045-Health Facts with Normanie Ricks

Today its my pleasure to share this interview that I just did with Normanie Ricks on her program the Health Facts with Normanie Ricks podcast. Normanie , who has spent nearly 15 years in the healthcare industry, has “seen it all.” From working with Wounded Warriors as an active-duty Lieutenant, to working with babies with congenital brain tumors,  through this new podcast platform she is now hoping to change the world – one episode at a time.

 She has obtained degrees from both the  University of Alabama at Birmingham as well as  UCLA .

Her podcast series [including this episode] is appearing on the YUR Health Network.  This remarkable network has  a tremendous selection of excellent health related content. is already making a name for itself as the Netflix of Health and Wellness. 

 #longevity #wellness  #Ketones #lifestylemedicine #younger #ketosis #biohacking #drpeetermuran #RobertLufkinMD #normaniericks #healthfacts

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Robert Lufkin  0:01  
Welcome back to the health longevity secrets show and I’m your host, Dr. Robert Lufkin. Today it’s my pleasure to share this interview that I just did with normally Rick’s on her program the health facts with normally Rick’s podcast nominee, who has spent nearly 15 years in the healthcare industry has seen it all. From working with wounded warriors as an active duty lieutenant, to working with babies with congenital brain tumors. Through this new podcast platform she is now hoping to change the world one episode at a time. She obtained degrees from both the University of Alabama at Birmingham as well as UCLA. Her podcast series, including this episode is appearing on the your health network that spelled y ou are this remarkable network has a tremendous selection of excellent health related content. It’s already making a name for itself as the quote Netflix of health and wellness. And now please enjoy this conversation with normally Rick’s

Normanie Ricks  1:14  
Welcome to Health facts with normally rakes. I am your host normally rakes. I like to start off each episode with a little known health fact. Do you know what an interventional radiologist is? Most people don’t. Most people know what a radiology is people who read X rays, MRIs, ultrasounds, but interventional radiologists does a lot more than that. I have the honor and pleasure of having Dr. Robert Lufkin on our show today. He is a legend in the field of interventional radiologists. He’s been a doctor for over 43 years, and I am happy to have him on the show. Welcome to the show. Dr. Robert Lufkin.

Robert Lufkin  1:58  
Thanks normally, it’s it’s such a pleasure to be here with you. I love your program. I’ve watched your episode. So it’s it’s, it’s a joy to be here.

Normanie Ricks  2:08  
All right, thank you so much. Um, so I just want to say that, um, I cannot walk into a college or university without seeing your name on a book. So I know that you’ve authored many books about interventional radiologists, just read it radiology, read an MRI and stuff like that. And we’re gonna get into some recent books that you’ve written on certain discovery. So, um, I just want to start with a what is your story? How did you get started in the field of interventional radiology?

Robert Lufkin  2:41  
Yeah, I, I grew up my mom actually was a dietician. So she was a certified dietitian and worked her whole life in hospitals and focusing on nutrition. So I was raised in an environment of following the food pyramid and you know, the best things to eat, which, at that time meant I was raised on low fat foods I was raised on margarine I was raised on anyway, you avoided eggs or egg yolk, anything with cholesterol in it and and what happened was through that experience, one I became very interested in, in health and and then I went to medical school and became a became a physician and, and radiology was the field that attracted me because it allowed me to specialize and look at many different different types of diseases and different types of specialties. So it’s, it’s been, it’s been a satisfying course for me.

Normanie Ricks  3:51  
Well, I did not know. Um, I guess I was ignorant to the fact that interventional radiologists do procedures. Can you talk about some of their procedures? Because I think a lot of people don’t know that.

Robert Lufkin  4:03  
Yeah, yes. Sure. A lot of a lot of radiology is is basically the interpretation of X rays, as you know, CT scans, Mr. Scans, ultrasounds, that sort of thing. And that’s what the majority of radiologists do, but a smaller portion of radiologists do things called, as you say, interventional procedures where they actually perform things on a patient and typically, these are using the imaging studies like ultrasound or CT or MRI to guide the procedure and that procedure may be an imaging guided biopsy for example, when when people have a mammogram and a biopsy from the mammogram it is directed by the radiologist using the mammogram to guide it. Also, you can do any basically you can do it interventional procedures anywhere in the body. A very large area of of interventional procedures, in addition to biopsies are things called angiograms. And angiograms are where a tube or catheter is put through the arm or leg into blood vessels. And they can these blood vessels can go all the way to the brain, or they can go to the heart, or anywhere that blood vessels go, these little tubes can go and then through the tubes, you can deliver treatments, you can send contracts, contrast agents, which are things that make the pictures look better when you take an x ray or CT. Or you can or you can do things that will widen the blood vessel. If there’s narrowing say in the case of a, you know, a heart attack or a stroke, you can you can widen the vessel or put put things like stents in there that will widen them as well. So, interventional radiology encompasses all those all those different areas. I guess the common theme is that the procedures use imaging studies to guide them and as the radiologist as the expert in imaging studies then, is sort of the appropriate person to do these guided procedures. Other people do imaging guided procedures. For example, in the heart, many cardiologists do the angiograms in the heart, and sometimes in the brain. In addition to radiologists doing the brain, interventional studies, neurosurgeons and in some cases, neurologist will also do them. Okay.

Normanie Ricks  6:39  
So what is the Lufkin pen created something for this?

Robert Lufkin  6:46  
Oh, you’re probably there is. At one point, I was very interested and I still am in magnetic resonance imaging or MRI. It’s, it’s arguably the single most powerful soft tissue imaging technique that’s that’s ever been developed to this day. And instead of just using it to take pictures to diagnose things, we wondered about using MRI to guide one of these biopsy procedures with a needle, let’s say, and we use a needle to biopsy, as I mentioned, with mammograms into the breast or with ultrasound into different parts of the body, or with CT scans and regular needles work fine. The only problem with MRI is that magnetic resonance imaging, as its name suggests, uses magnets very, very powerful magnets. So the problem with that is if you take a standard biopsy needle, and put it in an MRI scanner, the needle will be attracted to the magnet and fly away. So it doesn’t work. Oh, wow. And it also it creates large artifacts in the image. So to try and figure out a solution for that, we went back to metallurgy and the science of metals and magnetism. And it was it was discovered, it was noted that if you take a steel, stainless steel alloy, which are currently used to needles that produce the big artifacts, what you can do is if you increase the nickel content in the needles, and basically change the alloy, the composition of the metal, it will decrease the artifact and decrease the magnetism to the point that it won’t be affected by the Mr. Scanner. So that’s basically what we did. We took we took new special alloys that were high magnetic stainless steel, and we made biopsy needles out of them, and we literally the first ones, we just epoxy the hub’s in and, you know, made them in the garage and sharpen them. And then we began testing them. And they worked to biopsy with an MRI scanner, which was never possible before. So we began making these needles and then a couple of drug companies or or pharmaceutical companies that make needles was interested in, in releasing this as a product because people all over the world wanted to use these needles, and they kept, you know, asking us for them and we couldn’t make enough of them. So the drug companies began to using them and they, they, they put my name on the needle when he began selling it, and you can still get them on Amazon.

Normanie Ricks  9:33  
Amazing. That is that is genius. That is genius. So one thing that I noticed, so I used to be in the Navy and I lived over in Okinawa, Japan for a while, and I would see different images that they were doing over there and it looks almost like a picture like 3d imaging and all of that stuff. So like, I haven’t seen that type of imaging in the United yet? Um, so why are we still kind of doing black and white imaging here?

Robert Lufkin  10:07  
Yeah, the, I suspect you’re referring to like 3d colored, rendered images of the, of the skull or the head or different parts of the body. And that is available here. And it can typically be can be taken from a CT scan or an MRI scan, which, which produce slices through the body. And then it’s just a matter of putting it into a special computer program that will segment the tissues that you want, and then what’s called render them in three dimensions. And you can assign color codes to each of those and actually make those images. They are available in the US. But maybe they’re not used as much as your experience over there. But it’s interesting technology.

Normanie Ricks  10:56  
Yeah, I thought it was fascinating. So yeah, okay. So I want to get into what you have learned along your journey, because you’ve been a teacher for a long time, and you currently teach at USC. So um, I saw that you wrote a book about the lives that I taught in medical school. So. So let’s talk about what you’ve discovered in your 43 years in the profession. Yeah,

Robert Lufkin  11:23  
interesting thing. You know, science and medicine is continually improving. And the things that we knew, five years ago, 10 years ago, some of them were incorrect. And, you know, as we move on, we made corrections, and we get better and better. Even the stuff we’re teaching today, I’m sure in 20 years or 40 years, people are going to look back and say, well, these are lies I unknowingly taught at medical school. But it’s it’s important to be able to continually question the things that we that we suspect and things that we teach, and always look analytically at science and and always look for the evidence and always ask questions when we do things. So what, what struck me as that when I, when I initially went to medical school, in the initial part of my training, there were a number of chronic diseases, things like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, that were considered largely separate diseases that that had separate treatments and where were treated separately, what’s now becoming apparent is that these chronic diseases all have have a underlying cause where they’re all linked together by underlying metabolic mechanisms. And the problem is that these chronic diseases for the most part didn’t exist 150 years ago, they were relatively rare and and that there are a number of reasons for that. But over the last 100 years, 150 years, these particular chronic diseases, the ones I just mentioned, have begun to increase dramatically in the population. In fact, in the year 2010, they’ve gone from practically zero 150 years ago, now up to 20% of the population has the adult population has at least two of these chronic diseases. And in the last 10 years, till 2020, this number has doubled to where 40% of the adult population has at least two of these chronic diseases. Yes, you know, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, stroke. But the fascinating thing is that we’re now discovering that these are all linked by underlying factors that we can control with our lifestyle, so that if you do one thing that will improve, lower your risk getting diabetes, let’s say it will also lower your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease and also lower your risk of heart disease and lower your risk of of hypertension. And it’s fascinating the way these these are known. And many people and many physicians are still still learning this or they’re not aware of it even. And there there are a lot of misconceptions that are that have been popularized and taught in medical schools over the last few years that that are still out there. And and that’s that’s what I was referring to sort of with the with the the lies that were known, unknowingly taught in medical school.

Normanie Ricks  14:58  
So I think that From my medical experience, like you said, everything was treated separately. So there’s a pill for hypertension there have a pill for diabetes, there’s a pill for this, there’s a pill for that. But what I’m learning is, like sugar and processed foods kind of leads to a lot of these things, and it’s being termed or a metabolic disorder at this point.

Robert Lufkin  15:23  
Absolutely. And you hit on you hit on a couple of key points is one is that we have treatments for for type two diabetes, you know, we give insulin, we have treatments for a heart attack, we we put a stent in the the blood vessel to the heart, which is the coronary artery in the stent just opens up the the narrowing, which is what causes the heart attack. The problem with those approaches are, they only treat the symptom of the disease. In other words, if you put it if I have a heart attack, you put a stent in my heart to open up the blood vessel, that may keep me alive a little bit, but it doesn’t change the underlying disease. In other words, all my other blood vessels continue to keep narrowing. Or if I have type two diabetes, and you give me insulin, that will lower my blood sugar, but it won’t stop the progression of all the other diseases, heart disease, you know, ulcers, kidney disease, all the things that diabetics get. And the basis what we’re learning now is the base, the basic root cause of, of all these chronic diseases is, as you said, it’s, it’s what are called lifestyle factors, which, which actually largely depend on a significant effect of the food we eat, which as you said, process foods are, are a big cause of that. And if we can avoid processed foods, we see we see people going off their hypertension medicines, they go off their diabetes medicines, they go off their their heart medicines, this should only be done under doctor’s supervision, of course, but it’s it’s dramatic, what could happen. I mean, I was on for prescription medicines for for these chronic diseases. And by changing lifestyle factors, I was able to roll back and basically stop all the prescriptions and the diseases just basically went away.

Normanie Ricks  17:24  
Yes, that’s an awesome, awesome story. Um, I find it interesting that you mentioned Alzheimer’s, in that group of other things. So how is it related to Alzheimer’s? Because that’s kind of like the red sore thumb. What’s going on with that? Yeah.

Robert Lufkin  17:46  
All the other diseases that I mentioned, all the other chronic diseases have a medical treatment. In other words, you know, insulin for type two diabetes, but those those medical treatments don’t get to the root cause. Alzheimer’s disease is unique in that we don’t even have a medical treatment that works to to change the course of Alzheimer’s disease. There are a few drugs but it’s except it’s known, they don’t really change the the ultimate course of Alzheimer’s disease. So alters disease is particularly the lie. Or the, the the, the misconception that was taught in medical schools for many years and is still is still believed to be the main cause of Alzheimer’s is. And new drug companies are looking at this as the cost of timers disease now appears that Alzheimer’s disease is not necessarily caused by amyloid plaques. And in fact, amyloid plaques, although they occur with Alzheimer’s patients, they also occur with other patients and so most Alzheimer’s patients don’t actually even have them. So they’re probably a red herring. That’s, that’s that’s a distraction. What now understood to be the root cause of Alzheimer’s disease is inflammation and insulin resistance, oh, which are the same root causes of all the other diseases that process foods and other lifestyle factors contribute to so what we’re finding is that Alzheimer’s disease which in the past was not treatable, and not preventable, and there’s still no drug for Alzheimer’s disease that works. What people are finding though with even with Alzheimer’s patients by changing their diet and eliminating processed foods, and especially going to what’s called a ketogenic diet, they’re able to reverse many of the symptoms and in many patients prevent Alzheimer’s disease from coming on. So Alzheimer’s disease is variable Similar to, to heart disease and the other chronic diseases in that they it has its basis in inflammation and insulin resistance, it’s just that it occurs in the brain. Alzheimer’s disease has been referred to as type three diabetes, because it’s it’s also driven by these insulin factors that drive diabetes as well. And, and the risk of diabetes increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease too. But the great the great message for all of us is that we can we there’s certain things we can do in our lifestyle with eliminating processed foods and exercise and specific things we can do with fasting and sleep and eliminating stress. And when we do those, it decreases our risk across the board for obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. So by doing all these things, we lower our risk for all these chronic diseases.

Normanie Ricks  21:05  
Okay, so um, I wanted to ask you this, the brain look different on like an MRI, when a person has Alzheimer’s, like how do you know that it’s like inflammation of the brain of Alzheimer’s? Like, when was that discovery made?

Robert Lufkin  21:23  
Yeah, well, the the discovery for Alzheimer’s disease by Dr. Alzheimer was, was over over 100 years ago. And it was based on pathologic descriptions and clinical Well, clinical descriptions originally, and then, later on the pathology, in other words, the microscopic analysis of the brain tissue, which even today is sort of the diagnostic hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, those, those neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques was made, but for on Mr. Scanning, there are certain hallmarks for Alzheimer’s disease that are they’re not diagnostic, but they’re strongly associated with it. And if you think of Alzheimer’s disease, the the main symptom for many people is memory loss. And that’s, that’s the way we we suggest Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive impairment, but particularly memory loss, well, there’s a part of the brain that that controls memory, it’s called the hippocampus. And you can look at an MRI of the brain. And if you look at the person’s hippocampus, you can see it in Alzheimer’s patients, it actually shrinks in size, and you can measure the volume of the hippocampus and show that it shrinks in size. In fact, you can look at patients, even patients without Alzheimer’s disease, they can have small hippocampus die, that can appear up to 10 years before the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s occurs. So that can be a helpful tool to let them know to start prevention to prevent so they never do get Alzheimer’s, hopefully down the road. But the on the MRI the size of this part of the brain, the hippocampus is a marker for Alzheimer’s disease. Interestingly, on the on the PET scan, the positron emission tomography scan, which looks at glucose activity of the brain. In this particular case, the hallmark for Alzheimer’s disease is decreased utilization of glucose in the brain. And the interesting thing is that all of us with aging, show decreased glucose utilization in our brain, it’s just our brains become more insulin resistant. It’s sort of a, quote, normal finding of aging. But it speaks to the value of this ketogenic diet if we switch our diet so that instead of running on glucose, we’re running on ketones, and you may have talked about that with with your audience. But basically switching to a ketogenic diet not only benefits patients with Alzheimer’s disease, because it gives the brain energy because can’t use the glucose, but the ketones work fine. Also, for regular people as they get older, this decrease ability of their brain to use glucose can be basically fixed by switching to ketones and our brains work fine with ketones and that’s why people when they switch to a ketogenic diet, a lot of times they’ll experience wow, I don’t have brain fog anymore. My thinking is a lot clearer, you know. And

Normanie Ricks  24:37  
no, I think a lot of people don’t know what ketones are. So can you go into what ketones are?

Robert Lufkin  24:44  
Sure, yeah. Our our body basically has a metabolic switch that we operate on. It’s not only humans, it’s also other mammals and other vertebrates and invertebrates, all the way back to yeast. So this is A fundamental biochemical mechanism that basically almost all living things has. And it’s basically it’s a switch. And the switch goes from one side, which is growth mode, it’s called. And the growth mode is when there’s high glucose when we when we eat a lot of food, and there’s high glucose, it switches to growth mode. And that’s very useful for for young animals for growing up, you know, your bones get longer, you grow taller, your brain matures, you know, up till about the age of maybe 25. growth mode is very advantageous to the patient to the person. The other switch the other direction is when there’s When there’s no food, or very little food, the switch switches the other way into survival mode. And this is maybe I haven’t eaten for a while, I don’t have any, I don’t have any food. So what it does is it mobilizes fat from your body, we all have fat in our body. And we can live live for weeks on the the amount of fat we have. And that’s a natural healthy survival mechanism. So when the switch goes to survival mode, the fat is then burned instead of the the sugar, the glucose, when fat is burned, it creates these things called ketones. And ketones are just products of fat metabolism that flow through the body. And they’re they’re metabolized by the brain as well. What the interesting theory about this switch is that when when we’re young, zero to 25, growth mode is very advantageous. The glucose switch the growth mode is very advantageous because it allows our bodies to grow in size and mature and everything. After about age 25, though, the growth mode continues to stimulate our bodies, but we can’t grow taller necessarily. We grow lighter and heavier. And we also in many, there’s evidence to suggest that this is what drives the chronic diseases and everything. All the diseases we mentioned and actually drives aging all together. So there’s growing evidence to suggest that as you get older over age 25, or 30, the healthy mode to be in is the survival mode and running on ketones puts you in that mode. Okay, and there’s diets you can take that will basically if you lower processed foods, and cut out refined sugars, and and and sugar, then your body will naturally switch into ketosis. And it also happens with fasting as well.

Normanie Ricks  27:43  
Okay, yeah. So what I hear you saying is intermittent fasting, decreased sugar and processed foods, exercise, and we know drink a lot of water. So if you do those four things, you can eliminate a lot of chronic illnesses.

Robert Lufkin  28:01  
There’s one other two other things with the diet, you’re right, let me know. Yeah, with refined foods are made up, as you said, with high sugar and high processed carbohydrates. So eliminate starches and sugars. But there’s also refined fats that are that are unhealthy, that drive inflammation. And those are, those are called seed oils, things like canola oil, oils made from seeds. So those are also using processed foods because they, they last for a long time on the shelf. So if possible, avoid those. And then for many people, grains are a problem also, certainly, because of allergies,

Normanie Ricks  28:47  
the grain Do you have an allergy to it, which causes inflammation? Is that correct?

Robert Lufkin  28:52  
Yeah, there’s a gluten sensitivity with a disease called celiac disease which you can test for but there’s growing evidence that a lot of people may not have full blown celiac disease, but they’re sensitive to the grains in the grains cause inflammation so it’s something you can experiment with in your diet to even cut back on the grains. So that’s that’s one other thing but but you hit on all the hot all the high points there. Those are the good things to do. The intermittent fasting is great. Yeah, all those things.

Normanie Ricks  29:25  
Okay, awesome. So, Dr. Luck and how can people get in touch with you and what can you offer them if they do get in touch with you?

Robert Lufkin  29:33  
Well, the My website is just my name Robert Lufkin md.com. We have a podcast that people can listen to on their weekly podcast with information. We also have a metabolic health summit. That’s a free Summit. That information is available on the website that people can attend. That will have 40 speakers, or actually 60 speakers that will be viewed with all different all different topics about their views on the latest in metabolic health, largely talking about all the things that we talked about today here.

Normanie Ricks  30:14  
Okay, what is the name of the podcast?

Robert Lufkin  30:17  
The podcast is called Health longevity secrets. There we go. And I think if you just search for my name, you can find it in there on anywhere Apple podcasts are.

Normanie Ricks  30:31  
All right. Well, I just want to thank you so much for being a guest on health facts. And I want to thank you for everything that you’ve contributed to the profession over 43 years, and lots and lots and lots of articles and books and documents. And everybody can find them at their universities and colleges. So thank you so much for everything that you’ve done throughout your years.

Robert Lufkin  30:55  
Thanks so much. Normally, it was it’s an honor and a pleasure to get to know you better and beyond this show. Look forward to doing it again some time.

Normanie Ricks  31:03  
All right, thank you so much.

Robert Lufkin  31:06  
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Unknown Speaker  31:46  
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