The Truth About the Sapien Diet and Healthy Living: Interview with Brian Sanders from Food Lies
In a world where dietary advice is as varied as it is confusing, Brian Sanders offers a fresh perspective with his Sapien Diet approach. This interview delves into the core principles of a lifestyle that goes back to our ancestral roots, focusing on nutrient-dense, whole foods and the critical role of animal-based nutrition. Sanders is a vocal advocate for natural eating and critic of modern processed diets, and in this interview, he sheds light on how we’ve strayed from the diets that once kept our ancestors thriving.
1. How Would You Describe a Sapien Diet and Lifestyle?
The Sapien diet and lifestyle is really just the way humans were meant to live and eat. We’ve lost our way when we’ve forgotten this. And it’s not one diet because humans live all over the globe, in warm climates and cold climates. And we had very different diets. But they had something in common, which was nutrient density, which was whole foods, which was the inclusion of animal foods as a foundation of protein and nutrients. And from there, it gets very different based on what you have to offer. And people lived long and they lived well. And they had a long health span. And I’ve visited some of these places where they still live traditionally. And I’ve observed that they do very well without modern medicine and live into old age without chronic disease. I’ve seen people over 100, this woman dancing around, stomping on the ground, having a blast with her family. And she grew up in the forest in Uganda with nothing but animals that they trapped and whatever they could gather.
So, this is why I think humans thrive on this diet of whole foods with animal foods at its core. It is always what they’ve been after. And really, it comes down to nutrient density, where if you do the math on these foods, it gives people everything they need with the right amount of protein and nutrients and the right amount of energy. And I separate calories from energy calories and nutrient calories; they’re very different. Protein nutrients are very different; you want actually more of those. Most people need way more of those types of calories and less energy calories. Most people are overfed and undernourished.
2. Why Do You Think Eating Animal Foods is so Essential for Optimal Health?
Because they’re so nutrient dense. They have bioavailable nutrition that is in the form that humans need. In plants, most of the time they have these precursors or smaller amounts of nutrients or nutrients we can’t access because they’re bound up with antinutrients or within fiber, and we can’t access them like, you know, a gorilla can. So it’s very important that we get the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K from animal foods. For all the protein, that’s the best quality that we can use.
3. What are Some Popular Health Myths You’d Like to Dispel and Want People to Understand Better?
This stuff is easy; everything is backwards.
Cholesterol that we eat is not causing disease. We’ve eaten saturated fat and cholesterol for all of human history. These are healthy foods for humans. Really, the problem is what people are eating with those foods. So that kind of goes back to number one and the Sapien diet and lifestyle is that it avoids all processed foods. And all processed foods really have the three main ingredients: sugar, refined grains, and seed oils. So by avoiding these three, you’re raising the nutrient density of your diet. And you’re also avoiding all the harmful effects of these. And all the other ramifications of eating these. So the problem comes from these refined ingredients and the combination of additives and flavorings and all other stuff the food industry adds, and not meat. The main thing is I think there’s been basically collusion with big food, Big Pharma, big sick care, big everything to blame meat and saturated fat for the problems when it’s always the processed foods. It’s because of the profits and the processing. They make so much money by processing down plant foods cheaply, things like corn, wheat, and soy, making corn syrup, making sugar, making, you know, all the refined ingredients. They have so much money, so much profit margin that they can then use that to fund studies to try and confuse people into thinking that things like red meat and fish are bad for you, when it’s actually their food they can do lobbying to change the government and change the policies.
You can do all the marketing where it’s every single news station, print that, you know, TV, audio, everything is just saturated with ads promoting their processed foods, so that everyone just thinks it’s normal to eat them.
4. What is Your Opinion on the Blue Zones and So Many People Thinking the Blue Zone Diet is Optimal for Health?
Blue Zones, big lie. I just finished the series on Netflix. Really, what the series could have been about is how great a lifestyle these people have, how they’re outdoors, how they have their family, they have a sense of community, they have a sense of purpose. They eat whole foods. If anything, the diet that was consistent was that it was all whole foods. And they all did include animal foods. They just kind of misreported that. My friend Mary Roddick has been traveling the world, debunking all of their lies and showing that all of these places actually eat tons of animal foods.
Part of the problem is people like this guy, Dan Buettner, who is doing this as a biased vegetarian guy trying to prove his point, but he’s not looking at the communities. He’s cherry picking these people that are plant-based when there are so many other people eating so much meat, but also, he’s not looking for what fat they’re using. For all of history, we had natural fats, we had fats from animals, this is where we got our fats.
And these have a lot of calories in a good way where these people are cooking, even if you are eating some vegetables and rice or whatever, that’s fine. But they’re getting enough nutrition from, you know, eating nose to tail, eating organs, eating what meat they had, eating what eggs they had, and also using animal fat to cook all that stuff in. So if you actually look at calories, I think many of these blue zones are actually animal-based by calories, because fat has so many calories. And it’s such an important good thing for humans. So oh, man, so many ways to debunk Blue Zones.
A lot of these places, they don’t even keep track of their ages. There are different things that have come to light lately that show that they have shady birth certificates, or they had an interest in making themselves seem older than they are to get certain benefits.
There’s a lot there that you can look up separately, but just in general, the Blue Zones, it really is about whole foods, and all other healthy lifestyle habits.
5. What Other Health and Wellness Habits Do You Try to Incorporate in Your Life and Why?
Other habits I do… It’s really just the core of being human. I think there are the four pillars of being human that you can’t cheat. You can’t cheat nature. You can’t cheat with diet. You can’t make an Impossible Burger that’s going to be as good as beef. No matter what, I think that’s alchemy. I think that will never happen even 1000 years in the future. It won’t happen because there are so many complex things that happen when you put a cow on grass. And we’re starting to learn about this with Dr. Stefan VanFleet, who I’ve interviewed, talks about the secondary compounds, and there’s over 70,000 secondary compounds that we don’t even know about yet. And they’re so different when you look at meat compared to fake meat. And it’s all these things that are from plants, actually. So yes, there are good things from plants, but it’s better if the animal eats them, incorporates them into their fat and into their meat. And we can have all these secondary compounds and different antioxidants and flavonoids and different, you know, plant compounds that are good for us. But we could just get them from well-raised meat.
So yes, we can’t cheat nature and we can’t mimic this insane miracle, this miracle of cows turning low-quality grass that we can’t eat into nutrient-dense, perfect nutrition for humans. So we can’t cheat nature and food. We can’t cheat nature in sleep. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to make a pill or some sort of thing that can let a human sleep for four hours, but it would be like they slept for eight hours. I just think that’s impossible. It’s just like cheating the universe. You can’t do that. You need to sleep. You need to get your seven to eight hours. And I do that every day and it’s a big focus of mine.
Another big focus of mine is movement. Of course, the other thing you can’t cheat. This is a pillar of being human. You can’t build an exercise machine that does the weights for you, that does the work for you. The whole point is that your muscles are doing the work. You have to do the work. That’s how you get stronger – movement’s great, sprinting, resistance training, going to failure, walking, just natural stuff. I don’t do steady-state cardio. I’m not into just doing it.
Lastly, it is just that the outdoors, the sunlight, vitamin D, again, you can take vitamin D3 and K2 supplements, but it’s not going to be as good as getting full-spectrum light on your body. So, you know, according to the time of year, and where you’re at, or where I’m at, I will always get out in the sun for at least 40 minutes and do that midday when, you know, I can get the full vitamin D. So those are the four pillars of being human, I probably should include the community aspect, which I really focus on – just always being around people. Yeah, having that Blue Zone stuff, the sense of purpose, the community, the connections, the support. So I do that every day, I set my life around all these four or five pillars.
6. What Would You Tell Someone Who Thinks a Vegan Diet is the Best Way to Go?
Well, it’s just scientific. It’s just obvious that the vegan diet is not the way to go. I don’t even know how to even debate really. The only people who do it, there are so few and they’re using so many supplements, it actually makes no sense. I mean, they should just admit that it’s a moral thing to do with animal cruelty. Because it’s clearly not the way to go. And you can look at any human nutrition basics and just know that you’re not getting bioavailable nutrients from plant foods. You can’t get it solely from plant foods. There are so many things in the right amounts and in the right proportions and cofactors and, you know, fat-soluble vitamins that you need with animal foods. So, I mean, it’s nice that I guess people believe in certain things, and they can have their beliefs, but scientifically, it’s not a human diet. And the gut. Yeah, there’s so much to go into with that, I mean, we do the whole thing in the film of going through how the human body has shifted, so that we require nutrient-dense animal foods because our gut has shifted, and all the reasons why we’ve seen that and we can see it by the stomach acidity, very low like a hyena or other predator vulture. And our ancestors had very basic stomachs, you know, then the sixth and seventh pH range. We know that we require these animal foods and that’s how our bodies have changed and adapted to eating those animal foods.
7. Why are You so Passionate About Unlocking and Spreading the Truth About Nutrition and Health?
I’m so passionate about this, because of my family. Really, that got me going, losing both my parents around age 30 and changing my health. I made such a simple switch in my diet that I just wanted to tell the world how easy it was. I basically just raised the nutrient density of my diet by cutting out sugar, seed oils, and refined grains, and replacing it with more meat, basically. My entire body changed, my health changed, I haven’t been sick in eight years. Everything’s gotten so much better, I just wanted to tell the world and let them know that they don’t have to follow that same fate as, you know, what society says, what genetics supposedly say, what happens to their parents.
8. What Would You Tell Someone Who Thinks that Eating and Raising Animals is Bad for the Environment?
Animals coexisted and have co-developed with the grasses. This is an ecosystem. Ruminant animals, bison, buffalo, you know, there’s a huge megafauna that used to roam the Earth, the cows, the deer. All of these animals have a perfect symbiotic relationship with the grass and the ecosystem and they help the soil, they help the grasses grow, and they help manage this whole process of nature. And these animals are not bad for nature; they work with nature. It’s only bad if we take them out of their systems and start doing industrial agriculture, industrial farming methods, but it’s bad on both sides. So you can’t blame animals. I mean, all food comes at a cost. To grow something, there’s a cost, of course, and for something to live, something must die. And the industrial methods are bad on all sides and really more bad on the plant side and there’s more food waste on the plant side. There are more animal deaths on the plant side. So, really, it should just be against big ag or like having a million chickens in one warehouse. And not just blaming chickens in general.
Chicken, you know, is a good valuable food source. And it’s, you know, it can have different discussions about how to raise animals. But we can’t just blame animals for the environmental problems, there are way bigger problems. Raw food in general is only, you know, 8% of the entire CO2 budget. And of that, half of that is from animals, half of that’s from plants. I mean, it’s really, the big industries are the problem, and they like to shift the blame away from their pollution and their problems and blame it on the scapegoat. Really, cows have become the scapegoat.
9. What are Some of Your Goals for the Future?
Wow, all I want to do is spread this message. I just want the Food Lies series to come out and change the world and how they think about food and realize who the real enemy is. The real enemy is big systems, Big Pharma, big agriculture, big sick care, big food. And it’s not, you know, it’s not meat. It’s not saturated fat. It’s processed food. So, it’s not only the big systems, but it’s also the processed foods that are the real problem. And the big systems sell processed foods and sell pills and procedures. And then they perpetuate the myths and the misinformation. So, I want to let the world know, we have to fight the big systems and not meat, not animal foods.
And that’s all I wanted. Yeah, I just want to kind of change the course of the world. And I think it actually can be done through a documentary series. It’s not going to change by a book, it’s not going to change by a podcast, and many other people have done amazing work. It’s not going to change why scientists are doing studies, although it’s so important. I think what really is going to change the world is something that just pops up on Netflix and Joe Cheeto watches and changes his mind. And he wakes up and just realizes that everything is not as it seems. And maybe he changed his health, and that’s something concrete that he can see and do and have real results and then he’ll become an advocate. The same thing with a woman. We just have Joe Cheeto as our character. But any female avatar we could make for that average Jane could have that same journey, and tell the world and know it for herself and know that she did it. And it’s the truth, and we’re going to get there.