Nutrition for Longevity with Jennifer Maynard
In this week’s episode of Be HEALTHistic, Drs. Steve and Drew Sinatra welcome Jennifer Maynard, CEO and co-founder of Nutrition for Longevity, a farm-to-table meal delivery service that supports the practice of “food as medicine.” Jennifer believes that a long, healthy life begins with what’s on your plate, so today, we find out how she’s working to make a real change in the nutrition and health landscape, and how you can use color to pick the best ingredients. She also introduces the concept of regenerative farming, and how to adopt better food habits for your family.
First, Jennifer explains why she left her 20-year career in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries to find Greater Greens, a regenerative organic farm, and Nutrition for Longevity, a farm-to-fork meal kit company that offers nutritionally-tailored meals direct from her fields, based on the principles in The Longevity Diet by Dr. Valter Longo. She discusses with the doctors how the battle with chronic illness is being lost, and how we need to leverage nutrition to help treat the root causes of health challenges. Jennifer reinforces the need to move away from sick care toward a more holistic approach of medicine, using diet.
Next, Jennifer and the doctors focus on “the elixir of life,” olive oil, and the benefits of eating a full rainbow of colors. Jennifer also explains the concept of regenerative farming, which addresses the nutritional deficiencies in today’s commercially-grown produce, and how typical farming practices in the U.S. are impacting our food system and our health. Finally, she reveals her greatest tip for optimizing any diet plan.
You won’t want to miss this brand new episode of Be HEALTHistic, where the Doctors Sinatra and Jennifer Maynard share their collective mantra that nutrition can and should be a crucial intervention in our current state of health.
LINKS & RESOURCES
- For more information on Jennifer Maynard and Nutrition for Longevity, visit their website. Jennifer also mentioned that her food kits are based on principles from The Longevity Diet, by Valter Longo, PhD; find out more.
- Visit the Healthy Directions website for more health and wellness content and information!
- Check out the Healthy Directions Articles Archive, where you can search for specific, health-related content from all of our Healthy Directions doctors and experts.
- During the episode, the doctors and Jennifer agreed that eating all colors of the rainbow, including lots of fresh fruits and veggies daily, is key to optimizing your immune support. To find out more, watch this video from Dr. Steve with his COVID-19 Immune-Boosting Salad.
- Jennifer talked about how olive oil is a main component in her nutritious meal kits; check out this information from Dr. Steve on the heart health benefits of olive oil.
- The doctors often talk about how gut health is connected to other systems of the body, so it’s vital to support the gut microbiome with nutritious foods, herbs and spices. Get more information from Dr. Drew on how to use turmeric to improve your digestion, and from Dr. Steve on top heart healing herbs and spices.
- It’s never too early to get your whole family, including the kids, on the path to good health. Read this article from Dr. Steve on healthy heart nutrition: start early, practice often.
- Drs. Drew and Steve discussed “food as medicine” with Jennifer during the conversation; for more information on this and other natural ways to support your health, listen to Episode 2: Welcome to Be HEALTHistic: Body By Nature.
VIP Offer Just for You!
During the episode, Dr. Drew shared Jennifer’s exclusive offer for “
Be HEALTHistic” listeners! Add any meal kit or produce box to your checkout cart and enter the code BEHEALTHY. You will receive a VIP box with The Longevity Diet book and a free bottle of Nutrition for Longevity’s polyphenol rich organic olive oil.
Click here to take advantage of the offer now…enjoy!
Dr. Drew Sinatra: You've heard us talk so many times about food as medicine. Today we'll be joined by Jennifer Maynard, who lives that every day of her life.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: She is CEO and co-founder of Nutrition for Longevity, and has worked in the biotech and pharmaceutical space for more than 20 years, as well as being a farmer herself.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: We'll be talking about how to make a real change in the food and health space, and how you can use color to pick the best ingredients for your meal.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: We'll also discuss regenerative farming, how to implement it, and why it's so important to the future of farming.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Finally, you'll learn how to adopt better food habits for your whole family.
Narrator: Welcome to Be HEALTHistic, the podcast that's more than just health and wellness information — it's here to help you explore your options across traditional and natural medicine, so that you can make informed decisions for you and your family. This podcast illuminates the whole story about holistic health by providing access to the expertise of Drs. Steve and Drew Sinatra, who together have decades of integrative health experience. Be HEALTHistic is powered by our friends at Healthy Directions. Now, let's join our hosts.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Hi folks…if you like what you hear today and you want to listen to future conversations on all things integrative and holistic health, subscribe to our podcast at BeHealthisticPodcast.com. Also, check out and subscribe to the Healthy Directions YouTube channel, which features video versions of our episodes, plus extra videos you won't want to miss. And finally, we have more with me, Dr. Drew Sinatra, my dad, Dr. Steve Sinatra, and other health experts at HealthyDirections.com.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Be HEALTHistic. My father and I are joined today by Jennifer Maynard. Welcome to the show, Jennifer.
Jennifer Maynard: Thank you, welcome, and happy to be here.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So, my father and I are obviously big into nutrition, and we'd love to hear about that. First, I want to hear about how you worked for the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, and how that transition occurred, and what happened with that.
Jennifer Maynard: Okay. Yeah, I don't think a lot of people expect to hear my background, per se, now that I'm a bit of a farmer, and somebody really focusing on food as medicine. But I did start in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry when I was much younger, and I lost my uncle to HIV/AIDS in the '80s. And there was really no standard of care, and I wanted to try to do something to bring illnesses like that forward. And so, that was what my passion was. I moved into specialty medicines, and I did that, really, for over 20 years. And I loved part of what I did, and felt like we have made leaps and bounds in some of these areas, like HIV/AIDS — it's very different than it was in the '80s.
Jennifer Maynard: But as I moved up and had broader roles, when I looked at the overall state of healthcare in the United States, I just felt like we were missing a really core piece of it, which is nutrition. It's not really taught to most doctors in medical school. I think the average is they get about four hours of training on nutrition. It's not any really standard of care or intervention, we don't really consider it medicine. And I've always lived a very holistic life, I've always grown most of my own food, I grew up on a homestead in Alaska. And I just decided I wanted to go back to my roots, I wanted to start a company that focused more on…not so much the pill, how do we move away from the pill? How do we move a little bit away from sick care, and move much more into this holistic approach of medicine. And have nutrition become not just how do we prevent illness, but even an important intervention to our current state of health.
Jennifer Maynard: I couldn't ignore that we are losing the battle, in my opinion, with chronic illness, and I feel like nutrition is such an important part of that. So I had met Dr. Valter Longo and the CEO of L-Nutra, and I just felt like they were doing so much to change that space. And I loved that it was still research-driven, it wasn't just, “I think we should eat this or we should eat that.” They really put a lot of science behind it. Because I am a little bit of a geeky science person, I like to understand things a bit. But I think what they did is they found decades and decades of research behind people that were already doing all these things, and it was already working for them.
Jennifer Maynard: So they looked at areas with high concentrations of centenarians and said, "What are they doing right that we don't seem to understand, especially in the U.S. — and how can we learn from them?" So they found these pockets of centenarians in these longevity spaces, and then they worked it backwards and understood, well, what is it that they're doing, and then built science behind it. So, it's like some cultures or areas of the world have already been doing this. They inherently understood it, but we kind of focused on the science behind, well, why is it happening, and how can we take that to another level.
Jennifer Maynard: So, that's where I go quit my job, I bought a farm, because part of what my belief is, is it's not just about eating any food — it's about very specific foods that are grown in a very specific way. So we wanted to start with the farm, we wanted to start with the soil and really get to the core of it, because I think that our farming practices are also impacting our food system and our health. And then take it to the next level and build that into a meal-kitting company — and that's what I'm doing now, is leading the farm, Greater Greens, and Nutrition for Longevity, which we brought together.
Jennifer Maynard: And that's now kind of where my passion is, and we're trying to move that into truly “food is medicine,” where we can focus not just on prevention and eating healthy, but how can we actually help with Type 2 diabetes, and these different chronic illnesses that we know a huge percentage of our population are suffering from. They're even...I think this was really brought to light in the last few months with the COVID-19 crisis, really understanding that not only if I have Type 2 diabetes, is it potentially going to impact my health and my health span? But even new illnesses that are starting to hit us, is it making me more or less resilient and more susceptible to those illnesses?
Jennifer Maynard: I still believe in the area of specialty medicine, I'm not an anti-pharma person entirely. But I do believe it needs to be in the right place, it needs to be to treat the right thing in a very specific way, and it should be only...it's just one tool that we're using in this whole repository of tools. And that's where I feel like 90% of our focus is in that space — and the area where I think we can make an even bigger impact for a lower cost, we're hardly putting any effort into. So, again, that's where my passion’s really shifted, and where I felt my expertise and my background, I could have a bigger impact.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah, Drew, I'd like to just focus on something that Jennifer said, if you don't mind. I think this diabetic situation is really crucial, I absolutely agree with you. And at the American Nutraceutical Association, we met in San Diego a few months ago. This situation in the United States, where there are approximately 100 million diabetics, or pre-diabetics, or ones with insulin resistance in the country, and especially with COVID-19. Like, Drew and I did a podcast on the implications of overweight status, diabetes, high blood sugars, high hemoglobin A1cs — and the susceptibility of getting COVID-19. So, it just makes sense to really focus on foods, especially since you’re the expert — foods that can heal or support the diabetic situation.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I just want to throw a few out there. Avocado is one, garlic's another, berries are…certainly can be supportive of blood sugar relationships. So, I was wondering in your longevity diet, if…you commented on something very common. And by the way, Drew and I come from a diabetic family, both my grandmother and my mother were diabetic. It just makes sense for Drew and I — especially Drew and I — to keep our weights down. And this has been a struggle throughout my entire life, where I strive to keep my hemoglobin A1c under 5.7. And again, because of the genetics involved, and again, because Americans are eating a high-carbohydrate diet, and we're eating less healthier fats, and stuff like that. I just wanted to give you the platform on that, because I think helping people avoid insulin resistance and diabetes is crucial.
Jennifer Maynard: Yeah.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Wouldn't you agree, Drew, as a naturopath? I mean…
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Absolutely.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: You must see…
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, absolutely. And Jennifer, I want to just speak to your business and we'll get into this more. But Nutrition for Longevity, which is really the farm-to-table meal delivery service. Because my father and I can only provide so much for patients in terms of the nutrition experience that we have. You know, “Eat this, don't eat this,” etc. But then there's a huge gap between, well, how do they actually do these things? And what you're doing is really helping create that bridge, between the knowledge and information that we give people, and then the actual stepping through that and actually making change in their life with the foods that they're eating. So, I'm just so happy that you're actually providing this service to people.
Jennifer Maynard: Thank you, thank you. Again, it's where my passion is, also Dr. Longo, and Joseph the CEO of L-Nutra, Dr. Antoun — we just deeply believe in “food as medicine” and that this should be something that's readily available. And we feel like there's too much misinformation out there, and that we're making it too hard for people to eat this way. If you look at the centenarian regions or the longevity regions of the world, they've just always eaten this way, it's been passed down generation to generation. And they do it by having small, regenerative farms that they get a lot of their food from, and they cook their food in a certain way.
Jennifer Maynard: And it's not just what they eat, it's when they eat, it's how they eat it. It's even…Dr. Longo's spent a lot of time researching fasting and fasting regimens. So, there's his prolonged fast, which is Prolon, it's another product. We do more the feeding side of things. But even things like intermittent fasting, and this has been shown to support Type 2 diabetes, as well. And there's more and more information on the benefits from heart disease, different things — is also allowing your body that full 12 hours to a circadian rhythm, time-restricted feeding. So, it's not just what you're eating, but it's also are you giving your body enough time during the day to decompress and to start actually focusing on cellular regeneration? How do I clean out my system at night?
Jennifer Maynard: In the U.S., we have access. Well, across the world now we pretty much have access to food 24/7, and we unfortunately consume it far…in a much bigger window than we should. So, our cortisol is spiking — that should come down in the evenings, and our melatonin should go up. But what's happening is we're continuing to eat, we're continuing to stimulate our body, and we're keeping that cortisol levels higher longer — and we're not allowing our body to go into that regenerative state.
Jennifer Maynard: So, a lot of what we focus on is also education, not just what is the right combination of food. There's a lot of misinformation out there, but also — when should you be eating that? And it's not super restrictive, when people hear “fasting” it's very scary to a lot of people. But a 12/12 circadian rhythm fast is very simple for just about anyone to implement. It's as simple as stop eating three to four hours before you go to bed, and then sleep your full night, and wake up and consume your food 12 hours later. So, it's probably, in my opinion, one of the easiest regimens. Even if people didn't change what they ate at all, but they change that regimen in their life, it can make dramatic differences.
Jennifer Maynard: So, we also encourage more education, more awareness about the timing of how you eat, as well — because we think it's really important for that cellular regeneration to happen. And that's what a lot of The Longevity Diet, which our whole program is based on, is about the feeding and the fasting — and what are the right foods when you are feeding. For example, it's a very low-sugar diet, and there's a reason for that. We have essentially no added sugars, and that's because in the U.S. we are consuming about 50 grams more sugar a day on average than we should be. That's about 58 pounds of sugar a year, for anyone that hasn't put it in that perspective.
Jennifer Maynard: We know from Longo's research that sugar accelerates aging genes. We also know that it down regulates different enzymes and different factors that also help with cellular regeneration. So, we know that sugar can be very destructive, we know it's very much involved in chronic illness, yet we consume a lot more per day than we should. So our diet is very low in sugar, and we bring in natural sugars — but also, even that we keep at a very good baseline. So, a bit of fruit but very heavy on vegetables. It's a heavy, plant-based diet.
Jennifer Maynard: And then protein…I think protein is such a concern in the U.S. — are we not getting enough protein? If you look at consumer reports, it's usually one of the number one things that most people are concerned about is, am I getting enough protein? But in the U.S. we also eat 50 grams, on average, more protein than we need per day. Until you're above age 65, and then you should be increasing your protein. But we have this one-size-fits-all approach to things, and we're trying to change that and say, "This is really a healthy level of protein, and we're going to help you do those macros so you don't have to do it on your own. And we're going to give you the science and the information behind it, and make sure it's a really high-quality protein that's coming into your diet."
Jennifer Maynard: Because I think, again, our diet's very plant-based, and I do think a lot of people that eat plant-based don't know how to get the right amount of protein. And they don't go after the right quantities, but also the right proteins. So, we try to give a lot more guidance on that. A lot of the protein comes from legumes, we have nuts in the diet. A very broad diverse diet, but again, a lot of it coming from plants. And if people order the pescatarian diet, it comes with a little bit of high-quality fish.
Jennifer Maynard: So, again, it's just this very focused way that we try to make it simple for people to consume and stay on this diet, because if you bought...if you just read The Longevity Diet book, we give recipes. That information is out there, but the average person doesn't then go to the store and follow that. We try to just make it very easy. We talk about re-imaging fast food, because we try to get fresh produce from our farm to a consumer within 48 hours. So, that's, we're saying, it should be ultra-fresh, it should be easily accessible — show up on your doorstep, and make it as easy as it can be for people to consume that.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, I want you to walk me through what that's like in terms of the food that's delivered, because I was looking on your website, and you buy these three days’ worth of food, whether that's breakfast, lunch, and dinner. How do people prepare the breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Is it mainly just kind of ready to go — or do you have to prepare some of it beforehand, heat it up?
Jennifer Maynard: Yeah. Certain things, most of our salads…most of our lunches are mainly salads. They'll have a little bit of gluten-free grains in them, some of them, or they'll have legumes in them. But they're mainly a very high-quality salad that gets you in an exact calorie range. So, they're very prescriptive in the calorie ranges, and that's ready to eat. It has a fresh patch of salad dressing that we make fresh each week. They pour that on, and they just need a fork…so that one's ready to go. The breakfast is a combination different things — it might be a packet of oatmeal for the morning, it might be a smoothie packet with a plant-based protein, it might be a gluten-free vegan muffin that doesn't have any added sugars and has some fresh fruit in it.
Jennifer Maynard: The breakfast can vary from, I can grab this muffin and eat it — to, I might need to do a little bit of mixing. And then the dinners are a meal kit, and that comes with everything pre-portioned so someone can cook it at home. And then, just because we do want to take it to the next level, we are in about two months launching a ready-made version, as well, that people can just heat and serve. And this is because we are moving very much into wanting to be more of an intervention, so that even doctors can say, "Hey, here's this meal you can just heat and serve," and then there's no excuses really, and people can consume it in any way they need to.
Jennifer Maynard: So we try to make it flexible. We also are just launching just a produce box, for people that already are comfortable cooking. And we have a lot of dietitians that love our food, but they're like, "I kind of know how to put a meal together." So, we're trying to provide levels for people that they can maybe step into it with a fully ready-made meal, and then maybe they want to start cooking a little bit on their own. And then eventually, we believe that we're training people how to eat properly — maybe they then want to venture out on their own, and they know what portion sizes look like. And they know what…that instead of protein being the main entree, and the side dishes being vegetables, we kind of flip it — and they start seeing what those volumes look like.
Jennifer Maynard: Because the salads, people are really surprised — they think they're going to be really hungry after eating a salad. But if you look at the volume of what we should be consuming, as far as servings the fruits and vegetables, it's a lot of volume. And so, you feel very satisfied, but you didn't consume a huge slug of unhealthy calories. It's very nutrient-dense calories that you're consuming, and it's a lot of fiber. I think that's one of the biggest things we forget about in the American diet is we're so low on our fiber consumption, and there's so many studies that have been done to link that to chronic illness. So, you definitely get a lot of fiber. That's probably one of the first things people tell us is, "There's a lot of fiber!"
Jennifer Maynard: And it takes them about a week for their system to totally get used to it, and then they're like, "It's amazing. I'm the most regular I've ever been, I am on clockwork, my system and everything." And they start to see their bodies responding to this food. So, that's what we're trying to do is make it as simple as possible, and to give people options. If they feel, again, comfortable they can buy the food just as raw, whole fruits and vegetables, and they can do it on their own. But we give them the stepping stone to do that.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah, the fiber, Jennifer, is a huge plus, especially from the cardiovascular point of view. I mean, this is something that's really close to my own heart. I'm just curious, what are the constituents of your salad dressing? What do you use in your salad dressings?
Jennifer Maynard: We actually import olive oil…it's mainly olive oil, and then we have different flavors. So a lot of it will be, like…we have a lemon vinaigrette. It's like, three ingredients — so it's your…it might have an herb in it, like parsley or oregano, it'll have fresh-squeezed lemons, and olive oil. So, we leave our salad dressings very simplistic with only a few ingredients. But the main thing in common with every salad dressing is our olive oil. It comes from centenarian groves in Italy — actually from Valter Longo's hometown. So, it's a very polyphenol-rich olive oil. We actually just launched it this week, also, even as a product we sell because it's actually very difficult in the U.S. to get a very high-quality, cold-pressed organic olive oil. So, we had a lot of people asking, “How do I get this?” So, we also even just launched that as a product.
Jennifer Maynard: Because if you look at a lot of the longevity regions, they consume these really high-quality fats. Olive oil across Italy is known for being...I had one of the towns I was visiting say it's their “elixir of life.” But they really do consume a lot of it in different regions of Italy, in appropriate ways. But we like to put it in our salad dressings, because it doesn't hit heat that way, it's not really meant to be a very high-temperature oil. It's also in our dinner kits, but that's the main component in the salad dressings to get a healthy, controlled amount of fat also in the lunch.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah, I'm glad you mentioned that, because even the Bloomberg data that came out several months ago where Okinawa used to be the leading country in the world with the most centenarians. Now it's been replaced by Spain, Portugal, and Italy, as the top three. So, what's common to the Mediterranean basin, although Portugal is off to the side a little bit, but what's common is really olive oil. In my own way research on this, I'll never forget, I came across an article about six or seven years ago that showed that olive oil changed inflammatory gene expression. In other words, we all have pro-inflammatory genes, and that might be one of the reasons why the most centenarians in the world are in the Mediterranean basin. If they're consuming olive oil, and if olive oil takes pro-inflammatory genes and reverses them back to a non-inflammatory state, it just makes sense that olive oil is the “secret sauce” of the Mediterranean diet. Or as you said, the “golden elixir.” So, I'm all in when it comes to olive oil, myself.
Jennifer Maynard: Absolutely. I think it's a really important change also to the American diet, because we are consuming 24% more calories than we did in the 1950s. But 50% of those calories are coming from processed oils now in the U.S. So, we're wanting to change that to where people are still consuming healthy fats, but they're really consuming these cold-pressed, very low processed, that you still keep these high polyphenol content. Because there's other oils, as well, but olive oil is so high in polyphenols, also amino acids and fatty acids as the building blocks. And that's really important that we're providing those right building blocks. So even if you're consuming these calories it's a really, again, healthy dose. And it's controlled, we're not giving people massive amounts, it's a very specific amount. We have very tight macro ratios that we focus on, so people get exactly what they need. But yeah, I think the quality oils is really missing from the U.S. diet. We consume a lot of processed oils, but not a lot of really clean oils.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And I agree with you…I think olive oils with a high-polyphenol content, olive oils with a high oleuropein content, I think are the way to go. And probably why it's the “secret sauce” of the Mediterranean diet, for all sorts of reasons. In fact, we had Dr. Gonzales at the American College of Nutrition meeting several years ago, and that PREDIMED study — despite the fact that it's come under some criticism from the New England Journal and other journals — they’re still right on as far as the higher fat…let's say, the nut and olive oil diet really excels in not only the reduction in diabetes, but also heart disease, neurodegenerative disease, Alzheimer's disease, and the list goes on and on. So, we're both aligned on olive oil — and even my son, Drew, is a big olive oil person, as well.
Jennifer Maynard: Very good.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, Jennifer, I want to hear more about the “food is medicine,” because as my father and I do in our practices, that's a huge component of what we do with our patients. So, I'd love to hear your perspective, and what you're doing, too, also with regenerative medicine, and how that connects to food as medicine.
Jennifer Maynard: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think one of the important things, and as I mentioned, I was in the healthcare industry for quite some time. But really looking, as I mentioned, feeling like we were losing the battle against chronic illness. And if you look at it now, studies showing 80% of chronic illness is more linked to lifestyle. I think for the longest time, as you mentioned, we linked it to our genetics, and we thought there was nothing we could do, we just have to assume we're going to proactively go on medication. But I think we're now realizing there's a lot more that we can control, and this is what's been very fascinating to me, both on the farming side — and I want to explain that a little bit — but also on the food side. That we're realizing that even things like our gut microbiome, which is very heavily impacted by the food we eat, is doing a lot more than we realized. It's actually impacting our neurotransmitters, like…90% of our serotonin is created by our gut microbiome, most of our immune system is lining our gut.
Jennifer Maynard: And so, really starting to, again, connect the science behind how food impacts our body, and especially this anti-aging versus pro-aging side of things, knowing that 80% of chronic illness is heavily influenced by lifestyle. And then how can we make that bridge, and make that readily available for people so they can start making those changes in their life. That's why, as I mentioned, I started with the farm, because I do personally believe it all starts from the soil. So, if we have a healthy soil microbiome, and we produce bio-diverse crops, which also helps the soil microbiome — we can produce incredibly healthy food that then we can feed our body.
Jennifer Maynard: So, our farm uses regenerative farming practices, we don't use any synthetic chemicals on the farm so we have this clean food that doesn't have all of the pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides. And, as well, we grow using organic practices — and a lot of studies are now showing that foods grown with these types of methods can have up to 30% more nutrients, mainly micronutrients that you don't see on a nutritional facts label, but we know a lot of times by the color and the flavor. So, a lot of people that try our food is like, "I haven't tasted a tomato like this since my grandma had a garden in her backyard." And so, we're trying to bring those phytonutrients back to the surface, where people are feeding their gut microbiome, they're feeding themselves with these high phytonutrients, bringing the color spectrum back to the diet.
Jennifer Maynard: The diet in the U.S. is very muted, and we're noticing longevity regions have a diverse color palette. When they're eating food, they're getting multiple colors on their plate. When they're growing food, they're also growing diverse types. So, like, a salad in Italy, you might have a red radicchio, you might have a vinaigrette and olive oil in there. It might have, obviously, leafy greens, they might have some tomatoes in there. So, that's five colors that they've added to that salad. And we might have one here with iceberg lettuce, which I don't even know has a color…for me that's like water! And some sort of super-processed vinaigrette, and then maybe croutons, and we’ve just added something that's also highly processed.
Jennifer Maynard: So we've lost that color palette, and we've also lost our connection to food. Where before, our primitive brain, if we were highly under stress and under very high consistent cortisol levels, our body used to really know how to connect with food. I need this red, super-vibrant like berry, because I know it's really high and lycopene and I need that in my body. Or I need these blueberries or purple Okinawa sweet potato, because it's going to really bring these nutrients into my body — and I need that resveratrol, I need that that anthocyanins. I may not have known the science behind it, but my body used to be able to connect. And they've shown that your color spectrum actually changes when you're under stress, and you see these more vivid colors.
Jennifer Maynard: We're so disconnected to our food these days. We don't smell it, we don't touch it, it's so processed with artificial colors, artificial sweeteners. I mean, super processed — even in the store, if you go to the produce, a lot of things are covered in wax. So, you're not getting this connection to your food and you're not picking this broad color spectrum that your body actually needs. So we're very big on how do we bring in that bio diversity, so you can also bring that bio diversity to your gut microbiome. How do we do it without chemicals, so we're supporting that gut microbiome and that overall system, and actually bringing in foods that are pro-aging.
Jennifer Maynard: So, in a positive way, they actually are pro-longevity. They're not triggering aging genes, they're actually triggering longevity genes. And we know now some of these phytonutrients are doing this, we know the timing of eating, as I mentioned before, can support these pro-aging genes instead of activating aging genes, which we know now are linked to chronic illnesses. I mean, chronic illnesses basically are what causes aging, or it's related to the aging process. So, if we can decelerate that aging by proper foods, we can impact chronic illness. And that's kind of been our focus is, again, the right ingredients that aren't...we don't have all these synthetic different additives on them, but they're whole foods that the body can actually connect with, supporting that healthy aging. And then using fasting regimens to really boost that cellular regeneration even further.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: There was a paper that came out — actually, it came out in October of 2019, and it was just re-assessed in May of 2020, only a couple of weeks ago. And it's called, “Dietary Berries, Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes: An Overview of Human Feeding Trials.” Again, since Drew and I come from a diabetic family, and since there's, like, 100 million diabetics in America — that's like one in 3.4 people — it just makes sense to put berries in the diet. There's an incredible amount of literature on it.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So, I really like what you said about having a colorful salad. I would take it to a higher level. I mean, the radicchio sounds great, the lettuce, romaine lettuce sounds great. But why not put some blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries — and get all these colors of the rainbow, and get all these phytonutrients. Especially since now the research shows that these berries, which contain some natural fructose, but you don't need insulin to get it into the cell. So it makes sense to have a real rainbow-colored salad, because now we're thwarting off diabetes. Now, we're eating something, and if you combine it with olive oil, again, the “secret sauce,” I think it just makes a lot of sense.
Jennifer Maynard: For sure.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I just wanted to echo that.
Jennifer Maynard: Yeah, absolutely.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And make sure our viewers got it, really got it.
Jennifer Maynard: No, it's really important. Even when I shop with my kids, because I know a lot of other parents, and they're like, "My kids won't eat vegetables, they just won't eat any of these things." And so, I kind of...I mean, it's been a little bit more difficult the last few months. But normally I bring my kids shopping, and they each have the goal that they have to pick five colors. I don't care what it is, they have to pick it, as long as it's in the produce section.
Jennifer Maynard: And they do that, and then they appreciate it. They're like, "Well, that's my broccoli." They even fight over whose it is, which I'm like, "Great, my kids are fighting over broccoli, I'm happy as pie." But I think even for adults, it's important to have that in mind when they're shopping is if I'm in this produce section, how can I make sure I have at least five colors in my shopping cart — and that I'm going to get those on my plate by tonight. Because I just don't think we have that focus, and it's, in my opinion, a relatively easy thing to do. We just have to be aware and conscious of it.
Jennifer Maynard: And again, berries are such a delightful thing because you could have that as a wonderful snack. It can satiate a lot of cravings, it's not very high in sugar, and you can have this wonderful, enjoyable snack, as well. Everything doesn't have to be like a chore. Those are the things that you can add to your diet in a very delightful way.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And berries go great with olive oil. The polyphenol flavor of olive oil and berries. Oh, it's like a match from heaven, I love it.
Jennifer Maynard: Yeah, absolutely.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, Jennifer, I was going to comment that you're describing to me food that's alive. And a lot of the food that we're eating today is dead. It really is, right?
Jennifer Maynard: Yeah.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I mean, the nutrient content is so low, it's been traveling for far distances across the country. And yes, people are not getting that rainbow-colored assortment of fruits and vegetables. So, I love what you're saying there. I had a question about the farming practice, that regenerative farming that you were talking about. Where in the continuum does that fall with organic farming, and then also permaculture? Where does it fall in that line?
Jennifer Maynard: I mean, we try to do, kind of, all of it. So, organic farming doesn't mean that you're necessarily regenerating the soil. So, I can actually still use a lot of chemicals in organic farming, and I could be plowing my fields to death. And I might not be really allowing my soil and microorganisms to thrive. I could also have mono-crops, which are also not allowing the soil and microorganisms to thrive. So we take the organic side in the sense that we don't use any GMO crops, and we don't use any synthetic chemicals. We actually try to use no chemicals…I would say the one thing we use, really one of the only things we use, is diatomaceous earth. And that just irritates a lot of insects, but it doesn't...we do it at times that it doesn't impact our pollinators. We focus very heavily on pollinators, because our insect population is down 80% in the last 30 years. So, it's really at a devastating level.
Jennifer Maynard: So we've dedicated five full acres to the farm that's only pollinator habitat. And then we have hedgerows all over the farm that are specifically building up our native pollinators and insects. But we also focus on what's below the surface, which I think is just starting to emerge as this regenerative farming. And I don't like a lot of labels, but obviously we have to so people understand what we're talking about. Because regenerative farming already, I think, has gone farther than I would like as far as now they're still using a lot of chemicals. But again, the point behind it is that you focus on things that regenerate the soil. So, you keep the ground covered at all times, like you would in a forest, right?
Jennifer Maynard: If we knocked down trees in a forest, and then we step away, as long as we didn't completely coat it in chemicals — within a year, that forest will be green again. Maybe not, 30, 40, 60 feet tall, but it'll be green with ferns, whatever's needed to cover the ground. And that's really to protect the soil and allow all the organisms under the soil to thrive. So we keep the ground covered with cover crops, whatever we can, as often as possible. We also do a lot of hedge rows, which are perennials. Usually, they build up the soil organic matter. We focus heavily on that rhizosphere, which is where the microbes are concentrated in the soil around the root base. It's what allows the plants to communicate with this, the microbes in the soil.
Jennifer Maynard: And then, for example, because that root base is so important in it builds up a community of organisms, we leave the root mass in the ground. So other than crops that are root crops, like carrots, we completely leave the root mass in the ground. So a tomato plant, at the end of the season, we just chop it at the base, and that allows those organisms to thrive. So everything we do is to try to build up the soil organic matter, which also sequesters carbon, it's great for the environment. It's considered by the United Nations the lowest cost, and the fastest way we can start reversing climate change. So, it's really a win-win.
Jennifer Maynard: I think for people to start realizing when we look at this whole system together, we can help human health and we can help planetary health — and it's not mutually exclusive, we can do it together. So that's what the farm really focuses on, is how do we rebuild that soil so it's incredibly nutrient-rich, and that we have these organisms that are communicating to a plant and helping the plant cope with stress. We look at the holobiome, which is the whole of all of the DNA and RNA of the plant cells, but also all the bacterial and viral, and nematodes and everything that are associated with that overall system that help bring nutrients out of the soil into the plant, so we get these super nutrient-dense plants.
Jennifer Maynard: And we can do it organically, because when you allow that soil microbiome to thrive, you allow...you basically, it's just like with humans, we talked about, it's not just genetics anymore that are inherited. But you expand the genetics of that microbiome, where the plant actually has all this additional inherited knowledge, or passed down knowledge, that it can cope with stress. So just as an example, the soil microbiome can actually tell the plant…it can actually impact it at a genetic level, it can tell the plant — if there's a drought coming, you need to respond to this by sending deeper or more lateral roots and find root fibers, so you can actually pull more moisture into the plant.
Jennifer Maynard: We never really understood that before, but these organisms are actually communicating. And we're seeing such incredible parallels to the human gut microbiome, because we also interact with our bacteria in our gut in a very similar way as the plants do with their soil microbiome. So we're creating these incredibly healthy plants, we're focusing on the soil microbiome, which helps them cope with stress. Just like when we have a healthy gut microbiome, it's helping us cope with stress and respond better to our environment. Because you're expanding your collective DNA that you can respond to these things with. I think of it as it's this shared knowledge that…literally, millions of years of knowledge could be passed down that my body could actually use to support me in a better way.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, as you're speaking there, I had this thought of Zack Bush in my head, Dr. Zack Bush. I'm sure you're probably familiar with him — and Dad, you know him, as well.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Oh, yeah. I know him well, yeah.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Because he's all about us being a part of this ecosystem, and obviously the soil playing a very critical role in our health, in our microbiome, as well. And he truly believes that one of the biggest threats to our existence on this planet is the loss of our topsoil. He says within 60 years, there may not be any topsoil left, and therefore they're not going to be able to grow food. So we really need to have more farming practices like what you're doing, because we're going to be in trouble down the line if we don't do something now.
Jennifer Maynard: Yeah. Farming, the whole farming industry is very complicated. If you look at most farmers, a lot of people don't realize it's the number one suicide profession in the world is farmers, which most people would never think that. They think, "Oh, how hard could that be?" But it is very high-stress, and it's getting more difficult with climate change. Just this year in New Jersey, we had really hot weather, and then we had a snow just a few weeks ago — which for a farm is devastating. We have to run out and try to cover our rows, and do all these different things to try to not have a major setback, but it does send a lot of plants into stress. And if you figure, you're a farm, you're selling to a retailer that's going to take 60% of what you have, you’re buying really expensive seeds. GMO seeds are not inexpensive, and they're what's broadly used in the U.S. So, their profit margin is tiny. If you look, farms are more in debt than they've been in, I think, 50 years.
Jennifer Maynard: It's hard for a farmer to take a risk and try something totally new. If they've been farming and they were taught by their dad, and their dad was taught by their grandfather or their grandmother. They're passing down this knowledge generation to generation, and they're completely fearful of being the farm that loses the family farm, and they're heavily in debt. So, we have to change the whole system because it's not the farmers…it's not like farmers are just racking in the dough, a lot of farmers are really struggling. So they're very afraid of trying organic farming. What if it fails? What if I lose everything? Or trying new crops. We grow…80% of our farms are growing five crops in the U.S., and those are subsidized crops and they're crops that you can get insurance behind. So, they're, kind of, for them, a sure bet. Even though they're far less profitable in the long run, it's a huge leap of faith for a farm to just be like, “Forget it, I'm going to just try regenerative farming and see how it goes for a few years.” They don't have that luxury.
Jennifer Maynard: So, we really have to start making changes to the overall food system and farming, and supporting farms to transition over to this with financial support, because most of the financial support is not in that space. It's tricky. I've had a lot of people tell me, "Well, why don't more farms just do it?" And if you really understand the history of farming, and you know farmers, you also understand why they're resistant to make this change. Which I think is devastating, because I actually think if farmers moved in this direction, they would be more profitable in the long run, and I think they would be far less reliant on other entities for their funding. Again, it's a huge barrier to overcome.
Jennifer Maynard: So, we need more people. Zack Bush is doing a great job educating your average consumer, educating even farmers that we can change this — and even finding ways to fund farms to start converting over, because it's so important. And I mentioned, it's important for the planet's health and human health. They are absolutely connected, and we kind of always leave one out of the equation when we discuss these things. So, it's really important.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, Jennifer, for today's Wellness Wisdom, I'd love it if you could talk about one thing or one tip that you can give our listeners that they can incorporate into their diet.
Jennifer Maynard: I think one of the most important things is to find ways to bring in more fruits and vegetables into the diet. One in 10 people in the U.S. gets the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables a day, we know that it's related to many, many chronic illnesses, not consuming enough fruits and vegetables and fiber. So I think that's one of the most important things. And I like to tell people, just think of it as when you go into a restaurant and you order your entree, which a lot of times is a big slab of meat, and they say, "What do you want as your sides?" And you say, "Oh, I'll have some rice and some broccoli." And they're these tiny portions. I just tell people to flip it.
Jennifer Maynard: The fruits and vegetables should be the main entrée, and you should have an adequate, high-quality source of protein, and some of the other components. Whether, if you're eating...if you're concerned with gluten, gluten-free grains. But there's other things like the fats, and healthy grains that you can bring into your diet. But I really just tell people flip it, because then you're not going to have the added calories that you don't need from unhealthy sources, you're going to get that needed fiber into your body, you're going to get the phytonutrients that you need, and you're not going to be overdosing yourself with protein, which happens for a lot of Americans. So that would be my main tip.
Jennifer Maynard: If you go to longevity regions — and again, they're changing over time because a lot of, unfortunately, their younger population aren't adopting all of their practices. But if you go there and see a real, traditional meal, you will absolutely see this across the board. And Longo jokes about it a little bit in his book, when he'll interview the centenarians and he'll say, "Do you eat meat?" And they'll say, "I ate it once. I broke into a wedding and stole some of the meat." And literally, they're telling the story about the one time — because they didn't realize he meant daily consumption of meat. So, you really see this flip and this reversal of the portions, and what they put their focus on, which is that fruits and vegetables. So that would be my number one tip. Lots of other good stuff too, but that would be, I think, the easiest thing that people could control, and try to bring some color into that, if you can.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, Jennifer, thanks for being on our show today.
Jennifer Maynard: Thank you for having me, I appreciate it.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Hey folks, before we go I wanted to share an exclusive offer JUST for Be HEALTHistic listeners! Since we spoke in detail about the olive oil she makes, Jennifer Maynard has generously offered a free bottle of Nutrition for Longevity’s polyphenol-rich organic olive oil, AND a copy of The Longevity Diet book, with any meal kit or produce box ordered. This is a $25 value! To learn more about this offer, and to get the special discount code, visit the episode page for today’s podcast — that would be Episode #29 — at BeHealthisticPodcast.com, and we’ll provide you with the link and the code you'll need to take advantage of this amazing offer. Our thanks to Jennifer for extending this offer to our listeners, and we hope you enjoy!
Dr. Drew Sinatra: That's our show for today, folks. If you have a question or an idea for a show topic, please send us an email or share a post with us on Facebook. And remember, if you like what you heard today, and you want to be an active member of the Be HEALTHistic community, subscribe to our podcast at BeHealthisticPodcast.com, or on Apple podcasts, or wherever you download your favorites. You can also find more great content and information from us and the Healthy Directions team at HealthyDirections.com.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I'm Dr. Drew Sinatra.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And I'm Dr. Steve Sinatra.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And this is Be HEALTHistic.
Narrator: Thanks for listening to Be HEALTHistic with Doctors Drew and Steve Sinatra, powered by our friends at Healthy Directions. See you next time.
We hope you enjoyed the show. If you have any comments, show or guest ideas, please send us an email at [email protected].
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