Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Guy:I’m certainly not one to dramatise content and blog posts just to grab peoples attention, but when you hear what some food manufacturers are up to, it really does give you the sh**ts!
I think our take home message from this weeks 2 minute gem video is this; you really do have to be proactive when it comes to your own health.
We spend an hour with one of Australia’s leading nutritionists, as we tap into all her experience on how we can achieve greater health and longer lives.
Our special guest today is Cyndi O’Meara. Not your typical nutritionist, Cyndi disagrees with low-fat, low-calorie diets, believes chocolate can be good for you. Amazingly, she has never taken an antibiotic, pain-killer or any other form of medication her whole life! The one thing that was clear from this podcast is that she is a passionate, determined and a wealth knowledge. Sit back and enjoy as she shares with us how she helps others improve their quality of life so they too can enjoy greater health and longer lives.
Full Interview: Achieving Greater Health & Longer Lives. What I’ve learnt so far…
In This Episode:
Where we are going wrong from a nutritional stand point
With so many ‘diets’ out there, where the best place to start is
The simplest nutritional changes that make the greatest difference on our health
Hey, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s health sessions. Today, we have an awesome guest here in store. I know we always say that but it’s true. She is Cindy O’Meara. I believe she is one of Australia’s leading nutritionists and she often appears on TV and radio and has a massive amount of experience, and get this, at 54 years old, I think she’s an amazing example of health. She’s never taken an antibiotic, a painkiller or any other form of medication her whole life.
I think that’s incredible and she certainly got a lot of energy and a lot of knowledge and it was awesome to tap into that for an hour today. We get into some fascinating topics. The big one that stands out in my mind is deceitful food labeling. Some of the things that are going on with manufacturers is quite jaw dropping and scary. Looking back as well, this is why we started 180 in the first place and the 180 Superfood because I was working with cancer patients with weight training programs and we couldn’t access any really decent supplementation back then, especially protein and whole foods, making them much more accessible for them anyway.
That’s where 180 started if you didn’t know. Anyway, so we get into food labeling lies. The first place to start with all this information out there, Paleo, Keto, Mediterranean, low carb, I’ve always got confused out now. She really simplifies it and how to work out what’s best for yourself and where to go first if you are struggling with them things. We tap into her own daily habits and philosophies on life as well because she’s in such amazing shape.
It was great for her to share her bit of wisdom on all that too. I have no doubt you’ll enjoy. The internet connection does drop in and out slightly here and there but all and all, it’s all good and sometimes it’s beyond our control with Skype but the information is [00:02:00] there and you persevere, you’ll be fine. Thanks for the reviews coming in as well. We had a great one yesterday saying, “Superfood for your years, buy a highway to health.”
It’s always appreciated. I know you’re probably driving a car, walking the dog or whatever it is you’re doing in the gym and you go, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I enjoy the guy’s podcast, I’ll give a review, you know,” and then go and forget about it which is what I would do anyway because I’m pretty forgetful like that. If you do remember, leave us a review. They’re greatly appreciated and we read them all and yeah, they help us get this message out there.
If you’re enjoying it, that’s all I ask. Anyway, let’s go over to Cindy, this is another great podcast. Enjoy. Okay, let’s go. Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke. Hi Stu.
Stuart Cooke: Hello mate.
Guy Lawrence: Our fantastic guest today is Cyndi O’Meara. Cindy, welcome to the show.
Cyndi O’Meara: Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: Look, with all our guests that come on, we generally end up intensively looking into the guests more as the interview gets closer. I’ve been listening to a lot of your podcasts over the last few days and it’s clear that you’re very passionate and knowledgeable, so I’m hoping to extract a little bit of that and get it into today’s show. It’s a pleasure to have you on; I really appreciate it.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, no worries.
Guy Lawrence: Just to start, have you always been into nutrition? Is this or has this been a thing that’s evolved over time? Where did it all start for you Cyndi?
Cyndi O’Meara: Well, I’m from a fairly different family you could say. My dad was a pharmacist who then, after 6 years of pharmacy, realized that, and this was in the 50s, realized that pharmacy wasn’t the way to health. He went from New Zealand to the USA and went to Palmer College of Chiropractic, he became a chiropractor. He learnt the difference between mechanism, philosophy and vitalistic philosophy and had us kids and chose never to give us medications unless it was a life [00:04:00] threatening situation.
We ate well, we had an outdoor lifestyle; we just lived a different life. We never went to the doctors unless I broke a bone. I remember going twice because I broke bones. I’m 55 and I’ve never had any medications, no antibiotics, Panadols or anything. Then he gave us a really outdoor lifestyle, travelling and we traveled 3 months around the world, we skied, we went skiing a lot. When I got a love for skiing, I thought, “Well, I don’t want to go to university. I want to ski.”
Then someone said to me, “Well, why don’t you go to a university that’s [inaudible 00:04:36] skiing?” and I went, “Well, that’s a good idea.” They don’t exist in Australia so I had to go to the University of Colorado in Boulder and that is where my life changed. I did pre-med and had one of my classes that went for the 12 month period was with a gentleman by the name of Dr. Van Guven. He taught me cultural anthropology and anthropology.
I realized that food had a lot to do with the way we evolved. If it wasn’t for food, we’d be dead. If it wasn’t for hunter gatherers, our agriculturalists, our herders, our pastoralists, we would never have survived and it was our adaptation to the environment that we were living in that enables us to do that. That’s what I learned, so I went, “Yey! I’m going to be a dietician.”
I came back to Australia and studied nutrition at Deakin University and didn’t agree with anything, not one thing. I just went, “Oh, I can’t be a dietician. This is just ridiculous. They don’t … They’re teaching margarine, they’re thinking low fat.” We didn’t do low fat. Meat’s bad for you, this is bad for you and I just went, “I can’t do it.” They wanted me to feed jelly to sick patients and even the pig feeds were made of high fructose corn syrup and I just couldn’t do it.
I thought, “Well, I’ll go back to university and I’ll become a chiropractor.” I went back to university, did 2 years [00:06:00] of human anatomy, cut up cadavers for that whole time and went, “Hmm, it’s not the dead ones that I really care about. It’s actually the live ones.” It was a result of realizing my knowledge of the human body and my cultural anthropology and all of that just came together and I went, “I know what the human body needs.”
I set up practice as a nutritionist and did the opposite to everybody else. That was 33 years ago.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Stuart Cooke: Excellent.
Guy Lawrence: That was very radical back then as well, 33 years ago.
Cyndi O’Meara: Oh yeah. I think goodness … Nutrition wasn’t big back then. It’s not like it is now. You see Pete Evans get absolutely slaughtered because he says, “Eat real food.” Back in those days, there were 20 girls that I went to school with and they just followed the guidelines. I was just a little pimple, I wasn’t annoying anybody until I started to write for the Sunshine Coast Daily and then I annoyed everybody.
That was a lot of fun. 2 years of letters to the editors, suing by food companies, all the usually stuff-
Guy Lawrence: The usual stuff.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, that somebody like me would get. That was the early 90s and then by late 90s, I wrote my book Changing Habits, Changing Lives. Nobody wanted it so I self published it in ’98 and then it just went from strength to strength and now I run a company. There’s 20 people in this building so hopefully, they won’t make a noise, I’ve warned them all. We now have a food company, we have an education company, we’re about to put out a documentary because food’s big, nutrition’s big.
People realize what we’re doing is not working and we need to do something different. We have a lot of sick people in the world and I’m on a bit of a crusade to go, “Hey, there’s another way. We don’t have to live like this,” and it’s the philosophy of vitalism which is the human body is intelligent. It has the resource … If you give it the right resources [00:08:00] and stop interfering with it, it has the ability to heal and to stay healthy through prevention. Yeah, so that’s in a nutshell.
Stuart Cooke: Amazing.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. No, that’s an awesome story and I can see that you’re super passionate. From a nutritional standpoint, and everybody has … Much like religion and politics, everybody has got their own opinion on nutrition, “Got to eat this way to get these gains.” In your opinion, where are we going wrong right now?
Stuart Cooke: Look, I think we’re looking at science a little bit too heavily. I look to science to back up anything that I’m thinking at the time, but in the end, I look at culture and tradition. I look at how did we survive millions of years without science, adapt to the environment, survive, all the things that have been thrown at us from volcanic eruptions with heavy metals being spilt onto our environment to having to adapt to a changing world?
I have a philosophy of vitalism, so looking at the body as an intelligent, innate presence and then I look at food in exactly the same way, that it’s intelligent. Then with the help of cultural anthropologies and the vast array of different foods that we can we can survive on, I then go and look for science that may be able to help me back up these claims because everybody is into science, evidence based. I hear it all the time but you what I’ve learnt is that you can absolutely look at all the science out there and it’s all opposing.
That really depends on who’s funding, who has a theory and they have a passion about it and they want to get that theory out there such as Ancel Keys [00:10:00] in the 1960s who started the low fat. My thing is that we’ve just thrown culture and tradition out and we’re just looking at science. When we look at epidemiological studies, we’re actually really not doing an exact science, we’re just doing it, “Oh. Well, this population does this then they get these problems so that must be the issue.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Just thinking now to go on from that, we’re very fortunate because we’re absolutely involved in the nutritional space. Everyone I speak to, myself and Stu, we’re bouncing all these theories off and we delve into it and podcasts every week is awesome. Obviously, there’s a lot of people out there that it’s not their thing, they’re very busy and they just want to scratch the surface; make simple changes.
Then when you go to look at where to start, we’re bombarded. We’ve got Paleo, primo, low carb, high carb, ketosis-
Stuart Cooke: Keto.
Guy Lawrence: Keto is another one and all of a sudden, it’s like, “Well, they’re all claiming to be right. Where do I start? How do I do it?” and even in the messages because everyone seems to have good intentions as well, it’s getting lost still. What would your advice be to somebody listening to this going, “Oh okay,” they’re confused on where to start?
Cyndi O’Meara: Well, I doubt that anybody eating McDonald’s hamburgers is listening to you right now. I really doubt that, okay?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I hope not.
Cyndi O’Meara: I’m thinking for the person who’s out there that is eating that way and has no awareness about their body or what they’re consuming, they’re probably not listening. The people that are listening to you are probably people that are well educated and have a fair idea of they need to make some changes. If they’re in crisis, then they have to do crisis care nutrition.
If they’re not in crisis and they’re just looking at, “Hey, I need to make some changes, [00:12:00]” well, I recommend … I wrote the book Changing Habits, Changing Lives. That was back in 1998 and it’s about looking at one aspect of your pantry and swapping it for a better quality, organic ingredient. Just let’s look at salt, so I go, “Let’s throw away the white salt which …” And I explain exactly what they do to white salt, what iodine that they put into it.
Then what I do is that I then say, “Well, there’s a better quality salt out there.” Let’s say over 52 weeks, they do 1 pantry item, they will revolutionize their pantry. They will start to use the right ingredients in order to be well. Because it’s really hard to say, “Let’s just throw everything out of the pantry and let’s start again,” because then they go back to their old ways. For me, it’s about getting quality ingredients into the pantry to begin with, realizing that nobody can cook a food like you can and because at the moment, I’m rewriting my book Changing Habits, Changing Lives.
I’m looking at the food industry really intensely. You know, since I wrote the book in ’98 and then I did another edition in 2000 and another edition in 2007, so this is only 8 years on, they’re getting sneaky, they’re so sneaky. They’re doing this thing called clean labeling where they’re changing the name of the ingredient so they don’t have to put a number on it. For instance, BHA and BHT is an antioxidant that’s produced by the food industry. People are on the lookout for it. They know that it cause health issues.
Well, they’ve now renamed it rosemary extract or extract rosemary. That sounds better, doesn’t it?
Guy Lawrence: Oh, [crosstalk 00:13:45] that sounds like something I would actually quite like to consume.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah. Well, I saw. I first saw it on breakfast cereal quite a few years and I’m like, “Okay, something’s fishy here. I don’t trust them.” I’ve never trusted breakfast cereal makers but I definitely … When I saw that [00:14:00], I went, “What’s rosemary extract?” so I went looking. When I found this new thing they’re doing, it’s clean labeling. I think number 1, become educated. Do not trust the food industry to tell you what is happening.
Another thing they’re doing is they’re using this new thing called NatureSeal and they don’t have to put it on the ingredients and you know why? Because it’s part of the processing of the food, so if-
Guy Lawrence: Could you repeat the … What was it called? Nature-
Cyndi O’Meara: It’s called NatureSeal.
Guy Lawrence: NatureSeal.
Stuart Cooke: It’s NatureSeal, and so what it does is if you cut an apple and put NatureSeal in the processing of it and put it in a plastic bag, it will last 3 weeks. It won’t go brown, it won’t go off, nothing will happen to it. The makers of NatureSeal go, “Oh, it’s just a bunch of, you know, citrus and vitamins and minerals.” Now, finding the ingredients wasn’t easy. I had to go to the [Paint 00:15:02] office in order to find exactly what they’re putting in NatureSeal.
They make up these stories, the food industry are no smarter. They just go, “Aah! 3 weeks and my apples are going to survive.” We just put it in packaging, they don’t put it on lettuce so you wonder why you’re lettuce is lasting forever, [inaudible 00:15:20] NatureSeal on it. They don’t have to put it on the ingredient list. For me, it’s about you have to be a savvy consumer these days and I’m more into the 1 ingredient pantry.
I have … All my pantry is just nuts and seeds and grains. I’m not against grains. In actual fact, I’m doing a documentary called What’s With Weight? What’s happening to it, why are we having problems with it? My 1 ingredient pantry is just herbs and spices and nuts and seeds and cacao and salts and sugars. I’m not against sugar. We needed sugar to survive, we needed carbohydrates to [00:16:00] survive, but if I have somebody in an emergency situation and nutritionally, I have to make drastic changes there.
Let’s just talk about the common man or woman out there that just wants to improve their health. Number 1, become educated, know what they’re doing to your food. Number 2, clean out your pantry and bit by bit, swap different ingredients for high quality ones. In my industry, in my foods, I call them faucet foods. They are the foods that are organic, sustainable, ethical and you can trust me because if it’s not in my pantry, it’s not on my warehouse and I’m pointing out there because my warehouse is out there.
I don’t put a food in because I know it’s going to make money. I put a food in because I want it in my pantry and I want the best and I learn. When I go looking for a food, sometimes it takes me years to find a food. When I go looking, I go like, “Let’s take that.” This is one that we’ve just brought into our foods. Do you know that they pollinate dates with the pollen, so they have to get the pollen, but they add wheat to it to distribute it over the trees so that they pollinate; so that they don’t have to hand pollinate each one. They just do a blanket spray of wheat and pollen.
A lot of celiacs can’t eat dates these days because of what’s happening. This is where we start to learn, when we go looking for food. Another one we bought out recently, we bought out camu camu a couple of years ago. The people that we were buying the camu camu on said, “Well, why don’t you put it in a capsule and we’ll send you the ingredients of the capsule?” They send me the ingredients of the capsule which they said is a gelatin capsule and I read the ingredients and I went, “You’re serious? There’s probably glycol in here?”
It’s like, “Probably glycol has been taken out of medications in the USA because it causes liver and kidney and kidney damage [00:18:00] and you’re putting a perfectly beautiful food into that?” These are the things that I learn and every food that I have purchased to go into my kitchen, to then give to my family and friends and then to a community, is thoroughly investigated. If it doesn’t match up to what I want, then it doesn’t go into our food supply.
Guy Lawrence: It’s so scary. You have to take quick responsibility in your hands and move forward and it’s time consuming, that’s the thing. It made me think about the posts we put up, Stu, last night on Facebook. We put a photograph up and it’s the new health star ratings, I think from the government.
Cyndi O’Meara: Oh, do you want to just shoot me now?
Guy Lawrence: No. We put a photo of them. We had the organic coconut oil at .5 out of 5 and the Up and Go Breakfast, Liquid Breakfast was 4.5 out of 5. It was good to see everyone was just absolutely disgusted last night, so people are savvy too. Again, I guess it’s our audience listening that are already onto it. There are people out there sadly, they’re …
Stuart Cooke: I think really one of the take-home messages must be that … And we always talk about eat like our grandparents used to eat. It’s simple whole food ingredients because they are going to be, you would think, less altered and less processed and products. I think as a general step, if you can move towards the whole food items and eat less processed food, then you’ve got to be on the right track.
Again, I was interested Cyndi, especially your changing habits, we are by our very nature, creatures of habit. We’re very habitual and how can we change our habits when we’re used to getting up in the morning, spending 2 minutes pouring in our cereal at breakfast time. Because we know that even … People out there are still smoking. They know what cigarettes do to our health but it’s so engrained in their daily habits [00:20:00] that they can’t get out of it.
A lot of our friends know the right thing to do but they’re creatures of habits and they just don’t … So how can we tackle the habitual side of things?
Cyndi O’Meara: We’re not going to change everybody, that’s what I’ve learnt but you can change the people who are willing to make a change. People that are willing to make the change are people in crisis. That will be number 1. They’re in such a crisis that if they don’t make a change, then they’re not going to be able to get up in the morning to even pour their breakfast cereal. The other people that make the change, and these are the ones that I love, I love this group of people out there, and they’re mothers who have sick children.
Because of the choices that they have made perhaps or the choices that the food industry have made for them or what our governments are making for us as far as the amount of chemicals that are being sprayed on our sports fields, on our playgrounds. Mothers will move mountains to save their children. I see it over and over again and you know what? They’re the ones that I look out and I go, “I can help you,” but if I have somebody who’s smoking and doesn’t want to give up smoking, I just go, “Well, there’s nothing I can do for you.”
Let me give you a really good example. I swim with a very intelligent man. He’s a emergency care medical doctor. He has an autoimmune disease and when I met him a year ago, I said to him, “You know there’s a lot we can do with nutrition and autoimmunity now.” Now, he’s in crisis by the way guys, he’s not … He’s about to have another hip replacement, it’s not good what’s happening but he’s an intelligent, amazing man.
I gave him Terry Wahls book, The Wahls Protocol because I think, “Medical doctor, he’ll relate,” so he reads it and I said, “What are you thinking?” He’s at page 70 at this point and he goes, “Oh, it’s not a priority Cyndi. [00:22:00] I haven’t finished the whole book.” Okay, so I go, “Oh okay, okay, cool, cool, cool.” Then he gets to about 140, page 140 and I say to him, “So what are you thinking,” and he goes, “I’m not giving up ice cream.”
Guy Lawrence: Wow. Yeah, right.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: Then I spoke to him the other day and I said to him, “You know, and I noticed you’re limping.” He goes, “Yeah, bad engineering.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it’s very, very tricky and you … [crosstalk 00:22:27] trigger foods and they just don’t want to … They don’t want to let them go and often times, it’s the trigger foods that are really holding people back.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: His pain isn’t great enough yet, that’s the problem.
Cyndi O’Meara: I don’t know how it’s not great enough. I text him last night because we swim together and we were going to do ins and outs this morning at 6am. I text him, I said, “Are we doing ins and outs? You’re bringing Bonny?” Bonny is our buoy that we swim out to and he went, “Oh, my hip was really bad.” Now for him to miss swimming and to miss coffee with our group of friends, it’s not something that he likes to do.
I don’t know what else I can say to him. He’s not somebody I’m going to change I don’t think so I have to work on the people that want to change. They will change their habits. You don’t have to hit them over the head. They’re going, “What’s my next step? What do I need to do next?” For the people who are listening out there that are not in crisis or are not a mom, then it’s a step by step process.
Educate yourself on what breakfast cereals are doing to your body, educate yourself on how they make breakfast cereals and the way of excreting it is no longer the way Kellogg’s did it back in the 20s and 30s. It’s very different. They had vitamins and minerals. One, you can pull out with a magnet called iron. I’m not sure you’re meant to do that with the food that we eat but I’ve actually tried that with carrot and green beans and things like that, but I can’t seem to be able to get it out with a magnet but I can with the breakfast cereal.
They make the B1 from acetone. Who [00:24:00] makes vitamin B1 from acetone? You just have to become educated. You have to understand what they’re doing and we think because it’s fortified, it’s a good thing. To me, if I see anything fortified, I do not touch it because I don’t know how they’ve made the supplement or the fortification. Naan bread is folic acid and iodine, must be fortified with those 2.
Well folic acid, your body has to convert to folate. It’s synthetically made and iodine is mined out of a mine out of Japan, comes to Australia in these big barrels and on it, says, “Warning, dangerous to your eyes, to your skin, to this.” Yes, it’s in great amounts but-
Guy Lawrence: Could just explain what fortified is and why they do it as well just for any listeners that might not be familiar?
Cyndi O’Meara: Okay, so back in the 1930s, 1940s after the depression and the war, they recognized that there was some mineral deficiencies and vitamin deficiencies, so with pellagra and beriberi and diseases like this. They thought if they added that to the flour, then they could help, so it was for diseases. Now, I just think it’s something that we’ve always done so let’s continue to do it. We’re not using probably the vitamins that we used back in the 20s and 30s and 40s.
We’re using something that chemistry has figured out how to replicate nature, so they think. They fortify it with vitamins, with minerals, mainly just vitamins and minerals are fortified [inaudible 00:25:37]. Then they think that the population is eating breakfast cereals or drinking milk so they might fortify it with vitamin D but where is that vitamin D coming from?
It’s something that we’ve been doing for a long time but it was first for actual diseases. Now, it’s just, “Well, we’ll just throw it in because it’s no longer in the food.” There’s nothing in white flour anymore. It’s completely [00:26:00] gone and it’s a destitute food and so they go, “Oh, well put nice in and iodine in, [inaudible 00:26:07] and thiamine and we’ll throw some iron in there,” and so they throw everything out then they go, “Oh, we’ll just replace it now.”
Stuart Cooke: A marketer’s dream as well of course because you’ve got these beautiful slogans on the front of the packets that tell you how helpful these products are and we’re drawn to this kind of stuff.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, and there’s a whole aisle dedicated to the stuff.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: Seriously? Who eats that stuff? Really?
Stuart Cooke: You see these foods now slowly moving away from the cereal aisles into the … What used to be very small health food aisles which very few people used to ponder. Now of course, they’re infiltrating.
Cyndi O’Meara: Oh. You’re going to love this, so I went to the health food aisle just recently and I took a photo of one food in there and it was the gluten free food. Let me just see, so I’ve got my phone so I’m just going to see if I can get it. Okay, so here we go. This is the original Freelicious Cracker. Okay, so it’s made up of maize starch, rice flour, organic palm oil thickener (1422). I think that comes from wheat actually, so it’s gluten free anyway, egg white not egg, and you know why?
Because they take the yolk out for other things, I don’t want to spoil that with egg yolk, it’s too expensive. Pregelatinized rice flour, emulsifier (lecithin from sunflower), sugar, salt, thickener (guar gum), raising agents (sodium bicarbonate, ammonium, hydrogen bicarbonate), dextrose, natural flavor, rosemary extract which we know is BHA and BHT. I find it hysterical, I really do. I’m just going through them. Here’s another one.
This is in the health food aisle. [00:28:00] This one is … I don’t even know what this one was. Oh, this is … It’s a cookie, so gluten free flour, tapioca starch, starch, it’s not even tapioca. In my new Changing Habits, Changing Lives, I talk about starch and how they make it, rice flour, potato starch, it’s not potato flour, it’s potato starch, modified tapioca starch, dextrose, thickeners (466464), emulsifier (471), vegetable gums … Do you want me to keep going? It’s just goes line after line.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: Natural color, flavor, preservative … This is in the health food aisle and there’s another flavor and then there’s another flavor. I mean we’re duped.
Stuart Cooke: It’s a marketers dream because essentially, it’s just a problem. How can we make this Frankenfood look so beautifully healthy? Of course they’ve got a team of people, “Well, that’s easy. Leave it to us.” I’ve been a graphic designer for 25 years and if I really wanted to, I could do that. I could come up with the slogans and the logos and the beautiful colors that depict the farmer carrying the basket and it’s all they think about I guess.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s all they care about.
Stuart Cooke: It’s just a joke.
Cyndi O’Meara: There’s an old movie and my dad used to tell me about it. He’s a really, very wise 87 year old. Very healthy, takes the occasional medication so he’s not on [inaudible 00:29:25], lives by himself, still adjusts as a character, he’s amazing. He said to me, “There was an old movie out called The Piano Man and it was about a man who comes into town that creates a problem and then he has the solution to the problem.” What I find is that we are creating problems all the time and then finding the solution.
Do we really have the problem in the first place? The first problem they had was salt, it causes hypertension. Salt was taken out of everything, everything was low salt. Second thing was fat’s a problem. Was it really a problem? Not really but anyway, fat was a problem, everything went low [00:30:00] fat. Then we found trans fats and then now the industry is saying, “Oh, trans fats are bad,” makes me laugh.
Since 1978, we’ve known trans fats were bad but it was only 2007 when the Heart Foundation went, “Ooh, trans fats are a problem guys. We’d better stop … We’d better stop advocating it.” Then fats became a problem, everything went low fat. They found a solution to the problem we really never had and now sugar and carbohydrates are a problem.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
Cyndi O’Meara: The ketogenic diet was a diet that we had throughout evolution in order to survive a bad summer or a bad growing season where there was no sugar available and only lean meats because the cows didn’t have anything to eat. They were really skinny and they had lean meats. Sugar was there to tell the human body that it’s a great season, we can have babies.
All the tests on ketogenic diets are done on men, not women. Women go into infertility, intimate infertility, not permanent but intimate infertility in the ketogenic diet because that was the way nature intended us to survive as human beings. Who needs a pregnant woman when there’s no food available in the winter? She would die, she would not survive and neither would the baby.
I don’t have a problem with ketogenic diet but people have to realize that the ketogenic diet is actually a survival diet for evolution. It wasn’t something that we lived on for years and years. We lived on it periodically in order to survive so that we could use ketones, not sugar because sugar wasn’t available, but we could use those ketones. If sugar never came, then we would just live on those ketones although we would be fat burners, not sugar burners and as a result, we [00:32:00] wouldn’t lay down fat.
As a result, lactone wouldn’t be increased in our body which is the master hormone to say, “Hey, let’s have some fun. We can have a baby.” The ketogenic diet is brilliant for epilepsy, for Alzheimer’s, for … We’ve realized the importance of the ketogenic diet for certain populations.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, for when they’re in crisis a lot of time.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: It’s interesting as well because people are … We’re very much now in the environment where people are crashing themselves with exercise and they’re pulling the carbohydrates out of their diet and you are seeing hormonal issues, especially with females as well where they’re skipping periods and just things are crashing for them. It’s a very good point.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah. It’s natural, it’s what the body has to do. It doesn’t know it’s living in 2015. It could be living in BC, long BC because genetically … Like the Paleo all talk about this, they all go, “Well, we haven’t adapted in 40,000 years you know? We adapted 1.5 million years ago and we haven’t adapted in 40,000 years.” Genetically, we don’t have to adapt. What has to adapt is our microbiome.
It can adapt every day to your different food choices if you don’t destroy it. Yeah, I just find that … Let’s just get back to normal eating. Let’s just get back to the way we used to eat. Just don’t think that there’s a panaceum like a macro-nutrient out there such as protein, fats or sugar that is your issue. What your issue is is that we’re in a state right now where our children are getting sicker, even adults are getting sicker.
I don’t know, and I’ve interviewed 14 people [00:34:00] about this and the question was, “Have we gone past the point of no return? Is our microbiome so destroyed that we have no hope of getting past this where our kids can’t even drink mother’s milk? Are we at that point?” Half of them said, “No, I don’t think so Cyndi. We have a resilience, we can change.” The other half were very, very like, “Not sure, not sure if we can get out of this.”
This all started in the 1930s when arsenic was starting to be sprayed on the cornfields in US, let’s say Iowa, USA. That was to destroy a grasshopper plague that was decimating the corn and the wheat in the Midwest. The use of chemicals after World War 2 such as DDT, were then sprayed on the corn fields and the wheat fields. Whenever, I think it was Jane Goodall, said, “Whoever thought that it was okay to grow food with poison?”
My grandmother’s from the cornfields of Iowa and I look at … She lived into her 90s, so my mother was born in 1937 when they were starting to spray arsenic. My sister was born when they were still spraying DDT in the 50s and both my mother and my sister have passed away. My sister got an autoimmune disease at 25, my mom got lung cancer, and never smoked a day in her life, in her 60s.
I look at the destruction of the microbiome through each successive generation. I was fortunate that I was born in Australia and my father was a New Zealander and my brother was born in Australia. The 3 of us seems to have really done well as opposed to what was happening back there. I think [00:36:00] what we could have done 30 years ago when I first started nutrition was just get people off a junk food diet on a real food diet, worked. These days, it’s not working as well and in the last 5 years, I’ve just noticed a huge crisis. I think-
Guy Lawrence: It’s like we’ve gone and messed up almost every aspect there is to be messed up and it’s gotten us in a whole world of trouble and yeah, is the task can we turn it around and actually, going forward for the next generation? I mean I still think the most proactive thing you can do is vote with the money you spend on your food every week and your shopping pool and actually start supporting the small businesses, the local farmers and actually stop buying anything that’s produced on a mass scale too. I don’t know how else.
Stuart Cooke: That’s very tricky because we don’t have the money to shop organic, especially those with large families as well. We have to try and do the best we can so it’s a really delicate balance.
Cyndi O’Meara: Look at this, and it’s about priority also. It is about priority, so I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Homegrown.
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, it’s brilliant. It’s about this guy who lives in LA and he has basically grown … His whole land is just growing food and he’s got goats and chickens and everything in there and this is the way we used to do it. My grandfather had a garden. My grandfather had 11 children. From his garden, he fed those 11 children in Iowa, USA. My grandmother would get all the produce in the summer.
It grew like mad, it was humid, got all the produce and she would ferment or she would can or bottle [inaudible 00:37:44] and because they had a basement, everything went to the basement. In the winter, when the snow was on the ground and the ground was frozen, they lived off that so [crosstalk 00:37:54]-
Stuart Cooke: Totally, and I remember my grandparents had a garden or an allotment estate.
Guy Lawrence: Allotment, yeah [00:38:00].
Stuart Cooke: My parents, we had potatoes and beans and berries, blackberries down at the bottom of the garden and grew Braeburn apples and almost everyone had a hot house for the tomatoes as well because it gets cold in England. Yeah, that’s where we come from and now of course, it would be crazy. Grow my own vegetables? I could just purchase them.
Cyndi O’Meara: Well, you saw Michelle Bridges, she thinks we’re all freaks.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: You know, seriously? That’s the attitude that we’re up against when people like us that are talking this way. There’s a town in England that’s an edible town. Have you heard of it?
Guy Lawrence: No.
Stuart Cooke: No, I haven’t.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah. It’s called the edible town and about 8 years ago, this woman, Pam Warhurst, just went … Didn’t have a committee, didn’t care about what the council thought, we just started to plant trees that would produce food. Now, it’s very famous and it’s called the edible town and you can watch it on the TED video, ted.com and just look up edible town, Pam Warhurst and watch it. It’s just … I get goose bumps, just thinking … Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, and it’s just all doable as well. That’s the thing. we have the conditions to grow our own food and it doesn’t have to be costly, it just has to grab a little bit of our time and we can do it. I’ve got a question for you. Now, you’re almost the ultimate food detective and I heard a great phrase and I think it came from Sarah Wilson where, “We can’t unlearn what we’ve learned.”
You know all of this stuff and you’re a super sleuth where ingredients are concerned. Do you have any nutritional no-nos, so foods that you simply will not consume if you’re out and about and you’re at dinner parties or barbecues or in a restaurant? What foods would you avoid at all costs?
Cyndi O’Meara: How much time do we have? [00:40:00]
Stuart Cooke: About 20 seconds.
Cyndi O’Meara: I think that answers your question. I have a lot of no-nos, a lot and I like going to restaurants that I know the chefs will feed me single ingredient foods and I do travel by the way. Then when I travel, I look up … Pete Evans taught me this. He says, “Don’t look for the best restaurant, look for the philosophy of the chef,” and so that’s what I do. If I’m going to go somewhere and I don’t know a restaurant or something like that, I’ll … Look, people hate me.
I woke into a restaurant and I’ll ask questions and I’ll walk out if it’s not what I want. Yeah, Pete taught me that. Pete just said, “Find the philosophy of the chef and if they are a chef that is not a gastro-” what do they call it? Gastron … Whatever, the ones that use chemicals, those ones which you can pay $1,000 a head to go to these restaurants, I’ve seen them. I’m really [inaudible 00:41:02] figured that one, I’ll just go to a place down the road that just does meat and veggie for me.
I have a lot of non-negotiables and they’re all basically additives, preservatives, flavorings, margarines, hydro generated vegetable oil, interesterified fats, [inaudible 00:41:19] fats, homogenized milk, some pasteurized milks, skim trim, [red shape 00:41:23]. Would you like me to go on with fine foods?
Stuart Cooke: I think we’ll stop you there, that’s all.
Guy Lawrence: The scary thing is is that I know people mostly dieters are consuming them foods.
Cyndi O’Meara: I don’t know what’s better.
Guy Lawrence: You know?
Cyndi O’Meara: I want to live the best life I can. I want to be energetic. When my grandchildren come, I want to be on the floor with them. That-
Stuart Cooke: No, that’s exactly right. Yeah, and it’s about being the best version of yourself. We’ve got time on the planet, let’s try and make the most of it.
Guy Lawrence: 100% and it’s nice waking up in the morning feeling [00:42:00] good and ready to bring on the day. Yeah, I constantly think about it because I made the changes.
Cyndi O’Meara: I can hardly wait [inaudible 00:42:08].
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I probably-
Cyndi O’Meara: I can hardly wait [inaudible 00:42:09].
Cyndi O’Meara: I can hardly wait to get up in the morning. It’s just like … I’m going, “Let me go to bed so I can get up in the morning,” because then I get to go for my swim and I get to enjoy the sunrise or … And people don’t live like that. They can’t get up out of bed, they’re tired, they drag themselves around. It’s so sad and most people have just got these blinkers on and they probably think, “Oh my God! She must live such a boring life, you know? She has these non-negotiables. Oh, no. I don’t know, far from it.”
Guy Lawrence: They’re missing out. With all that in mind, I can bring in another aspect that we haven’t spoken about yet and be interested to get your views on it is emotional stress and how much that affects our general health. What’s your take on that because-?
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, food’s just part of it. I love that and my dad is the ultimate chiropractor, a chiropractor who will fix everything. That’s his belief whereas my [inaudible 00:43:14] is that we have to look back to our cultures and traditions. We have to look at what our evolutionary body needs. Most people are in the sympathetic dominance. They are constantly in fight or flight.
They never have a downtime. They’re [melons 00:43:33] are always going, they’re emotional bankrupt and I think when you are aware of this and you’re aware of certain things that are happening in your body and you know you’re in sympathetic dominance, you need to back off. Many people are hunched over, so they’re hunched over ready to fight or flee. They’re hunched all the time on our computers. I guess it’s really important [00:44:00] to sit up.
We have constant life sources, so there was a time when we had [inaudible 00:44:07], draw away all your life sources that no computers or phones or anything like that. Have some downtime. Who needs a TV these days? Really, TV is boring. I think that there were a lot of other things that were involved in sympathetic dominance and if we can calm all of that down and know how to calm it down and not be in that fight or flight, and doing things for our evolutionary bodies such as sleep and movement and relationships and connections and face to face.
Here we are, I know I’m seeing you on a screen but it’s so much nicer to be around somebody and that’s really important, that face connection because that’s how we lived as hunter gatherers and agriculturists. I actually look at the hunter gatherer, the agriculturalist, the pastoralist, the herder and I look at the life that they lived and we are so lucky that we can glimpse into these people that are still living traditional lives such the Kyrgyz of Pamir, up on the Afghanistan belt, they live at 14,000 feet.
The Hadzas, the Himbas, the Hunzas, the Dani of Papua New Guinea, there are people that are living this way and we can get a glimpse into how they have survived, so emotion is a big part of it. We look at our whole life as opposed to … And we live vitalistically as opposed to mechanistically where we just look at diet or we just look at movement or we just look at sleep patterns so yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah
Guy Lawrence: What-
Stuart Cooke: You mentioned holistically as well, so we’ve spoken about diet and we’ve spoken about stress, [00:46:00] so movement. What do you do? What do you do for exercise?
Cyndi O’Meara: I’m not your go-out-and-run-100-miles. It just bores me to tears. I have a girlfriend who is the 24 hour marathon champion, and don’t’ get that at all, but then she doesn’t get what I do and I love to swim. I ocean swim so-
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s us too.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, I just get into the ocean every day. I come down to Sydney and I swim with the bold and the beautiful. I’ll go down and I’ll swim the crew in Tokeh if I’m down there. Up here, I swim at the Mooloolaba Beach Bums, so swimming is really important. I have a desk, I’m sitting at the moment, I have a desk that rises so I can stand and work. My belief is that we need to be on the move all the time.
We did that as hunter gatherers, agriculturalists and herders, so to get up and down on your desk, to stand up on your desk, get a treadmill. I was listening to Ben Greenfield recently, I don’t know if you follow Ben Greenfield?
Guy Lawrence: [crosstalk 00:47:08] Yeah, I’m aware of Ben.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, so Ben was talking about the Spartan Race and how he trains for the Spartan Race. He’s whole thing is stay moving all day long and then he [inaudible 00:47:20] 30 min intensive. He says that’s how he trains for the Spartan Race which worse than the Iron Man Race and I went, “You know, I’m a person that does that.” I do intensive sometime and then I’ll just move most of the day.
I find that I’m probably fitter than most 30 year olds without having to try. I can run 5k without even training for a 5k race. I’ll just go run it and I think we believe that exercise is something that we should take our time out to do but we don’t think it’s okay to take time out for hunting for foods, gathering [00:48:00] our foods, cooking our foods. Michelle Bridges did it perfectly on that weekend that she did the worst for a part of her life.
She believes that exercise is something that we have to take time out to do, but we can just throw a plastic container full of yeast extract and other things in the microwave, press the button and we’re all cool. To me, that’s the biggest myth of … It’s just [biggest 00:48:33]
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: No, and it is about … There’s a disconnect between how we used to be as kids and how we’re conditioned now because I’ve got 3 young girls and I was watching them-
Cyndi O’Meara: Lucky you.
Stuart Cooke: We’ve got a busy household. These girls, they don’t stop, like they don’t stop. I was innately aware the other day. I was thinking, “You 3 really don’t stop,” and they’re wandering up and down doing hand stands, they’re playing on the floor, they’re lying down. Yesterday, we went to Bronte Park and they said, “Dad, come and take us to the park and come and play with us.”
I thought, “Well, I’m going to do everything that you do for an hour,” so before we hopped in the pool for a swim, I just said, “Right, what should we do.” We were on the monkey bars, we were climbing, we were on the roundabouts, we were racing up and down and today, I feel like I have been worked. It’s just one of those things. We didn’t lift any weights, it wasn’t … No treadmill, it wasn’t exercise, it was just play and it is that deconditioning where we used to just run and be free.
Now, we’re kind of … Like you said, we’re hunched and we’re sitting and we’re immobile but we have to make time for our treadmill session. It’s just let’s get back to where we were and just remember that we can move and we can … We don’t have to be sore if we lay on the ground [00:50:00] because we’re just deconditioned to it. It’s just a mindset I think, isn’t it? [crosstalk 00:50:06]
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, and I think it’s awareness because we were not doing this that long ago. It’s only probably in the last 4 decades that we have completely gone off our evolutionary path and most people don’t even realize it’s happened. They think it’s okay to sit in front of the television for 4 hours. They think that you get in your car and you drive to the local store or that you shouldn’t go barefoot because you get parasites.
I’m barefoot until I come to work. I’m barefoot to the beach, coming back from the beach, to the coffee shop. Like all the guys go, “We are all [inaudible 00:50:41] for [inaudible 00:50:42]. We are feeling so sorry for you.” I just think we’ve lost that … I think we have to become aware, become educated and start to play again. I bought a farm and I went up to the farm this weekend to work because I had to finish the 5 hour edit on my documentary.
I’m trying to get it down to an hour and a half. I said to everyone, “I’m going to the farm to work.” “Oh, we’re coming to,” got no work done, no work done whatsoever because it was storm and it was raining. We wanted to go down the bottom of the farm and see the waterfalls. We’re trekking around the farm and there’s leaches everywhere but I noticed my-
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it’s just fun.
Cyndi O’Meara: It’s just fun. I noticed my son and his girlfriend just throwing each other around the place and I went, “Girls and boys don’t do that anymore.” I noticed that beautiful play that they were doing and tickling each other and I don’t know. I don’t see that anymore and it’s really cool to get them back into nature, into the mud and into the playground at Bronte Park, you know?
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I’m aware of the time but I will add-
Cyndi O’Meara: Sorry Guy.
Guy Lawrence: No, that’s cool [00:52:00]. It’s awesome because I was listening to your podcast and how you homeschooled your kids and you all went round Australia in a camper van, is that true?
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, we did.
Guy Lawrence: That’s just awesome. I got so much inspiration from that. I’m like, “That’s something I’d love to do,” yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: It was the best years because we homeschooled the children. I didn’t have to get up pluck their hair, put their school uniform on, make sure they had their lunch. They would get up at 6 in the morning and work for 3 hours knowing at 9:00, we could play. They would get up and do it themselves. These were 6 year olds, 9 years olds and 11 year olds, that’s how old they were.
We’re about to leave, the 5 of us and the girlfriends now and the … Your old [inaudible 00:52:44], we’re about to leave for a 4 week skiing vacation just because we go, “Let’s go play. Let’s go and play.” We ice skate, we ski, we trek, we do snow angels, we do road trips. People just don’t do holidays like that. They go to the islands and they sit in the sun. I couldn’t think of anything … Although hiking in the sun … But just, yeah.
I know I could go on and on but I’m not happy that I have inspired some people to go, “Hey, maybe I’m not aware of my body and what’s happening and what foods I should be eating and that I should ground by going barefoot.” I’m not the hippy, I was … You think you’re the hippy but look at me. I dress well.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, exactly, straight from Nimbin.
Cyndi O’Meara: You think?
Stuart Cooke: Like you said, it’s holistic so in order to be able to do all these wonderful things in play, you have to have the energy for that and in order to get the energy for that, you really do have to eat the foods that provide you the energy and you have to get the sleep that, again, affords your body to rest and recuperate to give you the energy to do all these wonderful things. It’s holistic so yeah, absolutely. [00:54:00]
Guy Lawrence: Brilliant. It’s a brilliant message Cyndi, absolutely.
Cyndi O’Meara: Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: Now, we’ve got 2 wrap up questions we ask everyone on the podcast so I thought I’d get into them. The first one is could you tell us what you ate yesterday just to give people an idea or even this morning for breakfast if you’ve had breakfast?
Cyndi O’Meara: Okay. Let me do yesterday’s breakfast because everybody was at the farm. I cooked up, so I laid down lettuce, avocado, tomato, I had made up some pesto and I had just made a tomato chutney, so I laid that out on a plate. Then I fried up some sage, so I had some fresh sage so I fried that up in butter, put that on the plate then I had some leftover pumpkin from the night before so I put some pumpkin. I heated it up and put that on the plate and then I scrambled up some egg with some parsley and put that on the plate.
That was breakfast and then I went to a friend’s place who lives off the grid and is very alternate. I had a late breakfast and for dinner, I had … He made a paella. He’s a medical doctor, a GP, integrative medical doctor. He’s very Keto and Paleo but he made me a paella with rice. I’m like, “Huh, that’s amazing,” and that was with all sorts of sea foods. That was my meal yesterday and I’m not about how much I can eat.
I’m about how little I can eat and still feel amazing. I think to say I need to increase my metabolism so I can eat more, I just think we’re at the wrong end. I would rather eat less and live longer eating more than eating more in a day. I look at sometimes what I eat in a day and it might be just [tart eggs 00:55:48]. I might just feel like tart egg.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, you’re just tuned in and listen to your body and if you’re hungry, you eat and if you’re not, you don’t.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. The last question, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? [00:56:00]
Cyndi O’Meara: When I was 19, I was working for my dad in Bendigo, Victoria as a chiropractic assistant. This lady from Colorado came to me. She was a chiropractor’s wife, oh, and I think she was a chiropractor as well. They were coming and they were … She was … I don’t know where I was but I remember her saying this to me, “You’re a smart girl. What are you doing in a town like this doing nothing with your life?”
She went back to Colorado, showed me where I could ski and the university I needed to go to which was in Boulder and she changed my life. I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have her make that comment to me. That was a defining moment in my life, very … Yeah. I’m still in touch with her, Katie Felicia was her name and she works in Colorado Springs and I saw her a couple of years ago. Yeah, that was probably it.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic, yeah. Somebody give you a little budge and it all changes.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome, and for anyone listening to this, where would be the best place to go to get more of you Cyndi?
Cyndi O’Meara: Just changing habits dot com dot au is my website and there’s everything in there, how you get on Instagram and how you get on Facebook, how you get on Twitter feeds, how to get to the education, what foods I have, my podcasts because we do podcasts. We’ve been going 2½ years now called Up For a Chat. Yeah, it’s all there so [crosstalk 00:57:40].
Guy Lawrence: Perfect. We’ll lead to it all anyway. You mentioned a documentary. When will that be out?
Cyndi O’Meara: That will be out late March next year, so we’ve done all the filming for it. We’re not just in the editing stages and the storytelling and the story, I think it will get a lot of people thinking really about what they’re doing. That’s my [00:58:00] aim, so it’s called What’s With Weight? We have all have a website called What’s With Weight but that’s not up and running yet. That will be the end of March. Get on my feeds and I will tell you what’s happening.
Guy Lawrence: Keep everyone posted, yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah. I’ll keep everyone posted including you guys.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. Yeah, let us know.
Stuart Cooke: Please do.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: For sure. If we can help, we will absolutely.
Cyndi O’Meara: Thank you, appreciate it.
Guy Lawrence: Well, that’s it. Thank you very much for coming on the show Cyndi. That was awesome.
Cyndi O’Meara: Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: Really appreciate it.
Stuart Cooke: Yap. Take care and we hope to hook up with you in person outside of the cyber world very soon.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Guy: I’m sure we can all relate to this… You’re starving hungry, you have no food and you’re stuck in an airport or the city and all you have to choose from is the food court! With a few tweaks and a bit of insider knowledge, you’ll be amazed at what meal you can whip up to get you out of trouble. The key is to know what NOT to eat in this situation.
I have to admit, I was SHOCKED to find out what some of the cafe owners get up to in the pursuit of making their food tasty. But with the nuggets of info’ in this weeks 2 minute gem above you can easily avoid the pitfalls of the food courts and make better meal choices…
Today we welcome entrepreneur, health and fitness enthusiast and top bloke Josh Sparks. Josh is the founder of the hugely successful Thr1ve cafe/restaurant chain, which can be found in most CBD food courts. In a nutshell they make real food, real fast, and it is a place I actively seek out to dine at when I’m in the neighbourhood.
Stu and I had a huge amount of fun with this podcast as we tap into Josh’s wealth of experience when it comes to the food industry, his own personal journey and paleo discoveries and how he stays on top of his own health with his very hectic lifestyle!
Trust me, after listening to this podcast you will be inspired to take action on whatever your own goals or endeavours are :)
Full Interview: Life’s Lessons to Look Feel Perform & Thrive
In This Episode:
The biggest lessons he’s learned since cleaning up his diet
How to navigate your way around a food court to make healthy choices
His daily routines and how he stays in great shape!
Why he enjoys being bad at meditation
What stress and your life’s purpose have in common
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence at 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s Health Sessions. I’ve been very much looking forward to today’s guest, because it’s safe to say he is a entrepreneur, but not only that, a very healthy one.
You know, from myself and Stu’s experience in developing and running 180, it’s all well and good us doing podcasts, creating posts, developing new products and all the rest of it. But it can become very stressful and we have to look after our own health at the same time and it can actually be very challenging sometimes.
So, I was very keen to pick today’s guest’s brains, because he does a very good job of that. His name is Josh Sparks and he is the founder of the THR1VE cafeteria chain here in Australia.
Now, if you’re not aware of the THR1VE cafeteria chain, in a nutshell, they do real food, real fast. And if you’re in most CBDs in Australia you can go into a THR1VE café and actually have a really great meal. It’s one of the places that I will seek out and find when I’m in the city, no matter which one it is here in Australia.
You know, Josh’s background; it’s basically 14 years in high-growth leadership roles as CEO in the fashion industry, mainly, of sass & bide, managing director from Urban Outfitters and CEO of Thom Browne in New York, as well.
Whopping amounts of experience, but then he’s gone and taken that and started to develop his own cafeteria chain, which is what we talked to him about today.
He says now he’s been eating, moves and recovers according to the ancestral health principles now for all the last five years and he’s probably fitter and stronger than he was 20 years ago. More importantly what he does stress as well is that his blood markers of health were improved dramatically as well.
So, Josh was consistently astounded, you could say, by the lack of authentic healthy dinning in top areas within the CBDs. So, he helped and did something about it and has created a very, very successful brand about it.
We get to talk about all them things. His own health journey and even what goes on in the food courts, which there were some things he said in there that is quite shocking what can go on.
So, we delve into all of them things, which is fantastic. So, I’m sure you’re going to enjoy.
Now, last but not least, you may be aware that we are, yes, we are live in the USA. So, for all you guys in America that are listening to this podcast, 180 Super Food, you can get your hands on it. You just need to go to 180nutrition.com.
If you’re unsure what it really is; I always tell people it’s a convenient way to replace bad foods, really quickly. So, I generally have a smoothie; I can mix it with a bit of water or coconut water, if I’ve been training, some berries and I normally put a bit of avocado and I make a smoothie. Especially if I’m out and about, going into meetings in the city or whatever and I know I’m stretched from time I will make a big liter of it and sip on it and it gets me through to my next meal.
So, yeah, you can do that. Go over to 180nutrition.com and check it out.
Anyway, let’s go over to Josh and enjoy today’s show. Thanks.
Guy Lawrence: All right. I always get this little turn every time. Anyway …
Hey, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke. Hey, Stewie!
Stuart Cooke: Hello, buddy.
Guy Lawrence: And our awesome guest today is Josh Sparks. Josh, welcome to the show.
Josh Sparks: Thanks guys. Thanks for having me.
Guy Lawrence: Now, look, very excited, mate. I think today’s topics are going to be great. We’re going to certainly want to cover a few things, especially like bringing Mr. Paleo Primal himself over, Mark Sisson, earlier in the year for the THR1VE symposium; which was awesome, by the way.
Josh Sparks: Oh, great.
Guy Lawrence: And of course the THR1VE brand itself and how you’ve taken the food courts kind of head on with the THR1VE cafeteria chain. So, there’ll be lots to discuss, mate, so, very much looking forward to it.
Josh Sparks: I’m excited to be here.
Guy Lawrence: So, before all that, we get into those subjects, what did you used to do before you got in the health industry?
Josh Sparks: Before I did THR1VE?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: So, my journey has been a fairly interesting one. I studied law and I worked very briefly in mergers and acquisitions law and decided, as I think many young lawyers do, that law school is not the same as being a lawyer and got out of that fairly promptly.
And then for the bulk of my career, the last 15 years prior to THR1VE, I was in various fashion businesses. So, all retail, I guess THR1VE is a retail, but fashion and lifestyle focus, never food.
So, I was the first CEO of sass & bide, which is an Australian women’s label that some of your listeners may be familiar with. And then I moved to the U.S. and became the CEO of Thom Browne of New York, which is a men’s line in New York. And then I moved to Philadelphia and ran the ecommerce business at Anthropologie, which is part of the Urban Outfitters group.
So, all fashion; tons of fun. You know, the really interesting thing about fashion and I think how it relates to what you guys are doing, and what I’m doing, what any of us are trying to strike out on our own and create a brand is that within the fashion industry what you’re really doing is storytelling. You’re building brands around what is otherwise largely a commodity product. The $30 jeans use the same denim as the $200 jeans.
So, it’s really about the creativity you can bring to the design and the creativity you can bring to the storytelling to really set it apart. So, I think that that’s what I loved about the fashion industry.
On the flip side my personal passion, really my whole life, has been around health and wellness. Every since I was a high school and college athlete, I’ve always been particularly interested in the intersection of training modalities, training methodologies and nutrition and how to best support each and really ultimately the synergy between the two.
But as I got older, while I was doing all this fashion stuff, I think I experienced what so many of us do and I started to … my body wasn’t responding quite the way I wanted and my thinking that you could steer the ship through exercise started to be challenged by the evidence that confronted me in the mirror every morning and on the scales and in the gym and I just wasn’t performing or looking or feeling quite as I did.
So, I started to explore the nutrition side much more actively. Until then, I think like a lot of guys in their 20s and early 30s, it’s much more about training for a while, or at least it was for me and perhaps my generation.
But as I started to explore nutrition, like you guys and like so many in our community, I discovered ancestral health templates. So the Paleo, the Primal, the Weston A Price and started to experiment with reducing processed foods. I mean, it sounds crazy now that this was an experiment, but reducing processed foods, reducing our processed carbs in particular, amping up the veggies. It’s just so incredibly obvious now, but at the time it was a revelation.
So, as I was professionally developing the skill set around branding and marketing and communications and running businesses here and in the U.S., personally I was having this journey of discovery, this very exciting revelation around what we eat and how profoundly it impacts how we feel and perform, whether it’s physically in the gym or whether it’s mentally and emotionally at work, in our relationships, or whatever.
So, it’s really … I guess I just had this light bulb moment of, “How do I connect the two?” This professional experience that I’ve had, what I’ve loved, around the fashion industry with what is a much deeper personal passion to me than the fashion space and that is health and wellness.
And to cut a very long story short, that’s how I came to develop the idea for THR1VE.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right. How long ago was that, Josh?
Josh Sparks: So, I moved back from the U.S. in 2011 and I started working on … I came back and I was consulting in the fashion space here in Australia, in Sydney and Melbourne to Just Group and Gisele and M. J. Bale and a bunch of different brands. And I was doing that really to save money to do my own thing, to do my own brand.
So, I started working on business plans for THR1VE. It would be unrecognizable to you, knowing THR1VE today. My first two business plans were terrible and it was going to be a one-off restaurant. Then it was going to be a home delivery meal system. Then it was going to be a supplement line and then it was going to be … and I didn’t know what I was doing and I was so all over the place. And then I really came back to focus on what I know and love best, which is this premium consumer retail, effectively.
Which in Australia, for food, that is either food courts or one-off cafes and restaurants, and I decided I didn’t want to do a one-off for a number of reasons. But probably most importantly, I wanted to reach as many people as possible. And the café and restaurant scene in Australia is pretty good. You can get some really healthy, yummy meals in a whole bunch of cafes and restaurants in Australia. Even in small town Australia now, you can get some pretty good food in cafes and restaurants.
But the food court, whether it’s in a mall or in an airport or strip retail, you know, a cluster of food outlets in strip retail. Pretty average. Predominately processed, 70 to 80 percent carbohydrates. You know, you walk into a food court; it’s just all carbs. All processed carbs. You know, its bread and pasta and sugar and all sorts of stuff that we know we could probably benefit from eating a lot less of.
So, I saw it as the area of greatest opportunity and the area of greatest need and thus THR1VE became, through multiple business plans, a food court focused retail offer.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: How long did that process take, Josh, just thinking from your sketches to the day of opening?
Josh Sparks: Yeah, it took a little while, Stu. So, late 2011 I was really actively working on it. I had registered the name and I had settled on broadly what I wanted to do. But we didn’t open the first store until late 2012. So, it was over a year of very focused work here where I settled on THR1VE. I settled on the fact that it was going to be a retail location and I was out talking to landlords and prior to that … I mean, I started working on a business along these lines probably about seven or eight years ago, when I first read Loren Cordain’s stuff.
But that was when I was still in the U.S., I was in Philly, and at that point I was thinking about doing a sort of gym and café combo, where it was going to be a sort of a high-end personal training only gym with sort of a café/restaurant attached to it. Which sounds great, but I never would have been able to pull it off, because I’m not a PT. It just was doomed to go nowhere.
So, how long did it take to really take shape? It took years and years and years of very focused work around the idea of THR1VE as vaguely recognizable as it is today. I was a good 12 months of just hitting the pavement and talking to landlords and pitching it to staff. I mean, no one wanted to know about it. I had a huge amount of difficulty convincing a landlord to give me a location.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Stuart Cooke: Really?
Josh Sparks: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Why do you think that is? Just the whole idea?
Josh Sparks: It’s very easy for us to forget that even in 2011, late 2011 when I first started talking to landlords, no one had heard of paleo or primal. I mean, there wasn’t … it was … the subject; we were so niche. I mean, it was a very small subset of the market and I probably still at that point was being a little bit purest about it as well.
So, when I was talking to landlords, I was probably sounding a little evangelical and a little dogmatic and probably a little bit crazy. And so, I kept having this look, “You know, you seem to have done OK with these fashion brands and you had a bit of success and maybe you should stick to that.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: “And I don’t know if food court really wants healthy food.”
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Josh Sparks: “And we’ve got salads. So, what else do we need?”
Stuart Cooke: Sure.
Josh Sparks: And, “Yeah, we’ve got a Japanese operator. So we’ve got health covered.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right.
Josh Sparks: It was these sorts of conversations. I think it was, even just three or four years ago it was considered a bit ahead of its time and in branding, any sort of branding, whether it’s fashion, whether it’s lifestyle, whether it’s automotive, whether it’s what you guys do. Whatever it is, you want to be ahead enough of the curve to capture some mind shares, some early mind shares. At the same time it’s very easy to go broke if you’re too far ahead of the curve.
And it’s just finding that sweet spot and the feedback I was getting landlords was that I was to far ahead of the curve.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right.
Josh Sparks: And my sense was not at all. This is; we’re at a the tipping point here. This is going to go mainstream in the next couple of years. And it might not be called paleo and it might not be called primal. It might not be call ancestral health. It might not be called THR1VE. But this way of eating, this awareness of just how profound the impact is on how you look, feel, and perform when you eat differently, that’s right at the tipping point. You know, the obesity levels and the Type 2 diabetes level and the fact that Medicare is publicly funded and it’s just unaffordable for us to continue to pay for bad lifestyle choices. Whether it’s smoking or whether it’s excess sugar. So, I felt that we were just at a bit of a tipping point, but it was very challenging to convince people around me, whether they were landlords or investors or potential employees, that I wasn’t completely crazy.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I’m curious, right? Just a thought came in, because I’m always fascinated by everyone’s journeys, was it a particular niche; tipping point or something that happened in your own life? Because I know you’re saying that you were starting to put on weight and things like that, but was there an “aha” moment where you’ve got to go, “Right. I’m going to cut out the process foods. I’m going to change my lifestyle.”
Josh Sparks: So, I think, there’s two. For me personally it was recognizing that I just, I wasn’t happy. And it started off for me with a sense of, you know, emotional well-being suffering.
And it wasn’t so much, because I didn’t get huge, I’m naturally pretty skinny and even when I … I sort of the skinny fat guy. If I’m out of shape, I get skinny-fat. Like, I don’t get a huge gut.
I just don’t … I lose tone. I lose strength. I lose all those physical markers of health, the objective physical markers of health.
This was more subjective to answer your question, Guy. I just wasn’t feeling great.
Guy Lawrence: Yup.
Josh Sparks: And so, it led me to an exploration, “Look, am I drinking too much? Is it something I’m allergic to? Is there something in my diet that’s problematic?”
I stopped drinking completely. I cut out sugar. I started cutting out processed foods. That led me on a journey around fat. I started upping my Omega-3 intake.
But all those things really started for me around a sense of emotional health, not being as good as it could be. I wasn’t depressed. It wasn’t that acute. I just didn’t feel great anymore and I was used to feeling so motivated and so energetic. It was really sad to think, “God, is this aging? Is this normal? Am I meant to feel this way?”
Stuart Cooke: It just sounds like you weren’t thriving, Josh.
Josh Sparks: Thank you very much. I’m glad we got that in there. It’s very fine of you.
Guy Lawrence: So, back to THR1VE, right? And I really want to put this question: like, how would compete against now, like the Subways of this world? Because they’ve got “healthy food” marketing, that’s getting bombarded and the food court’s littered with it.
Josh Sparks: Yeah. Look, I think it’s a really great question. So, there’s two things. One: I think the use of the word “health” is becoming as ubiquitous as the use of the word “green” was about 10 years ago. You know, like, Chevron and Shell were running ads about how “green” they were. It’s like, “OK. Where are we on this ‘green’ thing?” And I think we’re in the same place with everyone’s claiming to be “healthy.”
So, first of all I think there is … that that’s going to lead to a certain level of backlash and I think consumers are already starting to become aware that they’re being hoodwinked with marketing. And great marketers are really good at what they are doing.
So, there’s health messages that are overt and there’s a whole bunch that are much more subtle and nuanced, but they’re rife throughout the food industry; whether it’s retail or wholesale or supermarket, wherever.
So, I think there’s going to be a little bit of a backlash and a little bit of growing skepticism, which I’m hoping will lead to my next point, which is: ask the follow-up questions.
So, yeah, I think whether it’s the press or whether it’s us as consumers, we’re terrible at asking the follow-up questions.
“So, great. You’re healthy.” What is healthy? Define healthy to me? You know, what is your paradigm of health? What protocol do you subscribe to? And that can lead to some really interesting conservations, because we see … I used to go … I read this and I must admit that I read this in a Playboy magazine, which I was reading for the articles when I was about 28 or 29 or so …
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Josh Sparks: And it was the first time I’d ever read about Paul Chek. It was actually an interview with Paul Chek in Playboy, of all places. And Paul Chek was talking about the fact that he’d been interviewed on TV and he got into this head-to-head around diet with a, I guess what we’ll call a conventional dietitian or a nutritionist who was stuck on the U.S. food pyramid, which is very similar to our recommendations.
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Josh Sparks: Anyway, he obviously lost patient with the process at some point and he said, “Listen, do you subscribe to … everything you just espoused, your so-called philosophy of eating, do you subscribe to this a hundred percent in your own life?” And this guy’s, “Yeah. Absolutely.” And he’s like, “Great! Take off your shirt and I’ll take off my shirt.”
And it was just this kind of moment of: OK. So, if this is really working for you, do you look, feel and perform exactly how you want? And if you do, well, let’s see it. Come on. Let’s get this on.
And I thought, OK, it’s a little bit crass. I don’t think it would work on Australian TV. But at the same time I really respected the kind of cut through the B.S.
If you claim to be healthy, give us a sense of what that actually means and hopefully you’ve thought about it enough to have some kind of protocol, some kind of framework that you’re working within. And then is it working for you? And give us some sense of that. You know, “I came from here to here; it’s backed up by bloodwork.” Or, you know, I’ve lost a ton of weight and I know it’s fat, it’s not water or muscle because I did a DEXA scan before and after.
Give us some evidence, you know. Not this kind of fluffy, “healthy” thing.
Guy Lawrence: It’s interesting that you say that, because I worked as a PT for a long time and I would do … I must have … no exaggeration, sat in from the thousand of people, right? Doing consultations and the first thing I would do was ask them, “Do you eat healthy?” I mean, we do that even with our clean eating workshops we’ve been doing with CrossFit, right?
Josh Sparks: Right.
Guy Lawrence: And nine times out of 10 they, go, “Well, yeah. Yeah, I eat pretty healthy.” I go, “Great. Let’s write down what you just ate for the last 48 hours.” Right?
Josh Sparks: Right.
Guy Lawrence: And then once they start doing that there’s two things that generally happen. One: they actually, genuinely think they they’re eating healthy, but I look at it and go, “Oh shit. That’s not healthy.”
Josh Sparks: Yeah. You might have something there.
Guy Lawrence: Or two: they’ve just sort of been in denial. They go, “OK. Maybe I could improve a little bit.” and stuff like that. When you get down to that detail, but we just don’t. It’s human nature.
Josh Sparks: It is human nature. There’s a great stat where I counted it as 92 or 93 percent of male drivers think they’re better than average. So, it’s like, we are great at doing nothing. We are great at deluding ourselves, right?
So, when you have an objective check, someone like you, when you’re sitting in front of them and you’re forcing them to actually go through it, there’s nothing more powerful than documenting a food diary or training log, you know, “Because I’m training hard.” and you kind of look back at what actually you know, “I’m been a complete wuss.”
And it’s the same thing with a food diary. We don’t encourage things like obsessive diarization or cataloging or counting calories or measuring food. We don’t focus on that at all.
But the point that you just made, a point in time gut check, no pun intended, on “How am I eating?” and “Is this truly healthy,” and “Do you even know what healthy is?” And then engaging with the right kind of advices to give you some options and some alternatives.
And so, I think for me, whether you … whatever you call it: paleo, primal, ancestral health, whatever, I’m not really stuck on the labels. In fact, I think the labels can be extremely damaging because we can get a little bit dogmatic around that.
So, setting aside this specific label, what I want to know is whoever is claiming to provide their customers with healthy food and their customers are trusting them. I mean, that’s a relationship of mutual trust and confidence. It’s an important relationship. It should be respected.
Are they lying to them? Or have they actually put some energy into documenting what they believe and have some evidence to back it up? And then have they … again, another follow-up question … have they audited their supply chain? Is there sugar being snuck in the products? Are there bad oils being snuck in the products?
You know if you go around the food court, you would be staggered by … the Japanese operators add processed sugar to the rice. Many of the Mexican operators, not all of them, but many of the Mexican operators add table sugar to their rice.
Now, why do they do that? Because they tested it with customers and surprise, surprise, customers preferred the rice with sugar.
Stuart Cooke: Right. Yeah.
Josh Sparks: So, it’s great that we’re talking about health. I mean, on the one hand, let’s be positive and celebrate the fact that at least it’s a topic of conversation in the food court, which five, 10 years ago, you know, not so much. Certainly 10 years ago.
On the flip side, now that we’re talking about it, let’s have an intelligent conversation about it and let’s ask a couple of follow-up questions. And then we can make an informed decision where your version of health, Mr. Vegan, is right for me or not right for me. And your version, Mr. Salad Man, is right for me or not right for me.
So, that’s what we’re trying to encourage at THR1VE. You take that discussion further.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Awesome.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic. Well, first up Guy, I think, it’s only right that we perform these podcasts in the future without our tops on. OK? That’s a given. We’re going to do that. It won’t start today.
So, just thinking, Josh, if you can’t access, you know, THR1VE in the food courts around here, how would you navigate the food courts? And I’m just thinking in terms of our customers who might think, “Well, sushi is the best option out there.” When we’re looking at the likes of the Chinese and the kabobs, and the McDonald’s and all the other kind of footlong gluten rolls or whatever they are. What do you do?
Josh Sparks: Footlong gluten roll.
Stuart Cooke: I’ve just sold it. I used to work in marketing don’t you know.
Josh Sparks: That’s a marketing winner, I reckon.
Stuart Cooke: No one’s thought of it.
Josh Sparks: It’s a really good question and I think that, I mean, we’ve got six stores, we’ll have nine or 10 opened in another nine or 12 months. So, we are not everywhere, sadly. In fact, if you go Australia-wide, there’s not enough places where you can find THR1VE or something like THR1VE.
So, to answer your question, I think you’ve got a few options. You’ve got … most salad operators will have a range of salads that don’t include the added pasta and the added grains. And I’m not terribly concerned about gluten-free grains as long as I know that … you know, it’s such a difficult question to answer diplomatically, but I’ll give you a version.
So, most salad places will have something for you. Most of the proteins in the less expensive salad joints are not … they’re reprocessed proteins. So, they’re reconstructed proteins.
So, they’re by no means great and there tends to be sugar and gluten snuck into those products. It gives them better form and it gives them better preservation and what not. But it’s not going to kill you, once in a while.
With respect to the Japanese operators, if you go for sashimi you’re pretty safe. Be conscious with the rice, as I mentioned before. But again, I’m not anti-rice by any stretch, but I don’t want table sugar added to my rice. So, I probably tend to avoid it in most of the Japanese operators. Unless they can tell me, and I believe them, that they’re not adding sugar to their rice. But that’s sticky rice. Traditionally prepared, they don’t use sugar. They use a specific kind of rice. But in most food operators there is sugar added to it.
Mexican operators, if you go without the bread, without the corn chips, without the processed carbs. And again, I’m persuaded that lentils are not the end of the world and beans aren’t the end of the world.
I’ve read a whole bunch of interesting stuff on that recently, particularly after Mark Sisson came out at the THR1VE Me Conference in March and said that he was reading a lot of evidence that legumes in small amounts occasionally can actually be beneficial to gut flora and so on and so forth.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Absolutely.
Josh Sparks: So, Mexican operators, if you go for kind of the beans and the guac and the salsa and the meats, maybe skip the rice if you’re having the beans. You probably don’t need a double hit. But maybe you do, if you just worked out.
So, what I do is I look those operators with brands that I trust. I prefer to feel that there’s some integrity in the supply chain. And to a certain extent I find, and it’s a terrible term, but the idea that it’s reassuringly expensive is not always true, but if you go to some of those really sort of dirty café, you know, greasy spoon type operators and you can get a bacon and egg roll for three bucks. Not that I have the roll anyway. But you can pretty well be sure that that bacon and that egg is not going to live up to your standards. It’s probably not the sort that you would have at home.
So, I prefer probably going to the more premium ends of the operators in the food court. Taking my; you mentioned the kebob operator, so in a pinch you can get on a plate, you can get the meat and you can get the salad and you can ask for extra salad, now I normally put some avocado on it and just skip the bread.
Now, I wouldn’t do that unless there was no alternative. But I think that’s a hell of a lot better than having a burger or a XX 0:26:09.000 dirty pieXX or whatever.
So, I think it’s more about … for me the simple rule is, it’s more about what you take out and if you can remove the processed sugars and the processed carbs as much as possible, then you’re going to be left with something that is relatively benign, if you are indulging in it occasionally.
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Josh Sparks: If you’re having it every day, then you’ve probably got to take it a little bit further and say, “Well, if this is processed chicken, what did they process it with? If this is reconstructed chicken, what else did they put into it? What oils have they used in this salad dressing? What oils do they cook in?”
But you’re getting down to some lower dimension returns on that stuff. It makes a ton of sense if you’re doing it every day. So, if you’re doing it every meal, but if you’re doing it once every two weeks because you’re stuck in an airport and you’ve got no alternative, I would say don’t sweat it.
Guy Lawrence: A hundred percent. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly.
Josh Sparks: There’s also all that stuff about hermetic stressors right? Which I’m just fascinated by and the idea that you can go too clean and all the stuff that Robb Wolf has done around Special Forces.
They go back to base. They eat 100 percent strictly extremely clean, because they’re allowed to. And they’re cooking for themselves and they’re eating off-base. They’re not eating in the cafeteria, etc., etc.
They then go on to deployment and they’ve got to eat these MRAs that are just horrendous. Because they’re packaged for stability and shelf life, not for the kind of nutritional profile that we would look for. And these guys are getting really sick for the first two days on deployment. And if you’re sent out on some sort of Special Forces mission, you don’t want to spend two days over the toilet when you just landed in enemy territory or whatever.
So, the idea is to … I think, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence. And don’t sweat the occasional toxin, you know, in strict sort of paleo/primal sense. But eat clean as much as you can. And then don’t worry about it too much. If you find yourself stuck eating a salad that’s probably used vegetable oil and they’ve added sugar to the dressing, I say don’t sweat it too much.
Stuart Cooke: I think so and also you can switch on stress hormones by sweating it too much.
Josh Sparks: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: And seriously that can be just as harmful as the food that you eat.
Josh Sparks: That’s so true.
Guy Lawrence: Do you … you talked about the other cafes and food courts, right? And their owners putting sugar in the rice and they’re using different oils. Do you think they’re even aware that they’re doing things that could be damaging to health? Or do you think it just not even on their radar and it’s just purely business perspective and they just think they’re doing the right thing?
Josh Sparks: Yeah. It’s a really good question. I don’t think … I don’t think … I would love to think that there is no malice involved.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: You know, I think it is a genuine desire to please customers and maximize sales. And most of these guys, certainly the big brands, have done blind taste testing and they know that customers prefer high sugar.
Now, the customer doesn’t know that rice “A” has no sugar and therefore is going to taste very bland on its own and rice “B” has added sugar. They just know that rice “B” tastes a whole lot better and, “I’m not quite sure why, but it’s great!”
So, I think they’re doing this testing and it’s revealing that there’s a certain level of sugar … these days we’re so detuned; our tastes is so detuned to sugar now, because it’s everywhere, Certain level of sugar is almost necessary, particularly if the food is otherwise rather bland.
And then in terms of oil, I mean, we spend a fortune on oils. Oils for most of our competitors are … it’s a rounding item. They’re getting 20 liters for $8 or less. Fifteen liters for $15 and these are industrial oils that are mass produced and, we know, problematic for a whole bunch reasons.
So, that’s not a taste issue. Because the average consumer, once its mixed up and it’s cooked and it’s got a sauce on it on and a side, you can’t tell whether it’s canola oil or whether its macadamia oil at that point. Most of us can’t, you know. The truth is, we just can’t tell.
However, my competitors have got an extra 4 percent in gross margin, because they spent a lot less on oil.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
So, I think that there’s two decisions being made here. One is around taste and the other one is around the economics.
Australia’s such a high-cost market for what we do and our rents are near world highest. Our food costs a near world highest. And our hourly rates are the highest in the world for causal workers.
So, there’s a real scramble on to work out, well, how do we make this thing profitable? And when you’ve got something like oil costing 10 times as much, it’s an easy decision I think for a lot of operators. But I don’t think it’s malice. I think it’s pleasing customers and survival.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.. I wonder if they’re actually, genuinely aware. It’s the brands I get frustrated with, because obviously, like you said, the paleo movement and primal and health are more on people’s radars now and we’re seeing more health brands coming onto the market. But then I’m looking at what they’re selling and I’m like, “ugh!” They’re just, they know they aren’t doing the right thing right here.
Josh Sparks: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: That’s where it can get frustrating.
Josh Sparks: It is frustrating and I think, you know, on the flip side I guess, Guy, it’s capitalism, right? And that is what a large percentage of the market wants.
It’s like McDonald’s, when they first started doing salads, they don’t sell any salads, it just makes you feel better about walking into McDonald’s. So, you’ll tell your friends that you went to get the salad, but they end up buying a cheeseburger.
So, I think that there is … most people think that they want health, until they’re given the choice at the counter.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: And so, some of our competitors feel, competitors broadly defined, have a really good salad offer, for example, but they also do sandwiches on this incredibly thick ciabatta bread. It ends up being about 70 percent processed carbohydrates.
And you see it all the time. Like, people get up to the counter and that thing being toasted, that sandwich being toasted that smells amazing or you can have the healthy salad and willpower seems to come off.
So, I think there’s always going to be a percentage of the market that says they want to be healthy but don’t really mean it. But what we’re trying to do is encourage those that say they want to be healthy and actually, genuinely want to be healthy and are prepared to make decisions on that basis. We want to give them something that they trust that there’s been real effort into creating a meal and auditing the supply change around it.
Stuart Cooke: Got it.
Josh Sparks: But it is frustrating for us, because we’re being undercut by … you know, we are not the cheapest source of calories in the food court. We don’t use the processed crappy food that is cheap. Processed carbs are cheap, right?
Guy Lawrence: Oh, yeah.
Josh Sparks: So, it’s frustrating for us when someone slaps a whole bunch of nice images of seasonal food across a poster and splashes: “This season’s local produce. Healthy this. Healthy that.” And we know that 79/80 percent of their salad is processed food.
It is frustrating, but at the same time I think it fires us up. Like it makes us … it puts a bit of fire in our belly, because it means that we’ve got to get smarter about how we’re communicating. That not only are we healthy, but there is a follow-up question and please ask us, because we’d love to tell you. We’re going to get smarter and smarter in that conversation.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Brilliant
Stuart Cooke: Excellent.
Now, when I was younger, much younger than I am now, going through college. I worked in England for a very large supermarket chain. And I used to do the evening shift. So, you know, we’d get rid of the customers and we’d tidy up and we’d attend to waste.
So, food wastage, it was unreal. Now, I’m talking big supermarket chain. So, it was Sainsbury’s. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with that brand.
Josh Sparks: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: So, I worked on the produce, the produce section, and occasionally the bakery. And every night we would just fill up probably three or four of these huge wheely bins of donuts and cakes and pies and pastries and all this kind of wonderful fruit, that just kind of past its cosmetic expiry date.
At the time, being a young guy, we used to eat donuts and you know, “You can eat a couple of donuts, guys, before you throw them.” And that was awesome, at the time. But it did open my eyes to: boy that is huge, huge, huge amounts of waste and on a global scale, as well.
Now, I was listening to a podcast the other day about food wastage with you guys and I thought you had some really neat policies. So, I wondered it you could share that with our audience, please.
Josh Sparks: Why sure. So, thanks for asking and I completely agree with you. It’s just I find it horrendous to think about the amount of waste.
So, what we do is twofold. One: we minimize what; we’re incredibly focused on developing systems and processes to minimize our waste. So, we’ve actually engaged a bunch of consultants and we’ve developed a system in-house that, they call them “build to’s” and this is all new to me, right? Because this is not fashion terminology.
So, there’s sort of “build to’s” each day in terms of the amount of stock that’s being prepared. And it’s based on a history of sales. Like-for-like sales.
So, Thursday’s today. What did we do last Thursday? What did we do Thursday before? It’s summer. It’s winter. It’s sunny. It’s not sunny. There’s a bunch of variables that we look at and really dial in what’s been what’s being prepped.
Typically that means we actually run out towards the end of the lunch rush and we’re normally open for another couple of hours beyond that. So, if that happens and that’s the ideal, after the lunch rush we actually prep to order. So, it means you order what takes takes two and a half to three minutes; that is our objective. It will take four to five minutes, but if you’re happy to wait that, you know, mid-afternoon, then it means that we don’t have any waste in those key products at all.
Now, having said that, we’re very rarely perfect, because the day’s never predictable and it’s extremely rare that we aren’t left with something in some ingredients.
So, we’ve got certain things right. We under cooked, we under cut some and then we did too much of others.
So, then we work with OzHarvest and they’re basically a group that collects food on a day-to-day basis, from a bunch of food operators actually, and provide them to the homeless.
So, our raw ingredients end up going into the raw ingredients for things like soup kitchens, to prepare their own food. And our prepped, ready-to-go food, is literally just given as a meal to the homeless.
You know, I had this very funny interaction not long ago, I guess it was about a year ago, in our store at Martin Place in Sydney, there used to … it’s not anymore, it’s just been refurbished … there used to be a little bench just outside the store.
I used to do all my meetings there, because we still don’t have an office, like I’m doing this from home, you know, we’re a small business. So, I was kind of using this as my desk. And I was meeting with my general manager and this guy came over, he was obviously homeless. I mean, he had an old sleeping bag around him. He had the big beard and the crazy hair. He looked like he was sleeping rough and he was clearly coming to me. Like he was making a beeline for me. Like, “What have I done to you?”
And so I’m sort of looking at him coming over and he goes, “Hey, hey, hey …” and I was wearing this THR1VE t-shirt … “Hey, are you Mr. THR1VE?” And I went, “Ah, I guess.” and he goes … am I allowed to swear on this podcast?
Josh Sparks: He goes, “I fucking love your food. It’s the best food.” Why that’s awesome!
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Josh Sparks: I said, “I’m glad you enjoy it. Come back anytime.”
And it was just one of those moments. Because what’s happens is he’s getting one of the meals that’s got the THR1VE branding on it, so he knew it was from us. It just made me realize that you kind of set up these relationships, but you’re not always sure that it makes it to the end user exactly how you anticipate it might. But that was just a nice little moment and I think what OzHarvest does is fantastic.
And these days we don’t do as much prepped foods as we used to. We used to do salads that we made just before lunch rush. So if you’re in a hurry, you point at it in the fridge and we’d give it to you and you’d be good to go. But we moved away from that, because we wanted to give customers more choice in terms of how they build up the bowl.
So, we don’t have the level of giveaways we used to. So, OzHarvest, unfortunately are not getting as much from us as they used to. But we still provide them with any waste that we do have at the end of the day.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Sounds fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: It’s still a fantastic initiative. And just so you know, we’ve got quite a large station wagon, so if you need a hand transporting any of that food wastage, we’ll happily fill up our car with that and drive into the sunset with that. Don’t worry about that. Just say the word.
Josh Sparks: I may take you up on that.
Guy Lawrence: Mate, just a quick question. If anyone is listening to this is new to, say, “clean eating” and they walked into your THR1VE café today and go, “Right. I want to order a dish.” What would you recommend them?
Josh Sparks: OK.
Guy Lawrence: Somebody starting out.
Josh Sparks: Great question. Great question. And should we define “clean eating?” Should we define …
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Go, yes.
Josh Sparks: So, for us; again the follow-up question thing; for us “clean eating” is about no processed foods. So, it’s no added sugar. No gluten-containing grains. It’s no chemicals, preservatives, etc., etc.
So, that’s how we define “clean eating.” It’s not strictly paleo. It’s not strictly primal. It’s certainly inspired by those protocols. But “clean eating” for us is about eliminating processed foods, added sugars, bad oils as well, and any gluten-containing grains. So, that’s how we define it.
So, what we typically do with someone who’s brand new to this way of eating or this way of living, we suggest something that is very familiar. And I have actually have this really strict brief that in our environment; a food court it’s not a niche healthy café in Bondi or XX0:40:19.000 Byron Bay or Neustadt, or the Mornington PeninsulaXX.
It is a high-traffic mainstream environment and we have to have food that sounds and looks familiar and comforting. We’ve just taken the effort of pulling out the bad stuff. So, most of our menu, I would say, hopefully would look and feel pretty approachable and unintimidating.
But our bestseller is our Lemon and Herb Pesto Chicken. Which is just a chicken breast that’s been butterflied, grilled. We make our own pesto. So, we use olive oil, we don’t add sugar to it, etc., etc. We do add a little Parmesan, because I’m not anal about dairy. So, it’s a really nice fresh pesto. We use roasted peppers.
And that will all sit on a bed of whatever veggies or gluten-free grains you want. But I’d suggest you do it on our zoodles, which are … literally it’s just a zucchini that’s been spiralized. It’s not cooked, it’s just … it looks like … it sort of looks like pasta, but it’s raw zucchini. It’s awesome.
Guy Lawrence: I love it.
Josh Sparks: And I do it a half zoodles base and then I’m really into a kind of seasonal grains thing at the moment, because like everyone, I feel like I’m not eating enough grains. So, I do half zoodles on the base, half seasonal grains and I do a side of avocado; maybe a side of broccoli. And depending on what you get, that’s going to cost you anything between, sort of, $12 and $16; depending on how hungry you are and how large each portion you want it to be.
So, that’s kind of a really nice, familiar lunch/dinner. It’s the kind of thing you would see on lots of café menus and lots of restaurant menus and lots of people make it at home.
So, I would recommend something pretty simple like that to start off with.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect. You’re making me hungry.
Stuart Cooke: I am very hungry as well. And good tip as well on your zoodle. Because I had always … well when I say “always,” I’ve experimented with zucchini pasta and for me I’ve always boiled ,,, I’ve kind of boiled it too long and always ended up with a really sloppy mess.
Josh Sparks: Right.
Stuart Cooke: And I’ve been really disappointed. I’m not looking forward to the next one. So, you just do that raw, do you?
Josh Sparks: We do it raw. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Josh Sparks: Because the other, I’m sure you guys read all the same research as well, when I talk about diversity of vegetables, most of us don’t have enough. And then in terms of diversity of preparation, most of us get stuck on a prep step. So, we like steaming or we like roasting or we like frying or whatever. Everything that I read suggests that we should have a mix of a whole huge variety of veggies and a huge variety of prep, including raw. And I realized outside of salad leaves and salad greens I never eat a lot of raw veggies.
So, it’s a way, and I don’t want to say the entire business is built around my selfish desire for raw veggies, but it seems like those zoodles were a good idea and they’re selling very well.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Great. Well, they say variety is the spice of life, mate. That’s for sure.
Josh Sparks: Exactly. Exactly.
Stuart Cooke: That’s beautiful. That’s so deep, Guy. I’m really moved by that.
Guy Lawrence: He’s bagged me twice all ready on this podcast. I’m sure I’ll …
Stuart Cooke: I just can’t help it. Sorry. It’s the beard, the beard. Have you noticed he’s got a beard now?
Josh Sparks: He’s rocking it. It’s very masculine.
Guy Lawrence: It’s very hip, I reckon.
Stuart Cooke: He’s going ancestral.
Josh Sparks: And when he does go shirtless, it’s going to be sort of hipster meets paleo.
Guy Lawrence: Exactly. I’m getting in theme for this podcast. That’s all it was. It was for you, Josh. It was for you.
Stuart Cooke: Thanks a lot.
Josh Sparks: Thank you.
Stuart Cooke: So, I’m going to steal another question, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: Why not, you bagged me twice.
Stuart Cooke: So, paleo, Josh. So, paleo’s all over the media right now. It’s getting some great press. Good. Bad. Indifferent. Has this particular message affected you in any way?
Josh Sparks: Yeah, it has. So, I think that there’s two things I would say. First of all I think … further the point I made earlier, it’s great that paleo is even appearing in the press. Just like it’s great that health is now appearing in the food court and to the extent it’s inspiring a dialogue, and at times a well-researched and intelligent dialogue, then obviously I applaud it. I think that’s a fantastic thing.
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Josh Sparks: On the flip side, because the media deals primarily in sound bites and research takes time and to give them their credit, they work in very short-form media these days, I mean, everything’s a Tweet, basically, in whatever format it’s coming.
I don’t think we’re getting the benefit of a lot of the nuance around what is paleo, what is primal, what’s ancestral health, and I think it’s as a subset of that, people tend to hang onto certain aspects of it that appear dogmatic or prescriptive and I think most people, me included, don’t like being told what to do.
So, I think the backlash that we’re seeing is a natural human response to the perception, you know, real or imagined, that we as a community are coming out and scolding and lecturing people and telling them how bad they are and how better they could be if only they were as purist as we are.
Now, I don’t work that way. I know you guys don’t work that way. But the perception is that we as a community are inflexible, we’re dogmatic and we’re prescriptive. And I think that’s something we need to be very, very focused on countering. Because the reality is, that as Mark Sisson keeps saying; as Robb Wolf keeps saying, as Chris Kresser keeps saying, there is no one paleolithic diet. It’s a template. It’s a template. And there are paleolithic communities that have nothing but meat, primarily fat and protein, there are paleolithic communities that have 16 to 17 percent from their carbs … 16 to 17 percent of their calories from carbs, now, ancient carbs, but carbs.
So, when we’re coming out and saying, for example, “paleo is low-carb,” not only is that historically completely inaccurate, it also fails to recognize that there’s a huge swath of population that are interested in paleo. And they run from skinny weightlifting boys through to, you know, obese Type 2 diabetes, syndrome “X” men and women in their 40s, people who train intensely with weights, people who like going for a walk; obviously completely different need for carbohydrate.
So, I think that it’s a great thing, but it’s a double-edged sword. I think it’s a great thing, but the over-simplification of it I think personally has definitely led to some rather challenging conversations between me and customers and me and the press.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: But also our business has taken … it took a knock when it was really intensely fervently being debated. We noticed that certainly salads and certain products came off. Thankfully they’ve gone back up again. But I think it’s a consequence of over-simplification and the perception of dogma, I think.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: So, this sort of conversation is what I love, because we can put it in its rightful context. Rather than saying, “paleo is this and paleo is that. And you’re not allowed to do this and you’re not allowed to do that.” Which just instantly gets people’s back up. And what you end up doing … I know it’s a long-winded answer … but what you end up doing in that sort of environment is preaching to the converted.
And if we got into this, because I know I did and I know you guys did, because we genuinely want to help other people, I mean, I certainly didn’t get into it for the money. I should have stayed in what I was doing instead. It’s a grand way to not make a lot of money. But we got into it because we genuinely want to help people.
Now, if that’s the belief and there’s real authenticity and integrity around that, we have to reach people that aren’t already converted and that are probably going to be a little bit resistant to the message. And to go back to my fashion days for a second, because it’s a stupid analogy, but I think you’ll understand what I mean.
You know, you have catwalk pieces that are gorgeous and expensive and no one really wears.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Josh Sparks: They end up on the backs of celebrities and they end up in magazines. But they attract attention and they spark interest. But they’re way too intimidating to the average consumer.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: So, the average consumer, you’ve got to provide a bridge and that bridge is something like a XX 0:48:22.000 t-shirt brand or a dinner brand or a swimwear brandXX or whatever. They come in; they experience the brand; they get excited about it and hopefully they work their way up the ladder.
Now, that may sound like a stupid analogy, but I think we’ve got to a certain extent a analogous situation here where we bombard people with the pointy end of the stick, you know, the last 5 percent, this is all we want to debate the first 95 percent.
If we had people just decide they wanted to step over that bridge with us and we soften the message just a little bit and say, “Look, if you’re not ready to give up bread and you show no signs whatsoever of gluten intolerance, well then, let’s try to get you on an organic salad XX 0:49:00.000 or oatsXX it’s naturally a lot lower in gluten, and let’s just start by giving up the sugar and giving up these horrible oils that you use for cooking and deep frying.”
And then notice some changes, and this is what Sarah Wilson done so brilliantly.
Guy Lawrence: She’s done brilliantly, yeah.
Josh Sparks: Start the journey with sugar. And that is naturally going to … you’re going to see profound change in how you look, feel and perform. And if you’re a curious person and you’re interested in furthering the journey, then you ask, “Well, what’s next and what’s next?”
The opposite is what I think some in our community are doing, which is coming out and saying, “You either do all of this or you do nothing.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: And if you don’t subscribe hook, line and sinker, to everything in this book or everything on this website or whatever, then you’re not worthy and you’re not truly one of us. And I think that is; that’s great if you’re trying to build a small club. It’s not great if you’re trying to change the world, because we need to bring as many people with us as we possibly can.
And just recognizing that not everyone is as ready for the hardcore message, softening it a little bit, I think you’re going to bring a lot more people with you and that’s going to have a much bigger impact.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, mate. Great answer, man. Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more.
I’m just looking at the time. I’m aware that the time’s getting on, right? So, I want to just touch on a couple of questions and then we do some wrap-up questions to finish …
Josh Sparks: Cool.
Guy Lawrence: … which is always fun.
But, one thing that I was really intrigued to know and I just want to bring on the podcast. I think people listening to this might not appreciate the effort; almost you could say the entrepreneurship of what you do and stress and everything else that’s going on. You’re a busy boy. You’re doing wonderful things. You’re very successful. How do you keep that work/life balance? Any tips? Like, what do you do?
Josh Sparks: That’s a great question and I would say that … well, first of all I live with my Creative Director, so I’m romantically involved with my Creative Director, Steph, so I don’t know whether I’ve pulled off work/life balance rightly there. Truthfully, I mean, taking about THR1VE every night at dinner is not work /life balance.
But you know what we do, what Steph and I do, what we encourage everyone in the business to do, is make time to train. So there’s this … no matter what’s going on, it’s in the diary and I don’t train every day or anything like that. I train every second day. So it’s three or four times a week, depending on the week. That’s always locked in.
I try to get sun every day. Even if it’s a crappy day, I just sit outside for a while. You know, 10, 20 minutes over lunch.
I started meditating, which I am absolutely rubbish at. The whole “still the mind” thing, I don’t know if that’s ever going to be possible, but I kind of love that too, that I’m really rubbish at it and I’m getting better at it so slowly. It’s going to be a lifetime thing for me and I’ll probably still never get there. So, I’m finding that really helpful.
But in terms of … so you know Keegan, right?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Josh Sparks: Keegan Smith, who we all know and love. I think the guy is genius in many ways. He’s got; he started to focus on one specific area, but I think he’s a very clever guy. And he said to me once; we were talking about stress and he sent me a follow-up note. And he said, “Look, I could tell you were really stressed. I can tell you’re really busy.”
And there was a point earlier on, I mean, not that it’s not stressful now, but it was early on, we were running out of cash. The stores weren’t yet profitable and there was a very real possibility that it just wasn’t going to work. We were selling food and we had a group of customers that loved us, but we just didn’t have enough of them.
And so, I remember meeting him and sort of sharing with him a little bit, “Look, I think someday this is going to be an amazing business, but oh my God it’s incredibly difficult right now.” And he sort of empathized with me.
Anyway, he sent an email later and he said, “Josh, the thing with stress, you’ve got to decide whether the stress relates to your life’s purpose or not. And if it relates to your life’s purpose, then not only do you not resist it, you embrace it. Because that’s exactly what you need to make you harder, stronger, fitter, faster, you know … blah, blah, blah. It’s a hormetic stress. But if it doesn’t relate to your life’s purpose, you have to be ruthless about eliminating it. Just get it out of your life.”
So, a negative person, a negative relationship, some kind of partnership or some sort of hobby or something that isn’t serving you any more, you eliminate it.
Guy Lawrence: Great.
Josh Sparks: And I think that’s … it’s probably not balanced as such, but I’ve really taken his advice to heart and I’ve become a lot less social. Like, if I’m social now, it’s because it’s something I really want to do and it’s people I really care about and they mean a lot to me. I’m not going out through the opening of an envelope or because someone’s throwing a party or whatever.
So, I’m really focused on spending quality time at home with Steph and with the kids. Prioritizing in training. Prioritizing in good eating. Mediation. All that kind of stuff.
But then also recognizing that some days are going to be incredibly stressful, because I’ve chosen to do something that is challenging and I can’t blame anyone else for that. And so, I need to embrace it and work out, “OK, why am I feeling stressed?” Really get underneath the skin of the challenge and how are we going to take this to the next level.
So, I mean, I know I’m skipping ahead to talk about something you often talk about with your guests around favorite books.
Guy Lawrence: Yup.
Josh Sparks: But just on this stress point. A book called “Antifragile.” Have you ever heard of that?
Josh Sparks: So, his surname is: Taleb. And his first name: Nassim. He wrote “The Black Swan.” His background is from … he was a quantitative trader. He made a lot of money out of quant trading on the markets and he’s now basically a fulltime philosopher.
But anyway, the whole “Antifragile” book is written on the idea that systems, be they natural systems; be they the human cellular system; be they economic structures or political structures or whatever. All rely on a certain amount of stress to thrive.
Guy Lawrence: Yup.
Josh Sparks: Got to get the THR1VE word in there again.
Guy Lawrence: Again. We’ve got to make it three by the end of the podcast, mate.
Josh Sparks: Yeah. Yeah.
Not only; there’s a difference between being robust or resilient and being anti-fragile. Robust and resilient means that you absorb the stress and try to maintain stasis. His idea around anti-fragility is that stress makes you stronger.
So, say, for example, you go out and train with weights. All right? And the short term, if we took your blood after doing German volumetric training squats, 10 sets of 10 squats, your bloodwork would be horrendous. And if we showed that do a doctor and didn’t tell them that you’d done 10 rounds of 10 reps on heavy squats, they would probably want to hospitalize you. Your stress markers would be out of control. You’d be showing a whole bunch of damage at the cellular level. Cortisol would be slamming through the roof. Etcetera etcetera.
But next time you come into the gym, provided that you have the right nutrition and adequate amount of rest, you’re going to be stronger.
So, that’s a short-term stress that makes you stronger and more capable of coping with the same stress next time. Everyone understands the weight training analogy, right? But I think Keegan’s point, at least the way I interpret it, is that it’s the same with emotional/intellectual stress as well. If you don’t have at, at least in a way that’s something that you can cope with and doesn’t put you in the ground, and it relates to something that you consider really important, then surely you can overcome it. That stress that seemed completely unmanageable before, we’re good to go and we’re ready to move on to the next level.
So, I know that’s a really long-winded way of answering the question, but…
Guy Lawrence: No, that’s fantastic, and a great analogy. And I know Tony Robbins goes on about exactly the same thing, and he gets you to draw like a stick man on a piece of paper with a circle around it, you know. And that circle is your comfort zone.
And we very rarely go to the edge of that. But he encourages that you go up against it and you push it, but you don’t step outside. So, your stress muscles are being built and then that circle slowly gets bigger and bigger and then as years go by you don’t realize it but you’ve grown tremendously through actual stress. But you only want to take on what you can cope with.
Josh Sparks: Yeah, exactly. You won’t know until you’ve taken it on. And you know that old saying about “bite off more than you can chew and chew like hell.” I think is a part of that with me as well, where I think that, you know, it’s an other terrible cliché but an accurate one. And you guys might relate to this. But if you knew everything about what you were currently doing before you started, you probably wouldn’t have started it, right?
Stuart Cooke: Oh, my God. No way.
Josh Sparks: But you are. And you’re doing really well. You guys are killing it here. You’re moving into the States. And you’ve got a fantastic product. I think you’ve got best-in-class product. And you’re taking it to the world.
So, you know, you wouldn’t have done that if you knew everything. And that’s why sometimes I think it’s better to just leap. You trust your gut. Your intuition says this is gonna work. You know it’s gonna be difficult. But you can probably figure it out along the way. So, just go for it.
Guy Lawrence: I often joke sometimes that being naïve has been my best friend in some respects, because if you have no idea and sometimes you just jump, you just figure it out and then you learn along the way.
Josh Sparks: For sure. And if you don’t; if; the worst-case scenario is that you start again. This is not life-and-death stuff, right? This is about, whether it’s business or a relationship or sport or trying to do a PB in the gym or whatever it is, if you fail, OK. Well, pick yourself up and go give it another shot. I mean, why would you not want to do that?
Stuart Cooke: Exactly right. And life’s lessons, right? You learn from each mistake you make, which makes you stronger or a better person moving forward.
Josh Sparks: I totally agree. It doesn’t make it feel great at the time, always. But it’s the only way to live.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, look, no. I love that. Everything that we do, albeit negative, I want to know: Well, what can I learn from this? What can I do different next time?
Guy Lawrence: And another great tip, I think it was Meredith Loring, when we asked her, she came on the show, and she said, well, the best thing she’s realized is only focus and set goals that are within your control. Like, don’t try and control the uncontrollable and just let it roll and then things will come in time. And she said once she had that shift in the headspace…
Because we think about this with the USA at the moment, it’s probably the biggest decision we’ve ever made to move into an American market. And, you know, I could seriously lose sleep over this if I chose to. But it’s beyond my control, so with Stu and I we just meet up and we just focus on the things that we know we can do, we can control, and the rest is up to fate, to a degree. You do your best and then the rest is just see what happens.
Josh Sparks: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And give yourself the time and the space to figure out along the way. You know, you don’t set yourself crazy goals where you’ve got to conquer the entire market in 12 weeks.
Guy Lawrence: Exactly. Patience has been…
Josh Sparks: Yeah, it’s a tricky one.
Guy Lawrence: It’s massive. It’s everything, almost, to a degree, and then you just, “OK. Let it go.”
But we’ve got a couple of wrap-up questions. I reckon we should just shoot into them. One was the books. So, what books have greatly influenced or make an impact in your life. Are there any others on top of Antifragile?
Josh Sparks: There’s tons.
Guy Lawrence: Give us three.
Josh Sparks: OK. So, OK, this is a little bit off the reservation but Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I read that as a teen and it blew my mind and I think it’s done that generations of guys and gals. And I think probably what I found most entertaining about it was the guy was just such a; there was no rule that he wasn’t comfortable breaking. And of course it’s fictionalized and of course there was an obsessive amount of drug and alcohol abuse going on. So, his particular vehicles for demonstrating his willingness to rebel, we don’t necessarily recommend to all your listeners. But the idea that he was just out to have the adventure of a lifetime and didn’t care what the rules were, I think at a pivotal age to me… Because I was pretty conservative. I was very much; I followed the rules and I was a very good student and all that kind of stuff. And I just did a 180 in my thinking: “Hold on a second. Maybe I don’t have to follow the path that’s been laid out for me. Maybe there’s another way to go about this.”
So, though I hate to recommend it because it’s full of massive powdered drug use, it’s actually a really good book from the perspective of: Let’s think about this differently. Don’t necessarily follow the example, but let’s think differently.
I think the other book that I’d say, apart from all the paleo and primal ones; your audience will be very familiar with those ones. I think Robb’s book; Robb Wolf’s book and Mark Sisson’s book had a huge influence on me.
I think Tim Ferriss is underrated by a lot of people in the paleo and primal community. But I think his work has probably had a greater influence over me in more areas. Because he touches on business and he touches on relationships and he touches on sex and a whole bunch of stuff that the paleo and primal crowd tend to ignore a little bit. And they shouldn’t because they talk about lifestyle but they tend to write primarily about food. So, I found Tim Ferriss’s stuff really good.
The other thing that had a huge impact on me, I went to a Zen school. I lived in London for five years after graduating from uni, and I went to a Zen school very sporadically and it was just, I guess, my first attempt to meditate, really. I heard about this school. And it was in Covent Garden, which you guys obviously know well, and it was this crazy little place where you just sat around and nothing happened. And my first few times, I was like, “What are we going to do? We do we start?” And they were: “It’s done now. You’re finished.”
But there’s a book called “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” that I read at the time and the idea is that for all of us to try to acquire a beginner’s mind. There’s a quote in there that in the expert’s mind there are very few possibilities. In the beginner’s mind, it’s unlimited, right? So, the smarter we get and the more we know, the more narrow and dogmatic we tend to become. And the whole idea is let go of all that and try to reacquire a beginner’s mind. Come to things fresh with an open mind. And you see things that you otherwise would have missed. So, I thought was a fantastic book.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s an awesome message. Our beliefs shape so many of our judgments moving forward, and you’ve got to avoid that, for sure. Fantastic.
Josh Sparks: You mentioned Tony Robbins before, and I think that Tony Robbins; I went to all his courses. So, when I was living in London, I did the three-day Unleash Your Power. And then I went to Hawaii and did; I can’t remember what it’s called.
Guy Lawerence: Date with Destiny? Did you do that one?
Josh Sparks: Yes. Date with Destiny on the Gold Coast. And one in Hawaii, and I can’t remember, and Financial Mastery I did in Sydney. So, I certainly did them all over the place.
But his stuff is awesome. And it sounds kind of; I don’t know if Hunter S. Thompson and Tony Robbins have ever been mentioned in the same sentence before, from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas to Unleash Your Power. But in their own way, they both challenge us to think differently. To think more creatively and to free your mind.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, “Awaken the Giant Within” had a huge impact on me; that book itself. And I’ve been to a couple of his seminars as well, yeah.
Josh Sparks: He’s here in a few weeks, I think.
Guy Lawrence: We should get him on the podcast, Stu. I’m sure he’ll come on.
Josh Sparks: I think we’re busy, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I’m confident of him.
Stuart Cooke: It would be a good get.XX
Guy Lawrence: So, last follow-up question, Josh. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Josh Sparks: Oh, man. I think, wow, you know what? I didn’t expect this one so this is a good surprise wrap-up question.
Guy Lawrence: You’ve had a lot to say up until now and now he’s stumped.
Josh Sparks: Just talk amongst yourselves.
Guy Lawrence: Have you got any fashion tips for Stu?
Stuart Cooke: Don’t hang around with you, mate. Well, maybe that’s the best fashion tip. I just need to hang around with you and suddenly I look hugely fashionable.
Josh Sparks: You guys can keep doing this. This is good.
You know, it’s such a cliché but I think probably my mom. And when I was debating what to do and whether or not I should get out of fashion and do what I really wanted to do, she said, as mothers do, she said: You know your own heart and you’ve got to follow your heart. And it’s so cliché. And I know it’s on a million different Hallmark cards. But when it comes from someone you really respect, who knows you inside-out and backwards and says, “You do know what to do, so just go and do it,” I think that was the best piece of advice I’ve ever had.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. I thought you were gonna say that your mum told you to eat your greens and that’s how you got where you are today.
Josh Sparks: She did say that as well. That was the second sentence.
Guy Lawrence: So, what’s next for you, mate? You got anything coming up in the pipeline?
Josh Sparks: Yeah, we do. A bit like you guys, we’re looking overseas. But not just yet. We’ve decided after much contemplation, we’ve registered the trademark all over the world, and we bought the trademark in the U.S. But after much thinking about it, we’re going to focus on doing another six to 10 stores in Australia first and just really kind of dial in the model.
So, another six to 10 stores in Australia, we’ve got three lined up in the next 12 months. We might do four; I think probably three. Every four months feels about right. Which feels fast to me, but it’s incredibly slow, as I understand, in our industry. They want you to do 10, 20 a year, franchise, and do all that kind of stuff. And I just want to focus on doing our own stores and getting them right and help seed this conversation that we’ve been talking about: trying to get the follow-up questions asked, trying to get a more nuanced, intelligent conversation around what we do and what you guys do, in our whole community.
So, I think rather than rushing off too soon, because retail takes time to build out, wholesaling, what you are doing, you can grow a little bit faster. I think just focusing on Australia for the next 12 to 24 months. But then I would love to take what we’re doing overseas.
And there’s a raging debate amongst a whole bunch of people who I respect whether that should be U.S. or whether it should be Asia. But some kind of off-shore opportunity. Because the Australian market, ultimately, it’s finite. It’s not huge. And it’s very high-cost for what we do.
So, if we took our exact business model anywhere else in the world, it would instantly be meaningfully profitable because the costs are lower.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Josh Sparks: So, I think that’s an exciting opportunity. Because at one point I need to pay everyone back, right?
Guy Lawrence: Just keep borrowing, mate. Just keep borrowing. Just roll with it.
Josh Sparks: The investors want a return at some point. So, I think they have been very supportive of my vision, which is great. But in Australia it’s very difficult to do what we’re doing and make it meaningful for investors.
Australia’s a great place to prove a model and prove a brand. It’s a very difficult place to build a small business. Which is why Australia’s full of these massive XX1:08:14.000 shop places? The cost base is so high.XX
But I love doing it here, and I’d happily do it here forever. But I think to really maximize the impact we want to make, which is the “heart” stuff, and return a meaningful number to my investors who have placed so much faith in what we’re doing, which is sort of the “head” part, going overseas at some point makes sense.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, cool. And, mate, I mean, you have been super successful so far. It’s a fantastic brand and I have no doubt moving forward that you’ll be successful wherever you heart leads you to in those endeavours.
Josh Sparks: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Guy Lawrence: For anyone listening to this; obviously they might not be near a THR1VE café but they might like to find out more about you and what you do, where’s the best place to send them?
Josh Sparks: Probably the website, which is Thr1ve.me. Thr1ve with a 1, dot me. And Instagram, which is Thr1ve. Our social media, which is done Steph, my partner, obviously I’m a little bit biased. I think she’s brilliant. So, there’s a really good level, I think, of understanding around what we do that is conveyed through social media.
We’re re-launching our blog. We just sort of got to busy doing the store, so we haven’t really spent enough time on the blog. We’re gonna re-launch that in a few weeks. And in the meantime, there’s some good information on the website as well.
But if you can’t get into a store, the best way to get a sense of what we do is to buy 180 products and read the books that we are talking about and get involved in the community. Because what we’re doing is really, or trying to, hopefully, with some degree of success, distilling a message that we’re all sharing and presenting it in our specific environment, which is the food court and fast-casual restaurant environment.
But you guys can sell over the internet. I can’t send a bowl over the web, unfortunately. But you guys can send protein all over the place.
So, you know, get involved with what you’re doing, which obviously they already are, because they’re watching this podcast. But enjoying your products, reading up on the books, getting involved in the community, trying to spread the word like we discussed in a way that really attracts the unconverted and perhaps those who are a little bit intimidated.
And when they do eventually get to a THR1VE, it’s gonna feel like coming home.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, awesome, mate. Awesome. And we’ll link to the show notes. And just before I say goodbye, I’m going to ask you, you can give me a very quick answer, because we didn’t get to talk about it: Is Mark Sisson coming back to Australia?
Josh Sparks: I certainly hope so. We are not doing THR1VE Me in 2016. We’re going to do it every two years. It turned into a; it was such a massive exercise. I mean, you guys were there. It was great, but it was huge.
Guy Lawrence: It was awesome.
Josh Sparks: I’m really looking forward to doing it again, and Mark’s keen to come back. So, I think realistically for us it will be 2017.
Guy Lawrence: Brilliant. And, yeah, we got to spend some time with Mark and he’s a super nice guy, but also exceptionally fit and walks his talk.
Josh Sparks: Exactly. It’s all about authenticity and integrity.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah. And you need to go and see him once. Like, you need to be there. Awesome. Something to look forward to.
Josh Sparks: Yeah, great. Well, I hope you guys are back. We certainly want you there.
Guy Lawrence: Oh, we’ll be there, mate. Definitely.
Awesome, Josh. Look, thank you so much for your time today. I have no doubt everyone’s gonna get a great deal out of this podcast.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
How do you put a claim like this into a short video (above)? In all honesty you can’t, but hopefully it will whet the appetite enough for you to dig deeper and listen to the full fascinating interview with investigative journalist and NYT bestselling author Nina Teicholz.
In 2014, Nina released her book ‘The Big Fat Surprise’ that was nine years in the making. Within the book she reveals the unthinkable: that everything we thought we knew about dietary fats is wrong.
The book received rave reviews including:
“Most memorable healthcare book of 2014″ – Forbes.com
Full Interview: A Big Fat Surprise! Why I Eat Saturated Fat & Exercise Less
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions.
So, if you’re watching this in video you can see it’s a beautiful day here in Sydney as I stand on my local Maroubra Beach and I might even be tempted to get a wave a little bit later, as well, but on to today’s guest.
We have the fantastic Nina Teicholz today. So, if you’re unfamiliar with Nina, she is an investigative journalist and she spent the last nine years putting a book together that was released in 2014 called “The Big Fat Surprise.” It hit The New York Times bestsellers list as well, which is an awesome achievement.
So, if you’re wondering what Nina’s all about, well the title of the book is a slight giveaway, but yes, dietary fat. And if you’ve been frustrated over the years, like myself and Stu, about the mixed messages of nutrition and what the hell’s going on, Nina sets the record straight today. Especially when it comes to what fats we should be eating, what fats we should be avoiding and even the whole debate around vegetable oils, which I avoid like the plague anyways. I don’t even debate about it anymore.
So, there’s gems of information.
Now, I must admit, I didn’t know a great deal about Nina, but she came highly recommended and this is the first time I met on this podcast today and I thought she was an absolute rock star. She was awesome. And yeah, it was a pleasure interviewing her and yeah, you’ll get a lot out of it.
Stick with it, because it’s action-packed and it’s probably a podcast I’m going to listen to twice, just to make sure I understand all the information.
Last, but not least, I know I ask every episode, but if you could leave a review for us. If you’re enjoying these podcasts and you get something out of it, all I ask is that you leave a review. Five star it and subscribe to it. This is going to help other people reach this information too so they can benefit from it as well.
One of my ambitions is to get the Health Sessions into the top ten on iTunes, in the health and fitness space and I really need your help to do that. So, we’re definitely gathering momentum. We’re moving up the charts and this would mean a lot to us if you just took two minutes to do that.
Anyway, let’s go on to Nina. It’s an awesome podcast. Enjoy.
Guy Lawrence: Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke. Hi, Stewie.
Stuart Cooke: Hello buddy.
Guy Lawrence: And our lovely guest today is Nina Teicholz. Nina, welcome to the show.
Nina Teicholz: Thanks for having me. It’s good to be here.
Guy Lawrence: It’s awesome. Very excited about today. It’s a topic that definitely fascinates us. We’ve had various people coming on the show, talking about all things, fat especially, and looking forward to getting your collective experience over the years and being able to share it with us and our audience. Yeah, it’s going to be awesome. So, it’s much appreciated, Nina.
So, just to get the show started and the ball rolling, would you mind just sharing a little bit about yourself, what you do and your own personal journey for everyone?
Nina Teicholz: Right. Well, I’m a journalist. I’ve been a journalist for decades. I live in New York City. And about a decade ago I sort of plunged into this whole area of nutrition.
And that started because I was doing a series of investigative food pieces for Gourmet Magazine, which is a food magazine in the states. And I was assigned to do a story about trans fats, which are now famous, but back then nobody really knew about it. I wrote this story that kind of broke that whole topic open in the U.S. That led to a book contract and I started writing a book about trans fats.
And then I realized that there was this whole, huge, untold story about dietary fat in general and how our nutrition polices seemed to have gotten it terribly wrong. And then after that it was decade of reading every single nutrition science study I could get my hands on and just doing this, like, deep dive into nutrition science. At the end of which I wrote this book called, or I came out with a book that was published last year, called “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet.”
That book has been controversial, but also successful. It became a bestseller internationally in, you know, it really was the first book to really make the case for why not only fat was good for health, but saturated fat. You know, in butter, dairy, meat, cheese, the kind of fat in animal foods was not bad for health.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: And maybe those foods were even good for health. So, that, of course, turns everything know upside down on its head. So…
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Absolutely.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic.
So, just thinking then, Nina, that you’re completely absorbed in research and medical studies and things like that. At what point during that journey did you question what you were eating?
Nina Teicholz: Well, I started out as a, you know, what I call a near-vegetarian. Since I was in my late teens I had basically, like most American women, I had eaten a pretty low-fat diet, very nervous about eating any kind of fat at all. And I hadn’t eaten red meat in decades. I had like, little bits of chicken and fish. And I was, you know, I was a good deal fatter than I am now. But I also used to just exercise manically. I use to, really, for an hour a day, I would bike or run and I still wasn’t particularly slim.
So, when I started this book, it took me, I would say, a few years until I started really believing what I was reading. Which is to say, that fat wasn’t bad for health and I started to eat more fat.
And then I started to; like, I would say it took me a good five years before I would; I could actually cook a piece of red meat. Like, buy a piece of raw red meat and taste it, because I just hadn’t, you know, all I had in my; I’d only had vegetarian cookbooks and it just seemed; it was like a foreign thing to me.
But, I’m not one of these people, like, I know you probably have listeners who they just like they see the light from one day to the next and they can radically remake their whole diet and that was not me. It just took a long time for me to make that transition.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. In a way it’s such a big topic to get your head around in the first place, because we’ve been told the low-fat message, well, I have my whole life, you know. And when I first started hearing this myself, I was like, “Really? Come on. No way.” But then over the years, you know, I applied it and it’s changed my life, really.
So, what I’m intrigued in as well, if you wouldn’t mind sharing with us, Nina, is how did we end up demonizing fat in the first place?
Nina Teicholz: Well, that really goes back to the 1950s. I mean, there was always this idea that fat would make you fattening, because fat calories are more; they’re more densely packed. And there’s nine calories per gram of fat and there’s only four or five in carbohydrates.
So, there was always this idea that maybe fatty foods would also make you fat. But it really didn’t get going as official policy that all experts believe; it started in the 1950s and I have to back up a little bit if you don’t mind?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Go for it.
Nina Teicholz: I mean, it actually started with saturated fat, right? It wasn’t; it all started with the idea that saturated fat and cholesterol were bad, would give you heart disease. And that really started the 1950s.
It’s a story that I tell in my book, it’s been told by others, how a pathologist from the University of Minnesota named Ancel Keys, developed this hypothesis. He called it his diet-heart hypothesis, that if you eating too much saturated fat and cholesterol it would clog your arteries and give you a heart attack.
And this was in response to the fact that there was really a panic in the United States over the rising tide of heart disease, which had come from pretty much out of nowhere. Very, very few cases in the early 1900s and then it became the number one killer. And our president, Eisenhower, himself, had a heart attack in 1955; was out of the Oval Office, out of the White House for 10 days.
So, the whole nation was in a panic and into that steps this Ancel Keys with his idea. It wasn’t the only idea out there, but he was this very aggressive kind of outsized personality, with this unshakable faith in his own beliefs and he kind of elbowed his way to the top.
So, the very first recommendations for telling people to avoid animal foods, saturated fats and cholesterol, in order to reduce their heart attack risk, those were published in 1961 by the American Heart Association, which was the premier group on heart disease at the time, still is. But at that point there was nobody else.
And so, that started in 1961. Then by 1970 they’re saying, “Well, its not just saturated fat. It’s all fat, because if you reduce fat in general that’s likely to keep calories low.” That was always the argument. That somehow it would just keep calories low and so that was probably a good idea to avoid fat all together. That started in 1970.
Then you see this low-fat diet, which, you know, there’s no evidence. There was no clinical trials. There’s no evidence at all. It just was like; kind of this idea that people had. That was adopted by the U.S. government in 1980, so then it became federal policy.
The whole government is kind of cranking out this idea and all its programs are conforming with it and then throughout the ’80s you see it spreading around the world. So, it spreads to your country. It spreads to Great Britain. It spreads everywhere. And then all Western countries follow the U.S. and our advice.
So, that’s how we got into this whole mess.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Nina Teicholz: And, you know, it’s; now we’re starting to get out of it. But it’s been decades in the making.
Stuart Cooke: Crikey. It’s ludicrous when you think about it based upon zero, I guess, concrete medical knowledge at all. I’m just; I’m intrigued about the studies that are set up, that guide us on this journey. I mean, how are these nutritional studies, I guess, initiated? And it seems that they can be so easily biased. Is that true?
Nina Teicholz: Oh, you know that is such a huge topic.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: I mean, there are thousands of nutritionists studies and we all know what it’s like to feel like be whip-sawed by the latest study and how do you make sense of them? How do you put them in perspective? Is really the question. What do you make of the latest mouse study to come out?
So, the way it all began was with the study that was done by Ancel Keys, called the “Seven Countries Study.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: And that was done on nearly 12,000 men, men only, in seven countries, mainly Europe, but also the U.S. and Japan. And that was a study; it’s called an epidemiological study; and that’s the key thing to know about it. It’s the kind of study that can show an association, but not causation.
So, it can show; it looks at your diet, and usually these studies they test diet just once and they ask you, “What did you eat in the last 24 hours?” You know how well you can remember that, right? And then 10 years later they come back and see if you’ve died of a heart attack or what’s happened to you.
So, even in the best of studies where let’s say they ask you three times what you at in the last 24 hours or they try to confirm what you say with what they measure; maybe they measure your diet. But even in the best of those studies, they can still only show association.
So, let’s say they find, as Ancel Keys did in that first epidemiological study, let’s say they find that you don’t eat very much saturated fat and if you’re one of those people, you tend to live longer. But not eating a lot of animal foods, you know, in post World War II, let’s say Greece or Italy or Yugoslavia, which is what Ancel Keys discovered; that was; those people were also, they were poverty-stricken people, devastated by World War II. They also didn’t eat a lot of sugar.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Nina Teicholz: Right? Because they didn’t have it. But; so you don’t know, was it the sugar? Was it the fat? An epidemiological study can never tell you. Or is it something you didn’t even think to measure? Was it the absence of magnesium in the soil? Was it your, you know, now is it your internet use? Is it your exposure to plastic? You don’t know all those things you can’t think to measure. You’ll never know in an epidemiological study.
But that was, that Seven Countries Study was the basis of that original American Heart Association recommendation and it’s also been the basis of a lot of other bad advice that’s based on these kinds of studies that only show association.
So, the better kind of data is called a clinical trial, where you taka a group of people and you divide them into two groups and you give one group this kind of, you know, a high-fat diet; the other group a low-fat diet and you see; everything about those groups is the same. It’s what’s called “controlling.” You’re controlling for internet use, for magnesium in the soil, or whatever. You take them in the same city; you assume they’ve got the same exposure to all that stuff, so you don’t have to worry about it. You just can measure the effect of the diet or you know, give one a drug and the other not a drug.
So, clinical trials are the kinds of studies that can provide rigorous evidence. And, you know, that they’re harder to do. They are expensive. It’s expensive to feed people. It’s expensive to; you know, usually the good clinical trials really control the diet all day long. It’s best if you do them on institutionalized people, where you can totally control the diet.
But there are clinical trials out there now; now there are after all these years, and you know, all those clinical trials show first, you know, one that saturated fats does not cause heart disease, does not cause any kind of disease, and that the low-fat diet that we embarked upon, when it was finally tested in big clinical trials, was shown to be either, at best, totally ineffective and at worst, it looks like it could very likely provokes heart disease by creating worsened blood lipids.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Nina Teicholz: So, but, those clinical trials, when they eventually came out it was sort of too late, because the official dogma had already charged ahead.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Crikey. Yeah. We’re still seeing an absolute barrage of low-fat goods on the shelves and that message is still loud and proud. People are still completely fearful of fat. It’s insane, isn’t it?
Nina Teicholz: Yeah. I don’t know what the official recommendations are in Australia, but I know in the U.S. they’ve tried to back off the low-fat diet. Like they don’t include that language anymore.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Nina Teicholz: But they still model all their diets as being low-fat. Low-fat is sort of defined as anywhere between 25 and 30, 35 percent of calories is fat.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, okay.
Nina Teicholz: You know, before the low-fat diet we were; all our countries were eating 40, 45 percent fat.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: So, we’ve really dramatically reduced our fat intake. But, you know, our officials just can’t; it’s hard for them to back out of it. It’s just our; all of our food supplies are based on the low-fat diet. I mean, all of our cattle has been bred to be leaner for instance, you know, amongst many other things.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. From over the years of what I’ve seen as well, even if people adopt a higher-fat diet, there’s still a huge amount of confusion about fats themselves.
Nina Teicholz: Right.
Guy Lawrence: So, I’d love to get a little bit of clarity on that today as well. Like for vegetable oils for instance. You know, where did vegetable oils come from and the idea of them being healthy, when, you know, when I avoid them like the plague.
Nina Teicholz: Well that’s another amazing story and I’m not flogging my book, but it’s only place where the history of vegetable oils is really set out. And I just couldn’t believe what I’ve discovered about them. I mean, so the basic thing to know it that they didn’t exist as a foodstuff until really the early 1900s.
Before 1900, the only fats that were really used, well at least in America, I don’t know about Australia, but were butter and lard. Around the world it was butter and lard were the main fats that were used in cooking. And there was some olive oil in Italy, you know, in the Mediterranean.
But that starts later then you think, actually. And before that all oils were used; they were used for industrial uses. They were used to make soap. There were a lot of uses of oils, but it was not for eating.
And then; and so the very first oils introduced for eating, just as plain oils, they didn’t come around; in the U.S. they were introduced in bottles in the 1940s and before that they had; oils are unstable, you know, and they oxidize and they go rancid and they won’t last in shelves.
So, before that, in 1911, in the U.S. at least, they were introduced as like a kind of imitation lard. It was called Crisco that we have. And that they harden the oils through a process called hydrogenation and that produces trans fats. Which is why we all know about that now.
But that was first invented to make those oils stable, to harden them, so that they don’t oxidize and grow rancid.
So, that’s when they came into our food supply. That industry, the vegetable oil industry includes some of the biggest companies in the world now; ADM, Monsanto, Cargill, IOI Loders Croklaan. I don’t know if those are familiar names to you, but they’re huge companies. And they from the very; from the 1940s on, they figured out how to influence; like for instance, they were hugely influential in launching the American Heart Association. Which then wound up recommending vegetable oils for health. Because …
So, if you get rid of the saturated fats, what do you replace them with? You replace them with unsaturated fats and that’s vegetable oils.
So, these companies got their products recommended for fighting heart disease, basically. And they did that by infiltrating into our most trusted institutions, including the American Heart Association and also the National Institute of Health. And that’s why we think vegetable oils are good for health.
I mean, the main argument was that they lower your total… and originally it was they lower your total cholesterol. And then we could measure other things like LDL and HDL, the argument was they can lower your LDL cholesterol and therefore they fight heart disease. Well, I mean, that whole cholesterol story turns out not to be so simplistic.
So, that’s how they came into the food supply and that’s how they came to be viewed as healthy.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah and did it in everything. Like when you walk into the local supermarket, well the commercial supermarkets, I should say; they’re in so many foods.
Stuart Cooke: Well, yeah, 99 percent, I think, of our processed and packaged foods will contain them in some way, shape or form which is kind of crazy. And you touched a little bit on trans fats as well earlier; Nina and I wonder whether you could just talk a little bit about that today? Because that is, that’s a phrase that is quite fearful over here and I know on the packaging at least a lot of the manufacturers are very proud to say, “zero trans fat.” So, what exactly is it?
Nina Teicholz: Well, so when those vegetables oils are hardened, that process that I just mentioned called hydrogenation, that’s just an industrial process and one of the side effects of that process is it creates some amount of trans fats in that hardened vegetable oil, right? You harden the vegetable oil so it can be used precisely as you say in those packaged goods, right?
So, a lightly hydrogenated oil would become; be used as the basis of like a frosting or something. A soft, creamy substance. And the more; if you create; a more highly hydrogenated oil containing more trans fats would be used to say make the hard chocolate coating of a candy or something.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Nina Teicholz: So, you have varying amounts of trans fats in all of those hardened vegetable oils that are the backbone of our food industry.
Trans fats, you know, from that very first introduction of Crisco imitation lard that they were always in there and scientists kind of knew about it and were worried about it, from the 1970s on. But it really wasn’t until they were; really didn’t become exposed and known until the early 1990s. And it turns out that they slightly raise your LDL cholesterol. I mean, that’s; that was the evidence that upon which trans fats were kind of hanged by various expert agencies.
Trans fats are not good for health probably, but not for that reason. I mean, I think their effect on LDL is very minimal. They also seem to interfere with the functioning of your cell membranes. They kind of lodge themselves into critical key spots in every single one of your cell membranes. And they increase calcification of cells.
So, definitely trans fats are not a good thing. They were kind of condemned, I think, for the wrong reason. But, you know, the main issue now is like, what’s replacing trans fats? So, if you get rid of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, what replaces them? And my worry is that they’re just being… in restaurants, which used to use these hydrogenated oils in their fryers.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: Again, they were hydrogenated to be stable. That means not to create oxidation products when heated. So, in this country at least, restaurants are going back to using just regular old non-hydrogenated oils, which are toxic where they’re heated.
They create these hundreds of oxidation products and they create massive inflammation in the body, I mean, there’s all kinds of very worrisome health effects of those non-hydrogenated regular vegetable oils.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: They’re also inventing new oils. There’s something called, interesterified oil that they’re inventing to try to use instead of these trans fats oils. So, the trans-free options are to me, like, equally worrisome or if not more so. And, you know, what should be happening is just to return to butter and lard. That’s what we used to use.
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Nina Teicholz: That’s what we used to use. Those are solid, stable fats that … and tallow, McDonalds used to fry their French fries in tallow. They’re solid and they’re stable and they don’t oxidize and they don’t go rancid.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: And that’s what we should return to. But we can’t, because we’re; there’s this taboo around saturated fats that we can’t use them.
Guy Lawrence: Wow. That’s incredible, isn’t it? I was going to say with the next question, like to just to simplify everything we’ve just discussed for the listeners, is like, what fats would you eat and what fats would you avoid? Like from everyday to …
Nina Teicholz: You should cook with stable natural fats. Lard. Butter. Ghee.
Guy Lawrence: Ghee.
Nina Teicholz: Coconut oil. Tallow if you have it. Those are stable. They’re natural. They’re the fats that we’ve always cooked with throughout human history.
If you want an oil for your salad dressing or whatever, olive oil, which; olive oil is better than vegetable oils. The reason is that olive oil is what’s called monounsaturated. It only has one double bond that could react with oxygen. Vegetable oils are polyunsaturated, meaning they have multiple double bonds. Every single one of those double bonds can react with oxygen. So, you want to just keep your double bonds low and that means using olive oil in favor of those other vegetable oils.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic.
Nina Teicholz: Is that enough?
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. That’s good advice.
So, you touched upon the olive oil as well and I’m just thinking about, you know, in our society today we’ve got a diet for everything. You know we’ve got Paleo diet, low carb/high fat, Mediterranean; crikey there’s so many. With the research that you’ve done, are any of these existing diets close to optimal for long-term health?
Nina Teicholz: You know, I think; so, looking at the clinical trial research again, that kind of good rigorous data …
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Nina Teicholz: It’s strongly supports a lower carb/higher fat diet for better health. That diet is better at fighting helping people lose weight, at keeping their blood glucose steady and under control, which is how you keep diabetes; prevent diabetes or keep diabetes under control and also for improving cardiovascular risk. The majority of cardiovascular risk factors seem better on that diet. So, that’s a diet with anywhere from 45 to 80 percent fat even and carbohydrates, you know, 20 to 40 percent carbohydrates.
I mean, people really respond to diets differently.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: And so, your nutrition needs are different if you’re young, if you’re a child, if you’re elderly. It’s just so important to know that people respond differently to different diets. But; and critically it depends on whether or not your metabolism has kind of tipped over into this unhealthy state.
So, if you’re obese or if you have diabetes or if you have, are fighting heart disease, you are more sensitive to carbohydrates. So, your tolerance for them is lower. If you’re healthy, if you look like you guys, your tolerance is higher for carbs. If you’re active and you’re burning calories a lot, your tolerance is higher.
So, you know, you have to kind of adjust your nutrition plan based on that. But, you know, I think that one of the key things to realize is to eat a higher fat diet you have to eat, and if you want your fats to be natural, based in natural real foods, you just; it has to be a diet that’s higher in animal foods.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Nina Teicholz: You know, that’s again why; it’s one of the reasons why meat, butter, dairy, eggs, cheese is important to have in any kind of diet. The other reason is, is those are the foods where, you know, the majority of nutrients are, like almost all nutrients are, that you need for good health. And that’s not true in plant foods. It’s very hard to get the nutrition you need on a plant-based diet.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah and this is coming from someone that was a vegetarian, like you said as well.
Nina Teicholz: Yeah. Oh my God, you know, I had anemia. I had; most of my young adulthood I had anemia and all kinds of health issues that I had no idea were based on nutrition, but seem to have been now that they’re resolved.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Wow. And just to tie up the fat thing and I know because one question we get asked a lot, “Well, how much fat do I eat?” So, what would a plate look like for you at a meal? Could it be as simple as you cook your veg, you have your steak and then you put a big knob of butter on it kind of thing to have the dietary fat for that meal? What would your advice be?
Nina Teicholz: Yeah. I mean, that sounds like a great dinner to me. I mean, I’ve heard various ways of explaining it to people, you know. Like, half your calories should come from animal foods and half the volume on your plate should come from plant foods. Or what did somebody else say? Eat meat; eat animal foods until you are full and then have some fruits and vegetables.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Nina Teicholz: You know, I think, yeah I think like visually if you think like half your plate is being; having animals foods on it, like eggs, meat, diary and then the other half being salad greens, you know, fruits and things. That’s probably a pretty healthy diet.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Just keeping it simple.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. So, just thinking now then based upon where we are right now, with all the information that’s coming from, you know, the government, the doctors, you know, health advisors. So, if I go to the doctor’s and the doctor says, “Look, you know, you need to get in better shape. I need you to adopt a low-fat diet.” Now, that’s hugely confusing for me now with this barrage of information, new information that’s come out, saying the complete opposite. So, where would I start if I come back from the doctors with that info?
Nina Teicholz: Right. Well, first you sign up for your podcast.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: That’s a good one.
Guy Lawrence: We send it to so many people and friends, you know, who have had that message.
Nina Teicholz: Yeah. And then you send your doctor my book or you send him your podcast. I mean, this is; I mean it is confusing. I think that until the paradigm shifts and our expert advice shifts, we’re going to live; we’re all going to live with this kind of cognitive dissonance between what our doctors say, who, you know, by the way have; most doctors, at least in America have about one hour out of their entire, what, seven-year education is at one hour or one day is devoted to nutrition. Really, they don’t know about nutrition. Even though if you look at polls, most people get their dietary advice from their doctor. So, that’s unfortunate.
But you really do have to become a little bit of an independent thinker, I think, on this subject. You know, especially if you feel like if the low-fat diet isn’t working for you, then there’s your own; I mean, in nutrition everybody is their own “n=1” experiment, right?
Stuart Cooke: Yup. Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: You know, you can go on a low-fat diet and see if it works for you over time. And then if it doesn’t you can go back to your doctor and say, “You know, that really didn’t work.” And he’ll say, “Well, you didn’t exercise enough and you didn’t lower your fat enough.”
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Nina Teicholz: And you can try that advise and see if it works for you. Or you can go on a higher-fat diet and see how well that works.
I mean, I just think that this is a field where there is a kind of alternative view and you have to kind of wean yourself from expert advice in this field. Because the expert advice is really misinformed and it’s entrenched. So; and I think that’s not going to change any time.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. It’s a huge topic and its, yeah, which; you touched on exercise as well. So, question would be, exercise and heart disease are highly related, you know, heart disease and prevention. What’s your thoughts on that?
Nina Teicholz: You know, the recommendations for exercise are mainly based on this idea of burning calories, right? And that’s all based on this idea that weight, your weight, is determined by your calories in, how much you eat, subtracted by your calories out, how much you exercise.
And so, that’s why their recommendations are, you know, burn as many calories as you can. Or, you know, exercise an hour a day to burn calories.
But it just turns out that, you know, weight is not so simply regulated by calories in versus calories out. And we all know, like, I could probably go to a meal with you guys and you’d probably eat a massive amount of food and I’d be sitting there eating like, nothing and thinking, “Why are these guys so slim?” I mean, we all know people for whom that’s true and we all know fat people who just don’t seem to eat very much and we assume that they’re all, you know, stuffing themselves with ice cream every night. But that’s not necessarily true.
The experiments on exercise are uniquely depressing. I mean, they show that when; here’s the most depressing one I’ve ever read, which is kind of emblematic of the whole field, which is, they took a group of people. They had half of them do nothing. The other half trained for marathons for an entire year. They ran like a hundred miles a week, at the end of which the groups were the same in weight. The marathoners hadn’t lost any weight or any more compared to the controlled group. And that was, because when you exercise a lot, you get hungry and then your body, well, your body’s not an idiot, it knows; like it just wants, you know it will make you hungrier and then you’ll eat more and then you’ll replace the calories that you burn.
So, that kind of aerobic exercise does not seem to be effective and there’s a lot of studies like that. I mean, I’m sure you’ve talked about it on your program, the kind of exercise that seems to be supported by better evidence is, like, intense exercise, like, lifting weights or doing sprints or you know, really intense exercise that changes your actual muscles at a cellular level, will actually change their sensitivity to insulin.
Which is totally fascinating. But you don’t have to do a ton of that exercise, you can just do like 15 minutes of it, of intense exercise, and that seems to make, you know, enough of a difference to have an impact.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. Perfect. Yeah, I have a little 6-minute workout that I do couple of times a week and I’m done and dusted in 6 minutes, but it knocks me sideways. But I feel great for it and I sleep better afterwards and I don’t have to spend hours in the gym on a treadmill.
Nina Teicholz: It’s too bad you’re so obese, really. Obviously it’s not working.
Stuart Cooke: I know. Well, you can’t really see the full body …
Guy Lawrence: Stu, I tell you, as I’ve mentioned on many podcasts, Stu’s body fat is probably at about 8 percent, right? I mean, he eats like a horse, like I can’t keep; like he probably eats physically twice the amount of food I do in a day. It’s incredible. I don’t know how he does it or what he does, but …
Stuart Cooke: Well, it is interesting because we had some genetic testing done on the both of us and our makeup is so very, very different. And it really is a slap in the face for everybody who counts calories, because we are so uniquely different. I couldn’t put on weight if I tried and I have tried. Whereas it’s the opposite for Guy. So, it really does, you know, take a little bit of a mind shift to think, “Well, perhaps it isn’t just about what I’m eating.” Because our bodies are kind of chemical machines rather than just, you know, adhering to the simple principles of energy in/energy out. So …
Nina Teicholz: That’s great.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: For women, I would say for women, especially women, you know, of a certain age like me, you know, then there’s other factors; your hormones become involved.
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Nina Teicholz: I mean, your fat in technical terms, your fat deposition is controlled by your hormones, right?
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Nina Teicholz: And the reason that carbohydrates fatten you up more is that they trigger the release of a hormone called insulin, right?
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Nina Teicholz: And then when you get to be my age your hormones change and it becomes; and so that also messes with your fat deposition and then you have to, you have to make adjustments or figure that out. But I mean all of that just shows you that fat is controlled. The deposition of your fat on your body is controlled by your hormones. Insulin is one of those hormones and other hormones have an effect as well.
So, it’s really not about the number of calories that you eat.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Nina Teicholz: One of the great things about eating a higher-fat diet is it just; you don’t have to count calories. Which is like such an enslaving, awful way to live. You know, you can just eat until you’re full. All the tests on the so-called Atkins diet, all the formal scientific experiments, they don’t tell the people to control calories. That diet works even without counting calories. So …
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Nina Teicholz: And that’s a fundamental thing, because that is a terrible way to live. Like where you’re counting the number of calories in your toothpaste, because like, you know, you’re just; you’re, I mean, you’re like, “I’m never going to get back in that dress.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. The other …
Stuart Cooke: I was just thinking that’s just a perfect product; just low-carbohydrate toothpaste. Why didn’t we think of that? We’d make a fortune.
Nina Teicholz: If you’re counting calories.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. True. True.
Guy Lawrence: And the other thing we see all the time as well, is that when people are counting calories, a lot of the calories they’re indiscriminate about what they eat. Like, there’s no nutrients in to them whatsoever except glucose half the time, you know. It’s just processed carbs and they keep to that. I often wonder what that would be doing to you know, the gut health, the inflammation and all these knock-on effects that are coming from that as well. It’s huge.
Nina Teicholz: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. And just supports; we certainly don’t push the calorie-counting message, that’s for sure.
Stuart Cooke: So, given the fact then, Nina, that you’ve written this amazing book and you’ve just got a wealth of knowledge and it’s a question now that we ask everybody on our show and if you don’t mind and I apologize in advance; can you tell us what you ate today?
Nina Teicholz: Sure. I don’t mind. It’s not very interesting. Let’s see, I two fried eggs for breakfast.
Stuart Cooke: Yup.
Nina Teicholz: I drink a lot of coffee. And then I had a huge bowl of full-fat cottage cheese with walnuts and some raisins for lunch. And I haven’t had dinner yet, because I’m here in California. I don’t know what time it is there, but I haven’t had dinner yet.
Stuart Cooke: Right. Okay.
Nina Teicholz: That’s it.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect. There you go.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: And just touching on that, another thought that came in, because for anyone listening to this that is still eating a low-fat diet, you know, what would you advise them in terms of what you found on transition, you know, to allowing the body to adapt and utilize fat more as a fuel?
Nina Teicholz: Well, so a few things; one is that if you’re transitioning to eating more red meat, if you haven’t eaten red meat in a long time you don’t have a lot of the enzymes that you need to digest it and it does take awhile to build those enzymes back up. So, that’s kind of a slow transition.
The other thing is that typically when people switch to a higher-fat diet, I’m talking about like an Atkins diet that’s quite high in fat, there’s a transition period during which you feel awful. And one of the problems with a bunch of these trials on the Atkins diet is they were like, “Oh, let’s test it for three weeks.” And everybody feels horrible during those three weeks. And they’re like, “Oh, that diet must not work.”
But you have to test it for a longer period of time, because there is this transition period. Your enzymes are changing; your regulatory pathways; your metabolism is changing; you’re switching to burning fat rather than glucose as fuel. That takes time and there are resources to try to help you make that transition without suffering too much.
You know, you’re supposed to drink bone broth and have more sodium and you know, there’s various things that you can do to try to replenish some of the nutrients that are depleted. And you know there’s books; I can recommend a book about that. But you have to get through that transition period and then you start feeling better. That’s the crucial thing.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic. Yeah I just wanted her to touch on that.
And we have a couple of wrap up questions that we ask on the show every week and one was what Stewie just asked for, what you ate today?
Another one is, what books have influenced you the most or what would you recommend to people and this can be outside the nutrition or anything. Is there any that spring to mind?
Nina Teicholz: Well, I haven’t read anything other than nutrition for so long. I feel like, oh yeah, there was probably “Catcher On The Rye” back when I read other kinds of things. But, you know, in nutrition the most important writer in nutrition in my view is Gary Taubes. His book, “Good Calories, Get Bad Calories,” is like the Bible, I think, of this whole field. I think it’s, you know, fantastic. It’s; my book covers a lot that same territory, but it’s maybe a little bit lighter and also covers some other things.
So, yeah, I think that’s the most important book I can think of in this field. He also wrote a book called, “Why We Get Fat.” That’s a little more user-friendly.
Yeah, and then you know, Jane Austin. Read about human nature. Never gets better than that.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. That’s excellent.
Guy Lawrence: Excellent. And the last one, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Nina Teicholz: Oh, you know I get asked this and then I’m like, “I don’t know anything about; I don’t know how to live.” I don’t know. Actually I just don’t know how to answer that.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: I think that maybe in this field, for this audience, the point about taking care of your sleep. I’m a chronic insomniac; I’ve been for years. And that so interferes with your weight, and your ability to function and I’m just getting my sleep in order and I would say, yeah, attention to your sleep. It’s just as important as what you eat.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect and we certainly agree with that one.
Stuart Cooke: That is excellent advice. I am absolutely consumed by all things sleep right now. So, in another conservation, I could chew your ear off about that topic.
Nina Teicholz: Oh, I would really like that. I would really love to hear actually what you know.
Stuart Cooke: Likewise.
Nina Teicholz: It’s a whole; that’s another topic where, you know, where you go to your doctor and what they say is so unhelpful, you know.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely.
Nina Teicholz: And what you find on the internet is largely unhelpful and it’s hard to find your way to good information. So …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, they’re all alike. I’m been; I have been infatuated by this probably for the last two years and I’ve read a billion books and a million podcasts. And yeah, I’ve got all these strategies as well that are just like gold and I know now that if I do this thing I’ll have a better nights sleep and it just works. So, yeah …
Nina Teicholz: Thank goodness.
Guy Lawrence: Can you share with us tip, Stu for anyone that’s listening out there.
Stuart Cooke: Okay. One tip; I’ll give you two tips.
Guy Lawrence: There you go.
Stuart Cooke: Blue light and devices wreck sleep, because it interrupts with the body’s production of melatonin. So, if you’re staring at a laptop at 9 o’clock at night and then expect yourself to go into a blissful sleep, it won’t happen.
So, I’ve just been; I wear these blue light blocking glasses. You know, I look like a construction worker. But, crikey, you put them on and ten minutes later you feel sleepy. It’s that crazy.
Nina Teicholz: Wow.
Stuart Cooke: And so, yeah, for me it’s kind of devices off at kind of 6 p.m. and then I try and get into more of a sleep routine where I read and listen to music and prepare myself for sleep wearing those glasses. So, that works.
And the other thing, is a little bit of carbohydrate-cycling. So, following a reasonably low-carbohydrate diet, I tend to have most of my carbohydrates at night before I go to bed. And that really helps with insulin and puts the body in this sleepy state and helps me stay asleep during the night.
So, I find that if I restrict my carbohydrates in the meal at night and just have, I’m going to say carbohydrates, but I’m thinking more of the starchy carbohydrates. So like, sweet potato, things, you know, outside of just the veggies. It works. So, a baked potato, with like guacamole on it; a steak, some veggies covered in olive oil; is my go-to-sleep meal.
We have that on a Monday evening almost religiously and I get the best sleep on Monday night. I just do. So, I’ve been researching a little bit more about that; just about starch and stuff like that and how that plays with our sleep.
Nina Teicholz: All right, I’m signing up for your pod. I’m …
Stuart Cooke: No problem.
Nina Teicholz: Those are great ideas. I’ve heard them, but I mean, that is; really sounds very smart and you’re right. If you can encapsulate that advice and get it out to people, that’s incredible service. So, sign me up.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: All right and thank you.
Guy Lawrence: That’s a good one, Stu. That’s awesome.
And so, what does the future hold for you, Nina? Anything exciting coming up?
Nina Teicholz: No. I hope to be; have a very dull life and get a lot of sleep. But I am; I’m particularly interested in trying to change the actual nutrition policy, you know, that exists, so that; which is so influential. That’s why your doctor gives you the wrong advice, is that they get their recommendations straight from the government and that’s also true in Australia, I know.
So, I think that that needs to change and I’m hoping to work to try to move that along. And basically, you know, nutrition reform. I mean, it’s one thing to write a book, but then you just have to get that message out there. So, I’m working on that.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. And for everyone listening to this, where is the best to go to get more of you so that you; your website?
Nina Teicholz: I do you have a website.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Nina Teicholz: It’s not so active, but there’s a lot of information there, which is: www.thebigfatsurprise.com.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. And they’d be able to get your book from there too or just on Amazon?
Nina Teicholz: Yes. I think it should still be on Amazon. There’s actually a new version that’s being sold in the UK without the thousands of footnotes at the back. So, that’s; might even be considered beach reading, because it’s a light enough book to carry with you.
Guy Lawrence: Well, Stewie’s going through it at the moment, I’m waiting for him to finish and then I’m going to be reading it.
Nina Teicholz: Oh, good.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic.
Nina Teicholz: Great. Well, it’s lovely to talk to you both.
Guy Lawrence: Thank you so much for coming on this show, Nina. That was an awesome and yeah, everyone’s going to get so much out of it. That’s brilliant.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you again, Nina.
Guy Lawrence: Thanks, Nina.
Nina Teicholz: It’s really been great to talk to you.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on youriPhone HERE.
There’s no doubt about it, the paleo diet certainly has divided opinion (especially if you listen to the media)! We ask Marlies Hobbs, what are the biggest misconceptions when it comes to the world of paleo. Can you guess what they are?
If you like inspirational stories, then this one is for you, as we have on todays show Marlies, who is the co-founder of the Paleo Café along with her husband, Jai. She had a great career in law and threw it all in to start the Paleo Café.
After the birth of her dairy-intolerant son Troy, she had a new outlook on life and a sincere appreciation for the effects of food on our physical (and mental) health. After making massive changes in their own life when it come to the foods they ate and the direct impact it had on their health, what follows is a fantastic journey of courage and commitment as they set out to create a paleo cafe lifestyle revolution! Enjoy… Guy
Full Interview with Marlies Hobbs: Why I Risked It All To Start The Paleo Cafe
In this episode we talk about:
Why she quit her secure job in law to start a cafe revolution
The greatest lessons she’s learned about the paleo diet
How she handles her hashimoto disease through food
Why gut health is a main priority
The Food Strategies she uses for her children
How she lost 8kg in weight by making simple dietary changes
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions.
Today, I’m sitting in the Paleo Café in Bondi Junction, Sydney, and this is place where myself and Stu like to try and have our business meetings so we can rely upon the food. But it’s also very relevant to today’s guest.
Now, I do wonder if people get the feeling, you know, sometimes their career is not serving them what they want to do or they’re trying to have more purpose and meaning to it all, I guess. What they’re trying to do with their life, even, in general. I know I certainly had that before starting 180 Nutrition and wanted to make a difference.
And, you know, today’s guest is no exception. So, if you like inspirational stories, this one’s for you, because we have on the show today Marlies Hobbs, who is the co-founder of the Paleo Café along with her husband, Jai. And she decided one day to give it up; all her job security. She had a great career in law and threw it all in to start the Paleo Café.
And so why did she do this? You know, it takes massive courage and dedication, that’s for sure. And obviously a lot of passion. But in a nutshell, they’d just had a newborn son, Troy, and when he was born he was suffering acid reflux for many, many months. He was vomiting a lot and it was causing multiple problems, obviously, to them and they were very worried about him. And they realized that; eventually they found out that he was dairy intolerant, and then they started looking into other foods that might be causing problems, not only to their son Troy but to their own health as well.
And she stumbled across the book The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain and started applying the principles for that. Within five weeks, she’d dropped 8 kilos. Her digestive problems improved and Jai also lost a lot of weight as well and realized they wanted to make a difference in the food industry. And in 2012, the first Paleo Café was born. And it’s now 2015, as I’m saying this, and I think there’s 14 or 15 Paleo Cafes now across Australia, which are awesome. So if you’re in the neighborhood certainly check them out.
I don’t know about you, but if you are needing be inspired and motivated to make change, you’ll get a lot out of this episode today with Marlies. She explains it all, and of course her own health journey as well. It was fantastic to have her on the show.
We also get a lot of emails as well with people asking us, “How do I drop the last five kilos? How do I lose weight? How do I get around bloating?” You know there’s a lot of misinformation out there. So, obviously, with these podcasts and everything that we do, we get comments coming back every week, so we’ve put a quiz together. It’s very simple. You just go in and answer the multiple choice surveys and from that we can then give you content regarding what your answers were.
And some of the biggest roadblocks that we find are, you know, misinformation, people can’t lose the last five kilograms, and also they struggle sticking to their diet in general. So we’ve addressed all these issues and put them into some great information. All you need to do is go back to 180nutrition.com.au and take the quiz and go from there, basically.
But also give us some feedback on what you think of the videos. We’d love to hear from them. And everyone’s that been leaving reviews on iTunes over the last few weeks, really appreciate it. Keep them coming, if you haven’t. It only takes two minutes to do. It gives us good feedback, it helps with our rankings, and it helps us reach more people and it allows us to continue to get awesome guests so we can share them with you and you can listen to them on the podcast. So, head over to iTunes, five-star it, subscribe, leave a review, and it’s always appreciated and we love getting the feedback and thanks again for people who have left them; it’s greatly appreciated.
Anyway, I’m gonna start talking. Let’s go over to Marlies Hobbs. Enjoy.
Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Hi, Stuart.
Stuart Cooke: Hello, mate.
Guy Lawrence: And our lovely guest today is Marlies Hobbs. Marlies, welcome to the show.
Marlies Hobbs: Thank you for having me.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, no, fantastic. We’ve got some awesome things to cover today. Everything paleo and the Paleo Café. But before we start any of that, would you mind sharing us a little bit about yourself and your journey prior to moving into the Paleo Café world?
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah, sure. So, basically, I grew up in Cairns, went to law school, and was practicing as a planning and environment lawyer until I had my first son Troy. And he was born really sick with a dairy intolerance. And it was through that experience that I really learned the profound effects of food on the body as well as the mind.
And at the time I was suffering from acne, digestion problems, fluid retention. Having issues with XXbloating?? 0:04:48.000XX. And I certainly didn’t wake refreshed. So, I had some health issues which I had just accepted as normal, but I guess being awoken to the impact of food on the body.
I had a bit of curiosity there, and Jai, my husband, was actually enjoying his CrossFit and his CrossFit coach told him about the paleo diet and Jai was really keen to give that a go.
And at the time, I was very skeptical. I had just gone through hell and back with my son. He was basically; he screamed for the first four and a half months of his life. You know, he was vomited and pooing blood. It was, like, a very traumatic time. He woke every hour throughout the night. I basically didn’t sleep.
And so, as we were coming out of that struggle, and Troy had been prescribed a dairy-free formula, because basically I had lost my milk because of the stress that that had put on my body and whatnot.
I guess I was really not in a position to want to try any new diets. I just really wanted to, I guess, rejuvenate. But he brought home The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain and I read the first chapter and it suggested all these possibilities to actually heal myself from many of the health complaints that I was experiencing. So, it was at that point that I was prepared to give it a go. And we, as a family, gave it a go. Jai lose 10 kilos. I lost eight kilos. My skin cleared up in about six weeks. My digestion problems went away after about three. And we had energy. We had learned about a new way of looking at life. You know, getting out in the park and how great that is for us as a family. And actually stopping and laying there on the grass and appreciating all the gifts that Mother Nature has for us.
So, it was through that experience with Troy, and my health issues and Jai’s performance and fitness goals, that led us to the paleo diet. And it just completely changed our lives.
Guy Lawrence: Was that the first time you ever considered nutrition as therapeutical for the body, as well, as a healing? Because, you know, you see so many people out there that completely overlook what they put in their mouths daily, or they don’t have that connection yet. So, was that the first time for you?
Marlies Hobbs: Absolutely. Up until that point in time, I had really thought that I was healthy, you know. I didn’t eat fast food too often and I mostly cooked at home. It was spaghetti bolognaise and, you know, curries with rice. And I was healthy! I had XXmilo? Merlot? 0:07:30.000XX and milk and whatnot.
But I thought that I was really healthy. I’d have a muesli bar XXtechnical glitch 0:07:45.000XX and all these healthy things, they weren’t XXtechnical glitch 0:07:45.000XX until I actually became healthy.
Stuart Cooke: Just thinking about your transition to the paleo diet, and it’s amazing to see that you do change your diet and you can really make some amazing changes to your health, but what triggered that spark in you to say, “I’m gonna take this to as many people as I can. I’m gonna set up my own chain of Paleo Cafés”?
Marlies Hobbs: So, it was basically; I remember the moment. One day I walked in the house with a bag full of groceries and products and literally I had been out for a few hours just to get a few things, because I had to jump from health food store to supermarket to health food store asking everyone, every shop, “I need coconut oil. I need XXflax seed? 0:08:41.000XX, I need this.” And they all looked at me like I was crazy. And I was XXyou’re never gonna ??XXX. You know?
And I said to Jai, “Oh, wouldn’t it be good if there was just one place where you could go and get all your products in one place, get a meal, you know, still socialize and have a meal out with your friends without feeling like a crazy person asking for every ingredient in every dish and then basically not being able to eat anything. So, you know it was quite isolating.
And then I figure out, also, we were gonna have a XXtype? 0:09:13.000XX I was a lawyer and I’m going back to work as a lawyer and Jai had his own XXbuyer?? businessXX. We had no time to always prepare every meal every night. But takeaway just wasn’t an option, unless it was a hot chook that we had to prepare ourselves, which is pretty easy. But otherwise there just really was no takeaway convenient meal option for us.
And there’s where the ready-made meal idea came in, where you could pack and it’s ready-made there, so that you could grab them on your way home and enjoy those without compromising your health.
So, that’s sort of where I was thinking wouldn’t it be great to have this type of business. And he goes, “Well, that would be quite a good idea.” And the next day he registered the business name. Paleo Café just seemed to make sense. We didn’t give it too much thought. It just made sense to us at that time.
And I was so intrigued by the whole idea and I still worked as a lawyer until three weeks before opening the first café. Every night before I would go to bed I would research supplies, research products, research recipes and develop menus. I was recruiting people from all over the world, which ended up being a bit of a mistake, but that’s another story.
You know, I was absolutely making this happen. And franchising as such wasn’t in mind in the beginning. It was just a concept, and it was something that we wanted for ourselves that we continued to employ this lifestyle. And I had planned to keep working as a lawyer, but it wasn’t until everyone became so intrigued and so much inquiring, so much interaction, I couldn’t keep up with that as well as managing staff and having a job and having a baby.
So, I cried my last day at work, the whole day I cried, because I was like, “What have I done? I’ve worked there and I was working my way up the chain.” And, “Oh she threw this away to open a café.” People literally said they thought I was absolutely crazy.
It just sort of happened, I suppose.
Guy Lawrence: That’s so inspiring. That’s awesome. So, how long did it take you from when you registered the name Paleo Café; you know, Jai got; you guys got inspired to your first Paleo Café opening. How long was that period of time?
Marlies Hobbs: We registered the business name in around April 2012 and we opened the first café in October.
Guy Lawrence: Oh, wow.
Marlies Hobbs: So, the end of October 2012.
Guy Lawrence: Wow. That’s fantastic. That’s amazing.
Stuart Cooke: Wow, that’s quick. That’s super quick.
Marlies Hobbs: And people had no idea. My only hospitality job was a pub when I was teen. It was just passion and determination and vision.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, exactly. Go on, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: I was just gonna ask what the biggest challenges were that you faced during that setup period.
Marlies Hobbs: Probably finding the right staff. And I guess my lack of hospitality experience sort of led my down paths sometimes that may not have been the right path. And I know I believe that there’s no such thing as a mistake. You know? You have to learn your lessons in life to keep striding ahead. So, but basically, I sort of had this misconception that you had to have paleo-experienced chefs and whatnot to run an effective Paleo Café. So, I recruited someone from XXIslands?? Irons? 0:12:57.000XX. And that came with a lot of expense and challenges. And, yeah, that’s a whole ’nother story. But it didn’t quite work out.
And so as far as getting the right staff, but without; as a leader, you have paleo recipes and it’s got to be run like a business and you’re the passion. And so I guess making sure that you have the right staff with the right amount of hospitality experience and they share you vision. You know, that was probably the biggest challenge was getting everyone on board. I guess there was probably a lot of lack of confidence in us in the beginning, by our staff. “These people are crazy!” You know. “XXWhere’s their experience in business? 0:13:42.000XX What do they know about food? And there they are telling me to make these crazy recipes and serve these drinks and know we’re bucking every rule and trend in our café environment.” I think they just thought we were nuts.
And certainly the business went gangbusters initially and then one the XX????XX went through a bit of a lull, and it was then that we learnt, I guess, the hardest lessons and the best lessons. And so we had to obviously change staff and change the way that we looked at our business and the way that we. . . yeah. Viewed customer demands when it came to the interaction. We sort of really grew. So, we re-recruited. We had a very clear strategy from that point in time. And so we launched from there.
But obviously there’s some supplier complications, you know. Sometimes things are easier to source than others and freight to Cairns was challenging. But I suppose, yeah, the biggest challenge, and I think it’s common for any business, is having the right people on the bus and getting the wrong people off the bus is probably one of the biggest challenges. And then the next one obviously goes to the roots of our business, which is making sure that people understand what work they’re doing, why we’re doing it, and why XXit’s important 0:15:05.000XX. You know, XXaudio glitchXX.
Guy Lawrence: I’m sorry it just stopped on you slightly on the end there. But how many Paleo Cafes do you have now, Marlies?
Marlies Hobbs: So, there is currently 14 open and we have a 15th café opening in Canberra in the next couple of months.
Guy Lawrence: Wow. Fantastic. So, the next question that rings a bell is, and it’s almost a tongue-twister: How does the Paleo Café define paleo?
Marlies Hobbs: I try and explain to people that fundamentally it’s living and eating as Mother Nature intended, which means a good variety of seafood, meat, eggs, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and berries. And avoiding dairy, grains, legumes, and sugar and preservatives.
But we also try and make people appreciate that it’s just; it’s even more simple than that. It’s just eating real food, unprocessed food, avoiding chemicals. And it’s just a matter of really listening to your body, your individual body, and working out exactly what works for you.
For Jai, he can tolerate some amounts of dairy and whey, whereas for my that’s what causes my adult acne. So, you just have to appreciate that everybody is unique and you have to, I guess, really invest your energy in understanding your body fully and getting whatever tests you need to to make sure that you’re nourishing your body the way that it needs to be nourished to, I guess, experience optimal health.
Stuart Cooke: And what do you think the biggest misconceptions are out there at the moment about paleo? Because it’s a term that we’re seeing quite a lot in the press lately as well, you know. So many people gravitate and embrace it, but you also get the other side as well. So, what are those misconceptions that you hear predominantly?
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah, there’s quite a few misconceptions. The common ones are that it’s like a meat, protein heavy diet. That it’s hard. That it’s unsustainable. That it doesn’t taste great, you know. I mean, like it’s super-healthy, you’re eating rabbit food, so to speak.
And I find with all those misconceptions, just to touch of some of the answers, and a lot are being by XX??? 0:17:39.000XX before me that in terms of it being difficult, it’s just cooking simple ingredients. So you can make it as difficult or as easy as you like. Your traditional barbecue steak or salad and XXroast with baked potato?? 0:17:54.000XX. It’s perfectly paleo. And likewise you could make the make fabulous raw desserts or slow-cooked meals full of herbs and spices.
So, you can really make it as hard or simple as you like. In terms of the “expensive” argument, when you eat paleo, your body very much self-regulates, as you guys would know. And so, you know, you don’t find yourself snacking. And so whilst you’re buying premium ingredients, you’re barely eating three meals a day, generally. Some people even sustain themselves on two, depending on if they’re doing intermittent fasting or whatever is working for them based on their level of activity and their, I guess, own individual body.
But essentially, you’re buying a lot less food but you’re consuming quality ingredients. You’re feeling satisfied for longer. So you’re nourishing; you’re putting the right fuel into your body rather than empty fillers that really just make you fat and make you hungry; make you eat more.
So, in terms of, in regard to the expense, and certainly, I can’t see how anyone could imagine that eating beautiful, fresh, seasonal produce and premium meat and healthy fats with lovely herbs and spices where you can even concede that you would be sacrificing on taste. Like, nothing tastes better. And I think once you wean yourself off the traditional foods and the sugar and salt-laden foods, your taste buds adjust and you really appreciate the quality of the food that you’re eating.
And fruit and vegetables have never tasted better to you once you’ve adjusted in that way.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. That is massive. Especially the sugar thing. People don’t appreciate that. If you’ve got sugar in your diet and you’ve had it; so many people have had sugar in their diet their whole life and have never had a life without sugar. And until you get off that, you can’t really taste the appreciation of good food. You know?
And, yeah, I always remember many, many years ago when I sort of changed all my health journey. And my flatmate at the time, this is going back seven or eight years, he had the biggest sugar tooth. And he accidentally tried my full-cream natural yogurt by mistake thinking it was like his sugar vanilla loaded. And he almost spat it out. He said, “Oh, my God, that’s disgusting! What’s going on?” And that was just a classic example.
Marlies Hobbs: I suppose with the meat question, certainly, that comes up a lot, too. And, you know, that’s a misconception I suppose. Plant foods should be the greatest source of food that you’re consuming. Your food should predominantly be coming from plant foods. Then animal foods and then herbs and spices to bring it all together. And your healthy fats are incorporated into plant foods and animal foods.
So, it’s trying to eat a nice, balanced meal, you know. Eat some proteins and carbohydrates and some healthy fats. So, it’s definitely not a plate full of ribs, you know?
Guy Lawrence: And that’s another thing, Stu even stressed this as well, we have vegetables with every meal. Even when I make a smoothie, like if I’m rushing out the door and I’m throwing in some 180, I’ll always put spinach or cucumber or just something green in there as well to bring that in, you know, if you’ve got two minutes.
Marlies Hobbs: Absolutely. And I think that’s what; people are so stuck in their ways about this is typical breakfast meal, this is a typical lunch meal, and this is a typical dinner meal. It’s all just fuel. And so you basically have a fridge full of fresh, beautiful ingredients, paleo-friendly ingredients, and you’d be surprised what goes in what.
This morning I felt like chocolate mousse for breakfast. So I had banana, cacao, and a little bit of coconut milk, avocado, and blended it all together and topped it with some raspberries and blueberries. And who would have thought you could have a healthy chocolate mousse for breakfast?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s beautiful.
Stuart Cooke: Well, I had a whole bowl of steamed green vegetables covered in olive oil, salt, and pepper, topped with a huge can of sardines. So, you know, who would ever want to eat that for breakfast? But I gravitate to that kind of stuff. I love it. Because, to me, those vibrant colours, that green. I mean, that just says “life.” And irrespective of the paleo naysayers, you cannot argue that eliminating crappy food from your diet is anything but a great idea.
Marlies Hobbs: Definitely.
Guy Lawrence: On your journey, Marlies, which foods do you find have caused more problems for you in the past?
Marlies Hobbs: I have recently learned that Hashimoto’s Disease runs in my family, and I just recently, after the Thr1ve conference that I saw you guys at, I went and flew back down and saw Dr. John Hart from Elevate Health Clinic.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, did you?
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah. He is amazing.
Stuart Cooke: He’s awesome, isn’t he?
Marlies Hobbs: He’s a genius. And I took my mum along who has already been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. And sadly it was confirmed that I also have Hashimoto’s Disease. And it’s a very hereditary thing and it’s a thing that is more common in women than men. And I suppose it didn’t come as a huge shock and it’s probably something that triggered my health issues all those years ago before I found paleo. And certainly paleo put a lot of my symptoms in remission. So, I’m lucky that I found paleo when I did. And it’s actually sustained my hormone levels to a fairly healthy level.
So, for me, paleo is my diet for life. And certainly gluten is a huge factor for people with Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease. And from what I understand, in America alone, there’s 50 million and growing people with autoimmune disease. So, so many people have autoimmune disease and they don’t even realize it. They just accept their symptoms as normal and they’re completely not. They don’t know what it feels like to feel great.
And most illnesses start in the gut, due to leaky gut. And diet and lifestyle factors including stress, the predominant cause is a leaky gut, which lead to things like autoimmune disease, and autoimmune disease then can lead to more chronic disease and cancer and whatnot.
So, it’s very much; I think gluten is a huge problem, right along with sugar. Dairy, for people that can’t tolerate it, so I’ve just had all my food intolerance testing done and I’m just waiting for my results to come back. And John gives you this great report which basically gives you a column of all the foods that your body can tolerate. All the foods that you’re mildly intolerant to. And foods that you’re severely intolerant to.
So, there might be some foods within paleo, because of my Hashimoto’s condition, that I actually should be avoiding. So, it’s just; I guess investing the money to understand your body to the best extent possible so that you can really create a diet and lifestyle to suit your individual body.
Because, at the end of the day, what’s anything worth if you’re not living an optimal life with health and happiness?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Absolutely.
I’ll just add to that as well. We had John Hart on the podcast and so anyone listening to this, check him out, he’s an amazing guy. And, like you said, he’s worth flying from anywhere in the country to go and see him in Sydney. He’s that good.
But I would add to that as well, even if the price or whatever scares people, to get these tests done originally, just try cutting out these trigger foods for a month and see how you feel. See what happens. You know, that’s the basic way.
Stuart Cooke: Just thinking about, like, the food sensitivity, if I’m curious about your; the Paleo Café, I don’t really know a great deal about the paleo diet, but I do love my milky teas and things like that. Can I wander into the Paleo Café and get a nice cup of tea with cow’s milk in it?
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah, you can. And it was a difficult decision when we opened. But obviously paleo-primal. Paleo is, obviously, avoids dairy. Primal, a lot of people are happy to have some dairy in their diets.
And so, like I said, Jai can tolerate it. For me, I have to listen to my body. And we serve almond and coconut milk for people that are like myself. And that can be difficult to find, but for the people that can tolerate dairy and are looking for that, then we do have dairy options. But all our food is dairy-free.
Stuart Cooke: Got it.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
And I think it’s a great thing, even if a normal cup of tea and you’ve got dairy and it brings someone in off the street and puts them in this environment for the first time. And they’re looking at the menus, looking at their other options, that’s awesome. That’s the thumbs up because you’re creating a new way of thinking for these people that come in as well. And, yeah, I’m all for that. Definitely.
Marlies Hobbs: I think that XXaudio glitch 0:27:30.000XX certainly XXaudio glitchXX a lot of awareness around paleo at all when we very first opened the first Paleo Café. It sort of all happened collectively in the last sort of couple of years. And we just; we wouldn’t have been able to have a sustainable business at all if we limited our market any more than what we already had.
So; and, you know, if you are OK with dairy and you know that you’re OK with dairy, then, like Mark Sisson said at the conference, see what you can get away with.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly right.
Guy Lawrence: But there are so many options. We have our business meetings in Bondi Junction all the time in the Paleo Café, and it’s a great choice. But I generally gravitate to the Bulletproof coffee myself. There’s a bit of dairy in that but it sits with me fine.
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah, and, look, a lot of people are fine. And I think that if you’ve got a very healthy gut, flora and whatnot, and you’re not experiencing any leaky gut, you know, there’s plenty of people that are OK with it. I think it’s just a matter of, you know, it takes a lot of effort to get yourself to that really healthy point and making sure that you don’t have leaky gut.
And when you get there, then you can experiment. But until you get there, I think it’s really important to take your health seriously. And you will have to sacrifice and avoid some things to get your body functioning as it should be. And then you can play around with those.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly. Yeah. No, it is right, and it brings me back to that food sensitivity testing. You know, that’s so vital. You may not know that you have got a sensitivity or an allergy or an intolerance to a certain food that you’re including every single day. And that might just be pushing you into weight issues, sleep, energy, you know: allergies. All of the above.
And these tests, you know, they’re inexpensive, they’re quick, but I think so worthwhile. I absolutely. . . You know, I live by the results of mine or our food sensitivity tests and it’s great. I feel so much better for it.
Marlies Hobbs: What testing did you guys get, just as a matter of interest?
Stuart Cooke: Food Detective. It’s called a Food Detective test and it was a prick of blood from the finger and then it gets shaken into a vial, wait for 20 minutes, pour it over in this little tray with a series of dots, and each dot represents a food type. So, you’ve got, like, a tray with dots and then you have a card and all those dots are numbered, so 1 might be dairy, 2 might be wheat. And when you pour the liquid over that is mixed with your blood, that has sat for 20 minutes, those dots will darken the more sensitive you are to a food. So, you know, in literally 30 minutes’ time I knew that I had issues to kind of three or four things. And so I pulled back on those and I noticed radical health changes.
Marlies Hobbs: Do you mind sharing what they were?
Stuart Cooke: Eggs.
Guy Lawrence: Eggs is a big one for you.
Stuart Cooke: Eggs was huge. And I, you know, I was eating four eggs a day and loving it, but just something wasn’t right with me and it was wrecking my skin and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was.
Shellfish came up, strangely enough. Yeah, shellfish, eggs. Walnuts were in there as another one. I used to have a handful of walnuts. So I changed to pecans now. Great. No problems whatsoever. And mild wheat.
Guy Lawrence: I mean, you avoid gluten anyway, really.
Stuart Cooke: I do. But, you know what, 30 minutes, and I just culled eggs completely for six months. And I feel so much better now. And every now and again I’ll have the odd one, but I won’t go gangbusters like I was before. Crikey, I ate huge amounts of eggs each week, because I thought, well, it’s a superfood.
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah, absolutely. And they are great, but if there is an underlying issue that you need to heal, then certainly I understand that I will have to go onto the paleo protocol, the autoimmune protocol, shortly. And eggs go for awhile. So, yeah, and it’s not because eggs aren’t great. It’s just that our; there are certain proteins that if you have leaky gut, or if you experience an issue, to let that leaky gut heal, you need to refrain from eating certain foods.
And, I mean, we haven’t really gone into detail about sugar and grains and gluten and chemicals. But I think we’re all fairly savvy enough now to know that they’re not good for us and why. But, you know, just making that awareness that it’s even beyond the foods that you’ll find in the paleo food pyramid, it’s a matter of really understanding your body and making sure that you have got perfect gut health, or as close to it as possible. Because, you know, the whole gut-brain connection. And certainly something I experienced, you know, when my gut flora is compromised, it causes me a lot of challenges academically and to function. Like, my productivity really drops. My creativity drops. I get fatigue.
So, it’s all connected, you know. Gut health and brain health is very much. I’ve definitely experienced first-hand the connection there. And it’s so fundamental to get your gut health right if you want to feel happy, feel healthy, and have energy and longevity.
You know, like, I’m determined; I look at John and he’s a real inspiration, you know. He is gonna just XX??? 0:33:32.000XXX by the look of him. XX????XXX. And that’s what you want. You want to be functioning and fun of vitality until the end.
And that’s why, I guess, my goal for myself and also to teach that to my children. I don’t want them to accept the way things were going. You know? That basically obesity, diabetes, heart disease, all just part of life. That is not part of life. That is not what was intended for us. And you have the choice to shape your future, your health, and your longevity and how much quality of life you have for your entire life.
Stuart Cooke: You completely do. And I love the fact that we have such a powerful medium in the forms of food. You know, nutrition, as a strategy for health moving forward. And for all of those people that are, you know, on the fence with the paleo, the primal, the whole-food diet, I just remember that, you know, when I started out on this journey, I thought, “God, this is so hard. What am I gonna eat? I can’t eat my sandwiches. Can’t eat pasta. Can’t eat any of these things.” Walking around the supermarket and going, “Oh, I can’t eat any of that.”
It took about a month and then you realize that there’s so much to each. But it’s just the good stuff. And then I look at the central aisles at the supermarket. It’s like cat food. Why would I ever gravitate to any of that rubbish? Because I know how it will make me feel.
And there’s so much wonderful stuff. So, sure, you’re meals aren’t conventional anymore, but I look it as, you know, food is information. Food is fuel. And what do I want to do today? Right? I’m going to be a bit more active, well I might mix up a few more carbs, but every single food or meal for me is about getting as many nutrients into my body as I can, because I’m thinking, “What is my body gonna do with those nutrients?” And whether it’s herbs and spices, fats and oils, beautiful fruits and vegetables, all these wonderful meats. You know, it is an opportunity to refuel, rebuild, repair. And I love that kind of stuff.
And now, like I said, I wander around the supermarket and I’m so sad for the people that don’t understand, because they could feel amazing. We have the tools.
Guy Lawrence: And, again, for anyone listening to this, that might seem completely overwhelming because you can look at it all as too much information and you just shut down and go, “You know what? I’ll figure it out next month. I’m too busy.”
But even just try changing one meal a day to something. And just start from that and just point yourself in the right direction and walk forward with it.
Marlies Hobbs: Jai and I fell on and off the wagon quite a few times when we first adopted the lifestyle. We were fairly strict for sort of like six weeks. And then my skin cleared up and I was like, “Yeah!” Then I’d have a little sip of that milkshake that I missed. Oh, my skin would just break out. And I would literally feel the fluid just stick to me in an instant. And then you’re like, “Yeah. That didn’t really work great.” And then you don’t do it again for awhile. And then you feel really brave and good and you have another little go of something.
And your body tells you. So I think if you give yourself the chance to eliminate in whatever XXextreme sense? 0:37:07.000XX that you go with, you know, if you’re really listening to your body and you persist with it, and you take small steps or a big one if you’re prepared to do like a Whole30 challenge or whatnot, it’s just a matter of moving in the right direction, however fast you can do that. You know?
And common sense tells us the answer. There’s some people who are too stressed, they’re too depressed, maybe they’re under financial difficulties, they have kids that just got bad habits to eating and their arguments just aren’t worth it to them. You know? So people have lots of reasons not to do this. But no one can really sensibly argue with the philosophy, I don’t think.
Especially if you take the view that we all have to be just very much educated about our own bodies and listen to our bodies. And they tell a lot more than what people realize when they start listening. You know, like being depressed or having financial issues or having kids stuck with bad habits, I know, and believe me I understand, I’ve got two children myself, and even Troy who has been brought up on a paleo diet, he still challenges me because he’s surrounded by kids that eat candy or everyone else has vegemite sandwiches and why does have; today he’s got pork chop and broccoli and sweet potato chips. And he’s just; he’s really going through a troublesome phase at the moment, because he’s looking at the muesli bars and the sandwiches and he’s like, “Why am I getting this?” But I just explained to him, and yes, it won’t be easy in the beginning, but if you understand where you’re going with it and why you’re doing it, you know, you break habits with children if you eliminate the bad foods and you always offer them the good foods and you get them involved and you get them helping. You know, Troy was pretty happy about having chocolate mousse for breakfast this morning. Get them involved and you make them understand where food comes from, that it comes from nature, not from a box, and you get them in there cooking and make it a bit interactive. Yes, it takes effort, but it’s better than obesity or diabetes.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. It’s worth it in the long run. And, you know, I’ve got three young girls and if I ever hear any issues from them where food is concerned, I’ll give them a couple of options. “Do you want healthy option one or healthy option two?” And they’ll always gravitate to one. And they think they’ve won.
Marlies Hobbs: That’s great. Good. Exactly. I do the same thing with Troy, and that’s exactly right. And, you know, you always just have to keep improvising and trying to educate subtly along the way. And like depression, there’s a huge link between depression and gut health and whatnot as well. So, you know, personal body image and all that type of thing.
So, people don’t appreciate, I don’t think, how powerful changing your diet and lifestyle. It’s not just about losing weight. It’s about a new lifestyle. It’s about a new appreciation of your body. Self-love. And a whole healthy relationship with yourself and food.
And that’s very empowering. You feel free. You know, so many people are currently addicted to so many foods, they are under the spell of some foods. And that’s not an enjoyable place to be. And I know, I didn’t realize until I came out of it, how bad it was. And so empowering to look at it, like you said, walk past those aisles in the supermarket and go, “Ugh, those poor people that are putting that horrible stuff into their bodies. They just don’t understand.” And it’s very empowering. It’s not a chore. It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle, and you feel so much better for it.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. I was, just to get back to your son, and we mentioned a little bit of food there as well. Now, I don’t know how old your boys are, but our girls get invited to lots of parties. You know, every weekend: “Come to the party. Come to the party.” There will be a whole table full of crap, sweets and lollies and sodas and stuff like that.
Now, I have a strategy that I use when I take them to the parties prior to that. But I wondered what your thoughts were. Is there anything that you do for your boys before you get to the party, or do you just let them go gangbusters on whatever they want?
Marlies Hobbs: It’s a hard thing, and I’m just trying to feel my way all the time. You know, obviously there’s no bad foods at our house. So, Troy predominantly eats paleo. So, if, on occasion, he has something outside of that space and whatnot, I’m not gonna have a meltdown over it. Because it’s just not worth it, you know. And I think the more of an issue you make it, the more they sort of resent and resist you. But I basically try and make sure that he’s fairly full before we go to a party. So, he’s not going there starving. And often he doesn’t; he likes playing. He likes being out and about.
When he was younger, he used to just: hand in icing, sugar, cake. It was a big joke. Everyone would be like, “Oh, watch out for Troy! He’s been unleashed. There’s the sugar!” And he would just literally go for that cake.
And it was a bit embarrassing, because everyone would have their snicker, “Oh, those parents. He never has sugar and when he gets to a party. . .”
Stuart Cooke: He makes up for it.
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah. If you can’t find him, he’s probably looking for the lolly bowl, you know. But he’s really come out of that phase. And now he really; and our friends are very accommodating with us, too. And I’ve seen a really healthy shift. We will go parties, they’ll have some unhealthy food option, but Troy just doesn’t really go for them anymore.
And, yeah, they have barbecues or roast meat and veggies and stuff. We’re very lucky. We have very considerate family and friends. I guess they’re probably moving in that direction themselves anyway. But when they know we’re coming, they sort of do allow for us a bit. And we just try not to put a big emphasis on food. So many people live from meal to meal like it’s the highlight of their day. To me, it’s just fuel. You’re a bit hungry, you’ve got to get energy, you eat some good food, and then you move on to doing some fun stuff. Like, some people just sit around all day, “Oh, what are we gonna do? Where are we gonna go next for a meal?” And they sit and eat and they sit around and hibernate until the next meal and it’s a sure way to health issues, I suppose.
Guy Lawrence: How old is Troy, Marlies?
Marlies Hobbs: So, Troy will be turning 4 in June. And Zac’s 8 months.
Guy Lawrence: Right. OK. Because I don’t have kids yet, but I imagine it’s much easier to bring them up with this lifestyle than you converting yourself and then having a 10-year-old you’re trying to convert. Maybe get off the sugar and lollies that they’re eating all the time.
Marlies Hobbs: It would be very hard. And it would take very much a lot of determination, I think, and very much getting rid of everything in the house and really having a really well-explained approach to what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Get them involved and get them involved with the cooking.
You know, there will be different approaches for different families. You know, maybe a gentle approach they don’t notice, and other families it might be like a pretty cold turkey approach, you know.
And I think you just have to work out what can you handle? What is manageable for you as a family? And I think sometimes the stress can be worse than some of the bad foods so you need to balance it out. And do it in a way that’s not going to cause too much stress on you and your family.
Guy Lawrence: Like World War III.
Stuart Cooke: And I think that, you know, kids are so impressionable, too. You know, they look at their parents and they want to emulate what their parents are doing. So if their parents have got healthy habits, then it’s gonna rub off on the kids anyway, which is a good thing.
Marlies Hobbs: Definitely.
Guy Lawrence: Why do you think kids’ menus in cafés. . . You know, being a café owner, why do you think the kids’ menus in cafés and restaurants are so poor in general?
Guy Lawrence: Every time I eat out, I always look.
Stuart Cooke: Fish and chips. Schnitzel and chips. XXBagel?? 0:45:49.000XX and chips.
Guy Lawrence: Ice cream and soda.
Marlies Hobbs: And the thing is, I think my observation, anyway, with Troy especially, is that they are very impressionable and their taste buds are; those foods are as addictive to them as they are for us. Probably more so addictive to them. Because they don’t understand the difference between. . . Like, I try to educate Troy about, you know, a treat or “good food” and “bad food,” we talk about a lot.
And they don’t; he understands that and we talk about that a lot and he; they don’t understand the adverse effects on their health, I suppose, of the bad foods. They just taste good. They trigger all sorts of emotions and addictions in them. And so when they’ve had them once, their, like, radar is going. So if you go to a restaurant and they’re like, “Oh, you can have steak and vegetables or you can fish and chips.” Pretty much you will rarely find a kid that hasn’t been under the spell once they’ve tasted the saltiness of those fish and chips. It’s very difficult to make them choose the healthy option.
So, I think that’s probably why the menus are the way they are. Because they’re trying to please. And they’re the only foods that the kids will be ordering. And the parents are out for dinner; they just want to have a pleasant meal and they don’t feel like arguing and having a tantrum at the table because they’re trying to order steak and vegetables, if that’s even on option, than the fish and chips. So, for ease and also it’s price. It costs nothing to deep fry some disgusting, processed nuggets and chips. But it costs money to put a nice piece of steak or meat and some vegetables on a plate. It’s all fresh and it’s prepared by the chef. Whereas they’re not just dumped into a deep fryer and slapped on a plate.
So, there are the reasons. And it’s devastating, really. And I think the only real answer. . . Like, for us, when we go out, we don’t tell Troy if there’s a kids’ menus. We often just order either another meal for him or we order something that’s too big for me to eat and he eats; we get another plate and he eats what I eat.
And on occasion when we have allowed him; there’s been times where a family member is gonna have fish and chips and he loves it, like any other kid, he loves it, but he actually feels really sick afterwards. The oil from the batter, from the deep fryer, often he’ll vomit because he’s just so nut familiar with having that in his stomach.
So, yeah, I guess that’s my real take on it.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: No, absolutely. There’s some great pointers there as well. Like, you can you always order a meal and split it. That’s kind of what we do. We order an adult meal and we order a couple of extra plates and we divvy it up that way for the kids. And there’s generally more options as well for them, as opposed to this little miniscule XXparty 0:49:11.000XX menu, which is never gonna be great in the first place.
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah, like when you order a meal and then you order a side of vegetables or a side of vegetables and a salad and then you share it amongst yourselves, it’s pretty much not too much more expensive than ordering a kids’ meal when you do it that way. And everyone ends up happy and healthy. But it definitely does take effort to make sure that you have foresight. Because as soon as they spot that kids’ menu with all of those chips and stuff, it’s over. It’s over for you.
Stuart Cooke: Game over.
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah. Game over. Game over. So, you really have to have a strategy.
Guy Lawrence: Would you, because I know you have a book as well, Marlies, and is there any kids’ menus in that? I haven’t seen the book. But would that be an option for parents?
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah. I’ve got a kids’ section in there, a Paleo for Families section in there. And it gives some great tips about things we’ve spoken about. About parties and whatnot. And also has some great little meals and treats and whatnot, and even ones that you can get the kids involved in. Even the chocolate mousse recipe that Troy loves.
Stuart Cooke: Got is. So, is it predominantly a cookbook or have you got a whole heap of other stuff in there as well?
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah, it’s a Paleo Café lifestyle and cookbook, so the first sections are about the diet and the lifestyle. Just a very nice, simple, gentle introduction. You know: It’s not only technical and complicated so it’s very much a nice; like, people have always complimented us on the information. It’s what you need to know without it feeling too daunting, I suppose. And then it’s got over 130 recipes in there.
Yeah. And we get great feedback all the time on the recipes. Because they’ve been created, obviously, in our cafes and had to be produced at quite a large scale in pretty short time frames. Everything’s very economical, generally, in terms of cost and time to prepare. So, there’s some really great practical recipes. You don’t see these two page long lists of ingredients and whatnot. It’s fairly practical in that sense.
Guy Lawrence: Sounds like my kind of book.
Stuart Cooke: And if I didn’t live near a Paleo Café, where could I grab that book?
Marlies Hobbs: You can get it online from our website, www.Paleo-Cafe.com.au.
Guy Lawrence: We can link to that. I’m just curious: What’s your favorite dish in there?
Marlies Hobbs: My favorite dish in the cookbook. I absolutely love, and obviously I’m from Cairns and mangos are beautiful here; we have a delicious mango avocado macadamia nut salad, which I really love. It’s a favorite. It’s been on the menu a few times at the Paleo Café. It’s just actually gone out because mangoes have gone out of season. But that’s probably one of my favorites. And it was on the menu when the café very first opened here in Cairns.
Stuart Cooke: In the next edition, perhaps you can get my sardine breakfast surprise in there.
Marlies Hobbs: Yes. Yes. I’m going to have to taste test it first.
Guy Lawrence: You need to put that right on the back page, hidden somewhere.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. Save the best to last.
Marlies Hobbs: I’m gonna have to give it a go.
Guy Lawrence: I can’t. I can’t do sardines.
Stuart Cooke: Just got a couple more questions, Marlies. Where are you going to take the Paleo Café brand? How big is this going to be?
Marlies Hobbs: I suppose the sky is the limit when it comes to the paleo café brand. And we definitely have a few different things that we’re looking at at the moment, you know, to try and. . . I guess our primary goal is to spread the message about the benefits of the paleo lifestyle to as many people as possible. And that’s through the cafés, through collaborations, through our website, through our publications. And hopefully in the near future a recipe app which is nice and simple for people to access right off their phones.
We XXaudio glitch 0:53:27.000XX so we can basically gauge the market and move in the directions that we need to move, I suppose, to do the best we can in the environment that we have.
And definitely XXaudio glitch 0:53:38.000XX making sure we can reach the masses and making sure that we can educate people why they are coming to Paleo Café as opposed to another café. And there are things that we are sort of trying to achieve through education online and obviously it’s great to have opportunities like this one to share our message as well.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome. Awesome.
Stuart Cooke: It’s exciting times!
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. There’s a lot going on.
So, Marlies, we always finish with a wrap-up question, the same one every week. It’s one of my favorites. And that is: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Marlies Hobbs: I suppose it’s a very broad application but basically everyone just needs to believe in the beauty of your dreams, whether that’s in relation to your own personal health. Some type of, I guess, performance goal or even in business. You know: Believe in the beauty of your dreams and if you’re passionate about something, just go for it.
And the other thing would be definitely to look after your body because it’s the only place that you have to life.
Stuart Cooke: I like it. It’s true.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s so true. We spread that message every week ourselves. Yeah. Fantastic.
And if anyone listening to this, I guess the website would be the best place to get more of you guys and the Paleo Café to find out if they’re in their local area and more about the book, right?
Marlies Hobbs: Yeah. The books on there and all the local cafés are listed there as well on the website. And we obviously have Facebook pages as well for the respective cafés as well the head office business.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Brilliant. Well, we’ll XXlink to all that 0:55:19.000XX when the podcast goes out anyway. And then, yeah, that was fantastic. Thank you so much for coming on the show, Marlies. We really appreciate your time.
Marlies Hobbs: Thank you so much.
Stuart Cooke: It was great. So much information. I think people will get so much out of this as well. Thank you again.
Marlies Hobbs: I really appreciate it. I always love chatting to you both.
This week we welcome musician Wes Carr to the show. Wes has an amazing story to share with us as he’s been on quite a journey.
Wes openly speaks to us about his battle with depression and anxiety, and how he’s been using nutrition and meditation with great success to help combat these in his everyday life over the last few years.
If you’re not familiar with Wes Carr, yes, he’s a musician here in Australia. He’s worked alongside icons like Paul Mac, Missy Higgins, Don Walker, and Andrew Farris from INXS to name a few.
If you enjoy inspiring and transformational stories, then this podcast is for you!
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. You know, thinking back a couple of years ago I was sitting in a friend’s car and they played me song and the song was called Blood and Bone. And little did I know that musician would end up on our podcast a couple of years later.
Yes, his name is Wes Carr and even more so little did I know that he had an amazing story to share with us and he’s been on quite a journey. If you’re not familiar with Wes Carr, he’s a musician here in Australia. He’s also worked alongside icons like Paul Mac, Missy Higgins, Don Walker, and Andrew Farris from INXS to name a few.
Pretty amazing resume. But Wes actually has openly spoke about his battle with depression and anxiety, and he comes on the show today to share with us about using nutrition and meditation to help combat those things and bring them to his everyday life.
And I have to say about Wes, he’s one very positive, happy, great guy, and it was a pleasure to have him on the show today and, yeah, you’re gonna get lots out of this.
Also, Wes is actually touring around Australia at the moment. His tour is called Here Comes the Sun: A Journey Through Songs and Memoirs of George Harrison. And I will be definitely checking it out myself. So, if you want to go and see Wes in person, after this podcast, now is the time to do it.
As always, if you’re listening to this podcast, a little bit of feedback is always great to hear from you. Simply drop us an email: 180Nutrition.com.au. And also a review is a great way through iTunes. It takes two minutes to do. Hit the Subscribe and five-star as well. Really appreciate it. Get feedback that way, but it also helps us with our rankings and we know that you’re enjoying these podcasts as well and we can reach more people.
And it’s fantastic and I feel very blessed to be doing these podcasts with such amazing people. And I have no doubt you’re going to enjoy this podcast along with many others today as well.
So, yeah, let’s go over to Wes Carr. Enjoy.
All right, let’s start, eh? Let’s rock and roll; excuse the pun, Wes.
So, hey, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Hey, Stu. And our fantastic guest today is Wes Carr. Wes, welcome to the show, mate.
Wes Carr: Thanks, guys. Thanks very much.
Guy Lawrence: Wes, I was thinking we’ve had athletes, triathlons, CrossFitters, naturopaths, doctors. And we had a chef last week; Pete Evans came on. And you’re our first musician, mate.
Wes Carr: I am?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. And we’re very excited about that. So, every podcast, mate, what we do is get some; just tell us a little bit about your journey, what you do, before we get on to the health topic of everything, which we’re excited to talk to you about. Can you just tell us a little bit about, I guess, your music journey? You know; when did all that start?
Wes Carr: Yeah. Look, I started sort of singing and dancing and performing when I was I think about 2 years old. I put on the Michael Jackson album Thriller like every ’80s child and went nuts, basically.
And that was it, really, and then I kind of decided to start writing at about 12. I picked up the guitar and I just wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote, basically was obsessed with music, really, all the way through my; all the way up until sort of, yeah, now, really. I mean, I’ve always been a musician and entered Australian Idol in 2008. And basically I’ve been in bands and I’ve been in the industry for 10, 12 years and I’ve been in a band Ben Gillies from Silverchair; that was probably the most profile I’ve had before Australian Idol.
And then when I entered that competition it was kind of frowned upon back then, in the industry, because it sort has this sort of stigma that anyone who goes into those shows, they don’t have much experience. Whereas I had quite a lot of experience in the lead-up to something like that.
And it was really me just kind of throwing caution at the wind and just sort of experimenting with a whole different mentality about going about doing things. And I kind of foresaw that the old mentality in the music industry that they still kind of bash these days is that, you know, you have to be laying in the gutter to sort of make it in the industry. You know? You’re gonna have to pay your dues and all that bullshit.
And I understand it in a certain respect, because you do need to have a sense of yourself and you do need to know a bit more about your craft than just wanting to be famous. But for me, I’ve never really wanted to be, kind of, you know, famous for just being famous. It was more about going onto the short and basically just releasing everything that I had under my belt for the last 15 years of my experience.
And that’s all I did. And I was fortunate enough to go on and win the show and be known for winning Australian Idol, which then I discovered that was a little bit of a struggle, because being known for winning something like Australian Idol, you become “that guy from that show” more than that guy who writes this song or that guy who… So, it’s a big leap; you sort of throw a lot of stuff out the window whilst doing it, but at the end of the day it gives you a leg up in the public arena and you get to have a stance, a voice that’s to what you love doing, I suppose.
So, you know, I’m grateful for it but it has been quite a long journey, I suppose, finding my way through it all and seeing what it means, you know? And now seven years later I’m sort of looking back at it all and really sort of saying, you know, most of it’s bullshit, really, but (really, it is) but you get to find a sense of yourself and you get to find; it’s all about you, really. I mean, at the end of the day we’re all here to sort of learn and grow and fully experience; constantly change and experience new things. And that was sort of what I did, and met a lot of cool, interesting people along the way, you know?
And I’ve done that, I’ve worked with a lot of people, I’ve been over to L.A. I’ve worked with Joe Cocker. This was all before Idol, you know. I worked with a lot of different, amazing famous, very famous, acts and people that I’ve met before and after. And they’ve all taught me many things along the way and, you know, now it’s all; now I’m sitting here talking to you guys.
Stuart Cooke: I actually watched, strangely enough, that was the only Australian Idol I’ve ever watched. And I watched it from Day 1 all the way through to the finals. So I know a little bit about your journey on there. And we were engrossed as a family sitting there, and you get so dialed in.
But I was intrigued that, so, from Australian Idol seven years ago to now the Paleo Way with Pete Evans and Nora Gedgaudas. How did that ever come about?
Wes Carr: I lived next door to a mate of mine who’s a really good friend of mine now whose name is Dino Gladstone or Dean Gladstone; they call him Dino on the show, which is Bondi Rescue, which he’s famous for. I lived next door to him in… I’m not gonna give his address out.
And this was sort of straight after the show. Or kind of two years after the show, really, and I’d been on tour for two years, basically drunk, I think, everyone in Bondi’s body weight in vodka on tour.
And I’d been pretty much partying kind of all the way through that and just playing shows. You know how it is. It’s just sort of becomes like a novelty; it just becomes a joke, really, of like how much alcohol is on the rider and everything at the end of the day, after massive shows and things. It is kind of; I don’t know. I just exhausted myself, I think. I just tried to be something that I really wasn’t, in a way. I learned a lot of that through that mentality. So, when I met Dino he kind of steered me in a different direction. I started training with him and just hanging out a bit more, talking to him.
And he introduced me to a book called Primal Body, Primal Mind. And I read a bit of that and I remember him giving it to me, actually, we were on the Cooper Park stairs, which is probably the worst, or some of the worst stairs you can run up and down in Sydney. They are like the “death stairs,” I call them.
And we were training one day and he gave me this book and I read a bit of it and it just kind of opened my eyes up. And then he really just changed my whole perception on food and what food does. It’s like, I had grew up in a household where I don’t think I ever once thought about food as being medicine or anything to do with anything other than being tasty. That was basically what my education of food was. Because growing up in Adelaide, working-class Adelaide, you just don’t think about these things. You just sort of go to school and come home and drink your Farmers Union iced coffee and…
What I used to do XXJohnny in town/talent school in ?? 0:10:00.000XX as a kid and I was XXon the team/a teen??XX in Adelaide and all that stuff. So, we set up a schedule of going from school to the city five nights a week, and every night we’d have McDonald’s for dinner. I mean, that’s kind of what you did. It was cheap, easy, no one ever really thought about it, it was just the way it was. You know?
So, getting back to Dino, like, that was just an explosion for me to finally go, “Wow, OK?” He didn’t eat grains and all this sort of stuff. What the hell is all this about? And he was making these smoothies and just really into his food and talking about food. And when he spoke about his food, he lit up and it was like; it was just this amazing kind of person; he just kind of became this other person. It was great to see. I thought, God, there’s something in this.
And that was about six years ago, I think. Five years ago.
Guy Lawrence: What made you open to that, you know?
Wes Carr: I think because I really admired Dino for his energy. He has a real just this enigmatic energy that when he talks, you know there’s something in here because he’s so, not “obsessed” is the wrong word, but so; he just loves what he does. You know? All those guys down there do, you know? That’s why they do what they do is they…
But, you know, I think for me that they’re just really good inspirations and really good role models for people, especially like me who came after having all-nighters and just boozed, basically, and destroyed, and running around the world catching flights going… And then also having a disposition to anxiety and depression, which I think I was just trying to numb myself with XXaudio glitch 0:12:04.000XX and everything else that was going on with the prescription pills and everything.
And then he just sort of; and slowly but surely I started waking up to the fact that, “Oh, wow! This does really work.” And it took a very long time because I was the only person in my camp that when we went on holidays and things I’d bring my own food in an Esky and I’d basically just copy what Dino used to do. And I bought what Dino bought and everything that Dino did, I just basically mirrored for awhile until I started getting a little bit more like, “OK, there’s something in this.” I don’t know how it’s going to be sustainable because it was really expensive back then, even four or five years ago, it was quite expensive. These days it’s becoming more mainstream and hopefully it becomes more mainstream so the price is lower and there’s markets and there’s a lot more avenues now, but it took a long time to kind of start working up to this, I think, a long time ago.
I mean, paleo wasn’t in the mainstream psyche at the time. It was just the word that I don’t really understand, you know? It was just a lifestyle choice for me that I seem to resonate with.
Guy Lawrence: Have you always suffered from anxiety and depression? You mentioned it. Or was that something that was fueled from the public eye?
Wes Carr: No. I always had a disposition to severe anxiety. It’s more like terror. I’ve never really had it diagnosed properly, I don’t think, because it sort of shifts around a bit, you know? There’s anxiety attacks, there’s the depression, and then there’s the obsessive thinking that…
I was just talking to a; I was just on the Paleo Way tour in Cairns, I was talking to a little boy, a very inspirational little boy who had changed his diet and has changed his life. But he has obsessive compulsive disorder and what he described basically, when I have my, what I sort of call “episode” where I sort of; I’ve got this one terror thought that I can’t get out of my head and it just kind of goes around and around and around and around. And it just becomes more and more and more and more, I suppose, violent, in my head.
And I basically can’t move. I just can’t get out of the house. I can’t do anything. It cripples me inside and outside.
And so I’ve always had that, and that sort of got worse and worse and worse over the years. And that’s just sort of, it comes in sort of stages maybe twice a year or once every two years. It doesn’t really matter when it comes. It just hits like a freight train when it does.
But I’ve recently realized, my wife’s done the XXINN course 0:15:07.000XX, and my little man has had trouble with sensory processing and all that when he was born. And it’s all to do with gut, really. I mean, that’s your biggest brain in your body. You know?
And so for me to constantly be aware of that and keep on the path of trying to change my gut bacteria and giving it the right foods, then I can change my brain. And then I can work on my thoughts.
But when it’s physical, I feel like you struggle with the thoughts. So you’ve got to kind of treat your physical and then treat your psychological and then it will start working all in all.
Sometimes I don’t really treat my physical well and I sort of shift backwards and forwards, because it is a big step and it’s also a very; you’ve got to be very highly committed to it in quite a strict manner to be able to repair your body and have that mentality. It’s like a mantra. You’ve got to have that mentality every day, all the time, you’ve got to wake up and…
Guy Lawrence: It takes work, doesn’t it?
Wes Carr: It just takes a lot of work. At the moment, I’m trying to get off the caffeine. You know? I’ve been an avid tea drinker for ever since I can remember. And I love my cup of tea in the morning, but then it’s got more caffeine in it than coffee, they say. And it acts differently in the body. But still, and I’ve been 10 days off the caffeine, that’s the last thing I probably need to get off of.
And, for me, I feel even better clarity of mind and able to keep up with a 2-year-old sometimes. It’s still a lot better than walking around with this kind of fake energy for awhile.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. It must have been great for you to meet Nora on the Paleo Way after reading the book as well and being able to spend some time with her.
Wes Carr: Yeah, it was a bit of trick, really. It was quite strange. You know, sometimes you sort of get exposed to these people and all of a sudden, bang, they’re in your life. It’s just bizarre. That happened with Joe Cocker and myself. My dad used to do these really bad Joe Cocker impersonations at Christmas time and then all of a sudden there I am meeting him and going over. So, yeah.
It’s happened most of my life. It’s sort of funny. It’s like whoever I think about sometimes they turn up in my life, which is, yeah…
Guy Lawrence: Oh, it’s great. But even to share your story. Because the Paleo Way was a successful tool, clearly. I mean, I went to the Sydney one and I think there was 1110 people there or something.
Wes Carr: Yeah. It’s been nuts. I mean, I think for me to watch it on the outskirts this time around; I was on the first one and then my wife’s on the second one here, and I’m playing at it and playing music. You know, I think for me, watching it all evolve into the mainstream, it’s like we’re saying the world’s flat again. Like, the media have responded in such an aggressive fashion. And it’s just so unfair because it’s just not; it’s not at all controversial when you look at what you’re saying and whatever everybody’s saying with the paleo lifestyle. It’s just pretty bloody simple really.
But then you’ve got to look at all the publications that are writing these things and what their alliances are. You know?
Guy Lawrence: But I think it’s a big shift mentally for people as well. Like, I was in the same boat as you whereas I grew up without a second thought about food. And you almost have to have a bit of a nudge, if you like, by the universe or whatever it is, pain, or whatever it may be, before you look into these kind of; look at the food that you eat and how it applies to your own health.
I think it can be quite a bit ask for people at times, even though it is actually quite simple really.
Wes Carr: Yeah, I think it is a big ask. I mean, I always look at my mum and God bless my mum. I always look at her for examples as to how I suppose 90 percent of the psyche of the public think, because mum’s from Adelaide, she’s been in suburbia all her life, and she’s read the news, watched the news on the telly, and goes to work. And that’s her sort of everything.
But that’s kind of what people do, I suppose. They get up, they read the paper, they read “fear, fear, fear, fear, fear.” They go to work. They just eat whatever they can, because it’s quick and easy and cheap. Then come home. They watch the news. “Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear.” They go to sleep. And then they get up and repeat.
And then on the weekends they have; they go away with the family or something and they recharge and then back. And it’s the same old routine. And it’s just a treadmill. And it’s a little bit insane. Well, a whole lot of insane. But, you know, I think if you can just break away from that and just be aware of one thing or change just one thing about your life that you kind of think “I could do away with that” and just slowly chip away at your so-called routine and start reading a book or just go out for a walk in the sunshine at lunch break and not sit at your desk eating.
Just something really simple that changes that routine. You start becoming a little bit; that little hole that you’re looking through starts becoming a little wider and wider and wider. And if you’re looking through a small hole, you’re gonna only see through that small hole. But if you start looking through, you start breaking that hole apart, a little bit by little bit, you start seeing a little bit more of the entirety of what’s going on around you and what’s happening, you know?
And there is a lot more happening in the world or a lot more awareness going on than there’s ever been because of such readily communication that we’re all involved in and where we are and the Internet and where we log on.
A lot of people read Facebook now as the newspaper, more so, instead of XXsubtext?? 0:22:03.000XX
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I think the average person logs in, I think it’s five times a day, to Facebook? It’s something like that.
Wes Carr: Yeah, so, it’s in your phone. I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was 15 times a day, to be honest. Because you’re on your phone and you’re on the bus, you’re on Facebook. You’re waiting on the bus… Like, I mean, I look around at a café and there’s people just on their phones, you know?
It’s a little worrying, but, you know, as long as they’re kind of, I don’t know, reading something that’s sort of expanding their minds instead of “the dog did a poo on my lawn this morning” or something, you know. Some weird… If they’re reading something of worth, then I agree with the communication. But the irony is that we’ve got so much communication now that nobody; it feels like nobody’s really communicating.
And it takes people like a Pete Evans or somebody to kind of put their hand up and say, look, you know, what’s going on over here? I mean, a lot of people are calling him “evangelical” or whatever, but maybe that’s what’s needed at the moment to sort of get through, penetrate through to the mainstream. You know?
The media are only going to report and laugh about it. It’s become a bit like the court jesters back in the medieval times, the media, I think. So I think, you know, that’s the thing.
Guy Lawrence: The great thing with Pete is that he’s making people think about what they’re eating.
Wes Carr: That’s right. And I think that’s all he wants. I mean, he’s not the devil and all this other stuff; all this rubbish that’s coming out. It’s just ridiculous. If people could think about just; if people could think why; what’s the agenda with the newspaper? Why are they writing this stuff? Why are they bullying these people? They’re just basically trying to spread some love into the world. You know? That’s basically what it all is. That’s what I believe.
Stuart Cooke: It’s not as if he’s pushing a potato juice diet. You know?
Wes Carr: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: It makes perfect sense. He’s really pushing what our grandparents used to eat before everything got screwy.
Wes Carr: Absolutely. That’s all it is, you know? That’s all it is. It’s just what our grandparents used to eat. And, you know, it’s deemed like they’re running around saying it’s gonna kill a baby, which is just absolutely ridiculous. You know? My boy grew up on the food and he’s the smartest kid I’ve ever known. I may be biased, but he really is. He’s two and a half and he’s talking whole sentences because his brain’s had the good fats, and it’s just bloody common sense, to be honest.
And, for me, getting back to my journey with it all, it’s like, you know, for me, a big thing is meditation. I mean, it’s more about, for me, it’s more about the soul and looking after your body, but also what comes; what’s around your body, you know?
And that’s who we are really, I think.
Stuart Cooke: I’ve heard the term “spiritual transformation” in some of media articles that I was reading prior to the interview. Is that something that you could explain a little for us?
Wes Carr: That’s funny because I never read anything about that.
Guy Lawrence: The media are at it again!
Stuart Cooke: They are. They are.
Wes Carr: Oh, well. As long as I’m not; you know XXa killer?? 0:25:39.000XX or something, I’m good.
Yeah, look, you know. For me, that’s another thing that came around about five years ago was transcendental meditation. I just; I had always really thought about meditation as being a bit, sort of “girly.” A little bit like, “Oh, what do you want to do that for? Sitting around and just kind of, yeah right.”
And I suppose I’ve been meditating anyway while playing music. That’s a meditation, absolutely. When you’re on stage it feels like you’ve disappeared for an hour and a half and then come back and when you get off stage you’re back there again and it takes you awhile to come down from being on stage.
But, yeah, that is a mediation as well. But for me, transcendental meditation, when I first did it, I went and saw a really amazing person called Carol Maher in Sydney and she taught; she gave me a sound, a mantra, and I just; she just sort of said, now just sit there. And she kind of integrated it into my psyche or system or whatever. You know?
And I just started kind of saying this word over and over again, and, man, it was like; I don’t know. I think David Lynch has the best analogy, which is he just sort of says it’s like standing in a lift and having the lift ropes being cut and you sort of free-fall down the shaft of the lift.
And it’s a bit like that. You just sort of, you kind of close up…
Stuart Cooke: How often do you meditate?
Wes Carr: It’s meant to be twice a day. So…
Guy Lawrence: For how long?
Wes Carr: Well, I do a thing called the Flying Sutras as well, which takes another 10 minutes on my 20 minutes. So, it’s an half an hour a day, morning and night. So, I get up early to do it. I have to get up early, really, to do it. Otherwise, I just can’t do it.
And then the night time’s a little bit harder to fit in with babies and everything else. But I still try to get into it, even if it’s just before I sleep. But it does help me a lot to balance my life, I think.
And some days, it’s funny because you start off with a mantra and you think, “I’m just going to really concentrate on a mantra.” And then boom, you’re off. And you’ve just got about 600 things that you discover that’s in your head that needs to be kind of almost like washed away.
Guy Lawrence: Like hitting the Reset button, is it, would you say?
Wes Carr: Yeah. It’s like; they say it’s like a bath-clean mind or a shower-clean mind. It’s funny, you know. As soon as you go into a meditation state, you realize how much is built up in your mind that you don’t know is there until you look within.
And once you look in, you see it all lined up all in a row and it feels like you need to deal with that stuff before you start with your everyday stuff.
And that’s what a lot of people don’t realize that there’s a lot of stuff going in your mind on a subconscious level or whatever it is under the surface that hasn’t been dealt with yet.
So, that’s why a lot of people feel stressed without knowing that they feel stressed. Or, I’m sorry, without knowing what it is that they’re stressed out about.
Guy Lawrence: Did you have coaching for a long time, Wes, or was this something you just pick up? Because I often hear people talk about meditation. But I don’t see many people that are actually habitually doing it on a regular basis.
Wes Carr: Yeah. I noticed that my life becomes a lot more powerful when I do it a lot more than if I skip a few or whatever and all of that.
I seem to go off on tangents or I start a song and don’t finish it. And I’m over here and I’m over there and I’m doing this and I’ve got 300 things going all at once. But if I just stop for that minute. And actually people say, “Oh, where do you get the time to do hours worth of meditation every day, morning and night?” And it’s like, well, I… Sometimes I don’t. But when I do do it I find that I achieve more. It’s like “do less, achieve more.” It’s that Tao Te Ching thing.
But a lot of people don’t trust that. They think that if you run around frantically and try to achieve more, you get more. And that’s not the way it is. It’s like, you know, you’ve got to give a little to get a little. You know? That’s the kind of thing; I think that’s what meditation’s all about. It makes you realize that if your mind’s right, you can sort of achieve anything, really. But you’ve got to take the time to practice it.
And it kind of makes your life feel better and then everyone else around you. You know? Because then you’re a little bit more relaxed so then it’s sort of a bit more…
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fascinating.
Wes Carr: I think we’re taught to sort of get up and go, like, from the word “go,” you know, from school. I remember: “Work hard. Everything’s hard. You have to work at it. Work, work, work. Hard, hard, hard.” This, that, and the other. Fourteen hours a day. Come home, collapse, get up, do it again, eat shit food.
All of this stuff is just like, from birth. So, you know, if you kind of can wake a up a little around 30 or so is a good age to do it. You kind of come in, reprogram it all and start going, “Hey, well that didn’t really work for me.” Because it doesn’t really work. This all hard work. This whole mentality of pushing shit up a hill all the time. You’ve got to just sort of, yeah, think about it a bit more, you know?
Guy Lawrence: Oh, definitely. It’s funny enough. Myself and Stu did a talk at the Mark Sisson event two weeks ago, the Primal. And one of the things then, as well, I think was a major factor that we ended up talking about was about finding your purpose and passion in life and actually… because then it doesn’t feel like hard work. If you can start to find more purpose with what you’re doing every day, I think it’s a huge thing for your own sanity and health overall. Because it’s gonna wear you down. It has to.
Wes Carr: And it gives you the ease, so therefore the hard work, yeah, like you said, it doesn’t feel like hard work. It probably is hard work to work at it but it doesn’t feel like that, you know? And it gives you the ease to then go and achieve something of a standard that you’re happy with and not just kind of stuck behind a…
Guy Lawrence: Massively.
So, with everything you’ve sort of learned on your own journey so far, Wes, what would your advice to be to anyone that could be listening to this that is suffering from anxiety and depression? Like, what have been the key points for you that you could pass on to those people?
Wes Carr: I think; I read somewhere that Maharishi, actually, the guy who made transcendental meditation famous, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who was famous through; George Harrison went and got him; basically made him a world-famous guy overnight.
He said: When you experience fear and experience anxiety or anything like that, it’s actually the release of it. So, you’re releasing something within, that’s embedded within you, and if you just let it be released, you let it go, if you can let it go, it will go, it will subside, “all things must pass.” Which is a George Harrison quote.
Everything; it’s not going to be like this for the rest of your life. It feels like that way, and God, don’t I know that, where I couldn’t; I was so debilitated in my mind that that was it for me. I was fed up. The last experience or episode I had was really the one that was really the most violent one. It was something that I just could not escape.
And even if you looked at me you probably wouldn’t have known anything was going on. I had to fly to Groote Eylandt, of all places, on a tiny little plane from Sydney at the time and I was in desperate, desperate need of help somewhere. And I thought, “This is it. This is never gonna go away. And my worst terrors and fears are just going to be realized.”
And I now know that, you know, for me, I’m not anti-medication. I’m pro information. I’m not anti anything. If you need that, for the interim, do it, because it then will get your synapses working better. The Eastern and Western philosophies should mesh together. We should all have; if we have the Western philosophies of medication and all of that sort of stuff, we’ve got to have the Eastern where it’s the natural, and, I think, still, to this day, very progressive way of looking at things.
But if we have those both working together, which I’ve done, it helps you; it gives you so much more power. The Eastern philosophies give you so much more power and confidence to then go and become a natural healer or to heal naturally. It can really change your brain. It can reprogram your brain just by one happy thought in the morning.
It does work. You can get out of your funk. You can get out of your deep, darkest place. It’s a very, very easy thing to do but it doesn’t sound very easy when you’re in there. But just trust me. You can do it, just by one little thought: changing your routine, making a different; going to work a different way or go for a swim in the mornings or go to the ocean or go for a walk on the beach or something like that that changes; gets you out of your routine. Gets you out of your funk.
But, you know, in saying that, there are people out there who are chemically; there’s chemical and things out of balance or whatever, which I’ve had as well, and you probably do need some sort of help there, professional help that needs to be guided.
But be aware of the negativity, too, that comes with it. Because it’s not negative. You’re not crazy. I don’t believe anyone’s crazy. I think it’s just an issue with either their health or their backgrounds or something that you can reprogram very easily. We are all very intelligent machines and spiritual beings.
Stuart Cooke: We’re all capable of being happy and healthy. And I was interested in your comment before about the connection of the gut health to brain health. And so I was just wondering what strategies would you implement then from a nutritional perspective to nourish your gut?
Wes Carr: Well, I; this is my just repeating my wife, Pete, Nora, all the guys who are on the Paleo Way tour at the moment. Helen Padarin. It’s that, and I do struggle with this too, because my ego and my rock ’n’ roll background goes, “Bloody hell! This is all bullshit!”
But then my common sense kicks in and goes, “No, it’s not.” You know?
And it is. Fermented foods. A little bit every day, with every meal. Bone broth, which is amazing for you, for anything. Anything. Bone broths are just, like, the best. Fermented foods. You know: good fats. I don’t eat any legumes. Granted, I’m just basically rattling off the paleo diet. But really that’s all, for me, that’s what works the most. And small amount of meat and high; a lot of greens, basically, that’s all I eat, really. I go for the greens. Kale. I love kale. And just super… And green smoothies. Anything green and changing meat up every day. I’m just gonna have lamb, fish, beef, you know. Diversity. And just make it interesting.
And it’s pretty easy, really. And it’s pretty damn basic, too, I think.
Stuart Cooke: How empowering then is this, really, considering now that you can apply everything that you’ve learned to your son? Because I’ve got three daughters and they’re young and I think about what I ate when I was young. And we didn’t know. We lived in a society; we just didn’t know. It was microwaved TV dinners, fast food, sodas, McDonald’s. We were kids of the ’80s, you know.
Guy Lawrence: Exactly right.
Stuart Cooke: We can think about food as information. Food is ultimately nourishing. And we can help these guys grow in ways that we didn’t have access to years ago. So, any particulars for your child’s diet that you pull in every day as a staple?
Wes Carr: Yeah. For me, with the little man, Charlie has been; I mean, she’s got a book coming out soon. The Bubba Yum Yum book that’s the most controversial bloody book this side… in Australia, which basically just has nutrition. It’s unbelievable.
So, yeah, for me, I just think that… He just eats basically what I eat, but on a smaller scale, really. And he has a tiny bit of fermented foods, he has bone broths, he has; just meat once or twice a day. His gut is absolutely; we’re always trying to fit his gut because he just has sensory processing disorders and he was born on spectrum and he stimming and everything when he was born, which means they were showing a lot of signs of being autistic.
So, we went down this path very happily and very readily when we were advised to. I’d already known about it from my introduction from Dino anyway, so it wasn’t really hard for us to do it. But it really worked for him. He couldn’t take mum’s breast milk. So that was very traumatic for Charlie. And then we went through a whole bunch of different problems with him, formulas, and we just realized that all these formulas had, like, toxic crap in them. You know? It’s just junk. And it just makes him full. It doesn’t give him any actual nutrition at all, value at all, I don’t think. Corn syrup and all this other stuff.
So, you know, for us that’s when we found the Weston A. Price and we started making our own formula. And it really worked for him. And that’s when it started; and he loved it. And I just seems good for him. It seemed better for him than, say, your formula you get off your shelf that’s been in a tin for the last how every many years with whatever crawling all over it.
So, I mean, “breast is always best,” they say, but this was the second option that we thought would be great for him. They’re saying it’s too much vitamin A and all that, but that’s only synthetic vitamin A. It’s not natural vitamin A in all this stuff. So, there’s a lot of loopholes that the media have run with that have given it a very dark start and made it have a stigma around it because it’s new and; “new” in inverted commas, which it was only being used in the 1930s and ’40s by our grandparents as a staple diet for kids.
So, it’s funny, and it’s been published over 500,000 times, this recipe. It’s not actually a “new” recipe.
Stuart Cooke: It’s that new!
Wes Carr: It’s that new, man! It’s hilarious how; I don’t know what’s going on in Australia at the moment, but there’s a bit of a shakeup there. Don’t get me started with the indigenous communities. But, you know, I think in Australia we really have to start bloody getting up, world, and waking up a little bit and just realizing that the world is changing and it’s happening for the better.
And there is a beautiful, very non-aggressive revolution going on in the food industry and that’s our future and that’s our kids’ future.
Guy Lawrence: And ultimately what we want to do is be the best version of ourselves that we can be, and it we can do that through food, then why wouldn’t we?
Wes Carr: Absolutely. I mean, we are what we eat, isn’t it? Or we are what we absorb.
Stuart Cooke: It is completely. Where our kids are concerned, too, I mean, we’re great proponents of, regardless of who you are or what you do, we should generally eat the same things, but the volumes will change. So, you know, if you’re a super athlete then you’re gonna eat a little bit more.
Wes Carr: It’s a fine reality, isn’t it? Absolutely. It’s all about your individual needs, you know? That’s what it’s all about. I mean, what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for you.
But in saying that, the awareness, it’s all about being aware of what you’re eating and aware of who you are. You know? And why we’re here and all that.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. But I generally think, as well, the thirst for knowledge from general people is definitely there, because we’ve been at this for five years, roughly. When we started, people were: “What the hell are you two banging on about?”
And now it’s a completely different story. The podcast gets downloaded by the thousands and the content gets read all the time. There’s an awareness happening and the shift is coming, for sure.
Wes Carr: Right. And the people are just sick of the same old thing that’s making them sick. And I think it’s incredible, actually. I believe in consciousness and the collectively consciousness as a whole. And if you do really watch trends and how they evolve, it’s amazing how, when; you become a new person by just being in a different city, because of the consciousness around you. You tap into them. And if you’re more sensitive to energy or whatever it is, if you’re more sensitive to that, you become more aware more quickly.
But there’s the other people that are on to a different train of thought or a different vibration or whatever who it takes awhile. But then once the media start reporting it, it’s en masse consciousness. And then all of a sudden, that’s when everybody’s making up their own minds. And I know a lot of people that aren’t necessarily what you’d call “leading edge” or “hipster” or whatever the trendy word is.
I know a lot of people who are reading the papers these days and going; and making up their own minds for the first time. Because some of it’s absolutely ridiculous.
So, it’s great that they’re reporting all this stuff, because it’s just making all the awareness become a lot more mainstream and people are making up their own minds and thinking about it anyway, even if it is a fearful campaign or whatever that they run with just eating good food. But it makes people more aware of what they’re eating. I think that’s what I’m trying to say. And that’s great. The mainstream is starting to wake up. And that’s when you get a real revolution with everything is when Mr. Barryman, the guy who’s working on construction in Blacktown, is thinking about the healthy option for lunch. That’s when we’re really kicking goals.
Guy Lawrence: That’ll be the day. For sure, mate.
We’ve got a couple of questions we always ask at the end of our podcasts, and one of them is; the first one’s a very simple one. And it’s breakfast. What would you have eaten today, or let’s say yesterday. What did you eat yesterday, mate? Just to give people a rundown of the food.
Wes Carr: We’ve got some fermented cabbage in the fridge, so I; what did I eat for… I can’t remember. I had some sausage. I had some chili. Pork. Gluten-free sausages from our lovely butcher, GRUB.
Stuart Cooke: We know GRUB. Dominic?
Wes Carr: Dommy, yeah, he’s a good mate of mine. And I had some sausages and some fermented foods and some; I just had some kale. I just heat the kale up a little bit because raw kale sometimes…
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah. I know what you’re talking about.
Wes Carr: And then I didn’t eat very much yesterday because I just; and then I had a green smoothie. I went and got a green smoothie with my little man. I don’t know why; I just had to kill some time. And we got back and I cooked up some chops for the little man. He loves his lamb chops. I think I had a chop and a bit of fermented food; a bit of fermented cabbage. Just a little bit again. And what else did I have? I didn’t really eat much yesterday, to be honest. I was so busy.
And then I had some slow-cooked bolognaise. My wife and I put a bolognaise on in the morning and we had it slow-cooking all day. And then we had that for dinner. With kale again, and some veggies. And I don’t think I had any fermented food that night, but I had some veggies and a bit of bolognaise.
And, yeah, the thing is when you’re on a high-fat diet, you don’t kind of seem to need to eat more when you’re really nailing it. It’s like when you first start going paleo, start changing your diet, you kind of feel like you need to eat a lot more than you should. Because I think, you know, I think sugar does that to you. It’s like you’re just insatiable. But once you sort of start getting used to not having too much sugar and not having too much caffeine and all this sort of stuff, you kind of don’t crave too much food. You just sort of have a big meal at the start of the day and then maybe a little bit in the afternoon and a little bit at night. You know? That’s kind of what we’re doing.
Stuart Cooke: I think so. I think you’re getting more nutrients as well out of the food that you’re eating, so you’re satisfied on a deeper level.
Wes Carr: That’s true. And I think the trick is, if you buy big bulk of mince and a chicken for your week, you put your bolognaise on the slow cooker for a day and you’ve got masses of food there left over for you, so that lasts a whole week.
And then sausages for; we’ve got a little 2-year-old so he loves his sausages and his lamb chops and things. So, put them on for lunch and then you have your bolognaise leftovers for either breakfast or for dinner. If you can stomach meat in the morning or not.
And then if you put a chicken on, you eat your chicken for dinner and then you put the bones, you make a broth out of the bones, if it’s… I’m talking organic, locally source sort of meat, not just… especially with chicken, you know. I think, anyway. Especially if you’re making bone broths out of the bones, you’ve got to have healthy chicken.
And then you’ve got your bone broth for four or five days as well, so you’ve got a broth with every meal. Like, I mean, your broth in the morning’s probably the best way to go, to wake up and to have a broth. I think that’s kind of a really good thing to do.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I have a lot of bone broth.
Wes Carr: Yeah, it just gives you a clarity of mind. And, I don’t know, it does something to your whole system. It’s like having a coffee, I would say.
Guy Lawrence: It just comes back to educating yourself on why you’re doing these things and then learning the new habits that you can employ in replacing the old. And this stuff becomes quite simple to apply.
Wes Carr: And don’t beat yourself up if it’s taking too long to do that, too. I mean, everybody kind of says, “I don’t believe in this whole; I’d fall off the wagon.” Don’t fall off the wagon. Because as soon as you do that, you fall off the wagon.
So, it’s all about just changing one meal a day. Change one meal a day for a start. That’s what I did.
Guy Lawrence: That’s what we say. Absolutely.
Stuart Cooke: Start with breakfast because there’s normally a sugar anyway.
Wes Carr: Yeah. Yeah. It is absolutely horrible. And you wake up feeling so; you wake up feeling really tired and get more stuff that’s gonna make them feel even worse.
Stuart Cooke: You’ve been though the night, you’ve fasted, your body’s ready for nutrients, yet sometimes your Coco Pops just don’t cut it for you.
Guy Lawrence: So, Wes, we’ve got one more question for you, buddy. And it’s a simple one. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Wes Carr: Best piece of advice… OK. Best piece of advice… They’re all; they’re all some kind of XXrock dogs? Rock gods? 0:53:59.000XX; they’re all liars.
There’s one bit of advice; you know what comes to mind? I think it’s; what comes to mind is not an advice as such. It’s basically a mentality. And that’s; I really like the mentality of the Tao Te Ching. It’s a really great; I’m into Wayne Dyer and I don’t listen to music anymore. I listen to audiobooks.
And Wayne Dyer has got a great one, what is it? Oh, man. Let me have a look. It’s a Tao Te Ching translated, for anybody to understand. And, for me, that really resonated with me because of the fact of it’s a real mentality and you can apply it to your life every day.
And you actually trip yourself up every day if you get right down to it, because the ego runs rampant for everyone. You know, we’ve all got this massive ego that we need to appease on a day-to-day basis. But if you start becoming, to use that word again, aware of your ego, you start sort of stripping away that layer of your life. And you start to realize that all your needs that you think you need, you don’t need. And you don’t need anything other than a good diet, obviously. And a healthy mind.
And when you start sort of stripping away all the, I suppose, the noise in your life and all those things that you think you need, you start becoming a lot more calmer but also a lot more aware of what’s going on around you.
So, it’s Change You Thoughts and Change your Life is the book. But it’s a translation of the Tao Te Ching. It’s the Wayne Dyer translation.
Guy Lawrence: I’ve actually listened to that as well, yeah.
Wes Carr: And I was just really; it was really great. I think every kind of bit of advice for life is in it, really. It kind of does hit the nail on the head a lot, with everything. It kind of has it all in there.
And then he sort of thinks; I suppose say “thank you” a lot more. Be grateful. And be grateful for where you are in life and what you do, I suppose. And everything’s a service. As a musician, I’m just in the business of being of service, you know, as a musician. I think that gets lost a bit in the music industry. I think everybody’s out for themselves. But it is. It’s just a service. You know. You’re just a vessel that music’s coming through you. It’s nothing that, kind of, special.
You know? You’re giving something over. I think you’ve got to look at life like that. Just be grateful for who you are and where you are at the moment.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic, mate. And if anyone wants to get more of Wes Carr, where’s the best place to go?
Wes Carr: I’ve got a mailing list on my website. And I’m putting a weekly Wes Wednesday every Wednesday. In the afternoon, I send out just a little quote with a little thing every day about my; I don’t know. An experience I’ve had that week or just a quote that I’ve seen or heard of. Or talking to a dude on the street and he said this and I found it interesting. It’s just a little one-page thing to get you through the week. And it’s on my website WesCarr.com.au. And if you sign up to the mailing list, I send one every Wednesday.
And updates about where I’ll be and my shows and everything are all intertwined on the Wes Wednesday; what is it? Weekly Wes…
Guy Lawrence: The Weekly Wes Wednesday.
Wes Carr: I might have to change that.
Guy Lawrence: www…
Stuart Cooke: But you’ll have to change it to Thursday. It’s easier to pronounce.
Guy Lawrence: That’s brilliant, Wes. We’ll put the links under the show notes and everything, anyway, for people to be able to check out when we put the podcast out.
Wes Carr: Perfect. Yeah. Also, I just, on my Facebook I put videos up and everything, too. But, yeah, it’s all happening on my mailing list at the moment.
Guy Lawrence: Wes, we really appreciate your time. Thanks for coming on the podcast. That was fantastic.
Wes Carr: Thank you, guys. Thank you so much.
Guy Lawrence: And I have no doubt people are gonna get a lot out of it. Awesome.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on youriPhone HERE.
Our awesome guest today is Dr. Peter Brukner who is currently the team doctor for the Australian cricket team.
His impressive resume includes being team doctor to four Australian national teams – swimming, hockey, athletics and soccer. He has also worked with professional AFL and English Premier League teams such as Liverpool FC, experienced US college sport at Stanford and been part of Olympic, Commonwealth and World Uni Games as well as numerous World Championships.
The Full Interview with Dr Peter Brukner of the Australian Cricket Team
In this episode we talk about:
Peter’s journey from a low-fat to a high-fat diet
Why many of the Australian cricketers have adopted this style of eating
How it’s reduced injury risk and improved recovery
Why starving yourself to drop weight is not the way forward
When we should be applying a low carb’ strategy to improve health
Peter’s appearance in the documentary Cereal Killers 2 Movie: Run On Fat
Guy Lawrence: Hey. This is Guy Lawrence at 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. Our awesome guest today is Dr. Peter Brukner. Now, he’s recently been the head of sports medicine with the Liverpool Football Club, which is pretty awesome, and he’s currently the team doctor for the Australian cricket team.
Now, I first met Peter at the Low Carb Down Under event a few months ago, where I got to share the stage with him, and it was; he’s just a top guy and we’ve been very keen to get him on the podcast since we met and fortunately we were lucky enough to have him on the show today.
So, we cover all sorts of topics from obviously eating low carb and high fat, but how that’s influenced his life. He talks about the Australian cricket team and also the movies coming up. The documentaries of Cereal Killers and Cereal Killers 2, Run On Fat. So, we dig deep into those.
Now, I will say the Skype audio does drop in and out slightly, but sometimes there’s not much we can do about technology. But ultimately the information’s there and you will certainly still get a lot out of it, so, just to give you a heads up on that.
And of course, if you are listening to this through iTunes, a simple just subscribing to our podcast and a little review, leaving a review, does wonders for us because it helps us get the word out there. We really appreciate it and we’re getting a lot of people listening to our podcasts now, so that will just continue to help spread the words. It’s always appreciated.
And of course, you can come over to 180nutrition.com.au and yeah, hang out there as we’ve got a wealth of information, including a great free book. It took me quite a while to write actually and that’s a great place to start if you’re feeling a little bit overwhelmed with all this information.
But, yeah, of course, go through the other podcasts. We’ve got much more awesome guests and we some very exciting guests lined up for the future. But for now enjoy the podcast with Peter and we’ll see you soon. Cheers!
Guy Lawrence: So, hi. This is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke. Hi, Stewie; as always.
Stuart Cooke: Hello.
Guy Lawrence: And our awesome guest today is Dr. Peter Brukner. Peter welcome to the show. Thanks for coming on.
Peter Brukner: XXunintelligibleXX [:02:11.6] My pleasure guys.
Guy Lawrence: Ah, there it goes. Frozen. Great start to this show. There we go. He’s back. Excellent.
So, just to get the ball rolling, Peter, would you mind just sharing to our listeners and ourselves a little bit about yourself and why we’re super happy to have you on the show today. I’m very much looking forward to this.
Peter Brukner: Well, I don’t know why you’re super happy, but I’m a … ;)
My name is Peter Brukner. I’m a sports and exercise physician. So, I’m a medical doctor who is specialized in sports medicine and I’ve been practicing sports medicine for 30-odd years, and obviously I started when I was a baby, and I’ve been working, both in a medical practice in Melbourne; I’m born and bred in Melbourne; a medical practice in Melbourne at Olympic Park. I set up a sports medical there about 30 years ago and that’s still going strong. And over that period of time I’ve worked with a number of sporting teams; AFL teams, various Olympic sports.
I’ve done, I think, five national teams now. I’ve done swimming, hockey, athletic soccer and cricket. The last few years I did the Socceroos, the Australian soccer team, for the South African World Cup and the three years leading up into that.
From there I went to Liverpool in England to be the head of sports med XX technical glitch[:03:36.3 to :03:40.1] and after a couple of years there I went to the Australian cricket team and I’ve been the Australian cricket team doctor for last two years.
Yeah, obviously we’re in the middle of a busy summer of cricket, which has been pretty emotional and stressful, I have to say, but, anyway, we’re getting there and the guys have been terrific and we’ve had a pretty successful summer so far.
Guy Lawrence: Excellent and the World Cup’s just around the corner.
Peter Brukner: Yeah. Yeah, we’re gearing up for that now. The test series is finished and we’ve done colour for the players, on the colour clothing now, and we’ve got Tri-Series against India and England as a sort of warm-up games really and then the real business is the World Cup in February and March. Gives us a few weeks off after that and then we go off to the West Indies and then to England for another extra series. So, it’s a big few months ahead for the Australian cricket team and for their doctor, I guess.
Guy Lawrence: Wow! That is a busy season.
You’ll have to forgive Stu a little bit when it comes to cricket, because I think he gets confused between cricket and baseball. That’s how much he knows.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, thank you. Thank you for that, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: That’s all right.
Stuart Cooke: Always good. Always good. I wasn’t lucky enough to be born in Wales or unlucky enough to be born in Wales; one of the two.
I was interested, Peter, in the questioning of diet, as well and how does that come into sports medicine? I always thought nutrition was almost a kind of, another route completely.
Peter Brukner: Well, I mean, we like to sort of adopt a holistic approach really. I mean, I think as sport medicine physicians we’re responsible for the complete health of the athletes and so obviously nutrition is an important factor in that. I mean, I wouldn’t say, you know, all of my colleagues are interested in nutrition, but certainly some of us are and I’ve always had an interest in nutrition.
In fact, I wrote a book, I co-authored a book with Karen Inge, a well-known Melbourne dietitian, about well, the late ’80s, I think, called Food for Sport, it was only the first of a specialist sports nutrition book in Australia.
So, but in a way I sort of; for a long time I sort of lost a bit of interest in sports nutrition really. Because it became a bit; well, I won’t say “dull” but I mean, basically it was just: Eat lots of carbs and drink lots of sugar-based fluids and that was it. And for 30 years that’s basically what we’ve been doing until more recently. We’ve been challenging that.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. What made you first question it, Peter? Because when we met at the low carb talk and spoke, you certainly had a change of thinking around that over time.
Peter Brukner: Yep. Yes. Yeah. Well, I think sometimes you’ve got to re-examine your ideas. Someone once said that 50 percent of everything you get taught in your medical course later turns out to be wrong. You’ve just got to work out which 50 percent that is.
Stuart Cooke: Oh boy.
Peter Brukner: But, no, I guess I first started to question the whole nutrition thing when Tim Noakes came out, sort to speak; no he didn’t come out in the normal way, came out that he switched from being a carb-dominant advocate to being a XXtechnical glitchXX [:06:56.4] … and adopting a low-fat, high-carb, I meant, sorry, a low-carb, high-fat philosophy. And Tim Noakes, as you obviously know, is a very world-renowned sports scientist, sports clinician from Cape Town and I’ve known Tim for 20 odd years and we’ve spoken at numerous conferences together and so on; and Tim was someone I always admired as having a great mind. And he always challenging, you know, a lot of traditional beliefs and in most cases he’s been proven right.
So, when he sat us down to talk about this, both from his own experiences and from those of his patients, I sort of “Oh, gee, you know, that’s interesting.” I… normally I would totally ignore… I mean, like many people I hated the idea of fad diets and celebrity diets and you know, this actress or singer or sportsman is on a particular diet now and I just XXtechnical glitchXX [:07:51.7 to :08:03.8] … to make me think, “whoa, I need to XXtechnical glitchXX [:08:05.2 to :08:08.1] …
I bought Taubes book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, and read the book and it was the most interesting book, I think, I ever read. I just couldn’t believe what I was reading and it just blew me away and I was sort of XXtechnical glitchXX [:08:21.8 to :08:29.1] …
… interesting thing about that book and talk XXtechnical glitchXX [:08:31.1 to :08:32.8] …
… Taubes book and so on, is that they, the low-fat, high-carb arguments, but they also explain the politics of how the low-fat argument basically won out 30 years ago for reasons that were not particularly based on science, but more on politics and economics and so on and so on. And you start to understand, you know, maybe that’s not right and I finished reading that book and I just sort of couldn’t believe it. I thought, “We couldn’t possibly had this wrong all this time, surely? All these great minds and so on couldn’t have gotten this so wrong.” And I certainly XXtechnical glitchXX [:09:10.8 to :09:15.4] …
So I just decided to try it out myself. So, I decided to go a low-carb diet. So, at that stage I’d just turned 60, which was the age that my father had developed type 2 diabetes, so it was in the back of my mind that I didn’t particularly want to go down that track because he just died earlier this year and I’d seen all the problems that he’d had over 20, 25 years or so. And I was, you know, I was supposedly healthy, I had eaten what I was supposed to eat. I would do low-fat this and low-fat that and didn’t have too much in the way of fatty foods and yet probably over a period of 20 years I’ve put on 10 kilograms, 12 kilograms, about half a kilogram a year just steadily and the kids started to, you know, poke me in the guts and say, “Dad, how about it?”
So, I was a bit overweight, probably not morbidly obese, but I was certainly overweight and XXunintelligibleXX [:10:16.5] and I was about sort of borderline overweight/obese. So, I thought, “Well, what the heck, let’s see, let’s see how it goes.”
So, I started. I did a whole lot of blood tests the day I started just so I could follow my progress and I’m went pretty cold turkey low carb for 12 weeks and XXtechnical glitchXX [:10:36.7 to :10:38.5] …
So, I was basically losing pretty much a kilogram a week, which was very rewarding. I mean, you know, you eat this way and you sort of have your doubts and your concerns and so on and then you look at the scales every week and you lose another kilogram. You think, “Wow!” That’s pretty reinforcing and pretty good. So, that made it it quite easy to do in a way.
And then after 12 weeks everyone started to say, “You’re looking a bit thin in the face and you know, maybe you’ve gone too far.” So, I sort of just backed off a little bit and wasn’t quite as strict with my carbs, and so, now I’ve basically maintained that over the last couple of years. Pretty much, you know, not really having many carbs at all and not totally obsessing about it, but basically not eating …
Guy Lawrence: Keeping away carbs. Yeah.
Peter Brukner: … carbs …
Guy Lawrence: And Peter, how do you feel since like …
Peter Brukner: I feel great. Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: You know, I feel really good XXunintelligibleXX [:11:31.7 to :11:34.4] …
… and I’m certainly keeping the weight off. I’ve put on maybe a kilogram or two since then. I kept the same weight and I’ve been feeling really good. I’ve found it enjoyable eating. You know, it’s a sustainable diet. So, I’ve managed to keep eating XXunintelligibleXX [:11:50.8] …
And the other thing that you really notice, is that you’re not nearly as hungry.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: I mean, in the old days I had my cereal for breakfast, you know, like everyone else, I’d get to about 11 o’clock in the morning, you know, and start feeling, “Oh, is it lunchtime yet?” I was starved. But now I don’t even have lunch, you know. Most of the time I just grab a handful of nuts or a bit of cheese or something during the afternoon. But, basically I don’t feel hungry until dinnertime.
So, that’s made a huge difference to my energy levels. I’m much more level during the day. I don’t have the ups and downs that I would have had in the past. So, yeah, I feel very good about it. My bloods have all improved and my triglycerides, which were quite high, have come down enormously. My insulin’s come down. My HDL cholesterol is going up.
So, you know, all the things that I think are important, particularly triglycerides and HDL, have improved significantly. I had a mild case of fatty liver that had been picked up in a blood test some years previously that I hadn’t worried too much about, that all of a sudden that’s disappeared too. They’ve gone back to normal, my liver test as well. So, all aside, I’m pretty positive about it.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Would you say, are you fat-adapted while still eating smaller amounts of carbohydrates, so would you say that you’re operating in ketosis?
Peter Brukner: No, I’m probably not in; I’m probably occasionally ketosis. But, I think I’m one of these people who struggle to get into ketosis, because even when I’ve been pretty strict, my ketones have not, when I’ve measured my ketones, they haven’t been that high. So, I think I’m just fat-adapted; I’m running mainly on fat …
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Peter Brukner: …probably have a little bit of carbohydrates in vegetables and nuts and some dairy. But I don’t get obsessive when I measure the amount of grams of carbohydrates, but I guess I’m somewhere around 50 grams a day of carbohydrate. But everyone has their own sort of ideal level of carbohydrates. I think most young people can probably tolerate significantly larger amounts of that.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: I think a lot of us in mid-life should become insulin resistant to a certain degree. We’re the ones who really benefit from reducing the carbs significantly.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: That’s fascinating.
Guy Lawrence: And thanks to people like yourself and Professor Tim Noakes, as well, you’re starting to see this being questioned in the sporting fields.
Peter Brukner: Yeah. Well see, carbs have been dominant in sport and all athletes have been obsessed with carbs now for a long time and I think that’s being challenged. I mean, I think; firstly let’s look at an endurance athletes and even ultra endurance athletes, I mean, fat is a very good fuel and the problem is that it burns slowly, if you like, XXtechnical glitchXX [:14:51.3 to :14:52.2] …
Stuart Cooke: Yep.
Peter Brukner: … so, it’s almost unlimited resources and the problem with carbs, obviously, is you’re going to XXtechnical glitchXX [:14:57.5 to :15:00.9] …
… I think for endurance athletes who are not; needing to work at a very high intensity, a high fat diet is very, very good, and I think a lot of ultra endurance athletes now have switched to a low-carb, high-fat diet and gained a lot of benefits from it. Especially the sort of ultra marathons; you know all the guys doing these crazy hundred XXtechnical glitchXX [:15:23.5 to :15:25.6] …
… steaks and things like that. But I think; I’m pretty sure that for an ultra endurance and endurance athletes, you know, Ironman, triathlon types, marathoners, that a low-carb, high-fat diet is quite appropriate.
Probably… The feelings is it’s very individual. I mean, there are some people who are absolutely fine on low-carb and high-fat and others who just need to supplement a little bit with carbs.
Stuart Cooke: Yep.
Peter Brukner: But I think by and large; I think most people will, well, not most people, but a lot of people now agree that for endurance, ultra endurance athletes, that it’s XXtechnical glitchXX [:16:04.0 to :15:07.4] …
There’s no doubt about that in my mind. The interesting one is the sort of ultra-intense exercise. Particularly the sort of high-intensity intermittent activities, like in football, basketball, and so on. And that’s very interesting because there are certainly some anecdotal studies and reports that a number of these type of athletes, particularly in basketball in the States and the AFL in Australia, are starting to use the low-carb, high-fat diet, some of them are supplementing. So what a number of teams are doing, individuals are doing, basically going low carb during the week and then come game day they may supplement with some carbs. So, it’s the XXunintelligibleXX [:16:55.5] high philosophy.
But again, that’s very individual. There are other people who don’t seem to need carbs who can still do this high-intensity intermittent activity at full bore, without any carbs at all. So, it’s a little matter of experimenting a bit.
But there’s something happening, especially in the AFL, which I’m quite familiar with, and I know a couple of clubs that are playing around with this. Melbourne is being quite open about the fact that their players have all gone low-carb in the pre-season and seem to be doing well. So, it will be interesting to see they go. They’re a pretty terrible team, so they can only improve. So, whether they XXtechnical glitchXX [:17:31.6 to :17:33.4] or not, I don’t know.
So, I think the jury is still out and as I said, I suspect it’s an individual thing. But I think there are benefits to be gained from training on a low-carb, but I think you need some carbs for the high-intensity actual sporting activities.
Stuart Cooke: What are your thoughts on, the performance aside, the recovery aspect of adopting high fat over high carb?
Peter Brukner: Well, I mean, you know we’ve always had this philosophy that you’ve got to replenish your carbohydrates reserves after exercise, but it’s relevant if you deplete them or if you’re using mainly carbs as your fuel, if you’re using mainly fats that’s obviously not as important,
I still think the protein aspect is the key to recovery. You know you obviously have a lot of muscle XXtechnical glitchXX [:18:20.5 to :18:21.7] …
… for your exercise XXtechnical glitchXX [:18:21.1 to :18:24.2] …
…muscle and I think adequate protein XXtechnical glitchXX [:18:25.8 to :18:27.2] …
… you know, certainly there’s plenty of protein XXtechnical glitchXX [:18:29.2 to :18:30.1] …
… and high fats and a bit of high quality fats and XXtechnical glitchXX [:18:33.0 to :18:35.1] …
… thinking in recovery.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right, because I know we; you know you mentioned a couple of times, it’s been helping a few of the Aussie cricketers as well, hasn’t it?
Peter Brukner: Yeah. Well, essentially, I haven’t sort of pushed it at all, but I guess my first two tours with the cricket team coincided; it was in the middle, between those two tours, when I lost all the weight. So, I turned up in India a couple of years ago and I had one say, “Oh, doc. What’s happened to you? You’re half the man you used to be.” So, they took an interest in that. A number of them sort of just took me aside and said, “Look, tell me about it and I’d like to try it please.”
The interesting thing is despite these guys being full-time athletes and high levels of exercise, a number of them used to struggle with their weight; which was really against this whole theme of calories in/calories out. I mean, they’re working, training every day, playing five-day test?[:19:28.1] matches, etc. and still having problems with their weight.
So, a number of them were keen to try and lose some weight, so they decided to adopt the diet and then people like Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson and Steve Smith and Dave Warner and a couple of the others have all taken on board the diet and all had immediate, sort of good responses to it. They lost some weight; obviously they didn’t have huge amounts of weight to lose, but they all lost between 3 and 5 kilograms fairly quickly and felt very good about it and again, they all vary in the amounts of carbs, from very little to small amount of carbs, particularly on XXtechnical glitchXX [:20:12.0 to :20:16.1] …
… low carb, high fat and they all seem to be XXtechnical glitchXX [:20:21.8 to :20:23.7] …
Shane Watson is a classic example. He’s always had trouble with his weight and I can say it’s the best thing that’s happened to him and the only way he used to be able to drop weight was to starve himself and he could only do it in the off season, because when you’re playing you can’t do that. So, he would sort of be miserable when he was not playing, because he just wouldn’t allow himself to eat and Shane loves his food. So, this has enabled him to still eat and enjoy his food and drop his weight and certainly, you know, at the moment he’s doing pretty well. So, it’s encouraging.
Davey Warner’s the same. He arrived and met with me a couple of years ago, quite overweight. He’d been injured and hadn’t been doing as much as usual and had put on quite a bit of weight and he managed to trim down a number of kilograms. We measure their skin folds regularly with the cricketers and his skin folds have dropped about 30 points in that time, which is a remarkable achievement.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: And now you see with all those guys having very successful a couple of years now, I’m not sort of saying that’s the only reason, there’s a lot of factors, but I think it has helped them.
Guy Lawrence: With the way you’ve witnessed as well, like a question that just popped in there in terms of inflammation and injury, have you noticed anything, any relationship between increasing the fat and reduction of inflammation?
Peter Brukner: Yeah. Look. I think there’s a fair amount of that evidence now that there are pro inflammatory agents in your carbs and in particular sugars are one of those agents. We certainly had one player who had a very dramatic response to change. He was on quite a high level of medication for an inflammatory-based joint problem and he was on medication that was costing him about $15,000 a year and just controlling his symptoms and he switched to a low-carb, high-fat diet, a pretty strict diet, and within a week he was able to get off all his medication that he’d been on for some time and he’s not had a problem since and he’s been able to double the amount of training he’s done and I saw him the other day and he’s not XXtechnical glitchXX [:22:34.1 to :22:36.2] …
… I saw him the other day and he said, “Yeah doctor, I’m still on the diet. It’s fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: Wow!
Peter Brukner: XXtechnical glitchXX [:22:42.5 to :22:45.9] …
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome.
Peter Brukner: XXtechnical glitchXX [:22:46.4 to :22:48.5] …
… inflammatory arthritis can be cured by that, but I think you know there are certainly some areas around that it reduces people that have excessive inflammation in some sort of form. So, you know, he’s a big guy, we could have obviously have done the whole diet thing.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. That’s fantastic and I guess it certainly doesn’t hurt to try this either, does it? Just to see how you how you get on for a couple of weeks.
Peter Brukner: Well, that’s what I suggest to people who come and say, “I’ve got terrible arthritis or some sort of inflammatory disease.” That you give it a go and it’s not going to help everyone, but if you can get off some of the drugs that you require and you get symptom relief with a simple change of diet, then that’s a fantastic result.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Excellent. So, from a medical perspective now, your thoughts on sport drinks, given what you know about carbs and everything we’ve spoken about this morning.
Peter Brukner: Yeah. Look, I think sports drinks have been incredibly well-marketed over the years and they’re basically just sugar and water, and with a few electrolytes put in. I think; I don’t think that sugar’s a good thing and I think we’ve got now a whole generation of kids who think that sport drinks are healthy and all they’re doing is putting sugar in. You know, I think that this generation is eating and drinking far too much sugar and I think really the best sports drink is water and that’s maybe with some electrolytes if you need them. But by and large, 95 percent of the time water is what you require to rehydrate you and you don’t need any extra sugars.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: It doesn’t sell too well though, does it?
Peter Brukner: No, it doesn’t.
Stuart Cooke: It actually does Guy, if you look at the price of bottle water …
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. So true.
Peter Brukner: That’s another of my pet annoyances. What’s wrong with tap water?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly.
Peter Brukner: Yeah. Maybe if you XXunintelligibleXX [24:52.9] it would be different. But everywhere else has got pretty good tap water I think. So yeah, I’m a tap water fan.
Guy Lawrence: Fair enough. Fair enough. The next topic we wanted to cover was the Cereal Killer movies and …
Peter Brukner: Ah yes.
Guy Lawrence: … the documentaries which, you know, you’ve appeared in both Cereal Killers, too. We’re not talking about, as in murders; we’re actually talking about breakfast cereals.
Peter Brukner: Yeah, that’s right.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Tell us; how did you get involved?
Peter Brukner: It’s alleged that’s my movie career, but you never know.
Look, it was bizarre really, because I heard about the movie from Kickstarter, which is sort of a web-based funding for small projects such as movies, and I just liked the sound of what Donal O’Neill, that crazy Irishman, was doing. He was basically making a movie about cereal killers, as you said.
So, I contacted him and offered my support and a small donation and then I said, “Good luck with it all.” I said, “If, you know, some of our cricketers are one it and are very supportive and if we can help in any way, you know, let us know.” So, he contacted me and said, “Do you think some of the cricketers would be happy to sort of say a few words to promote the movie?” And I said, “Well, I can ask them.” They were only too happy to do it.
So, Donal came over. We were in London at the time, it was during the last Ashes and he came over and interviewed a few of us; myself and three of the players, and he rang me the next day and said, “Oh, that was so good. We’re going to put it in the movie.” I said, “Why? I thought you had finished the movie?” He said, “Ah, well we decided to reopen the movie for that.” So, they just added a bit to the end of the first movie with a few of the players and myself and so on.
So, that was a bit of a laugh and quite nice. But it’s a, I thought it was a great movie. I mean, he’s a remarkable man, Donal, and he’d never made a movie in his life and all of a sudden has put together a very professional, you know, one-hour sort of movie-cum-documentary. It was entertaining. He’s a funny guy, but a passionate guy with a message to get across.
So, that’s been enjoyable. I’ve been fortunate enough to sort of attend various premieres of the movie around. We had one in Melbourne and then we had one in Cape Town that Tim Noakes was there and Donal was at as well; we had one in London.
So, it was great and it’s been very well-received. It’s not been out in the movie theaters, but it’s available online and I see people have found it; both entertaining and informative.
So, Donal’s just done another one, Cereal Killers 2. Not a very imaginative title, but it covers a lot; a number of things and both Tim and I are in it again.
The main story is about a guy called Sami Inkinen, who is a legendary figure in sort of an Ironman circles, former world champion; bit of a crazy guy. He decided that; he had become passionate about low-carb, high-fat, and he decided one of the best ways to test it out was to do a bit of rowing. And most of us go for a row on the river and we decide to row a kilometer down the river and back. He decided to; he and his wife decided to row a boat from San Francisco to Hawaii. So, which is not exactly your lazy afternoon row. And so, they both did that on a completely low-carb, high-fat diet and broke the previous record by a number of days and got there and yeah, he went.
So, I won’t tell the whole story, but Cereal Killers 2 is a lot about Sami’s story, he was assisted by Steve Phinney who is one of the sort of legends of research in the low-carb area and he was his advisor for the trip. Steve was out in Sydney recently and I caught up with him.
But it’s a great story and Donal’s a great storyteller. I haven’t seen the whole movie. I’ve only seen, probably like yourselves, the highlights. I think it comes out next month and I’m looking forward to seeing it. But again, it’s that combination of entertainment, but it’s a pretty interesting message, as well.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: So, he’s a remarkable guy, Donal, very talented.
Stuart Cooke: It’s certainly a great mixture there and I’m intrigued as to whether it will ruffle a few feathers in the sporting world. Because Sami, specifically with his tri-athlete and Ironman heritage, it really does throw open the world of or move in the world of gels and sports drinks and goos and high carbs. So, I’m wondering how that will be received for that particular little circle of sports. What do you think? Do you reckon it will stir; cause a stir?
Peter Brukner: Oh, absolutely. It’s already and it has been for the last 12 months or so and I know that people have been passionate defenders of it. I mean, one of the very prominent sports dietician has said publicly that I should be in jail and Tim Noakes should be struck off and all of that sort stuff …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: … so people get very XXtechnical glitchXX [:30:02.4 to :30:04.6] …
Because there’s a lot of people that have got an awful invested in high-carb industry. Both from what they’ve been telling their clients and their patients, to the money they’re making from products and so on. So look, I think it’s, it is such a radical change and I can understand why people are reluctant to embrace it and are very resistant toward it. But overall all I would hope is that people have an open mind; they look at the scientific evidence and they talk to people who have experienced it and you know …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: XXtechnical glitchXX [:30:35.7 to :30:39.3] …
… high fat diet, whether it be for weight loss, for health reasons or for performance reasons have, hope, basically stuck to it, which is very unusual for a diet. Most diets people will do, I mean you can lose weight certainly on any diet really, but XXunintelligibleXX [:30:54.1] this is a highly sustainable, because you enjoy the food and you’re not as hungry and you have all sorts of other health benefits, like the triglycerides and the various XXunintelligibleXX [:31:08]. and so and so.
So, I think, certainly it’s people feel challenged and we need to have good healthy debate. We need better research and we need independent researchers, because so much of the research is done by the drug companies or by the food industry or the drinks industry that obviously have a vested interest it. So, we need some independent research to; you know, I personally, I think there’s enough research out there now, but I still think we need some more convincing evidence that this is the way to go.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fair enough. What if; if an endurance athlete stopped you on the street tomorrow that was a carb loader and you had two minutes, what would your advice be to him if he was looking into this? Just go cold turkey? Do it out of season? Or?
Peter Brukner: Yeah, I’d say, “I wouldn’t be doing it, you know, the week before my major competition and like that.” But I’d certainly say, “Look, I think, you know, you might well benefit from it. I don’t think, but it’s going to take probably a month. You need to, you know, it takes you somewhere between two and four weeks for the average person to become fat-adapted, so don’t worry if you do go, you know, ‘cold turkey,’ so to speak and turkey’s good on this diet; but do decide to go, you know, hard on the low-carb, high-fat diet, you know. Don’t worry if you don’t feel great for a couple of weeks, because there’s certainly some people who feel a bit, you know, ‘washed out’ as they adapt from a carbohydrates source of fuel to a fat source. Give it a month and see how your training is coming. How you feel yourself and how you cope with the diet.”
And nine times out of 10 I think people will find that they have positive response to the diet and they’ll continue on it.
And then as far as competition goes, like I said earlier on, it’s a matter of the individual finding out what’s right for you. Whether you do need to top up on some carbs on race day. Or whether you can manage perfectly well without, and that’s up to the individual.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Good advice. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: So, what do you think the future holds for the medical industry where nutrition is concerned? Because there is still a huge amount of advice that tells us that we should eat lots of carbohydrates.
Peter Brukner: Yeah. Yeah. Look, I think it’s going to gradually turn. I think I said on Cereal Killers that it would take 10 years, but I think we’re now XXunintelligibleXX [:33:23.5] down the track and I think we’re actually made more miles than I would have expected. I think it’s going to be a gradual process. As I said, there’s a lot of people, I mean, if you’ve been told something for 30 years, I mean, and then you’ve been telling people something for 30 years, it requires a lot of sort of well, courage really or humility in a way to actually admit that, well, maybe we haven’t been entirely correct on this.
So, I, with my medical colleagues are always; they think I’m totally lost and I’ve gone loopy and going over to the dark side and so, hey, they’re probably right; but I buy them a copy of Nina Teichnolz’s book; I’m very happy it’s just come out in paperback, I’m getting it cheaper now, Big Fat Surprise, and I say to my medical colleagues, “Well, look, you know, okay would you read a book?” And some yeah, “Yeah. Yeah. Okay. I’ll read a book.” And I give them that book, and so far 100 percent of them have been converted after reading that book.
So, look, I think it’s going to take time because obviously there’s enormous money invested in the sugar industry and the processed food industry and the pharmaceutical industry and statins and so on.
So, you know there’s going to be a lot of resistance from industry and a lot of resistance from the medical profession as well, because, again, it’s hard to sort of change in midstream. But look, I’m convinced it’s the way to go and, again, I want to make the point that low-carb is not necessary for everyone. I mean, most young people metabolize carbohydrates perfectly well. I think it would help them to reduce them and reduce their sort of sugar intake, but they’re probably fine with a reasonable amount of carbohydrates.
It’s really the sort of the middle aged, pre-diabetic metabolic syndrome, overweight, you know, just likely to develop… I mean, the rate of obesity and type 2 diabetes in our society. It’s just skyrocketing.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: And if you look at the graph, it’s more or less a straight line increase which started exactly 30 years ago, which is exactly when we told everyone to go less fat and all the dieters replaced that with more carbohydrates and it’s been a disaster.
I think people will look back in 50 years and say, “What on earth were they thinking?” And you know the damage that policy has done over 30 years is remarkable and we need to turn that around and we need to turn it around quickly. Because the diabetes epidemic in this world is costing Western societies enormous amounts of each and you know we’re always looking for fancier drugs and fancier medical equipment and so on. There is a one of the big solutions is just in diet and we better get that message across.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. And I do think the industry; the word is definitely getting out there again, aren’t they? We see more and more people, even dropping us emails, asking questions and people at least talking about it, whether they agree with or not, it’s definitely on the radar now, where it never used to be, I don’t think.
Peter Brukner: I think a lot of people take notice and, like, Tim Noakes and so on are doing a fantastic job. He’s much vilified in South Africa, but he’s very XXunintelligibleXX [:36:56.6 to :37:02.1].
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Has your family adopted this way of eating, Peter? Or is it just you?
Peter Brukner: Um, there’s mixed; I’ve got four kids; a wife and 4 kids. Wife’s been very supportive and we eat pretty much the same foods and one of the boys is a tri-athlete, sort of, just about a diet half on and building up and he’s pretty much adopted it as well. A couple of the others, their XXtechnical glitchXX [:37:33.7 to :37:36.3] she’s struggling with that, but they all think their dad’s crazy, but you know, I think XXunintelligibleXX [:37:40.4 to :37:41.8] doesn’t really make much difference.
Stuart Cooke: So, just for our listeners, Peter, and we always ask this question as well; can you just give us a brief outline of what you ate yesterday?
Peter Brukner: Well, my typical day is XXunintelligibleXX:37:55.2] good, because I’m on the road a lot with the cricket team, so I tend to try have a big breakfast. So, I’ll have for breakfast, I’ll have a combination of some full-fat Greek yogurt. I make up my own mix of some seeds …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: Some almonds and macadamias and walnuts and pumpkin seeds and chia seeds and so on. I carry that around with me in a little box with me wherever I go. Take that down to breakfast with me when I’m on the road. So, I mix that all together with the berries in the yogurt and make it my own sort of breakfast cereal, if you want to call it that. And then I’ll have some eggs and some bacon or smoked salmon or avocado or something with the eggs. So, XXtechnical glitchXX [:38:39.8 to :38.43.1] …
Then as I sit down, really, to eat during the day, I don’t each lunch. If I get a bit peckish mid-afternoon I might have a handful of nuts or a bit of cheese and then for dinner I’ll have, you know, the old meat and three veg or fish and three veg. So, I’ll have some meat or fish and leave the fat on, not the way I used to sort of trim all the fat off the meat, and then lots of green veggies, broccoli and beans and you know, all that sort of; cauliflower and so on. I don’t usually have dessert. If I do, I’ll have berries and cream …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: I drink a bit of coffee during the day with full-fat milk and then that’s pretty much it. If I need to drink, I’ll drink water, but mainly coffee and water and that’s pretty much it. Yeah, I enjoy; I enjoy every meal I have and, you know, everyone goes off at lunchtime and they go have lunch and I just sit around and do all the things, and I don’t feel at all hungry …
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. Perfect.
Peter Brukner: It’s very different to how I used to feel. I’d always been the first running out for lunch otherwise and so, it’s very different. Like I said, I’ve been able to maintain that regime and my bloods are all good and triglycerides are good. So, yeah, I’m pretty happy with the way things are.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. Perfect. It sounds like the proof is in the pudding, or not.
Peter Brukner: It must have been in my pudding anyway, that’s for sure.
Stuart Cooke: Excellent.
Guy Lawrence: It’s such a good feeling though. Like I’ve adopted the high-fat diet now for five or six years. You know, generally I still have a little bit of carbs, but not much and the biggest thing that’s changed my life is the fact that my energy levels are steady every day and it’s just made a massive difference. I just, on a low note, definitely recommend at least trying it.
Peter Brukner: Yeah. I certainly, obviously, you know, a lot of people ask me about it and I’ve started a lot of my friends and colleagues on it and really it; particularly the middle age and overweight guys. I have a lot of guys and every single one of them has lost a significant about of weight. Males better than females and more consistent result in men than women. Women’s results are a little bit less consistent, but certainly in males who need to lose some weight. I mean, it just falls off you. It’s a very satisfying diet to be on when you get the rewards you get.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Absolutely. We’ve got one more question for you, Peter, before we wrap up and it’s another one we ask everyone. And it’s, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Peter Brukner: East real food.
Guy Lawrence: There you go.
Stuart Cooke: I like it. That works.
Guy Lawrence: It works very well.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, we do. We use that phrase quite often.
Peter Brukner: I think that’s the best advise. You can talk carbs and fat and so on, but I …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: … when you get down to it if you just eat real food rather than processed food, I mean, you’re going to be right.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Peter Brukner: You’re going to be a lot healthier.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Spot on. And that; for anyone listening to this, Peter, if; where can they get more of you?
Peter Brukner: More of me? XXunintelligibleXX [41:56.0] I’ve got a website and I’ve got a little sort of brochure on that website, “All You Need to Know About Low Carb/High Fat.” So, it’s just PeterBrukner.com. The Brukner is “brukner,” Everyone wants to put a “C” in there , but it’s just PeterBrukner.com and there you go.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, we’ll send out the link for that. We always do and so they can check it out.
And what does the future hold? Anything? Obviously the World Cup; that’s very exciting.
Peter Brukner: Yeah. Look, cricket is sort of my full-time job I guess, so we’re going to be ahead with the World Cup and the Ashes and then; but I write a text book of sports medicine, so we’re revising that, we’re at our fifth edition at the moment, so that keeps me; keeps me busy. I’ve got my practices in Melbourne. I’ve got really passionate about the whole nutrition aspects, so I’m doing everything that I can to promote that and I try to see the family as well. So, that’s about it for me.
Guy Lawrence: That was awesome. Well, thanks so much for coming onto the show, Peter. We really appreciate your time.
Peter Brukner: My pleasure.
Stuart Cooke: Yes. Thank you so much and enjoy the rest of the day.
Peter Brukner: Thanks a lot guys.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely. Thanks Peter. Cheers, mate.
Guy:The video above is the short version of why we get fat and what we can do about it. Below is the fascinating long version as today we are joined by Dr Kieron Rooney, a Researcher in Metabolic Biochemistry.
Kieron is a fun, down to earth guy who gives us an incite to what is going in the world of nutritional study from an academic perspective. So if you are wondering why there could be so much disagreement out there on the world of nutrition, then watch this as Kieron sheds some light on what’s really going on!
Full Dr Kieron Rooney Interview: Science, Research & Nutrition. What’s the real deal?
Guy Lawrence: This is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. Our awesome guest today is Dr. Kieron Rooney. Now, to quote his twitter bio, “Dr. Kieron Rooney is a researcher in metabolic biochemistry. He campaigns for real foods in schools,” and awesome project, “He’s interested in cancer and sugar metabolism and he’s also a registered nutritionist.”
And, also, on top of that, a really awesome cool guy, and we’re pretty keen to get him on the show today. The one thing I’ve realized chatting to Kieron on this podcast today is that the more you know the more you don’t now. You know? So delving into the world of science and academic research with Kieron and trying to figure out why there’s this whole nutritional mess going on, really, with this low-fat, high-fat, high-carb, low-carb, what, you know, what’s going on and to get it from Kieron’s perspective is pretty awesome.
So strap yourself in. It’s pretty information-packed, but he does break it down in really simple terms, and we cover many, many topics, including all of the above I just mentioned, so I’m sure you’re going to get a lot out of this.
If you are listening to this through iTunes, a little review, awesome. It takes two minutes. It can be complicated; iTunes don’t make it easy for us, you know, but the reviews, and if you subscribe to our podcast, allows us to get found easily on iTunes and it helps get this message out there. So if you do enjoy our podcasts and you do enjoy the show, a simple review telling us, “Hey, guys, keep it up,” would be pretty awesome.
We know we’re reaching a lot of people now and we know you’re out there. Of course you can watch these on video. If you are listening to us through iTunes, just come over to our blog 180nutrition.com.au where we’ve got a host of things everywhere from blog posts, obviously these podcasts, our products, whatever, it’s all in there, and it’s all there to serve you and help your health moving forward.
Anyway, enjoy the show. Let’s go over to Kieron and let’s hang out for the next 45 minutes. Awesome.
Guy Lawrence: All right. I’m Guy Lawrence. I’m with Stuart Cooke and our awesome guest today is Dr. Kieron Rooney. Welcome!
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Hello.
Stuart Cooke: Hello.
Guy Lawrence: Before we kick off, I’ve got to say I’m very excited to have you on the show and now I do say that to all the guests, but even more so today, because, you know, I was just thinking this morning there’s a lot of smart people in this world, right? And a lot of academics and the rest of it, but for some reason we still can’t get a unison, harmony, if you like, on nutrition, so what’s going on? So I’m really looking forward to shedding some light on that today.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Excellent.
Guy Lawrence: And find out why everyone is so indifferent about it.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: I might not have a definitive answer for you, but I can at least come up with a few suggestions. How’s that?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’d be awesome.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: yeah? All right.
Guy Lawrence: Before we get into that, can you just explain to our listeners a little bit about yourself?
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Oh, yeah, sure.
Guy Lawrence: And why we are excited to have you on the show?
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Okay, so, look, professionally I did a Bachelor of Science degree from 1995 to ’98 at University of Sydney and then I did my honors and Ph.D in metabolic biochemistry. So I had four and a bit years where I was looking at the role of the phosphocreatine energy shuttle and how it reacts or behaves to shuttle energy around muscle cells, liver cells and the pancreas. I was particularly looking at whether or not it influence insulin secretions, so I then used a couple of different animal models to manipulate that, so we would use exercise as intervention, we would use high-fat diets as an intervention, and we’ll have a look to see what we could do to influence fuel storage and fuel utilization capacity, and that…
And then in 2003, I got my position as a lecturer just after the Ph.D lecturing in exercise physiology and biochemistry. I’ve spent the last ten years now developing curriculum for exercise science degrees, exercise physiology, that mostly focuses, my part mostly focuses, on what regulates fuel utilizations, how we store it, how we break it down, and the regulation behind that, and that’s my teaching side of things, and then for my research perspective what I’ve continued on is the investigations of fuel utilization. We’ve got a number of research projects have looked at how diet and exercise can influence how well we store and break down fuel.
Personally, because I know that you’re interested in the personal story, if we go back to 2006, 2005, I was a smoker weighing in at around 90 kilos, but I could still run 5Ks at around about 25 minutes, so was living thinking that I was fit, right, but then decided with my partner that we wanted to start a family so we probably really should get ourselves healthy as well. I started making more changes so I quit smoking. I quit the drinking of Coke, which at that time I was probably around about two liters a day, and then I quit drinking Coke again in 2008, and then I quit drinking it again in 2010, and I quit drinking it again in 2013…
So, that one’s been a little bit of a recurrent one for me, but look…about two years ago I decided to go, well, I guess, the focus was not eating processed food. It was removing as much of the highly processed foods that were in my diet, which at the time was huge, right? That’s twos liters of Coke a day and there was a lot of pasta, there was a lot of breads, it was eating out a fair bit, and so once I, or the family, jumped onto that thinking and we removed a lot of the highly-processed refined flours, those types of foods, health just started improving even more dramatically.
Everyone like weight stories. I dropped. I went from 91 kilos at that point down to 75, but more importantly I think I’m still running quite well, although, I’ve cut that out and I’ve started doing more strength work and my power outputs at the gym have been increasing over that same time, so I know I’m feeling stronger and now I’m feeling better, and some people tell me I’m looking better.
Stuart Cooke: Oh boy, okay. You’re qualified to answer my next question then.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: On two fronts, right? I get the academic perspective and the personal anecdote N=1 that nobody likes.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly right. You’re right. You’ve certainly touched on what I think the answer is going to be, but in your scientific opinion why do you think we’re getting fatter and sicker as a nation?
Dr. Kieron Rooney: My perspective on this has changed dramatically over the last ten years. My training was from a biochemistry point of view, small animal models, cell models, looking at individual metabolic pathways, looking for particular energy transfer systems that might explain why it is that we’re storing more fat or more carbohydrate, whatever it might be, or not accessing it properly, and so therefore we might be storing it but not breaking it down, but five years ago, 2009, 2010, I started collaborating with a psychology group who were, at the time, looking at sugar-sweetened beverages and sugar-sweetened foods to influence cognition, and we got collaborating going, “Well, you guys will measure behavioral adaptations to food, I can have a look at the metabolic perspectives in those same models, and we’ll see what happens.”
So, for the last five years, we’ve been publishing that work. Last year we were able to get an ARC grant to start trying to translate into human population. So, look, ten years ago I would’ve said to you, “We’ve got some nice discrete energy pathways that are defective in individual cells within the body, and that might be what it is that’s driving us to be fatter and sicker.”
But, over the last five years, as I start looking more at the behavioral, the cognitive side of things, I see it’s much more of a mix between the two, and I think one of the biggest issues we’ve got at the moment is as individuals we want our meals to be convenient so they can fit in with our busy lives. We want them to be cheap, so they can fit in with our finances, and more and more, we want them to be increasingly tasty, flavorsome, and so what we’ve done as a society is we’ve created a niche there where the food industry have come in and provided exactly what we’ve been wanting with highly processed foods that are energy dense, taste great, and relatively cheap.
Now what that’s done is that it’s lead us to be eating more, and so we no longer just have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which are in moderate proportions, but we’ve also got the mid-morning snack, the late-afternoon snack, the food that I’m going to eat on the drive or the bus ride home, I’ve got my dessert, and I’ve got my late-night snack before I go to bed. So we have an environment where we’ve got a surplus of food, but the big issue is that metabolically our systems can’t meet that capacity, and so we’ve put our metabolic systems, which have a limited threshold to utilize energy into an environment where we’re providing it with vast excesses.
Now, our bodies do burn energy. Absolutely. We’ll try and excrete as much of the excess as we can, but any excess we store, and that answers the question as to why we’re getting fatter, shall we say, or larger, right? So, we’re eating the wrong foods. We’re eating too much of them. We’re eating too frequently, such that the system doesn’t have a chance to recover and remove the excess that we’ve taken in, but the other big issue there is that we’re not eating the right foods. We’ve gone for the reliance on the convenient, cheap, highly-processed foods and we’ve moved away, we’ve forgotten about food quality, and so when you move into eating those types of food, they meet the nutrient requirements for your metabolic capacity and you don’t tend to overeat all of them.
Guy Lawrence: A question, a thought just popped in there, Kieron. With your own personal circumstances, you know how you say you dropped this weight from being over 90 kilos…
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: And you’ve changed the quality of your food dramatically, obviously, in the Cokes and that. Did the consumption change as well, or did that remain the same?
Dr. Kieron Rooney: I’m a little bit of a, because I’m a scientist at heart, I tend to collect a lot of data on myself, so I do have spreadsheets of energy intake, energy expenditure, what I’ve been doing, since around 2004, and when we have a look at the total energy intake, that hasn’t changed that much, but what has happened is that my frequencies of meals.
So, for example, I don’t eat breakfast anymore. All right? When I wake up in the morning, I’m not hungry. I might have a cup of coffee. That gets me to work. My first meal is usually around about half-past ten, eleven o’clock, so you might see me attacking my fridge in about an hour, but what I’m seeing is I’m eating far less often during my day, but those meals are much more nutrient dense, and that’s getting me through the day.
So, what I’m probably finding, if I was to look at my own system, is that there are far more times during my day where I’ve got a recovery period and I don’t have a constantly high metabolic load coming in onto that system that my digestive system and my endocrine system have to deal with.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right. From a science perspective, then, because we’ve been pushed a low-fat diet for many, many years, you know, I think Ancel Keys was the breakthrough scientist, and do we know what we know now back then? So, has opinions changed dramatically, or have we just had new discoveries over the last couple of years? Or has it always been a mixed bag of information over the last twenty or thirty years?
Dr. Kieron Rooney: I think…when you think about it from a nutrition research, nutrition information, public health policy point-of-view, the science and the evidence hasn’t necessarily changed significantly. We still know very much what we knew quite a long, long time ago. There’s been evidence from early turn of the century that particular foods behave in different ways when you consume them, all right? So whether or not that knowledge has changed is not really the issue. I think part of the big problem is how it’s being marketed, how it’s being utilized in health promotion, and that’s what necessarily has changed.
We knew years ago that if you ate too much, if you ate more energy than you’re going to, than you expend, then you’re going to store lots of it. We knew twenty years ago, thirty years ago, forty years ago exercise was important for prevention of cardiovascular disease, the prevention of diabetes…I think the big change that is happening at the moment is people realizing that maybe one of the biggest fallacies that they’ve had is that they’ve only thought about food and nutrition from an energy perspective, and what we really need to identify far more is how individual foods react or changehow our metabolic systems work.
So, the whole energy in, energy out argument, which works as a nice simple piece of dogma to get a particular message across, that is, “If you eat too much, you’re going to gain weight. If you eat less, you’re going to lose it,” that works to some extent, but it doesn’t explain how food relates to metabolic disease, because food is far more than just the energy, right? 150 calories from a sugar-sweetened beverage is going to metabolically impact your body far different to 150 calories from cheese.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: And in that instance then, eating, and our nutrition advice should all be about not so much just what the energy balance is about, but what rather what are the food types that you’re eating? What’s the quality of that food? Where is your energy coming from?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. That’s certainly coming at the forefront. I mean, because we play around with this a lot, don’t we, Stu? Like, you know, and for myself, personally, I can dramatically increase the calories providing it’s natural fat, and as long as my carbohydrate intake remains reasonably low, I can, I generally don’t put on weight even if I increase in calories quite a lot, from a personal perspective, and Stu can eat all day and not put on…
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, I come at it from the other side of the fence, where I have always struggled to maintain weight, and I can eat literally anything, but the difference for me is the way I feel. You know? I may look slim and skinny, but I just feel wasted if I eat some food low in nutrients, to put it that way.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Yeah, so, you’re touching on a couple of things, and so I’ll start with Guy’s. Guy touched on carbohydrate content relative to fat, and that’s where we see a lot of the social conversation happening at the moment, a little bit of the academic conversation happening, and that is, “What is this discussion around the balance of carbohydrates and fat?”
And you’ve got a number of different approaches to how you balance those macronutrients. We’ll come back to that in a moment, but Stu, you also touch her on something else that a lot of the behaviorialists talk about, but very few of the metabolic researchers have until recently and that is if we think about food as more than just this energy content, what’s its impact on our quality of life, our general outlook on things, and that’s an area in which there needs to be far more attention, because we’ve got qualitative data from individuals, but people like to think that that’s not strong enough to warrant investigation, but yeah, it’s definitely a theme that keeps popping up, so you’ve got a macronutrient issue, but you’ve also got a consideration of whether or not food is more than just the energy and there it is, but the third thing that you’re touching on here is individual variance, and how you can get a number of individuals eating the same diet, but they might respond very differently.
Okay, so, give me a couple of minutes, I’ll try and cover those ones for us, right? So, if we go to the carbohydrate/fat ratio thing, right? Now, it’s an area I’m particularly interested in, because I think one of the biggest things that’s changed over the last twenty years with our general society eating is the introduction to liquid calories and, in particular, sugar-sweetened beverages.
Okay, so I’ll declare my bias. I’ve researched in the area for five years, so I might have a little bit of an idea about what I’m talking about, and I’ve received funding from the ARC to investigate this in the next few years, right? But we can show on our models what others have shown quite consistently that the excess calories that you take from sugar-sweetened beverages or the sugar that you’re getting in from that will have a completely different effect upon individuals, between individuals, will have a completely different effect to the carbohydrate sources that you might get from whole foods and real foods, right?
So, when we talk about individuals who go along restricting processed foods, removing those nutrient-poor but energy-dense types of foods what you might typically find is people drop their carbohydrate intake, because when you have a look at the processed, a lot of the processed foods, they’re high-fat and high-sugar, but they’re far more carbohydrate in there relative to the fat that might be in there.
Now, when we think about how our metabolic systems are designed, we have a minimum, sorry, we have a maximum threshold for how much carbohydrate we can tolerate. Now, we’ve been told within the profession and therefore have translated it out to the social, to society, that there’s a minimum requirement of carbohydrate of about 130 grams a day, as a theoretical value, and in actual fact, my opinion, from what I’ve read, from what I’ve researched, is that 130 is not a minimum requirement, it’s a maximum requirement.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: And where we calculate or where that 130 has been calculated from was discrete experiments that have a look at what’s the minimum requirement of the brain, the central nervous system, what are tissues burning within you cells, sorry, what are the cells within your body utilizing as their predominant fuel. Now, if you accept that that number is a maximum threshold, then you start looking at the metabolic systems that get kicked in when you start eating over it.
Now, the most recent national nutrition health survey data of Australians that came out a couple of months ago showed that on average we’re eating right about 250 grams of carbohydrate, and there are individuals in amongst that group, that’s on average, so there are some individuals in that group who are eating in excess of that up to and over 300 grams of carbohydrate a day.
And there’s an acknowledgment in that data that there’s underreporting, so in actual fact, it’s probably over that amount. Right? Now, that means if we have a metabolic system that can only handle 130 grams of carbohydrate, give or take a few carbs for individual variance, then if you’re an individual who’s eating 200, 250, 300 grams, then your body is not going to catabolize that fuel. It’s not going to burn it and break it off; it’s going to store it or do its best to excrete it. Now, we initially store carbohydrates as glycogen, but we’ve got a maximum threshold of how much glycogen we can store, and then once you’ve met that threshold, the overflow goes elsewhere.
And there’s multiple pathways in which that excess carbohydrate can go, and there’s good evidence to show that it can go into fat or it might go into other metabolites. So, you’re carbohydrate content there has its maximum threshold, Guy. Now when it comes to fat, there’s no published minimum threshold for fat, and there’s no published maximum threshold for fat intake. So if you go to the NIH where there’s where this 130 grams of carbohydrate came from, in that same table for fat they’ve got a dash, right? It’s an unknown number, right?
What we do know is that there are essential fatty acids that our bodies can’t create, so therefore there are certain fats we do have to eat, right? Now, so, when I think about what you’re telling me, Guy, and that, yeah, you can fluctuate your energy intake but if it’s fat you can get away with it a fair bit. What you’d think about is the people who come from the low-carb, high-fat philosophies say, “Well, if you maintain a very low carbohydrate content, so you’re sitting around about 50 to 80 grams of carbohydrate, then your body adapts to be a fat-burner.”
So, all the metabolic systems within your tissues that can burn fat stay up-regulate, so you’ve got more of them, and you down-regulate, or reduce the amount of carbohydrate pathways…
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Which means that if you’re eating fat, your systems tune to burn that fat, right? Now if you put carbohydrates into that system, though, because you’ve down-regulated the pathways that would burn carbs, you’ve got a reduced capacity to catabolize them and perhaps a more increased capacity to store them, so you need to be careful of that balance and when you’re going to bring those different macronutrients in, so, one of the issues we need to identify is that the human body is an adaptable system. It will change its metabolic processes to deal with the foods that you’re putting into it.
So, if you habitually live on a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet, then the metabolic systems within your muscles, within your liver will adapt to deal with those fuel systems. If you live on a high-carbohydrate, lower fat system, then those tissues in that system will adapt to try and handle that as well as they can, but we have a limited capacity to deal with carbohydrates and excesses over that will flow in.
Now, what we don’t know is what really determines individual variance. We know habitual diet can have a play. We know genetics has a huge play, and there are big studies in hundreds, thousands of individuals that have tacked individuals over years. I think about this one called the Heritage Study, which has been running for a good twenty odd years or so. It’s got grandparents, parents, children. It’s got quite a number of generations within families. They have endurance training programs. They’re monitoring food.
And one of the outcomes of interest that comes from that route is that you’ll find a reported average benefit of the endurance training program of, yeah, anywhere of around about, yeah, a liter per minute of vo2 max, so that means your physical capacity is improved this much, all right? On average.
But if you have a look at the individual data, you’ll find that there’s individuals who’ve been doing the exact same lifestyle intervention for four, five months and don’t respond at all, so, no response whatsoever, and others who have responded that much, right? So, what we need to be careful of is when we start thinking about dietary advice, exercise advice and try and translate it out to everybody, we need to be aware that absolutely we’ve got the evidence from research that shows we have individual variance.
There will be some people that respond to particular interventions far better than others and…
Guy Lawrence: Sadly, it’s not marketed like that, is it? Like, it’s always like, “You must do this!”
Dr. Kieron Rooney: That’s right! That’s right! And so what you really start thinking about then is a research study. If we want to get that published, if we want to get that funded, we need to have large numbers of participants, and they’re the real good funding bias, or not good, real poor, bad, but they are the fact of publication bias that we like to favor publishing positive results, right?
So, if you go and do a huge study, and you show that your intervention didn’t have a good outcome or didn’t have a significant outcome, then it’s much harder to get that paper published than if you’ve got an intervention that has had a positive outcome, right? Whether it be one way or the other, right? So, what we find is that we can have a publication bias that only published papers and interventions that have had this significant effect. Now, to get that significant effect then you want to make you’re, you don’t want to, but what people tend to, which is not really part of scientific method, is they will search for populations that will meet that need.
So, knowing that we’ve got individual variance, you can design your parameters in a way that ensures a much more likelihood of a significant result, right? So, we get papers published. It shows that we’ve got this significant adaptation or outcome in one particular direction, that’s the message that gets sold because it’s the simplest, it’s the clearest message, but if you go into the individual data sets then you can see that there’s quite a big variance at how individuals respond to that.
And so the idea of the message should actually be, “Well, here’s a couple of different approaches that an individual might want to take in society. Try them. Find out what works for you. You might be an individual that thrives on a lower-carbohydrate, higher-fat diet, or you might be an individual that thrives on the Ornish Diet, 80 percent carbohydrates, very low fat, but the idea is that the way we should be thinking perhaps is that future-wise, when we think about the research, the messages that come out, it’s not so much saying here’s one protocol that everyone should be trying. It should be more along the lines of, “Do you know what? Here are a number of different approaches that people have used and that have worked for them.”
And it’s about experimenting with ourselves engaged in finding what works best for us.
Guy Lawrence: Is that what’s happened with the low-fat diet? Because, like, everyone I know, or most people, generally are just conditioning to eating a low-fat diet. It’s always been that way, you know, when I grew up everything about it. I remember, you know, avoiding fat like the plague, and you know that information had to come from somewhere.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: That’s right. So, you know, there’ve been plenty of books written about it. There have been public seminars given about it. The big turning point in nutritional history would’ve been, everybody refers to it in the ’70s in America, identify what are some dietary guidelines for Americans to follow from the ’70s onward, and one of the things that we need to keep in mind with Australia is those guidelines don’t directly impact what our advice is.
Yes, there was some influence. They did get translated into our Australian population and that underlying theme of reducing saturated fat or reducing fat intake does persist within our guidelinespre-2013 and to some extent within the current 2013 ones as well. That wasn’t necessarily a turning point directly for Australia, but that message has been what has come through and translated to everybody.
So, we have a ’70s time point in America where there is enough evidence for some individuals to say< “We need to focus on high-fat intakes as being a problem.” The marketing and the messaging around that then severely demonizes fat as a negative macronutrient and that we shouldn’t be eating too much of it, and more often not, you see people will have, the professionals will advise a cap at around about 30 percent of your daily energy intake coming from fat. Anything over that, they would refer to as a high-fat diet. And so, that’s right, what most prevalent in most people’s thinking is, “Fat’s the problem; we need to remove it.”
Now, that’s probably got a much stronger message than anything that comes out at the moment, because it’s the first one that’s come out, right? So, we’ve had dietary guidelines form America since the ’70s. In Australia, they came around ’80s, ’90s or so. Now, the very first time then a society’s being told we’re being told we need to watch what we eat, the focus is on fat, and so that’s the prevailing thought that comes into everybody’s thought, “I’m dieting. I need to restrict fat.”
But the evidence that is subsequently being collected suggests that it’s not as simple as that, right? We can’t just focus on that one macronutrient. We can’t just focus on putting a cap at 30 percent on that one macronutrient and in actual fact, some individuals who go onto that diet do not perform well, all right? They’re eating far more carbohydrates than their systems can adapt.
So, if we force those individuals to stay on that regime, on that dietary advice, they are not going to perform well and they’re going to get sick, but the big issue that we have, or one of the big issues that we have, is if we framed a professional situation now where we make individuals feel that they can’t go against that advice, right, and that’s a big issue that we’ve got when we think about, “How do we translate the evidence from science into nutritional policy into health promotion and health advocacy?”
There is evidence in the science to show that individuals on a high-fat diet, low-carbohydrate diet can perform quite well in health outcomes, not just in weight, but there’s also within those same papers evidence that suggests that individuals on that diet won’t perform well. Just as much as there’s evidence to show that individuals on your low-fat, moderate carbohydrate diet will or won’t perform well. What we can’t have is a system which is dogmatic, that says everybody should be following this macronutrient distribution. What it should be is identifying individuals respond differently to various programs and it’s about you as an individual finding out what works for you.
And then we should be, as academics and professionals, setting up a system that supports that, right? Identifies what’s your relationship with food, what’s your relationship with your eating patterns, and whether or not part of the issues or problems that you might be having is because you’re forcing yourself to fit a paradigm that doesn’t fit for you.
Stuart Cooke: So what should we be doing right now at home to address this confusion, because from a commercial standpoint, you know, “Fear cholesterol, you know, eat healthy whole grains.” We still seem to be doing the wrong things being told to do the wrong things, so right now, what could I do to figure out what works for me?
Dr. Kieron Rooney: The safest option for you is to find yourself a qualified professional who’s going to support you in identifying what works for yen,
Stuart Cooke: How would I do that based upon traditional food practices and doctors who are again aligned with perhaps cholesterol-lowering drugs, you know, and the like. How would I find a , I guess, I’m almost looking at a new age doctor who understands.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Look, it doesn’t have to be being New Age. You can’t put that umbrella over it or make people think that they’re quacks and…
Stuart Cooke: How do you think I can about that? I’ve been to, well, in the past, I’ve been to a number of doctors who have been grossly overweight, and I figure, “Would I really want to go to you for nutritional advice?” That would be my concern.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Hey, look, you raising an interesting issue and I’m not remembering the journal that it was published in, but there was a paper that came out a year ago or maybe early this year, which was looking at clients’ perceptions of receiving advice from the professional that I’m talking about, and without doubt there’s very much that feeling that some people would walk into a room and look at the individual and go, “Well, how am I going to trust you?”
It’s an issue I’ve had trying to teach biochemistry. The vast majority of people that walk into a biochemistry lecture have already decided that they’re going to hate it, and they’re basing that on more likely their experiences with chemistry in high school, and there’s a really good reason for people to feel that, right? Because chemistry and biochemistry can be intimidating. It can be something that people hate, so as a lecturer in that topic, I’ve had to take onboard very early on how do I get people to engage with that topic? Do I have to be the topic myself? Right? And now I find myself, yeah, answering a question in which I’ve got to turn that philosophy onto, well, yeah, does the person giving the message have to represent the message that they’re giving? I’m going to say no for a moment, right? And I’m going to say no because what you’d have to appreciate in your analogy there, Stu, is that we don’t get fat and sick overnight.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: WE get fat and sick over thirty, forty years of small incremental differences in our metabolic behaviors but also in our cognitive behaviors, right? So, you could have a very wise health professional who’s reading the up-to-date evidence at the moment, who’s beginning to challenge their own beliefs and what they’ve been practicing, what they’ve been doing over the last twenty or thirty years, but they won’t represent that right now, right?
And, so, to put that kind of assumption on an individual is kind of being unfair to that profession, right? What you need to be able to appreciate is that while a health professional I don’t think has to embody the evidence that they’re giving out, right? Because what we’ve got at the moment is a real change in the zeitgeist, right?
The conversations that happen in society, the conversation that’s happening on social media, the conversations that are happening in academia are changing, so what one individual might advise a patient tomorrow could be quite different to what they advised last week, two weeks ago, even a year ago, but they won’t see that impact straight away, right?
If I think about my own personal journey, if we just looked at weight as an outcome, yeah, I lost, what was it, 15 kilos, but it took eight months to do that, all right? But I started feeling perceptual benefits, yeah, within a couple of weeks. I was feeling great. I was feeling energized. I was feeling like I made the right choice, and I was going to stick with this new approach to living, new approach to eating, but if you’d come and seen me three weeks into my program and had gone, “Yeah, you’re still fat, right? Clearly, it’s not working for you.” Then I would have lost you very early on, right?
So to say to expect that immediate change and for us to represent that, I don’t think is exactly fair, right?
Stuart Cooke: If I had come to see you while you were guzzling two liters of Coke a day, I perhaps would have been questioning your advice as well.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Absolutely. If I’m telling you to cut out the sugar-sweetened beverages while I guzzle down on one, I, perfectly, I accept that 100 percent, right? I mean, for people who’ve come across me already, they might be aware that for at least the last year or so I’ve been campaigning to change the nutritional guidelines for what we sell in schools, right? At least in New South Wales, if not nationally.
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: And one of the challenges that we’ve got there is the New South Wales government has said, “The person responsible for implementing healthy eating practice in schools is the principal, right? So, that means that the government have put this policy in place then they’ve washed their hands of it and gone, “Local schools; local decisions. You can take care of it.”
So, if you’ve got a principal who’s walking around the school playground guzzling Coke, eating Party Pies, sausage rolls, hot dogs, hamburgers, pizzas. He’s the person, or she’s the person, that we have to convince to change what food they serve to kids, and the message gets lost right away. So, point granted. If at the time that they are delivering their health advice they’re not following it themselves, they have good reason to question it, right?
Stuart Cooke: Got it. Got it. So, I’ve gone to the doctors and I’ve looked past the appearance of my doctor. The doctor looks okay, and I’m questioning my doctor, “What should I eat to be healthy?” Where would we go? What should I be looking for? What do you think my doctor would be advising me to do?
Dr. Kieron Rooney: I think one of the first things that the doctor should be doing is asking you, “How much processed food are you eating?” You would classify in nutrition and dietetics as being discretionary food, so if you go to the Australian dietary guidelines, there’s a nice couple of peaches, there’s some good worded paragraphs that shows you exactly what are classified as discretionary calories.
Now, one disclaimer: I do not believe that anything, in my opinion, such as a discretionary calorie, right? There’s no such thing, so your body does not take a calorie that’s coming from a sugar-sweetened beverage and go, “Oh! That’s one of my 10 percent discretionary calories, so I’m going to put that over in my discretionary calorie bank account, and this is a good one.” Right?
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: I think the, in my opinion, the rule should be processed foods are out as much as you possibly can, right?
Guy Lawrence: Can we just explain the umbrella of processed foods? Just in case…
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Sure. The best thing I can do here in such a timeframe would be to advise people to look up the NOVA Classifications of Food Processing. All right? So that’s N, O, V, A. It’s originated out of Brazil. It is providing an alternative classifications on foods on the degrees of processing.
So, there’s foods that have not been processed, such as your vegetables straight out of the ground, shall I say. Then you’ve got your minimally processed, where you might be including your dairy products in there, so you’ve had to do some kind of human interference to it in manufacturing. Then you go up to highly processed, up to ultra-processed, and when you’re getting into those degrees what you’ve got is industry coming in, they’re taking what was once originally a whole real food and they have mashed it, they’ve homogenized it, they’ve extracted out what nutritional scientists have said are the good bits and they’ve repackaged them into something that’s highly palatable, cheap, and convenient to eat.
Now, at that point, we cannot say that the nutrients within that food behaves the same way as if you ate the nutrients in their original form. All right? So, what you should be looking for is reducing as many of those ultra-processed, highly processed foods out of your diet, because what we’ve got is although they might be packaged saying that they’ve got all the nutrients that you need to be fit and healthy individual, they also bring alongside a number of products that you don’t need to be healthy and active, healthy individual, but also may be what’s making you sick.
They’re also designed to make us eat more, so what I would like is my doctor to tell me, “Well, Kieron, the first thing I want to find out is how many of these discretionary calories are you eating? Have you gone beyond what the dietary guidelines recommend you should be eating?”
And, if we go to the National Nutritional Health survey that came out a couple of months ago, thousands of Australians interviewed over a couple of years period, we saw that between 30 to 40 percent of our energy intake was coming from these discretionary foods. Right. So, if I’m an average Australian that fits into the data that came from the National Nutritional Health survey data, then my doctor would be making the assumption that 30 to 40 percent of my daily energy intake is coming from these discretionary highly processed foods.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: And, if we have a look at what the Australian dietary guidelines are saying, whether or not you agree with them on any particular level, just at a very simple point they say no more than 10 percent. So, already we would have identified a key area that you need to reduce food intake from. Now that does not mean you stop eating them and don’t replace them with anything. All right? That would be a starvation diet, and we’re not advocating for that. All right?
What it would be doing is going, “We’re going to remove those processed foods and the energy that you’ve lost from that we’re going to reintroduce, but we’re going to reintroduce them from your minimally or nonprocessed foods. All right? You’re going to be cooking at home with the real food, raw ingredients that you’ve purchased from your fruit and veg shop. Right?”
In that instance you should have already drastically minimized your total energy intake, although that won’t necessarily be true for everybody, but what you will have done is you’ll have removed preservatives, additives. You’ll have removed, you will have inserted probably far more fiber, because you’re eating proper vegetables because they’re in their whole form, but you’re also bringing their nutrients in the format in which you would have been, your body would digest them and expect them.
Guy Lawrence: It’s quite a simple form now, isn’t it?
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Yeah. That’s right. You look like you want to ask another question.
Guy Lawrence: No, no…I’m trying to keep myself restrained.
Stuart Cooke: You’ll struggle to read Guy’s face. I’ll tell you that, Kieron.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Yeah, okay.
Stuart Cooke: I think he’s just thinking about his next meal.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Yeah, yeah, yeah, right? But that’s what I’d be expecting from my health professional. All right? If my health professional started dictating a particular prescription that I had to follow, then I’d be concerned. Now, how do you find one of these individuals? Well, I’m not aware of any particular database. I would not Google “new age doctor.” All right?
Stuart Cooke: You should try it.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: But, you know what, there are enough health professionals on social media sites, qualified dieticians, qualified medics, who are out there talking about what their message is that you should be able to relatively easily find someone who is still not going to dictate to you their new philosophy, but at least support you in investigating for yourself what might work.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect, and I guess referral plays a large part in that as well.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Yeas, as in, you mean, word of mouth if you’ve come across individuals that have supported one individual…
Stuart Cooke: Exactly right. Yeah, absolutely. Guy has found a wonderful new age doctor. I like what he says. I’m going.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Yeah, yeah, that’s right. Now I love my GP. I’ve had the same GP since I was five now, so he’s known me for quite a long time, and he’s seen me go from a preschooler up to a qualified academic now, and we have great conversations. He knows I’m only coming to him because I haven’t tried to figure out first what went wrong with me, and I already have a long list, “I don’t think it’s any of these, so it’s over to you now. All right?”
Stuart Cooke: That’s exactly right. Fantastic.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: But he’s more than willing to support and go, “All right. Well if you’re going to go that way, let’s have a look and see what happens.”
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. And again, just to break it down, overall message: Great place to start would be to eat more whole foods, get in the kitchen, start cooking with real ingredients, and just try and reduce the packet food.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: That’s right, and if you find yourself eating a meal out of convenience because you’re trying to fit it in between a meeting or between one other priority, then we need to rethink how we’ve approached what our food intake, what our behaviors are, because once we start doing that type of mindless eating, you can very easily increase more snacks, your taking in food more regularly, your energy intake is going to shoot up, and depending upon what the macronutrient content is, you could be doing yourself far greater harm.
Stuart Cooke: Got it, and I guess it’s kind of an exercise in time management as well, because if we’re putting ourselves into a space where we simply don’t have time to eat and we have to make these processed choices then we should perhaps go back and look at how we structure our days.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: It’d be lovely to think that’s what our holistic approach is. All right? And at the moment, we, as a community, have allowed our society, our environment to be dictated to us, and I’m going to jump on the big food bandwagon for a moment and say food industry, they want us to be distracted. They want us to be busy because that’s what their product is. Their product is in a box. It’s quick. It’s convenient, and it apparently has all the nutrients that you need to be fit and healthy, but it’s not. Right?
You’ve removed, you’ve given up your right to listen to your body, to take control of what it is that you’re going to feed it, and in that instance, if we keep our environment set up that way, we’re only going to get worse, right? So, you want to have an approach to eating in which you’re in control and you’re not being dictated to by marketing, because let’s face it, food industry they’re here to make profit, not to look after your health. All right?
And your priority should be your health and not an individual’s profit, and look, it’d be nice to think that what we need is a big social debate with our unions, with our workers, with our employers, with our workplace individuals, to say, “Look, what we’ve actually allowed to happen over the twenty, thirty, forty years that we’ve been here is we’ve created an environment in which our health is suffering, because we’re filling our lives up with priorities that are external to us. Right? We’re working for somebody else. We’re earning other people money. We’ve got this focus on commercialization, and in that instance our priorities have been distracted, and so therefore, one of the big areas that we’ve allowed without source is healthy eating, and that seems to be one of the biggest mistakes that we’ve made.”
Stuart Cooke: Well, I’d happily sit there and discuss that with you, if you want to form a coffee club. I’ll bring the biscuits.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: I have to say, in some circles I’m not qualified enough. I’ve only got a Ph.D. and 14, 15 years of research experience, but I don’t have a dietetics qualification, so all of this you’re getting as a nutrition academic who’s researched the area for 15 years.
Stuart Cooke: Well, you file me your details. I’ll order you one on the internet and we’ll get back to you before the end of the day.
Guy Lawrence: I know time is slowly creeping away from us, but I really wanted to ask you this, because I understand you’re looking at the relationship between cancer and sugar, so this is going way off tangent. What have you found? Can you just explain a little bit about that?
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Yeah, sure, okay. So, look, I should point out I haven’t yet done any direct research myself, but if anybody’s listening, watching who is interested in having a look at the role of low-carbohydrate diets or even ketosis diets in case studies or patient, cancer patients undergoing treatment, I’m more than happy to have a conversation.
I came into this topic because though in my background readings and my support readings in sugar-sweetened beverages, sugar intake, impact on metabolic diseases, and I stumbled across these readings on ketosis diets and the treatment of cancer patients, and it turns out way back in 1924 there was a Nobel Prize-winning hypothesis, well now this wasn’t what the Nobel Prize was for, but the individual who won the Nobel Prize came up with this other hypothesis and that’s called the Warburg…
Guy Lawrence: Is that Warburg? Yeah, Otto Warburg.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Yeah, yeah, Otto Warburg, who identified that in particular cancer cells there largely dependent upon glucose as their predominant fuel source. Now Warburg said that every cancer cell expressed this need, right, this desire, but subsequently we, you know, evidence comes out that shows not every cancer cell. There are particular cancer cells that are more dependent upon glucose than others. There are some that can adapt to a low-glucose environment to utilize other fuels, but for the large part, the vast majority of cancer cells have this increased reliance on glucose as a predominant fuel.
So there’s evidence coming out now and research being conducted, mostly in the States, which is investigating the starvation of cancer cells from sugar, and because the working hypothesis is, “Well, if we’ve been able to identify the particular cancer cells dependent upon sugar to survive, well, if we restrict access to sugar, does this cell growth arrest, shall we say?”
And then there’s an added benefit on top of that that some people such as a group XXat ????XX [0:50:11] in Florida are showing that ketone bodies themselves might have a protective effect, so the sugar and cancer story is a developing one. All right?
The general lay of the land is this, there are particular cancer cells that seem highly dependent upon glucose as their predominant fuel source for a number of things, not just as an energy source, but the pathways by which we make new DNA and new cell membranes and all the biomolecules we need to make new cells, which is what cancer cells are doing, is completely dependent upon glucose and that’s the pentose phosphate pathway.
So the thinking is if we restrict glucose from cancer cells, we deprive them of their energy source, we also deprive them of the building blocks of the new cells, but the overarching effect, which other research is looking at, such as Eugene Fine, is independent of the acute effect of sugar on cells, if you’re restricting sugar intake you’re having another whole body effect, and that is you’re reducing the amount of insulin that you’re secreting, and insulin is a specific growth factor that stimulates cancer cell growth.
Now, every time you eat carbohydrates, you secrete more insulin, so there is a window of opportunity there for a cancer cell to have increased growth factors which allow them to grow in that particular time. Now, look, certain cancers are very slow-growing cancers, right? Just like diabetes, just like heart disease, you don’t wake up one day and all of the cancer cells have exploded, right? It’s a progressive disease.
So what you need to, what some people are looking at is, well, regardless of whether or not the Warburg effect or Warburg hypothesis is true for every cancer cell, what is a more common theme amongst cancers is that it depends upon growth factors to stimulate growth, and one of the most predominant growth factors that have an impact is insulin. And what is the major driving force for insulin secretion? Carbohydrate.
Guy Lawrence: So does that mean then this could be a cancer prevention? Actually keeping your insulin production reduced?
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Look, some people come at it from that perspective, yes. At the moment, I would say that the thinking would be more as a collaborative treatment, shall we say, so undergoing your chemotherapy, your traditional approaches to cancer treatment, whether or not they can be boosted, supported, by your also having a low-carbohydrate ketosis diet which ultimately leads to lower insulin levels throughout your entire day and therefore reduce the instances of growth factor stimulation on those cells.
Guy Lawrence: Okay. That is fascinating.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: That is, from my personal perspective, that’s reading at the moment, that’s talking to some of those researchers via email at least, but hopefully in the coming years the opportunity to work with a couple of professionals in the area to develop some case studies if not some intervention studies to see where the data’s coming, but there is good evidence coming out in recent times to identify low-carbohydrate ketosis diets in assisting the management of chemotherapy and treatment of cancer cells.
Guy Lawrence: There you go. Fantastic. Thanks for that. Stu? You look like you’re going to say something.
Stuart Cooke: No, I’m just…Yeah. I’m fascinated and intrigued by this talk and I’m just wondering how far away we are from hearing a lot more of this in mainstream media.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Look, it’s getting out there. All right? There’s a focus in some of the research that’s looking at…Unfortunately, I think, at the moment a lot of the research is still focusing on macronutrients, right? Carbohydrates, the fats, the protein ratios, what’s the impact of those? Are they in or not in calorie deficit, so, yeah, taking individuals, forcing them onto a particular diet and have a look at it…
What…last month there was a low-carbohydrate versus a moderate-carbohydrate standard diet paper that came out. There’s a rapid weight loss, there’s a long term weight loss diet study coming out also. There’s lots of intervention studies that are currently running or slowly coming out. It’s a matter if how quickly that evidence base is going to build to influence the profession
What we’ve got with the academic world, I think, is an environment which is completely different to what traditional academic would ever have been experienced to it. If we think about up until ten, fifteen years ago, and academic could have a long-lasting career doing their own research, publishing their own papers in scientific journals and the only people that would ever read that would be other scientists.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: In the last five to ten years with free access to publication journals such as Plus One, the Frontiers range of journals everyday individuals are getting access to the evidence XXin the science space 0:55:21.000XX, so we’ve got social groups who are moving quicker than the academic fraternity. Right?
And so the information’s gonna get out there well in advance of a consensus change from the profession. And so the information is out there, but if we’re expecting leadership from academia, already you’re a good 15, 20 years away from it still. Right? Because academics, we’re obliged to look at all the evidence. Right? We are obliged to take our time to make sure we’ve checked all the pros, all the cons, crossed the Ts, dotted the Is.
And with every new study that comes out, it doesn’t change our thinking. It gets absorbed into our current ways of thinking and we see whether or not it changes us.
Now, some of us are more open to being adaptive. Others, right? And it’s a measure of whether or not the community, the academic community, are readily taking on new evidence and allowing that to alter their current perception, or whether or not they’re ignoring it.
Stuart Cooke: “Watch this space.”
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Yeah. Yeah. I don’t like that phrase, Stu.
I’m going to be in a different space, surely, in a couple of years’ time. If I’m still sitting in this office I’m going to be very upset.
Stuart Cooke: I’m going to print that on a T-shirt and send it your way.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Excellent. Excellent.
Guy Lawrence: Just before we wrap up, Kieron, I know when we were having a chat on the phone the other day you mentioned that you’re going to be looking for some test subjects in Sydney next year.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Yeah. Yep.
Guy Lawrence: Do you want to quickly mention a little bit about that? Because…
Dr. Kieron Rooney: OK. I’d love to. I’ve got; we got funding for two major projects that we’re going to be running from 2015, 2016 onward. The first one is we are looking at trying to translate some of the research that’s been conducted on animals on sugar-sweetened beverages into a human population.
But what our key focus is on is on behavioral changes. Right? So, there are many groups that are already working on the metabolic impact of sugar-sweetened beverages. Sugar-sweetened beverages, from my opinion and from my research, are a particularly nasty processed food to be consuming. Our bodies deal with liquid calories differently to solid calories.
We also, when we consume liquid calories through sugar-sweetened beverages, put a huge dose onto our metabolic systems in a very acute time frame. And that’s gonna have another impact.
Now, other groups are already looking at the metabolic outcomes. And so we’re trying to be a little bit clever. We’ve got funding. We’re going to be doing metabolic outcomes. But we’re mostly interested in whether or not they’re impacting your behavior, your perceptions of foods, your eating behaviors, your intake.
So, that’s currently going through ethics at the moment. It should be, hopefully, approved by January, February of next year. And we’ll be looking for individuals for around about March, April onwards to come into our labs at the university and have some acute eating and metabolic measures taken during and after sugar-sweetened beverages. And we’re also looking at the impact of artificial-sweetened beverages as a control groups. That’s one study.
The other study that we’ve got currently running is going back to that individual variance question. And that is: touching on research from the ’80s and ’90s, going back to some of that data, shows that if you’re an individual who has a habitual diet that’s low in carbohydrate or low in fat, and then we give you a fat meal, you metabolize that fat completely differently.
So, we’ve got genetic studies running at the moment. We’re now going to put on top of that exercise, individual work, and what we’re gonna do; we’re gonna get individuals in, we’ll screen you for your fitness, we’ll screen you for body composition, and then we’re going to have to play around with some acute testing of fat meals and carbohydrate meals and see how individuals respond to that, depending upon your habitual diet.
So we’re going to be looking for hundreds of individuals across a wide section of the Sydney population. So, we’re going to want the paleo guys. We’re going to want the clean eaters. We’re going to want the vegetarians. We’re going to want the standard Australian diet individuals. And we’re going to try and identify, through a large observational cross-sectional study, whether or not we can identify key differences in these example populations.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome. Well, you’ve got two here.
Stuart Cooke: Keep us in the know. I’ll put Guy forward for the sugar-sweetened beverages study, if that’s OK. Go for that slot. You’re in there, Guy.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Well done.
Guy Lawrence: Excellent.
Stuart Cooke: Right. So, we’ve got time for the wrap-up question, Guy?
Guy Lawrence: Let’s do it. Let’s do it. So, we ask this question on every podcast, Kieron. OK? And it’s simply: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve even been given? It can be anything.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: I’m still waiting for something. I’ve been given lots of advice in my time. Right? The biggest problem is that I haven’t listened to a lot of it. All right? So, I’m going to go with the one that’s popping into my head acutely is one from my dad, and that was always: “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.”
So, quite often I find myself in situations where I might be talking to a lot of individuals who disagree with what I have to say, and they’re telling me that I might have missed things or I might be wrong, and when I go back and read things I try to find and see that, no, no, I should be getting listened to. So, in those circumstances it’s very easy to lose confidence in your own research, your own work, thinking that you’ve missed what other people have got. And then you realize later on when they’re not around, you haven’t.
So, that can get you down a fair bit. So, I say: Don’t let the turkeys get you down. If people are telling you that you’re wrong, as opposed to getting into a XXscrap meet 1:01:04.000XX with them right there, just go away, fine more evidence, build on it, and come back and fight another day. How about that?
Guy Lawrence: Awesome.
Stuart Cooke: That’s perfect. That will do.
Guy Lawrence: That will work. And if anyone wants to get in touch with you, Kieron, or find out more about next year or got any questions, all the rest of it, shall I just link to your bio on the university website?
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Yeah, that’s the best way to do it. I’m not on Facebook. I think that’s a fad. I don’t think it’s going to be around for long. I am on Twitter. I’ve been on Twitter for roundabout 10 months now, so I’m getting into that.
Guy Lawrence: I see your Tweets coming through daily, mate.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: They can find me there or if you link to the home page on the university website, that will have my contact details there. When we’re at the point of recruiting and advertising the studies, we’ll have announcements up on that.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: That was brilliant. Thank you for coming on, Kieron.
Dr. Kieron Rooney: Yeah, no worries. Thanks for having me.
Angela: I always read food labels as I can quickly determine if the product is healthy or not. You just have to do it once per product and then you know it’s all good to buy next time round. If you’re not sure how to read labels let’s go over what you need to know:
What is in it?
How much is in it?
Is it going to do me any good?
Once you are armed with the knowledge of understanding labels you can make smarter decisions when shopping.
5 Tips for Reading Food Labels
Ignore daily intake labels – they are based on average energy requirements and nutrient needs – a 5-year-old girl is not going to need the same requirements as a 45-year-old man. The requirements are usually based on upper limits.
Ingredients are listed by weight – so the most used ingredient is first on the list. So run for the hills if you see sugar as the first ingredient.
Is it truly organic? – Even if there is the word organic in the label does not necessarily make the product organic. Companies have to jump through hoops to get their products certified. They are only organic if certified by a certifying body. Look for the following logos:
Always read the ingredients label – look for products that have ingredients that you recognise as food.
Be careful of marketing lines – when a product says low fat it will probably be high in sugar!
What are the biggest things we are trying to avoid?
Look to see if sugar is added in the ingredients and where it sits in the list. REMEMBER ingredients are listed by weight.
Choose foods that have around or less than 5g of sugar per 100g. Note: 1 teaspoon of sugar is 4g. Remember dairy foods will contain lactose, which is a sugar and will contribute to 4.7g per 100g. Don’t need to take the lactose into account.
It’s recommend we eat no more than 5 – 9 teaspoons of added sugars per day.
Remember to also take into account that you might eat more than the recommend serve size when calculating the sugar content.
Other names for added sugars: White, castor, icing, brown, raw, cane, fruit, date, grape, demerara, invert, muscovado, beet, glucose, dextrose, fructose, galactose, mannose, lactose, maltose, polydextrose, maltodextrose, sucrose, malt, rice malt, barley malt, malt extract, corn syrup, golden syrup, maple syrup, rice syrup, syrup, molasses, treacle, honey, fruit-juice concentrate and modified carbohydrate. Also words ending in ‘ose’, malt and syrup are all sugars. When you see fructose and lactose listed in ingredients they are refined added sugars.
WHEAT and gluten containing grains
The obvious gluten-containing products are breads, pasta, crackers, biscuits, muffins, pastries and cakes. Other names are: atta, burghul, dinkel, durum, farina, graham flour, semolina, spelt, kamut, triticale, pumpernickel, rye, barley, malt, malt extract, oats, and pilcorn.
Depending on how sensitive you are to gluten and how much you need/want to avoid. I would suggest if you want to avoid completely stay away from packaged foods as much as possible. You can join the Coeliac Society of Australia for $95 per year along with a doctor’s referral letter and you will receive an awesome members handbook, which is perfect size to fit into a bag and have with you always. As gluten can be in things like sauces, stocks and other packaged foods that you might not think that are that obvious.
These potentially damaging oils will be found in products like dips, sauces, pesto’s, crackers, rice crackers and baked goods. A good rule of thumb is to try to avoid the following: canola oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil and rice bran oil.
About 70% of packaged foods contain soy whether it’s soy protein, flour or oil. About 90% of soy is genetically modified. Another reason to avoid big amounts of soy foods is they contain natural plant oestrogen’s that mimic estrogen in our bodies and may cause hormonal imbalances. Soy will be hidden in vegetable proteins and vegetable oils in ingredients lists in most packaged foods.
What do those numbers mean?
Food additives are substances added to food to preserve flavour or enhance its taste and appearance. Some additives have been used for centuries; for example, preserving food by pickling (with vinegar), salting, as with bacon, preserving sweets or using sulfur dioxide as in some wines. With the advent of processed foods in the second half of the 20th century, many more additives have been introduced, of both natural and artificial origin.
General guide to numbers:
1xx Colours – they are sometime listed using their name i.e. sunset yellow
3xx 321 Antioxidants
620-641 These are flavour enhancers. Numbers 620-625 are all forms of glutamates which act like MSG
951-967 Artificial sweeteners
What additives are bad for you?
Not all food additives are harmful. In fact, of the 300 or so additives approved for uses in Australia, most of them are safe, well tested and pose no problem for most people. However, there are at least 60 food additives used in our foods, which are at best questionable in terms of safety, or at worst, known to be harmful. In Australia at least 30 are known or suspected carcinogens. Many others are banned in other countries because of known adverse health effects, yet are still permitted in Australia. For more information on harmful additives visit: http://www.additivealert.com.au
The 3 BIG offenders
MSG (Monosodium glutamate) 621 – It’s very difficult to avoid MSG, it is in lots of processed foods. We have to avoid it as best as we can. MSG is a white substance that looks like sugar with no real flavour but when added to food enhances the flavour of the food tenfold. MSG is used by the food industry as a flavour enhancer – to make us finish the packet. Some people believe that MSG has caused worldwide obesity as MSG can damage appetite regulation in the brain and kill brain cells.
MSG is also sometimes used in Chinese, Thai and Japanese restaurants. People who are sensitive may have the following symptoms: swelling of the lips, bloating, headaches and migraines. There are other more serious reported symptoms; brain damage, eyesight impairment, long term memory loss and infertility.
MSG is becoming harder to track down. Food manufacturers have found that consumers recognise ‘monosodium glutamate, 621’; and are taking advantage of a loophole in labeling laws and putting MSG into our food under other names or using free-glutamates instead. When it is added as an ingredient of another substance it need not be listed on the label.
Free-glutamates – Glutamates occur naturally in foods such as soy, cheese, wine, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach and corn. Subject to processing, however, glutamate-rich foods split from the plant protein to produce free glutamates, which behave exactly like MSG.
How you can avoid MSG and free-glutamates:
When you see the words ‘no added MSG’ or ‘Flavours (natural and nature identical)’, exercise caution. Products will most likely contain ‘free’ glutamates.
When you see a six at the start of an additive number, beware. These are glutamates and flavour enhancers that have similar effect to MSG (621). Additives 620, 621, 623, 624, 625, 627, 631 and 635 can all potentially kill cells in your brain.
Additive names that guarantee the presence of MSG are: yeast extract, autolysed yeast, textured protein, plant-protein extract, calcium caseinate, sodium caseinate, potassium glutamate and monosodium glutamate.
Added/Refined sugar - We have to be careful not to consume excess sugar as it turns into fat in our body and can cause a range of health problems, including stress, tooth decay, yeast infections, arthritis, depression and obesity. The way we can find out if our foods have natural or added sugar is to read the list of ingredients.
Here is a listed of added sugars: White, castor, icing, brown, raw, cane, fruit, date, grape, demerara, invert, muscovado, beet, glucose, dextrose, fructose, galactose, mannose, lactose, maltose, polydextrose, maltodextrose, sucrose, malt, rice malt, barley malt, malt extract, corn syrup, golden syrup, maple syrup, rice syrup, syrup, molasses, treacle, honey, fruit-juice concentrate and modified carbohydrate. Also words ending in ‘ose’, malt and syrup are all sugars. When you see fructose and lactose listed in ingredients they are refined added sugars.
Artificial sweeteners or intense sweeteners (Numbers 951 – 967 are intense sweeteners) - They are 100x, even 1000x sweeter than sugar. Our poor taste buds are then becoming accustomed to that false sweet high. All artificial sweeteners have been linked to causing detrimental health conditions. For example Aspartame since its approval in 1981 has been in controversy debate.
Scientific data shows that it causes brain tumours in rats. Since 1981 brain tumours have increased. I’m not saying that Aspartame is the only factor but I do believe along with a lot of scientist that it has been a huge contributing factor. Kids are more and more being given diet products for obesity and in turn consuming artificial sweeteners. A lot of us think we are avoiding artificial sweeteners if we are not having diet products but for example aspartame is more and more being used in products such as sausages and rice crackers.
Always read food labels. The best thing to do is choose wholefoods and limit packaged foods as much as possible.
Has this post helped? Do you check you food labels? We’d love to hear in the comments below…
Sunscreen, a hot topic (pun intended) but a topic well worth raising. Did you know the skin is the largest human organ and the average adult has a skin surface area of over 21 square feet and accounts for 6% to 10% of your body weight. So with this in mind, I certainly think we should be considering what we put on our body, with sunscreen being one of them as it get’s warmer here in Australia.
Our guest Alexx Stuart is a research writer and presenter where she covers conscious living, organics, toxic free personal care, ingredient exposées and inspiring people to create beautiful change.
Full Interview with Alexx Stuart: Real Food & Low Tox Living
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. Our special guest today is the lovely Alexx Stuart of Real Food and Low Tox Living.
She’s an exceptionally well-researched writer and explorer, and we were super keen to get her one the show today to share her thoughts on many of the topics, especially when it comes to toxicity and toxins within our daily lives, from our food to our environment, even the things that we put on our skin.
And she’s absolutely a wealth of knowledge, and there are some gems of information in there for you, and we tackle things from sunscreen to GMOs to even how we can improve foods that go into kids’ lunch boxes without stressing the parents out too much, either, you know.
As always, I learned a lot from this today, and I’m sure Stu did, too, because we get to hang out with these people on a weekly basis and it really is a privilege for us, and it’s fantastic, you know, and we want to get that information across to you, so if you are enjoying the shows, as well, we’d really appreciate a review on iTunes. It just helps us with our rankings. Helps us get the word out there and what we believe to be, you know, amazing health.
Anyway, enjoy the show. I’m sure you’re going to learn heaps. Just pop those headphones on. Go for a nice walk. Drive in the car. I’m sure you’ll get a lot out of it and be part of the conversation, too. Until the next time. Enjoy. Cheers.
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence and I’m joined today, as always, with Mr. Stuart Cooke. Hey, Stewey.
Stuart Cooke: Hello.
Guy Lawrence: And our lovely guest today is Miss Alexx Stuart. How are you?
Alexx Stuart: Good. Thanks, Guy and Stu. How are you guys?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fantastic. I thought we’d start off by filling in the listeners a bit on about how we met, because we were all at the Tasmanian Primal Living Conference a few weeks ago, and you were one of the key speakers there, as well, and I must admit, I probably registered about five percent of what you said because I was up straight after you.
Alexx Stuart: That’s right!
Guy Lawrence: Yes, yes, but we got to sit next to each other on the table that night and it was wonderful and I thought, “My God, I was just chatting with Stewey, we have to get you on this podcast to share your wealth of knowledge with us, so…
Alexx Stuart: I’m so excited to be here.
Guy Lawrence: It’s really appreciated. The best place to start is where did your health journey start? Because you set up, you know, your business with Real Food and Low Tox Living, and where did that journey start for you and, you know, you started to make the change into the whole health and wellness industry and to get so passionate about it?
Alexx Stuart: Yeah. I’ve always been a teacher, and it’s so funny, I love getting older, and I know a lot of people don’t say that, but I really love getting older for what you see, your true ability to serve people is, and, you know, I spent a few years in the cosmetics industry. I spent a few years in the hospitality industry. There were some nights as a night club singer in between all of that.
Guy Lawrence: Oh, wow!
Stuart Cooke: Wow!
Alexx Stuart: What I realized as time went on was I really adored helping people make better choices, and sort of underpinned that with a health journey that was a little bit challenging personally. Let’s see, how do we make it short? We have chronic tonsillitis, like literally sixty rounds of antibiotics over my lifetime, then developed, once I got into cosmetics, polycystic ovarian syndrome.
You know, we always talked about the rare algae from the Croatian Seas and the this and the that, but we never talked about all those preservatives and horrible things that were in the creams, as well, and when I think back to my cosmetics use, every second girl had some sort of reproductive organ issue of some kind.
People were trying to get pregnant. People had endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, so many of us were popping pain killers for migraines, and it’s a real learning experience looking back now. If, you know, I had friends with daughters, I mean even sons, and we all get affected by chemicals. It’s really lovely to be able to help on that front.
But, anyway, back to how I got into it. I sort of just started to realize it wasn’t right that I was so sick, you know? I was a young, healthy person when I wasn’t in a migraine mode or having chronic tonsillitis or getting glandular fever. In between there were these windows of feeling awesome, and I just, I wanted that window to grow, and I remember being in my little flat in Bondi on my third round of ridiculous strength antibiotics, sort of leaning out over the bed and spitting into, like, a little water bottle because I couldn’t bear to swallow. This is sort of TMI, but you’ve got to know everything, and just thinking, “There has to be a better way.”
Humans are so apocalyptic, aren’t we? We wait until things are really, really bad until we actually decide to do something.
Stuart Cooke: We move by pain, for sure.
Alexx Stuart: Yeah, I know. It’s so sad. So much time wasted, and so cut through, then, a whole bunch of years realizing I was a really good teacher in cosmetics and, bartending, I would always kind of take people on these adventures and show them drinks and ideas that they’d never even thought of before.
And as I started to fix my own health with some really amazing practitioners in my corner helping me along, I started to realize, well, what if, you know, I could teach in this space? What if I could find a way to fast track all of those times where we deny that there might actually be wrong, where we cover up all our symptoms just for a little hint of feeling good for a couple of hours, and actually just show people that there’s a better way and empower people.
Surely, not everybody has to wait for their apocalyptic moment, whatever that might be, and so I just started writing and here we are a couple of years later, basically.
Guy Lawrence: That’s fantastic!
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic story.
Guy Lawrence: It is a hard one, though, isn’t it, though? The whole pain threshold? Because we see it a lot, as well, you know. It’s the same. People wait and wait and wait until it becomes unbearable, and then they usually slingshot the other way and go for it.
Alexx Stuart: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Why do you think that is? It’s such a hard one, isn’t it? We’re too busy? We got caught up?
Alexx Stuart: Well, you know, society tells us that we’ve got to literally, like the ad says, “Soldier on.” And, you know, so they provide us with all these things to do that that stop us from listening to our bodies, and, in fact, so much of what happens in our modern world that gets sold to us to make life better, is actually completely unnecessary and disconnecting us from what’s really going on, whether that be happiness, whether that be illness.
I mean, you know, it’s actually quite amazing how we subscribe to everybody else’s thoughts about our lives other than our own.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s a really good point.
Stuart Cooke: Tell us a little bit about toxic living, because I, you know, I hear the term low tox, you know, toxic living, and I see that you focus quite heavily on that sort of thing on your website, as well. So what does that actually mean to you?
Alexx Stuart: To me, look, I’m a city dweller. I live in a second floor apartment. I don’t even have a balcony. So I’m very urban, in terms of the way I live and where I choose to live at the moment, although everyone’s convinced I’m going to be a hippy on a farm, and I think, for me, low tox living is figuring out how you can still be connected with nature, how you can still take charge of the path of where your food comes from, and how you can ultimately decide what you put on and in you, and that includes lungs, so breathing, and so I choose to live coastally, because I find that to be a much better option in a big city than to live in a city or in a city’s suburbs.
So, you know, low tox living, to me is wherever you are, really. It could be someone in the country, as well, exposing themselves to pesticides with their farming or what, you know, there’s different definitions of what low tox living is depending on where you live, but for me it’s about finding ways to cut out noise, whether it be ads for food or pharmaceutical products…
Stuart Cooke: Sure.
Alexx Stuart: Or whether it be just trying to get in touch with nature as much as possible, equalize some of those, kind of, electromagnetic toxins, whether it’s being really scrutinous when I choose personal care products, and it’s just about making the best choice you can in all of those areas.
Guy Lawrence: And educating yourself at the same time so that you can make better decisions, right? And it’s interesting that you say “on” as well as “in” the body, because that’s one thing we forget a lot.
Alexx Stuart: We do, I mean, I meet people who are like, “Yeah, I’m all organic.” And then you see them slapping on some super cheap moisturizer at the beach that is full of, like, nanotechnology and hormone-altering chemicals. Our skin is our biggest organ. It’s actually probably absorbing, it actually is, I read this recently, absorbing more than our digestive system. So, it’s every bit as important to look after what we put on our skin.
Guy Lawrence: That’s massive. I hope you take notes, Stu, with what you put on your skin every day.
Stuart Cooke: Can’t you tell? Absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: So, you know, with all these things in mind, where’s the best place to get started then? You know, what do you find most useful, you know, from food, fridge, personal care, like there’s such a broad range of things?
Alexx Stuart: It really is, and a lot of people get daunted, and they get quite angry, and they can get quite defensive about that first day when you start to realize what’s in stuff, and it all unravels so fast, and you think, “Who can I trust? What can I do?” It can be really scary.
I always say, because I really love welcoming beginners in my community, I don’t believe that, you know, it should be like, “Still using margarine?” You know that condescending highfalutin kind of evangelical style of person. I just don’t find that energy is ever going to grow the nation of healthy livers So it’s really about being welcoming to these people and, if you’re indeed one of those people out there listening to this today, the number one thing I say is to not feel guilty about what you did yesterday and to actually just start looking at jar-by-jar, packet-by-packet, product-by-product, asking the questions at the butcher wherever you go to just educate yourself.
It will probably be a two-year journey. I mean, and that’s because only people like us have done the research now and are actively promoting and teaching, but when I started six years ago, it was like a four or five-year journey, because I was still trying to research so much stuff myself, so it wasn’t yet 100 percent available.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely, and we always prefer small steps as well. If you want to climb a mountain, walk around the block first. Do it that way.
Alexx Stuart: Exactly! And just don’t get upset with yourself. You don’t have to throw everything away and buy three grand worth of stuff. Just phase stuff out and be relaxed about it, because the stress is completely counterproductive to good health.
Guy Lawrence: I was just going to say that. I do wonder how much the stress itself causes a lot of problems once you start becoming aware of these things. If you start stressing yourself out, you can probably end up in a lot worse place long term.
Alexx Stuart: Well, it’s so true, Guy. I mean, stress is the quiet killer in our society, as well, just as much as what we put on and in us, and, you know, a lot of people act guilty or ashamed when they eat a Magnum or when they, you know, because they think you might disapprove or, you know, I’ll have fish and chips in the summertime with friends at the beach.
For goodness’ sakes, like, it’s that ten percent, when you’re out of your home and you’re not in control and you’re not making every single choice, that you just go with the flow, because the becoming obsessive compulsive, becoming stressed about every single tiny little thing, it’s really going to create a lot of anxiety, you know, that feeling in your chest when you’re on edge about things? If you carry that long term, that can have some serious ramifications.
In fact, especially in your digestive system, so, you know, a lot of people start eating real food for that reason to try and get a better digestive system happening, so we’ve really got to think big picture on this kind of stuff and chill out and just go at our pace.
You know that beautiful saying, “Do what you can where you are with what you have.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right.
Stuart Cooke: That’s it, and it’s mind, body, and spirit, as well. It’s a holistic approach. Sure, you can eat like a saint, but if your heads spinning a thousand miles an hour and you’re worried about everything, then that work isn’t going to be the path to wellness for you.
Alexx Stuart: No, and you can lose friends if you become too stressed in particular, like, yeah, it’s like I always joke, you know, I’m not going to go to my friends’ house and say, “I’m sorry. Is that chicken organic?”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Alexx Stuart: “What kind of oil have you used on that dressing? Because…”
Stuart Cooke: That’s it.
Alexx Stuart: You know? And it’s not cool, so there is an element where you just go with the flow, and the best you can do is make the choices within your own home.
Stuart Cooke: That’s it. That’s it. Yeah. One step at a time. You’ll get there in the end. I’m going to try to…
Alexx Stuart: Plus, eventually, your friends will have the organic chicken in the end anyway, so…yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yes they will.
Guy Lawrence: No, no, no, Guy. Stu’s coming over. We’d better order the organic chicken.
Stuart Cooke: Smother the chicken in sunscreen. Just going to go back to the sunscreen issue, because we…
Alexx Stuart: Nice segue there, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: You like the way that worked? I’ve been working all night on that one. I’m just managed to slide it in. We’re fortunate enough to live by the beach, and I’m aware of the importance of vitamin D from the sun, you know, that’s healthy, too, and necessary for our bodies, but there is a paranoia about Slip-Slop-Slap which rightfully is important to take into consideration, too. So, what are your thoughts on sunscreens for you and your children?
Alexx Stuart: So, I do use a sunscreen. It’s the most natural one I’ve been able to find, and I grabbed that from NourishedLife.com.au. I don’t know if you guys know Irene, but a wonderful operator, very scrutinous about what she allows in her online shop, and it’s called Eco, quite simply, and that is a really good sunscreen. It’s the only one that doesn’t feel like you’re putting on clay. You know those natural sunscreens that aren’t so sure you’re really trying to separate a caramel square onto your skin they’re so thick?
So that’s a really great one, but I stay so far away from all of the conventional sunscreens, because they’re some of the most common ingredients in sunscreens actually cause free radical damage in your cells.
So, I just don’t see the logic in outing ingredients like that in products to protect us from something. It’s completely counterproductive, and I’m not saying that means you’re just going to run around wearing nothing at all, because that’s safer and more natural than sunscreen, because the fact is, we live in Australia here, and if you’re out in direct sunlight for more than ten, fifteen minutes then, yes, you need to protect yourself.
Interestingly enough, once you start to bring health fats back into your diet, you have a certain base level of protection that is higher than, say, someone eating a lot of omega 6, where the ratio is at, and there is some really concrete research around that, so it’s a good one to look at for anyone who wants to know that.
I’ll just read you that, because some of these ingredients lists are so long that I don’t want to stuff it up. 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC), you know, was found in mice to delay puberty and decrease adult prostate weight. Do I want to put that on my skin? Not really. I’m not really keen, you know?
Oxybenzone, that’s a hormone-altering chemical. Some of the fragrance particles, the phthalates in sunscreens are, you know, those beautiful tropical smelling sunscreens, they’re actually disturbing your endocrine system as they seep into your skin.
Guy Lawrence: We put so much trust in the manufacturers and just take so many things blindly, you know?
Alexx Stuart: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: And it’s so easy to just go, “Oh, well, you know, I don’t care.” And just rub your arm with whatever, but it’s interesting what you say because, you know, me being fair, being from Wales, right? I’m not the best combination, because I live by the, you know, the beach in Sydney, but I have found since I’ve changed, you know, I eat the much higher fat, natural fat diet now over the last five years, and I’ve found my skin, it is a lot better in the sun. I don’t burn that easily.
Alexx Stuart: It’s lovely. It’s actually glowing.
Guy Lawrence: It’s completely different. Yeah, it’s…
Stuart Cooke: It’s a contrast issue on his monitor, that’s all that is.
Guy Lawrence: You’d never know I was 63, would you?
Stuart Cooke: He’s cranked it up.
Alexx Stuart: No, it is, and there’s so many people report the same, so it’s interesting, isn’t it? But, yes, use a natural one or just don’t spend much time, more than ten, fifteen minutes in direct sunlight at a time, because, yes, we need the vitamin D, and I say early morning and afternoon just get out there, you know?
We don’t need…I see kids completely covered up and now rickets is making a comeback. So there is an overboard, and what I found really interesting at the Changing the Way We Eat conference was Gary Fettke’s, Dr. Gary Fettke’s I should say, was talking about the need for vitamin D to healthily metabolize fructose and prevent it from turning into LDL cholesterol. I found that completely fascinating, so if you are completely covering yourself and protected, then you know, and you’re having lots of fruit in the summertime which is a lovely thing to do, you know, you’re actually, you could be damaging your body.
Now, I don’t want to scare people, but that’s a really interesting little bit of science, as well. We do need vitamin D, so ten, fifteen minutes in direct sun. You do not need sunscreen for that, in my opinion. I’m not a practitioner, but I really believe it’s a healthy way to go.
Guy Lawrence: It makes me think about everyone back home still, you know, because they don’t have a sunscreen problem, there’s no bloody sun, but they have a vitamin D problem, you know, especially if they’re eating a high-sugar diet as well.
Alexx Stuart: Yeah. Exactly, and that’s the cholesterol.
Stuart Cooke: Why is it, it’s funny, you can dig so deep into that. I’ve read numerous studies about cleaning up your diet and it changes the profile of your subcutaneous fat which is, again, the barrier between your body and the sun, and there’s evidence out there. Dig deep. Have a Google and you’ll find evidence-based studies that will really enlighten you.
Alexx Stuart: I think the Weston A. Price Foundation has some interesting research on that.
Guy Lawrence: They have a lot of it, yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: I think the take-home so far is think about what we’re putting on our skin, whether it’s a moisturizer to the sunscreen, and think twice before applying it.
Alexx Stuart: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: All right. Next thing we wanted to cover, bring up, Alexx, was real food. There’s a big misconception that it’s more expensive to live healthy. What are your thoughts on that?
Alexx Stuart: I don’t think it is. So, let’s just say day one someone’s decided I’ve got to start buying everything organic, but what they do is they still go to the supermarket. They just buy the organic version of everything, so they don’t actually change their food pattern or vocabulary, and they just do product swaps for the organic version.
If you do that, then 100 percent yes, you will find yourself doubling your grocery bill.
Guy Lawrence: That’s my confession, yes.
Stuart Cooke: That’s definitely you. I’ve seen your food bill. I like your cup, by the way. Is that a Pantone cup?
Alexx Stuart: Yes, it is. Purple for calm.
Stuart Cooke: What number are you?
Alexx Stuart: This particular one is 5285.
Stuart Cooke: Awesome.
Alexx Stuart: I have the red one for when it’s Power Hour and I need to get lots of work done. I’ve got different ones for different moods.
Stuart Cooke: I like that. Sorry, that’s the graphic designer coming out of me.
Guy Lawrence: I have no idea what you’re on about, you two, but I’ll just sit here and…
Stuart Cooke: Sorry. Back to Guy, yeah. Guy is the stereotypical bachelor who goes out to his boutiquey little shops, buys these beautiful little packaged organic meats. They’re always going to be the finest cuts, and, boy, do they cost a fortune.
So, me, on the other side of the coin, you know, family, children, have to be more careful about budget and, also, more aware that I want to get decent quality meat and veggies.
Alexx Stuart: Absolutely, so, stop buying at the supermarket or small grocer, because that will, yes, that will be more expensive, if price is an issue for you. I use my brilliant small grocer for, like, you know, emergency stuff and top ups when I run out of things, but essentially I buy 80 percent of our produce from either my butcher or direct online beef supplier, who’s fabulous, and the markets. And they are the places I buy our food.
So, by buying your food from people where you’ve got, like, you don’t have a huge trolley that you can fill up, you’ve just got a couple of bags that you can carry back to the car, that also really helps you keep things in perspective. You only get what you need, and then you stop wasting so much.
You know, there are so many things that attribute to people overspending on a grocery bill, but essentially to save the money buy as much from direct people as you can, and, also, start cooking with secondary cuts. My favorite butcher is GRUB up in Vaucluse, for you Sydneysiders. They are so passionate and ethical, and they really know how to help you learn how to cook certain things that you might not be used to cooking.
And then, for beef, I also buy directly from Alma Beef. A, L, M, A.Who’s in New South Wales and Wellington. This woman cares so much about how cows are raised. She cares about all the different types of grass and the results that you get in the meat from what you feed your cows, so there’s no grains. And, you know, you can buy chuck steak, not chuck, it’s oyster blade on the bone, ten dollars a kilo.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Alexx Stuart: Gorgeous big slow-cooked stew, I saw Guy’s eyes go, “What?”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, exactly.
Alexx Stuart: If you get these secondary cuts, you can make a huge big batch of a couple of kilos of a single basic casserole, so tomatoes, stalk veggies, onions, yada, yada, herbs, and then the next day you can separate that out and morph some of it with a bit of cumin and cinnamon and turn that half of it into something Mexican, the other… So you’ve got different flavors going on, and you just need to get a bit smarter.
Which, funnily enough, my second book, which will be coming out next month, is XXreally about everything you eatXX 0:24:13
Guy Lawrence: It goes back, like, everything else, isn’t it? Because it can seem overwhelming at first, but once you start to find out and know and fully make adjustments, you know…
Alexx Stuart: Absolutely. I mean, in one of my cooking web shows, which is Save Time, Save Money, but provide beautiful nourishing food, I show people how to cook a slow roast lamb shoulder, and they are just shocked by how easy it is. They’re like, “That’s all I have to do?” I’m like, “Yes, you do this before work, and when you get home from work, it’ll be falling apart…”
Guy Lawrence: Is that in the slow cooker, is it?
Alexx Stuart: In a slow cooker or in your oven.
Guy Lawrence: My girlfriend told me to buy a slow cooker, and I absolutely hammer the thing. Like, I use it all the time. They’re amazing. Amazing.
Stuart Cooke: You actually do use it all the time, as well. I think every single meal is a slow cooker.
Guy Lawrence: Almost.
Alexx Stuart: But it’s also better for you, because you’re not stunning the protein, like you are when you pan fry something at high heat. I mean that can denature the outsides of a steak. So slow cooking is actually healthier for you, too. Validation!
Stuart Cooke: I’m going to slowly fry my meat from this point on. Thank you for that tip. About five hours.
Alexx Stuart: And the other thing people don’t realize is they keep buying and eating huge amounts of protein, and you really just don’t need that much. Pardon the pun, but beef it up with veg. Get more vegetables into your stews and more. Roast twice as many vegetables as you would normally to have with your roast and just one less slice of that and double your veg. And then you’ve taken care of cell regeneration, as well as muscle regeneration. Both are very important.
Stuart Cooke: That was one of the take homes from the Tasmania conference. It was the quality of food was so superb and almost brimming with nutrients that it was satiating. It was supremely filling, which is quite rare for me and Guy, because we do eat quite a lot. You know, I eat a lot more than Guy, but I didn’t feel the need to snack. I wasn’t hungry. I was completely full.
Alexx Stuart: Oh, same, yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Just nutrients, you know. Supreme quality. Just blown away.
Alexx Stuart: I think this was the first conference or only conference perhaps ever where I’ve seen butter on top of pate as…
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: It was awesome. Full credit to Joe, yeah. Absolutely amazing.
Stuart Cooke: He did very well. So, talk about buying organic. How important do you actually think that that is in the grand scheme of things for us?
Alexx Stuart: Well, you know, there’s growing research around pesticides and their effect on us, in particular on our gut health. Now why it’s important to have good gut health is because the gut/brain connection. So the gut is like a second brain, but 80 percent of our immune system also resides in our guts.
So, this is like the key. If we don’t get that right, then we’re disturbing our immune system and our brain function, as well as our digestive system which impacts overall health in a number of ways.
So, pesticides can actually alter, depending on which one and to varying degrees, can alter your gut bacteria makeup, and to me that is an extremely scary thing.
Guy Lawrence: Massive, yeah.
Alexx Stuart: I try not to have anything that’s going to disturb the balance, and I called, I talked to my son about this, the good soldiers versus the bad soldiers, and I create these stories around, you know, like for chewing, for example, sorry to tangent, but, “You know, you’ve got to really chew your food, because that releases lots of good soldiers that say, ‘Hey, there’s food coming!’ and that gets everybody down there, and if you haven’t chewed your food right and big chunks get down there, that means all the good soldiers have to go and work on breaking down the food. And that means the bad soldiers have got time to relax and make more bad soldiers and take over.”
You know, and so many things get affected by the good and the bad soldiers, and whether they’re XXin frontX 0:28:22 or not. So, pesticides, to me, are a no with every food choice I make. So, once again, coming back to that not being OCD, not being stressed, as soon as I’m out the door and I’m having a meal, maybe a friend, you know, with a friend in a restaurant or at a friend’s house, I don’t worry. I just try not to think about it too much.
But in my food choices, yeah, I think it’s 100 percent important, and I will seek out organic food. Having said that, the person I buy from doesn’t actually have certification. So this is about knowing your farmer and knowing how they farm. Certification for a small family on a small farm is a really massive cost in this country, and I’m really angry. I don’t know about you guys, but I get angry that these poor farmers doing the right thing by their communities and the planet are the ones who get…
Guy Lawrence: Slammed…
Stuart Cooke: Shafted by bureaucracy.
Alexx Stuart: That’s exactly right. It just doesn’t seem fair, so, and I’m 100 percent confident that they farm the way I farm, and you can holes in the spinach, the odd snail on there. Those are the signs that you want. I saw on Facebook where it’s like, “Oh, my god, there’s a snail in my salad.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. That’s a really good thing.
Alexx Stuart: Are you kidding me. That’s proof there is living life on your food. That’s a really good sign.
Guy Lawrence: If they’re going to eat it then you know it’s a good thing, and I just want to emphasize that point to anyone listening to this that, you know, how important gut health is. Like, it’s, you know, like you say, it’s massive, you know, and it can take a long time to turn that around if it’s…
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
Guy Lawrence: …not in good shape.
Stuart Cooke: People think gut health for digestion, as well, but, you know, gut health for mental health, too, because…
Alexx Stuart: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: You mentioned that, like, the hormone connection there. You know, we’ve all got hormones in our gut that govern the way that we think and we feel. That can really steer you down the wrong path, as well, if you’re not on track there.
Alexx Stuart: It really can and, sadly, it can only take a couple of days of high sugar to derail. So, yeah, it’s really about adopting that lifestyle, isn’t it?
Guy Lawrence: Yes, it’s a lifestyle change. There’s no quick fixes.
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Guy Lawrence: Next, next subject. GMO.
Stuart Cooke: I thought you were going to hold up the banner: GMO.
Alexx Stuart: We’re keeping it really light today, aren’t we?
Stuart Cooke: We are. We are. I just want to duck in, as well, before we go too heavy on this, and just the other angle, as well, for GMO, because everybody is…One side of the camp, we’re kind of, “No to GMO!” but on the other side of the camp we also got to think about what it means for the people that don’t have access to a lot of food, you know, GMO for them means that their crops and food sources can be transported to them to feed them. So while we’re thinking about nice big plush plump tomatoes and fruit, they’re actually thinking about being able to have access to grain just to live.
Alexx Stuart: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I also think we should explain exactly what GMO is, as well.
Alexx Stuart: Absolutely. Happy to do that.
Guy Lawrence: Cool.
Alexx Stuart: So, I was having this discussion last night, actually, because I’m a nerd and I really like talking about this stuff on Facebook pages, and it was around…a very well-known blogger in the States, kind of, had put up a thing, a little packet of yogurt or something that was suggested by her son’s preschool to take to the preschool as a really good, easy snack for the kids.
She saw what was in it. She saw that there was soy in it, and that the product did not boast to be GM-free, which is the number one detective way that you can assume that it’s therefore genetically modified soy, and so she then found a brand that didn’t have that in it and said, “You know, I’m really passionate about making sure my little guy gets the best choice and, even though this one has a little bit of cane sugar in there, I figured at least overall this is a better product to be sending him with.”
Now then the very first comment was a woman who said, “Oh, you know, how dare you be so picky about something so small when there are people on the earth that don’t have any food at all?” And, you know, look, there is a lot of validity to that reaction, because it can seem so “first world problem,” however, if we don’t take issue with agriculture and the way it affects us, community, and planet, as first world citizens, if you want to really make the distinction of us being that, then who is going to?
And, I really feel that, for me, it’s not about being anti-science and anti-progress, I mean, if we find the natural way to increase yields that more people can be sent food to eat, then I am all for that, really I am. However, if we look at the two big players in the GM industry, they’re people who have, one in particular, founded their business model on selling a seed, making a farmer have to buy that seed every year, so no longer able to save seeds as farmers traditionally have, then impregnating the seed with a genetic makeup that makes less…It’s more resistant…It’s less resistant to a pesticide that it also sells.
That, to me, is why I am anti-GM in the current climate of what GM is, because I believe that the people who are at the forefront in terms of business and success, if you like, in genetically modified, in the genetically modified food industry, I just cannot morally believe that they are doing this for the good of man. I can’t, especially when the same company is responsible for producing Agent Orange, aspartame, DDT…If you look at the history…I’m not going to name names. Everyone can do their own research, but I really…
Guy Lawrence: It wouldn’t take much to work it out, I think.
Alexx Stuart: Nah, it wouldn’t. Nah. But just for new people out there contemplating whether or not to buy things that have soy or corn in it when it says local and imported ingredients and doesn’t say GM-free, then I hate to break it to you, but that means basically that it’s genetically modified.
And then another little note on the planet is that, and I heard this from Nora Gedgaudas the author of Primal Body Primal Mind recently, she said that the number one reason for deforestation in the Amazon at the moment is genetically modified soy farming.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Alexx Stuart: You know? So, I’m not loving it, I have to say. I promote being against it. I’m actually an activist against it. I go to the marches, because I believe in the current way that it’s done, we have to stand up to what, to me, just looks like a whole bunch of corporate bullying.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah. That’s exactly what I was going to say.
Alexx Stuart: Plus, scientifically the science is very grey as to whether or not it’s any good for humans. I personally don’t believe so, because of the pesticide implication. I just, I can’t see it.
Stuart Cooke: Well, crikey, thank you for that. We certainly stirred something up there, didn’t we? Just relax. Guy, get us out of here.
Alexx Stuart: The Alexx Activist came out there. I’ll put myself back in the box.
Guy Lawrence: No, they’re fantastic points you raised, and people, you know, need to look at both sides of the argument, you know, and make up their own mind whether, you know…
Alexx Stuart: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: I certainly agree with everything you said pretty much there. Absolutely. Yeah. Stu?
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, I’m going to move on to kids now. So with all that in mind, how can we get kids to eat, you know, healthily, the way that we want to eat, the way that we eat, without lots of stress, bearing in mind that kids, generally, can be quite fussy little buggers? I’ve got three of them, you know, that run me ragged.
Alexx Stuart: I’ve got one.
Stuart Cooke: You’ve got one? Guy will have one at some stage. Tips and tricks for parents, you know. Where do we start with our kids?
Alexx Stuart: I think before we start with our kids, we need to look at our own food issues. I see a lot of parents, and this is not a judgment thing, it’s just an observation, a lot of parents, you know, eating on the go. Just grabbing whatever they can find and shoving it in their mouths at a traffic light while their tiny toddler is in the back. They’re learning all of this behavior.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
Alexx Stuart: They’re seeing the little piece of grape here, the tiny chocolate bar just to get that boost at 3:00 p.m. they see that before they can even talk. They’re picking up on all this stuff. They hear us say, “Who wants the little cupcake?” with this really excited little voice, and then they hear the same person say to them, “Eat your zucchini!” with this really serious kind of negative voice. Yeah?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Alexx Stuart: And I just think, “God, the kids aren’t, I mean, they’re not dumb.”
Stuart Cooke: No. That’s right.
Alexx Stuart: They pick up all of that, and they literally regurgitate back to us whatever we have subliminally or consciously taught them.IN fact there are a lot of issues here. I would say that anyone out there that’s got a very, very fussy child, and, like, you know, a White Foods kid, to go and see a practitioner and get some zinc testing, because zinc has been shown to be linked to fussy eating, so if you really have a problem with it, literally hardly eating anything colorful, then that would be a great one to troubleshoot.
But essentially to just be enthusiastic just as, if not more, enthusiastic about vegetables than any other thing you might serve your kids. I take carrots to the zoo or the park. Or we eat half an avocado if we know we’re going to be out. You know, you have an avocado, you put some sea salt on it, and you eat it. That is just such a delicious, healthy real food. And I can’t tell you how many times random strangers butt in on our little snack time and go, “Oh, who’s the little boy having a carrot! What a little XXguy?XX 0:39:06″
Stuart Cooke: I know.
Alexx Stuart: Like it was some strange thing for a child to enjoy a carrot.
Guy Lawrence: Oh, my god, he’s eating vegetables. Yeah.
Alexx Stuart: Like he’s some kind of mini savior. I just think we’ve got it all wrong. All of our messaging around healthy foods for our kids is wrong. It’s all “have to” instead of the joy of discovery of all these amazing colors we have in our…available to us.
Stuart Cooke: It’s all in the culture, too. I always try and get our little ones into the kitchen prepping veg, if we’re going, you know, if we’re out and about and, you know, we’re buying veg, I’ll say, “All right. What do you want tonight? Go and choose some things. Show me what you want.”
Get them involved. Get them in there, so they know what it is, and they’ve made part of that decision, because, you know, you could say to them, “You’ve got vegetables tonight.” And they’re going, “Oh, no, no, no!” But if you say to them, “What vegetables do you want?” Then they’re making that choice and they’re already there. Just get it then. It’s the culture.
Alexx Stuart: Yeah, it really is, Stu. And another thing I’ve noticed is the only time, I did, I’m a Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Ambassador, and so every year around mid-May there’s Food Revolution Day, and so I did that with my community, and we had a great time. So many fantastic pictures came through of people cooking with their kids.
In the lead-up, I kind of, you know, we had lots of chats around what people were going to make and what they were going to involve their kids in on, and it kind of dawned on me that the only thing people seem to, for the most part, cook with their kids is treats like cookies, muffins, cakes.
And that’s great that they’re cooking at least something and not having the store bought versions of that. Credit where credit’s due, however, we should be doing dinner with them. We should be helping them, getting them to help us choose.
Like last night. I was roasting a little bit of butterflied lamb for dinner, and I open the veggie drawer and I said to my son, “Okay, you choose the three veg that we’re going to have tonight with this.”
And he chose, you know, and he said, “Oh, I can’t decide between…”
“So, what do you really feel like today?”
“Oh, crunchy fennel.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Alexx Stuart: Yeah. My kid’s, you know, a bit extreme.
Stuart Cooke: Right…
Alexx Stuart: He honestly comes into the kitchen and says, “Can I just have a piece of crunchy fennel?”
Stuart Cooke: That’s awesome.
Alexx Stuart: Yeah, but, you know, it’s really just about being really mindful of what we are sending out as a message to our kids. Are we sending out to them that the only time food is enjoyable and fun is if it is a cookie, a muffin, or a cake? Because if we’re doing that, we have to change the conversation. Once we think about that, is that the conversation we’ve always had with ourselves? Chances are, it is. So we’ve actually got to do work on ourselves to be able to pass it on.
Guy Lawrence: I think…
Stuart Cooke: I think so, and I’m always intrigued by the reward systems, as well, that schools and parents tend to push out there to the children. It always seems to be based upon rewarding with treats and sweets, and I always liken it to circus animals. You know? “Here’s your sugar cubes, you know, what a wonderful show you’ve just performed.”
We’ve got to probably, it pays to think slightly differently along those lines, too, because if, you know, this is a treat for these kids, I don’t think…I just don’t…It doesn’t sit with me.
Alexx Stuart: Why can’t we just tell them they’ve done a great job and they should be really proud of themselves in front of the class? You know, that is what reward is, recognition for doing a beautiful job at something. It’s not…It doesn’t need to be a red frog with coloring that can cause anaphylaxis. I mean, it’s really quite mental when you think about it that we save poisonous, contrived, laboratory-produced foods for the most special times.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah…
Alexx Stuart: I mean if you really think about that for a second, it is bizarre.
Guy Lawrence: It’s unbelievable.
Alexx Stuart: Oh, it’s Dougy’s birthday. Let’s have a whole bunch of fake food coloring that comes from petroleum. Mental.
Guy Lawrence: I know, but it’s everywhere, isn’t it? The marketing and the messaging. It’s bombarding you wherever you go. It’s so hard to get away from, as well, and I mean, I don’t have children, but the day it happens, I just think, I cringe in how I’m going to tackle all this.
Stuart Cooke: You’ll be fine, Mate. You’ll be fine. I shall watch from afar. Smirking.
Guy Lawrence: So what would you recommend putting in the kid’s lunch box? What would you do, Alexx?
Alexx Stuart: So at lunch, what we need is foods that are going to keep the blood sugar steady, because they’ve got a whole afternoon yet to go thinking, especially for the teeny, tiny ones who aren’t used to doing that all day. Food is probably going to be their best weapon for success, in terms of having energy still at the end of the school day to go off and play with their friends. So I would be putting some really good quality meats. I would be, like, leftover roast is a really great…
You know, a lot of people think “Oh, I need cold meats, so I’ll go and buy ham from a supermarket.” That’s riddled with strange things in there, and a lot of processed meats are. So the best thing you can do is to buy slightly more when you do your stews an your roasts and things so that you’ve got some left for school lunches.
I would also, instead of making sandwiches with big thick bits of bread, whether it be, hopefully sourdough, because that’s obviously easier to digest, I would be using something like the Mountain Bread wraps which are like paper thin bread. So you’ve just reduced the amount of carbohydrate in that overall sandwich and you fill it with avocado and roast sweet potato leftovers and a little bit of, you know, sliced lamb roast, and then your percentage of actual high nutrient content in that thing that they still see as a sandwich is, yeah, it goes up.
I put a little bit of fresh fruit, but I would never put dried fruit, because that averages between 60 and 80 percent sugar. Something like a date is 100 percent GI, so you know, we think, “Oh, it’s healthy. It’s one ingredient. Great!” It’s actually just not healthy, especially if you eat it on its own.
And then what else? Veggie sticks and dip. Dips are a brilliant way to get extra nutrients into kids. so they might not want to eat a whole bunch of pieces of veg but if you puree a beet root with carrot, I mean with yogurt and a little bit of cinnamon and then they dip their carrot in here, they’re actually having two serves of veg like that, and then they’ve got some cultured food from yogurt or kafir, which is really good to mix in there, too.
You know, it’s, so, it’s just kind of going, “How can I get a little bit of color in here? How can I get some healthy fats in the pizza so it he can absorb the vitamin A, E, D, and K, which is so important to us, and then how can I get some protein, also, for long-lasting energy? That would be how I’d plan it.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: I like it. It’s tricky with schools today, because every second kid is allergic to something, and there are massive restrictions on what we can put in. There’s definitely no eggs. There’s no nuts. There’s no sesame. There’s, you know, you’d better watch out on anything that isn’t in its own packet and comes with its own label. It’s a no no.
Alexx Stuart: Yeah, and it’s so ironic, isn’t it? Because a lot of these packaged foods are what have caused all of these health problems because our guts are so feeble now, and yet the packaged foods are recommended because we can be sure of what’s, what they’re free from. It’s really quite sad. It’s sort of a Catch-22.
The number one thing to do is to have a kick ass breakfast and dinner because then you’re in control. That’s happening at home. You know, load them up with lots of good stuff and then keep it to a very simple meat/veg combo in the lunch box in whatever form that takes, whether it’s veggie sticks or fruit, couple of dips, and some sort of wrap with some leftover meat and avocado. Then, you know, you’re going to have a kid who’s raring to go and able to concentrate.
Guy Lawrence: Great tips.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. You certainly wouldn’t want to be a teacher at the moment, would you? Crikey. Those little time bombs running around like Tasmanian devils.
Alexx Stuart: No. I’m writing a …I’m creating a food program for an amazing new childcare center called Thinkers, Inc. and that’s in Terrey Hills, the first one’s going to be opening up, but they’ll be opening more, and I popped it on my Facebook page for my community, and people have literally, you know, found their way to this place and have enrolled because they’re so excited that they’re going to be able to trust the food.
I mean, a lot of parents have woken up, who have realized what’s in the stuff that gets fed to tiny kids, you know, zero to five is when the brain’s developing faster than it ever will again in the rest of their lives. If we can’t get that nutrient fuel right for that age group, you know, it’s scary…
Stuart Cooke: It’s scary, but there is so much need because, unfortunately, we’re very time poor, and a lot of us just think, “Well, what on earth will I put in that lunch box? Because I have no idea, because I just don’t know where to start…”
Alexx Stuart: Yeah. A lot of people just make meals that they didn’t finish that night and they find themselves having to start from zero every single day. Frankly, that would exhaust me, too, and I only have one child, so it’s always really important that when you’re chopping up the carrot to chuck in your…for steaming that night, chop up an extra couple of carrots at that same time and chuck them in a container. Use the time better.
A lot of people chop an onion every single time they get something started. Why don’t you chop two or three at the same time for the week?
Guy Lawrence: Exactly. Cook once; eat twice.
Alexx Stuart: Yes. Definitely, and when it comes to school lunches, that’s going to keep you sane, too.
Guy Lawrence: Just out of curiosity, Alexx, what is your typical daily diet look like?
Alexx Stuart: I usually start the day with…I really listen to my mood. I was finding that eating eggs and avocado and bacon and things like that, quite heavy, really wasn’t serving my energy well throughout the day. It wasn’t right for me, and I quite like dabbling in learning a bit more about Ayurveda. I don’t know if you guys have ever looked in that direction, but you know really eating for your mood, for the time of year, for your personal energy, yin yang balance, all those sorts of things. So eggs most of the time with a little quarter bit of avocado, and I would just scramble those in a good bit of butter and have lots of fresh parsley and a bit of cultured veg with that.
But then, sometimes, when I feel like I just want to stay light feeling I would blend up probably a cup of frozen blueberries with a couple of tablespoons of coconut yogurt and kafir water and a whole bunch of cinnamon and a few nuts, like macadamia nuts or something. And it’s almost like an instant ice cream for breakfast. It’s amazing. It’s delicious. I think I’ve popped it up on the blog recently, if you want to check it out, but sometimes when you just want to keep your head really clear and light and have a lighter breakfast then that’s what I’d go for. So that’s brekkie.
Lunch is always some sort of morph of the night before’s dinner, because I work from home. Most days, so it’ll be roast meats, tons of veg, and then sometimes like a little bit of a halloumi cheese or some olives or things like that.
And then dinner is usually veg as a start and then a beautiful sort of meat, as well. And with the veg, I try and do a couple of different textures to keep it interesting, so they’ll be a puree of some kind. They’ll something steamed, and I might kind of mandolin a few little bits of sweet potato and fry them in coconut oil for something crunchy, because I like layering textures.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Stuart Cooke: Crikey. Well, we must do dinner at some time…
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I was going to say we must come for dinner. I was thinking the same thing.
Alexx Stuart: A lot of people say, “A meat and three veg…” People say it, like, as if it was this boring thing, but meat and three veg has got to be about the healthiest this you can do for your body. That’s what we were designed to eat. So make the three veg exciting. Don’t just steam a whole bunch, I mean, that gets boring. I get bored by that. You’ve got to learn how to cook a few things. Got to get a few tricks under your belt.
Stuart Cooke: What would you, what foods do you go out of your way, strictly out of your way to avoid?
Alexx Stuart: Okay, so I avoid any packaged food where I would not know what the ingredients are just from the look of them. I would absolutely avoid genetically modified foods, so corn and soy in a packet, even in Australia. A lot of Australians think, “Oh, but it’s not an issue here. There’s just a bit of canola. That’s it.”
But any packaged product that says, “Local and imported ingredients” and does not clarify that is a GM-free product is most likely to have genetically modified versions of those ingredients in there. So definitely if there’s corn and soy.
What else would I avoid? I avoid any unethical, inhumane meat. Cage eggs, for example. Free range chicken which is usually still from a very crowded situation, and also fed grains, some of which are genetically modified, so I would definitely avoid that.
I would avoid non-organic pork, for that very same reason, because the pigs eat grains and, again, often, genetically modified within the meats. And what else? Anything friend in vegetable oil.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Of course, yeah.
Alexx Stuart: Those are kind of my main ones that I kind of, you know, and anything that…can I say a personal care one as well?
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Alexx Stuart: Anything with a fake smell. So, you know how we get sold those ads like for clean air system. Oh, my god, open a window.
Guy Lawrence: Pollutant. That’s my word. This is a chemical pollutant. Do you really want a device that just pushes out pollutants into your room every 30 seconds. Are you kidding me?
Alexx Stuart: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, what do they call it? Essence of the Ocean?
Alexx Stuart: Mountain Fresh, Ocean Spray…I can tell you right now that Mountain Fresh smells nothing like…
Guy Lawrence: …a mountain. Yeah
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. Yeah. Pollutant 101. That’s all it is.
Alexx Stuart: That’s the number one thing I avoid in personal care products, home products, cleaning products, anything. Yeah. There are my top avoids.
Stuart Cooke: That’s a road map for good health I would say, right there.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely. Before we wrap it up, we always ask this question on the end of every podcast. And it can be non-nutritional. It can be anything. What’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Alexx Stuart: The single best piece of advice I’ve ever been given…That’s got to be a really…Does everyone struggle with that question?
Stuart Cooke: It doesn’t have to be anything that…
Alexx Stuart: I’ve been around for 38 years.
Guy Lawrence: What’s the best piece of advice that springs to mind?
Alexx Stuart: Oh, you know what? Okay. I have a lovely coach that I call on from time to time. XXKate HoseyXX 0:55:34 She’s so clever, and she has this little saying that is, “Your obstacle isn’t in your way, it is your way.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. All right.
Alexx Stuart: Now, just sit with that for a sec. It’s a big one, but what that translates as is you know how we always say, “Oh, I don’t have any money, and if I had some money I’d be awesome at that.”
Or, “My health is just shit.” Oh my god, am I allowed to say that?
Guy Lawrence: You can swear, that’s fine. We’ve got it. we’ll bleep that out after.
Alexx Stuart: “If only I was healthy, I would, you know, life would be so much better for me.” All these obstacles, we say if we didn’t have these obstacles life would be awesome. Well those obstacles are our way. They’re there to teach us something, and they’re there for us to work through to come out the other end stronger, and when she said that, I didn’t yet know her. It was actually one of her other coaching students that told it to me which made me think, “Hmmm, this woman sounds interesting.”
And I just think it’s a really awesome life guide notion. When something’s tough, when something’s difficult, when you’re confronted by something you don’t want to deal with, it is actually your way to the next step in your life, and I think that’s something that you can transpose from food to personal care, you know, all these choices we’re trying to help people make better, as well as career or finance, you know, friends.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I love it…
Stuart Cooke: yeah, absolutely, you can push that anywhere. No, that does make sense. I like it.
Guy Lawrence: I’ll remind you of that, Stu, next time you start complaining to me.
Stuart Cooke: Guy, you are my obstacle. Don’t worry about me. I’ve got to overcome you.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, so where can people go to get more of you? Alexx?
Alexx Stuart: Okay. So my address, no, I’m just kidding.
Stuart Cooke: We’re putting that all over the internet. And your phone number.
Alexx Stuart: WWW dot Alexx with two Xs Stuart spelled S, T, U, A, R, T, dot com is my website. You can come find me on Facebook. My Twitter and Instagram are A, L, E, double X, underscore, Stuart, S, T, U, A, R, T, so you can find me there, and yeah, that’s about it. And you can grab my book Real Treats, which really helps you get you over the weird toxic treats we were talking about earlier, and you can get that on my site.
Guy Lawrence: And there’s a new book coming out soon.
Alexx Stuart: Yes, next month, and a couple of courses for beginners, which will be really, really great.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, well we can put the appropriate links on the blog anyway, and…
Alexx Stuart: Awesome.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. Thanks for coming on.
Stuart Cooke: Well, we have had a blast. We always, it’s always great to learn stuff, as well, you know.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
Stuart Cooke: I loved it. Fantastic. Thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate it, and so pleased that we connected in Tasmania and have continued the relationship. It’s been awesome.
Alexx Stuart: Me, too. It has been awesome. We’ll all have to get together for a little reunion.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: Definitely.
Stuart Cooke: Will do. Guy, sort it out.
Alexx Stuart: He’s your PA, is he, Stu?
Stuart Cooke: He is, yes, he is. P, A, I, N.
Guy Lawrence: Dream on. Dream on, Mate. Dream on. Awesome.
Stuart Cooke: Thank you so much.
Alexx Stuart: Thanks for having me on the podcast.
Guy Lawrence: Cheers.
Stuart Cooke: Speak to you soon.
Ever wondered what we should really be doing to avoid modern day disease? If you are like us, then I’m sure you know someone who’s health is suffering or the warning signs are starting to show. Our special guest today is Gary Fettke, an Orthopaedic Surgeon and Senior Lecturer of the University of Tasmania. He put’s modern day disease down to this one word… inflammation! You won’t look at disease the same way again after watching this episode! Enjoy.
Full Interview: Discover The Truth About Modern Day Disease
In this episode we talk about:-
The three foods you MUST avoid for amazing health
Why everything we’ve been taught about the food pyramid is wrong!