Difficult Conversations Podcast
Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician
Episode 169 | April 18, 2022
Health Benefits of the Sicilian Diet
Dr. Sandra Cammarata and Dr. Giovanni Campanile
Co-Authors of The Sicilian Secret Diet Plan
Welcome to Difficult Conversations with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Today, I am lucky to have as my Co-host, Elizabeth Poret-Christ, who is the Managing Director of The Orsini Way. Our two guests today are, Dr. Sandra Cammarata and Dr. Giovanni Campanile, who wrote the book, The Sicilian Secret Diet Plan, which introduces the pleasure and wonderful health benefits of the Sicilian version of the Mediterranean Diet. Dr. Campanile is a Clinical and Functional Cardiologist and Founding Director of the Chambers Center for Well-Being in Morristown, NJ. He’s board-certified in five different specialties and subspecialties including Cardiology, Internal Medicine, Interventional Cardiology, Integrative Medicine, Anti-Aging Regenerative Medicine, Dr. Sandra Cammarata practices Psychiatry and Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at Tufts University. She was raised in Catania, Sicily, graduated from Catania Medical School, and moved to the U.S. with her husband Giovanni.
Giovanni and Sandra share their backgrounds with us. We find out what makes the Sicilian Diet unique. We discuss their book, The Sicilian Secret Diet Plan. Sandra points out five things that help us live long: healthy diets, healthy sleep, exercise, connecting with others, and the ability to stay in the present. Giovanni explains it’s not just diet, but how we live our lives that is so important . We learn what prompted them to write their book. Liz shares her concern on so much misinformation about how to eat healthy and if you’re one of those people that is trying to focus more on your health we find out where you can begin. We hear some history, facts, and information about the Sicilian Diet and their book, Sandra shares a story of growing up in Sicily, how no one ate anything from a box, and some really great information on pasta. Find out how you can use the Sicilian way of eating to lose weight, what you should be looking for when purchasing meat, chicken, and fish, and why Giovanni tells his patients that a half a pound a week is twenty-five pounds at the end of the year.
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Dr. Campanile (1s):
For hundreds of thousands years, maybe millions of years, we’ve evolved with the plants around us. Having packaged foods or fast foods is a very recent thing, and we’re not genetically set up for them. We’re more genetically set up to have this diurnal variation, seasonal variations in what we do. And it’s very much connected to one of the things we talk about is the microbiome and inside our bodies. And so our microbiomes, that’s the good, friendly organisms microorganisms that live inside our guts on our skin, in our ears and our hair. So we’re part of this community, but we’re not separate from the ecosystem. We’re part of the ecosystem inside of us and outside of us.
Dr. Campanile (41s):
And so we’ve evolved with all these things. So the more we adhere to, you know, a more seasonal, natural way of being, the healthier we’re going to be just, that’s just because that’s the natural way of being.
Welcome to Difficult Conversations Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Dr. Orsini is a practicing physician and president and CEO of the Orsini Way. As a frequent keynote speaker and author, Dr. Orsini has been training healthcare professionals and business leaders, how to navigate through the most difficult dialogues. Each week, you will hear inspiring interviews with experts in their field who tell their story and provide practical advice on how to effectively communicate. Whether you are a doctor faced with giving a patient bad news, a business leader who wants to get the most out of his or her team members or someone who just wants to learn to communicate better, this is the podcast for you.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (1m 40s):
Well, welcome to another episode of Difficult Conversations Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician. This is Dr. Anthony Orsini, and I’ll be your co-host again today, along with Elizabeth Poret-Christ, for those of you who are listening to the podcast, Elizabeth, as you know, is the director of programming here at the Orsini Way, and she’s been a guest on the podcast and a co-host several times. So we’re lucky to have her today. Today we have the honor of having two guests who happen to be married. Today, my guests are Dr. Sandra Cammarata and Dr. Giovanni Campanile put together, wrote the incredible book The Secret Sicilian Diet Plan in which they introduced the pleasure and wonderful health benefits of the Sicilian version of the Mediterranean Diet.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (2m 22s):
And they are both uniquely qualified to talk about how to live and eat healthy. Dr. Campanile is a Clinical and Functional Cardiologist and Founding Director of the Chambers Center for Well Being in Morristown, New Jersey. He’s a Harvard trained cardiologist who is board certified in five different specialties and subspecialties, including Cardiology, Internal Medicine, Interventional Cardiology, Integrative Medicine, and the Anti-Aging Regenerative Medicine. He’s also a researcher at the world renowned Framingham heart study. And with those qualifications, it’s no wonder that he was the cardiologist for former president of the United States. George HW Bush.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 3s):
Dr. Sandra Cammarata practices, Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Tufts University. She was born in Milan, Italy, but raised in Catania Sicily. She graduated Summa cum laude from Catania medical school, and then moved to the United States with her husband, Giovanni. This is no doubt, a smart family and two people who are uniquely qualified as I said earlier, to talk about this subject. Well, I want to thank both of you and thank Liz and thank all of you for being here together. I’m really excited to go ahead and talk about your book. It’s something that I’ve been reading and trying to follow. So I have a zillion questions for both of you, but I first want to say thank you for coming.
Dr. Campanile and Dr. Cammarata (3m 45s):
Thank you for having us.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 47s):
Thank you, Liz, for joining and also.
Liz Poret-Christ (3m 49s):
It’s my pleasure.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 50s):
Fantastic. This is a really exciting topic. I’ve been looking forward to this. Liz knows Dr. Campanile for a while, right? Liz, Dr. Campanile is your cardiologist?
Liz Poret-Christ (3m 59s):
Dr. Anthony Orsini (3m 60s):
Awesome. We were pretty lucky if I was in New Jersey, he’d be mine too, but I’m no longer there. And so Liz put us together. I read the book. It’s been absolutely amazing. I think I’m doing a pretty good job. I love the concept because it’s so easy. But before we get into the book, let’s just get the audience to get to know each of you personally, so that they get to know you
Dr. Campanile (4m 20s):
Well, hello and thank you for having us. I’m a traditionally trained cardiologist. I trained up in Boston and I was a very active interventional cardiologists putting stents in many patients every year. And I had the good fortune early on in my career to meet the Dr. Joseph Pizzorno. Who’s the president of Bastyr university. And one of the foremost authorities on naturopathic medicine in the world. And he and I worked together to create a program, to teach natural pathic medicine, to allopathic physicians. And that’s how I learned about the incredible benefits of things we don’t learn about in medical school, nutrition and lifestyle. And it became apparent to me when I was doing all these stents that unfortunately these poor patients, you know, it’s a completely preventable disease having coronary disease that make you get heart attacks, stents, bypass surgery.
Dr. Campanile (5m 12s):
These are life altering events that is completely preventable. I then had the good fortune of meeting Dr. Dean Ornish, who a well-known researcher. And I started the reversal heart disease program for Atlantic health for the east coast. And we saw firsthand how lifestyle medicine or lifestyle changes can actually reverse disease. And then Sandra and I, my wife, we spent many years traveling and interviewing people in Sicily. And we found that the Sicilians who live a very good Mediterranean diet type of lifestyle, I have a great health span.
Dr. Campanile (5m 52s):
And that means that the health span is really the goal for all of us. And that’s the elimination of disease at the end of your life, where longevity is based on not having certain diseases and the most common diseases that affect Americans are diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, which are very much diet related or lifestyle related and very much prevented. So Sandra is a psychiatrist. I’m a cardiologist. We both use nutrition significantly in our practices. And we found that our patients benefited from it greatly. The Mediterranean diet in particular is very good for health promotion and The Sicilian version that’s on the we’ll talk more about of the Mediterranean diet is a very unique version of the Mediterranean Diet.
Dr. Campanile (6m 38s):
So we decided to write a book and you know, this led to The Secret Sicilian Diet Plan.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (6m 43s):
And the book is excellent. We’ll talk about that a second. So Sandra, from being from Italy, boy, how was that growing up? Italy and Catania. And how old were you when you finally came over?
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (6m 52s):
I came over when I graduated medical school when I was 24. And then I started my residency at Tufts, like you said. So it was a big change, was a dramatic change, especially in the culture of food and nutrition. And realizing, asking my patients, especially in working with children about family, that they had disappeared completely. Occasionally people have a one Sunday family dinner, not always. And the excuse is always, I don’t have time and there’s four, everybody’s all over the place. We don’t have the same schedule. And because I know that we have our family, we have, our kids would both work full time and we still managed to have dinners every night in spite of our kids sports.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (7m 38s):
I know that it’s doable with that. I’m not saying that it is easy and requires a lot of plans and requires a lot of understanding of what are the goals or why are we doing this? Which is the most important message to give to people. Why do we want to promote eating healthy, eating together, preparing meals together and sharing it together. It is all part of what we call a diet. The Greeks called the diet diet, which means lifestyle. That is what we’re promoting. Something that involves all these things. There are five things that help us do live long, healthy diets, healthy sleep, exercise, connecting with others, and the ability to stay in the present, learning how to meditate and stay present.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (8m 29s):
That’s probably the hardest one.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (8m 31s):
Eating and staying present is also very difficult.
Liz Poret-Christ (8m 35s):
I’ve tried to meditate, not so good. I last about 10 seconds and I’m off something that,
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (8m 40s):
Well, that is good 10 seconds. And I think that is the most important thing to remind ourselves. 10 seconds is good being present for 10 seconds. You have connected with yourself first, but if you can connect also with the taste, the flavors, the time that is spent with that, then you really connect not just with yourself, but with your health, with yourselves, with your genes, with your ancestors and with your future.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (9m 6s):
I can really relate to the Sunday dinners. Until I moved two and a half hours away from my father’s from Newark, New Jersey. My grandparents live there Sunday afternoon family dinner was a non-negotiable item. Even after I got married, like that was, you were going to be at your grandmothers. I remember growing up going, but why does it have to be at two o’clock? I don’t know if your family did that, but we used to have Sunday dinner at three o’clock and The big compromise when we started to get busy as my grandmother, like really compromised and agreed to do dinner at three, we can have a little bit longer, but you went to mass, you came home, you had a little snack.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (9m 48s):
You know, those days you couldn’t eat before you had the host.
Dr. Campanile (9m 50s):
It was the same with us. It was non-negotiable. And I think this is a very important point. You’re making, because it’s not just diet. It’s how we live our lives. And that getting together with family and friends is very important. It’s a connection in Italy. It’s almost unheard of for families, especially in Sicily and Southern Italy to eat dinner on the run like we do here in America. I mean, everyone gets together for mid-day meal and then a dinner at night, you always get together. And that connection, this has been looked at in the reversal of heart disease research. That’s one of the pillars of reversal of heart disease. So it’s a very powerful effect to be connected with other people.
Dr. Campanile (10m 30s):
But if you don’t have that, you can’t get a reversal of heart disease, which is kind of interesting.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (10m 35s):
Really great. So Sandra, so you grew up with this way of eating in Sicily. What are you aware of growing up that this was healthy and then as you became a physician, when did you make that connection of like, wow, this is the key. Was that after you met Giovanni, like when did you put that two and two together about how healthy The Sicilian diet is?
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (10m 54s):
Well, yeah, I think coming to America opened my eyes to the difference. That is pretty dramatic difference. The amount of snacks, how big the portions are, how big the drinks are, how much food is constantly pushed that even when you’re done eating, there is a constant let’s stop here and have the parents bring a snack with, as we can move two minutes without having a snack. And so I started to become a little bit overwhelming this idea of food, of always present that the touch with season, the seasonality of food here was lost. I will walk into a supermarket and get completely confused that I didn’t realize that when the spring and when the summer we have everything here in Italy it is changing too, unfortunately.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (11m 44s):
But when I grew up, I was clear, you ate only in season. And I think one interesting thing writing the book that we discover is that there are many reasons where lead in season one is because of course the nutrients are at the richest in season, but also we discovered that when you eat in season, our body absorbs and utilize the foods differently and prepares for the new foods too come. And so we make the change. We make the physiological change to welcome tomatoes in the summer,
Dr. Campanile (12m 16s):
Genetically for hundreds of thousands of years, maybe millions of years, we’ve evolved with the plants around us. Having packaged foods or fast foods is a very recent thing. We’re not genetically set up for that. We’re more genetically set up to have this dirurnal variation, seasonal variations in what we do. And it’s very much connected to one of the things we talk about is the microbiome inside our body. And so our microbiomes, that’s the good, friendly organisms microorganisms that live inside our guts on our skin, in our ears and our hair and our, and so we’re part of this community, but we’re not separate from the ecosystem. We’re part of the ecosystem inside of us and outside of us.
Dr. Campanile (12m 56s):
And so we’ve evolved with all these things. So the more we adhear too, you know, a more seasonal, natural way of being the healthier we’re going to be. That’s just because that’s the natural way of being.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (13m 9s):
Liz. And I have had several talks about this different diets and eating healthy, et cetera. I know Liz is very health conscious, so I’ll ask her to weigh in on this. But even as a physician, I’ve been so confused about what the hell is healthy to eat and how I should eat. As you get older, you put on a couple of pounds a year in doing less exercise and busy, but you know, you read Atkins diet, right? Oh my goodness. You know, you can’t have any carbohydrates. If I’m not mistaken, that Atkins die of a myocardial infarction. I think
Dr. Campanile (13m 39s):
He slipped on the ice and died and I had a subdural hematoma, but they did an autopsy and he had severe triple vessel coronary disease.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (13m 46s):
Yeah. So I have a sister-in-law who hasn’t eaten a carbohydrate, I think in 10 years.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (13m 51s):
That is really sad that just to hear that, to deprive ourselves of carbohydrates for 10 years,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (13m 58s):
Yeah. You read the Atkins book and the average person reads it. Even someone who’s got a medical background. So it kind of makes sense. And then you read another book and there’s all these fad diets and you throw your hands up after a while and go, I don’t know what
Dr. Campanile (14m 12s):
Well, that’s one of the reasons why we wrote the book is because our position on this is more, let’s see what populations have done over the years, rather than studies because nutritional studies are notoriously bad studies that they’re based on questionnaires. For instance, eggs, you know, one-week eggs are good one week they’re bad. There are some good nutritional studies, but very few. And that’s a very hard thing to study because there’s so many variables that affect nutrition. So what we look at is your populations. We’ve probably heard of the blue zones in the world that have people live long and well, and this is the sort of research we look at is like, what do populations do that?
Dr. Campanile (14m 55s):
And how have they done well with the traditions that have been passed down from their ancestors? And this is where The Sicilian version of the Mediterranean diet or any Mediterranean diet is very important because these are traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation. What works well has been captured. It doesn’t work well, has been admitted. And so people live well with this kind of diet, for whatever reason, because we don’t know everything. You know, we try to make things very elemental because in America, that’s what we look at. We want a silver bullet. You don’t want to take a vitamins. We don’t want to do the work that’s necessary. I always tell my patients like everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die to get there. But it takes a little bit of work to think about this.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (15m 38s):
There’s not just to think about it. It’s to plan it, correct? Then, and it takes work to correct it and also to understand what is nutrition, like you said, with all the confusion that comes from all these diet. So I think we’re Giovanni was saying very well is that we don’t need to rediscover. We need to get in touch with the knowledge that we already have and understand the why this is good knowledge, actually, that we don’t need to try and try again. So balance carbohydrates, a very important than necessary for the brain health and necessary for overall health. And we know that whole grains, we know that beans that we know all the legumess in general do help, but to maintain a healthy and balanced diet and prevent cancer, prevent the diabetes, prevent hypertension, prevent Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (16m 27s):
We know all of this already, so we don’t need to eliminate carbohydrates. We need to know which carbohydrates are the healthy carbohydrates to eat.
Dr. Campanile (16m 36s):
The bottom line is that we very much believe in a quality diet. Your food has to be the highest quality can possibly be without eliminating any macronutrients. So that’s what a lot of people want to do. They want to eliminate one macronutrient or increase a different macronutrient in The Sicilian version of the Mediterranean diet. We eat everything. You eat everything, but you eat saturated fats. We know in high quantities, for instance are not good for you, but in small quantities are actually okay. You can eat saturated fats in small quantities. Fish is tremendously beneficial and a lot of vegetables, a lot of fruits and legumes, and these are the basics of a Mediterranean diet.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (17m 15s):
And when we did our study on dairy, you know, we went deeper and deeper because it’s probably one of the most controversial topic, you know, a dairy in or out that we discover. Again, there are certain saturated fat, so it actually good. And the whole milk and whole, yogurt, especially very good studies in preventing diabetes and inflammation and chronic illness. So again, everything in moderation, everything in good balance is very good.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (17m 43s):
Liz, you’ve got your health challenges. And so how much of you use what Dr. Campanile is taught you to help you recover from your challenges? And you’re pretty healthy at this point. And tell us about how you first met Dr. Campanile and why you thought this was awesome.
Liz Poret-Christ (17m 59s):
So I’m going to back up just for a second and say that I’m so glad that we’re talking about this because there’s so much misinformation around about how to eat healthy, how to avoid certain health conditions. In my family, my daughter has cystic fibrosis and is on a very high, fat diet. So growing up, we always had family dinners with our children and Belle’s a twin and family dinners were very important to us. So we always managed to work around their school schedules, but Belle’s need to maintain her weight and gain weight was always such a struggle. She did ultimately wind up getting a G-tube when she was eight, but we only use that for supplemental calories, but what kind of nutrition we gave her was always very challenging.
Liz Poret-Christ (18m 43s):
Yes, it was easy to go to McDonald’s and get her some French fries to get the fat in, but was that the best thing for her overall health? So now as a college athlete, she plays lacrosse and she doesn’t have the G-tube anymore as of a couple of weeks ago, which is amazing, but she’s really concerned about how to maintain her weight and actually increase her weight during the season because she’s working out six days a week. So there’s a lot of talk in our family about what foods are healthy, what foods are unhealthy and how to maximize every little bit of nutrition that you do put in your body. She said, you know, mom, I really don’t feel good when I drink soda. So I said, well, that’s easy stop drinking soda.
Liz Poret-Christ (19m 24s):
So some of those conversations, but for myself, as, as Dr. Orsini mentioned, I’ve had two different types of cancer. First, a blood cancer that is recurring and a breast cancer diagnosis a couple of years ago, and really started for myself to look at ways that I could make sure that I remain healthy and there so much misinformation, can you eat meat? Can’t you eat meat? Can you have dairy? And there’s so much conflicting information. Does sugar feed cancer? Does sugar not be cancer? But through my amazing team of physicians like Dr. Campanile, like my hematologist who keep bringing up things like the Mediterranean diet. And I happened to love to cook, and I love to feed people.
Liz Poret-Christ (20m 6s):
And I love to have people in my kitchen. It’s been a really great way for me to incorporate the lifestyle that I love with the health changes of trying to make and bring in more of that Mediterranean Sicilian kind of cooking. But it’s really hard to know where to start. So I guess my question to you would be, if someone’s starting on trying to focus more on their health and start on this journey, where do they begin?
Dr. Campanile (20m 33s):
First of all, the Mediterranean diet, a Sicilian Mediterranean diet. It’s not a low fat diet. There are good amount of fats, but more good fats. I like polyunsaturated monounsaturated fats from olive oil and nuts and seeds and things of that sort. In fact, I don’t know if you’ve heard about the pre med trial, which is a, one of the only really randomized trials on the Mediterranean diet. It was done in Spain and they gave one group is randomized one group, a Mediterranean style diet. The other group, a normal diet in Spain, which is more Mediterranean to begin with than American diet is anyway. And they increased olive oil and nuts basically in this diet.
Dr. Campanile (21m 15s):
And there was greater than a 30% reduction in stroke rate and diabetes and heart disease. And the amount of fat these people were eating was about 40% of their calories was good fats, as opposed to the Institute of medicine recommending in America, that we no more than 25% fat. So this idea of fat, you know, it depends on what kind of fat you’re in. So it’s an important question because olive oil, you know, many, many different polyphenols and other substances in olive oil or in other, in avocado and nuts, nuts have a lot of fiber and Omega three. So the quality of the food is very important. If you eat what we call nutrition, core foods are empty calories and you get fat.
Dr. Campanile (21m 58s):
That’s deleterious. If on the other hand, you’re eating these good fats with all the other associated good components in these foods, then you’re augmenting your food. I’ve talked about a concept called nutritional intelligence. The reason why we eat is because we have to nourish ourselves. And when we get enough of the good nourishment from energy, rich foods, we stop eating. It’s a satiating effect. This is one of the reasons why there’s obesity is that when you eat empty calories, you just eat more and more. Your body’s looking for the nutrition. So you’re eating more and more like you could eat a lot of chips and you’re not getting a lot of nutrition. So there’s this over reliance on empty calories.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (22m 35s):
And you were talking about cancer, then very good studies on that. Extra-virgin olive oil and cancer prevention. So very good anti cancerogenic effective extra-virgin olive oil.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (22m 47s):
So we were talking about what is The Sicilian diet? I think you pretty much covered what The Sicilian diet is, but do you want to just kind of describe it again for those people that are listening?
Dr. Campanile (22m 58s):
Yeah. The Sicilian diet is a little bit different, but Sandra can explain it better than that.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (23m 2s):
It’s a little bit different because it’s the true unique fusion cuisine. So Sicily, because it’s at the center of the Mediterranean world that the umbilical Mundi the belly bottom of the world that was invaded by everybody.
Dr. Campanile (23m 18s):
Romans is to call it umbilicus Monday, the belly button of the world.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (23m 21s):
Yeah. My grandfather was from Naples and he used to say, yeah, if anybody was bored in the afternoon, they would just go ahead and conquer Sicily because there’s been so much
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (23m 29s):
Exactly that’s it that’s exactly what happened. But what The Sicilian did very well muscularly is that they understood what was the food that was good, the recipes that were exciting to them and they incorporated them. So they never let go of what they already knew how to cook and incorporated every cuisine that came into their lives.
Dr. Campanile (23m 48s):
And this is because there’s about 22 countries in the Mediterranean basin. And most of these countries invaded and occupied Sicily for hundreds of years at a time. So it made a big difference on the cuisine.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (23m 59s):
So I do believe that everybody has a piece of Sicily in them and the genetically, we all have a piece of Sicily in us because of this melting pot. But again, what they did very well is using all the recipes and the most important thing. So when the Spanish, the Jews, the Arabs invaded that they all brought their food culture. And so they mix everything together. And now we have these foods and these dishes that are really unique to Sicily, they are not present anywhere else and they always eat in seasons. And so it is unique. You can eat healthy, you can eat tasteful food, but because you can not keep a diet, unless there is taste to it is not possible.
Dr. Campanile (24m 41s):
That’s what we feel about The Sicilian version of the Mediterranean diet that it say uniquely delicious and diversified food because of these influences and the French influence. You could tell the story about how the French brought in their cooks.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (24m 57s):
It was actually during the Spanish invasion in the Spanish aristocracy, brought the French cooks into their lives and the French cooks or were called and in Sicilian then become monsieur. And the monsieur lived in chord and The Sicilian aristocracies or courts. And they had the women from the peasants women. They cooked together. So they used to have peasants and the shoulder with the raisins and pine nuts and herbs. And of course that was way too expensive for the peasants to have a, so they will go home and have sardines that’s the fish that they had. They had tons of it.
Dr. Campanile (25m 36s):
Instead of making stuffed birds, they made stuffed sardines because that was the local food.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (25m 41s):
I still make it as one of the favorite. And they’re called
Dr. Campanile (25m 47s):
Sarde a Beccafico. Sarde a Beccafico is the bird. Wow. So you got this dish at a restaurant and it’s called Sarde a Beccafico, made the bird way or Beccafico. And you wonder why, that’s why.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (26m 2s):
So for those of you out there, the book, what I love about the book, and you could pretty much read this book in one day because it reads so quickly, but also it’s just, you can’t put it down, but at the beginning of the book is really hardcore references. So it’s fact to what I liked about it is that you present what The Sicilian diet is. You mentioned that I think there’s more centenarians in Siciliy than anywhere else, or their life span is so long. And then you really get into what the diet is, what it is. And then I just tried to the page. Now you actually give specific what the eats, oh, you got day one through day 30, which is, was beautiful. And I’m reading here day one for instance, is for breakfast that tells you what the have and granola with some fruit and coffee and a little bit of dairy, and then as a little snack of yogurt.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (26m 50s):
So it’s really nutrition that your mother and grandmother taught you way back then that unprocessed foods are healthy and grains and legumes and everything fresh is better than everything processed. I mean, is that a fair summation of the whole diet?
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (27m 5s):
Well, again, growing up in Sicily, no one ate anything that came from any boxes. Maybe the pasta box is the only box that was allowed to be open when we didn’t make it at home. So there was no concept of anything and people will walk her to the store every single day. So you get your bread and you get your meat and you get your fish and you get your produce. And sometimes twice a day, he will go and get whatever you need it. So everything couldn’t be more fresh than it was. And now we know that even when we buy organic salads, pre-washed how long do those salads last? If you look at that, there’s an impossibility salad that has been picked, washed and chopped to last that long, unless there is some processing happening.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (27m 52s):
And so by the time you eat that salad has lost up to 50, 60% of the nutrition value. So that is the other important things, walk to a farmer’s market when you can, when you have a next to you, because the nutrition value is significant higher, and you eating in season most likely because that’s what the farmers are going to bring, whatever they have.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (28m 16s):
And little simple things. After I read your book, I still have pasta on Sundays. That’s just something that we’ve done my whole life So for the first time last week I bought whole wheat pasta. I never even thought about it before. And I’m like, Hey, it doesn’t really taste that much different. It’s fine. And it’s so much healthier. You mentioned ancient grainn pasta in Europe, like assume that’s the same thing or is that different?
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (28m 37s):
Well, it’s a little bit different. It’s a little bit less grainy than the whole week pasta. So if you find the farro pastor in our spelled the pasta or comment past that, there’s a little bit less grainy. And again, if you’d want to spend a little bit of time on a Sunday to make you pasta that, and you find the flower it’s very easy. Or if you put 80% of a Cama, those spouts and a 20%, whole wheat flour to make a delicious pasta and pasta is actually one of the healthiest things that you can eat, because all these flowers have a lot of protein actually in it. And if you eat the whole grain, the amount of minerals, present and fibers presence, and much higher.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (29m 17s):
And we have to remember that when we want to feed our healthy microbiome, the healthy bacteria, they feed in fibers. So the more fibers we put in, the more the multiply, they break down the fibers they multiply, and
Dr. Campanile (29m 31s):
Most people are not gluten intolerant, but some people are, and we recently made a buckwheat pasta, buckwheat. It is a gluten-free and it was great. So you can even be gluten free, even though we don’t think most people need to be gluten free. Gluten has been eaten for thousands of years. It’s not necessary to be, but if you really are gluten intolerance or you have celiac disease where you really can’t have gluten in any way, there are options. Some newer pastas are great. You know, they’re made out of beans. They’re made out of lentils. They’re made out of all sorts of things. You know, I mentioned the blue zones before in Sardinia, Italy, the longest living men in the world are inserted in Italy, in the mountains and their diet is 70% grains.
Dr. Campanile (30m 12s):
So the idea that grains are in and of themselves are bad for you is, is probably not true. It’s the quality of the grains. That’s really important. If you have processed grains with a lot of modifications and things like that, then they’re probably not good for it. And that goes for any food, any food that’s processed as hormones has antibiotics use to it, it’s probably not the best food for you. So the sourcing of your food is super important.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (30m 40s):
You mentioned how physicians and medical students are not trained on really nutrition, integrative medicine, which you are is now. We had Michelle Neier on and Integrative Medicine is becoming more and more popular now. But you know, I can just tell you from my own personal view, my father who’s just turned 80. He’s got diabetes. He gets different nutritional advice from every single doctor he goes to. So I’ll tell him one thing, you know, he’s actually, he’s monitoring his sugar all the time, and he’s always trying to make sense of why is it high? Why is it low, this and that. But his family practitioner is telling him one diet. And is w when I tell you a diet, I’m telling you like the entire nutritional advice by some of these doctors is don’t eat carbs.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (31m 24s):
That’s the whole advice. And I think he’s very confused because the cardiologist is telling him one thing, the family doctor’s telling him something else, he’s got a son chirping in his ear. Of course he hasn’t listened to me. I mean, I don’t know how it’s like, You know, every family member, I don’t know if it’s like every family member calls me up with advice and then doesn’t take it. And we’re like, well, why are you bothering me?
Dr. Campanile (31m 45s):
My mother did the same thing with me.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (31m 47s):
Your mother will ask you a question. You’ll answer it medically. And then she’ll do, because the lady two doors down told her something different. She decided to go with her. But instead that’s the way my mother,
Dr. Campanile (31m 57s):
Once I told my mother to take a baby aspirin, and then I took it to the doctor with me, and that doctor said she should take a baby aspirin when she turns around and see how smart he is. It’s the only thing that be.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (32m 9s):
Yeah. That’s so funny. Yeah. So nobody ever listens, but then again, well, I guess the two of you are both physicians, but the same thing goes with spouses, right? Like your spouse, like
Dr. Campanile (32m 17s):
My spouse never listens. Oh, okay. She’s a
Dr. Anthony Orsini (32m 20s):
Doctor. She already knows. So the great thing about the book for those people out there is that it really has a nice basis to let you understand what good nutrition is. It makes sense because it’s what you innately think that it would be, it gives you these specific, like what eat on the first 30 days. And of course she changed that around. And then Sandra has her recipes, which is really good. I’m not trying to endorse any particular place, but there’s some supermarket chains that pride themselves on healthy food. Do you have any recommendations for finding some of these healthy stuff? Like when I went to Publix, for instance, you know, I’ve found whole wheat pasta, but I didn’t find the other, couldn’t find faro any recommendations on where you shop or the best way to get all these healthy foods.
Dr. Campanile (33m 5s):
The Sandra can tell you about where shopping, but just before we get there, we’re when we’re talking about the quality of the food, especially plants, we have to understand that the quality of the nutrition in plants comes from the soil. That it’s really the quality of the soil. That makes the difference in the quality of the food. You know, organic is one thing where it’s clean. It doesn’t have pesticides in it, but that doesn’t really necessarily tell you the nutrient content of the food. What you really want to know is does this plant, or this food come from a nutrient rich environment. Our son is a pharrmaculture farmer in North Carolina. He went to medical school for two years, hated it. And that was a pharmaculture farmer.
Dr. Campanile (33m 47s):
And that basically he creates quality soil. There’s a picture. I show some of my patients, some of these factory farms, the soil is like an inch thin, but there’s really just an inch of soil, nothing to it. The roots of the plants are like a couple of inches thick while in nature, if you look at plants like our wild plants, the roots go down like 10 feet. So they have a picture of a man standing next to the roots of a wild plant, and then a picture of these factory farms. And this has been studied vegetables and fruit from the 1950s had maybe five to 10 times more nutrient density than our plants from today, from some of these factories for a variety of reasons, you know, tilling of the soil, the soil is depleted.
Dr. Campanile (34m 31s):
So the best way to find good food is to, and we endorse finding good local farms where you get to know where the food comes from. And that way you support these local farmers that are having a hard time trying to make quality foods, or you go to a good supermarket or a farmer’s market like Sandra, we’ll talk to you about
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (34m 51s):
The most markets for produce absolutely less than most direct source of good produce a bed. When you’re looking for grains. When you’re looking for flowers, depends on where you live here in the Northeast, we have much more selection. I’m sure you know, is present in Florida. So it’s easier for us to find a hygiene green past ancient grains, flowers, ancient grains in general, at most supermarkets and whole foods, traders, Joe, they have more variety of that. And of course there is always, you know, I don’t want to get into the politics of ordering from Amazon. They have a lot of variety of things available, even organic ancient grain pastas.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (35m 31s):
I like that because I mean, most people are listening here going, this is phenomenal, but also everyone in the United States, especially everybody’s so busy. So to make their own pots sounds great. But most of the time they have kids in little league and they’re running all over the place and they work. So to be able to have that ancient grain pasta there and be all, throw that in and maybe make some sauce or gravy as my grandmother would call it, you know, be able to start that up real quickly. Most of your recipes are actually very quick.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (36m 0s):
Well, that’s what I did. I changed the longer version into a much faster version and still trying to preserve the taste of the food, which you know, was a challenge. But I think it’s okay. The taste is still preserved without necessarily doing the longer version.
Liz Poret-Christ (36m 17s):
So my guilty pleasure is I love to watch Stanley Tucci searching Italy. I kind of like all the time and like every time I’m watching it, I’m like if only I could cook like that, if only I could find those fresh ingredients. And I think as I’m finding new, I like to look for new recipes and just make them on a whim. And I think that being more mindful, like you can make my kids just recently made fresh pasta with a friend and they made enough so that we could all have some in the freezer. So if you do embark on that journey and you do take the time to make it make enough so that you can have it again in a short amount of time. So that’s what we did. And it was great. But I think it’s just a question of planning a little bit better in your recipe, endeavors, like so that you can find the things,
Dr. Campanile (37m 1s):
But one of the fun things to do with your family, it like with the kids is one of the recipes is what’s called caponata. And I think that’s a Arabic origin. Isn’t too. So it’s a,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (37m 11s):
This is an exclusive then it’s not in the book. Okay. So exclusive on this episode,
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (37m 15s):
W we have a come up with a YouTube channel with all these recipes and step by including this one, The various
Dr. Anthony Orsini (37m 25s):
Ones are coming up
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (37m 26s):
Very soon in the next few weeks or so,
Dr. Anthony Orsini (37m 29s):
We’ll get that in the show notes too. So people have a direct link to that, but
Dr. Campanile (37m 33s):
We have a podcast and we’re coming out with a YouTube channel and the
Dr. Anthony Orsini (37m 38s):
Podcast for everybody, The
Dr. Campanile (37m 40s):
Sicilian Secret Diet.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (37m 41s):
Sicilian, secret diet, I definitely want to listen.
Dr. Campanile (37m 44s):
Spotify and Apple.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (37m 45s):
Okay. Yeah. So tell us about the caponata. We never got to that.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (37m 50s):
That is a very exciting dish that they used to be done. Get all the fresh ingredients in the summer, tomatoes, onions, peppers, eggplants, and then add pine nuts and raisins in it, olives. And you mix everything together, all these add capers, all these together. So the power of antioxidants in there is just dramatic. It’s a super food. Now, the way they did it in Sicily is that they fried every single ingredient separately. Then they mix it together and then they did the agrodolce sauce with the vinegar and sugar, and then add it to the final, in a mixture of all these ingredients and let it evaporate.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (38m 34s):
And then you left it with this delicious creamy sour and sweet sauce. Now I created a different version where you actually makes it you chop it, mix it all together. You just rotate the onions, add the tomato to the onions for a couple of minutes, and then chop all the ingredients, put everything together with olive oil, salt, pepper, and then put in the oven together for 45 minutes at 375 degrees stiring it, occasionally. And the last 10, 15 minutes, you add the vinegar with the sugar and increase the temperature a little bit to 400 ways and let it evaporate. And it is, you know, absolutely delicious.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (39m 17s):
Okay. So the, my last question before we end is, so what do you say about the person who’s, you know, obesity is huge in the United States, 30%. I think I read something like that. It’s crazy.
Dr. Campanile (39m 28s):
Dr. Anthony Orsini (39m 28s):
I think these fat diets are popular because they’re all promising to lose five to 10 pounds a week and doing all this stuff, but they’re super unhealthy. What do you say to people want to use this diet to lose weight? Will they naturally lose weight? Do they have to just add exercise or eat a little bit less? What would you say about how we can use this diet to lose weight.
Dr. Campanile (39m 48s):
Our feeling about the diet. It’s not really a diet. First of all, this is a way of eating. It’s a lifestyle part of a lifestyle. And again, we have nutritional intelligence and we don’t like the idea of counting calories. The portion size is, and the amount of food you eat depends on how active you are. If you’re a professional athlete versus an executive, you’re going to require different caloric intake, your body should adjust naturally. And what we find is that’s what happens if you’re used to the standard American diet or the sad diet where you’re eating a lot of fast food, you’re eating a lot of empty calories. Your taste buds actually change at a time. Plus you have to give yourself time to get adjusted to a newer way of eating.
Dr. Campanile (40m 27s):
Once that happens, then you really enjoy this way of eating and then your body naturally adjusts to where you should be. I don’t think the body mass index is a great measure of body composition, but you know, we see your weights go to where you should be. And that’s been a very frequent finding that we’ve had
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (40m 47s):
And studies that support the diet or maintain your weight loss. If you lose about 10% of your total weight in a year, people that lose faster than that tend to regain the weight.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (41m 0s):
Well, I believe that.
Dr. Campanile (41m 1s):
So I always tell my patients half a pound a week, which is doable is 25 pounds at the end of the year. You know, you really have to be on that trajectory. You don’t have to worry about drastically losing weight over a short period of time, which it’s probably not a healthy thing to do to begin with.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (41m 15s):
And also to try to think about maintaining portion control seven days a week, including holidays is hard. So we, you can of course enjoy you piece of cake, enjoy your ice cream, but maybe be mindful that if you’re going to have ice cream for lunch, you might want to reduce a little bit your carbs for dinner and just be mindful of that, that just to know where you’re eating throughout the day and where your body has taken in throughout the day.
Dr. Campanile (41m 43s):
The idea is that this is like a Mediterranean diet pyramid, the bottom of the pyramid, which is bare. You eat a lot of vegetables, a lot of fruits, olive oil, nuts and dairy, occasionally poultry like chicken, occasionally once or twice a week, meat, maybe once or twice a month, fish frequently, at least two times a week. Each fish because the omega-3 content of fish is excellent. You know, the acronym that I usually tell my patients is smashed salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardine, and herring. Those are fish that are very high in omega-3 very low in mercury and there’s studies that have come out recently showing that regardless of the mercury, the fish promotes health.
Dr. Campanile (42m 25s):
So it’s good to eat fish. And that’s where a lot of the animal protein in the diet comes from is from fish. And then Sandra is a psychiatrist. She sees some remarkable effects from mental health,
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (42m 37s):
Depression, and anxiety is now as being highly correlated to diet and inflammation the same way, any other chronic illnesses and, you know, bipolar schizophrenia, everything has been related to low vitamin D deficiency, omega three deficiencies, lots of other vitamins and minerals that deficiency, but also inflammation. So if we can reduce inflammation, good sleep exercise, connecting to others and definitely diet. And there’s been a very large study was done in England, over 6,000 children. The children that eight to five servings of fruits and vegetables were happier than the children that did not.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (43m 21s):
So the over level of happiness increased with the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten on a regular basis.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (43m 30s):
Wow. So really this is really a life-changing book for me. I’m so glad that Liz introduced us and that we can get you on the podcast and reach more people. I’m looking forward to your YouTube. I’ll put a plug in to maybe add somewhere a shopping list, or I want a shopping list from you. So I can go the store really easily and do that. And I’m anxious to see all the other stuff that you’re coming out in the podcast is something that we’ll learn from every day. Liz, before we close off anything you want to say or,
Liz Poret-Christ (43m 57s):
So I think we need a part two to talk about when we’ve been on a diet for awhile, what’s happened to kind of have a backup, but my real quick question is when you talk about chicken and meat, there are so many options. Now there’s organic. There’s grass fed. There’s no hormone added. Like what is the thing that people that are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle? What should they be looking for when they’re purchasing meats and chicken?
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (44m 21s):
So the same way we we’re talking about know your sources, correct? The know where your chicken comes from, know where you meat comes from. And so you want the grass fed the grass finished. And the differences when they say grass fed the animal could have been grass fed only for five weeks, four weeks. That will be enough to put as a grass fed animal. But a grass finished is an animal that most likely has been really truly outside. And most of its life has enjoyed its life. And has that not being grown too fast to push, to grow up too fast?
Dr. Campanile (44m 59s):
Yeah. You want the animals that have enjoyed their lives and had one bad day.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (45m 1s):
That’s a really bad day.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (45m 8s):
And when you do have that piece of meat, eat with gratitude all the time, every time you eat that something that was alive and now it’s there for you to eat experience and express your gratitude. But also remember small portions, always meat can be beneficial, has a lot of nutrition also, but when you eat too much, our body don’t like it.
Dr. Campanile (45m 29s):
And the fish too. I mean, if you’re going to have salmon, it’s good to have the wild salmon from Alaska because the last few quarters are still clean. The small fish and cans are actually pretty good. They’re not a lot of mercury. And if you like those fish like mackerel, sardines, anchovies, canned in a salad is great lunch. You know, as everything you need, the protein it’s got the omega-3 is it’s. You’ve got the fiber. So you were talking about your dad. This kind of diet is very high in fiber and fiber is key to either preventing or treating diabetes in the same amount of sugar taken without the whole food has a much different effect on the body. Then that same quantity, like in a fruit, like if you eat berries or you eat an apple, or if you eat the drink a can of soda with that same amount of sugar in it, that’s deleterious while the fruit has so much fiber in it that the sugar gets into your body slowly, the glycaemic index is low.
Dr. Campanile (46m 24s):
So it’s a completely different thing. So that’s why the whole food, natural vegetable fruit diet is much better for you.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (46m 32s):
And when your father’s doctor says don’t eat carbs is talking about carbs in general, he’s not talking about healthy carbs, actually reduce diabetes. They help diabetes.
Dr. Campanile (46m 43s):
Yeah. There’s been studies looking at legumes in diabetics and treating diabetics and reducing diabetes. So it’s, again, these are undigestible fibers that are in legumes that are extremely good for the microbiome and extremely good for lowering both cholesterol and blood sugar.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (47m 1s):
Well, they’re coming over for Sunday dinner tomorrow and he doesn’t realize it, but we’re going to be serving ancient grain pasta to him. So I’ll see if he notices, but I’m excited about that. Gio and Sandra, thank you so much for being on today. This has been great. We are going to do whatever we can to promote your book and to see if we can get people to start eating healthier. Again, I know Americans are probably the busiest people in the world, but I think it’s easy to accomodate your diet into their lives and without taking too much, At least some of the time I’ve been doing it for two weeks and it’s been the easiest thing in the world.
Dr. Campanile (47m 35s):
And again, we don’t have to do a hundred percent, but they do 70%. You’re already on the right track.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (47m 40s):
Yeah. I mean little things, I’m cooking more olive oil and I’m using, you know, there’s a lot of extra Virgin olive oil and these recipes, it’s almost everyone. So we stocked up on that and there’s a local shop around here that sells extra Virgin olive oil with infused and Basil and all kinds of other,
Dr. Campanile (47m 56s):
Yeah. Get the non-filtered unfiltered, cloudy type. That’s always better because that cloudiness is the really healthy polyphenols that you see really.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (48m 4s):
Okay. There you go. Great. Well, thanks so much for being on the name of the podcast. Again, is
Dr. Campanile (48m 9s):
The Sicilian Secret Diet
Dr. Anthony Orsini (48m 9s):
Sicilian Secret Diet . We’ll put that all on the show notes, the best way to get in touch with either one of you.
Dr. Campanile (48m 14s):
We have a website, The Sicilian Secret Diet.com and we have an Instagram, also The Sicilian Secret Diet.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (48m 21s):
Fantastic. We’re looking forward to the audience hearing about this and I’ll let you know how my father does with the ancient pasta.
Dr. Sandra Cammarata (48m 31s):
I love to hear that.
Liz Poret-Christ (48m 32s):
My book comes today and I’m so excited.
Dr. Anthony Orsini (48m 32s):
So great. If you enjoyed this podcast, please go ahead and hit subscribe, encourage your friends and family to go ahead and download previous episodes. If you want to get in touch with either Liz or I, you can reach either one of us at Orsini Way.com Gio, Sandra, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to teach us about good health.
Announcer (48m 54s):
If you enjoyed this podcast, please hit the subscribe button and leave a comment and review. To contact Dr. Orsini and his team, or to suggest guests for future podcast, visit firstname.lastname@example.org. The comments and opinions of the interviewer and guests on this podcast are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of their present and past employers or institutions.
Dr. Anthony Orsini
Dr. Sandra Cammarata
Dr. Giovanni Campanile
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Ep. 162 – December 27, 2021