makes sense. Does it go the reverse also? So I asked about
whether we can change our DNA which you said is probably not likely once
we have a mutation, but can we effect to some degree how much a mutation
is expressed? In other words, like someone may have a genetic
predisposition to cancer but can they…do they have some control over if
that’s expressed or if they actually get cancer?

Dr. Cate: Absolutely. So yeah, we know that there’s one of the most
common cancer, breast cancer genes, the BRCA1, some of them have what’s
called an 80% penetrance, and what that means is that 80% of the people
with that gene will get breast cancer, but 20% won’t. So you can if you have
that gene I believe that you can increase that percentage for you. You can
stack the odds in your favor with a better diet. You can increase the chance
that you’ll be in that 20% that won’t ever get breast cancer, just by
improving your diet.

Katie: Yeah, I think that’s important for people to hear because I feel like
sometimes you feel like you are a product of your genes and a victim of that,
but that’s what I like so much about your message is that you give the hope
for we actually have maybe more control than we once thought we did. And
the question I also have is a follow up to that is how much control do you
think we have going forward as far as the future of humanity because you
said at the beginning that we’re kind of on a teetering point there, like a
very important point. And I know when you read the book at first, it can
seem very overwhelming and that we’re kind of…all hope is lost. But based
on what you know, how much do we have control over the future and if we
all made these changes, is it reasonable to think that we could reverse some
of these problems over the whole long term?

Dr. Cate: Yeah. So it is a crisis. The fact is we need to react very quickly and
it’s an urgent need or it will be too late but we are still here. We are still able
to reproduce. A lot of us without surgical help. And that’s a whole other
conversation why is that? Why do we need so much surgeries and cesareans
all of a sudden, but as long as we’re alive and able to reproduce and our
mental functioning is we’ve still got it cognitively, then yeah, then there’s

But, I’m not going to say that it’s gonna be easy. I can’t say that. Everybody
always wants to hear, “Well, how can I break it down so that I don’t have to
spend any more money or any more time and I can, suddenly have all these
healthy, nutritious foods in my life?” And there’s ways, and I’m sure you’ve
done this actually, I know you’ve done it because I’ve seen your recipes. You
do a fantastic job of making it as simple as possible, but I don’t think you
would go so far as to say, “Oh, no, you kids, it’s all just as easy as like
popping something in a microwave,” right? If you plan ahead, it can almost
be, but you still have to do that planning ahead part. And you do have to
make it a priority, but that is our only hope.

So I think we need to move in that direction, and there’s a lot, a lot of hope
because the fact is, our genes are smart and are smarter than me. So I can’t
say, it’s hopeless. I think that if generation and then another generation and
then another generation get away from these vegetable oils and get back to
the traditions that you can have people being every bit as strong and sturdy
and robust as we were 100 years ago, and as our founding fathers were.
And I think the strongest men in history, the toughest men in history, our
heroes, all ate these foods, so that’s a message for men.

Katie: Yeah. That is the converse of that so hopefully, that will be the
outcome and within three generations we will see drastic changes for the
good, but if people don’t and if we continue on this path, what would you
expect? Because like you just mentioned, we’re seeing unprecedented levels
of infertility and reproductive problems and like autism issue you mentioned
before, how quickly could we actually see the really devastating effects of

Dr. Cate: Yeah, that’s unknown territory but I’d have to say based on the
fact that, when I moved from Hawaii back to the mainland, in Hawaii almost
nobody had food intolerances. It was very rare to see that somebody had
like a thyroid or couldn’t eat soy or couldn’t eat dairy or couldn’t eat wheat.
It’s so extraordinarily common here that, that one… It’s an immune system
problem and that one change occurred basically while I was in Hawaii for 10
years, and we went from having almost nobody really having a problem with
gluten to, who knows, maybe 5% of the population, 10% of the population,
who knows what it really is, having a problem with just that one molecule
because their immune systems aren’t working right.

And the other thing that is really, really scary, like I did mention autism but
it’s not just autism, it’s IQ, these gene changes, these mutations are…even
if a child does not get diagnosed with autism, the more mutations they have,
the lower their IQ and that’s what…that’s our brain, that is our humanity. So
we shouldn’t be messing with that.

Katie: Yeah. And I will definitely encourage people to read your book
because it can go into so much more detail than we can in a podcast, but for
those who are maybe overwhelmed or who are definitely willing to make
changes after hearing you put it in such perspective over this last hour.
Let’s talk about the practical side a little bit because you are the Director of
the Los Angeles Lakers’ nutrition program which is incredible, and every time
we have a bad season, I’m a Cincinnati Reds baseball fan, and every time we
have a bad season with injuries I’m like, “They need Dr. Cate.” But let’s talk
about the practical side. So if you’re a mom and you’re raising the next
generation and you’re willing to make changes, what does that look like?
What would be the most practical steps that you would need to be taking on
a daily basis to help?

Dr. Cate: Yeah, so it’s just like what we do with the Lakers, Gary Vitti, the
trainer who just retired who was the one who brought us on board said that
you just have to do baby steps, and with the players we couldn’t get them
from not knowing the difference between broccoli and celery to suddenly
demanding huge salads every day. We take it slow, and that’s exactly the
strategy for the household too.

The women who have written me who have said, “I started your program
whatever years ago and now my whole family’s on board and we just can’t
believe the changes.” When I ask them, “Well, how did you start?” To a
woman or to a man, if it’s a man who changed a diet, they started with one
simple change. And it wasn’t just like, “Okay, I accomplished that, now I’m
ready for the next thing.” It was that change created a benefit, an
immediately visible or palpable benefit.

So for example, one woman said that she just stopped drinking soda in the
afternoon. She ended up losing weight, and because she lost that weight,
she just felt better about herself and she felt better about herself, I don’t
know, like as a woman or what or what it was, but she just started cooking
more, she was more inspired to be in the kitchen cooking for her family. And
then when she did that, she got the vegetable oils out of her family’s diet
and her own diet. And then she was more like focused herself, she said, that
she was able to take on a lot of the challenge, she had a big family, I think
she had like five or six children, and she was able to really drill down and to
take it on the challenge of changing a child’s diet too because her brain was
functioning better.

So just start with something like whatever you think your worst habit is, and
for me, I got away from vegetable oils and because of that, I didn’t crave
sugar as much, and because of that, of course, I lost weight but then I got
better. My knee started getting better once I got the vegetable oils and
sugar out of my life, and I could start walking again. And ultimately, it got
completely better. It took a year but it got completely better.
And so it has to be a change like if you try something and you don’t feel a
benefit, then maybe try something else. And usually, it’s gonna be a
timeframe of that you define. Like if you wanna find something that’s gonna
give you a benefit immediately, then start your day with something other
than sweets for breakfast because you will notice by lunch time that you are
less hungry and you’ve got a little bit more mental focus.

Katie: Yeah, I love that. I actually have an e-book I just finished. It’s not out
yet but it’s called “Broth for Breakfast” and it’s around that because it’s
like…especially I have one child for a while who just didn’t do well with eggs.
And so if you can’t cook eggs and you’re not eating carbs, what do you do
for breakfast? And so that was my solution was anything that could go into

And I love your perspective on that and I have a question also that I get
from readers a lot and that is when does all the benefits of modern
technology come into play with this? I know we focused on traditional diets,
but is there a place for, for instance, liver capsules for people who can’t
handle eating liver at first or omega three capsules, for people who are just
trying to work on liking fish more. What do you think about those kind of

Dr. Cate: Yeah. So there are a few actually, supplements and things that I
recommend. For example, I even would recommend calcium and vitamin K if
somebody can’t have a lot of dairy. And so absolutely, and we can definitely
use those crutches. They’re not gonna be as good as the original so if you
can do the original, if you enjoy it, it’s better. If you hate it, then I wouldn’t
say to force yourself. Although, there’s some tricks that you can do about
making yourself trying to…you can sort of play with your appetite.

First of all, getting sugar and vegetable oil out of your diet help improve
your natural appetite so you actually enjoy food and you can develop
healthier cravings, but if you work up an appetite by exercise, don’t reward
yourself with sugar or candy because you like that stuff anyway. The time to
develop new habits is when you’re hungry. So if you’re starving, and you’ve
got something in your fridge or somewhere that you know is good for you
but you really don’t love it, well, that’s a good time to have it because you’re
going to enjoy it right there in that moment.

If you have whatever it is, if it’s sauerkraut or if it’s…like some people I
recommend if they don’t do dairy to do bone-in sardines because there’s lots
of calcium in there, so it’s a good time to have that. You’re gonna enjoy it
more, and so I like to make eating enjoyable. I like what Michael Pollan said
something about luring people back into the kitchen rather than, shaming
them back. And I think that food can do that.

Katie: Absolutely, and that’s why as a mom I always try to have my kids
involved as much as possible in the cooking process because there so much
more likely to eat it, but also we really don’t do snacks between meals much
and it’s partially so that my kids are hungry at meals and they’re willing to
eat what’s there and occasionally if I get a child who’s like, “I don’t like this.”
I’m like, “That’s fine. You don’t have to eat.” But hunger’s a great teacher,
and they hear me say that a lot. Hunger is a great teacher.

I love your work, though. I think that everything that we talked about today
is so important for people to hear, but especially moms because we’re there
day to day and raising the next generation and forming their habits that
they’re gonna pass on to their children.

And I’m gonna make sure I link to everything we’ve talked about, and
especially your new book which comes out in January. Can you talk about it
a little bit and how people can find it?

Dr. Cate: So, yeah, January 3rd it’s going to be released. You can find it at
bookstores everywhere, at Amazon. If you preorder, wait, actually, that
probably won’t be possible. There’s a little special I’m going to be running, if
you come to my website where you can also get access to our…another one
of our books, “Food Rules” if you order it through a link on our website. So
that’s at drcate.com which is drcate.com. And what else should I talk about
the book? It’s beautiful.

Katie: It’s amazing. Yeah. And I’ve read both. I should have explained that
more clearly at the beginning that you were re-releasing it, and I’ve read
both and they’re both incredible, but I really do love the new one and how
you go into depth on the story so much. And it’s like you make an incredibly
compelling case for all these changes, and it gives me hope that people will
make them and we won’t see these problems going forward like we are now.

Dr. Cate: Yeah. I mean I so hope that that you continue to inspire moms to
do what you are doing because it is the most important thing. And I would
say dads too, some dads do it I’m sure. You got dads doing this, don’t you?

Katie: Absolutely, yeah.

Dr. Cate: Oh, good. Yeah, well, somebody should. I mean somebody needs
to whether it’s a grandma or whatever, but this is the most important job
and if we don’t get this job right, then pretty soon we’re all going to realize
that that was our biggest mistake we’ve ever made. So let’s end on a
positive note. And that wasn’t it.

We do have a plan in the book, we also break it down. Probably it’s
completely compatible with everything that you recommend too, but, it’s a
few pages of different meal templates to give people ideas of how to start
thinking about making healthy meals.

Katie: Yeah. Absolutely. I will make sure to link to your website so that
people can get the information on the bonus book, and also to your social
media so people can find you and follow you and stay up to date with you.
But thank you so much for being here, Dr. Cate. I love your information. I’ve
been a fan for a really long time, and it’s been so wonderful that I get to
chat with you to get to share you.

Dr. Cate: Thanks, Katie. Thanks so much for what you do. It’s been a

Katie: Thanks. And thanks to all of you for listening, and join us on the next
episode of “Healthy Moms Podcast.”

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the “Healthy Moms
Podcast.” To get the bonus from the episode, as well as a content library of
free health resources, join the community at wellnessmama.com/podcast.

Read Transcript

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About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


6 responses to “060: Cate Shanahan on Deep Nutrition & the Four Pillars of Health”

  1. Hillary Avatar

    Thanks for this great podcast! Any advice for eating out and eating with family? We’re already ‘those people’ with all the high maintenance food sensitivities and don’t want to exasperate it even more…especially with the in-laws! A couple of questions…there are so many different terms for “vegetable oil” is there a list to help me decipher labels better? Also, is this something where it should be all or nothing or is the rare french fry out okay?

  2. Marissa Avatar

    Hi Katie,

    Excited to learn more ASAP after this great podcast!

    When I click on Food Rules detail link, it simply routes me to Drcate.com/deepnutrition but I can’t find any info on a free copy of Food Rules. Any advice to find it?

    Many thanks for all you do!

  3. Jan Cowger Avatar
    Jan Cowger

    I am completely with you on consuming unprocessed foods and the importance of clean and nutritious food. But I cannot and will not eat meat. What am I to do?

  4. Rose Love Avatar
    Rose Love

    Aloha! I wish I had an hour to read or listen to this podcast, but I’m a single mama of twin toddlers and cannot pay attention long enough and take care of the bazillion other things we have going on. Can someone please comment here on what food Dr. Cate says to avoid and why? Mahalo for your help! ??? Rose from Hawaii

  5. Carla Avatar

    Thank you Dr. Cater and Katie! This was so educational and profound. I shared it with my FB friends and I plan to share it with my autoimmune paleo FB group. I think this is an excellent way to choose life, as the Bible says.

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