Ethnic Communities' Council of NSW 02) 93190288 [email protected]
After studying centenarians all over the world, Mario Martinez has found that cultural and spiritual beliefs are more significant than genetics when it comes to health and longevity. He sits down with Steve Paikin to discuss how his theory can be applied in practice.
00:05
many of us attribute a long life to
00:08
healthy living and good genetics but
00:10
after studying centenarians all over the
00:13
world our next guest found that cultural
00:15
and spiritual beliefs play an even
00:17
bigger role in long-term health and
00:19
longevity than good genes here now to
00:22
tell us more Mario Martinez he is a
00:24
neuropsychologist and the author of the
00:27
mind-body code good to have you here at
00:29
Evo how are you doing well do you know
00:32
what city you are in
00:33
it’s I’m a little disoriented I’ve been
00:35
in Manila and naturally but I’m glad I’m
00:38
in Toronto you were in Toronto very good
00:39
you got the first answer correct well
00:41
let’s find out just a little bit about
00:43
you because you are you’re based in
00:45
Montevideo do we go to why and you’re
00:48
the founder of a theory called bio
00:49
cognitive science would you help us
00:52
understand a little more about what that
00:53
means yes I had to actually invent the
00:55
word because cognition looks at thinking
00:59
biology of course looks at our
01:01
biological processes and and I think
01:03
that they’re inseparable bio cognition
01:05
is really biology and cognition
01:07
inseparably working together but in
01:10
addition to that then there’s a culture
01:12
the culture component so it’s mind body
01:13
within a cultural context we can’t get
01:16
away from the culture so it was a
01:17
science that brought together areas that
01:20
they were not communicating with each
01:21
other psychoneuroimmunology BNI which
01:24
looks at how thoughts and emotions
01:25
affect the immune system and other
01:27
systems and then anthropology that looks
01:29
at cultural beliefs and so forth but
01:31
they weren’t really sharing their their
01:34
discoveries and and and the things that
01:36
they were contributing to the science so
01:38
it’s really a convergence of these these
01:40
fields let’s go through this how do you
01:42
think culture influences the body well
01:45
we were born to a culture we have a
01:47
medical culture we have a religious
01:49
culture for example people practicing
01:52
Catholicism here in Toronto are not the
01:54
same as people practicing it in in
01:56
Brazil so you’re born to a culture in
01:59
the United States the attribution to a
02:01
migraine is a vascular problem if you go
02:04
to UK as gastrointestinal you go to
02:06
France and it’s a patek liver so they
02:10
the culture really shapes the belief
02:12
systems and belief systems
02:13
the biology could you give us an example
02:16
of how bad cultural habits would have a
02:19
negative impact on the body okay
02:22
we are creating a I do quite a bit of
02:24
work with fortune 100 companies teaching
02:28
executives that they have created a an
02:30
organizational culture that actually
02:32
creates illnesses so in 75 percent of
02:35
successful leaders have gastrointestinal
02:38
problems what they do is that the the
02:40
body was made for ritualistically eating
02:44
they take their they take their iPhones
02:47
to lunch and they take their computers
02:49
to dinner and the immune nervous and
02:52
endocrine system don’t work that way
02:53
when you’re eating everything slows down
02:55
it speeds up the the appetite the
02:58
digestion but if you’re thinking of
03:01
who’s going to call you if you’re
03:02
concerned about something then you’re
03:03
speeding up your system and slowing down
03:06
the digestion so that kind of on and off
03:08
eventually turns into what people call
03:11
gastrointestinal problems then you treat
03:12
it with medication and you’re treating
03:14
the effect not the cost so the better
03:16
approach would be what if you eat you
03:18
eat without any any technology you don’t
03:21
watch television any because actually
03:23
the brain doesn’t know that it’s not
03:25
happening cognition knows but the brain
03:27
doesn’t know that so if you’re watching
03:28
a rape
03:29
you’re going to have cortisol and you’re
03:30
going to have hormones of stress that
03:32
are going to come out and it’s not
03:34
really the best context for for
03:37
digestion so the person who invented the
03:39
TV dinner has done more to ruin our
03:41
health than anybody I think so I think
03:43
they’ve done a major contribution did I
03:46
hear you right you said 75% of corporate
03:48
executives have gastrointestinal
03:49
problems yes yes and it’s really across
03:52
the board and so it’s astounding when
03:54
you when you think about it especially
03:56
the successful ones and one of the
03:58
things that I do is to teach them how to
04:00
really create what I call the proper
04:03
archetype the archetypes are basically
04:05
things that we have developed
04:07
ontologically we have for hundreds of
04:09
thousands of years we know that one
04:10
archetype the father works best with the
04:12
Son and the daughter but the father
04:14
doesn’t work well with a partner or with
04:17
a lover so when you mix archetypes your
04:19
your the biology is is turning off in a
04:23
way as if you were for example trying to
04:24
hammer something with that with a
04:26
screwdriver so
04:27
what we do is and we we take the warrior
04:29
to work and we bring it back and then we
04:31
deal with our children as warriors
04:32
rather than father mother those kinds of
04:35
things not only disrupt the family but
04:37
disrupt the health of the individual the
04:39
chronic illnesses that are caused by
04:41
these things are about 14 trillion
04:43
dollars a year it could feed the hungry
04:46
for the next 10 years rigorous that’s
04:48
how do you know that well from from the
04:50
statistics that are showing that the
04:52
total global production what the world
04:59
produces a seventy-four trillion dollars
05:02
quick and 14 trillion goes to the
05:06
treatment of chronic illnesses and in
05:08
health care even with companies that are
05:10
supposedly are having good health care
05:13
and good beautiful offices and good
05:17
salaries but the culturally
05:19
organizational culture that they build
05:21
which is for example you can get people
05:23
sick doing two things in an organization
05:25
give them a job with responsibilities
05:27
without Authority or give them a job
05:30
without meaning that’s what a lot of
05:32
corporations do because it’s a legacy
05:34
from rat psychology doesn’t work so when
05:37
you do that then what’s what’s happening
05:39
is the culture itself is making people
05:41
sick independent of all the wonderful
05:44
things that they’re getting the the
05:45
beautiful office and the childcare and
05:48
the good health care those things are
05:50
necessary but they’re not sufficient to
05:51
keep the health of other corporation
05:53
well I gather one of the fastest growing
05:55
demographics nowadays is centenarians
05:57
yes people who live to be a hundred and
05:59
you have studied these people and I
06:01
guess the conventional wisdom has always
06:03
been they live a long time because they
06:06
inherited good genes from their parents
06:07
that’s what I thought you’ve got some
06:09
other ideas there about 2,000
06:10
centenarians in Canada and some in
06:13
Saskatchewan and I believe that maybe a
06:16
couple in Toronto but an 80,000 in the
06:19
u.s. is a fastest growing segment of the
06:21
population in the u.s.
06:22
another place what I thought at first is
06:25
I would study a centenarian a 102 year
06:27
old person I would ask him what’s what’s
06:28
the secret and they will say well I have
06:30
some rum before I go to sleep and I
06:32
thought oh it’s got to be the quality of
06:34
the rum somebody else’s I have a cigar
06:36
what I found was at the ritual
06:38
independent of what they did the ritual
06:41
gave him an identity that had a
06:42
psychological value and then as I
06:45
continue to work with them all over the
06:47
world I found that that genetics is
06:49
really 35 percent the rest is the
06:52
culture beliefs that they have and what
06:54
do we do
06:54
culturally we put people away at
06:56
sixty-five neuropsychological now we
06:59
know that from 65 to 85 they have the
07:02
the most what would he call human
07:05
capital well-developed intellect a
07:09
emotional maturity tremendous knowledge
07:12
of what they do and yet they’re put away
07:13
and they go somewhere at the Florida to
07:15
watch the sunset and they live on the
07:17
average six years because of the lack of
07:19
meaning the brain was made to have
07:22
meaning and to have discovery not to go
07:24
watch a sunset use it or lose it that’s
07:26
right exactly
07:27
I’m curious as to how you were able to
07:29
quantify though that the 6535 you just
07:32
told us about a moment ago that 35% was
07:34
jeans and 65% was everything else well
07:37
because as I as I looked at their their
07:39
genetics genealogy and so forth that one
07:42
example would be one centenary at 102
07:45
you would ask him well how old was your
07:47
dad when he died 70 my mother 80
07:50
somebody else would say 50 so that’s
07:52
really the correlation came to about 35%
07:55
rather than what we think would be
07:57
genetics do most centenarians come from
08:00
a particular class or background no
08:02
that’s another thing that they cross
08:05
that that was thought that if they were
08:06
rural areas and they thought that by
08:08
being at the base of mountains lays the
08:10
minerals across cultures across those
08:14
economics more women than men but men
08:16
are catching up and the only thing about
08:19
it is that they’re no obese centenarians
08:21
but some of them are hefty and there’s
08:24
some research now is showing that people
08:25
that are and I’m not supporting this but
08:27
I’m just saying this is people who are
08:29
slightly overweight and are healthy
08:31
actually live longer than people who are
08:34
underweight yes so 40 so there’s a
08:36
there’s some new movements now in in the
08:40
studies of obesity that are really
08:42
interesting as well as what centenary
08:43
but you mentioned a moment ago somebody
08:45
who lived to be a hundred who has a
08:46
cigar every day yes nothing I wouldn’t
08:50
have thought there was anything remotely
08:52
healthy about having a cigar every day
08:54
is there well the thing about is that
08:56
moderation is the key if they many of
08:59
them smoke but they you don’t see them
09:01
smoking a cigar and then a cigar and
09:02
then you ask him I because I do a lot of
09:04
ethnographic kinds of things with them
09:06
and I said well are you gonna have
09:07
another one no no that’s all I need and
09:09
they may not even finish it it’s just
09:11
that they go into the moment and the
09:13
experience of the joy rather than doing
09:15
it automatically with the addictive
09:17
component of it okay so it’s a joyful
09:19
thing and when you do something joyfully
09:21
you don’t abuse it so you don’t abuse a
09:23
cigar you don’t abuse the the room that
09:26
they have or whatever it is very
09:27
moderate how if you got a ballpark
09:30
number of how many centenarians you
09:31
would have studied during the course of
09:33
your research about maybe about four
09:37
hundred four hundred would any of them
09:40
have been atheists yes there’s one
09:42
atheist Oscar Niemeyer Oh who just died
09:45
just died he was one of the few
09:47
exceptions that 99.9% have some
09:50
spiritual beliefs that’s another good
09:51
question so that’s not a coincidence I
09:53
guess no I don’t think it’s a
09:54
coincidence and I think part of it is
09:56
that let’s say that God doesn’t exist if
09:59
you believe that God exists it’s
10:01
healthier for you so you can’t lose this
10:06
is Flo bear’s wager okay so the but if
10:10
you want to lift a bit so are you
10:12
telling us if you want to live to be a
10:13
hundred it’s better that you believe in
10:14
God no no that you have some spiritual
10:16
belief that there’s something greater
10:17
than you and that spiritual belief could
10:19
be nature but there has to be something
10:21
greater than you so you get out of that
10:22
narcissism that I am the center of the
10:24
universe that’s what’s healthy and it
10:27
just happens in many centenarians by the
10:29
way or not very religious they’re
10:30
spiritual but not all of them are very
10:32
explain what the difference would be
10:34
there they don’t go to church every
10:35
Sunday they don’t pray but but they have
10:37
spiritual believes they believe that
10:39
that life doesn’t end when you die they
10:42
are they believe in God they they have
10:44
some sense of God some could be nature
10:47
some could be the accumulation of love
10:49
some could be a God that that helps have
10:52
been humanized but they have some belief
10:54
that that’s spiritual in the sense that
10:55
is a transcendental process do you break
10:58
it down even further to see which
10:59
percentage of the religious / spiritual
11:02
people actually are very observant go to
11:04
church tithe whatever
11:08
well actually there’s some research that
11:09
that’s been done and and at first it was
11:13
that well religious people are healthier
11:15
but then as you start cutting it down
11:17
and looking at the factors religious
11:19
people who have a relationship with a
11:22
God of love or L healthier not a people
11:24
have heard a relationship with a god of
11:26
fear interesting so it’s a I’m afraid to
11:30
ask to follow up but I will who would
11:31
they perceive to which religion would be
11:33
perceived to feature the god of fear
11:35
well all religions have subcultures that
11:39
actually will teach and will modify the
11:42
the sacred texts so forth and and and
11:47
reinterpret things in a way that wasn’t
11:50
meant Christ didn’t want you to suffer
11:54
but yet people sometimes believe that
11:57
you have to suffer in order to do be to
11:59
be able to have goods and to be able to
12:01
enjoy things you have to suffer that’s
12:03
just a model has been reinterpreted
12:05
throughout the years by the theologians
12:07
but your research shows that if you
12:09
pursue that interpretation of religion
12:11
that’s not going to get you to 100 no
12:14
because when you what happens is here’s
12:16
a cultural process if you have a fear
12:18
whatever it is a fear of God or fear of
12:20
your job you’re going to be on hyper
12:23
alarm your nervous system is going to be
12:26
on hyper alarm it’s going to be
12:28
affecting your heart you’re going to be
12:30
secreting a tremendous amount of
12:31
cortisol which slows down immune
12:33
function so you’re more prone to
12:34
infections so there’s a consequence for
12:37
that fear medical advances where is that
12:40
on your list of explanations for why
12:42
people make it to a hundred I think that
12:44
the greatest contribution has been with
12:46
with the infections the antibiotics and
12:50
the the for example you have a fracture
12:55
and the and you take care of the
12:56
fracture systemic problems have not been
12:59
really dealt very well with medicine the
13:01
billions of dollars have gone into it
13:02
and you have you have medications that
13:05
help you live with a medicate with the
13:07
year with the illness rather than cure
13:09
illness so yes I think infectious
13:10
diseases and I think for example
13:13
orthopedic surgeons when you have
13:14
fractures and so forth but it’s not
13:16
really in fact it and again I don’t I’m
13:19
not the
13:21
supporting this I’m just reporting it
13:23
several centenarians I’ve asked do you
13:25
go to a doctor no why well to check up
13:27
for what I don’t know it’s nothing wrong
13:29
with me
13:29
so I’ll ask him I last what I asked one
13:31
it and so what is your doctor think
13:33
about his I don’t know they’re all dead
13:35
so the doctors are all tests they’ve
13:38
outlasted their dog less than the
13:39
doctors okay that’s pretty good the
13:42
retirement age of course in Canada they
13:43
just I don’t know what what it’s like in
13:45
the latin-american countries that you
13:47
hang out and but they just opted here
13:49
sixty-five to sixty-seven because the
13:51
government I guess recognizes that
13:53
people are living longer and healthier
13:54
that’s good not to therefore be able to
13:57
tap into their pensions until later in
13:58
life does retiring people at a certain
14:02
age whatever that might be
14:03
shorten their life span I think it can I
14:06
depends on what they do if they retire
14:08
into nothingness if they’re retiring to
14:10
what you would it’s counterintuitive
14:11
because you would think I’ve worked so
14:13
hard on my life and now I’m just going
14:14
to relax well that relaxing is not good
14:16
for you you have to find something that
14:18
has meaning something that you’re
14:20
contributing your wisdom all that
14:21
knowledge your accumulated how do you
14:24
how do you recycle that so that it can
14:26
be assimilated by other people mentoring
14:28
is a good way the many things that you
14:30
can do so it’s 65 it’s it’s a cultural
14:35
portal there’s no biology there says
14:37
that you need to retire centenarians
14:39
that are cognitively intact have been
14:42
impact the beyond 65
14:44
I guess they pick 65 once upon a time
14:46
when people live to be 66 or 60 so they
14:49
wouldn’t have to pay too much Social
14:50
Security because they wouldn’t live up
14:52
to it now that’s completely different
14:54
ability different Idol I don’t think
14:56
that there should be a middle age for
14:58
example in Langer who you’ve interviewed
14:59
has talked about that and in the studies
15:01
show that that that one study people
15:04
that look significantly younger and
15:06
people who look significantly older and
15:08
they when they factored out everything
15:10
else they found that the the major
15:12
contributing factor was that the people
15:14
that look younger thought that middle
15:15
age was later uh interesting so now I
15:17
believe middle age starts at 90 no no
15:20
but really when does middle age start it
15:22
shouldn’t that’s a sure that’s what I’ve
15:24
learned for something here’s the day you
15:25
ask him what’s middle age and they say
15:27
that’s foolish you find out when you die
15:28
you don’t know so because what you’re
15:31
doing is you’re coding your system into
15:33
saying okay
15:34
if it’s 45 45 then it’s downhill and you
15:38
start giving attributions on middle age
15:40
now I need to be thinking now but I
15:42
can’t do this anymore because I’m
15:44
middle-aged I need to dress like
15:45
middle-age I can’t have a sports car
15:47
because I’m middle a so attributions
15:49
change and the admonitions put you into
15:51
that portal and you begin to age
15:53
according to what the culture tells you
15:54
rather than your biology can I ask you
15:56
how old you are I don’t come age you
15:58
never do know you because people will
16:00
don’t you if let’s say you say you’re 80
16:02
right oh you look so good for 80 which
16:05
means that you shouldn’t look that good
16:06
or you all 80 so you lose either way so
16:09
what I tell people I was born in the
16:11
20th century that’s not narrowing it
16:13
down very no and you should think
16:15
something Aryans tell me no they’d say
16:17
start telling your age after 100 and
16:20
then lie about it if you’re 100 say
16:22
you’re 130 okay but I guess if if people
16:26
are going to tap into the wisdom that
16:29
you’re bringing forward today they’re
16:30
going to have to change the way they if
16:33
they haven’t already the way they think
16:34
the way they act the way they do the way
16:36
they live yes how do you teach people
16:38
who’ve been doing it a certain way all
16:40
their lives that if they want to make it
16:43
to 100 they’ve really got to radically
16:44
change the way they do business well the
16:46
key is not to change behavior to change
16:48
the consciousness that moves the
16:51
behavior so for example let’s say you
16:52
have a consciousness of self-destructive
16:54
and it took in especially a self
16:58
sabotaging consciousness and one of the
17:01
things that you do is overeat you work
17:03
on the overeating behavior and you’re
17:05
going to over drink because you haven’t
17:07
gone to the core you have changed the
17:08
behavior one of the things that we try
17:09
to do is we try to change the
17:10
consciousness an example obesity do a
17:13
lot of work with obesity I teach people
17:15
who are obese to love food and they say
17:17
I love food too much already know you
17:19
need food you don’t abuse what you love
17:21
you abuse what you need so then they
17:23
learn the cues of hunger and then love
17:26
what they eat and what they’re doing in
17:27
there changing the consciousness of the
17:30
need into a consciousness of love and
17:31
you can love your food and then you can
17:33
love your exercise and in its network it
17:36
does and I’m oversimplifying it because
17:37
their techniques and things that are
17:39
required and it takes a lot of work but
17:41
it does it does work I would presume
17:43
that a guy like you would be in fairly
17:46
hot demand by Fortune 500 companies
17:48
who do not want to see their you know
17:51
CEOs and high-ranking corporate
17:52
executives suffer the way that you have
17:55
described during our conversation here
17:57
yes that’s why I carry so much you are
17:59
Lauren hot damn it I’m doing work with
18:01
us so you trained you trained corporate
18:03
executives to live better to change
18:05
consciousness change consciousness
18:06
because they have to understand that
18:08
what’s making people sick is the
18:10
organizational culture that they created
18:12
and they have these mission statements
18:15
and they have all these wonderful things
18:16
but the three key components are that we
18:20
teach the culture to honor the employee
18:23
rather than seeing them as a production
18:25
unit to use the customer not as a prey
18:29
but as a consultant and the competitor
18:33
not as somewhat to destroy but someone
18:35
to learn from teacher and it changes
18:37
when you do that indirectly it’s called
18:39
incidental learning it changes a
18:41
consciousness you don’t want to put out
18:43
your your competitor because you you
18:44
become them a monopoly and then your
18:46
creativity goes down huh let me ask you
18:49
one last thing about a very particular
18:51
workplace athletics sports professional
18:55
athletes they are from the minute they
18:57
put on the uniform chastised denigrated
19:01
blasted yelled at by their coaches by
19:04
teammates and theoretically that gets a
19:06
better performance out of them is that
19:08
right gets rat psychology performance
19:10
but when you look at the health
19:11
component it’s it’s not really the the
19:15
Bulls of Chicago Bulls or an example of
19:18
using sin Buddhism to teach them to
19:20
excel without the wrath psychology of
19:23
peak performance peak performance it’s
19:25
impossible to maintain you get the
19:27
numbers just like executives will say
19:29
look I’m getting the numbers I’m pushing
19:30
people here would look at the numbers of
19:33
the health care and you see what what it
19:34
means that’s what I call the shadow cost
19:36
you don’t see it in the PLS and the same
19:38
thing with peak performance yes you get
19:39
it but you get it at the point of well
19:42
athletes don’t have a very long life
19:45
football players 50 60 years old I think
19:49
the Bulls had it because Phil Jackson
19:50
had it right guys the coach sativa he
19:52
was he’s basically using some send
19:54
principles of direct learning and it
19:57
and look what he was able to accomplish
19:58
that’s act well Michael Jordan didn’t
20:00
hurt either no that’s right that talent
20:03
but then you have to modify how that
20:05
talent is is developed do you know where
20:07
you’re going next I’m going back to
20:09
Nashville and the new boy always on
20:12
planes is okay Mario Martinez is really
20:14
good of you to visit us at Evo tonight
20:16
thanks for having me support Ontario’s
20:20
public television donate at TV org