What does a healthy diet look like?

Nutrition expert Chris Kresser on how your diet can prevent chronic disease

Heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes and obesity are plaguing the country. Nearly half of all adults in the United States have one such health condition, while 25% have two or more of these chronic illnesses. And as of now, we are spending close to 20% of our nation’s GDP on disease management. But here’s the thing – chronic diseases are also among the most preventable of all health problems. 

In this episode of the Tony Robbins Podcast, Chris Kresser filters through the massive amounts of information about health and wellness we all receive each day. As Tony often says, “We are drowning in information, but starving for wisdom.” Chris is here to help.

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Who is Chris Kresser? 

Chris is a globally recognized leader in the fields of ancestral health, Paleo nutrition, and functional and integrative medicine. Chris has been studying, practicing and teaching alternative medicine for more than 15 years. He has trained with world-renowned healers and educators in a variety of disciplines throughout the U.S., Thailand and Indonesia. 

His website, ChrisKresser.com, is one of the top 25 natural health sites in the world, and his book, Your Personal Paleo Code, was a New York Times bestseller. Chris Kresser also hosts a podcast, Revolution Health Radio, where he debunks mainstream myths about nutrition and health – just as he does in this Tony Robbins podcast episode.

Debunking common health myths 

Many of us do our best to stay on top of our health. We wonder about the safety of plastic water bottles. We worry about what we feed our kids. Yet we often continue believing common diet myths about fat, sugar, carbs and more. 

In this episode, Chris debunks these myths, including why cholesterol and saturated fat aren’t necessarily evil, why refined sugar is the real bad guy and the benefits of probiotics. Listen to the podcast to hear his top sources for good saturated fat, good unrefined sugars and how to balance your gut with fermented foods and prebiotics. 

What does a healthy diet look like? 

While many aspects of diet and exercise are highly personalized, there are some aspects of healthy eating that apply to everyone. As Chris says in the episode, “Nobody thrives on eating Twinkies and cheese doodles and drinking soda.” Those foods are too far from the evolutionary template. 

The basic template for the human diet – for 77,000 generations – was primarily meat and fish, wild fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds and starchy plants. Only recently have we had unlimited access to processed, refined foods that provide empty calories and no real nutrients. Yet what we put into our bodies can cause obesity, allergies and more. Healthy eating habits like the ancestral diet can change that. 

The benefits of functional medicine 

Chris also helps us explore the practice of functional medicine and how environment and behavior can have serious implications when it comes to some of the most chronic health issues. Our current system of health care is focused on treating symptoms when the focus should really be on addressing the underlying causes of the problem – that’s what functional medicine does. Like precision medicine, it’s highly personalized and is a new and exciting area. 

Chris explains, “We need a new approach to medicine. A whole new medical model.” It starts with a diet that can help us prevent some of the most common chronic diseases in America.

There is a profound connection between unhealthy diets, aging and disease, and Chris helps shed light on what we can do to and the dietary changes we can start making right now to achieve a better sense of health and well-being


[01:20] Episode introduction
[03:10] Welcome Chris
[03:30] The best starting point to find trustworthy information
[05:00] Check your sources – evidence is key
[06:10] What are their motivations?
[06:40] Sifting through the vast amounts of information
[07:00] Filter #1: Is it consistent with scientific data?
[07:40] Filter #2: Is it consistent with evolutionary data?
[08:10] Filter #3: Is it consistent with personal data?
[09:00] There is no “one right answer”
[09:20] The fundamental laws underlying all health issues
[10:10] How do you find what works best for your biochemical makeup?
[11:00] Basic rules we all share when it comes to health
[11:55] The universal laws of a healthy diet
[12:35] Customizing based on individual circumstances
[13:00] Start with the “reset diet” for 30 days
[13:40] An athlete vs. a sedentary individual
[14:30] The matter of calories during the reset period
[15:00] How the brain regulates protein intake
[15:40] What’s the deal with carbohydrates?
[16:30] The real paleo diet and its origination
[18:10] Types of carbohydrates
[19:10] Refined and processed carbs vs. whole foods carbs
[21:00] Debunking the most popular diet myths
[22:20] Saturated fat and heart disease and stroke
[23:10] Good sources of saturated fat
[24:00] Full fat dairy
[25:40] The prominence of autoimmune disease and obesity
[27:50] The truth about sugar
[28:50] The carb and fat tradeoff
[29:10] Sugar compels you to consume more sugar
[29:50] Changes to our gut bacteria
[30:20] Sugar feeds unhealthy gut bacteria
[31:05] Historical roots in finding sugar
[33:00] The problem is that sugar is in almost everything we eat
[33:30] The smart choices for sugar
[35:50] Natural, non-caloric sweeteners vs. artificial sweeteners
[37:10] Probiotics and prebiotics
[37:50] The good bacteria that colonizes in our gut
[38:50] When we start destroying the gut flora (antibiotics, stress)
[40:20] Fermented foods help to rebuild the bacteria
[41:20] Prebiotics are the food for the bacteria
[42:00] Prebiotics supplements
[42:40] Chris’s inspiration to write “Unconventional Medicine”
[43:20] His experience in Indonesia
[44:30] The birth of western medicine
[45:10] The vast majority of illnesses we are facing are chronic diseases
[45:50] The education given isn’t addressing chronic disease
[46:30] The obstacles of moving past western medicine
[47:10] We have a medical model that is not matched with our current circumstances
[47:50] Taking a new approach to medical practice
[49:50] The new pioneers and leaders in functional medicine
[51:20] Dr. Mark Hyman’s new facility for wellness
[53:50] Working together with insurance companies to achieve health and wellness
[54:50] It’s not genetics, it’s environment and behavior
[55:20] The future of medicine
[57:50] To learn more about Chris…

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Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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