Kip Andersen, Dave Asprey, Dr. Joel Kahn: “The Ideal Diet: The Directors of […]” @ Talks at Google: (Transcript)

DAVE: Good morning.

AUDIENCE: Good morning.

DAVE: So today’s a very exciting day. It marks the launch of our Talks at Google Friendly Debate Series, where we bring together people who take different positions on key issues, with the hopes that through their dialogue, we’re able to better understand questions whose answers are less clear cut. So today the question we’ll be exploring is, what is the ideal diet? And so I’d like to begin by introducing our, moderator Google’s very own Jesse Michael’s Jesse. Jesse is a program manager on machine intelligence, with a particular affinity towards dietary habits. Please join me in welcoming to the stage Jesse Michaels.

JESSE MICHAELS: Thank you, Dave. I really appreciate it. Yes, I do have a particular affinity towards dietary habits, mainly– like Kip, actually, I’m a hypochondriac, so I’m always kind of thinking about what is the ideal diet. And I think like a lot of you, you read articles, you read press, you look at what’s out there, and there are a lot of experts saying completely conflicting things. There’s no kind of apparent consensus on this issue.

And so what I’m hoping to get out of this is kind of a rational elucidation and dissection of what is the ideal diet from people who have different viewpoints. But hopefully, we can find some common ground and we can give you some resources to kind of look this up for yourself as well. So I want to introduce my panelists. So Dave Asprey. He’s a businessman, an author, a blogger. He’s a biohacker. He’s tried everything on himself. He’s a human guinea pig. He recently wrote “Head Strong,” which is all about mental clarity and peak performance and what diet is conducive to that. And then famously, his kind of foundational work is “The Bulletproof Diet,” which involves allocating 50% of your diet to healthy fat.

After him, we have… we have Kip. Kip just came out with a bombshell of a documentary on Netflix Kip Anderson, by the way. And it basically has caused a lot of people around the world to go vegan. And it talks about all of the dangers of eating meats, processed meats, and dairy, and it exposes a lot, and I think it’s a really good documentary, and you guys should definitely check it out. Before that, he actually had a documentary called “Cowspiracy,” which talks about the environmental dangers of eating meat. So I think that work kind of speaks for itself, and you guys should definitely watch it if you haven’t.

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And then we have Dr Joel Kahn, last but not least. You guys should go on That really kind of is the best kind of resource for him in terms of his work. He’ll give you weekly health tips. So maybe you watch Kip’s documentary and you want to go vegan, Dr Joel Kahn’s a great kind of practical way to go vegan. He gives you a lot of really helpful tips. He’s been vegan for 25 years himself. He is a cardiologist, and he focuses on preventative care importantly. And then finally, he has an actually an Amazon best-selling book called “The Whole Heart” that you guys should definitely check out.

So without further ado, I kind of want to get into just individually your backgrounds and the kind of trajectory of your thought. So, how you came to believe what you currently believe is the ideal diet through your own personal experiences. We can start with you, Dave.

DAVE ASPREY: I’ve been a Silicon Valley guy for most of my career. I used to weigh 300 pounds And I couldn’t really see my feet, much less touch them. As my career was taking off, I was a co-founder of a part of the company that held Google’s first server when it was two guys from Stanford and one server, before Google built its own data centers. And I started to have really serious brain fog. So my career’s taking off, and I just found I couldn’t really pay attention. My emotions were all over the place. And I decided, well, I could work out six days a week.

In fact, I can cut my calories to 1,800 calories. I could go vegan before it was cool. And all I got was fatter and more tired. After 18 months of working out, I could bench press all of my friends. And they didn’t work out, and they were all thinner than I was, and I ate less than they did. And at a certain point I’m like, I’m trying, but maybe I’m not trying hard enough, and I thought it was a moral failing. And eventually, I said, you know what? I’m a hacker. In fact, I can take the stuff we use to manage the internet, and I can turn it back on myself, and I can look at things we know, understanding there’s a lot of things we don’t know.

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When we work on infrastructure, you only know the stuff you control, but you’re going out across all the stuff that other people control, yet somehow you can still make the results you want. We still don’t know a huge amount about our own biology, but it’s very easy for us to say, all right, here is a bunch of data points, rather than epidemiological studies saying, some people eat this, and not controlling for millions of variables that might matter, and sort of make a conclusion there, I could actually go out and say, what am I testing right now, is there a plausible reason for this, and do I see and feel results that I can measure? And I lost 100 pounds.

I turned my brain back on. I’m younger and more energetic on every level I can. And it turns out there is enormous amounts of data that everyone listening to this can go out and Google for. And you can find, oh, wait, there are studies on PubMed that say the exact opposite of what things like the American Heart Association and the recent attack on coconut oil, things like that– oh, wait, you stopped looking at all data after 1974 in order to make those conclusions? Well, what about the new data? So it’s becoming increasingly hard to fool people, but increasingly easy to just simplify things.

When I look at my favorite animal protein product, it’s spider venom. Wait, that’s an animal protein that’s clearly bad for you. And my favorite plant based protein is ricin, the nerve gas. So anytime someone tells you plant-based or animal-based, those are meaningless terms. It’s like a liquid diet. Well, was it gasoline, or was it water? Because they do different things to your biology. And how is it prepared? All these things matter. And I ended up with this basic algorithm that works. And the algorithm goes like this. Stop doing the things that make you weak. You probably don’t know all of them, but at least find some of them. Then do the things that make you strong. And most nutrition research focuses on just doing stuff that makes you strong, or these very broad platitude-based things that are so broad that they caused you to do things that make you weak even if there is value in them. So it’s a question of having precision for you.

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And prime examples would be if you eat processed meats, they do one thing to you because of a bacteria in your gut. If you eat unprocessed meats that are fed a different thing, it’s actually a different outcome. It even has different environmental costs. So you look at the system of the human body. You look at all the things that are going in that you can measure, you realize you’re not measuring almost everything that’s going on in the world around you that affects your biology. And then you start course correcting.

And for me, it led to profound improvements in cognitive function, as well as sort of effortlessly maintaining the weight that I wanted without ever experiencing hunger and cravings. And I quit being a raw vegan. In fact, it made me really sick. And a lot of people have had problems with that. And there are other people, like Joel here, who have been vegan for 25 years and are still walking around.

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