Ocean Robbins is the CEO and co-founder of the 500,000+ member Food Revolution Network — one of the largest communities of healthy eating advocates on the planet. He has held hundreds of live seminars and events that have touched millions of lives from 190 nations.
Ocean is founder and was director of the nonprofit YES!, which has led transformational events for 650,000 leaders in 65 nations. He’s a recipient of the national Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service, the Freedom’s Flame Award, the Harmon Wilkinson Award, and numerous other honors. Ocean has served as adjunct professor for Chapman University, and on the boards of Friends Of The Earth, Creating Our Future, Tipping Point Network, Turning Tide Coalition, and many other organizations.
Ocean’s grandfather founded Baskin-Robbins, and his father, John Robbins, walked away from the family company and ice cream fortune to write bestsellers, including Diet for a New America, and to become a renowned health advocate. Now, Ocean is on a mission to transform the industrialized food culture into one that celebrates and supports healthy people and a healthy planet, and he’s inviting YOU to join the food revolution.
Ocean’s been seen by hundreds of millions in TV, radio, online, and in-person appearances.
Heal your body, lose excess weight, and free yourself from toxic food with this simple guide focusing on sustainable food that has “depth, spirit, and [a] breadth of information” (Rip Esselstyn, New York Times bestselling author).
31-Day Food Revolution is your guide to liberation from a toxic food world. Author Ocean Robbins reveals the secrets the industrialized food industry doesn’t want you to know, how specific ingredients and methods could be making you sick — and what to do about it. And he shows you how — in just 31 days — you can use the amazing power of delicious food to heal your gut, lose excess weight, and lower your risk for disease, all while contributing to a healthier planet.
Ocean’s plan includes 31 simple and affordable step-by-step actions that give you a road map to healthy, ethical, and sustainable food. He breaks it down into four parts:
- Detoxify: Get rid of the unhealthy foods and environmental factors making you sick.
- Nourish: Fuel your body with the healthy micronutrients you need to thrive.
- Gather: Build your community and surround yourself with supportive, positive people.
- Transform: YOU can be part of the solution. It’s a lot easier to change the world than you imagine!
You’ll discover amazing secrets, such as how to stop food cravings, why nuts are one of the best snack foods, time-saving habits, and how to catch dangerous ingredients hiding in food labels.
In his nonjudgmental and down-to-earth way, Ocean Robbins meets you wherever you are on your personal journey with food. Then, he provides you with tools that make it easy to eat less sugar, processed foods, and unhealthy animal products-and to happily enjoy whole plant foods, and more fair trade, local, organic, and otherwise consciously sourced fare. Ocean helps you make small improvements that lead to big results. If you want to feel better, enjoy your food more, and help sustain the planet, start reading this book today. In just 31 days you can change your health for the better. And your body will thank you for the rest of your life.
Listen to more great episodes at Next Level Soul Podcast
Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 060
Alex Ferrari 0:04
I'd like to welcome to the show Ocean Robbins. How are you doing Ocean.
Ocean Robbins 2:30
Doing well Alex, glad to be with you.
Alex Ferrari 2:39
Thank you so much for coming on the show man I've wanted. I've been an admirer of yours for some time. I love your book, the 31 day Food Revolution. And, and I think it's a book that we that desperately needs to be talked about more and more because there's a lot of great, great information in there. And there's so much stuff coming at us about nutrition and what to eat, what not to eat, how to eat well, this kind of stuff, and a lot of misinformation out there. So that's one of the reasons why I wanted to put you on the show. So I think it's we should start at the beginning of this journey which didn't begin with you but began with your father. Can you tell us first who your grandfather was
Ocean Robbins 3:19
You bet so my grandpa Urban Robbins founded an ice cream company. It was called Baskin Robbins. He founded it with his brother in law, Burt Baskin, and it became the world's most successful ice cream company and my dad John grew up with an ice cream cone shaped swimming pool in the backyard and 31 flavors of ice cream in the freezer. He was groomed to one day join in and running the family company. All the family cats are named after ice cream flavors. And my dad was inventing flavors at the age of eight. He invented Jamocha almond fudge for the for the ice cream aficionados of the world. And however, as he got a little older, he learned about the impact of food on health. And His own uncle Burt Baskin ended up dying of heart disease at the age of 54. Wow, it's really young. Yeah. And my dad's uncle Bert, I never I never knew him. He was a beautiful man. He was one of the most successful entrepreneurs in American history. But, you know, he didn't have his health. And he left his wife, a widow and his kids fatherless. And, you know, my dad just realized he didn't want to spend his life selling a product that might contribute to more people suffering. I mean, an ice cream cone is not going to kill anybody and ice cream is bad. A lot of smiles to a lot of faces, no doubt about that. But at the same time, we know that statistically, the more ice cream we eat, the more likely we are to get certain diseases like heart disease. And so, you know, my dad ended up making a very tough choice to leave the family business to leave the path that his dad had outlined for Him and walk away from any access to the family fortune and follow his own rocky road as we say in our family, he ended up moving with my mom to a little island off the coast of Canada where they built a one room log cabin, grew most of their own food, practiced yoga and meditation for several hours a day and named their kid ocean. They almost named me kale, by the way, and this was before Kale was cool, but we did eat a lot of kale and cabbage and carrots and other veggies from the garden. As I got a little older, we ended up moving to California, and my dad came out with a book in 1987 called diet for a new America which inspired millions of people to look at their food choices as a chance to make a difference on the planet. That media called him the Rebel Without a cone. Among other things, one of his readers ended up being my grandpa Irvin Robbins, who read the book at the age of 69. Now, my grandpa had always eating the standard American diet plus a double scoop of ice cream. And now he was facing this standard American diseases. He had serious diabetes, weight issues and heart issues, high blood pressure, etc. was taking up a whole bunch of medications that had debilitating side effects. And his doctors told him he didn't have long to live unless he made some big changes. And they give him a copy of my dad's book, he read it. He followed its advice, he ended up cutting weighed down on his meat consumption, eating way more fruits and vegetables, cutting way down on sugar, he gave up ice cream. Wow. And he got incredible results. He wound up reversing his diabetes reverse reversing his heart disease, reversing his obesity, and living 19 more healthy years. So we really have seen in our family what happens when we follow the status quo, like my dad's uncle dad, like my grandpa did for most of his life. And we've seen what can happen when we make a change. And so you know, I was inspired by my grandpa's legacy, honestly, both of making a big impact on the planet but also being willing to make a change when you learn new information. And also by my dad's example of integrity and moral fiber, and, and also the the leadership he's shown in bringing awareness of the impact of food to the world. And so in my own journey, I founded a nonprofit when I was 16. Called yes work with young leaders in 65 countries, over the course of 20 years, focused on leadership development and social change mobilization. And as I traveled the globe, I saw that everybody was eating and that what we're eating is having this massive impact. I work with indigenous leaders in the Amazon whose rainforest is being cut down for cattle. I work with indigenous leaders in the Arctic, whose climate is being destabilized. And the caribou migration that their tribes depend on, is being devastated by climate change, which is all being fueled by cattle. I worked with indigenous leaders and and, you know, non indigenous leaders in many countries all over the planet. And I kept seeing that the American way of eating is spreading and ways of growing food with pesticides and factory farms, ways of processing food, with sugar and additives and chemicals and packaging, we're spreading around the globe, and KFC and McDonald's and Baskin Robbins spreading around the world. And as we export our way of eating, we're also exporting our health outcomes. The United States, you know, is the wealthiest country in the world, but we have the highest rate of obesity in the world. You know, two thirds of our population is overweight or obese, we have the sickest population in the history of humanity. Yeah, average senior in the US takes 12 prescription medications per year, you know, life expectancy has started to go down in this country. But health expectancy has been going down for a long time, more and more of us are living chronically sick, yet, we're spending nine point 10% of our entire gross domestic product in the US and what we euphemistically call health care, but it's really disease, symptom management. So now I'm on a mission to change all that. So I launched Food Revolution network with my dad in 2012. And for the last 10 plus years, we've been spreading the message of healthy ethical and sustainable food for all. We've grown to over 700,000 members. And we've got a big purpose. Fortunately, there's a lot of people joining the movement right now.
Alex Ferrari 9:03
That's amazing. It's so fascinating that that your grandfather was able to turn his health around so quickly, by just food changes where most of Western society is told that you need medicine, you need this, you need that. But it goes back to the father of medicine who says the food is thy medicine, and I've had it in my life. My wife when I first met her, she was on medication. She was in her mid 20s. They had her on like medications for for what is it when you she was on medications? I can't remember what it's for. But she was on medications and allergies. Thank you allergies and and I said let me just change your food. And I went all organic. Yeah. And within six months, she was gone and she's never touched them again. So it's remarkable. I love you to talk to the audience about the impact have sugar on your health on your body that chemistry what it actually does to us. And obviously, you have a really front row seat to that with your grandfather and obviously, being part of the legacy of Baskin Robbins.
Ocean Robbins 10:16
Well, let's, let's make a distinction here between really three classes of things, there's going to be a we'll call added sugars, there's natural sugars, and then there's artificial sweeteners. Okay, so, added sugar is most of it is actually sugar. sucrose, which comes from sugar cane, or from genetically engineered beet sugar. And that's what we call sugar. And that's the vast majority. And then second major category there is going to be high fructose corn syrup. And, and then much smaller amounts, we get things like honey and beet sugar, and, you know, coconut sugar and other products, xylitol, other kinds of sweeteners, right. So, added sugars as a category are dominated by sucrose and high fructose corn syrup. And these products, the average American is consuming over 60 pounds a year of them. And then we wonder why we've got an obesity epidemic? Well, it turns out that when you consume these added sugars, they go straight into spiking your blood sugar, very fast. That's what they're just that's what that's what they're designed to do. Right, they give you really fast energy, give you a big blood sugar boost, and your body asks you to produce insulin in order to balance it. And to get that sugar into this into the cells where it can do good instead of being a source of danger in the body. But when your body has to keep jolting with insulin, over time, it can damage your insulin receptors. And your body can get to high blood sugar, which can be very dangerous from a metabolic standpoint. And they can cause a cascade of various problems in the body, ultimately, long term fueling obesity because the sugar gets stored in the fat cells. And also potentially diabetes, among other conditions. Essentially, added sugar is correlated with every major lifestyle illness of our times we're talking Alzheimer's, we're talking, of course, type three diabetes, we're talking OBC, the we're talking heart disease, we're talking cancer, right? Between between all of these conditions, you've got, you know, the vast majority of deaths are caused by them in the modern world. And therefore, you could say that sugar is linked to most of the deaths in the modern world in one way or another not to say that it's the cause, but it's certainly not helping, right. So that's added sugar. And then you've got, you've got sugar that's naturally in foods, okay. And, and there, it depends on what's coming with. But fruit has a lot of fiber, and various phytochemicals and nutrients that come with the sugar. And it turns out that even though technically, food is high in sugar, it doesn't have the same effect, it actually can be good for many diabetics, it can be correlated with positive health outcomes. And especially when you're talking about like berries, they're linked to lower rates of Alzheimer's, and lower rates of cancer. So stunning data on this. So not all sugars are created equal, even bananas, even dates, which are the sweetest thing out there, when you're eating in their whole form, seemed to have benefit. And and don't have the same problems. So that's a very interesting thing. But when you refine it, even to the point of making fruit juice, you change the outcome, and you get something different, that can be much more problematic. So you really want the fruit in its whole form, in order to get the whole benefits and not have those liabilities that come with just sort of extracting the sugar. I suspect that if we could eat sugar cane, that would even be fine. But of course we can't because it's too fibrous. So we have to, you know, we have to juice it, and then at least dehydrate the juice. But usually it's refined quite a bit more than that. And we're actually separating out the molasses and a lot of the vitamins and minerals. And we're certainly losing the fiber, which is found in the whole plant because we actually can't digest sugarcane fiber. So and then the last category, of course, is going to be artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame and all the rest. And, in general, the artificial sweeteners. The calorie free artificial sweeteners seem to be correlated, for some semi mysterious reasons with higher rates of obesity. Even though there's no calories in there, it seems that they trick the body into thinking that it's about to get a bunch of sugar, and then it doesn't and then it craves sugar. So people who consume Diet Coke or other products like that maybe we don't exactly know the mechanism, but they may be more likely to crave junk foods an hour later, and then to binge on other things, which cause a detrimental impact. So whatever the reasons, we see the studies and we see that people who consume diet beverages are more likely to suffer from a lot of the weight issues and obesity related incidences that that come with Um, so that said xylitol in particular is could fall in a couple of those different categories, it seems to not have the same problems that some of the refined sweeteners in calorie sweeteners do. Same with stevia. So if you're looking for low or no calories, sort of net impact sweeteners, xylitol, and stevia may have some benefits in that regard and much of the downsides and monkfruit as well. Yeah, monkfruit as well.
Alex Ferrari 15:29
Yeah, I've been having I have barely any sugar in the house other than when my daughters want to bake. young daughters, sometimes they want to bake, but generally even then, we try to put them on, I use the monkfruit Xylitol mix, and it I've never lost. It's always nice.
Ocean Robbins 15:49
Yeah, absolutely. My coffee, you know, and, you know, a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. So, you know, you know, if you're gonna use a little sweetener now and then enjoy your life, you know, it's not gonna kill you, a teaspoon of sugar isn't gonna kill you, or put a little money in your tea, it's not going to kill you. But, but long term, the more of this week, the more impactful it's going to be. And we've turned sugar not just into a flavoring, but into a food source. You know, it's a major source of calories in the industrialized world. And the impact on that of that on our collective health is terrifying.
Alex Ferrari 16:19
Now, what foods should we be avoiding.
Ocean Robbins 16:22
So the top foods that I say we want to avoid are processed and highly, highly hyper processed foods in general. So anything that's made in factories, you know, your body was exquisitely designed to work in harmony with nature, and the foods that your body was designed to eat, come in whole forms. And when you separate out parts, and in factories, you wind up creating unintended consequences, and you don't get the effect you were intending. So all the while even supplements frequently don't give us the benefits we expect. I mean, we saw that people who had lots of vitamin E in their diet had certain benefits. So then we started giving them vitamin E supplements. And the opposite happens is people who eat lots of vitamin D rich foods have a lower risk of heart disease, people who take vitamin E supplements tend to have higher risk of heart disease, according to many studies. So we don't exactly know why. But But that's what's happening. And so when we when we actually study it, and so anything that comes in a package with long ingredients, lists, or that's been refined, whether we're talking about white flour, which may just be called flour, you know, or whether we're talking about additives, or different kinds of chemicals with names you can't pronounce, or sugar added sugars, all these things are hyper processed. And certainly, hyper processed oils, virtually all the oils are highly processed olive oil is the least. But all of the oils have to be processed in factories. And so when you do that you're losing vitamins, minerals, fiber, other nutrients that were in the original plant, and you're creating an extracted product that has unpredictable and sometimes tacked on the human body. So hyper processed foods of all kinds, added sugars of all kinds. And then you also want to get away from animal products. And this is a big one for for a lot of us for ethical and environmental reasons, but also hugely for health reasons. So processed meats are the worst, you know, salami fan, you know, Bologna and bacon and all those those things are the nitrates that are in there seem to supercharge the carcinogenic nature of them. So statistically, your risk of cancer goes up, the more you eat processed meats, period. And then, but also red meat, and even chicken is linked to higher risk of heart disease high in saturated fat. There's a lot of controversy about saturated fats, and people are arguing, oh, maybe saturated fats not so bad. Well, statistically, the more meat you eat, the more likely you are to have a heart attack. You know, that's that's the sober truth of it. And of course, there are exceptions. And there are ways to eat a certain diet that may make you know, get you better outcomes than others. Certainly grass fed pasture raised is going to be healthier from a purely nutritional standpoint. And from an ethical standpoint, from an environmental standpoint, it may actually be worse, we're now seeing Data Wise. But, you know, frankly, it's not that much better health wise, you're still dealing with a high amount of saturated fat, trans fats, zero fiber, and a shortage of all of phytochemicals that are associated with longevity and vibrant health, better eyesight, better cancer fighting capacities, ability to neutralize free radicals, all the stuff you want your food to do in your body. So I say less sugary, less processed junk, eat less animal products of all kinds, especially from factory farms. And then you open up the doors to a lot of good stuff.
Alex Ferrari 19:55
Now as far as saturated fat is concerned, there is a difference between plant Bass saturated fat and animal Bay saturated fats. So like coconut oil, or coconut meats, or even if you ate it in its form has its high in saturated fat, but from what my from my understanding, it's treated differently in the body than animal saturated fat. Is that true? We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Ocean Robbins 20:26
Well, there's a lot of different types of fats saturated fats. So it's not as simple as just animal base and plant base. It's like there's many different different kinds of fats within that large meta category. And it's true, they're not all the same, and some are some are more or less impactful on the body. Interesting, you mentioned in coconut oil, I love coconut oil culinarily speaking, I would love to be able to use it a lot. It does all kinds of cool things in the kitchen. However, nutritionally I'm not impressed. I'm, I know quite a few people who were vegan, and they were loading up on the coconut oil on the at high LDL cholesterol levels, and they gave up the coconut oil and their LDL cholesterol came right down, like instantly. So, you know, it's probable that was causal. Now, people can argue about whether LDL is a good measure of arterial health, and maybe they were fine. But cardiologists tend to say high LDL is bad. And some of these people were candidates for statins. But they didn't need it, because they gave up coconut oil instead. So you know, olive oil doesn't seem to have the same effect. It's kind of the opposite. You want Omega three rich oils, in particular for anti inflammatory properties. So that's going to be like flax oil is probably the best if you can't cook with it. But you can use it like in salad dressings and things, you know, controversial, but canola oil has some potential benefits from an Omega three standpoint, olive oil has no Omega sixes or omega threes, it's basically Omega nine. So that's, that's good. You don't want too much Omega sixes. Most of us are getting way too much Omega sixes. So those are high in sunflower oil, corn oil, pretty high in soil. You know, they're fairly high in canola most most of the oils that are used today cottonseed oil, etc. Saturated Fat wise, I would say you know, using a bit of coconut oil now and then if your LDL cholesterol is fine, no problem. But if you're if you're concerned about your cholesterol levels, then then you probably want to steer clear,
Alex Ferrari 22:31
But if you want to eat just coconut, like raw
Ocean Robbins 22:33
Yeah, I mean, it's all in moderation. You know, yeah, statistically most people do fine on coconut and that's different than the oil because again, the oil and refined product coconut comes with a lot of other cofactors that seemed to balance it out. But if you're if you're dealing with heart disease, and you have high LDL cholesterol, I'm going to suggest you minimize the coconut to stay away from the coconut as much as Yeah, sorry to say it but
Alex Ferrari 22:57
No, no, of course. Absolutely. Now, can you talk about the the the the major epidemic epidemic that we have in this in the Western diet, which is inflammation. We know most diseases are caused by inflammation, what what foods are hurting us what foods can help us bring down our inflammation internally.
Ocean Robbins 23:21
So the the number one anti inflammatory food is is turmeric. me it's just a superstar. So you know you can add turmeric powder to various foods as a seasoning or condiment you'll get best absorption if you have it with some black pepper and ideally some form of fat. There are a ton of supplements on the market that that use turmeric or curcumin, which is the primary active ingredient in turmeric and you know, those seem to have some benefit but you can also just eat it you know regularly and that's that's pretty fabulous. Also, omega three fatty acids are helpful. So ground flax seeds, ground chia seeds, adding a couple tablespoons of those, you know, meal or other foods, casseroles, you know they get kind of grumpy, maybe not great in soups, but find the foods that work with them and add them even to your salads. flax and chia seeds are fantastic and they're super rich in omega threes as well as lignans and plant proteins and fiber all of which are good for you. And then, you know, but but omega threes are potent anti inflammatories and one of the key things here is the ratio so the average American gets about 15 parts Omega six fatty acids to one part omega threes, and we're best off probably more like three to one. And it turns out that your body converts ala omega threes to EPA and DHA which are critical as well. You need all three of them for brain health and for eyesight and for healthy function in your whole body. And ALA is the most abundant Omega Three, and your body converts it to EPA and DHA most efficiently when you don't have an overabundance of omega sixes in your body. So that's one of the tricks and also when you have an inflammation coming down, so. So if you have some turmeric and aren't getting too much Omega sixes, you're going to convert omega threes a lot more efficiently it seems. Most vegans who don't eat fish are probably best off consuming an EPA and DHA supplement in their diet to make sure they're getting enough you can get it from algae sources, because the only source of EPA and DHA directly in the human diet when eaten as a food is fish. And so people who are vegan for ethical or environmental or health reasons, should probably supplement with EPA and DHA to make sure they're getting enough. Or they should need to eat a lot of ALA and get their blood levels of EPA and DHA tested to make sure that they're converting efficiently.
Alex Ferrari 26:01
Now, can you discuss the importance of gut health? Which is something I've recently started to study and discover how in just invaluable good gut health is that all health comes from the gut as I forgot, somebody said in ancient Greece,
Ocean Robbins 26:19
Yeah, that's right. Yeah. Well, deep in your gut right now, there are trillions of biochemist that are hard at work, and they're there, they're digesting your food. And they're, they're shaping your mood. And they're telling you what you do and don't want to eat. You know, genetically, you're mostly the bacteria in your gut more than you in quotes. And those bacteria have incredible power. They produce most of the neurotransmitters that affects your mood, how you feel interesting, you might think you decide how you feel or what happens to you decides how you feel. But actually the bacteria in your gut are shaping your mood to a tremendous extent, extent. So the field of nutritional psychiatry, is looking at this link and finding that there's an enormous link between diet and depression, for example, diet and anxiety, diet and mental health. And it turns out that that has a lot to do with the bacteria in the gut, the so called microbiome and what neurotransmitters they're producing like serotonin and dopamine and so forth, that in turn, shape your mental state and how you feel your microbiome also digest your food. And they determine you know, essentially, some people say you are what you eat, but it's not true. You are what you digest, you know, or your what you don't poop. So the bacteria are the ones that are making those decisions. For the most part, you can't do it on your own. Your stomach does certain things, but it really counts on the microbiome to do do his job. And so having a healthy, teeming, super diverse collection of bacteria in there, it's critical. And most of us have been essentially eviscerating our bacteria with two main things. One is antibiotics. Now they can be life saving, no question about it, there's a place for them, but we overprescribed them. And we're we're feeding three quarters of our antibiotics to livestock in factory farms. And so that's that's rendering them less and less effective, because we're creating antibiotic resistant bacteria, which means means we need more of them and more different kinds in human bodies to get the same effect we used to get from just one dose. And that now means we're doing more damage to our microbiome because antibiotics wipe out life biotics, including bacteria. So then you got to rebuild. If ever you've had an antibiotic in your life, you've got to replenish from that and rebuild the good guys in there. And the number two major thing we're doing that's wiping out our microbiomes is we're not feeding them, the right foods. So what the good guys need in your tummy is they need fiber, especially they need soluble and insoluble fiber, especially the soluble fiber. And that's what they eat. That's what they feast on is fiber. And so when you eat animal products, which have zero fiber in them, or oils, which have zero fiber, or added sugars, or white flowers, which have very, very little fiber, then you are starving the bacteria from what they need in order to thrive. And the average American gets less than, you know, less than half the fiber, they should be getting less than half less than 5% of us get the recommended amount. And so our bacteria are paying the price in our stomachs and that's affecting our mental health, our digestion and our capacity to to be well. So feeding them good bacteria with fiber is critical.
Alex Ferrari 29:36
Now can you discuss the concept of leaky gut because I've heard many things happening with leaky gut and that leaky gut is responsible for so many things that go wrong in our body.
Ocean Robbins 29:48
Yeah, I mean, your your gut lining is the only one cell thick. It's incredibly porous and intentionally so but it also means that it's really easy for little holes to form essentially that things can leak through. And then, and then the key thing is your guts job is to decide what should and shouldn't become you, essentially, right and, and it's incredibly skillful at doing that. So it can assess Okay, and out. So technically, your stomach is actually the outside of your body. I know that's a crazy thought. But just because you swallow something doesn't mean it's actually in your body, and it hasn't been accepted. You know, it's, it's, and then your body decides, you know, which side of the line is it on, and it, digests it and breaks it down, and then takes the compounds that it wants and excretes the rest, do your urine and your feces. And so what happens when we have intestinal intestinal permeability, is that we end up you know, taking in some of the stuff we shouldn't be, which can often cause inflammation, and can also often cause an immune reaction where your body is like, Oh, my God, there's a foreign substance here, sound, the alarm, melt, the defense, it's like the armies are getting mobilized, and the fire alarms are going off. And that's all good. If there's a bacterial infection, you want your body to get inflamed and react and deal with it. So you neutralize the bad guys, right? It's like, if you're being broken into in your house, in the middle of the night, by robbers, you better have the alarms go off, you better be able to call 911, you better have to be able to take protective actions to defend yourself in your home, get the door's locked, whatever you got to do, right. But you don't want to live in that state 24 hours a day. And you've got when we have intestinal permeability. And chronic inflammation is it's kind of like the alarms are going off, and the doors are locked, and the police are coming 24/7. And eventually, like the boy who cried wolf, your system just tunes it out. You're like, yeah, it's just normal, it's just noise. And so then you can't respond to a real threat when it arises, because your system is already freaked out and, and stressed out. And, you know, when we're in stress, we tend to say, Okay, I'm going to, I'm not going to, you know, you don't save water, if your house is on fire, you know, you have respond. And when we're in stress and crisis mode, we tend to react rapidly. But we don't tend to think about the long term. So a body that's in constant fight or flight stress reaction, will not be able to prepare itself to cleanse, to release what it doesn't need to store up nutrients for the future, because you're in crisis mode. So a lot of us are living in crisis mode in fear and trigger and reaction. At a biochemical level. Of course, a lot of us are psychologically as well, in the modern world, we're living in trauma response, we're living in a state of chronic fear. And so this plays out at a physical level with with the whole microbiome. And a lot of that is triggered by the leaky gut dynamics that I was just mentioning. So you know, the best ways to shore up your intestinal walls and to help your your digestive tract to do its job well, and to only let in the stuff that belongs is to cultivate the good bacteria. And that really comes back to fiber. Now, let me say though, that some people who haven't been eating much fiber will suddenly load up on it, and they can suffer some some uncomfortable consequences like gas, like, like even stomach pains or stomach cramps or worse. And it's quite common, actually, a lot of people who are not used to eating healthy foods they try and they're like, Oh, I'm, I'm farting all day. And I will go back to McDonald's. I want to go exactly, you know, because because their body's not used to it. So the thing is to do it slowly, take one step at a time, don't rush in too fast. That said, it's incredible how fast changes can happen. We frequently see that people within a week of changing their diet can massively end up reducing their need for medications for that their cholesterol levels can plummet. Some people see their cholesterol levels dropped by 30% in like a week, seriously, you know, they're there, all the markers for diabetes can plummet, people can lose 510 pounds in a week, when their body is ready to go. And they make these changes. Their body's like, Oh, thank you. And everything starts to come back into balance, which, which means that if you're going to radically change your diet and go plant based, you should absolutely do so with the care of a health care provider. If you're on any medications for lifestyle illness, because you may need to change those medications. You don't want to over medicate. You don't want to get your blood too thin, for example, if you're taking blood thinners, so you've got to be tracking this because the food really can be medicine. And in the most wonderful possible way, unlike, say statins, which can bring down your cholesterol level but have other side effects. The only side effects of eating a healthier diet or good ones, you're also bringing down your risk of cancer, you're also bringing us down your risk of Alzheimer's, you're also going to feel better you're also going to have better blood flow to your brain you're also going to have more energy and longer life expectancy.
Alex Ferrari 34:40
Can you also talk about a gluten well that affect this gluten and wheat products and things like that have on our system in general? This is a lot of lot of talk on both sides of that fence.
Ocean Robbins 34:54
Yeah, gluten is a controversial topic. So I'll wade into that a little bit with just my take on the data. So there's no one size fits all answer to any question. Really, the truth is, you're the only you on the planet. And so just because studies show that most people, most of the time benefit from one thing or another thing doesn't mean it's best for all people all the time. And Gluten is a classic example. Because There absolutely are a decent number of people who are gluten intolerant. They are or have celiac disease, actually about 2% of the population. So if you're in that camp, don't eat gluten, like just straight up, don't do it. You know, obviously, for celiac, gluten intolerance is a spectrum. You know, some people think, Ah, I feel a little gassy. When I eat gluten, I feel a little, you know, a little off or a little stuffy, or you know, my digestion doesn't feel great, or I feel a little headache. Well, that may be listen to your body, see what you notice, you may do best without it. But for some people, it might also be that it's the products they're having with the gluten, maybe it was the doughnut, and you know, is the added sugar, not just the week, right? Oil and the oil exactly, are all the salts you had. So think about it in totality, you know. And there are I would say about 10% of the population seems to be gluten intolerant, where we really do better eating little or zero gluten across the board, right. And so you might be in that group. And if you have any ongoing symptoms, or you know, digestive problems or health challenges that haven't gotten better, even as you've really cleaned up your diet, if you're eating a whole foods, plant centered diet, lots of fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and little to no animal products, little to no refined products, and you're still having ongoing health challenges, then definitely, you may want to try giving up gluten for a few months and see if it helps. The problem is a lot of people go gluten free, and they end up eating a lot of gluten free junk foods, you know, refined flours and get even less fiber. So it turns out that wheat, wheat bran is a pretty rich source of fiber, that turns out to be pretty good for the good bacteria in your gut. It's one of the top sources for a lot of people so and we promote gluten is protein, right? And so everyone's like, Oh, eat more plant protein. Well, gluten is a plant protein. But it's controversial. And so, you know, what I say is listen to your own body and see, but the studies indicate that whole whole grain wheat products can be beneficial for most people on account of their high protein content, and their high fiber content. But again, that doesn't mean they're good for everybody. And for some people, they're terrible. So you gotta gotta listen to your own body on this one.
Alex Ferrari 37:31
Can you talk about GMOs? And how it because a lot there's been so much talk about GMOs? And do they really affect about it, they won't affect the body. I love to hear your point of view on it.
Ocean Robbins 37:44
Absolutely. So first of all, what's a GMO some people think it means God move over. But it doesn't mean inadequately modified organism. And, you know, Monsanto now owned by Bayer and the other major biotech companies essentially promised the world about 30 years ago. But GMOs would give us more drought resistant crops, bigger yields, better nutritional value, and lower pesticide consumption. Unfortunately, 30 years into the mass cultivation of these crops, the vast majority of them are yielding none of those benefits. They've led to a net increase in pesticide consumption, they have led to no improvement in flavor or nutritional value, no improvement in net yield, and no improvement in water requirements or drought tolerance. What they have brought us for the most part is crops that have one or both of two traits. Number one, they are pesticide producers, which is to say that they produce insecticides in every cell of the plant. And so it's true that those crops don't need to be sprayed with pesticides, because they actually technically are pesticides. Bugs take a bite in their stomachs what's open and they die. And the main insecticide that's been cultivated to be produced in the cells of these plants is b t, which is generally considered safe for humans. It's used in organic agriculture, but we're using where you can send me an unprecedented quantities. And we're creating BT resistant superbugs now. And so that threatens organic agriculture as well. And then the other major trait is herbicide tolerance. So now we can spray herbicides that kill plants on fields and the weeds will mostly die and the the intended plant we're trying to cultivate will not and it makes reading easier, and weed control easier. Unfortunately, it comes with a downside. We're now spraying herbicides directly on food crops in unprecedented quantities. And the main herbicide we're using in this way is glyphosate, primary active compound in Roundup, and glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor. It's a probable carcinogen. And it's also been patented as an antibiotic so we can kill bacteria. And so we're spraying this on our crops and by the way, just recently we've started spraying it on wheat, and oats and certain legumes, when they're not growing organically as a desiccant, to dry out the crops before harvest. And so now it's become more important than ever to go organic, especially with wheat. But also with with oats and legumes, if you possibly can, because they may otherwise be sprayed with glyphosate. Glyphosate is an environmental disaster. And it's an umbilical cord blood, it's in the bodies of every human being on Earth, most likely. And it's in our water, it's in our soil, it's in our air. And of course, most of all, it's in our food. It's been sprayed on food crops. And, you know, I suspect it's going to be banned at some point in the future. There's, it comes with warning labels in the state of California, when it's sold to the consumer, it's already starting to be banned in certain European countries. The data is not good on this this compound. So GMOs are essentially receptacles for glyphosate and other toxic herbicides. And so those are my big problems, that the notion of splicing genes from another species or bacteria into a given plant to try to create certain effects is strikes me as concerning perhaps even dangerous. But if we can do something that does good for the world, I'm not inherently opposed. What I am concerned about is placing the power to literally create lights that will reproduce in perpetuity, putting that in the hands of multinational corporations whose job it is to make money for their shareholders. And if there's a small chance of devastating risk to life on Earth, that the company can make money on it, then they may just want to do it. Because that's what they're in business for.
Alex Ferrari 42:02
Now. Isn't Isn't Isn't the one of the companies who owns roundup also create GMO product?
Ocean Robbins 42:10
Yeah, so yeah, so Monsanto now owned by Bayer is the major manufacturer of Roundup. And they're also the major producer of Roundup resistant crops. So this is a great business model for them. You know, they're creating their own therapy and their own demands. And yeah, they're very intentionally so. And that's that's how these these companies work.
Alex Ferrari 42:33
So what are the there because not every food is GMO? So that so are there's a handful, I think out of 10 10 or 15, specific crops that are GMO, and they're trying others, but right now there's only a handful, can you list those off.
Ocean Robbins 42:45
Now the big ones right now are going to be corn is corn and soy are the big two. They're mainly used for livestock feed, and ethanol for cars. In the case of corn. We do eat some but but most of that soy is not going to tofu, it's going into livestock feed, and also soybean oil as well. So they make soil and they make soybean meal and the meal part is fed to livestock and the oil part is used in all kinds of processed foods. And then, and then we've got sugar beets, which are primarily genetically engineered. So half of our sugar supply, what you call table sugar in the US is made from cane sugar. And the other half is made from genetically engineered sugar beets. And then we've got cotton which is used of course in clothing, but also in cottonseed oil in the in the food industry. And then we've got alfalfa, which is used again for livestock. So the GMO industry is mainly being used for hyper processed foods and livestock feed. You know, as opposed to food for humans. However, these hyper processed foods are ingredients from these GMOs or in all kinds of hyper processed foods. So you've got to look at labels but you will find GMOs and all kinds of things if you're looking whether it's you know, high fructose corn syrup, or corn starch or soil or various derivatives from them. And then so yeah, about 75% of the foods on supermarket shelves contain GMOs at this point. And but but the big ones are just those those things. So it's corn and soya and oh, and canola I should mention as well which is used in canola oil, and sugar beets
Alex Ferrari 44:18
But they don't have potatoes yet or
Ocean Robbins 44:20
So there are there are a few GMOs that are starting to come on the market. Certain apples certain Yes, there is a there is a GMO potato that's starting to come into the mix now. And so it's starting, it's not the dominant strains yet but these are these are emerging. And, and there'll be more in the future is also GMO salmon. So some of our some of our farmed salmon, including salmon you see on restaurant menus is from genetically engineered salmon now and there's no labeling and no controls around that unfortunately. So unless it's wild, but if it's fun armed, which most of it is, then it could be genetically engineered and his company AquaBounty came up with a type of salmon that that doesn't, that grows much faster than regular salmon. So it can it can get to market Wait, you know, in a third of the time, because it doesn't have the gene in it, that would cause it to stop, stop growing in the winter. So it just keeps going, going going nonstop. And, you know, the danger is if these get out in the wild, they will probably out compete wild salmon, and literally eliminate wild salmon take over, you know, within a pretty short period of time. So hopefully that will not happen. But if it does, then then salmon will never be the same.
Alex Ferrari 45:43
Let me ask you a cooking question now. So we always like to add flavor to our foods. What is a healthy way to add that flavor? Because you know, it's normally stuff that's not good for you, you know, broccoli with cheese on it is delicious, but not really that healthy. So there's what are some healthy ways to add flavor?
Ocean Robbins 46:02
Well, there's so many good ways to add flavor. You know, the biggest one is spices. I mean, spices are really really good for you like seriously, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic, onions, cinnamon, turmeric, I already mentioned earlier. Cilantro for those who like it. Not everyone does. You know, there are so many wonderful spices out there saffron is turns out to be linked to helping fight depression. A lot of these spices are anti inflammatory remarkably enough. So cayenne pepper and all of the spicy peppers turned out to have powerful anti inflammatory compounds in them that help help your bites. It's fascinating because they're spicy. So you think right like that, actually, they're that what they're doing on the inside is helping your body cool down, and calm down. And really interesting how that works. Yeah, garlic is linked to cancer prevention. So all of these things are amazing for promoting health and bringing down inflammation in the body. And they add flavor. And the other good news is when people use more spices in their cooking, they use less sugar and less salt for flavor. Because the food has more of its own taste, right. So making friends with your spice cabinet is one of the top tips for healthy eating and healthy lifestyle. So get to know what's in there, clear out the stuff that's been sitting there collecting cobwebs for 17 years, or that you inherited from your great grandmother. And you make make your spice cabinet a real active alive part of your life and make different mixes or get different mixes, enhance your culinary experience, but the fastest way to radically change it to enhance your culinary life with minimal effort is just changing what spices you use, and adding more of them and more different kinds. And getting to know what works. You can also by the way, mix sweet and savory, you know, like all spice or cinnamon can be really good on some savory dishes. It's interesting, you know, they just add a really interesting richness to them. And similarly, people are putting chili and cayenne and chocolates, for example. Now it's finding that they're amazing. So, you know, mix it up a little bit and see what you learned. But you know, spices are your friend.
Alex Ferrari 48:21
I've read that cinnamon is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. It's just you can't eat a lot of it. It's a one time but
Ocean Robbins 48:29
Let's do with all the spices. Yeah, but you don't need a lot that that that flavor. To be nutrition at a very intense level.
Alex Ferrari 48:39
Yeah, it's pretty amazing. It's pretty amazing. Now, another issue that we have as, as just normal people live in our lives is every time we sometimes we go out to eat. And restaurants generally don't care about health, they care about things tasting good. So you can come back to it that goes from fine dining all the way to, you know fast food. How can you eat? What advice do you have for people who are eating out to try to eat healthy.
Ocean Robbins 49:05
So first of all, say that to the extent that you can plan ahead and make your own food, you will save money, you'll eat better, you'll become the master of your own destiny and you'll feel more empowered. Restaurants in general, have a bit of a disincentive economically to provide healthy food. They don't have to disclose ingredients for the most part. And they therefore if they can use cheaper ingredients and enhance pump up flavor that gets the customer to come back. That's to their benefit. And so a lot of them are using ingredients you've never actually want to use in your kitchen. That's just the fact of it. You know? But that said Of course there are restaurant tours who are thoughtful and caring and creative and love feeding their customers and whose bottom line isn't just the almighty dollar, it's serving good food, you know, and that's what they're in business for. And so finding those is wonderful. and supporting them is wonderful. And who doesn't like to try something new that somebody else did all the work and you just get to walk in and enjoy it, right? They spent years honing their craft and finessing this particular recipe. And now you just get to go partake, right, that's kind of fun, and they do all the dishes too. So there's a lot to like about restaurants, but they do cost money, they tend to drag down our nutritional status. And it's surprising how much time and energy it can take to earn the money to pay for the restaurant meal, plus the time it takes to drive there and drive home, etc. So a lot of times, you can actually save time as well as money by eating in so to speak. If you are eating out, you know, look for restaurants, obviously, that serve some organic foods, and that they offer some plant based options, if they specialize in that all the better. But even like at a steak house, you may be able to get you know, a salad and a potato and some steamed veggies, you know, and, you know, get your own, get, get creative with sauces, you know, ask if they can make a little curry for you. Or, you know, worst case I've I've been known to, you know, order at some restaurants, I just asked for a baked potato and some, some some grilled veggies. And then I'll put and I'll get some black pepper and some salt and some olive oil on there. You know, and it's not a feast. But if you're if you're struggling and it's literally all you got, and you don't want to compromise on your principles, those are options, or per breakfast, a lot of times you can get oatmeal, and you can get it without sugar and butter if you want in cream if you want to do that. And that other things add in cinnamon and raisins and fruit to it, you know. So you know these are options that you can you can get creative with you can order what's called off the menu where you ask them to mix up different ingredients, they've gotten creative ways, and most restaurants are happy to do that. But ideally, you're going to a restaurant that's hone their craft and love, certainly unhealthy food that's that's plant based and that you can really enjoy. Obviously, that's the best and you can look up menus online before you go. So you can you can if you're going out with a friend, you know, you can plan ahead and make sure it's a restaurant that works for you. You don't have to big make a big fuss about it. If you're afraid of appearing fussy. Don't say like, Okay, I've analyzed 17 restaurants, and here's my spreadsheet. And these are the 14 ranking order that I've had that are acceptable to me, you can just make a suggestion, hey, why don't go to this place, you know, and they don't have to know that you did some research in advance. And all you have to do is find one thing that works for you. And that works, right, you don't have to be able to eat the whole menu. So, you know, I think you can get creative and find options. And ultimately, it can actually be fun to Google, you know in your city or town or community healthy restaurants and see what you find. And you may find some new places you didn't even know existed that offer some cool stuff. And that shows in their own search ranking efforts to put the word healthy feature, right, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're healthy, but it means that they want to be seen that way which could be a good sign.
Alex Ferrari 52:51
Now what are some great snacks that we can have because I know snacking is a big issue for me. So I just love is there any good advice on snacking?
Ocean Robbins 52:59
Yeah, sure. Well, I mean some of the healthiest snacks are going to be nuts and seeds. With maybe with some dried fruit in there little reasons like trail mix is really, really good. It's nutrient dense and also calorie dense. You don't want to overwhelm with that but that can be good. I personally love veggies with hummus or other sauces or dips but hummus is super healthy. So dipping the carrots or you know celery in hummus is lovely, super good for you. Berries are wonderful, including frozen if you you know don't have fresh and you can also do frozen fruit. You can get frozen peach slices or apple slices or whatever and snack away on that if you want to. And you know kale chips if you want to get more industrious or make your own with a dehydrator can be wonderful, great snack give you that crunchy flavor rich thing but also give you lots of amazing nutrients. So those are some of my favorite snacking options along with fruit I mean just straight up fruit, fruit with peanut butter, you know, apple slices with some peanut butter can be wonderful. And yeah, those are some of my favorites.
Alex Ferrari 54:05
Now, I'm gonna ask you a couple of questions that I ask all of my guests. What is your mission in this life?
Ocean Robbins 54:15
Well, first I'll say the mission of Food Revolution network is healthy, ethical, sustainable food for all. And that really captures a lot of what I'm up to in the world right now. Healthy because I want people to be healthy. I want people to not need to die of heart disease and cancer. I want people to have the vitality that they need to do what they were born to do to give their gifts to live in a big way a love and a big way to play with their kids and grandkids and great grandkids to to to make their mark in a good way on this planet. Right. And I want them to have the nutrients they need to do that ethical because our food system is murdering and torturing animals in factory farms because it's treating the workers horrendous We the life expectancy for farmworkers in the state of California as 49 years, people are being contaminated with massive amounts of pesticides in the fields. So when you go organic, you aren't just impacting you, you're also impacting them, you're impacting the people who are out there growing your food, so they don't have to be poisoned in the fields. And I have cancer in their 40s. And so I want an ethical system where the people who grow our food are treated respectfully and are paid enough to feed their own families. And then sustainable because, you know, I want us to have a livable world for future generations. I'm terrified by climate change. I'm terrified by deforestation, topsoil erosion and aquifer depletion, that the preponderance of droughts and floods and the likelihood that billions of people are going to be starving in the next generation because they won't have the conditions to grow enough food on this planet for those people. And we're gonna have billions of environmental refugees as coastal lands are flooded, and ecosystems are devastated by droughts, and so forth. So from my perspective, if we can do something to turn that around, we can make a huge impact for the future of life on Earth. And food turns out to be at the absolute epicenter of that. So sustainable is big to me. And it's not just preserve the status quo, it's actually regenerative, I actually want to heal and build a world that's better. I want to leave a world that's brighter and healthier for future generations, I want humans to be able to identify not as a cancer on the earth, but as living participants of life helping to heal itself and restore itself. So really, that's Food Revolution network's mission, and then it's for all because I want healthy, ethical, sustainable food for everybody, not just the elite few, not just those of us who can afford to shop at Whole Foods with our whole paychecks, I want healthy food for everybody who eats and who everybody who wants to eat, so that it's not an elitist luxury. And part of how we do that is by eating lower on the food chain, we can, you know, we can save huge amounts of grain and topsoil and water and land and ecosystems. By eating lower on the food chain, it takes 12 pounds of grain or soy to make one pound of feedlot beef, the other 11 are being essentially wasted. We've got a protein factory in reverse with the industrialized food system. And with pasture raised and grass fed meat, it takes so much land, that it's an environmental disaster. I mean, rain forest beef is technically pasture raised, but it's coming at enormous cost for future generations. So we've got a lower on the food chain, if we want to be true to what Gandhi said, which is, you know, refuse to have with the masses cannot make yourself rich, by making your wants view, we have to eat lighter, walk lighter on the earth, and food is the number one way we can do that. So all those things are very deep in my heart. And ultimately, at the end of the day, for me, food is a means to a greater and I want to help us to leave ourselves back into the web of life, I want us to do what we were born to do. I want us to live with meaning and purpose and conviction and love and joy, and integrity. And I think that when we bring our food choices into alignment with our values, we can do all that.
Alex Ferrari 57:53
And what is the ultimate purpose of life?
Ocean Robbins 58:04
Well, in my experience, life is constantly evolving. And so its purpose ultimately is to, to evolve, to learn, to discover, to grow, to create, innovate, to experiment at to see what works and what doesn't, and to keep learning. So, you know, I think that that's that's the critical question for us as humans will be will we be? Because we're seeing some things right now in our behaviors as a species that don't work now that are not sustainable? Will we learn from that? Will we evolve fast enough to realize oh, my gosh, you cut down all the forests, you can't live on this planet, if you if you torture animals in factory farms, and make that how you grow your food, and exploit massive amounts of resources to feed that livestock. And then you give yourself heart disease and cancer. It doesn't work, there's cost to the system. And we can do better, you know, and there's so many ways that I think humans can evolve. And so the question is what we learn, when we get the feedback, we get the data, when we learn from it, when we allow it to inform ourselves so that our past doesn't have to equal our future. Because in some ways, our current course is a one way road to oblivion. But at the same time, I believe we can turn course we can shift direction. And what we need is the information to be a part of feedback loops to flow through our bodies and our choices. So to me, the purpose of life is evolution. And humans have to decide whether we're going to be part of that or not.
Alex Ferrari 59:34
And where can people find out more about you where to buy the books and find out the work that you're doing?
Ocean Robbins 59:41
Well, 31 day Food Revolution is the book that I wrote, and it's designed to help you implement all that we're talking about today. At the end of the day cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, they don't care too much how many books you read or podcast you listen to they care what you eat and how you live. It's not what you know, it's what you do that matters most So I wrote a 31 day Food Revolution to help you, yes, understand the data and learn from it, but also implement all that we're talking about. So 31 chapters, like 31 flavors of ice cream, but at the end of the day, these 31 steps will help you have more pleasure and more joy even than ice cream would. And they will also every chapter ends with action steps you can take to implement all of your learning. So that's number one. Number two, go to foodrevolutionsummit.org. To register for our free food revolution summit and learn from the top food experts on the planet, or go to foodrevolution.org check out hundreds and hundreds of articles on our website about pretty much every food and health topic imaginable. So you can learn the latest insights and how you can apply it in your life.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:51
Ocean, it has been a pleasure talking to you, you are so passionate about what you do. It's always wonderful to talk to passionate people. And I hope that this conversation, opens the eyes for some people and helps helps you with your food revolution and helps the planet and helps us all get a little bit healthier. So I appreciate you, my friend. Thank you so much.
Ocean Robbins 1:01:10
Absolutely appreciate you too. Alex, thank you!
Links and Resources
- Ocean Robbins – Official Site
- 31-Day Food Revolution: Heal Your Body, Feel Great, and Transform Your World
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