On Super Sizing, Terrible Toxins and Being an Inside Man – Morgan Spurlock – #411
By: Dave Asprey
Why you should listen –
Morgan Spurlock is an award-winning and Academy Award-nominated writer, director, producer, and founder/CEO of production studio, Warrior Poets. His first film, “Super Size Me”, opened the nation’s eyes to the obesity epidemic and the real dangers of eating a fast food diet. From his 26-pound weight gain in just one month, to the surprising places toxins are hiding, to how he gets in the creative zone, Morgan shares advice and behind-the-scenes intel from his film and TV projects in this spirited conversation with Dave.
Enjoy the show!
Follow Along with the Transcript!
Speaker 1: Bulletproof Radio, a state of high performance.
Dave Asprey: Now as I understand it, having a microphone is useful, right?
Morgan Spurlock: I’ll just use my outside voice. Thank you. I’m drinking the Bulletproof vodka tonight. It’s awesome.
Dave Asprey: You guys might have heard this before, but I’ve got to say it. You’re listening to Bulletproof Radio with Dave Asprey. Yes. Today’s cool fact of the day is that I have the same cool fact of the day that I used with James Altucher when I interviewed him earlier today, so I’m just going to make one up. Your liver is located in your temporal lobe. There’s like two doctors laughed though, so you’re like, “What’s he talking about?” It’s a Beavis and Butthead reference from the ’90s when he hits himself in the head and goes, my liver, my liver. I still laugh about that every night. It was lost on you intellectuals. That actually was the cool fact of the day. Sorry.
All right. Morgan is a really amazing story teller. If you did see “Super Size Me”, you probably know about this. “Super Size Me” is the story of a crazy person who eats an excessive amount of fast food, three meals a day, and nearly kills himself when everyone essentially tells him to stop and he doesn’t stop to prove a point, mostly about his own stubbornness. This is where he’s probably best known.
However, before we jump into this, you guys just need to know he’s been directing, producing, distributing film ever since. He’s actually a creative guy with a very successful track record. We’re going to talk about “Super Size Me”. We’re going to talk about some other cool stuff he’s done. You might have seen the FX television series “30 Days”. “Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?” Which is kind of like Waldo, but different.
Morgan Spurlock: That’s right. It’s a little different. It’s just like that, only different. Yeah.
Dave Asprey: “The Future of Food”, “Freakanomics”, Emmy nominated “Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special in 3D on Ice”. Very creative, cerebral intellectual. Morgan, welcome to the show.
Morgan Spurlock: Thank you. Excited to be here. Thank you. First time I’ve ever been called an intellectual, so thank you. My mother thanks you. She’ll be very happy to hear this.
Dave Asprey: Just tell her to take it all straight. I want to know what motivated you to do “Super Size Me”? When you started this thing out, what was going through your head?
Morgan Spurlock: The idea, we wanted to make a film. First it came out of frustration, because we wanted to make a film. I just had a show get canceled on MTV, and I had $50,000 in the bank. I said to the guys that I worked with … and I had a tremendous amount of debt at the time. I was like, “I can either take this money and pour it into this bottomless pit of debt, or we could make a movie.” Everybody in the office is like, yeah, we should do that, that’s a great idea. We owned all the cameras. We owned all the equipment. We were like, all it’s going to take is sweat equity. Let’s make a movie.
So I went home over Thanksgiving, and this was Thanksgiving 2002. The Iraq war at the time had finally started to fade. It had gone away from being a headline, and we were trying to push it to the back of the media landscape. The war on obesity had become the new big thing in America. It’s the war on obesity, it’s on the front page of every magazine. It’s like, what are we doing in America? We have to fight this battle. That was everywhere.
I went home, and there was a new story on the television. This was Thanksgiving day. I’ll never forget. I was on the couch in a massive tryptophan haze after just stuffing myself with all the trappings of the day. A news story came on about the two girls that were suing McDonald’s who said, we’re fat, we’re sick, and it’s your fault. They had hired a lawyer, and I was like this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. They’re going to sue a company that sells them food that they bought that they ate, and blamed them for it. Then a spokesperson of McDonald’s comes on and says, listen, you can’t link our food to these girls being sick. You can’t link our food to these girls being obese. Our food is healthy. It’s nutritious. It’s good for you.
I was like, I don’t know if you could say that either. I was like, if it’s that good for me, then shouldn’t I be able to eat it for 30 days straight with no side-effects? Then I go, oh my God. I got a great idea for a movie. And I turned to my vegan girlfriend on the couch. And she was like, that’s a terrible idea. You should not do that, but I was already off to the races. I loved it. That was the whole thing. It came from literally that one news story.
Dave Asprey: Did you see the recent Wendy’s troll of McDonald’s?
Morgan Spurlock: I did not. This sounds like the greatest thing ever.
Dave Asprey: McDonald’s tweeted just-
Morgan Spurlock: First off, Wendy’s should not be trolling anybody, just to be fair. To be fair, but please continue.
Dave Asprey: McDonald’s announced that, now our quarter pounders in six months are going to be made from 100% beef. It’s like, what were they before? What was in there before now? Wendy’s tweet was, what was it then before now? And what about the rest of your hamburgers?
Morgan Spurlock: It is a valid question. Yeah.
Dave Asprey: There’s someone at Wendy’s dancing right now over that tweet.
Morgan Spurlock: There’s people at McDonald’s going, shit, I knew we should have checked that. We should have doubled-checked that tweet.
Dave Asprey: They just #fakenews and they were done. Notice that was a non-partisan comment.
Morgan Spurlock: That was a non-partisan … Yeah. You bridged the gap.
Dave Asprey: There we go.
Morgan Spurlock: Red burger, blue burgers. You went both ways.
Dave Asprey: It’s all inclusive all the time.
Morgan Spurlock: That’s right.
Dave Asprey: You decided to do this against everyone else’s better judgment.
Morgan Spurlock: Against every bit of advice. I remember I called a bunch of different friends of mine. They were just like, oh my God, that’s such a stupid idea. I called my friend Scott Ambrose, who is the camera man, the DP that shot the whole film. When I told him the idea on the phone, I remember when he stopped laughing he was like, oh my God, that’s such a great bad idea. At that moment, I was like, we’ve got something good.
Because you had to go back. At the time, reality TV had kind of just come into television. There was Survivor, there was Big Brother, and Jackass was the big show on television. And so here was this movie that was really representative of Jackass journalism. How do we tackle something in a way that really embodies what is in the culture in a big way? That’s what a lot of … I remember when the movie came out, a lot of reviewers called it that. They basically said it was Jackass journalism, and it was remarkable.
It was one of those things that was like, nobody thought it was a good idea, not one person. I remember when I went to try and find doctors to be in the film, to be my doctors … and it took a couple tries until my doctor, Dr. Isaacs who is still my doctor, the doctor in the movie who is my doctor who looks every day like he needs a doctor, which is exactly the doctor I want to go to, I got to be honest. I want the doctor who’s smoking cigarettes and is like, do as I say, not as I do. It’s like he’s great, but I remember when I went and told him, he’s like, oh, oh yes, this is awful. This is going to be so great. I can’t wait to see what happens. Yeah.
Dave Asprey: These type of medical professionals are very hard to find.
Morgan Spurlock: That’s right. That’s very true.
Dave Asprey: So you got your health checkup, and then you just jumped in.
Morgan Spurlock: Then we dove right in. The best part is since we were funding the film ourselves, we were able to start production within weeks. As soon as I got back from Thanksgiving, we were in pre-production immediately. Post-Thanksgiving, I was buying every book I could find about the obesity epidemic and food in America. We were shooting six weeks later. By mid-January I was chasing the doctors. And by February 1st, I started the diet. The diet went from February 1st to March 2nd of 2003.
Dave Asprey: Now you gained 25 pounds in 30 days.
Morgan Spurlock: Yeah, it’s like 26 pounds, yeah, in a month.
Dave Asprey: I gained 30 pounds in 30 days two months ago.
Morgan Spurlock: You are jacked. You are jacked. He’s bullet-jacked.
Dave Asprey: I cheated. Now 25 pounds of fat is actually hard to do, or 25 pounds of muscle, certainly. What else happened to you?
Morgan Spurlock: Oh my gosh. My body hated me. My cholesterol skyrocketed. My blood pressure went through the charts. I got incredibly distracted. I couldn’t focus. I was lethargic. I was exhausted all the time. You eat the food, because the food is just filled with so much fat and sugar. Then the drink’s filled with caffeine, so you get amped up and jacked up for five minutes. You get that big crack hit of food. You get the McHit.
Dave Asprey: Nice.
Morgan Spurlock: Then you’re done, because then you crash immediately. My liver, my liver filled with fat. My liver got so filled with fat. Dr. Lisa Ganjhu, who is the gastroenterologist in the film actually published a paper after the film, because it had never been proven that a high fat diet would lead to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is essentially cirrhosis of the liver through a high fat diet. Basically my liver was getting so filled with fat that it was in route to cirrhosis.
Dave Asprey: I just have to ask. How many of you are on high fat diets? Wait a minute here.
Morgan Spurlock: Hold on a second.
Dave Asprey: My liver fat is 3% just so we’re all clear. Yeah, so the type of fat, [inaudible…].
Morgan Spurlock: Yeah, completely. It’s not the good fats that you’re imbibing, my friend. You’re taking the good stuff.
Dave Asprey: The good stuff.
Morgan Spurlock: You’re getting the good stuff.
Dave Asprey: High grade.
Morgan Spurlock: High grade. Yeah, so by the end, I was just a complete … If you look at me by the end of the movie, I was ashen. The color of my skin was a very non-human color. Yeah, it’s almost like a dragon scale color of like a gray, like a battleship gray. Yeah.
Dave Asprey: See the storytelling expertise that just oozes out of his pores?
Morgan Spurlock: Oozes like fat out of a hungry man. It’s like that McSweat smell that comes out of you.
Dave Asprey: Ugh.
Morgan Spurlock: Mmm. That’s what doesn’t come out in the film. What you don’t see is the aroma that was coming out of my body over the course of that month. I was the most unattractive man to lay next to, because at night, you just reek of burger magic, like I got fries in my pits. It just smells. You know how a car will smell after McDonald’s has been in it, and it just doesn’t go away? That was my whole body.
Dave Asprey: Like a taxi, right?
Morgan Spurlock: Like a taxi. Like a taxi filled with Ronald McDonald and Grimace. Yeah.
Dave Asprey: My wife Dr. Lana is an ER doctor. If I eat something I shouldn’t eat, usually not on purpose, I will actually smell. Otherwise, I don’t really grow BO. When you eat clean, you actually stop smelling, which is a nice benefit. It saves water. I haven’t showered in two weeks, and you all hugged me. No, the interesting thing-
Morgan Spurlock: He smells really nice tonight, just telling you.
Dave Asprey: The interesting thing, though, is what you’re saying is really true. When you get inflammation, when you get sick like that, you don’t smell like a healthy animal. It’s kind of disgusting, but I’m happy you brought that out, because that was one thing that changed for me. I really stopped smelling like McDonald’s, even though I wasn’t eating it for a long time. As I got my biology working, you actually burn with less exhaust, for lack of a better word. I’m not talking about gas. I’m just talking about cellular exhaust.
Morgan Spurlock: In general. Exhaust in general.
Dave Asprey: Exactly. All right, so you smelled like crap, you looked like crap. Medically, what else happened?
Morgan Spurlock: What else happened? I think those were the big hits. My heart was fine, although if they didn’t get it in time, it would not have been a good thing. They think there would have been a lot of buildup. I didn’t have enough time to have real kind of plaque buildup in my arteries and my veins, but that would have come in due time. But what the film is really representative of, and when you see what happened to my body, is … And this is what a lot of doctors I think responded to and showed their patients, is that it’s representative of a lifetime of eating this type of a diet. You see a fast track with me in a very short period of time of what will come over 10, 15, 20 years of living this type of a fast food diet.
Dave Asprey: You mentioned another side effect that you’re artfully dancing around.
Morgan Spurlock: Oh, my sex life?
Dave Asprey: Yeah, yeah. Less wood in the pencil?
Morgan Spurlock: There was not a lot of hum in the drum, there was no bump in the stump.
Dave Asprey: There was no raisins in the Raisin Bran?
Morgan Spurlock: There was no flag raising at the … There was nobody saluting the flag, as the kids say. Yes.
Dave Asprey: Morgan, they promised to laugh at my bad jokes. They let me down.
Morgan Spurlock: But it was actually … It’s a big one. It was not a big one. It wasn’t big. It’s a big one that it was not a big one during the course of this food.
Dave Asprey: It doesn’t take long for your vascular health to change, and there’s a mitochondrial effect from that, and so you felt that there. How long did it take for you to reverse all this stuff?
Morgan Spurlock: It took about eight weeks for my body to get back to normal after I went off the food. It’s like I was a junkie. Once I got off the junk, it was good. I went on a detox diet. My girlfriend put me on this vegan detox, cleaned me out. Basically flushed me of all the things that were in there, so my blood pressure, my cholesterol, everything went back to normal in about eight weeks. But the fat itself, the weight gain, took well over a year for me to get off and keep off. Took 14 months, actually.
Dave Asprey: It’s a general rule of thumb in the functional medicine community that for every year you’re sick, it might take you two years to get yourself back, which is why waiting ’til you’re 80 is a really bad idea.
Morgan Spurlock: Yeah, exactly. That’s America in general. We have a nation filled with sick care rather than a nation filled with healthcare, and nobody is there telling you early on about what you should be doing to feel better and we don’t go to a doctor until we have problems. We should go to a doctor when we don’t have problems and the doctor says, oh, you feel great? You should keep doing this. You should keep doing these things. But that’s not the way we deal with health professionals in America.
Dave Asprey: You learned some lessons about your biology here, and you went on and you filmed “The Truth Behind Toxins”.
Morgan Spurlock: Yes.
Dave Asprey: Tell me about that.
Morgan Spurlock: That’s a great episode of … We have a series on CNN called Inside Man where we did an episode all about the toxins that are within your household in everything. Literally every item you can think of. From the shampoo you buy to the food you eat, to the cans that your food actually comes in, to the carpet you put on the floor, to the sofas that are covered in fire retardant, to the mattresses that you buy. It is a never-ending exposure in your house to carcinogens. And I had an expert come and walk me through my house, and it was disturbing how much stuff was in my house that is killing us and we don’t even think about it.
And these are chemicals that were grandfathered in in a massive approval through Congress years ago in a big push, just to let the chemical industry have a win, back in the 70s. And there are very few that have been completely outlawed, and there are ones that are hurting us every single day that we don’t even think about.
Dave Asprey: One of the things that frankly pisses me off is that the great state of California has laws about flame retardants in mattresses, and they put a lot of them in … They’re endocrine disruptors. And smoking in bed isn’t really that big of an issue anymore, and babies almost never smoke in bed.
Morgan Spurlock: My kid, he knocks them back all night.
Dave Asprey: I’m not saying what mine are smoking.
Morgan Spurlock: Yeah.
Dave Asprey: We’ll just go there.
Morgan Spurlock: Giant blunts. Baby blunts. Snoop Baby.
Dave Asprey: I have no comment at this time. So, because California’s such a big market, the mattress manufacturers, in their infinite lack of giving a crap, put flame retardants in mattresses that are sold nationally, including baby mattresses, where there is not a call for them. In fact, probably pee repellent would be a more important thing to put on those mattresses. Which also, by the way, stops a fire, if you ever need to.
So I look at that, and in my own research for the Bulletproof Diet, and even for my book on fertility, all of these toxins, when you get right down to it, they interfere with energy production at the end of the day. Sometimes it’s a higher level thing that trickles down, sometimes it’s just a direct effect on the mitochondria. And you look at what it does specifically to kids, it is actually … It’s terrifying.
Morgan Spurlock: It’s terrifying.
Dave Asprey: And I’ve gone through, in my house … Okay, you buy a house that’s already built. God, what did you guys do? And you get rid of most of the toxic stuff, you put in new flooring, you make as many changes as you can, and then you look at buying a couch. Do you want to spend like $8,000 for the non-toxic couch or $1,000 for the toxic couch? And you realize that having a toxin-free home takes a ton of money. Which is not cool, because-
Morgan Spurlock: And time, just to find these other things is a headache.
Dave Asprey: It’s time for there to be enough demand for low-toxin things. That’s one of the reasons I do the radio show, I do Bulletproof, is we can change demand for things like grass-fed stuff. There’s way more grass-fed land in production now than there used to be because in the last five years, people realized this matters. It’s time for the same thing to happen around toxins. The skeptics, I think funded by Bayer and Monsanto and people like that say, oh, there’s no such thing as toxins, toxins make you stronger. It’s like a vitamin!
Morgan Spurlock: Yeah, exactly.
Dave Asprey: It’s ridiculous, but I would ask you and people listening to this episode, pay attention to that. And if it’s within your means to spend a little bit more to get something that’s less toxic, even if it’s not perfect, when you vote with your dollars, it probably makes a bigger difference than when you vote at the ballot right now.
Morgan Spurlock: And if you can’t vote with your dollars, because it is an $8,000 couch, the other thing you can do, we’ve seen, is you can write a lot of angry letters, and a lot of angry letters make a lot of angry difference, and there’s a lot of angry moms that can make a lot of angry noise. You should get all of your angry friends together and show people that they should stop.
Because I think once people start to do that, as you’ve seen … And protests have been happening or noise that’s been going on. Literally, just writing letters and getting organized with people who care, and moms. There’s no better people to organize than people with kids, because once you have a kid, I don’t care where you are or what you believe, all you want is for your kids to be healthy. I don’t care where you live, I don’t care how much money you make, all you want is for your kids to have a great life. And together we can change things for our children, and I think it takes parents coming together and saying, listen, we all agree on this, let’s make it better.
Dave Asprey: Now this aired on CNN. The advertisers on CNN probably didn’t like this. How did you get away with it?
Morgan Spurlock: Yeah, we had great support from our network. They kind of left us alone to make the things we wanted to make. Whether it’s my TV series that we used to do, 30 Days on FX, or the show that we did on CNN, Inside Man, you can’t shy away from doing things that are going to upset advertisers. The news, a long time ago, I think made a mistake by suddenly becoming an ad-driven medium. Once you suddenly turn facts into a for-profit participation environment, then you suddenly start to make the facts be secondary because people will push back on the facts you can tell or the stories you’re allowed to make.
I will tell specific stories. When we were doing the first season of Inside Man, we were doing an episode about Wal-Mart, and we were talking about the group that was trying to unionize Wal-Marts. There was a huge group of folks that were trying to unionize Wal-Mart. It’s a big story. So we were with them, we were shooting with them, we were embedded with them, and suddenly we got a call from the network saying, Wal-Mart’s one of our biggest sponsors, and I said, probably not during this episode. And they said, we should have a conversation about it.
And we went and we met with the network and we said, here’s what we want to do with the show, here’s why it matters. We cut a couple things out that were much more my opinion than things that were factually driven in the show, and I said, that’s fine, we can get rid of those. But we kept it, and I said, listen, if they don’t want to advertise during this show, they won’t. You don’t think they’re going to suddenly abandon the network. It’s fine. And we did the same thing when we made an episode of alcohol addiction for our 30 Days show for FX. They said, you got to understand, alcohol sponsors, beer sponsors are some of our biggest sponsors. And I said, then they just won’t sponsor this show, but they’ll sponsor everything else on your network.
You can’t shy away from these types of topics just because they aren’t seen as being quote unquote “moneymakers”. We have to have real serious conversations. We can’t be afraid to confront things that matter. And the almighty dollar rules so much, it can’t rule these types of dialogues. Yeah.
Dave Asprey: One of the things I like about your work is that you are a bio-hacker here. You measured what happened when you put yourself through the blender that is fast food. And then in this episode of Inside Man, you actually measured the levels of 28 chemicals in your body. Do you remember any of the levels, the higher ones?
Morgan Spurlock: I don’t, off the top of my head. But do you? Do you have them there?
Dave Asprey: Memory fog is a sign of mitochondrial dysfunction.
Morgan Spurlock: It’s one of them, see? It’s what happens.
Dave Asprey: You were at the 90th percentile for triclosan and parabens. These are both endocrine disruptors. And finally, after 25 years of stupidity, they’ve banned triclosan, because it was doing all sorts of bad things to our gut bacteria and our waterways and our sewage systems, and it had no business being there in the first place. Parabens are basically synthetic estrogens, for lack of a better word.
When you did this, you did a 10 day detox. Do you remember what was in the detox? The general stuff? I know it was a little while ago when you shot this stuff.
Morgan Spurlock: Oh my gosh, I don’t remember everything that was in there. I just remember I cut out so much. It was very similar to the detox I did before, where I cut out a lot of the food exposure. I wasn’t eating anything that came in plastic containers, nothing that was in prepackaged foods. Everything was fresh and natural. And it was the question of just buying things like that, which is already hard. Trying to find food that doesn’t come in prepackaged containers, where you’re only buying fresh vegetables, fresh meat.
It becomes a real job to do that. Finding things that don’t have any added fragrance in them, which also fragrance-free products, very hard to find and seek out. It takes a lot of effort. Especially if you go to where I grew up in West Virginia, a lot of small towns don’t have a lot of that variety and finding those things, you have to go online for, which becomes another added expense. I slowly tweaked all that stuff out of my life and it did make a difference. I felt better, even after 10 days.
Dave Asprey: After 10 days, though, all 28 of the chemicals in your body … When I saw it, I remember you doing clay and oil pulling, infrared sauna, charcoal, all that kind of stuff. But I think, just to look at my notes here, you did drop your triclosan levels from 90th percentile to 55 percentile in 10 days. And the reason that I wanted to bring this up is that it’s not like it’s going to take you 10 years to get meaningfully than where you might be today. It’s not that hard, you just have to know what you’re doing.
And a big part of this show, a big part of putting out infographics and books and all that sort of stuff, is around, all right, how do you make it simple? Because you had some help, right? You had a TV crew.
Morgan Spurlock: Yeah. I had a gaggle of people that were helping me shepherd through the process.
Dave Asprey: Right. And for the average person who’s sitting at home right now, you’re like, this is overwhelming. I’m going to go to the store, I’m going to buy some damn deodorant. Do you know how hard it is to buy deodorant, even today, that isn’t full of crap?
Morgan Spurlock: That’s right.
Dave Asprey: Unless they … There’s a few I’ve found that don’t work that well and there’s a few that are like clay-based that seem to work, but then do I have clay in my armpits? I have no idea. So the right thing for me is I just stopped having BO, and who needs deodorant?
Morgan Spurlock: That’s right. And you’re fine.
Dave Asprey: But if you go to a typical store, to me, now that I’m used to not smelling this fake crap, you walk down the soap aisle of a traditional big box store-
Morgan Spurlock: It’s overpowering.
Dave Asprey: It smells like those toilet cakes. Everything smells like toilet cakes there. It’s just not right. We don’t need to smear that on our skin, it’s disgusting. I appreciate, though, that you showed people that you could do this stuff. But what was particularly scary, over the 10 days, the flame retardants in your system went up. Isn’t that kind of scary?
Morgan Spurlock: And I think a lot of that, I tell you why I think all of that happened, is because over the course of that time, I was still traveling. And anytime you stay in a hotel, every time you sleep on a bedspread, every time you sleep on a mattress, the carpet that’s in a hotel, that stuff is caked in flame retardant. Hotels, those places are covered with this, simply because it’s a safety issue. And the last thing they want to do is have one room literally put the whole place up in flames. So everything in those rooms are covered with it.
So the first thing you always do is you pull the bedspread off, for multiple reasons, which a blue light will show you. If you ever go into a hotel with a blacklight, it’s like a fucking Jackson Pollack painting on the bed. It’s like the most disgusting thing you’ll ever see in your life, and you’ll hate me forever. You’re going to love it when it happens, but it’s awful. So first, you should take the bedspread off the bed anyway, because usually it’s a very thick thing. It almost feels … It feels like an unnatural fabric anyways but it’s usually caked in flame retardant. And then same thing with the mattress, but you can’t do anything with the mattress, but at least you’ll get that first piece off.
And carpet is a big one. So you try and stay in places that don’t have carpet. You can call ahead and ask, are the rooms carpeted? Are the hallways carpeted? A lot of new places are doing that, they’re carpet-free. A lot of them have the faux wood that’s in there that’s probably still soaked in this stuff, just so it doesn’t catch on fire, but at least it’s not carpet. Makes me feel better.
Dave Asprey: I like to go into the rooms and I just take a candle and I hold it to burn off the flame retardant. I don’t really. One thing that does work, though, on airplanes. It sounds ridiculous. Wear pants and long sleeves, so you’re not rubbing your skin against it. Because they spray new flame retardant in there in case the old stuff hasn’t had a chance to get all the way into the air for you to breathe. So you really really don’t want to be rubbing naked skin against parts of airplanes.
Morgan Spurlock: Planes have their own issue with all the other chemicals that are floating through the air, but yeah.
Dave Asprey: The other trick is if you can sit towards the front of the plane, even if it’s an economy, just choose things there, because the fresh air comes in the front and flows to the back. So the very worst seat is the one by the bathroom in the very back of the plane, because you get the toilet cakes and all that and the bad used air. That’s just time to give up your seat for the bonus tickets to take the next flight.
Morgan Spurlock: It’s not like it’s a win/win on a plane anyway, because it’s all this recycled air to begin with. But it’s slightly better.
Dave Asprey: That’s one that I am concerned about, because I travel 125 days of the year. I’ll be on probably 16 flights over the next 12 days. It’s completely ridiculous, so I can go to all these different cities and do the media for the book launch and all that.
Morgan Spurlock: Do you wear a mask when you fly? I’ve seen people that wear … If you watch the toxins episode, I had a full-on … While we shot this, I wore a full-on, one of those painter masks, so you look like a lunatic when you travel. But you’re not breathing anything on the plane, but I’m like … But I look like an idiot. Or I’m going to suddenly tag the inside of the plane.
Dave Asprey: My mask has an open mouth painted on it. I’m actually, if you guys subscribe to the quarterly box that I do where I send out every quarter curated stuff, I’m considering putting a nice filtration mask in. Not that you’re probably going to wear it on the whole flight, but there might be times or flights where it’s a good idea.
Morgan Spurlock: Or cool ones, because we love to make fun of when you see people in Japan that are always wearing the doctor’s masks. Can’t we just make cool ones that we could wear? Let’s make some cool doctor’s masks that we can rock around. Make it so like New York was okay. Make like a Louis Vuitton one, charge like $500 for it. “Ooo, is that a $500 Louis Vuitton mask?”
Dave Asprey: Cerovski nostril [crosstalk 00:29:12]
Morgan Spurlock: Yeah, with like crystals all around it. I like it.
Dave Asprey: The time that it matters most, and the reason I’m thinking about doing this is when you’re on an airplane, there’s something called, I think it’s back draft they call it. No, that’s really what it’s called. It was a good movie.
Morgan Spurlock: I feel like I’ve smelled that many times on a plane. That’s crop dusting, that’s different.
Dave Asprey: The flight attendants here all laughed. So what happens is when you’re on the tarmac and the airplane is basically backing up, you get all the jet exhaust. And what-
Morgan Spurlock: Into the plane. It goes through the air system.
Dave Asprey: It does, and you’ll smell it. Here’s what they don’t tell you. To make sure that the airplane doesn’t catch on fire … They’re obsessed with fire, these people. Back to Beavis and Butthead. Fire, fire.
Morgan Spurlock: Fire! Fire! Fire!
Dave Asprey: There we go. Someone as old as me. Anyway, what they do is they put a relatively potent neurotoxin in that keeps the fuel from exploding. Which is good if your airplane crashes, but the 9,999 million times it doesn’t crash and you breathe that crap, it actually does harm your brain and your nervous system in a really meaningful way. So there are times when it’s probably nice to have a mask that doesn’t look too stupid that you might want to have with you, and I’ve been searching around to try and find that. Okay, one group of people saying, these guys are idiots. They’re completely paranoid, just man up. And I’m like, I’m going to live to 180. Bite me. You man up, when I’m at your funeral.
Morgan Spurlock: And by the way, here’s a really cool Louis Vuitton mask.
Dave Asprey: Exactly. So I would just encourage you, you got to make your choices. I’m sitting here wearing the light-filtering glasses. These are the TrueDark, the Daywalker ones.
Morgan Spurlock: You look like Bono’s cousin.
Dave Asprey: All right. I’m just going to divert here because I have to say this. This is one of the coolest things that ever happened to me. I got invited randomly to a celebrity poker tournament by a friend. This guy is a professional poker player, Nam Le, and I thought I was just going to show up and hang out with Matt Damon and a few other people who I hadn’t really heard of, I just knew they were famous.
Morgan Spurlock: You haven’t heard of Matt Damon?
Dave Asprey: I’d heard of him, but I don’t know any of these celebrity people. I’m a computer-
Morgan Spurlock: He makes the movies.
Dave Asprey: I’m a computer hacker. And I show up and they’re like, oh no, we bought you a ticket, you get to play. I’m not really a poker guy. I think I know the rules, but I don’t spend my time on poker. And because I have no skill, I had no fear. Because I had no fear, I was the chip winner for the entire thing. And the entire time, I’m wearing my cool orange glasses. And so everyone’s like this guy’s a total professional poker player. He knows-
Morgan Spurlock: He’s a ringer. Total ringer. Look at those glasses.
Dave Asprey: Totally. And has a giant stack of chips. And I end up at the final table, and there’s this guy. Apparently it was Tebow. And I almost asked him, hey, do you work out or something because you’re really ripped. And somebody called him Tebow, I’m like, oh, thank god, I know that name. And then Larry David’s across the table from me. And there’s all these Breaking Bad guys. I’m like, holy crap, this is the coolest table I’ve ever sat at. And they took my money really quickly.
But the highlight of the night was I hear two people whispering, it was a couple, they’re behind me, and one of them goes, is that Bono? So yes, I have been, one time in my life, because of my dorky glasses, been confused with a real celebrity. I don’t know what value that offered for you, other than humor, but I had to share it because this actually happens.
Okay. So we talked about airplanes. And there’s some other stuff you can do for detoxing. What else do you pay attention to?
Morgan Spurlock: Oh my gosh, what else do I pay attention to? The most important thing that I do, and I think all of us can do, is I just pay attention to what I eat. I think that eating is the greatest thing that you can do to try and control what actually goes into your body, apart from what you rub on it, which that’s a big one, but what you put into it is the most important thing. So I try to avoid anything and everything processed.
Traveling, I spend so much time in airports. I try and do everything I can to avoid eating in airports, but sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes Cinnabon is calling, and you’re just like, oh, McDonald’s or Cinnabon? All right Cinnabon. You win, you lovely devil. No, I never eat Cinnabon, it’s not true. But I do walk by it and judge everyone else who’s there.
Dave Asprey: I’ve thought about going to Cinnabon and asking them if they could make a smoothie out of it because I need to get more sugar faster. I haven’t done that but I did consider it. I do the same thing, I don’t eat airport food except occasionally sushi. If you go to Narita, they have better sushi there than you can get-
Morgan Spurlock: Except when in Kansas.
Dave Asprey: Exactly. Even then, what I typically do is I’ll just do intermittent fasting, or I’ll eat the bars that I make. And one of the reasons I made those is just that I got tired of being hungry-
Morgan Spurlock: Shameless plug.
Dave Asprey: Absolutely. But what you don’t know is that the bars are naturally flame resistant.
Morgan Spurlock: So I rub those on my body before I get on the plane.
Dave Asprey: No, that’s just the wrapper. It’s a facial softener, you guys know what I’m saying. The old bars. The new ones don’t do that. Now, not eating airplane food is a good thing, but I have to actually acknowledge something. We picked on McDonald’s earlier. If you walk into a McDonald’s today and you look at what they’re doing, it is actually meaningful better than what they did 10 years ago. Just like Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart’s like, we would sell everything organic but there isn’t enough organic cotton on the planet to make the clothes we sell, so what do you want us to do?
This is again changing demand. I’m not saying you should go eat McDonald’s, I generally don’t do that.
Morgan Spurlock: Ever.
Dave Asprey: I can tell you, the salads they have now are a hell of a lot better than the ones that were a long time ago.
Morgan Spurlock: That’s true.
Dave Asprey: At least they look better. I still don’t go to McDonald’s. But I do believe that when the really really big fast food chains and grocery stores start paying attention to what you asked for, that the purchasing decisions they make actually contribute to a reduction in toxins in the world, and increasing soil quality and things like that. This was 2004, it was a long time ago. They have improved. There’s still room to grow, like the 100% all beef thing. But it is moving in the right direction because of-
Morgan Spurlock: But using Wal-Mart as the example, Wal-Mart is now the largest purveyor of organic foods in America. They sell more organic products than anybody in the food aisle, which is remarkable. And it is all because of consumer demand that this push has happened. So you said earlier, the more you vote with the dollar, the more you ask for things, the more the angry moms stand up, I’m a real believer in angry moms, it will make a big difference.
Dave Asprey: You’ve done some other things, though. You talked about brain fog. [crosstalk 00:36:00]
Morgan Spurlock: Brain fog.
Dave Asprey: And porn. Porn fog. The whole thing.
Morgan Spurlock: Forgot about that.
Dave Asprey: When you’re dealing with your creative process, because you’ve done quite a lot of documentaries and films, things like that. I want to know what you do to get into the creative zone. What does the creative zone look like and how do you get yourself there?
Morgan Spurlock: The biggest thing for me is exercise. That is the greatest thing to get my mind focused and get my brain ready is exercise. To get up in the morning, go for a run. If I’m on the road, I go to the gym constantly. I was just in Saudi Arabia last week and I was going to the gym twice a day. The spectacular jet lag I had was helping, so I was wide awake in bed and I was like, I may as well go to the gym again. But for me, that really helps me focus, and the more exercise I get, the sharper I am, I think the better I am, the nicer I am. I think that it helps you-
Dave Asprey: I should work out more. I should work out more.
Morgan Spurlock: It grounds you, it grounds me in so many ways, emotionally, physically, creatively, that it just helps. I love coffee. I love coffee so much. I love Bulletproof coffee more than anything.
Dave Asprey: Can we pause for applause? I’ll pay you later.
Morgan Spurlock: But the greatest thing, if I wake up in the morning and exercise first, I will drink less coffee for the day.
Dave Asprey: Boo. Boo!
Morgan Spurlock: But it’s true. Say when I wake up, I woke up today, I have a 10 month-old who I slave to his sleep habits, so when he says wake up, I get up, I go downstairs, I feed him, I hang out with him, and if I’m up with him first before my wife and I’m feeding him, then I may not go for a run or may not exercise so then I just make coffee, and I’m like, it’s kind of like exercise! I feel so much better! And then I end up drinking infinitely more coffee through the day. Whereas if I exercise, I feel I’ve already had that first mental caffeine fix and I’m up and I’m focused and I’m ready, and then my coffee projection goes much lower for the day. But you should still drink lots of Bulletproof coffee because it’s amazing. You should still have a lot. Decaf. Decaf Bulletproof is amazing, I had two cups downstairs before I started tonight.
Dave Asprey: Wow, look at that. He’s been programmed by his time on CNN.
Morgan Spurlock: One was regular, and one decaf.
Dave Asprey: It’s actually true, if you exercise more you’ll be less reliant on things like coffee, and I don’t recommend people drink craploads of coffee because you probably won’t feel good if you have too much, and too much for one person is not enough for another, et cetera, et cetera.
Morgan Spurlock: What is the perfect amount of coffee in a day? What’s the perfect amount of Bulletproof coffee?
Dave Asprey: There’s absolutely no answer for that. And the reason is that over here, we have the 90 pound person, over here we have the 250 pound person, and one has a caffeine intolerance genetically. It’s entirely variable, but you can titrate based on how you feel. I generally say one or two cups of caffeinated coffee, and in “Head Strong”, I talk about doing another three cups of decaf without butter and oil, just because I don’t need that, I had lunch. But I pour the oil in the lunch, and I do that because I’m just trying to increase the polyphenols, which are one of my toxin mitigation strategies. You just want more colored compounds from food, and coffees a nice way to get that. So are things like blueberries and chocolate and whatever. You put all that stuff in the blender, it’s just not as good.
Morgan Spurlock: And there’s also a magical ritual that I think comes from just coffee in general that decaf gives me, just in terms of mental satisfaction. So I think I can get as much mental satisfaction from a cup of decaf as I can from a regular cup of coffee.
Dave Asprey: You mentioned having a 10 month-old, so your house is super non-toxic, right?
Morgan Spurlock: Well that’s the thing. After the show I replaced my couch, I threw out my old couch after the toxins episode, because I was like, I have to. We got rid of the rug. And then I got a new rug. So I got rid of a lot of very toxic things in my house, chemical-wise. But then people give you toys, so then now I got my house filled with toys that you just look at and you’re like, this isn’t good. It’s like, your kid’s chewing on it and I just imagine him going into some sort of ecstasy dream as he’s chewing on a tire from whatever his made in China toy is. He’s like high out of his mind, and I’m like, that kid is so happy sucking on his ecstasy toy.
People give you all these things, you’re like, listen, I love it, I love you guys for giving it to us. You can’t be mean and be like, my kid can’t have that. You just want to let him have it, you police it. I try to clean things as best I can, but it’s hard. It’s hard, there’s so much out there.
Dave Asprey: It is hard, and I would say if you have friends with kids, buy them the smaller, non-toxic toy versus the bigger crappy toy. As a parent, I would just say thanks for all the other parents, because we don’t have room for all that crap anyway, no matter how big our houses are. It becomes carpet, and then you step on it at night and it’s not nice.
Morgan Spurlock: Legos, the sheer volume of Legos that have jammed in the bottom of my foot in the middle of the night.
Dave Asprey: Something else you mentioned, that you’ve worked out a little bit less and had a little bit more coffee. During the Bulletproof Diet, I talk about how I slept five hours or less per night, on average, it was closer to four, for 18 months. What I didn’t necessarily disclose there is that I started this experiment on purpose the day after my second child was born, because I knew after the first child I was-
Morgan Spurlock: He’s just trying to make me feel bad now, isn’t he?
Dave Asprey: No, I was just like, look, I’m not going to sleep eight hours a night anyway. I have a new baby, screw that noise. So I’m going to be sleep-deprived, I’m just going to make an experiment out of it. And I just owned it. And I did, maximum five hours every night, and sometimes it was two. And I found out that actually, it probably wasn’t good for me, but I did lose weight, and I did actually start Bulletproof while I was working full-time. And I put those extra hours into productive things.
A lot of people, when they have kids, go from, I woke up every morning at 6 am, I rang a gong, I drank my green tea and I squeezed a lemon and I breathed for five minutes in each nostril. All this stuff I’ve talked about doing that’s like good for you and all. No, you try to do that and someone kicks you in the head.
So just to acknowledge that if you’re meditation or not meditating or exercising the way you know you wanted to, but then life gets in the way … one of my motivating factors for Bulletproof was like, look, I got a 7 year-old, I got a 9 year-old, and if I can get more exercise in less time, or more anything in less time, that’s time to play with the kids that comes back. Which is why those tradeoffs become much more critical as you get either busier in your career or just busier as a parent, because you don’t get the time back. So what are you doing that’s way more efficient?
Morgan Spurlock: What am I doing that’s way more efficient?
Dave Asprey: Going to McDonald’s.
Morgan Spurlock: Running phone calls while I change diapers. I think for me, efficiency just comes down into my time management. It’s just trying to maximize the time that I can spend with my kids, have that time be the most valuable quality time as I can. I’m going to leave here, as soon as this is done, and go home and tuck in my 10 year-old so I can see him before he goes to sleep and I take him to school tomorrow morning. But for me, it’s just finding every bit of that time that I can so that I’m not wasting time.
Wasting time is a big one that for years … You’re sitting on the couch, waiting for that moment to happen that’s going to make things better, like post-Super Size Me, it’s been full stop. For the past 13 years, as we started our new company and now we make movies, we make TV shows, we make digital entertainment. It’s full on, so for me, it’s finding the most time I can to be the best friend I can, to be the best husband I can, to be the best dad I can, to be the best boss I can, to be the most supportive friend I can, and at the same time do what I love every single minute of every single day. And it’s hard.
Dave Asprey: Yeah, it takes planning.
Morgan Spurlock: Yeah.
Dave Asprey: All right, I get to ask you the question that I’ve asked every single guest out of 400 except for one, because that day I didn’t have enough coffee. If someone came to you tomorrow, and they said, look, I want to perform better at everything I do, what are the three most important pieces of advice you have for me? What would you offer them?
Morgan Spurlock: The three most important things you could do. I think number one, the most important thing you can do is be honest with yourself. I think the second most important thing you can do is be honest with everybody else. And then … eat lots of vegetables. That’s a good one. You can never lose with that one. You can never lose with eat lots of vegetables.
Dave Asprey: Okra?
Morgan Spurlock: Even okra. I’m a hillbilly, I like okra.
Dave Asprey: Okra’s a nightshade, just-
Morgan Spurlock: Yeah. Cool.
Dave Asprey: Morgan, thanks for being on Bulletproof Radio. Guys, give it up.
Morgan Spurlock: Thank you guys. Really appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you. Appreciate it. Thank you. Cheers.
- 00:55 – Cool Fact of the Day
- 01:30 — Dave intros Morgan Spurlock, writer/director/producer, founder of production company, Warrior Poets — best known for his first film, “Super Size Me”
- 03:58 – What motivated Morgan to do “Super Size Me”…the entire back story
- 08:40 – Morgan discusses all the negative health effects of a fast food diet
- 13:38 – How long it took to recover after “Super Size Me”, his take on health care in America
- 14:53 – Morgan discusses “The Truth About Toxins” (from “Inside Man” on CNN), and how pervasive dangerous chemicals are in our homes
- 16:00 – The dangers of flame retardants and toxins in household items – vote with your dollars and make noise for less toxins!
- 19:36 – The politics of focusing on show topics that conflict with network TV advertisers
- 22:38 – The difficulty of finding natural products that aren’t filled with chemicals
- 25:30 – Where you find the most toxins and chemicals when traveling, and tricks to avoid them
- 28:10 – The filtration mask debate – worth it?
- 30:56 – How TrueDark Daywalker Light-Filtering Glasses made Dave look super-cool at the poker table
- 32:46 – The most important things Morgan does to stay healthy
- 34:32 – Dave gives McDonald’s a break…sort of
- 36:05 – What Morgan does to get into the creative zone
- 37:08 – Morgan loves Bulletproof Coffee!
- 39:40 – How non-toxic is Morgan’s house?
- 41:04 – Dave’s sleep experiment and trade-offs for a busy life
- 42:50 – What Morgan does to be more efficient
- 44:11 – Morgan’s three most important pieces of advice