The Secrets to a Longer Healthier Life! with Max Lugavere

The body is a complex machine, and on today’s episode of The Ed Mylett Show, we’re breaking down how your brain and your body works so you can TAKE ACTION to become a healthier, longer-living version of yourself!

I am thrilled to have Max Lugavere as my guest on the show. We’re talking all about how to live longer, healthier, and understand how the FOOD you eat can make all the difference. 

After watching his mother’s battle with a neurodegenerative disease, Max dedicated his life to helping others fight back against some of the most common diseases that plague us, including dementia, high blood pressure, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. On today’s episode, Max delivers THE MOST detailed advice on how to be HEALTHIER in your mind and your body.

You will learn how the food you eat and your predetermined GENETICS can affect your body. You’ll also discover what you can do to live longer and healthier AND how you may be preventing your body from burning more fat on a daily basis!

Max exposed the real dangers of indulging in hyper-processed foods, the benefits of intermittent fasting, and a mind-blowing strategy on how to get your brain performing like it’s ten years younger!

This is an interview your body and your mind CANNOT afford to miss! Grab a notebook and pen and take notes — get ready to #MAXOUT with Max Lugavere! 

Who Is Max Lugavere?

Max Lugavere is a health and science journalist, a New York Times best-selling author, filmmaker, and he is also the host of the #1 iTunes health podcast, The Genius Life. As well as an international speaker, Max appears regularly on the Dr. Oz Show, the Rachael Ray Show, and The Doctors. He has contributed to Medscape, Vice, Fast Company, CNN, and The Daily Beast, he’s been featured on NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, and in The New York Times and People Magazine.

I consider Max one-of-a-kind right now in the way that he articulates his breakthroughs. Max has truly found his calling — a journey that began when his mother was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease. 

“If you would’ve asked me ten years ago, what the next ten years of my life was going to look like, I never would’ve predicted what I’m currently doing right now.” – Max Lugavere

Max had studied pre-med in college before pivoting to a career in journalism. He covered topics related to health and science for about six years until his mother started displaying symptoms of her illness. 

“As anybody with a sick loved one knows [that] the world basically stops when that happens. My mom was young at the time. She was about 58 years old. This was in 2011 where she started to complain of brain fog. … There was a change to her gait, which is the way that a person walks. It seemed almost as if overnight she had had a brain transplant with somebody 30, 40 years her senior.” – Max Lugavere

At the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, Max’s mother would be diagnosed with a disease that completely rocked their world. 

“That was, for me, the [metaphor of the] sound effect in the movie of the record stopping. All of my prior interests and passions fell to the background. I became singularly focused on understanding to the best of my ability why this would have happened to my mom, what could be done to help her slow down the progression of the disease, and in tandem with that, what could be done to prevent cognitive decline from being something that I ever have to contend with. That became my life’s mission — to understand all the various diet and lifestyle factors that come into play when discussing how to optimize the way that our brains work and to shield our brains against decay in the long-term.” – Max Lugavere

It’s a horrible thing to witness a loved one battle a neurodegenerative disease. Max’s work has since impacted the lives of millions — what an incredible way to honor his mother! 

What’s the Deal with Insulin?

Max and I got pretty technical in this conversation — and you may want to listen to our conversation a few times and take notes as you go. On a personal note, I’ve been dealing with some cardiovascular disease that I discovered early. I have a little more than a layman’s knowledge about some of this health stuff, and I had some pretty in-depth questions for Max. 

One thing we hear a lot about is insulin. Insulin impacts our cardiovascular health as well as things like inflammation, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. I wanted Max to explain more about how insulin impacts the brain — and how our eating habits play a role.

“When discussing cardiovascular disease, when you have chronically elevated insulin, it’s a condition called hyperinsulinemia. It causes your body to hold onto sodium which can actually raise blood pressure. Having chronically elevated blood pressure [is called] hypertension, which is something that many, many adults have.” – Max Lugavere

Hypertension is one of the most common — and preventable — risk factors for dementia. And, it all starts with insulin, which is something we can influence through our diets. Not just what we eat, but also when we eat is important. 

“On just one day — 24 hours — of a low carbohydrate diet, you cut the amount of insulin secreted by your pancreas in half. For anybody experiencing chronically elevated levels of insulin, this is worthwhile to know. … The problem is today, your average American is sedentary and consumes about 300 grams of carbohydrates every single day. We live in a state of chronically elevated levels of insulin.” – Max Lugavere

This is just one example of how a better understanding of our body and our diet can influence our minds. Your insulin is a biomarker that is absolutely critical to track. I can’t get over how few people ever get their blood drawn. They don’t know what’s going on in their body. I recommend at least once a year, get your labs drawn, and see what’s going on! 

Rapid Fire Questions for Max Lugavere

I wanted to use my time with Max to clear up some misconceptions around food, diet, and health. Here are some highlights from my rapid-fire questions about habits to help live a longer, healthier life.  

What’s the deal with processed food? I eat a ton of processed food. Why is that bad compared to eating so-called “real food” every single day?

“Processed food has this really negative connotation associated with it, especially these days. But when you cook your food, you’re processing it. So it’s not necessarily the processing that is this evil thing. … The problem [is] with ultra processing, which is what the food industry does. [Ultra processing] creates foods that food scientists refer to as ‘hyper-palatable’. It becomes really difficult to moderate your consumption of those foods. These foods are designed to be over-consumed. By the time you’ve reached satiety when eating these foods, you’ve already over-consumed them.” – Max Lugavere

Ultra-processed foods, according to Max, are a major factor in obesity. One study by researcher Kevin Hall gave one group a diet of ultra-processed foods and a second group a minimally processed menu and asked them to eat until they were satiated. The first group ended up eating a 500 calorie surplus every single day. 

“60% of the calories that we consume today, come from ultra-processed foods. That right there explains the obesity epidemic. … By the year 2030, we are going to be not just overweight, but obese and half of us are either Type Two diabetic or pre-diabetic. 90% of us are deficient in at least one essential nutrient.” – Max Lugavere

In these ultra-processed foods, what ingredients should we look to avoid?

“The kinds of ingredients you really want to watch out for are refined grains [and] seed oils — the wheat flour, the rice flour, the cornflour.” – Max Lugavere

It’s OK to eat things like corn on the cob or sushi with white rice. But, it’s those refined grains we need to be careful about. Your body absorbs these calories differently than whole, unprocessed foods. 

“So you eat a handful of whole nuts, right? Look at the calories on the back of the nut package see, we’ll just say, it’s 500 calories worth of whole nuts. You’re actually only absorbing about 70% of those calories. When you chew whole nuts, the particles are too big to be fully digested. It’s a whole food. You actually end up pooping out a significant amount of those calories. When you eat pulverized wheat, corn, rice flour in these ultra-processed foods, you’re absorbing 100% of those calories.” – Max Lugavere

Labels can only take you so far — calories are not consistent across the board. A handful of nuts may have more calories listed on the label than some processed crackers, but the difference is how your body treats those calories. 

What about supplements? Should we be taking supplements?

“Supplements should be used very diligently and deliberately based on your diet and your specific deficiencies… I generally don’t recommend that people supplement [something specific] if you’re eating a diet that is supplying the raw materials for your body’s own glutathione synthesis … Grassfed beef, eggs, things like that. Anything with sulfur in it is actually going to be really good for you.” – Max Lugavere

Max said that the supplements you need depend largely on your diet and on your specific health needs. Again, guys, this is why it is SO important to get your blood work done. Your biomarkers can tell you what your body needs to help you optimize your health! 

What are your thoughts on intermittent fasting? Are there any benefits to the brain that come from fasting?

“What we see is that when fasting, there is an increase in levels of BDNF — brain-derived neurotrophic factor — which is a protein that helps ensure the survival of your existing neurons while also promoting the growth of new ones. That basically right there underlies the characteristic that we call neuroplasticity — the ability for your brain to change and stay youthful over time as you get older, which is something that we all want.” – Max Lugavere

You guys won’t believe me, but it wasn’t until this conversation with Max that I learned that “breakfast” means breaking your fast. WOW, right?! Max talked about how fasting isn’t just a part of your morning — you also need to pay attention to when you stop eating in the evening. 

“It makes sense to have a somewhat constrained eating window where you’re not eating too close to bedtime. Research has shown us that independent of weight loss …  earlier dinners, and what’s called ‘early time-restricted feeding’ with a longer fasting window actually can have benefits to your blood sugar control.” – Max Lugavere

When you eat dinner earlier, you give your body time to sync all its internal clocks. We have our so-called “master clocks” in our brains that control our circadian rhythm, which is when we go to sleep. But we also have these “peripheral clocks” in other parts of our bodies.

“Those organs are primarily the organs of digestion. They’re flipped on or off, depending on whether or not they’re actively digesting food. If you’re digesting food late at night, you’re basically confusing those peripheral clocks in your body.” – Max Lugavere

There are many good arguments for not eating late at night, and letting your body rest is a big one! 

You’ve recommended on Instagram that we add healthy fats to our leafy green salads. What’s the reason for that?

On Max’s Instagram account, he recently posted a side-by-side comparison of two salads. One had just dark leafy greens and the other had a whole bunch of ingredients. He’s not saying to avoid eating green salad – just the opposite, actually. 

“People who eat a large bowl of dark leafy greens every day have brains that perform up to 11 years younger. So right there, that’s a good rule to set for yourself. Just eat a big salad every day. It’s satiating. You’re going to check off many of your nutritional boxes in doing that — [it’s a] great source of fiber, a great source of micronutrients, and [now] add a protein.” – Max Lugavere

But, greens aren’t the only thing that your body needs! 

“Some of the most important compounds that are in plants are what are called carotenoids. Carotenoids are some of the many pigments that you’ll see when you look around in the produce section of your local supermarket: the yellows, the oranges, the greens. … They help your brain work more efficiently. They help your brain work faster. They’re abundant in dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, arugula. The problem is, that you need fat to absorb them. If you’re eating a salad with a fat-free dressing on it, … those compounds are just going right through you.” – Max Lugavere

Spice up your salads! Otherwise, you’re not nearly getting all the benefit you could be from your leafy greens. 

What’s the deal with saunas? Are they good for you? 

I’ve been using saunas a lot lately, and I feel GREAT when I get out of each sauna session. I wanted to know more about the science behind why saunas work — how are they helping us live healthier?

“Regular sauna use [has] a dose/response effect, meaning the more you do it, the stronger the benefit seems to be. You get a dramatic risk reduction for cardiovascular disease, for stroke, for Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. There are many reasons for this, but, when you sit in a sauna, your pulse increases. Sitting in a sauna is actually the best workout you can get while sitting absolutely still.” – Max Lugavere

You heard it here guys! Max did such a great job answering all my questions. In summary: Eat your veggies, try a sauna, get your blood tested, and don’t eat too close to bedtime!

Don’t Forget About Your Mental Health…

One thing Max sees often is that people focus on their physical well-being and not enough on their mental health. We’re not finding healthy ways to manage our stress. When we feel stressed, there are really two options: Remove your stress, or boost your resilience to it. 

“For example, when my mom was at her sickest (and my mom passed away two years ago), if I didn’t carve out time in the day to get to the gym and practice self-care for myself, I don’t know how I would’ve survived that experience. For anybody listening who’s in a stressful situation, make sure to prioritize self-care, to continue going to the gym, having those workouts, sitting in the saunas, taking cold showers, cold water immersion, even practicing intermittent fasting. When we endure these acute stressors, that spillover effect makes us more robust and more resilient in other areas of our lives.” – Max Lugavere

No matter what is going on in the world, guys, take care of yourself. This has been a stressful year, and believe it or not, stress can significantly wear down the body. Make self-care a priority moving forward. 

#MAXOUT with Max Lugavere

If you haven’t read it yet, I STRONGLY recommend you pick up a copy of Max’s book, The Genius Life. It is just packed with the little things that you can do every day that are going to add up to big health wins. What I love about this book is that Max summarizes the end of every chapter with “field notes” that you can follow and achieve easily. It is a full 360-degree plan that really is going to heal your mind, strengthen your body, and lead you to become extraordinary.

I also love how Max is really honoring his mother so beautifully through his work. I’m so grateful for the way he’s taken her difficult situation and turned it into millions of other lives that you serve. Definitely follow Max on Instagram, @maxlugavere, and listen to his podcast The Genius Life

If you got anything out of this interview, please rate and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts — it goes a long way to helping new people find us and me being able to invite more epic guests! Share this episode on Instagram by posting a screenshot and tagging Max, @maxlugavere, and me, @edmylett.

Don’t forget, every day on Instagram, I run the two-minute drill. That means everyone who comments within the first two minutes of my post, Monday through Friday, is entered into a drawing. We pick a winner EVERY DAY. Winners can receive anything from coaching calls with me, MAXOUT gear, to a flight on my jet. So make sure your notifications are turned on, and you’re staying engaged in the MAXOUT community!

Thanks for tuning in! Now go #MAXOUT your life!

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