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055: Keeping Your Heart Healthy with Dr. Sanjay Gupta

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Keeping your heart healthy may seem like an obvious health commitment, but our guest today, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is shedding light on some lesser known ways to do this. Dr. Gupta is a consultant heart specialist in York, United Kingdom with over two decades of experience working as a doctor.

Today Dr. Sanjay tells us how he got into the medical profession and the impact a friend’s sudden and unexpected death had a few years ago. When his friend died of a heart attack out of the blue, his other friends came to him for cardio check-ups. They wanted reassurance their hearts were healthy. He found they generally had minimal risks, but he couldn’t offer them the absolute certainty they were seeking. So he started looking into ways to reduce potential risk and improve quality of life.

He saw sleep, nutrition, and stress management as providing better long-term health and quality of life benefits. He created a few videos about what he was finding and posted them on YouTube, and people watched and commented. Viewers liked what he had to say and they how approachable he is and how much heart he brings to his teachings.

We dive into those teachings deeply on this episode of Awesome Health. Dr. Sanjay explains why he thinks stress is the #1 killer and what we can do about it. He says we cannot be physically healthy if we are not mentally healthy, and not managing stress or finding ways to reduce it is detrimental to our mental health.

One of the ways we can mitigate the effects of stress on our minds and bodies is by finding time for self-reflection. By making time to reflect on our lives we can make time for the important things in our lives, and not spend 20 hours a day trying to build a billion-dollar brand. Not everyone is in a position to do this, but if we are it is important we take this time for ourselves first and foremost and we make a conscious choice not to join the rat race if we can avoid it.

We also talk about the importance of magnesium and why almost everyone needs this supplement in their diet, and also how people can cope with difficult circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can listen to us talk about those topics and more on today’s edition of Awesome Health with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Episode Resources:

Read The Episode Transcript:

Wade Lightheart: Good morning, good evening and good afternoon. It's Wade T Lightheart from the BiOptimizers Awesome Health Podcast. And I am so excited today because we have got a super special guest, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Dr. Sanjay is a very well known authority about a great deal of things and he has an amazing story of how not only what he's been able to achieve in his life, but what I really love about the good doctor is that he looks at situations from an objective platform. He uses not just classical medical treatments for dealing with things like heart disease. But what are the things that you can use? What are the things that you can do to put yourself in the lowest risk categories for these cataclysmic events? And of course with everything going on today in the world, people are panicking, people are emotional, people are really worried, you know, are they going to get sick?

Wade Lightheart: Are they going to get this virus thing? Are they at risk? And as we age, oftentimes that fear and anxiety has a contributor effect to our mental health, our physical health or emotional health and even our relationships and the choices that we make. So he has been gracious enough today to join us from the UK to share with us some of his insights, some of his observations about how you can make yourself, as I like to say, close as you can get Bulletproof and Teflon coated or certainly at least reduce your risk and allow yourself to be as healthy as possible. And a little bit of background about Dr. Gupta is, he was born in Zambia. He was raised in Kenya. He has got an just an absolute unbelievable resume here about his medical career. Working in Brigham and women's hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, a fellowship in cardiac magnetic resonance.

Wade Lightheart: He was a cardiologist at York Hospital in 2010 and he's dealt with all of these kinds of technical things that can talk about some of it. His special interests include all aspects of noninvasive cardiology. Actually, one of my friends happens to be Dr. Horst Filtzer, who was part of the team that put the first stent in the body. He was a vascular surgeon from Harvard and he's very oriented on the invasive side and so we always have these fun debates back and forth cause I'm on the noninvasive side, if you will. And so I'm excited to get someone at that level. I would say intellectual capability and a professional credibility. Those are very, very important. So he spent almost 28 years in medicine. It's just a delight to have you here. I'm going to let you kind of tell a little bit about your story, Dr. Gupta, because it's an amazing thing.

Wade Lightheart: Like how did you, like how did you get your start and what drove you to become a doctor in the first place? I'm always fascinated by it because you know, a lot of people don't realize a medical doctor and I have a number of friends who were in the medical profession and the amount of dedication and devotion you have to have, and it's almost like taking a vow of poverty for decades as you get your education and go through your education and go through the fellowship and the higher up you go. It's like the longer that time, then I got friends that didn't get their first paycheck until their thirties or mid thirties or some of them even until they were 40 years old to get to that level of credibility and expertise. What drove you to get started in this discipline?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: I come from a Southeast Asian background. My parents are from India and I'm their only child. They were always very typically hard working pair,people who'd come from great poverty. My father was the first doctor in his family and that was the one glimmer of hope he had out of poverty. The respect that brought him, he taught it. He paid for himself. So being a doctor was a really big thing in our family because it brought my dad out from that poverty and gave him a degree of respectability.

Wade Lightheart: What part of India are your parents from?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: My mother is from Delhi and my father is from Punjab, the Punjab region.

Wade Lightheart: Wonderful. I go to India quite regularly. I have my spiritual practice emerged from India, so I have a big influence of Indian culture in my life. So I'm always curious because a lot of people don't recognize the different States. They're almost like different countries. Completely different. So I think a lot of people kind of categorize India as one kind of concept, but it's like a collage. I mean, everything you could say about India, you could say the opposite and be true. It's such a big, such a diverse place.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: As a child it was always drummed into me that being a doctor was a wonderful, wonderful thing. And I really never grew up with any other kind of profession in mind, but I didn't really know why I was getting into it. Apart from the fact that my dad was a doctor, apart from the fact that my mum wanted me to be a doctor, I never really appreciated it. And I went into medical school and my parents paid for my education and I did it and I coasted through and there was no problems with that. I did all my training and to all intents and purposes until that point, it was just something I did. It's only in the last five or six years that I've truly found my place, I truly found something about it that completed me in the way that people talk about finding something that drives them on that passion.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: And the thing I found is the ability to have this knowledge but also to use aspects of your personality to connect with people and to empathize and to educate and to empower. I have found that to be the most satisfying part of my whole life. You know, this the ability. I have the scientific background, but there is something about me that allows me to use that in an artistic way. You know, there's a lot of sciences about controlling and measuring research, controlling and measuring. You take something, you say you control it, you study a population, you extrapolate and then you apply that to the individual person. But the problem is that when you are educated by things on populations, how do you take the person who wants to be treated as a person and not as a population?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: How do you take that information and apply it to them in a way that is unique to them in a way that is aligned with their beliefs in a way that appreciates that they are an individual and they have have the right to ask for things and to expect things and to say no if they don't agree. And as a doctor, I've started realizing, but actually the only thing that matters to me is the one patient in front of me. And that's it. And it doesn't really matter whether I've read something in a book or not. The most important thing is I have to learn. My patient will tell me what I need to know. I think it has been certainly the thing that has created a lot of happiness and contentment in my life because I've suddenly started realizing, okay, this is my strength, this is where I was meant to be. So at this point in time I think I'm really, really happy to be a doctor and I'm really grateful for the opportunity given to me. And I've never really appreciated that before.

Wade Lightheart: You know, it's interesting that you say this and I think a lot of people don't recognize that the culture of India has produced more medical doctors than any other culture in the world. And the chances wherever you find yourself in the world that you are going to be treated by a medical doctor who is of Indian origin in that background is actually the highest possibility that you can get. And I find that fascinating because I've traveled back and forth to that culture. And what I've find so amazing is there is to me embedded in the culture through this embedment with this is kind of higher education but it's balanced with a heart-based idealism. The essence of that culture and what keeps bringing me back to that and why I have so many Indian friends and why I'm really embraced that culture because it's not devoid of both. And I think that's really powerful because when you're in a position of authority that you are and you know, you're obviously operating from a level of education background and experience where people are coming to you, it's the last stop on the train sort of thing.

Wade Lightheart: Like you are dealing with people's lives sometimes. The fact that you're able to bring that heart space into me is an extraordinary thing and a valuable thing. And I think something that a lot of people can recognize if they experience with a medical doctor but don't always understand how challenging it is to bring that into the space. When you've had so much conditioning around that, how are you able to kind of bring that emotional awareness or value into such, I would say almost like a right brain philosophy into such a left brain system for those who like to go that left brain and right brain of course that's not really accurate, but it's kind of that mentality.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: I think it's that kind of rapport and it's also basic, you know, just basic humanity I think. I think that is the one thing that is missing in a lot of medicine these days. Humanity is something and the problem with medicine is that whilst it's value, it's valued greatly as a great, great profession for the person who practices it. It can be really humdrum. You know, a person comes in "oh, he's got this", you prescribed him this, he goes out the door. You can do that for a year or two years. And then after that it becomes monotonous. How did you make that interesting? And which helps me make it interesting is that ability to go beyond that and talk to the person and get to know them and get them to know you and somehow expose your own vulnerabilities by saying to people that actually, "you know what, I don't have all the answers, but I sure as hell want to listen to you and I sure as hell will try and facilitate whatever I can to try and help you in some way".

Dr Sanjay Gupta: And if I don't, then I'll try and send you to someone else who might be better than me or trying to work it out. But that once you start demonstrating that "actually, nope, it's not that I'm right, you're wrong", "no, I know you're not that, that doesn't get you anywhere". That's,No fun. What is fun is to actually to say to someone, okay, hang on. We could do this or we could do that or, and that actually you also talk to them about what's important in their lives and what they want and what's really important from a doctor's perspective in life etc. Once you start having these discussions, you start realizing that actually people start getting better. They start getting better because they feel reassured, which is far more powerful than giving them a tablet and sending them out.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: That doesn't seem to work as well. But when a person just feels that, "oh my God, thank God you've listened to me and it just feels so good, there's a weight lifted off my chest". Actually, I've seen what you've got to offer and if you don't mind, I don't want those tablets. And I'd say, well that's okay because between you and me, I'd have done the same thing, but that's okay. You know, I had to do my bit and you have to do your bit. But at the end of the day, we're still friends and I know where you're coming from and I would have done the same thing. You do that. Not only do you have patients for life because they will always want to come and see you, but they become friends as well. They feel that they can come and talk to you about anything. I've never found that in some way to be burdened, even though a lot of people think, okay, if you put yourself out there, you're opening yourself up, there are people treat you with a lot of respect. People are very kind. People stand up for you when you need it. And that makes my life living and worth living.

Wade Lightheart: So outside of the current situation that's going on globally, what is a day in the life of Dr. Gupta? Like what kind of patients do you see nowadays or who comes to see you and how does that make your day to day life go? Maybe on a patient to patient. And then the next thing I'd like to say is, you know, you're, you're a bit of a YouTube sensation out there and people are gathering information from a lot of lives and we'll talk about that in a minute. But then what's the bigger vision that seems that you've kind of connected your career too? I'm curious about that.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: Yeah, thank you. Well, a lot of my daily work is just, you know, I would go from home after a breakfast and then I would go in and go to our coronary care units where all the sickest patients are. You introduce yourself to them, you talk to them about what's been going on, you plan their management after that. I would go and see patients on the wards and then in the afternoon we would often do a clinic where people who are not so unwell but come a way to several months to come and see us. We'll come with the chronic problems and we try and address those. To all intents and purposes, that's is, there's nothing too exciting about it. Once you've done it once so for a year or two years it gets a bit boring.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: The way I started with the YouTube channel was a very interesting experience. A few years ago, again, I was just doing my normal thing. You know, being a doctor person comes, you get them the tablets, you give them the usual spiel, you send them out. One thing I had noticed was while it was getting a bit monotonous too, I didn't think anyone was really getting any better. And you know, they would go out of the door, but I'd see them six months later, I'd see them a year later and they'd be worse. So seeing the same people over and over again, despite all these kinds of advances in medicine, despite all these pills, made me think why are all these people coming back? So that wasn't fun because you were having to deal with the same patients.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: So you've never really done anything corrective for them. And then things changed where we had a very interesting and sad experience where one of my friends suddenly out of the blue had a heart attack. It was a shock, but you know, not a huge shock for a cardiologist. There was nothing special about that. What was really interesting was that we had a lot of common friends and all my common friends, all our common friends came to me and said, look, you know, you're a cardiologist. This has been a shocking incident. Can you test me out now to try and stop this from happening to me? How are you, you know, I need to get checked out. And I very foolishly said, yes, I'm a cardiologist. I'll check you out and I'll make sure you're okay. And so I embarked on doing a series of investigations on these people and found that they had a little bit of something but nothing particularly horrible, but I couldn't console them that they were risk-free.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: Because the more I looked, the more I realized that actually we can do very little to stop bad things from happening to you. You know, we may be able to do it to a population, right? So you can say, okay, you take a population of a million people, you give them all a stat in, or something like that. Maybe some will outlive others, but not everyone outlooks everyone else. And so who is that individual? Is you the person in front of me? Are you going to be the one that benefits or you're not? And will you even ever know? Right? It's the doctor. Really interesting thing. So, and then when I was faced with having to explain this to my colleagues, they were saying, okay, you know, what can we do? And I'd say, Oh, this is good. And they'd say, how good, I wasn't used to this.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: I wasn't used to anyone asking me how good. I would say it's good people would take the tablet. Here I'm dealing with a bunch of people who see me as their friends and they're now asking me how good. So I will say, well, I'll have to go and look for, because if something is good, there must be a number to tell you how good. Right? It's a very valid question. It has to be quantified in some way. So I'd go and look at the research and say, well, why are there new? There's why is the new clarity over numbers? How good is something? So anyway, after great research, I found that actually, yes, it's good, but it's not that good at all, you would have to treat. So something like aspirin for example, I was stunned. I thought, okay, well how is aspirin and someone who's never had a heart attack at preventing a heart attack in the future, you go to a doctor, they'll say take aspirin.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: Aspirin is good. How good? And the answer was, you'd have to treat 1,667 people for a year to prevent one, something minor in one patient. Wow. The equivalent of putting $1,667 in the bank for $1 in return at the end of the year. And that dollar isn't even yours because we don't know who that one person is who would benefit. You would have to treat the 1,667 people for someone to benefit, but no one will know who it is. So it doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense. And certainly to my mind I thought, gosh, is this the benefit? Is that all there is? Are these the benefits that we're talking about? Everyone's been given aspirin, everyone's been given this. So the more I looked, the more I realized that actually medicines make very little difference. Yes, they may make a difference to a population, but they make very little difference to an individual.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: However, and in some ways when you are trying to treat people for length of life purposes, you will never know. However more important than length of life is quality of life. Everyone worries about length of life at the expense of the thing that they can actually measure, which is quality of life. So they risk that quality of life for something that they'll have no control over what's happened. So suddenly I started realizing that actually, Hey, you know what's bad in sleeping better? That improves our quality of life. Actually that tends to make people live longer as well generally, but it improves their quality of life. What's wrong with exercise that improves your quality of life? There is no doubt that if you start exercising, your quality of life gets better than if you are sedentary. Probably as good for your longterm lifespan as well.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: Same with stress management and same with nutrition. Again, eating good, healthy food is good. It makes us feel good, but it probably is good for us in the long run. So the more I came round to be, the more I explored about it, the more I came around to the idea that actually the only thing we can manage is our lifestyle. And if we lead a good lifestyle, actually our quality of life gets better. And probably we have some impacts on our length of life. So that's where, after all this, after doing all this medical work and after doing all these degrees and after prescribing lots and lots of medications, I said, first it has to start with empathy, engagement with the patient, educating the patient about what's important in life, talking to them about aspects of their life that they may be neglecting and they may be masking with tablets and finally empowering them and saying, okay, do what is right for you.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: I'm here to support you and that would work better. And that's where I then started saying, okay, well maybe that's an idea where it's spreading. Maybe it's an idea worth spreading to most people. But actually just because someone says it's good, we don't know that you're allowed to ask questions. You're allowed to decide for yourself whether the numbers work for you or not. Because at the end of the day, if there's a number there, then the number is the number. It doesn't matter whether a presidential physician looks at them or an ordinary person. The number is the number. And one has the right to be shown, but number two, decide whether that number works for them. The problem is all the medical journals and everywhere else the numbers get hidden away and they would say, Oh, you take this and you double your chances of living longer. Well that's a bit like saying you buy a lottery ticket. If you buy to double your chances of winning, the real chances of winning are still really, really, really low. Right? Why not give people the exact figures so that people can decide. And if there was a little bit more transparency, then there'd be a ton less distrust and anxiety in the community.

Wade Lightheart: You bring up a couple of really valid points. That's something that we've been driving home on the lifestyle side with BiOptimizers. So we have what we call the triangle, what we work on is aesthetics, performance and health. And everybody has a kind of an equation that's worked from, for example, a high performance football player makes them make some decisions around performance that were compromised, his health getting hit in the head and at some point that equation will change and maybe he'll retire his career or leave early or the consequences of the risk come up. Or some people who needs sexual attractiveness in getting as a maid is a big deal. So they want to focus on aesthetics or their struggled or they have self esteem issues and stuff. And so everybody kind of goes through their own formula.

Wade Lightheart: But what I find interesting here that you're identifying is something that's really powerful because I think there's a habit of people coming to a medical doctor and essentially turning over their authority to the doctor. And wanting some sort of pill to get them out of the responsibility of their lifestyle. And then when that doesn't work, they want to come back and blame the doctor or the medical system or blame the hospital. And I don't think people recognize that there's only so much you can do for someone in that space. It is up to them. And would you say it's safe to say that?

Wade Lightheart: I guess as a doctor inside that system you really got two ways to go. You can be "Hey, you know there's nothing I can do about it" and go through it and live your career and do the best that you can and kind of stay within that chain. But you've obviously branched out into this other one. So you know what, they have turned this responsibility. I do feel connected to this person and I am in a position to provide insight or education or advice in these other areas because I can understand data, I can understand information like I know how to take apart a study. I know what a fault study is. I know what real literature is. What was that like when you made that shift and what was the risk like? How did that impact your patients?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: I mean, I think that universally, I think that by four, you know, I never expected the response that I got. People were incredibly appreciative. I started I decided to do three or four videos on YouTube and they were just the most amateurish things. And it was just me looking down and talking about something. But I was amazed that there were comments coming back and I thought, gosh, someone's interested in this. And then I started realizing that there was this craving. People were craving just some good knowledge, some reliable information, someone to make sense of things. I would have so many people, for example, say "my heart rate is 50. I'm terrified. Isn't it too low?". And I say, well, you know, think of it this way.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: What is the heart rate? What is it telling us all? It's all, it's telling us it's bloods. Getting blood has to get rounded to set an amount. Well, if you're standing and talking to me, it doesn't really matter whether your heart rates tend or not. The blood's getting round, right. What else does, even if you didn't have a heartbeat, the fact that you're standing up there and talking to me means that somehow the blood's getting around. So I wouldn't worry about that because at the end of the day does it make sense to worry about a number when you can see that the numbers surrogate for something else, which is more important, which you can tell just by looking at yourself. So there are all these people who are so anxious about numbers and doctors saying, Oh, your blood pressure's so high, you can have a stroke, etc.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: And just being able to break it down somewhere, I think that's a lost art because a lot of doctors as well nowadays are trained in such a way that they are only focusing on guidance. They're there. They've been told this is bad and that's the message you have to reiterate. Where does a true doctor come into this? To my mind, a true doctor is more pragmatic. He's more common sense based than anything else. And he's more patient based too. He's not disease-based he's patient based. He's not trying to diagnose the disease, he's trying to diagnose what's going on with the patient. Beautiful. And I was amazed at the kind of response I got. It's gone from strength to strength. You start off one way and then you get molded according to the response and what satisfies you.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: So more and more, a lot of my consultations are very much like meetings with friends. They'll come and they'll have little old ladies who come with cake and not be like my clinic. And I'd say, let's get some cake. Let's put some music on and let's have some food. And people say, no, no. She shouldn't be doing this. You're promoting a bad message. She shouldn't. You shouldn't be eating cake with a patient. I'll say, well look, hang on. She's 85 years old. Who am I to tell her what to do with her life? She's 85. I don't know whether I'll get to 85 I need to learn from her. Whatever she's doing is right because that's the proof, right? You've got to 85. So I did buy the fact that I'm not going to tell this lady how to live better. I'm going to give her a good experience. I'm going to make her feel less scared. I'm going to leave her, let her go home with a smile on her face that she came and she was respected and she was treated like a human being and someone listened to her. And as long as I've done that, I'm okay. It's a little bit unconventional, but it seems to work well for me.

Wade Lightheart: I love it. I love that. I love the humility and the humanity behind that component and it's super magnetic and obviously I think there's more of that. I think the fact that you have the courage as a medical doctor to truly embrace the artistry side, the art and science of medicine, the science is his course, the background and the mechanics and the biology and all of those things that are absolutely critical to understand it, to be able to have common cells. If you don't know those things, you can't ask or answer the questions properly. But being able to cure, rate them in a way that is understandable and treats the person and understands the emotional component of what they're really coming from. And that is some assurance and some guidance from someone that they're putting their trust in heir life.

Wade Lightheart: Just really refreshing. And I know why your YouTube channel is blowing up because I think there is a deep craving from that, from our people who are in positions of authority, whether that's medical or even in other positions of authority is like where's the heart, where's the humanity, where's that component? So let's switch gears a little bit and, and we'll dive a little bit into your expertise in around heart health and maybe a health span. And you know, there's health span and longevity.

Wade Lightheart: I read a paper maybe 10 to 15 years ago. It was written by a professor Oshinsky who wrote, e did a really interesting research paper for the new England journal of medicine and demonstrated that the not only was the lifespan of the generations to come, he expected to go down, but he said the disability adjusted life span, I was going way up. And that means the average person in the United States at 60 years old was on some sort of debilitating condition or reliant on some sort of life compromising medicine. Even though they might be living to be 80 years old or 85 years old, the quality of life wasn't that good. And the information provided through a lot of our medical institutions is really treating the symptoms of disease as opposed to what are the lifestyle causes. So where I want to go with this is what are some of the things that you've discovered in your experience around heart health and maintain your heart? Because heart disease is still the number one killer in the world.

Wade Lightheart: What are some things that people need to incorporate in their lives, period that you think that you found might be right for some people?
Dr Sanjay Gupta: I think the first and foremost the number one killer is stress. There was a time 20 or 30 years ago, when I was a medical student and there was nothing like the internet. We had no internet, we had no mobile phones. To do a small bit of work or something, which would take a minute today will take me the whole day. You know, I would have to go to the library, I would have to look into index medicals, I'd have to find the references, ets. Today we can do that within a minute. Yet. We have less time now then we had before.

Wade Lightheart: Why is that? This is the curious thing. I remember I went through that whole process to a university. You had to go through looking for everything. And I remember we were just starting with ms dos on the computer way back in the day with these little inefficient computers and they told us that our lives were going to get radically easier and radically less stressed because the advent of technology, which was going to turn us into kind of this Jetson like future where it'd be flying around in space cars living to 200 years old and everybody would be wealthy and happy.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: It's because when you create space you just fill it up. This is the problem that the technology created space and we filled that up but we filled that up with more and there is this very constant message that out there, which is work hard, play hard, work hard, play hard and happiness will come around the corner. You know, everything about the way governments work is to try and get people to work as hard as possible. And that comes through at great personal sacrifice that comes up. The cost of mental health stress, you know, there is so much trauma that goes on. There is marital breakup, bereavement, yet no one has the time. People don't have the time to grieve. People don't have the time to recalibrate. People don't have the time to do anything. It's just seen as a sign of weakness. This message that, Oh my God, you know, you need to get on with it. You need to, otherwise you are going to be letting the side down. You need to get this is the wrong message to my mind. If you look at the societies where people are lot more relaxed people, the pace of life is a bit quieter in general. You will see less disease that those people tend to be healthier both mentally and physically. Mental health, you cannot be physically healthy if you're mentally unhealthy.

Wade Lightheart: It's funny you should say that because I looked at a lot of the research around the blue zones and I had another doctor who is an expert in brain health of recently Dr. Sarah McKay. And one of the common elements from childhood to midlife to old age was social connections. And if you look at these blue zone areas, and I've been to Okinawa and Costa Rica and stuff, and you have these tight group communities, age is valued. There's a certain respect in there, there's a natural fun, there's a lot of space, a lot of quietness, a lot of friendliness and a lot of social connections. And you know, these people have been able to not only have long lives but very productive and integrated lives that are fulfilling. They're not building billion dollar brands or they're not out there checking their blood work every 30 minutes to see if their ketone levels are on par with the lates supplement or drug that they took or if their cognitive capacity is firing at 0.7, eight more speed. It's a very interesting world. And you bring this topic up. So how does someone reduce stress in their life? How does someone in today's fast paced world incorporate that spaciousness that allows you to kind of grasp, like take on that mental health piece?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: I think it is that you have to have time for self reflection. You have be able to think beyond the messages that you read a separate way. You have to be able to make a conscious decision not to join the rat race and spend your life. I'm fortunate because I'm in a profession where I see death on a daily basis and even then I didn't necessarily do everything I preach. I just think that I can see exactly where the pressures lie, etc. Thinking about it as a good step forward in the right direction. I think it is important to always to bear in mind that a bad thing can happen to anyone at any time.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: No one is immune. What we have control over is our quality of life. What we have control over is personal investment, personal breath. That is important not to stagnate. I think it is important to focus on your health wherever possible and put that first. So if you're working, you know, 20 hours a day then I would say, actually no. You know, at some point there are things about me that are important. I want to look after myself first and then if I can squeeze it in, great. I know it's very hard for some people. Some people aren't in a position where they can think like that, but there are lots of people who are in a position that can think like that but choose not to because in some way, again, it is this very competitive world.I think you can achieve a happier balance. I think you can sit back and say, okay, well you know I do enough and that's okay and that's, that's all that matters. I get a ton of people come to me and say, look, I'm really worried doctor. You know, I've got two six year olds and I want to be there for them when they get to 21 and I said, are you there for them now? Right?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: Because if you're not there for them now, you're not going to be there for them when they're 21 if you suddenly think that your whole ethos will change when they get to 21. They'll hate you by the time they get to 21 because you're not there for them now. Second thing that can happen is they could die. You could die. Be that for them now. And that to my mind is the most important thing. So understanding that is really important. Living each day as it comes along, living each day and trying to live a whole hearted life and this pursuit of materialistic things perhaps is more harmful to us than does this good. You know? The more you solve it does require a lot of kind of fault and reflection, etc. But I think somewhere I feel that I'm in the right kind of space. I'm heading towards the right space.

Wade Lightheart: Now. Do you believe in this spaciousness or in the kind of fast paced world, like do you use any methodologies of contemplation, meditation, mindfulness, any of these things? Obviously the demands of your job are pretty mentally rigorous compared to an average person. How do you do that in your world which is super demanding. Like I said, you're dealing with death. I mean, it doesn't get any more stressful than that.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: I mean this is something I've only started incorporating in the last couple of years. And that is gratitude. My father was very unwell two years ago. I thought we were going to lose him. I remember there was a make or break night and I didn't know what was going to happen. And I remember lying there in my bed and I didn't know. I was so scared, so scared. And I prayed. And ever since then I've prayed every night. And it is not to ask for something. It's just to say thank you, thank you for that night. And I think that is what people mean by gratitude, being grateful for what you have. And as long as I do that, life seems to go, I think I can cope. I don't know. It keeps me, it's something that's nice that I've walked into my life. So I'm grateful for that. So when you think about it, there are two things that you want to get to as a human being. You want to become more human, you need humanity and gratitude. If you have both, I think you've lived a good life. You know, I think that's where fulfillment lies, humanity and gratitude.

Wade Lightheart: Now one of the things that I was curious about, cause I checked in on your videos and I was really blown away about your topic around magnesium and heart health specifically. And it's been something that I've advocated for many years and we use magnesium regularly because of course living in North America, we have a massive deficiency in magnesium. I think there's over 350 different pathways that magnesium is an essential component and you know, stress and anxiety and caffeination and stimulation actually exhaust our magnesium levels and can have a wide vary of issues and components. What are some of the things that you've learned and why have you become such a big proponent of magnesium in people's lives?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: First contact with the topic of magnesium came when I started doing some of the YouTube videos and one of the videos I did was on heart palpitations. When I did that, a lot of people, I was amazed at how many people, responded with heart palpitations. You know, they had been suffering for years and I started looking into it a little bit more and I actually found a patient with heart palpitations who'd done a video on magnesium. And I thought, Oh, well, I didn't think much of, but then two or three people said, you know, I've tried magnesium, it has helped. And I thought, Oh gosh, I'll look into it. When I mentioned it to my colleagues, they said, Oh, this is witchcraft. That it doesn't, there's nothing, you know? It became really important for me to be able to, because I actually recommended to a few people just on the basis of what I'd heard anecdotally and said, look, you could try that and then come back and said, yes, it has helped.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: So the next thing was how do I support the idea of advising people on magnesium? I'm putting myself on a public platform. There has to be some evidence base to my mind because this is what everyone thrives on in the medical world these days. And I found a tiny study in Brazil which indeed did confirm that actually if you had heart palpitations in particular extra beats or missed speeds and you took magnesium, a significant number of people felt better. So I started looking into it and I thought this would be useful. I have some evidence here. I have anecdotal experience, I have my own clinical experience that something about magnesium seems to help these people. It's improved quality of life. And that's when I started doing a lot more reading. And I discovered that actually I knew from a long time ago that virtually all chronic disease is in the core of chronic diseases, inflammation, chronic inflammation, long silent killer.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: Can't feel it happening all the time. Exactly. It is that unhappiness of the body largely because you're exposing it to unhappy and I'm happy environment, stress, nutrition, etc. So with regards to the heart, you get hardening of the blood vessels that causes heart attacks. And again, inflammation is the core of that. And I started realizing the smoking, nutritional poor nutrition, you know, all this kind of refined food is probably inflammatory, lack of exercise, inflammatory, lack of sleep, which is again, probably the second biggest kill arising,is inflammatory. And then stress is hugely inflammatory. What we realized from a cardiac perspective as your arteries harden, what happens is it becomes more difficult for the body to get the blood it needs. So for the heart to get blood in, you need nice compliant blood vessels, inflamed blood vessels in some way make it more difficult.
Dr Sanjay Gupta: And so anything that can actually increase the amount of the blood supply to our vital organs, open up a blood vessels is good. Anything that reduces inflammation is good. And one of the other problems is that actually when blood is more difficult to get through, it can stagnate and conform blood clots, etc. So if you had something which also had some degree of anticoagulant properties, that's a good thing. And when you look, magnesium has all those, it's so common. It's used for so many different reactions within the body. It has an antiinflammatory effect. It has an anticoagulant effect. It opens up the blood vessels. So in that setting, it is the perfect chemical for good heart health. And so then when we start looking, we start realizing that actually it is no secret that three quarters of population in the Western is magnesium deficient.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: That's because of the modern farming methods. That's because our stomachs are absorbing less because, because lots of people aren't proton pump inhibitors were suppressing the acid that God gave us. You're absorbing less and we're experiencing a ton more. You know, there's lot more sugar in our diets. So we're using a lot more magnesium to break the sugar down. Lots of people are drinking coffee, tea from logical diuretics, and so you're getting less, you're absorbing, using more, you're excreting more. Therefore not surprisingly the next thing was what does magnesium deficiency cause? And when you think about it, it seems to cause all the things that plague us these days, you know, tiredness, anxiety, sleep disturbance, depression, restless legs, heart palpitations, all these things, you know, elevated blood pressure because of the hardening of the arteries.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: When you look at magnesium, it can achieve a little bit of an improvement in blood pressure because if it's based at dilated properties so again, to all intents and purposes, here was an agent that we started off with the some proof that it seemed to help. And then when you look at the properties, it does have some good properties about it. And we know that lots of people are deficient in it. So why not? Why not recommend it to people? And at the end of the day, my reason for recommending it was not because, Oh, you take it, you will live long. My reason for recommending it is take it and see if you feel better. And if you feel better, that benefits yours to have. You know what's not to like about feeling better and we know it's safe. At recommended doses, it's safe. Why not give it a go? And a lot of people came back and they said, well, you know, since you just recommended the magnesium, I'm sleeping so much better. Oh my heart palpitations have gone, my restless legs are better. This happens to me every single day where someone will come and say, Oh, that magnesium recommended has changed my life every single day.

Wade Lightheart: Very powerful. Very powerful. Now do you suggest or with people that come in typically, do you do any testing for magnesium or is there any dosage recommendation or types of magnesium that you feel is more effective because there's all different types of magnesium?
Dr Sanjay Gupta: You're right. I mean the first thing to say is there are new, large scale randomized clinical trials. So we don't have a particular dose, a particular agent or even overwhelming evidence. But then again, who's going to do those trials? The trials are expensive to run. Who's going to make money out of magnesium? You know, no one's going to do that. So that's the first thing. The second thing is that the blood test for magnesium is float, so you don't get an accurate result from the blood test. And I didn't even know whether taking the magnesium is beneficial because it's about the magnesium. I don't know whether it's about whether there's a slight placebo effects. I didn't know. I didn't know the answer. But what I do know is that people who take this thing feel better and they don't come to home.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: And that's really powerful to my mind. I think from my perspective, I just say to people, take it and see how you feel and if you feel better, great. And if you don't feel better then don't waste your money. And though, because there are so many preparations, I would usually say, well, take the dose on the tin, the recommended dose on the tin that you've purchased. Because at least we knew that that dose, that's a safe dose, right? Take that first and see what happens. The different forms of magnesium, the only one that I'm not so persuaded by is magnesium oxide, which is because magnesium is usually combined with something else to allow it to get into the system. So they'll combine them with either oxide, or a magnesium citrate. So you've got all these other names added to the magnesium oxide. You know, only 4% of what you take in through your stomach gets absorbed in your body. But the others are a lot better absorbed. So in general, I would say you get a lot more for your buck if you try something other than magnesium oxide.

Wade Lightheart: Yeah. I got first turned on to magnesium from a sports trainer. They call him the strength sensei and he had trained 27 different gold medalists and different sports. And he had actually taught himself multiple different languages to look at research in other countries cause he said that there was research. Charles Paul Quinn was the name, sorry, I lost it for a second. But Charles has started looking at this and he was noticing as his athletes who were under incredible levels of stress, he would find, he ascertained, they were dealing with magnesium deficiencies and couldn't run some of the metabolic processes. And so we started diving into this and he said, well, some magnesiums were working for their nervous system, some was for their brain, some ways for their heart.

Wade Lightheart: And so I saw a lecture with him a few years ago at the Bulletproof conference in California and he just dropped a lot of gold. And to be able to produce so many different athletes in so many different sports, I'm like, but something, it's very difficult to be really good at helping someone in one sport, let alone two sports, let alone three, let alone 27 at the world's best level. I need to listen to this fellow. And he talked about three of his big components, he had three different things, magnesium, essential fatty acids and carnitine and a lot of these athletes of course are training at. If you look at the level of stress that an Olympic athlete is under or a professional athlete, it's super high from a performance side. Have you seen any relationship or any information around those things? Essential fatty acids or heart disease or carnitine or any of those things because they know they're part of that process of mitochondrial function, which is of course your heart has the most mitochondria of anything else in your body. So any insights around that area?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: There's certainly some evidence and reasonably good evidence that make it three fatty acids have a beneficial effect. There was a study which suggested tha in Japan, people have less heart attacks because of the fish rich diet.

Wade Lightheart: And they smoke more, which is odd, like per capita.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: Exactly. So that was good data. And certainly if someone says to me, what should I do? I would say magnesium is good. I think and Omega three fatty acids are good. I don't have enough insight into cognitive, but it was something that I wanted to look at and just to try and convince try and read a book around it and see what exists. But I'm all for people trying things as long as you've done your research, as long as it's affordable, as long as you know why you're doing it and it's not toxic, as long as it's affordable and it's not toxic and you know why you're doing it, you're doing it to see if it has a meaningful improvement in your quality of life. Length of life. No one knows if it improves your quality of life, what's there not to like about trying things?

Wade Lightheart: You mentioned something that I like to correlate. One of the things that I was a former bodybuilder and you get really dialed into your kind of your physiology. And one of the things that I would write down how I felt or how my energy level was. And then as data became more available, what I would say ordinary citizens like myself, I started trying to correlate data to my biofeedback or how I felt. And in the case of magnesium a number of years ago, I got into a pretty stressful situation. I was working ridiculous hours and I was under a lot of pressure and a lot of stress and really cooked myself and then started to suffer from the consequences of that lifestyle, as you'd say, without space or that energy. And when I did, I'd actually did a SpectraCell test, which is they take blood out of you and then they send it off to this lab in Texas. It let's actually see how well you absorb different products as well as the deficiency.

Wade Lightheart: So it's a two fold test, it is very interesting. So I looked at it and I was like, okay, well I'm going to go on a course of magnesium because magnesium was very deficient in me and as was my B12 levels. So those are two areas where I was cooked. So what I did is I went down and I started taking it, started dosing up. I started at one gram of magnesium today of multiple different kinds of magnesiums and I ended up, I think I peaked at about three and now I'm down to about one gram per day. But I kinda went up until I get the runs, if I got the runs and I knew that, okay, I'm not absorbing this amount, that's a good, magnesium is one of the ones that can really trigger quickly, like vitamin C.

Wade Lightheart: But over the course of a year I saw significant improvements. Not only did I take it now in the case of vitamin B12, I know there can be some absorption issues that are particular cause I'm a plant based guy. So I was actually doing injections. I did some B12 injections in concordance with my magnesium and I was able to bring those levels up much higher. So I actually got supportive data. But if I hadn't had that data, the literally biofeedback I was feeling on a day to day basis continue to improve to this day. And that's one of the reasons I'm a big advocate of those types of things. But I think you say something really important and that is keeping an open mind and be willing to try something as opposed to be so rigid. Well that's not going to work with, well how do you know if you don't know. I mean try it. How did you get to that kind of such an open-ended suggestion? Cause usually you come to the doctor's like, no, no, no, no. Take three of these, here's this prescription, go do that, come see me in three months or whatever. And you know, that's kind of it. How did you open that door for yourself and for your patients.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: It comes to the realization that actually what I'm doing is really very limited. I mean our medicines are very, very limited, certainly in terms of stopping people from getting broken. We don't do anything. We're reasonably okay when someone broken to try and sort of patch things up. But you know, there are so many people with chronic diseases who are suffering away and the reason they're suffering is because all medicines don't work. That's why there's suffering. If our medicines was working, then why would they be suffering? You know, lots of people have pain, they have lack of sleep, insomnia, they've got restless legs, they've got all sorts of things. So I'm very open to the idea of trying out jeopardy thing. I encourage people to go and see acupuncturists if they want to. You know, at the end of the day, my commitment is to that patient.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: My commitment is not to, the thing that I know about, my commitment is to that patient. And therefore I believe in setting teams around the patient. I believe in working with other people and saying, okay, we'll try him. You know, if I can't relieve your pain and if none of my colleagues can, why not try something else? I didn't have a problem with that. You try it as long as you can afford it. As long as you've done your research, I'm all for it. If it works, great. And there are so many people who fail. You know, I went to that acupuncturist and my fibromyalgia has gone well, great. For me that's a celebration. Not a defeat. It's a celebration. I celebrate with my patient, but actually, yay, we've got new better.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: That's where we wanted to be, didn't we? I'm not. Oh well you've gone to someone else. So you know, in some way that's a composition. We have to think about the person in the middle about ourselves. So I guess my patients realize that and I do that all the time and I say to them, look, you have to realize that I want to do, I want to get you better. My whole aim is that I want to get you better, whatever that may be, whoever does that. As long as you've got better, I feel that I've done my bit. So that rapport has come, you know, that ability to be able to recommend these things and to let people take these things has come from being very open with the patient. And I say exactly that.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: I say, I didn't know whether it's you're going to live longer. I don't know whether it's going to stop you having a heart attack. I don't know. How do I know? But Hey, try it. If suddenly you feel better, come back and tell me about it and we'll have a drink. And if it doesn't, then you know, you're not going to hate me for it, for trying something. You know? And then they like that because here is someone who is actually giving them something else, more than just a tablet that they haven't heard of tablets, which has got horrible side effects listed in the box, that it comes in a tablet that costs a ton of money, a tablet that suddenly will impact on their insurance, etc.

Wade Lightheart: So beautiful that you have that. Now of course we're living in extremely stressful times and I think that's really unhealthy and an uncertain times. Is there any suggestions that you have, cause you've been so gracious with your times about people who are dealing with the current global situation how do they manage their lives? How do they handle this? What are the things that you're concerned about or you have advice about for the general population of what they need to be focusing on or what they need to be doing during this kind of very, very uncertain time where we're getting all this confluence of disinformation, misinformation, highly emotional, politicized, numerical lies. Do you know everything and you know it. And people are just getting more and more, worked up more and more stressed and it seems very, very anxious on a global scale.

Wade Lightheart: Is anything you feel is important for people to remember during the current situation? I mean, I think that the first thing to say it's scary. But with something like this, it teaches us a ton as well. It teaches us that actually, whilst you're out there fighting and trying to get ahead, actually when it comes to something like this, it tells you what the important things are. It tells you that if you've got your family near you, that actually, despite all that that's going on outside, a lot of people I don't think are as stressed inside. They're probably more at peace and insight. You know, they're stressed about the materials, they're stressed about their jobs, they're stressed about the future. But in that kind of storm where some MBI of the storm in our own little houses with our own loved ones near us it teaches us the importance of gratitude.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: I think the fact that we should be grateful for what we do have, it teaches us the importance of humanity and we see that on a regular basis where people are coming together in a way that they would not have come together if we didn't have this thing going on around us and thanking each other and appreciating each other. It teaches us about the importance of nature and how nature needs to be nurtured and how nature is thriving. It teaches us to be more compassionate to animals and all that kind of thing where you go and you see animals trapped in the zoo and you know, it teaches us the importance of freedom and all that kind of stuff. So one can take this in a philosophical sense and say, okay, actually when would I ever, ever have been witnessed to seeing something like that?

Dr Sanjay Gupta: You know, this is a momentous kind of time and in all lifetimes for all of us, probably this is going to be the most defining few weeks of our lives, the one that we will remember forever. That's in itself is something or inspiring. You feel awed by the fact that actually the world has just stopped. We never thought that was possible, but it does. So in that sense it's good. The second thing I would say is that of course, despite all that, I think it is important to understand that with this particular virus, the first thing is the virus of course, tends to affect people who are more vulnerable but can affect anyone. The chances of catching the virus are the same. The chances of something bad happening to you if you get the virus are greater if you're a sicker person.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: That doesn't mean to say that if you're not a sick person, you will be absolutely fine. So anytime you have this, the best thing you can do is do everything you can, not to get the virus. If you do that, you're doing the best for yourself and doing the best for everyone else. The second thing I would say is that I do think it is important not to be put off when you feel that you need help to go to a hospital. The hospitals have plenty of beds. In fact, people who, the biggest concern I have is that people who have genuine complaints are not going into a hospital early enough for fear of the virus. So it is really important that those people who are getting things like chest pain in the middle of the night who have noticed a bit of visual disturbance, paralysis, anything like that, they don't put it off.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: They go in there and they seek help because in that setting, I think the risk from the virus is far less than the benefits of getting early intervention, early treatment, etc. Other than that, I think only time will tell what is going on. But at the moment, you know, as long as we're with our loved ones, as long as we're healthy, it is very much like when we go to work in our cars any day, anything can happen at any time. But you enjoy the ride.

Wade Lightheart: It's a great perspective and you've been so gracious with your time people. I think you've got a great YouTube channel. I think you provide some really good information and of course where it's coming from I think is even the best space of all. Where can people find you, Dr Gupta and your YouTube channel, social media, things like that where they can find more information about your philosophy and things that you find that work. I think it's fascinating and it's been just so great to have here. So if you can share that with our listeners, we can put this all in the show notes so people can find you.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: Oh great. Thank you so much. So I have a YouTube channel, which is called York cardiology Y-O-R-K cardiology. You can look for me on Instagram, on York cardiology and also on Facebook for York cardiology. So York cardiology is the kind of brand name. I have a website where I try and transcribe everything I say, and that is called Those are my two main hubs where you can find me.

Wade Lightheart: Well thanks so much for joining us today on the Awesome Health Podcast from BiOptimizers. I mean this is the kind of thing that gets me so juiced up and I'm really grateful that you've shared your insight as a medical professional and opened up the humanity side of what it means to be a heart-based physician literally and figuratively. I think it's really beautiful and I thank you for your work that you're continuing to do in this world and taking the time today. So thank you for joining us.

Dr Sanjay Gupta: Thank you so much for having me. I've really enjoyed myself.

Wade Lightheart: Great. Well that's another day for the Awesome Health Podcast. Be sure to check out Dr. Gupta site. He's got some great YouTube videos. Pop yourself some magnesium. Take some essential fatty acids, hug your loved ones, stay at home, but enjoy the space with a little bit of gratitude and you've got it all figured out. So thanks so much for joining us today. We'll see you again on the next episode.
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