Brad and Jonathan discuss health optimization strategies with Dr. Scott Sherr.
The episode is packed full of useful information, however, do not make life altering medical decisions based on this show alone. Although we are talking to a real doctor, do not take this as medical advice. Consult with your own physician before making any major medical decisions.
Dr. Scott Sherr
Back in high school, Brad and Scott played soccer together. Outside of school, Scott was growing up in the home of a chiropractor that showed him what outside of the box medicine could look like. However, he realized that the lack of an MD had limited his dad's ability to provide a wide range of medical care.
So, with that in mind, he decided to pursue medical school. In a clinical rotation in Baltimore, Scott was introduced to the hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber at the hospital. He was absolutely floored by the healing ability of this form of treatment.
Later, he read a paper published by Dom D'Agostino in 2013 about ketosis, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and cancer. At that point, he decided that his passion was an integrative approach to optimal wellness using hyperbaric therapy as his main tool.
I learned how fantastic this [hyperbaric therapy] particular therapy was for healing…increasing the amount of oxygen in circulation to just catalyze wound healing from the inside out.
Now, he is the Director of Integrated Hyperbaric Management Health Optimization at Hyperbaric Medical Solutions and board-certified internal medicine physician specializing in hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Scott has spent his career trying to bridge the gap between traditional and alternative medicine.
Resource: Learn more about ketosis from Dom D'Agostino: Tim Ferriss podcast episode.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used to help heal people with certain illness. This kind of therapy was originally developed to heal divers that suffered from decompression sickness (the BENDS).
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is still a niche therapy because not everyone can afford this treatment unless they have a specific medical reason to use it. Only 14 medical reasons are covered by insurance. Plus, only four very specific conditions can be treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy outside of the hospital.
There are three different types of Hyperbaric Chambers:
These are large chambers only found in hospitals. The chamber can hold multiple people at the same time. It is generally used for more acute care types of illnesses.
These chambers are not as deep as a multi-place chamber, but they are more vertical. You can find these in hospitals and other types of care facilities.
Soft Chambers Or Mild Chambers
You can find these chambers in certain care facilities and in people's homes.
The Rise Of Alternative Medicine
In recent years, alternative medicine has been teased apart into several different fields with more uniformity behind them. For example, functional practitioners are trained specifically by the Institute for Functional Medicine. Another example is integrative providers, they are MD doctors that integrate something from the alternative side into their practice.
The challenge for your listeners is that people are calling themselves everything. Integrative doctors, and everything else that I mentioned. But you don't really know what they are doing unless you really look at their practice and see what they are actually treating or what their approach is.
Alternative medicine has even found a place at top research institutions with newly developed integrative medicine departments. Researchers and doctors are finding out that they can move beyond the double blinded placebo trials to get results.
There have to be people, and I hope to be one of those, that are making sure that this is conducted in a scientific way to make sure that people are staying safe along the process and have a good understanding of what they are doing. Because I see it on both ends. I see the crazy bio-hackers that are injecting themselves without any supervision. And on the other side, I see patients that refuse to leave the conventional model. I hope to bring both sides into my practice.
The goal is a balance between traditional and alternative medicines to achieve the best results.
Healthcare In The U.S.
Our healthcare system is great at treating acute problems. However, in general, we are really bad at preventive medicine. Many of us are familiar with the logic of just adding another pill to treat the symptoms of a problem.
Prevention and longitudinal care in this country is broken. And it’s broken because we don’t have a true wellness prevention model, a preventative model. We still have a reactive model, even in our clinics that are in primary care.
The challenge is that acute illness treatment is where the money is for the insurance companies. There really is no money in preventative care for our current insurance models because people change insurances all the time, so why should an insurance company invest all of this money in you in prevention care when they know that you’re going to leave them in five years to a different insurance company. So there is really no incentive to build up your long-term health.
Even on the conventional side, you’ll see specialists paid more than family medicine doctors or primary care doctors. That's because the insurance company focuses its money on acute disease treatment.
The body has the ability to heal itself if given the right tools. If the other stuff is taken away, all the garbage that we eat and all the garbage that we do is whittled away–then you get this beautiful human being that we are in its natural state that can really manifest its own health and cultivate its own health.
The rise of functional medicine in the U.S. is good. It is an effort to find the root of an illness, instead of just prescribing pills. However, Scott takes this a step farther. He focuses on how your cells are doing on an individual level. The goal is to harness the ability of your cell to overcome any conditions it faces. In order to do that, you need to build a healthy base. Then you can add other treatments, such as hyperbaric therapy, to increase the health of your cells even more.
Health Optimization Medicine
If I had all the money in the world, really, what kind of doctor would I want to be? I wanted to be a doctor that helped people from the inside out, from the ground up.
There are doctors out there that are looking to do something different. Looking to see why people are sick and get to the root of illness. Scott wanted to take it a step further by looking at health on the cellular level. Healthy cells are the beginning, the root for all health.
Working with his mentor, he founded Health Optimization Medicine. It is a foundational health approach that allows this cultivation of health as the focus, instead of disease and symptom treatment. When you have the foundation of health, then the body can repair and heal. And the hyperbaric therapy helps accelerate and synergize the process.
You are likely very aware of the fact that there are countless diets out there. It can be difficult to sift through and find the right diet for you.
Basically, Scott recommends taking processed foods and sugars out of your diet. If you do that, then you will start to feel better. Plus, Scott also recommends taking out dairy even though it is more controversial. To improve your health, start with removing those three things from your diet.
After you improve your diet, the next steps you take depend on your goals.
The base of long-term wellness starts with your diet. If you are able to get that under control, then you are already on the right path.
Testing For Your Health
The most effective way to understand what is missing from your diet is to get tested. You can't just go to your conventional doctor to get these tests. Traditional doctors are typically looking for any symptoms of illness instead of baseline health levels.
You can look for tests from some functional or natural doctors. However, you should first focus on cleaning up your diet for the long-term.
Once you are ready for testing, then you want to find a place to receive metabolomic testing. Metabolites are things that are happening within your cell in real time. The test can uncover how your cells are making energy, processing your food, and dealing with toxins in your body.
After understanding what your cells are doing now, the goal is to understand what toxins might result in a disease manifestation in the future.
You will have to do some research to find a doctor in your area that offers this test because it is a specialized test that not all doctors know how to use. Health Optimization Medicine trains doctors on this test, so you might want to start here.
Scott admits that it is difficult to recommend diets to people without knowing more about their individual situation. However, he does have some preferences to pass along.
The food that we are eating now, the vitamin, mineral and pure health content of it, is about 50% worse than it was 50 years ago. So even if you're eating the most organic, artisan artichoke or broccoli; those pieces of vegetable have significantly less content of vitamins and minerals that we need, than it did 50 years ago.
It is important to remember that not all food is created equally. Choose your food carefully to build the best baseline of health for you.
He does recommend eating some amount of clean meat. Stick to pasture raised and grass fed beef as opposed to commercial operations.
I find that people that eat some meats and mostly plants are better overall…than those that don't have any meat and those that just eat meat, or eat a lot of it.
Scott sticks to a low-carb grain-free diet. Plus, he avoids processed foods, dairy, and processed sugars. Seasonal light, seasonal foods, and metabolic flexibility are also good to keep in mind.
Good Fats Vs. Bad Fats
Back in the 1970's, the government told us that fat was bad for us. Period, end of the story. The “NO fat” diet is still around today. And not to our benefit.
If you want to know more about fat, then consider reading “The Big Fat Surprise” by Nina Teicholz. She does a great job explaining how fat got a bad rap, through marketing and special interest groups.
The idea that “I get fat because I eat fat” is a myth and misuse of the word–fat. Of course, some fats are bad. However, it has been found that there are some really good fats. The reality is that the combination of certain types of food, like a “heart attack” sandwich includes high fat, high carbohydrate, and high sugar.
Fat, protein, and, carbohydrates, all can make energy, ATP, at the cellular level. They are doing it for various different reasons based on what your body is doing or how your body is acting but each of them can give you fuel…but if you have all three in high combinations the body is not going to like that. It basically thinks that you have too much energy and starts causing rust. That rust is inflammation. And inflammation is what causes heart disease, vascular disease.
A few of the good fats include nut oils and saturated fats. Macadamia nut oil, ghee, avocado oil, coconut oil, and butter can be good choices. Peanut oil is bad for you. Olive oil is okay for you, but only if cooked at low temperatures.
The bad fats include trans fats and vegetable oils. These are especially bad for you at high heats.
Fat is not bad. Fat is only bad if it is combined with a high sugar diet, in general.
Keep in mind, your optimal amount of fat intake will vary based on your body's needs.
Organic Vs. Non-organic
Generally, organic food is more nutritionally dense than traditionally raised food. The worst part about traditionally raised food is the pesticide residue.
Obviously, ingesting pesticides is likely bad for you. Organic is the way to go. It is especially important in berries. However, with avocados and asparagus, the organic is not noticeably better for you.
The best way to get your food is in season, locally, and organic.
Also, remember that not all organic foods are created equally. You want food grown in soil that has been used for organic crops for many years.
Vitamins And Supplements
The food we are eating today is less nutritionally valuable than it was 50 years ago. Therefore we need to regain those nutrients somewhere.
The challenge… is that people are taking supplements because they heard it on a podcast or they heard it at a conference. ‘I should take a multivitamin.’ or ‘I should take a B vitamin’ or ‘I should take antioxidants’ but if you are not taking these things and knowing that you are taking them for a reason or quantifying what you need and why–then it could be dangerous.
You should only take supplements after testing for what your body needs. The first step is to clean up your diet. Next, do proper testing before choosing your vitamins and supplements.
Wild Card Questions
Towards the end of the episode, Scott willingly answered some questions out of the left field.
What Is The Upper Range Of The Human Life Span?
Scott chooses to focus his practice on his patients' health span instead of their total life span.
You have the ability to cultivate your own health and that is a powerful thing.
With a focus on creating more healthy years, you may live longer. However, the goal should be to create as many years of love, happiness, and connection as possible.
Using cold can be a good tool to help improve your health. In colder conditions, it improves our ability to make energy at the cellular level.
Plus, you can reduce inflammation and create an overall sense of well-being.
Cold is something that everyone should have in their life. The easiest thing is a cold shower.
Try a little bit of cold at the end out your shower to take advantage of the benefits of cold.
How Do You Exercise?
Scott uses a combination of high-intensity interval training and flexibility training most weeks of the year.
In his opinion, cardiac endurance training really isn't all that worth it to most people. However, flexibility training is vitally important as we age.
To get started with meditation, then just start with noticing your breath. There are lots of different practices, including the Wim Hof Method, that combine breathing with other things like the cold.
Personally, Scott uses the Tibetan philosophy of micro-meditation. With this, you take a small amount of time every hour to just notice the things around you and be more aware of the present moment. He also adds three 15 minute sessions throughout the day to practice awareness.
How To Connect
You can find out more about Scott's practice or reach out to him in several ways. Hyperbaric Medical Solutions focuses on his hyperbaric career.
Resources: Health Optimization Medicine:
For social media, you can follow him on Twitter @drsherr, on Instagram @drscottsherr, and on Facebook at the Hyperbaric Medical Solutions business page.
The Hot Seat
Favorite Blog: Tim Ferriss' blog
Favorite Article: 15 Tips: How To Become A Master Alchemist And Transmute Energies on The Wakeup Experience
Biggest Life Hack: Having children because you learn so much more about yourself when you are responsible for other beings in the world.
Biggest Financial Mistake: Not having a financial plan when he first finished medical school.
The advice you would give your younger self: Stop thinking that everything has to do with other people and that it didn't have to do with you. Try to be more optimistic instead of a pessimistic realist.
Bonus! What purchase have you made in the last 12 months that have brought the most value to your life? Purchased an infrared sauna from Sunlighten to create a quiet room in his home.
New to FI? Be sure to check out Episode 100: Welcome To The FI Community!