Dr Stephen Hussey – Understanding the Heart: Uncommon Insights into Our Most Commonly Diseased Organ

Content by: Dr Stephen Hussey

Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.

Stu: This week I’m excited to welcome Dr. Stephen Hussey back to the show. Dr. Hussey is a Chiropractor, Functional Medicine Practitioner and Online Health Coach. He’s the author of  a new book called Understanding the Heart: Uncommon Insights into Our Most Commonly Diseased Organ. In this episode, we discuss the most common myths surrounding heart health and we dig deep into nutrition, movement, and mindset, and more. Over to Dr. Hussey…

Audio Version

downloaditunes Questions asked during our conversation:

  • What are the biggest misconceptions surrounding heart health?
  • Is cholesterol the enemy that we’re led to believe?
  • What type of diet do you believe to be the most beneficial for our heart?

Get More of Dr. Stephen Hussey

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Full Transcript

Stu

(00:03)

Hey, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the health sessions. It’s here that we connect with the world’s best experts in health, wellness, and human performance in an attempt to cut through the confusion around what it actually takes to achieve a long lasting health. Now I’m sure that’s something that we all strive to have, I certainly do. Before we get into the show today, you might not know that we make products too. That’s right. We’re into whole food nutrition and have a range of superfoods and natural supplements to help support your day. If you are curious, want to find out more just jump over to our website that is 180 nutrition.com.au and take a look.

Stu

(00:41)

Okay, back to the show. This week I’m excited to welcome Dr. Stephen Hussey back to the show. Dr. Hussey is a Chiropractor, Functional Medicine Practitioner, and Online Health Coach. He’s the author of  a new book called Understanding the Heart: Uncommon Insights into Our Most Commonly Diseased Organ. In this episode, we discuss the most common myths surrounding heart health and we dig deep into nutrition, movement, and mindset, and more. Over to Dr. Hussey. Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition and I am delighted to welcome Dr. Steven Hussey back to the podcast. Dr. Hussey, how are you?

Dr Stephen Hussey

(01:22)

I’m doing great. How are you?

Stu

(01:23)

Yeah, really good. really good. I’m very excited about the conversation today. I think our listeners are going to get a huge amount out of this as well. But first up for all of those that perhaps didn’t listen to our first conversation and are not familiar with you, I’d love it if you can just tell us a little bit about yourself, please.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(01:43)

Yeah. So I live in the States. I am a Chiropractor and Functional Medicine Doctor. And I do mostly neuromusculoskeletal stuff in my clinical practice, but I also do a lot of nutrition and I have a master’s in nutrition and functional medicine. And I do a lot of metabolic health and things like that. And as a child I had a lot of inflammatory conditions I would say. Everything from IBS to chronic hives, to asthma, to terrible allergies and things ultimately ended up with type 1 diabetes, autoimmune, my body attack my pancreas and I no longer make insulin.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(02:27)

And that kind of sent me on this path to health. Over time, I started to find out that the way I lived my life had an impact on how I could manage type 1 diabetes. I’d also been told by many physicians that having that I was predisposed to heart disease two to four times increased risk. And so that spurred this, I guess, passion for figuring out how to mitigate heart disease the best I could and also how to manage type 1 the best I could.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(02:58)

And so I’ve just been this, I don’t know, I get a little obsessed with finding those things and obsessed with researching. Because I got a chiropractic education and a master’s in nutrition and I still didn’t feel satisfied and I just wanted to know more and dig in deep. And so that’s what I’ve been doing and I recently wrote this book. I wrote a book before but this is my second book called Understanding the Heart. And it’s just everything that I’ve come to learn about the heart and I’m pretty excited about it.

Stu

(03:28)

Fantastic. Yeah, I am too. I’m very excited to jump in and just throw a few questions your way. So for our listeners we’ve connected before and we spoke about your journey with the type 2 diabetes and how you use nutrition as an intervention for that. So I’ll pop the link in the show notes for our first conversation. But back on the topic of the book, Understanding the Heart, again close to everyone from a standpoint of being a mystery, I think, and quite… And very much a fear because we’re aware that cardiovascular disease is a biggie and it’s right up there, I guess, in the top three of killers, at least in our country. Don’t know, it can strike any time, we’re fearful. We’ve had where there are so many different messages coming out of mainstream media as to what we need to do to try and protect ourselves as best we can. So I guess straight off the bat, biggest misconceptions then surrounding heart health what would they be?

Dr Stephen Hussey

(04:33)

Yeah, I mean, as I dug into all this stuff for personal reasons I come across the fact that heart disease is the number one killer in the world. And it’s just like why is that? Why do we have this thing not figured out?

Stu

(04:48)

Yeah.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(04:49)

And so I guess that from a broad perspective that suggests that we’re doing it wrong or at least the approach we have is not getting us any closer to where we want to be, which is less heart disease. And so, I have found that there are a lot of misconceptions in my opinion about the heart and what causes heart disease. And so, the biggest one probably is what people usually don’t expect. When we start talking about heart disease people expect me to talk about cholesterol and saturated fat and all this stuff which we can talk about because that’s a big part of it.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(05:24)

But one of the most striking things is that I believe we have misunderstood what the purpose of the heart is in the body. Why it is there, what it does, because there is a lot of evidence to suggest that the heart is not the main mover of the blood and that the blood moves around different ways. And so, when we have all this evidence that suggests that how can we expect to ever really treat heart disease or understand how to prevent it if we don’t understand what the function of the heart is or what the true role of it is.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(05:58)

And so that’s one of the biggest misconceptions I think is that we just don’t know why it’s there. We’ve misunderstood why it’s there and what it does and what its purpose in the body is. But also, I think another an obvious one is that LDL and cholesterol are drivers of heart disease, cardiovascular disease, or atherosclerosis. I think that’s a big one. I think another big one is that animal foods cause heart disease. So yeah, I mean those are big ones. Covering those now would be a huge topic and a huge amount of time. So yeah, I think those are the biggest ones.

Stu

(06:38)

All right. Given the time constraints then, how could you describe to me quickly then what you believe to be the function of the heart outside of the pump? As which we’re led to believe.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(06:50)

Right. So, we’re taught that, I was taught in school, all physicians are taught in school that the heart is this pressure-propulsion pump. And a pressure-propulsion pump is a pump that takes water that’s stagnant like from a lake or reservoir and it sucks it in somewhere and forcefully pumps it out somewhere else. And when you look at the heart that’s just not what’s happening. It does do a little bit of pumping but it’s really no more than just enough to move the blood through the heart itself.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(07:20)

There’s no way that it could create enough tension and pressure and force to pump the blood throughout the entire body. And so, there was early scientists that said, “You know we’d need a heart the size of a whale to do that.” And there were early scientists that put together models of the heart that no matter what they did they couldn’t get it to work like a pressure-propulsion pump. They could not get that to work. And so, it’s difficult because you have to understand that the blood is moving “on its own.”

Dr Stephen Hussey

(07:55)

People say that there’s one way valves in the veins so that prevents the blood from going back, it goes through and can’t come back. And there’s the movement of muscles. But more importantly is that people think you’re crazy but you know there’s actually a formation of what’s called fourth phase water or easy water on the lining of the arteries. Because it’s a hydrophilic surface and this is just a property of what water does. And if people are interested in this they can look into the work of Dr. Gerald Pollack at University of Washington and his work on studying water.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(08:29)

And so when that happens in the arteries it actually creates an energy gradient that propels blood flow or propels flow of water. Since the blood is half water, pretty much, a little bit less than half water then it starts moving “on its own.” Right? And so there are different things that can promote the formation of this fourth phase water on the lining of the arteries and the veins. And so, if that layer is intact then the blood is flowing on its own.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(08:59)

And so if the blood is flowing on its own and the heart is placed in the middle of this flow between the arteries and the veins, then it’s really more like a hydraulic ram. Which if people don’t know what that is, you can go on YouTube and there’s plenty of examples of what a hydraulic. I didn’t know what it was when I first read it. But a hydraulic ram only works if the flow is happening already, water is flowing into it-

Stu

(09:23)

I see.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(09:24)

… Constantly. So usually water is flowing from a higher place down to your hydraulic ram and the ram works to get it and “pump it” up and somewhere else, right? But it’s dependent on flow. And so that’s how the heart works. And so when people talk about heart failure and things, it’s not because the heart’s not pumping forcefully like it should it’s probably because it’s not getting the flow that it should. And it’s being forced to do more pumping than it’s supposed to, more forceful pumping. And so, it’s just a total shift in the way you think about things like heart failure. And I detail it all in the book about how it all works and how we can help encourage everybody to make fourth phase water or easy water on the lining of the arteries. Implications that that has for atherosclerosis and implications it has for heart failure. It’s just a whole new way of looking at things. And the more and more I look at it the more things I find, the more and more it makes sense as to why heart disease is so prevalent. It’s because we’ve misunderstood how the heart functions, how the blood moves, and what the role of the heart is.

Stu

(10:34)

Wow. Fantastic. Yeah. I am super intrigued. Yeah, and I have a whole heap of questions that stem off the back of that. But before I get into those, if we wanted to understand where we are, where our heart health sits right now, there’d be… I would imagine there’d be a barrage of tests that we could take in terms of, I guess, bloods and hormones and panels and calcium score and all that kind of stuff. Is there a gold standard one that just sits above the other from your perspective? To say, get this test and it will give you the best indication of where we are.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(11:23)

I mean, if I had to pick one that’s hard, but I will pick one. In the book there’s a theme and people will see the theme that I think heart health is about being metabolically healthy. So the ability to burn fats and carbs and make ketones and sustain those abilities. Reducing oxidative stress and inflammation and then achieving balance in your autonomic nervous system.

Stu

(11:48)

Okay.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(11:48)

And if I was to pick one that I feel was most important for heart health I think it’s balance in our autonomic nervous system. Most people would say, “Oh, it’s the metabolic flexibility, it’s the lipid panel, it’s the inflammation.” And yes, those are all important, very important. But again, more and more I look at the more and more I think that balance in our autonomic nervous system is probably the most important thing for achieving heart health.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(12:12)

And so we can go into that and what that is, but the best indicator of how balanced we are in our autonomic nervous system is heart rate variability. And so tracking your heart rate variability, which is not something you have to go to a doctor to get you can get devices that do that. And learning about heart rate variability and learning about what it is for you that increases or decreases your heart rate variability, I think, is probably one of the most useful thing for heart health.

Stu

(12:39)

Wow, fascinating. So I’ve got the Oura Ring and I track my HIV daily. And it’s very intriguing to see what practices and principles and tips and tricks impact HIV over time. And again so many things, whether it be hot and cold exposure, sleep,

Stu

(13:00)

… food, stress, all of the above. Boy, it’s a mixed bag. It’s a mixed bag. How do you track your HRV, and what strategies do you implement into your day to try and push that number up?

Dr Stephen Hussey

(13:18)

I use the Oura Ring as well.

Stu

(13:19)

Okay.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(13:20)

I don’t like to wear rings throughout the day, so I just put it on when I go to sleep, and that’s when that tracks it for me. I’m a chiropractor. I’m adjusting people with my hands, so I don’t like things on my hands. So I just wear it at night, and they say that anywhere from 20 to 100 is normal. So the idea with heart rate variability is you don’t really want to get your number and compare it to someone else’s.

Stu

(13:47)

No.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(13:48)

If you’re in that range, that’s your baseline. Then you just find your baseline, and you work to improve it from there. So people are unfamiliar with heart rate variability. It’s the measure between balance of our parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system, because were supposed to have bounce in this state. Really, we’re supposed to have both acting at the same time. The sympathetic gets stimulated, and the parasympathetic is always there to tone it down.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(14:17)

But the problem happens when we get too much sympathetic activity and the parasympathetic doesn’t tone it down. It’s getting suppressed. We call it decreased vagal tone, and so that’s when we can start to see these discrepancies in heart rate variability. So if you were to sit there and take your pulse on your neck or on your wrist or something, and you take a deep breath in, you would feel your pulse quicken a little bit. Then if you slowly breathe out, you would feel it slow down. Sometimes it’s very subtle, it’s hard to feel. But the difference between the fastest it gets when you breathe in and the slowest it gets when you breathe out is my interpretation of heart rate variability.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(14:57)

It’s how much it varies between those two states, and that’s the measure of the bows in our autonomic nervous system. So your number you’re getting is some interpretation of that. There’s lots of different ways that scientists measure it and everything, but heart rate variability is one way that that happens. So you want to get your baseline number, and then you just want to track it. You really need months of data. You really need to figure out what your tendencies are and figure out what’s happening in your life and compare that to how it dropped or rose or whatever so you can really get an idea of what affects you the most.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(15:37)

I mean, we’re talking about stress here really. So you can get an idea of that because sometimes you may think something really stresses you out and it has no effect on your heart rate variability when it happens. Or there are other things where you just say, “Oh, yeah. That’s stressful, but I’m not worried about it.” But really that’s the thing that’s doing it. And neuro feedback’s also good for that kind of stuff too. But there’s so many different things that you can do to help create a high heart rate variability.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(16:06)

You want a high heart rate variability because that indicates you can go back and forth between stress and non-stress states and balance. Basically, you can react. You can have a stress happen to you, and you can react to it accordingly and then maintain balance again, go back to balance. That’s really what it’s indicating that we’re able to do. So there’s endless amounts of strategies. The common ones are nature exposure, positive social relationships, positive loving relationships, hot-cold therapy, just, I don’t know, chewing your food. That can stimulate parasympathetic.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(16:47)

There’s all kinds of things, but to me, it’s really about putting humans in their natural environment. So that natural environment is the one that’s the least stressful to our physiology, but I think that what’s important to realize is that it’s not something that… Just like if you were to say, “I’m going to eat this crap diet. Then I’m going to add all these supplements in and I’ll be healthy.” We know that that’s not a strategy that you can use for health. It’s the same thing as, “I’m going to allow all this stress to be in my life, and then I’m going to add all these different things I do to help with heart rate variability.” That’s not going to work either.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(17:28)

So the first line of defense with this is we’ve got identify things that are creating the most stress and most imbalance for you, and you have to eliminate as many of those things as you can, because you can’t always get rid of them. You can’t always quit your job. You can’t get rid of your kids if they’re stressful for you. You just can’t do those things, but there are some things you can control, things you could work to change over time. So it’s about getting rid of those things, just like it’s about getting rid of that crap diet, not just adding a bunch of supplements.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(17:59)

So you get rid of those and then you also want to fill those things, fill those voids that you created by getting rid of those things with stress-balancing things, like I said, the nature exposure and the positive social relationships and that kind of stuff. Some of that stuff to people sounds like woo-woo, but it is very real. We are very social beings. We’re very reliant on those types of signals to tell us that we’re safe.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(18:26)

It’s fascinating work by Dr. Stephen Porges with the vagus nerve and heart rate variability, just showing how dependent we are on the health of that system of the body. I mean, you could go on and on about it, but that’s it in a nutshell.

Stu

(18:43)

And I think for anybody that wants to learn more about those strategies, especially from the standpoint of the things that you do, if they jumped onto your Instagram channel, for instance, I’ve seen that you’re out in nature. You’re very communal and social. You hop in a sauna. You’re really dialed into your diet in terms of the types of things that you typically eat or try to eat as much as possible. Great place to start, I think, just to get a little bit of a check of, what does the expert do? What does the author of the book actually do?

Stu

(19:21)

So on the topic of diet, it’s funny. We always say our stress is the biggest killer, but when you put it into perspective from that as you just described, it makes perfect sense. And really no surprise then that heart disease is still the biggest killer because it’s such a stressful environment now, and we are always switched on. We’re always in fight or flight mode and constant stimulation all the way through to the time that we go to bed where we’re tired. Why? Because we’re looking at our smartphones, and it’s almost impossible to rest and reset. So [crosstalk 00:19:59].

Dr Stephen Hussey

(19:59)

Yeah, definitely. You mentioned all those things that I’m doing on my Instagram and stuff, and yeah, I’m doing those things. But it’s still difficult. Stress is my number one struggle as far as my health because I tend to take on too much, and I tend to get irritated by things I shouldn’t get irritated by. It’s difficult. I’m not saying that it’s easy. It is definitely my number one struggle. It makes sense though that people have been so hyper-focused on cholesterol and LDL and everything, and then over here, there’s this elephant in the room that is the stress.

Stu

(20:35)

That’s it.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(20:36)

And given the fact that we say things like, “I love you with all my heart,” or, “I gave it all my heart.” There is this deep connection between our emotional state and our heart, and we know it. That’s why we say things like that, and there’s a physiologic connection too and an anatomical connection as well. I talk about all of that in the book.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(20:56)

So when we are living in this stressed-out world that’s gotten more stressful over the past year, then it makes complete sense that there’s studies that come out that say that stress induced cardiomyopathy is up however much percent since the start of a pandemic and things like that. Everyone’s still talking about LDL and cholesterol, and I’m just like, “We got to talk about this other thing,” and we’ve got to make people aware of that because it’s, I think, way more important.

Stu

(21:25)

Totally. Do you use any breathing techniques just to tap into it when you’re really under the pump feeling stress and just want to try and flip that switch?

Dr Stephen Hussey

(21:33)

Yeah, I do. Yeah. If I’m feeling like really stressed, I’ll do a real quick alternative nostril breathing. I’ll do that, and then I’ll do some Buteyko breathing. When I have more time or when I’m meditating, things like that, I implement those strategies. I just read that book by James Nester. It was pretty fascinating.

Stu

(21:54)

Yeah, Breath. It’s good. Isn’t it?

Dr Stephen Hussey

(21:55)

Really, really fascinating because I know how important breath work was, but that just puts it more into perspective, so highly recommend that one. But definitely, I think those are good strategies.

Stu

(22:06)

Excellent. So then I guess we should talk about cholesterol seeing as it, I guess, it has been deemed… Well, cholesterol and the cholesterol myth, one of the biggest health blunders of our time. We’re so fearful of cholesterol. We’re fearful of saturated fats, so we’re shifting over to perhaps a more carbohydrate-based plant-based diet as well. What are your thoughts on that? Because there are so many different camps out there now and big extremes from vegan to carnivore and everything in between, super, super confusing, I think, for everybody. There are advocates for either camp and it works for some people, and it doesn’t work for others. So what do you do? What do you think?

Dr Stephen Hussey

(22:54)

Yeah, so I’m more of on the animal-based diet camp. I tried carnivore for a while. I think that animal foods are better for human health in general, but I don’t think that we have to be full carnivores. I don’t think that people need to do that. It’s not about plants versus animals. It’s not about carbs versus fats, I don’t think. It’s about whole foods. It’s about eating in a way that creates metabolic health for you. So testing for metabolic health can be difficult because lots of physicians don’t know how to do that or don’t know how to interpret it, a blood test or a set of blood tests like that. So that can be difficult to find someone that knows how to do that.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(23:39)

But that’s what we’re really after. We’re not after any ideology about how to eat. It’s about eating in a way that achieves metabolic health because insulin resistance, which is poor metabolic health, is metabolically speaking the number one risk factor for heart disease. It’s not high LDL or any of that. It’s not high total cholesterol. It’s insulin resistance. So we need to test for that. But that being said, saturated fat and animal foods do not cause heart disease. It makes no sense whatsoever that they would considering that humans have been eating them for millions of years.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(24:19)

So the blame started in the 1950s when Ancel Keys came out with his now infamous Six Countries Study and then Seven Countries Study where he basically just cherry picked the data and used associational research that can’t prove any causation. He gave the American people an answer. They wanted an answer as to why heart disease was rising, and then he gave it to them. So this stuck. However, whenever they went to test that theory, because they really tested it interventionally yet. When they went to do that after the theory came out and was broadcast to the world, they found that it was wrong.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(25:02)

But we never heard about that. We never heard about those studies that came out, the Sydney Diet Heart Study and the Minnesota coronary study and the Helsinki Businessman Study. We never heard about those studies, which showed that when you replaced saturated fat with unsaturated fat there was actually worse outcomes. There was more heart disease, more all-cause mortality. So the theory stuck, and big business came in.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(25:29)

They rolled with that theory, and now the vast majority of the calories consumed in the westernized world, at least, but now getting to meet globally is from processed carbohydrates and vegetable oils, because those were deemed to be heart-healthy. However, when you look at what has happened since we started consuming those, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer has all skyrocketed around the world. So you have to step back and look at it from that point of view first, I

Dr Stephen Hussey

(26:00)

I think, and then you can get into the whole LDL conversation and where people think that high LDL is causative in heart disease. And the first thing I do is I look at it from, again, more of a philosophical perspective. It’s very short-sighted to say this one molecule in this vast complex biological ecosystem could be causing disease on its own. Why would it be there if it did that, even in high amounts? It doesn’t make sense that evolution would have selected for that to happen. And so it doesn’t make sense from that perspective. And I think it’s somewhat arrogant of humans to think that we could ever understand it fully. But when we get down to the nitty gritty of it, cholesterol, which is housed in LDL lipoproteins, and other lipoproteins and the transported throughout the body, it’s necessary for life.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(27:02)

It’s a critical nutrient that our body uses. Animals in general use cholesterol, that’s what they use. Plants use phytosterols, that’s what they use. And so plants can’t use cholesterol very well and humans can’t use phytosterol very well. We can if we need to, but not very well. And so cholesterol has all these roles in the body from brain function to insulin receptor function, to making our hormones, to lining our nerves, to all kinds of things. It’s this incredibly vital molecule. And so it’s necessary and I would never want to aggressively lower it for the sake of preventing heart disease. And not just because it doesn’t make sense, but because the trials on lowering cholesterol have proven very inadequate, I’d say, at preventing heart attacks, preventing strokes and things like that. There’s this one where they were testing, it wasn’t a statin drug, it was a new type of way of lowering cholesterol, they were testing it and they stopped the trial early because they were lowering the cholesterol, but people were having heart attacks. So clearly that’s not what’s causing heart attacks. And there was another study where they basically took people at hospitals, most of the hospitals throughout the United States, when they came in having symptoms of a heart attack and having a heart attack, they took their cholesterol levels within 24 hours of them having a heart attack and I think it was something like 50% of them had optimal cholesterol levels and 75% had normal to optimal.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(28:42)

So it almost suggests that having higher cholesterol was better because less of those people with higher cholesterol had heart attacks. So it doesn’t make sense, and I think it’s a very myopic viewpoint to think we can just look at one marker on a blood work panel and look at one blood work panel, which is one snapshot in time and say, Yes, you’re at risk for something. We have to look at that lipid panel in the context of so many other things. We have to look at it in the context of metabolic health, of inflammation, heart rate variability, all kinds of stuff, to really assess and understand someone’s risk. And so, yeah, I just said a lot of things about cholesterol and LDL there, so I’ll stop at that.

Stu

(29:23)

No, it’s great. Well then I’ll just ask one more question about that then. So, for our listeners who are concerned, and rightly so because we’ve been indoctrinated over the last 40, 50 years in terms of don’t eat too much cholesterol, so for our listeners out there that would like to enjoy eggs and butter and animal meats, fatty animal meats, things like that, and are concerned that if they eat too many their total cholesterol will go through the roof. Your standpoint would be, probably not.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(30:00)

Yeah. So it depends on the person. There are a certain percentage of people who go low carb or go high animal foods and their cholesterol does go up. But whether that’s a bad thing… some people’s it skyrockets, it goes up to 500, that’s different numbers than what you guys have over there. But yeah, it goes up really, really high, and I think the jury is out on how bad that is, but I’m inclined to think that it’s not bad in the context of a metabolically healthy person, person with low inflammation, a person with has control of their stress, that kind of stuff. I don’t know if it’s problematic in people who don’t have those things under control.

Stu

(30:44)

Okay.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(30:46)

So that’s why it’s just more complicated. However, for most people, they eat more of those foods, which I think are the ideal foods for humans, and cholesterol either goes down or stays normal.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(30:59)

But the question is, should we be wanting normal? And there’s studies that show that people with higher cholesterol live longer, have less cognitive issues, have less heart disease, less cancer, less infection, that kind of stuff, lower all-cause mortality. So, and those are associational studies that you can’t really show causation with, but they’re there, we can look at that and it definitely makes us question things. So I would say when it comes to fat, animal fats are always better than plant fats. That’s a general rule that I give to people. When you get to plant fats, there are some that are better than others, but as a general rule, animal fats are always preferred in my opinion, to plant fats.

Stu

(31:46)

Got it. Okay. Good advice. So, I’m just backtracking a little to stress, and mindful that exercise is a form of stress, and there are very many types of exercise that we can do. We can enjoy a yoga class, we could enjoy a CrossFit session, or we could even hit the trails and do a very long ultra endurance session. And I think all of these types of exercise can do radically different things to the body. And you were talking about maybe stressing out the pump, being the heart, where do you sit from an exercise perspective?

Dr Stephen Hussey

(32:32)

So I’ve taken some heat for this, I do not think that endurance exercise is good for the heart. And when I say endurance exercise, I mean extreme endurance exercises, I mean marathons, ultra marathons, really long triathlon, things that. I think what we call cardiovascular exercise, running, more aerobic stuff, is fine in small amounts. And it’s probably good for us in small amounts, but it’s when we overdo it that I think that that puts too much strain on the heart. And so, in the book I talk about how a heart attack could potentially happen with no blockage whatsoever, because they do happen. And I outlined the biochemistry and the set of events that happens when that happens. And there are things that you do when you’re doing long distance exercise like that, that can predispose you to that situation, I believe. And so, the bottom line is, is that you don’t need to do that stuff to be healthy, you don’t need to run marathons. If that’s what you want to do, because it’s a goal of yours or it’s because it gives you social benefit because your friends are all doing it, or maybe it’s your profession, you’re the expert at that then, yeah, then obviously people aren’t dropping dead every day of endurance exercise. But I think long-term, for the health of the heart, I don’t think it’s very good. And the reason I don’t think that is because there are a lot of studies that show how inflammatory that type of exercise is when you’re doing get long-term. The exercise in itself is inflammatory, but it’s this hormetic stress that a little bit of it actually causes a net positive thing.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(34:15)

But if you do it too much, you’re going to just outweigh that. So there’s that aspect of it and inflammation is definitely one of the precursors to having heart disease. But then the other thing is, is that there’s a number of studies that have shown that people who do a lot of endurance exercise have lots of intense scarring on their heart muscle and their heart tissue. And so, intense scarring could predispose us to heart failure because the heart tissue is just not going to work as well. Doesn’t it always mean that it will, but it could. And as far as I’m concerned, I don’t want to do anything that would help make me predisposed to developing heart failure or a heart attack or whatever, especially if it’s not necessary for me to achieve some other health benefit, you know?

And so I just, I caution people because I see people to do all these things like, they say they decide they want to get healthy and then they set a goal of a marathon. And I’m just like, Well, let’s set a goal of a 5k maybe and just keep it at that. But then in other terms, I think that we talked a lot about “aerobic, cardiovascular” exercise, I think that more beneficial to the heart would be things like strength training, because muscle mass is the number one indicator of longevity as we age. So you want to increase the mitochondria in our muscles everywhere, including the heart, then strength training is how we’re going to do it, strengthening the heart through small amounts of aerobic exercise.

And then also you could do interval training, high intensity interval training, because that’s a pretty good workout for the heart that’s going to build mitochondria. And the more mitochondria we have, the more metabolically healthy we’ll be and the more efficient we’ll be. So I recommend those types of things over long endurance, cardiovascular exercise. And then I also recommend some sort of like stretching or lengthening exercise, whether it be yoga or foam rolling or something like that. But I like yoga because you can also add the mind component to it as well, which we talked about how important that is.

Stu

(36:28)

No, that’s excellent. I heard a great quote from a longevity expert that I spoke to a while back and he said, “Muscle is the organ of longevity.” And it made a lot of sense to me. And I remember dialing back to my childhood, going to see my grandparents at the time. And I’m a child of the seventies, you just didn’t see people running on the streets. And exercise wasn’t really a big thing, it was just about daily movement and people just did stuff. They moved, they went about their daily activities, which I think were less desk-based than they are now. But if you’d seen somebody jogging down the street, you would have looked at them like they were a lunatic and perhaps suspected that they’d just stolen something, but who knows? It’s crazy.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(37:19)

Yeah. It was definitely more rare sight that it is today.

Stu

(37:23)

Totally, totally. So, I’m just conscious of the time, but I’m really keen to get a little bit of a snapshot on your day in terms of the things that you do and the practices that perhaps you might utilize to maintain your health. So let’s just say that you’ve had a perfect sleep, so you’re feeling invigorated and revitalized. You don’t have to work on this particular day. What would your optimal day look like in terms of, when would you start eating? What would you eat? Would you build exercise into it? What would you do to feel your best?

Dr Stephen Hussey

(38:02)

Yeah. So, if I don’t have to work, I’m probably looking in the morning to go for a hike. Because I won’t eat first thing. I’ll try and do some form of exercise. So that may just be doing some interval training in the yard or something like that, or a hike, maybe some free weights, but I’ll do some form of exercise in the morning. That’s when I’m feeling up for it the most, so I know I’m going to get the most out of it when I’m feeling like that.

Stu

(38:32)

Yeah.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(38:34)

So there’s that. And then I don’t think there is a day where I don’t work. At least, a day where I’m not at the clinic, yeah, but I’m always doing the social media stuff, but if I didn’t even have to do that, I would read, that would be the next thing I do. I would read, probably outside, until

Dr Stephen Hussey

(39:00)

I ate my first meal, which should probably be around noon.

Stu

(39:02)

Okay.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(39:04)

And I eat that first meal and it would be centered around animal foods, but not before the plant foods. And that would be lower carbohydrate because for me as a type 1 diabetic, that is easiest for me to control blood sugars when I do that. And so I have that meal and then I don’t know if I had all the time in the world that day, I would hang out outside. I would try and get some sun. If it was a sunny day, sun is incredibly important, not just for vitamin D it’s way more than that. And I go into all of that in the book.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(39:45)

And I would try and hang out with people. My wife especially spent time with her, but definitely friends as well. If it wasn’t a day, I could hang out in person, then I could call some people and catch up. I would stay busy. I would have a purpose. There’d be things around the house I’d want to be getting done and that kind of stuff. I think that just sitting and watching a TV show or just sitting on social media all day would just be… It would be a failure for me. It would not be what I would want to be doing. It’s not going to create health. I like to be productive.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(40:27)

And so yeah, if I had free days like that, that would be what I do and I’ll eat dinner probably around six, maybe seven, something like that. Again, it would be centered around animal foods, but have plant foods. It would be low carb. And they’re pretty big meals since there’s two of them. There are days where I eat three meals, but most days I guess I two and then in the evenings, that’s when I do most reading because I try to stay away from the screens and stuff in the evening, preparing my body for sleep. And then, yeah, again just hanging out with my wife or pets and winding down.

Stu

(41:12)

Excellent. And thoughts on alcohol, like people think, “Oh, I will have a glass of red wine. Heart healthy. Going to live a long time.”

Dr Stephen Hussey

(41:20)

I take heat for this too. People are real defensive about their wine. I’m sorry, but there’s no such thing as healthy alcohol. There’s just not. It’s always a toxin, no matter what form it’s in, your body has to literally get rid of it the second that it gets in, that’s what it tries to do. If you get too much of it, your body shuts down until you can get rid of it. All the claims that red wine are heart healthy because of the Resveratrol, things are all marketing, if you wanted enough. It’s questionable based on research that Resveratrol is even good for us in any capacity, but even if it was, we would have to drink cases of wine to get enough Resveratrol to make any type of difference. And so the negative side of that would obviously outweigh the benefit. And so people don’t like that I say that, but that is definitely, red wine or any type of alcohol is not heart-healthy, it’s not healthy at all.

Stu

(42:24)

Yeah. Okay. I had expected that answer.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(42:30)

Yeah.

Stu

(42:32)

And supplements. Do you recommend any particular supplements for heart health? I’m thinking things like CoQ10, any of the other supposedly anti-inflammatories.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(42:47)

Yeah.

Stu

(42:47)

What are your thoughts?

Dr Stephen Hussey

(42:50)

Well, first of all I’ll say that as far as alcohol though, if people drink alcohol, it’s not going to kill them right now.

Stu

(42:56)

No.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(42:56)

It’s not going to kill them tomorrow but if you’re doing it because you think it’s healthy, then I don’t think that’s… If you’re doing it because it helps you enjoy your life and you do it in a controlled way, then I’m not going to take that from you. I won’t take that. And I guess the kind of same thing with supplements. I’m always first and foremost trying to get things from food.

Stu

(43:19)

Sure.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(43:20)

But I do realize that we live in a modern world that is full of very nutrient poor food and also full of toxins. We don’t live in a world where we can get everything from food necessarily. We have an abundance of food, but we have little nutrients. And so we have to focus on the most nutrient dense bioavailable foods there are to me. that’s animal foods. And so if I think about CoQ10, I’d rather not take it in a synthetic supplement, I’d rather get it from beef liver or animal meat in general. There’s plenty of CoQ10 there.

Stu

(43:54)

Yeah.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(43:57)

That’s the best place to get it. And if I felt like I needed more maybe I’m feeling fatigue or something, I wanted more optimal mitochondria and more optimal energy production then, yeah, let’s take some CoQ10 and see if it helps.

Stu

(44:13)

Yeah.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(44:16)

But, yeah. So I think the magnesium is very important. I think that that’s a that’s a nutrient, that’s very commonly deficient in people.

Stu

(44:29)

Right.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(44:30)

And so I think that that could be something that I would look into supplementing trying to think what else… I think that certain amino acids could be useful like collagen the amino acids in that, because they’re a bit different than animal protein sources of red meat sources, unless there’s a bunch of connective tissue parts of the steak that you’re eating, but those different amino acids are important for solidifying production and even the integrity of the lining of our arteries, the connected tissue aspect of things. So that’s stuff I consider supplementing because collagen usually not the highest of people’s diets, unless they’re doing lots of bone broth with the joints and stuff.

Stu

(45:17)

Yeah.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(45:19)

Yeah. So I think those things… I’m trying to think what else. I really try and get everything from food. There people who talk about Omega-3s all the time and I’m not a fan of supplementing with Omega-3s for a few reasons. One, because most of the supplements are oxidized. They can become damaged. Once you take them out of the animal, they’re very easily damaged. But the other reason is that the problem is not lack of Omega-3s, It’s usually too many Omega-6s.

Stu

(45:54)

Yeah.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(45:54)

And Omega-6s are not evil. They’re the necessary we need them but the ratio is all off. And so to bring the ratio to where we want it to be, we need to remove the Omega-6s, which is really removing vegetable oils from our diet. That’s really what’s going to do that. If you eat whole foods, a whole animal foods, steak fish, that kind of stuff, the ratios of those fatty acids are going to be in the right ratios that we need. And so just stick to those things, don’t cram in a bunch of Omega-3s that could be oxidized and could be harming you actually rather just eat whole foods. There’s probably others that are going to, but that’s what I can think of off the top of my head, unless you have any specific ones.

Stu

(46:36)

No, not at all. Absolutely. I think you’ve covered the ones that I had in mind. And like you said, whole foods is such a great place to start. I don’t take any Amigos, but I do love eating sardines. Can’t stop myself. But it works for me.

I think mother nature got it right. And I think sometimes it’s really hard to consider that we, as a human race are smart enough to be able to take a single vitamin or mineral or nutrient out of a plant food, synthesize that in a laboratory and not consider the synergy that’s going on in the whole food in terms of everything else that’s going in there that we probably don’t understand. So, yeah.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(47:17)

Exactly. Yeah. And there’s even evidence that depending on your metabolic health, you need less of certain nutrients and more of other nutrients. For example, if you’re on a glucose based metabolism, your body’s up-taking a lot of glucose into the cell to burn then glucose competes with vitamin C for absorption to the cell. And so you’re going to need more vitamin C to get enough whereas if you’re on a metabolic, flexible diet, you can burn fatty acids to ketones that competition’s not there so you need less vitamin C.

Stu

(47:48)

Interesting.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(47:48)

And so it depends on what type of diet you’re eating, but people shouldn’t freak out and be like, “Oh my gosh, how do I know how much I need?”

Stu

(47:56)

No.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(47:56)

Just eat whole foods.

Stu

(47:57)

Yeah.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(47:58)

And you’re going to be all right. Now, if you start doing that, you get metabolically healthy and you still have symptoms, okay, then we can investigate a little further, but just start there. I think that’s the baseline for humans and we’ve tried to over-complicate it many different ways. We have this nutritionism where we’re obsessed with different nutrients. It’s like, “Let’s just eat whole foods, center the data on animal foods, supplement it with plant foods and complement it with plant foods And I think we’ll be good.”

Stu

(48:29):

100%. Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. Fantastic. So I’m conscious of time. So just a couple of wrap-up questions. So what’s next? What’s on the pipeline? Clearly jump onto your social and I can see that you’re super busy. What do you got coming up this year?

Dr Stephen Hussey

(48:44):

Well. So I finished the heart book and published it, I guess, about a month ago now. I just self published but there’s potential interest from a publisher. So that may be the next step is going that route, which unfortunately may mean that the book will be taken down for awhile. But yeah, that’s the newest thing that I’m pursuing. Don’t know if it’ll happen, but if people go to order the book and it’s not available, that may be of what happened. But it’ll allow me to get it to more of an audience. It’ll allow me to make an audio book of stuff. So, yeah. I’m pretty focused on my chiropractic and we’re looking to expand there. So I’ll be pretty focused on that. Actually taking a little step back from online coaching to work on that and potentially working with a publisher. So that’s what’s next for me, but I’ll always be on social media, posting the newest things I find out about. So, yeah. And then maybe way down the road, more books, but who knows.

Stu

(49:52)

Exactly. Yeah. All good on you. So for our listeners that want to dive into your world, find out more about your checkout, what you’re doing online, what’s coming up and grab a copy of the book, where can we send them?

Dr Stephen Hussey

(50:02)

So the book is right now, only available on Amazon.

Stu

(50:07)

Okay.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(50:07)

Again, that may change in the future. I’m on social media. My handle is just Dr. Stephen Hussey. Dr. Stephen Hussey. And then my website is resourceyourhealth.com.

Stu

(50:21)

Fantastic. We’ll make sure that all of those links go in the show notes and that everybody can jump over to your channels and enjoy what you have to share. Dr. Hussey, thank you so much. It has been an absolute honor and a pleasure, and I can’t wait to dive in and just figure out how to decode health with all of the information that you’ve put together. So really appreciate it.

Dr Stephen Hussey

(50:43)

Awesome, yeah. Thanks for having me.

Stu

(50:45)

Thank you. Speak soon.

Dr Stephen Hussey

This podcast features Dr. Stephen Hussey who is a chiropractor, functional medicine practitioner, and online health coach. He is the author of a new book called, ‘The Health Evolution: Why Understanding Evolution is the Key to Vibrant Health’. In this episode, we discuss how Dr. Hussey manages his Type I... Read More
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