Dr. Fred Pescatore – Nutritional Medicine
Dr. Fred Pescatore
Jonathan: Hey, everyone. Jonathan Bailor here with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast. I’m uniquely smiley this morning because I have a deep appreciation and sense of gratitude to today’s guest. We have none other than Dr. Fred Pescatore who I’m a fan of for many reasons. One, Dr. Pescatore was kind enough to show much love for the Smarter Science of Slim many years ago back before it was really anything and this is when his book The Hamptons Diet was doing very, very well, which is also a wonderful book. I would highly recommend you check out. Dr. Pescatore is always the like to talk to, always willing to tell the truth, has an amazing story and practices right out of New York City so certainly see a lot of people. Dr. Pescatore, welcome to the show.
Fred: Oh, thanks for having me. It’s always a pleasure to be spreading the news, the gospel, according to New Age Nutrition.
Jonathan: I know. I love it. Well, actually, Dr. Pescatore, it’s fortunate that you should start off with that, talking about spreading the good word because one of the things that initially turned me on to you and your work was how your history as the associate medical director for the Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine, working directly with the late Dr. Atkins.
Can you tell us a bit about that experience and really just how so many of my listeners and myself personally have had our experience with traditional doctors is eat more whole grains, eat less fat and do the very thing that causes diabetes to cure your diabetes? Obviously, you’re not doing that and that’s obviously not what the science shows.
Fred: Well, that’s a big question. Okay, the thing about Dr. Atkins is what people may or may not know about him. I started working for him in really the dark ages of low fat when low fat was so popular and so prevalent, and it was just the dogma that was out there in the world. It was amazing how his practice still continues to thrive, and what people may not realize is Dr. Atkins was way more than just the Atkin’s diet. He truly was one of the founding fathers of nutritional medicine, clinical nutrition, integrated medicine, holistic health, whatever you want to call it.
He truly was one of the founding fathers if not the most modern founding father of this sort of practice, and that’s what we did all day and it was amazing to actually see people get well and to have people take charge of their health, take care of their health. They come from a place of wellness as opposed to a place of illness which always really bothered me about the medical establishment, bothered me about pretty much everything that had to do with healthcare is that we come from a place of illness and we never came from a place of wellness.
Being at the Atkins Center and being part of that environment of people and not just the people who worked there but the patients. The patients were amazing. We would see 200 to 250 patients a day there and it was pretty remarkable because they all came to be healthy. They all came to not wanting to get sick, not accepting the fact that “Oh, I am just getting older. This must happen to me.” It was really just an eye opening experience that made me love medicine again so that’s why I will always be in his debt. I always be appreciative of him because of how he opened my eyes to practicing medicine in a way that made me really happy in it, and it gave me a career.
Jonathan: Such an inspirational story, Fred. It seems like your career in many ways is characterized by a unique passion for care and for serving the needs of others. Certainly, anyone who gets into the medical field has some level of wanting to help and care for others but you with your service work, with your continued wellness practice really seemed to personify that. Why do you think you have been able to keep that attitude whereas it seems like some who entered the medical profession end up losing it?
Fred: I think I can keep a good attitude about it because I try not to get involved with the dogma of medicine. I know what I know and I know what I don’t know and what I do know I do really well so I stick to what I know well and I try to always take the patient’s information that they’re giving me and listen to it on multiple level because what they’re telling you tells volumes about what’s wrong with them and it’s not just “How are you feeling today?” It’s not just “Oh, I have a pain in my stomach.” They’re telling you volumes about what’s going on with them, so to me it’s kind of a real challenge.
It’s always been my goal in life or my certain mission in life is to get the message across as many people as I can possibly get it across to so having down the radio for seven years, having written multiple books, probably eight of them at this point and just going out. My service work all over the world and doing that and helping people who are less fortunate than we are and who do need help. I just think it’s important. I think it’s sort of what doctors should be doing and yes, we all do get burned out but you’ve got to able to work the system in a way that it works for you rather than against you, and I think that’s really critical here.
Jonathan: Fred, how do you – two things. One, obviously, there’s an intense demand on your time as a MD. There’s people coming to you all the time. You’re a very busy person but also let’s say in contrast to someone who’s – like myself, someone who’s just enthusiastic about this. Is on the internet. The community that I surround myself with is a community that is very supportive of using nutrition and wellness to heal oneself fundamentally while in the traditional western medical community I could imagine that would be looked upon less optimally, so not only do you have the struggle of busyness and constant demand on your time but how do you deal with the fact that the community that you’re in may not be as supportive at this approach itself?
Fred: Well, they’re not supportive. You put it very nicely. They’re more supportive than they ever were. Having said that, that is sort of going from 0 to 0.75. They’ve not budge very much at all but at least they recognize that CoU10 may do something if you’re taking a statin drug or there are certain things that they do realize that are inherent but what they won’t realize are the big pictures issues. They will never realize that what they’ve been saying all along about diabetes has been killing us. They will never admit that this entire obesity epidemic they started. They will never admit the bigger items. They will never admit. That story that came out about salt just recently.
We’ve been saying that salt has nothing to do with anything and the American Heart Association still with this latest study will not come out and say “We’ll not change it’s position on salt.” You’re dealing with very powerful organizations, very powerful lobbying organizations who stand to lose a lot of money if they change their policy on things so that gets of course, filtered down to the troops and who are the troops? The troops are the doctors. The troops are the one that are out there in the field and especially now that big pharma is such a vital part of medicine. There’s very few hospitals or medical schools that can exist without pharmaceutical money.
You’ve got to play with that if you want to have hospital privileges, if you want to be named the best doctor in America. That sort of thing. You got to play by the rules and those rules are made by people who are making money off of you, so I don’t care as much that these other doctors throw the slings and arrows at me because I know what I’m doing is correct and I just feel badly for them that they don’t have the time nor the eagerness nor the willingness to actually read the literature because I read the same literature they do and how could we come to two completely different positions on it?
It’s unfortunate that they don’t take the time to read it and look at how much nutritional sciences is coming out. Just because they don’t have some person banging down their doors, bringing them lunch and saying “Here’s the best supplement you should take” doesn’t necessarily mean these things don’t exist and they don’t work. I feel badly for them. That the way I look at it, basically. They look at scant at me but I feel badly for them.
Jonathan: Well, it seems like given not only your personal success but more importantly the success of your patients and of your practice speaks for itself.
Fred: Without a doubt. My practice is primarily word of mouth so I couldn’t exist if it weren’t for word of mouth. Yes, I have a public persona and all of that stuff. That does exist but it’s amazing that I see just families in here. They bring in one family member before I know it all of the other family members or all of their other friends or all of their other workers or all of their other – everybody in their social network, and that to me is a testament to the fact that this works and what I’m doing as a service people need and want and it’s crucial to the health of our environment or the health of – and I don’t mean environment as in Green Peace but environment as in our internal and our environment in which we live our lives and our feeling of wellness and health and how long we’re going to live and how we’re going to age in a healthy way.
Jonathan: Well, Dr. Fred, when you talked about aging in a healthy way, you also mentioned something a few minutes back about diabetes and then potentially getting that backwards in the mainstream. One thing I want to dig into – it’s actually two things. First is talking about the cause of diabetes and the second is the cost of diabetes. What are your thoughts on both of those?
Fred: The cost, what did it come out to just the other day five hundred billion dollars per year for diabetes and what diabetes causes. Imagine how much money, how much good that can be spend on giving people healthcare who can’t afford it if we just cracked the one thing that is breaking the bank right now, which is diabetes and obesity and heart disease because it’s associated with all of those things, but diabetes is something that we’re doing to our ourselves because it’s not Type I diabetes where it were genetically passed on where you get it as a child generally, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Type II is something that we eat ourselves into. We’re doing that in a very rapid pace where you do really well. There’s 70 million, I believe, diabetics or pre-diabetics out there right now. That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of people. That’s 25 percent of our country is diabetic or pre-diabetic and we don’t really care. How do we don’t really care? We don’t do anything because the model from American Medicine is to fix something that’s broken, not to prevent something that isn’t there. That’s what you and I do is to prevent things that aren’t there from happening.
There’s no way you’re going to avoid diabetes if you eat fast food, if you eat too much, if you eat too much sugar and simple carbohydrates and you don’t exercise, you are going to get diabetes and there’s just no way around it. I used to blame the individual a lot, not having strong enough will to pass up food and all things like that but it really is a combination of the fact that the powers that be told us we should be eating low fat foods. It doesn’t matter how many carbohydrates we have. It doesn’t matter the quality of the carbohydrate. It doesn’t matter.
The American Diabetes Associations still recommend 60 grams of carbohydrates in each meal per person regardless of where that 60 grams of carbohydrates come from, whether it be pretzels or brown rice. It doesn’t matter to them so we’re dealing with an entire public health policy that was started in the 80s, and now, generation later we’ve now got this epidemic. I’m kind of starting to not really – don’t get me wrong. I’ve always blame the establishment but I’m starting to not blame the human being so much because we’ve drilled this into them so badly.
Don’t eat eggs, you’ll get cholesterol. Don’t eat fat, you’ll get cholesterol. Eat low fat. Don’t eat salt. Eat only whole grains or eat any grain you want. Sugar is not bad for you. All of these messages have been over and over again drilled into people’s head so what do you expect them to do? They kind of taught something and they got it but the messaging was wrong from the powers that be.
Jonathan: Fred, I couldn’t put it any better myself. I often say that – let’s draw the analogy to smoking cigarettes a hundred years ago, just a few generations ago when we had physicians and medical institutions telling us “Smoking is fine. In fact, it’s good for your t-zone.” How could you get angry at someone for getting lung cancer and I think there’s a compounding problem which is – let’s say, you started smoking during the time when smoking was thought of as, at least, not bad for you, and then you become addicted to it and then, the institution starts changing its message.
Well, here you are addicted to something and at that point, you also have to – again, we don’t want to just write people a free checks; say there’s no such thing as personal responsibility because of course, there is but when you’re dealing with the substance like nicotine or cigarettes which has been shown to trail only heroin and cocaine in terms of its addictive properties and now we start to see that there are similar addictive properties and things like refined sugar with the research coming out of Princeton and University of Florida.
Fred: High fructose corn syrup.
Jonathan: Exactly. It starts to become a bit like – again, we are all somewhat responsible but when we’re told something is good for us and it’s not and then we become addicted to it, how do we get ourselves out of that?
Fred: We get ourselves out of it in two ways. One which we do with anything. Anything that’s addictive is that we deal with it one day at a time. One day at a time has been shown to work. We need public health policies that will change. That will change the ability to buy giant sodas, to buy 1500 calories worth of popcorn in a movie theater. That needs to be changed. I think there’s so many levels upon which it has to be changed but it won’t never ever, ever occur until you bring Agru-business to the ends of the conversation because they’re going to want something out of it.
It’s going to be awful but they get out of it and we won’t know for another generation the awfulness they will get out of it but we might lose the giant bottles of a soda and we might lose the giant things of popcorn and yes, do I think they need to be banned? Absolutely. Absolutely, we don’t let you smoke in movie theaters. We don’t let you take alcohol into movie theaters. We don’t let you shoot up heroin or crack in movie theaters. Why do I have to sit there and hear people crunch? Crunch, crunch, munch, munch. That’s all I hear when I’m in movie theaters. It makes me crazy. Crazy. It’s just absurd, and not only that, it’s the cost of taking care of these people which is just enormous. Enormous the cost to taking care of these people. Simply because they’ve been told of the wrong message. The messaging has all been wrong.
Jonathan: Fred, I think you hit on a key point there which is oftentimes we get into debate about public policy and freedom and individual liberties and the definition of freedom, I believe, as given by our founding fathers is that you are free to the extent that your freedom does not limit the freedom of someone else. That’s why for example, we’ve now done away with smoking in public places because your ability to smoke does not, cannot interfere with my ability to not smoke. I start to think of a similar situations with sugar, especially.
I like to call it second-hand sugar, where if the most heart-breaking is when you see maybe in a classroom at a school, there’s a birthday celebration and someone brings in cupcakes and it’s basically, the children are forced to eat cupcakes because we all know as kids if you don’t do what the group is doing, that’s just a social death wish. You don’t –
Fred: It happens in adults, too. I had a patient this morning, had the same story. “Oh, I was out with my children at a hockey game and then after the hockey game, we went all and did this and so I don’t had no other choice.” I’m like “Really? You have no other choice. Really. Somebody was holding a gun to your head.” You had another choice. Kids, it’s different. They’re given the cupcakes, whatever, that’s a different story. That takes proper parenting. That takes better parenting. That takes way more issues.
My biggest issue is why have these things? Why does the school think it’s okay to force sugar down these children’s throat? That’s the biggest issue to me is why do school think it’s okay. I think it’s because – maybe, I shouldn’t say why I think it’s because. Let me just suffice to say that the heaviest patients I see are school teachers.
Jonathan: Well, I think it’s definitely – I think it becomes an issue also of our perception of things like sugar. For example, if someone offers you a cigarette and you say “No, thank you. I don’t smoke.” They don’t take that as a personal affront. However, if someone bakes a cake and says “Would you like a piece?” and unless, you can say “I’m diabetic and that will kill me.” or something else, you’re going to get some sort of wrinkled brow pointing back to you like “What? You think you’re better than me?” That’s no.
I wish we could get a “No, I don’t smoke” or even if you offered a vegetarian a steak and their answer was “I’m a vegetarian” or you offered someone who’s kosher, pork. Do you think we could ever live in a society were saying “I abstain from the things that cause diabetes” would be seen as anything less than trying to be an elitist.
Fred: Yes, I think we can. It’s just going to take a lot of work and a lot of messaging and a lot of – it just takes a lot. It’s going to take – and I’m sorry, it’s going to take public policy changing. It’s absolutely going to take public policy changing to do this. I’m sorry for all the civil libertarians out there but it just is. I think the more people do this – look how quickly gluten had a change around. Now when people say they’re gluten-free, people get it.
There is gluten-free restaurants everywhere. It took, what? Five years? Six years? It didn’t take long at all for gluten-free to be a perfectly acceptable thing so sugar is a little bit more engrained in our mentality because it’s consider such a treat and so special and all these other stuff but when is sugar special when you have it every day?
Fred: When you have it in every meal, when it’s on every corner. That’s not special.
Jonathan: Well, the other thing…
Fred: There’s no special about it.
Jonathan: Yeah, well, the other thing that’s a challenge to it is I think – you mentioned it has a different role in our culture. When I think of sugar, I think of something that taste sweet and when I think of a sweet taste that makes me happy. However, gluten, I, too, am so impressed at how quickly that has been able to become its own thing but it’s almost because gluten was never a thing to begin with. It’s just this this. I don’t know how many people…
Fred: No, tell me why.
Jonathan: Crave gluten.
Fred: People crave gluten all the time. Are you kidding me?
Jonathan: But do they know they…
Fred: They crave bread. They crave…
Fred: All of that stuff. They crave that stuff. That’s gluten but the reason why gluten has had a [inaudible 22:38] it’s okay to be gluten-free, guess what? Because there are gluten-free products to take its place so you can have a gluten-free bagels, so big Agro-business is still making money. When you take sugar away from things, there’s a lot of things that you just can’t replace. You can’t get a sugar-free cupcakes that’s as good as the regular one. You can’t replace sugar-free ice cream that’s as good as the regular ice cream. You can’t replace that as easily because just because it has sugar-free, they’ll put something else it.
If it isn’t sugar, it will be brown rice syrup. It will be this. It will be that. It will be something else. It’s not going to be true sugar-free, so I think that’s the reason why gluten-free became so much more acceptable because there’s something else to feed people. There’s something else to sell them. There’s something else for them to buy.
Jonathan: Well, absolutely. I may have been unclear earlier but the gluten as an individual component – for example, we do not have bags of gluten on our shelves. We’ve probably never eaten a spoonful of gluten. Gluten is a bit of an ingredient that is in things which can be replaced and the thing that it was in can still be enjoyed, whereas sugar is almost seen as a food group in it of itself.
Fred: Yes, it is seen as a very pleasant part of the food chain. If only people would understand just what it does to them, by how much one teaspoon of sugar decreases the immune system by fifty something percent and two teaspoons decreases the immune system’s ability to do its job by over 75 percent. The average American consumes 33 teaspoons of sugar a day. Think about that one. Why are you sick?
There’s why you’re sick. There’s why you don’t feel well. Think about that. I just think sugar is the biggest enemy we have right now and it’s going to take a long time to get people to think of that way and to find different foods that are their comfort foods and their go-to foods and their foods that they use when they’re depressed and all these other stuff.
Jonathan: Well, Fred, how much hope is there for fat, natural fat to fill that role? It seems like oftentimes comfort foods are both the combination of fat and sugar which together are no fun but getting back to enjoying whole food fat. You’re obviously a huge fan of the wonderful source of mono and saturated fat, macadamia nuts but could we swap sugar for fat?
Fred: We could and I try to do that in my practice and the diets that I preach and all of that stuff. I think avocados are great. There’s so many great source of the fat that satisfies you way more than sugar does. Studies tell you this. Have eggs for breakfast versus people who have pancakes for breakfast. The ones who have pancakes for breakfast will be hungrier way sooner than the ones who have eggs for breakfast. The satiety is completely different. I just think it’s almost as if we got to create this culture where food went back to the way food used to be, which is food was for sustenance.
Not food as an – and that’s not to say we should never celebrate. We should never have a birthday celebration. We should never have Christmas or Kwanzaa or Easter, whatever, Pass Over. Of course, we should, but those should be special occasions. There’s no reason why we subsidize sugar. There’s no reason why sugar is cheaper now than it was at the turn of the century. Not 2000, 1900. I date myself. There’s just no reason why candy bars is cheap as they are. There’s no reason why soda is as cheap as it is.
It’s because we subsidize sugar and that’s why, and maybe if we subsidize something that was healthy, we would be able to have a healthier place from which to choose foods, but until such time when it’s cheaper for me, when a dollar can buy me 400 calories at McDonald’s or 50 calories in a grocery store, what am I going to do if I only have a dollar? I’m going to get a happy meal. I’m not going to get an orange. I’m going to get a happy meal. This is so deep, this conversation and this problem. It’s so deep and it reaches into – it’s like a fungus to my celiac. It’s just everywhere trying to tease out one from the other.
It’s just really, really hard and until we make major changes and just teach people that you need to eat different things or different things are good for you and good for you is okay and not good for you is something we do five days a weeks or three days a week and then it’s okay to do the others. I don’t know. I have issues with the television show Mike & Molly. I have issues with a lot of things that think that obesity is okay. I have real issues with that but that’s just me being crazy.
Jonathan: I don’t think you’re crazy, Dr. Fred. I want to make sure we end the podcast on a note of hope because I do think this is a hopeful situation. I think we’ve made dramatic progress and if you could give three steps or three tips, the top three things that our listeners could do to help avoid diabetes or to help address diabetes they currently have, the same thing with obesity, what would those top three tips be?
Fred: Don’t drink soda or fruit juice. I think that’s a real easy thing to do. It’s really easy to swap out that because that’s a simple – that is just wasted calories and filled with sugars so that’s one thing that they can do. The second thing they have to do is exercise. Exercise is critical to warding off diabetes, and I don’t care what kind of exercise you do. Just do something. Just move. Then, the third thing is be consistent with what you do. Be consistent with these changes that you make. It’s not something that you’re can start tomorrow, it’s something that you can start today and it’s something that you can overcome.
You do everything else in your life. You go to work. You raise children. You have a successful relationship. You have families. Those are way harder than choosing not to eat sugar. Way harder. When you think about all the wonderful things you do in your life every day that are really hard, eating should not be one of them. Eating should be something that’s really easy to make a healthy decision.
Jonathan: Brilliant. Folks, hopefully, you can tell the brilliance that is Dr. Pescatore because the man knows what he is talking about and the man has a beautiful heart as well as a beautiful mind so please check out his work. If you haven’t read The Hamptons Diet, please do so. You can also check out the amazing amount of content he gives away for free on his website which is DrPescatore.com, and that’s doctor, D-r-p as in Paul, e-s-c-a-t-o-r-e.com. Fred, thank you so much for joining us. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
Fred: No, that – can I give out one more thing?
Jonathan: Oh, please, yes.
Fred: LogicalHealthAlternative.com, you can sign up for my newsletter. That’s free. It’s an e-Newsletter. It comes out four times a week.
Jonathan: I love it. Well, Fred, thank you so much for joining us. It’s been an absolute pleasure and listeners, thank you for joining us and remember that this week and every week after, eat smarter, exercise smarter and live better. Talk with you soon.