What’s the reason for this post on Pancreas Hero?
I’ve been thinking about writing it for a while, but I needed to be able to answer that question before sharing. What surprised me is that there were a lot more reasons than I was expecting.
1. Sugar & processed food are an epidemic that I believe are two of the biggest players in modern disease. “Bulletproof intermittent fasting” (more on this later) is one of the easiest ways to decrease the intake of such foods without being hungry all the time. Living with diabetes is easier if you eat less sugar. On the most basic level, if you don’t eat carbs, you don’t have to count carbs, and probably won’t need to cover with insulin above your basal amount. Just ask our son about nights that we eat salmon and asparagus for dinner (no bread or other carbs)… no mealtime insulin required. (Just for clarification, I’m not recommending regular coffee consumption for 12-year-old’s).
2. There is a lot of misinformation about what is really “healthy”. I can’t tell you how many patients tell me that they are eating well because they eat more “whole grains” now. I don’t doubt that whole grains have more nutrients than Wonder-bread, but it takes more than that to make something a health food. Most whole grain foods that people eat in any quantity are very very high in sugar. Just because it doesn’t taste sweet, doesn’t mean it’s not sugar. The other problem is the message that fats are dangerous. There are some that are, that’s for sure. There are also plenty that your body can use extremely well. We are afraid to eat fat. There’s no need to be, not if you learn the difference.
3. I want to show my gratitude to Dave Asprey for his work in sharing Bulletproof Coffee with the world. His podcast has had a major positive transformative effect on my own health, my family, and my medical practice. It’s not any one piece of advice, or even the coffee that has had the biggest impact. The best gift he’s given me is the empowerment to think for myself, educate myself, experiment, and track data. Yes, he inspired me to become a “biohacker”. PancreasHero.com wouldn’t be here without him.
So, what is “Bulletproof Coffee”?
There are a lot of variations, but I’ll start with the basics. In it’s essence, it is three things, (1) high-quality black coffee, (2) grass-fed butter, (3) MCT Oil (usually purified from coconut oil).
If you’re like me, and you’ve never heard of this combination before, your reaction is probably something to the effect of “Butter and oil in coffee? What?!! Why would you do that, and how can that be good?”. I can totally identify. My dad is the one who introduced me to the idea, and I thought he was crazy at the time. Then I started to learn about this whole “underground” movement of “Bulletproof coffee” drinkers. I ran into more and more people who had been drinking the stuff and loving it for some time. Jimmy Fallon drinks it.
What are the advantages, anyway?
1. It’s easy. It’s typically used as a breakfast replacement, and once you find the recipe that works for you, it’s very fast and easy to make.
2. It satisfies hunger until lunchtime. Hard to believe, but on many occasions I’ve found myself at 1-o’clock beginning to realize it’s time to eat something. Before, by 10 AM, I was a distracted mess looking for something to eat. It makes me less hungry, but it also makes me a better employee. It’s a lot easier to be focused and engaged at work when you aren’t distracted by hunger.
3. Mental clarity. It took me a while to buy into this, but it’s true. I definitely believe it’s a cognitive enhancer. Caffeine has been well studied as a brain booster, but there is something special about the combination in “Bulletproof coffee”.
4. Fat burning through “intermittent fasting”. I lost 40lbs that I didn’t know I needed to lose. Now that I have lost the weight, I feel great. I have more energy, my body moves better, my wife says I stopped snoring. Oh, and my BMI and body-fat parameters are now normal. There is a great podcast and a book by nutrition expert, Brad Pilon, on the topic. Research shows that fasting increases Growth Hormone, decreases Insulin, and increases longevity. The body burns fat in preference to muscle when fasting.
5. Better health metrics. This may generate some controversy, but I’m comfortable with that. From everything I can tell my cholesterol is better. This in spite of an increase in my LDL and Total Cholesterol. Here are my before & after numbers:
Why do I think it’s better now?
The first lesson is that LDL is not all created equally. Large LDL particles are much less dangerous than small LDL particles. The above test (a standard lipid panel) doesn’t measure particle size. Ask most cardiologists if they know of a patient who had sky high cholesterol numbers, but squeaky clean arteries on a heart cath, and they’ll probably say “yes”. LDL particle size is part of the explanation. If I evaluated my cholesterol based on LDL, I would be worried… but I’m not. In fact, I’m learning to look at LDL as part of the picture, but not the most important part. I also did some further testing to help support my beliefs, and found that my LDL is made mostly of the less dangerous large particles. I also have undetectable HS-CRP, and low-normal homocysteine levels.
There is growing evidence that the ratio of Triglycerides:HDL is a more consistant predictor of risk for heart disease than LDL, which has been the standard for years. Hemoglobin A1C, the measure of average blood sugar for the last three months, has also shown promise as a more reliable predictor of cardiac risk than LDL.
What about mold toxins, grass-fed butter, and the type of MCT oil?
These are great questions. I know that Dave feels strongly that all three are very important. My recommendation is to do the experiments for yourself. Make decisions that make sense to you, and that you believe in. Personally, I think grass-fed butter is the most important of the three, and I prefer Kerrygold unsalted. Animals (humans included) concentrate toxins in the fat. I have no problem eating Kerrygold every day, but I can’t say the same for grain fed industrial “mystery butter”. What the animal eats and is exposed to is important to me. My own favorite coffee is locally roasted by my parent’s neighbor in Troy, ID, called Landgrove. It’s organic, but not certified low in mold toxins. I like Dave’s “brain octane” MCT Oil, but I think NOW Foods brand is fine on a budget.
My favorite BP Coffee Recipe:
1. 8oz French Press Landgrove coffee
2. 2-tbsp Kerrygold unsalted butter
3. 2-tbsp MCT Oil – Brain Octane preferred
4. Thoroughly mixed and frothed with $2.49 Ikea Milk-frother
5. Cinnamon & Nutmeg sprinkled on top, and gently stirred on the surface
My best friend from residency is a Sherpa from Nepal. When I told him about BP coffee, it instantly made sense to him. He grew up drinking “yak butter tea”, which is where Dave Asprey got the original inspiration for his magical concoction. I hope you found this post helpful. Please feel free to ask me any questions.
Enjoy… as I have! 🙂
PS – If this is your first time trying BP coffee, you may want to ease you way into the high level of fat and oil to avoid an upset stomach. I find that it is best sipped slowly. Chugging not recommended.