You can also listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE via iTunes.
Guy:For this week’s podcast episode,we decided to record it in audio only, as our guest lives in a remote part of Australia and we didn’t want to take the chance with internet quality. By doing this we are able to deliver great audio clarity without any dropouts.
Eat well, Live Well. It’s that simple - Rohan Anderson
Our fantastic guest today is Rohan Anderson. A few years ago he createdWhole Larder Love which began as an online journal, documenting the story of a life change.
A significant life change for a regular person embedded in western society.
Rohan had a metamorphosis driven by a desire to alter his food and lifestyle choices. At the beginning, he was very unhealthy. Obesity, food allergy, anxiety, depression and hyper-tension where all part of daily reality (most of which he was medicated for).
His health concerns, a growing understanding of his environmental impact and the responsibility of being a parent, where catalysts nudging him to make deliberate change.
Today’s podcast is all about change. How we truly do have the power within us to change if we truly want it, and how the small changes can make a huge difference over time in our lives and others. Be inspired and enjoy!
In This Episode:
How he overcame obesity, hypertension, anxiety, depression
Making the switch from corporate world to rural life
Why he had to go through a great deal of pain before making huge changes
Why building his log cabin has been the most rewarding thing he has ever done :)
Hey, this is Guy Lawrence with 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s Health Sessions. I’ve come to the conclusion over the years that everyone’s journey when it comes to health, food and nutrition and exercise it’s almost like a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum I guess you could say you’ve got people that have never made the food-health connection before. Don’t really look at what they’re eating, if they’re eating processed carbohydrates, if it’s affecting their gut health and all sorts of things going on.
Actually for them literally it’s not buying some fast food and eating a bowl of edge instead. It could be a major challenge and then at the other end of the spectrum you got people that have been making tremendous amount of change over the years and forever evolving and learning. The one thing I’ve come to conclusion is to always keep a beginners mind and I try and have that approach when it comes to health nutrition and pretty much anything in life.
I only say these things because today’s guest, who I think is absolutely awesome, just a wonderful human being is Rohan Anderson. It’s safe to say he shares his journey today, which is being that full spectrum. He was that guy who was earning lots of money, corporate world, but very unhappy. He was clinically diagnosed obese. He said he had food allergies, anxiety, depression, hypertension. They were all parts of the daily reality and most of them which were medicated for as well. He just simply wasn’t happy.
Over the years he’s been evolving and making changes up to this point now where we have him on the podcast [00:02:00] today. He’s releasing a second health book which is called ‘A Year of Practiculture’. My copy is in the mail as I write this, because I’m very excited to get it because it’s full of stories and even recipes from a year of living a self-reliant lifestyle.
From going to being that guy, obese corporate to now becoming a self-sufficient person. Which that’s growing, hunting forage and healthy sustainable foods off the land. We are actually opted to record this podcast in audio only and not the usual video as well, because he’s in a very remote part of Victoria. We just wanted to make sure the sound quality was top notch.
In his own words as well he said, you could scream until he was blue in the face when he was that guy back when he was obese. He had to find the changes for himself. I know I can certainly relate that on my own journey when I think of certain family and friends. No matter what I say or do I don’t really change.
I’ve come to the conclusion that you can just lead by example. When people are ready to change they’ll make the change and start asking you questions and so forth. Obviously you can direct them then to podcasts like this. The one thing I have been finding helpful you might have heard me say on a couple of a few podcasts ago that we actually did a survey and we designed a quiz around that on people’s number 1 problems. Generally it’s normally revolving around weight loss. We look at these things from a very physical aspect and then as we start to change we then look deeper into it and then we really start to embrace the health changes.
If you are struggling with trying to get people over the line to make them look at their diet a little bit or their health, this is actually a great place to start. You [00:04:00] could send them back to 180nutrition.com and 180nutrition.com.au and there will be a button there saying, “Take the quiz” and that’s a great place to start. That’s designed for somebody that really hasn’t started their health journey yet. There’s a good video and there’s actually a really good introductory offer to help support people that want to make the change for the first time.
If you’re struggling and telling yourselves, you can use that to tell them for you. Take the quiz back at 180nutrition.com and .com.au. Anyway let’s go over to Rohan. This is a really fantastic podcast. Enjoy!
Hi. This is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke. Hi Stu.
Stuart: Hello mate.
Guy: Our awesome guest today is Rohan Anderson. Rohan, welcome to the show.
Rohan: Nice. Thanks for having me.
Guy: Just to put our listeners into the picture mate. We all met at the Primal Living talk last year in Tasmania, which I think now is over a year ago, so wow, time really flies.
I remember watching your talk mate and just absolutely being blown away by it and with your message, the story, the humor, the heartfelt-ness from it and it was absolutely fantastic. Believe it or not I’ve gone on and done a couple of talks since. I always take inspiration from that day Rohan. We’re very honoured to have you on the show today and looking forward to getting a little bit to know more about you and share with our listeners. It’s greatly appreciated mate.
Rohan: All right.
Guy: To start the show Rohan, would you mind just sharing a little bit about your story and the life changes you’ve made before you got on to a whole lot of love, just to give people a bit of a background.
Rohan: Yeah. It’s probably quite familiar to a lot of people. Middle class Australian working my ass off trying to earn as much money as possible to pay off [00:06:00] mortgages and car loans and credit cards. I ended up working about 6 days a week in a couple of different jobs and focusing on values in life that I thought were important. What took a back seat was the things that are important, which are family, health, experiences.
My body was a reflection of the way my life was. At that point in time I was morbidly obese. I had a whole range of different health issues and fairly common health issues that a lot of Australians have. I had hypertension, anxiety, depression, I had food allergies. Like I said before, I was disgustingly obese. I can say that, I was an absolute fatty.
What happened was there was a couple of different catalysts that made me look at my life, evaluate it and say, “I need to make some …” I realized I need to make some changes.
I think having kids and the realization that I was feeding my kids the same shit food that I was eating, gave me a large amount of guilt. That hitched out at me to want to make changes in what I was feeding my kids and then I was asking myself “Well, I want to feed my kids healthy foods and I should be feeding myself healthy foods.”
Then I started to do some trial journey of moving away from foods like chicken nuggets and takeaway foods and urban fries and moving into looking at cooking with whole foods, really, really basic stuff. Looking at cook books to begin with and actually cooking with ingredients as opposed to opening up a jar of tomato sauce and pouring over some pasta.
Then eventually [00:08:00] I took extra steps and started looking for organic produce, chemical free produce, local produce and in turn the more local the product the more seasoned it is, the more [inaudible 00:08:12].
Then from there I took an even one more further step and I started growing most of my own food. For my meat I became a hunter.
Guy: How long ago was this Rohan?
Rohan: I really don’t know. It’s been such a long journey now. I would say it’s probably … I do know I started writing a whole lot about 2009. I had previous to that attempted to integrate some of these stuff into my life, especially the growing of the vegetables. It was in the back of my mind, it was more of a hobby. I didn’t take it as seriously as I do now. Although even though I do take it seriously there’s quite a lot of farming.
Stuart: What was it Rohan that led you to explore that avenue as opposed to doing what most people would do in the modern world. They’d join perhaps Jenny Craig and go to the doctors and get some pills.
Rohan: I did both of those things. This is why it’s important to share my story, because I’m the same as everybody else, I just found a different solution for me. Everybody’s solution is going to be different. Initially I was about to take a flight to London many, many years ago. I went to my doctor and I said, “Look. Can I get some Valium? Because I’m not a very good [inaudible 00:09:43] my first long whole flight and sometimes I get a bit of anxiety.” He said, “Tell me more.”
He sat me down. It was like going to see a shrink. By the end of the session I was folding my eyes telling, basically admitting that I’ve been having these attacks for pretty much [00:10:00] in my entire adult life. He diagnosed me with anxiety and depression and I had all these tiredness issues and I was manic at times and all those sorts of things.
Straight away I was diagnosed with some symptoms and then I was medicated for. The same happened for hypertension with my very high blood pressure. You’ve got hypertension, you need to take these tablets.
That was my first step. Now that I look back at it, I think that’s great because what happened there was the medication gave me the ability to get some level ground and to find some peace and some consistency in my daily routine. Because prior to being medicated I was about to go nuts.
The other thing that I would mention as well is my wife convinced me to go Weight Watchers. I went to Weight Watchers and that was a great experience. It was very similar to an experience I had going to Alcoholic Anonymous.
The system that those guys have it’s so technical, it focuses on counting all these calories and grams and fats and bits of sugar. The amazing thing was that they told me. I said, “You should have a can of baked beans for breakfast.” Here I am having baked beans in newsletter. I was only [inaudible 00:11:20] sugar.
The point I’m trying to make is that the health profession is very, very quick to jump on the medication band wagon. I think there’s some value in that but there also should be value in looking at addressing the reasons why us western humans are in such a shit state in the first place.
Maybe to address, “Okay. Why did I work 6 days a week and want to earn so much money to buy stuff that I didn’t need?” Well, that’s because that’s what a middle class [00:12:00] western society expectations are. That’s the value that we put on ourselves and that’s the pressure that we put on ourselves.
Our health reflects that. We all work really hard and one could build [inaudible 00:12:11] everyone has got loans and credit cards and it’s so easy to get credit. Everyone is under pressure. All that pressure puts us and our health under pressure. Then we want these quick fixes to fix our health as opposed to addressing what we really need to do, which is a little bit of exercise and also eating real foods.
I heard the other day that the bestselling cook book at the moment is a green smoothie cook book. The problem with that is it’s the quick fix rubbish.
Stuart: It is.
Rohan: It’s constant. All those new different diet pads and different healthy miracle, I call it the Choo berry, which the fictitious miracle Guatemalan berry that you can cook with it. You can have it for breakfast. You can roast it. It does all these things. It’s everyone’s [inaudible 00:13:07] but the reality is all we need to do is go back in the past and look at what people would have been eating for thousands of years, which is plant matter, animal matter, a combination of the 2.
As far as processed foods go, people have been eating cheeses and breads, even culture is built on bread. It gets so brutalized bread, but human culture has lived on it for thousands of years. In some shape, way and form even the Guatemalan people, the local aboriginal people around here had often clouds of [inaudible 00:13:44] grass being bashed down with rocks to make little butter.
The reality is that’s plant butter, it is growing, it’s a seed. The same thing for all the stuff, the water [inaudible 00:13:56] any of those [00:14:00] bush foods. Our bodies have been designed to survive on plant and animal matter, not highly processed rubbish.
Guy: Rohan, something just occurred. Do you think you had to go through that pain and suffering to get to that point to make the changes? I see that in people around me as well, that I get a little bit frustrated with, but I can’t help or say anything because they’re on their journey.
Rohan: Exactly. I have just started a process of writing another book at the moment out of that exact frustration of being an advocate for making the social change in food and lifestyle for many years. I have this matrix movie moment where I came out of being connected to the system and I was a free thinking individual, as a free agent. I realized I could identify these are the problems we’ve been having in society with our food and our lifestyle.
Then everywhere I go, whether it be driving down the street or walking through a shopping center or something like that. I can see all these people and I’m absolutely frustrated. I just want to walk up to everyone and say, “Don’t you know what you’re doing to your body and do you know what you’re doing to the environment? You could be living this way. It’s fantastic.”
Having those situations and trying to communicate to everyone whether it be talks or workshops or demonstrations or whatever. I have found out that people do not like having a mirror. They do not like looking in the mirror and seeing the truth and seeing the reality. The only way most people come across this is whether or not they’ve got that intuitive and they’ve got that intelligence to pick up and say, “Hey, I’m going to embrace this into my life.” That’s a very minimal amount of the population.
Most people that make the big change in their life it’s usually some health and profession. I remember that talk in Tasmania. A lot of the speakers were saying, “Just [00:16:00] happened to know that blah, blah medical health problem happened to me. Then I made this challenge and then I did this research. Then I found out that salt is really bad in your diet or sulfur is really bad in your diet. The shampoo I was using is really bad for me.”
It’s not until people get to that stage where something bad happens to them that they’ll make a change. That’s exactly what happened to me. It’s the same thing. I remember and no offense to my lovely great grandmother. She was a heavy smoker, a heavy drinker, then got breast cancer. Her son, he was also a heavy drinker and a smoker.
He said, “I’ve been doing some research.” This is in the 1980s. He said, “I’ve got this, there’s this new diet will help you treat your cancer as opposed to chemo.” Guess what it consisted of, plant material and animal material. The stupidity was a lifetime of smoking and drinking heavily and eating horrible food and then to get to a point where you’ve got cancer that may kill you and then you address it. Unfortunately that’s what happens to most of us.
For me it’s an experience of having to take my top off in front of my JP and he measuring my waist line and my man titties. That was just absolute embarrassment of like, “I’ve let myself get to this stage.” It’s not an appearance thing, I think that’s very important. Body image and appearances are important to a certain extent, but it’s the health, how the body, they machines working.
I think for me though, you can’t deny when you jump on the scales and you weigh 180 kilos and you’re supposed to be weighing 85 kilos. You can’t find that disturbing and personally embarrassing. That was my big wake-up call and also the look on my face when [00:18:00] my doctor took my blood pressure. It was like I was a 60 year old man. He was in shock.
Stuart: It’s probably the look on his face when he took your blood pressure.
Rohan: That’s what I’m saying, it was the look on his face. Then I looked at him and his eyes bulged out of his head and like, “Oh shit man! Seriously.” He took my blood pressure about 4 times before he actually said anything. I said, “Is there something wrong?” He goes, “Yeah. We need to get you medicated straight away.”
Stuart: Oh, cracking yeah.
Rohan: That was because of food choices, lifestyle choices and stress. All those things I had to do [inaudible 00:18:43]. Everything is connected, it’s like all the biota in the world including us. We’re all absolutely connected to everything. We are one living, breathing organism. It’s the same thing, we’ve lost our choices. It’s our diet. It’s in that alcohol. It’s the drugs we take. It’s the food we eat. It’s the inactivity that we have and that’s the stress of our daily lives. It’s all integrated and joined and connected.
That’s why I can get absolutely frustrated seeing people in that hole. A lot of us are in that hole and that’s why I spend time communicating my message.
Guy: Just for the record Rohan, how is your health now since you made the changes?
Rohan: It took many years. I had this legacy weight to get rid of. The unfortunate reality is if you progress from eating high fatty foods or high salt or sugar foods, you initially lose a little bit of weight. Unless you incorporate some good cardio exercise, a bit of resistance training into your life, you have this legacy weight. Especially if you are overweight like I was.
That took me years to deal with. Then I was thrusting [00:20:00] to the spot light, because I was touring heavily. When you’re away from home you don’t have all the luxuries of your own food system back and forth. You make the choices the best you can, but often those choices or even those choices aren’t that good.
The good news is after I was medicated I think for about 8 years on antidepressants and anti-anxiety tablets and then I think for hypertension for about a year after that. Right about 7 or 8 years have been pretty heavy dosage medication. I spent a couple of years working with my JP to reduce that dose. For hypertension it was a matter of introducing some cardio training to lose some weight, which would knock a couple of numbers off the hypertension. Addressing the amount of salt I was putting into my food.
I left the high sodium processed food and then went to cooking. When you start cooking and you love cooking you add salt and so I had to address that. There’s been all these slow progressions and then the same with anxiety and depression. I think sugar has a really important role in anxiety and depression. With a little bit of research that I’ve done and also those other things about stress and lifestyle and a lot of the processed foods that make your brain go up and down every time.
That progression has been really good. Now I’m no longer medicated by anything. I used to take 2 tablets every day medicated for [inaudible 00:21:32] except for when I get a headache I’ll take a Panadol. I don’t weight myself anymore, because my clothes fit me really well. I have been to a pair of size 36 jeans that I haven’t won 5 years. I have been maybe about a month ago and for the [inaudible 00:21:50]. Because I’ve lost that much weight. I’ve gone from size 42 waist to a size 36. I’m very happy with that.
I’ve got clothes that I’ve had in [00:22:00] cupboard for years that don’t fit me. There already easily can fit, but they’ve been in cupboard so long they’re completely out of fashion. I’m not setting any fashion standards here, but the beauty is I’ve kept on to some of those clothes as my measuring stick for how my progress is going. Just for this interview I just jumped 4 kilometers and did my morning punches and push-ups. That’s it. That’s all I do.
I do some cardio, 5 days a week I do section of cardio and a little bit of a distance training in my house. I do a bit of bush walking. Last night I was out in the [inaudible 00:22:44] for about an hour, walking around chinning rabbits, that is about an hour of exercise. My wife has just incorporated all these exercise. I’m not very good at going to gyms, I’ve tried them before. I got really annoyed with gym men got pulled out for the pretty ladies.
I was just having a talk to my partner that she wants me to start doing yoga. I’ll do yoga if it’s just one other person in the room. I don’t want to be in a room with other people. I’m an independent person, I like to do things on my own. The point being is everyone has a different value of yielding and addressing this problem. Some people like to join jogging clubs, some people love to do all those group camp things or do Zumba.
As long as there is a little bit of cardio in your life, cardio relative to what your body can handle. If you’re 60 years old you don’t want to be doing too much Zumba. You need to do a little bit of [inaudible 00:23:43] walking and that would be enough cardio.
Stuart: That’s right. Thinking about our grandparents too. My nan and [00:24:00] granddad certainly wouldn’t have attended a gym. I don’t even think they would have thought about the word exercise. They probably didn’t even contemplate getting out and doing something every day. They just got on with their lives.
Rohan: Yeah. I think that’s one thing I do in talks all the time, is I tell people to go home and look at their grandparents. You will that people have got normal bottoms. Some of them might be thin, some of them might be a bit stalky, but there’s a bag of all people with obesity.
The reason being is because people walk to the train station, they walk to the train, they walk to work. When I went to work there was a lot more less robots doing the work in the factories, so people were doing physical lifting things, using their arms and their legs. Now more so there are people, like my job, pretty much most of my adult life was sitting at a desk typing on a keyboard.
As soon as I got that out of my life, which was about 3 years ago, every year I stopped getting those massive fluids that you get when you work in offices. I think also there’s something you said about being under the man-made life thing for most of the day and not getting that silent in your brain.
I just got to the stage where anything that was unnatural I wanted to minimize that as much as I could in my life. That’s exactly what people have been doing for years and years. I didn’t do it intentionally, it was just the way life was. People were much more involved in working with how their body was designed to operate. If you think about the ancient tribes of humans, running really, really fast for long periods of times was not on the agenda. They just weren’t for that. They were designed to do very fast running for very [00:26:00] short durations of time. That’s what our bodies can survive with.
That’s why you see long distance runners or people that have those really physical sports and they’ve all got injuries. The reason for that is their bodies were never designed to handle that pressure. They bodies were designed to walk great distances as nomadic tribes, pick up food along the way and that’s what our bodies were designed to. I try to immolate that in my life.
Like last night, walking around with a heavy 22 magnum riffle and carrying about 6 dead rabbits with me is exercise. That’s the exercise our bodies were designed to do.
Guy: What does a day in a life look like for you these days? Because obviously your life has changed dramatically from back when you had the corporate job and everything and the un-wellness to where you are today. Would you mind sharing a little bit about that change and what it looks like now?
Rohan: I think this as well, my life is relatively regular. The only thing is I do grow a lot of vegetables to feed the family. Over the summer period I do spend a little bit more time in the vegetable garden. I’d probably say maybe an hour, 2 hours in the vegetable garden. People go to church every week and no one complains about that dedication of time.
1 to 2 hours a week in the veggie garden. My hunting efforts are usually around autumn time where there is the ducks and the clouds and again to the bigger game like the deer. I fill the freezer so we can get through winter. Then in spring time I get out on the [inaudible 00:27:34] all the spring rabbits, because they’re fresh, they’re young, they’re healthy, they’re tender. That’s the best time of the year to be hunting rabbits, so I start hunting again. I haven’t hunted all winter basically.
I just got a phone call from a friend, the spring mushrooms have started. I’ll be hiking up the mountain getting mushroom soon. Like I said before, I spend a bit of time in the veggie garden over summer period. Then [00:28:00] in autumn I spend a lot of time in the forest picking forest mushrooms and teaching people hiking through the forest teaching people a lot of the side forest mushrooms [inaudible 00:28:06].
On a normal day I’m taking my kids to school. I’m getting my car fixed. I’m doing radio interviews and magazine interviews and stuff which is a job. I’ve got a pretty regular life. I just no longer have to be at an office at Miller Park and leaving 5:00 and ask permission to have days off. I’m a free man. I just made a decision last night that I’m going on [inaudible 00:28:32] to drive off. I can do that, I can make that choice.
I want to focus on writing my next book. I want to focus on my own mental, physical and spiritual health. I’ve just been on the road for about a month. I was doing public speaking for the book. I’ve noticed that I’m starting to feel a little bit worn out. I can make that call and say, “You know what, I’m going to focus on getting my head right, get my [inaudible 00:28:57].”
A lot of people laugh at this, but the older I get the more I realize how important my spiritual health. That’s having a sense of purpose. I’m doing things with a sense of purpose, feeling a sense of accomplishment, feeling all those things. People don’t like talking about it, because [inaudible 00:29:16].
Unfortunately if you look at a lot of other cultures around the world, especially the older cultures there’s that beautiful sense of spirituality and well-being that is very much a masculine and manly thing. I think that’s the kind that gets lost in this world of putting sports ball and masculine things and [inaudible 00:29:41] and stuff like that. We tend to lose that thing of we need to look after our mental health.
Look at the statistics of how any men have depression in Australia. It’s phenomenal. I think an important part of that is how we view ourselves, how we look at ourselves and how we address our own [00:30:00] mental and spiritual health.
Guy: People are communicating via social media these days. I wonder how often people have a proper conversation.
Rohan: I just turned Instagram off last night, but I’ve actually got to a point where I’m sick of that world I made a big break from it might be a week, it might be a month. I need a break from that because you’re exactly [inaudible 00:30:23] things get taken out of context. For some reason in social media people have this ability to say super nasty things that they would never ever say to a stranger on the street.
I love that, but people tell me that I’m doing it all wrong and they’ll say I’m an asshole, I’m a murderer, saying all these ridiculous things. They would never actually come up to me in the street and say that. Quite often I’ve had people very confrontational. I’ve said, “Okay. Let’s meet and talk this over” and then people just feel secure.
They don’t want real confrontation. It’s a lot easier to do the confrontation by social media.
Stuart: It’s interesting too thinking about the social media, because it’s the very devices that we’re connected to that seem to be taking us away from just that critical component which is engagement and conversation and community as well. Because if you hope on a bus these days, it’s almost silence but the buzzing and worrying and texting. Everybody has got their heads down 45 degrees staring at these screens.
I remember when we came over to Australia 15 years ago, I hoped on a bus coming from London. Just remembered that the whole bus was just engaged in conversation and happiness and I thought, “Wow! This is so unusual. People are really, really enjoying their time together and they’re talking to strangers.” Nowadays if you’re out and about and you’re waiting for somebody it’s almost habitual now to get this out and just tap away on it irrespective of whether [00:32:00] you need to.
Rohan: I’ll say that a lot in places like airports as well. Everyone is just staring at tapping. I’m trying to make an effort to distance myself from it as much. It’s very hard because it’s what keeps me connected with people. As now pretty much my self-purpose is communicating this message and it’s [inaudible 00:32:25] thoughts that I have.
That social media is very important to getting that message over to people. The feedback is really good. I get loads and loads of messages from people saying, “I went to your talk during the week and it was fantastic” or “I read your blog post and I’ve integrated this change into my life and it’s been very important to me and I just want to say thank you and stuff.”
On some level social media has this great power to influence social change. It also attracts some absolute whack job idiots that are quite happy to tell you what they want to tell you. I think that can take its toll on what I was talking about before spiritual and [inaudible 00:33:12].
I could get 1,000 really nice comments. There’s 1 nasty comment that I will get about some sort of topical issue that’s happened and then I’ll focus on and that’s it.
Stuart: Yeah, it is. You’re absolutely right. I was just thinking as well Rohan. How are your family with this journey as well of yours? They’re happily adopting everything that you’re bringing on board.
Rohan: Well, thankfully I’ve got young kids. My plan was kids kind of started off on really the food, my kids did not. I had to do an integration, transition time of integrating real food into my kids’ diet. They just diet off on chicken [00:34:00] nuggets and frozen chips and [inaudible 00:34:01] on soup. It has been quite a journey for the kids, but they’re there, they were eating the food. I’ve had to persevere with some meals and some ingredients. Not everyone likes eggs for example. You just have to try and find what the kids like and focus on those.
My kids understand since now we’re food which is really great. They understand and they look forward to when the tomatoes are back in season. They have an absolute understanding of where the meat comes from. They’ve seen me kill animals, dress animals, gut animals, butcher animals and then cook them. Most kids just see the cooking part, or the buying of the chicken from the supermarket and not actually seeing how there was a living animal.
I think that’s really an important part of the process of showing the kids where the food comes from then they have a better understanding. Then it’s just every day normal life for them. The other day my youngest daughter walked past me while I was plucking a chicken that a friend of a friend gave to me, they live in the city. It was a rooster and they were having a rooster in the city.
Anyway, so they gave me this bird and I reluctantly took it, because I have enough meat in the freezer and plucking chickens in a pain in the butt. That’s why I prefer to shoot rabbits. You can skin and gut a rabbit in a couple of minutes. You got to dedicate half an hour or 40 minutes process to do a chicken properly.
She walked past and she said, “Oh great. We’re having chicken for dinner tonight dad.” That’s where it’s at, at the moment. Some people think that’s barbaric and backwards. You know what? Humans have been living that way for many, many years and it’s only ion recent history that we’ve disassociated ourselves with where our food comes from. Since now …
Guy: I think that’s fantastic.
Rohan: As real food.
Guy: That’s right. There’s like a [00:36:00] veil, isn’t there, between us consuming the food and actually where it comes from. There’s this gap.
Rohan: Yeah. I think on top of that it’s even more scary is that … I’ve seen this in the supermarket. I love visiting the supermarket by the way. You see kids and they’ll be begging mom for these 100% organic fruit only, no additives, no preservatives, fruit juice in a little cardboard [inaudible 00:36:30].
You’re taking a couple of boxes there because you’ve got no preservatives and it’s organic. The problem being is, you’ve got the packing which has got a huge environmental cost and you’ve got that transportation, because a lot of that tropical produce is made from imported farming produce.
The bigger problem is the kid doesn’t have an association with its [inaudible 00:36:53]. It’s plum juice or blackcurrant juice, but that’s what it looks like.
Stuart: Totally. I had to laugh the other day, because I’ve got 3 little girls. Their local school has an environmental initiative. They have 1 day where they have waste free day. Essentially what they do is they’re not allowed any packaging or wrapping or anything like that. All they do is they get the food out the cupboards at home and they take the packaging and the wrapping off. They throw it in the bin and then they take it to school.
Rohan: It’s not really addressing the [inaudible 00:37:33].
Stuart: It’s not a solution and it’s a very low level awareness.
Rohan: Here’s a good one for you. My partner keeps going to a Vasco da Gama school, only one of a couple in the world of those schools. They have a nude food policy and it’s a vegan school, they have to bring vegetarian lunches to school.
There is not one single obese kid there. There is not one kid with food allergies there.
Guy: Nuts, isn’t it?
Rohan: Exactly [00:38:00] and they can eat nuts. Whereas at my kids’ school at the state school, there is obese kids, there’s kids with food allergies so severe that it’s nut in Sesame Street. Because there’s 20 kids out of the entire primary school that have an allergy so severe that they will go into cardiac arrest if they have these nuts [inaudible 00:38:26].
What’s wrong though is the primary school in a way is sponsored by McCain as a company. There’s a factory in that town. When they’re testing new products, if a family from the school takes the product home, test them and then fills out a survey McCain donates $10 for the school.
What hope have those kids got? Quite often kids have brought to school McDonald’s [inaudible 00:39:01] fish and chips, blah, blah, blah. Regularly from the parents to buy the food. That’s a reflection of how serious the serious the situation is [inaudible 00:39:13]. Even not from an environmental point of view, just in a nutritional point of view, that’s a really big problem that we have.
Stuart: It’s radical. I prepare the girls’ lunches every day. Of course I’m always met with a barrage of disappointment as I boil up eggs and I’ve cooked some meat and they’ve got some cheese in there and stuff like that.
In the playgrounds, and it’s chalk and cheese to where we used to be. You mentioned allergies and obesity and stuff like that. In our school when I was younger, I’m in my 40’s now, there was perhaps a token fat kid. Nobody knew what allergies were. Maybe you might go a bit [00:40:00] funny if you got stung by a bee, but food allergies, forget it.
Now, we’re in the same situation where a couple of kids in [inaudible 00:40:09] schools are so allergic that the whole school is banned from taking in the nuts and seeds and the usual suspects. If it’s in a packet it’s great, bring it in.
Rohan: Don’t you think it’s really interesting that we’re having this discussion. We acknowledge the fact that there are kids with such severe allergies that didn’t exist when we were going to school in the 1970s and ‘80s. Yet, what’s being done about it? Nothing. The foods are still on the shelves at the supermarket. It’s still part of people’s lives.
That’s one thing that is absolutely frustrating, is that we know that this food is causing nutritional and health problems yet the food still exist there. I think that’s our biggest challenge over the next couple of decades, is trying to communicate whether it be … I don’t think government is really going to give a crap. As the consumers all of the change that we’re going to make is going to be consumer driven. How do we make consumers change? With about providing information in a format that’s not going to intimidate or annoy anybody to say to say, “Look. This is what’s in your food. This is the problems it’s causing. To address this you can eat your food and then you can fix those problems.”
I did a talk in Queensland a couple of months ago. I got up on stage and I read out the ingredients of processed foods that are bought from the local IGA. I was going to get totally lynched in this country town. I just stood up there and I read it out and there was a couple of hundred people there with dump founded faces like, “What is he talking about?”
I read out, there was numbers and there was words I’ve never heard of before. I threw them off the stage and I said, “That’s not food and that’s what’s making us sick.” I was talking about [00:42:00] sulfites. Anyway a lady went home and she went through her entire cupboard, because her kid has got food allergies, aspirin and blah, blah, blah. It’s her entire cupboard.
She pretty much threw all the food out because everything had the preservatives 220 and all those. She wrote me an email and said, “I feel so guilty. I feel like I’ve been such a bad parent, because I’ve been buying all this food and I didn’t even know. I never ever thought to look at the ingredients.” I think that’s amazing and that used to be me. I never thought to look at the ingredients. I don’t know why. I was out of my mind.
Now when my partner buys … She wants to make some diet vows or something. In the habit of please check the sulfites. You don’t want to have sulfites in your food. It’s a whole food, it’s a diet. It’s got to be totally fine. No, it’s got sulfites.
Stuart: Yeah. It’s still tricky when you hit the whole ingredients. I think that’s a huge part of the problem, is the education from at least the parents’ perspective. They are losing grasp on skills and cultural traditions that their parents and grandparents had.
Because I remember my nan and granddad had a veggie garden and everyone had a veggie garden. We used to go down, when I used to go and see them on Sundays and I would help them pick their runner beans and their potatoes and carrots and pilled the sprouts and stuff like that.
They lived in a very long thin garden with no fences left and right. When you looked down you just saw veggie gardens as far as the eye could see. My parents we grew potatoes and stuff like that. Nowadays crushing, who in their right mind, at least in the city even considers a veggie garden? Because we’re in this convenience mind now, “Well, I can get my studs, my dates and prunes from Coles.
They have been tampered for shelf life and convenience and all the other gumpf. It’s these cultures and traditions that [00:44:00] we’re very much losing grasp of nowadays. Even cooking and meal times, again, which is where we communicate with the family and distress and really nourish the family is gone. A lot of this now is just put the TV on and chow down and stare at your mobile phone.
Rohan: That’s why I got rid of my television years ago. Because every time I used to get home from work it’s the first thing I turn on. Even if I wasn’t watching it, it’s just noise in the background and the kids [inaudible 00:44:38] or whatever. It’s been quite life changing.
I annoy people by telling them I don’t have a television. Who needs a television, if you’ve got a laptop, you’ve got a computer, you’ve got Instagram that’s all you need.
Rohan: You can get all the world news off that and it’s done. Every time I’ve been on tour, like I said for the month [inaudible 00:45:01] alone watching television and sitting there and just laughing at what is on television. There’s some absolute rubbish on television. I think it’s not until it’s habitual to watch television and it’s not until you distance yourself away from it.
It’s not an arrogant thing, I’m a better person because I don’t watch television. It’s that there is a lot of rubbish on television that is making you buy crap you don’t need and eat food you shouldn’t be eating and consuming stuff you don’t need. That’s the whole purpose of television, it’s there to advertise.
Stuart: It is totally. Currently you could sit down and burn 2 or 3 hours a night. When you mentioned that you tend to your veggie garden, you might go for a walk. That’s valuable time that we could push in a different direction.
Rohan: Summer time is that beautiful time of the year where my family is outside until nightfall. It’s just kids are on the [00:46:00] trampoline or they’re playing some little game under the cypress tree. I’m in the veggie garden just hanging out. We tend to cook outside a lot in summer time. That’s really great family time, we’re all connected. We’re hanging out. We have a bit of cuddle with the kids and they go off. They get bored and they go play some game. Then they want to tell you about their game. It’s a much better life.
Stuart: Your kids will remember those times. They probably won’t remember watching episode 21 of the Simpsons.
Guy: Exactly, yeah.
Stuart: You got a new book, ‘A Year of Practiculture’. I just wonder whether you could share with our audience a little bit about the book. First talk, what is practiculture, because I’m not familiar with that word?
Rohan: It’s really just a very easy way to describe my approach to life. One point you’re talking about your grandparents having veggies in their backyard. They’re all very practical skills. Cooking is a practical skill. Food preservation is a practical skill. All those things are all part of my life. I just wrote a [inaudible 00:47:10] practical skill. My life is practical and pretty much most tasks that I do they would be kneading bread ore baking some, raising some [inaudible 00:47:23] some vegetables or grilling some zucchini. All very practical task.
My lifestyle is based in that practical task and as it was in the past for many people. If you spend time say, somewhere [inaudible 00:47:43] in the rural areas there everyone is doing practical tasks. What my life is all about at a place talking about that present culture of doing practical tasks that have a great outcome for you that has food that is good [inaudible 00:48:00] [00:48:00] nutritional integrity. That hasn’t been tampered with. You’ve grown it all. You now have freshly. It doesn’t have chemicals in it.
You’re doing practical tasks that give you a little bit of physical exercise. Enough physical exercise leads to a little bit of spiritual and mental health, because you’ve got endorphins [inaudible 00:48:13] and that’s what practiculture is.
Rohan: I completely made up a [inaudible 00:48:20].
Stuart: I like it.
Rohan: I started with a mapping garden that turned to a workshop once and said, “Everything you do you’re so practical. You have a very practical culture.” He said, “Practiculture. You can use that” and I did.
Guy: I tell you it looks absolutely beautiful book. I’ve only seen the electronic version which was sent through the other week for the podcast. It looks stunning and I can just envision it as I sit on my coffee table and flicking through that and getting a lot of wisdom from what you’ve learned for sure.
Rohan: The thing is [inaudible 00:48:55] there are almost I think about 100 [inaudible 00:48:59]. There is lots of words in there and that’s the important thing. I actually got trimmed down by the publisher. I wrote so many words, because it’s telling the story of what happens in my life over a period of a year. Like when you asked that question before, what’s a day in the life of Rohan Anderson? Because more importantly, what’s a year in the life?
Because it runs on a cycle of using spring, summer and autumn to prepare for winter. That’s what the book is about. There’s all these stories and tales and thoughts all the way through the book that you might get an interesting read through.
Guy: Brilliant. What percentage of your foods come from your own efforts Rohan? Is it everything you do?
Rohan: Yeah. It’s either directly or indirectly, I would say. You’d be looking around about somewhere between 70% or 80%. I don’t churn my own butter. I don’t milk cows, so all the dairy comes from somewhere else. Pretty much most of the vegetables come from the [00:50:00] backyard.
If they’re not coming from my backyard I do a lot of trade, so [inaudible 00:50:05] I can swap with someone who’s been successful with the eggplant. A lot of trade is happening and I also hunt wild deer and I can trade with my pig farming friend for pork products.
Indirectly it’s somebody else who has produced that food, a friend of mine but I’m trading with something that I’ve done the practical task or I have butchered the deer and then [inaudible 00:50:35] then swap it for some bacon.
You’d be surprised how much food comes in through the backyard over the warm period at summer. It’s abnormal how much food you can get in the backyard.
Rohan: Ranging from herbs and fruits and nuts and vegetables, we have a lot of stuff. If you’ve got a small backyard you may not get the great variety. That’s why say for example I’ll put it that [inaudible 00:51:05] fruit choice. I don’t have a great variety and all of my grape trees area all still immature. I think it’s ripe for this year.
I grow a lot of jalapenos. I’m really good at growing jalapenos in my [inaudible 00:51:21] tunnel and people love jalapenos. I can trade those jalapenos for cabbage. You know what I mean?
Rohan: Another thing that we’ve lost in that human culture is that the only reason we are so technologically advanced and we’ve built all these amazing infrastructure, human built environment is because we’re like ants. We work together as a team. That’s the same basic principle that I utilize with food acquisition. I can grow jalapenos. I can swap a bag of jalapenos for a kilo of prunes.
It’s a great working [00:52:00] together as community, that’s something that I’ve really fostered.
Guy: That’s fantastic. I instantly think of you almost teaching a retreat down there for city slackers that could come down and spend the weekend or a week and being taught all these things. I think so many people these days are just completely disconnected from how to do that.
Rohan: Yeah. I’m actually setting that up.
Guy: Oh wow!
Rohan: The nursery project which I attract that funding last year or the year before. This summer I’m starting to build a shed to run the classes. We’re going to miss the bud for this summer, but next summer we’ll have the kangaroo tents up and we’ll be having demonstration vegetable garden orchid. Then I’ll be adding classes and teach people the basics of my lifestyle. It’s not that matter of saying, “This is the right way, it’s the only way.” It’s more of a point of saying, “This is what I do. This is why I do it. If you want to integrate this into your lifestyle so be it.”
Guy: Brilliant. Stu are you going to say something?
Stuart: I just had a thought of you tending a chicken nugget bush out on your veranda, that kind of stuff. Just thinking Rohan, we’re in the city right now in Sydney and in an apartment. Obviously a lot of our friends and associates are living the apartment lifestyle as well. We don’t have access to garden, veggie hatch or green space that way. What can we do, do you think, right now just to make small changes?
Rohan: I get asked this question all the time and there are many answers. To begin with, if you were a person that was living in an apartment eating processed food. The first step would be moving away from [00:54:00] those aisles in the supermarket and starting to be attracted to the aisles where there is actual vegetables and fruit and meat. Then aside from that area and maybe buy some spices and some fresh herbs as opposed to processed herbs in a tube.
That’s the first step and that will give you a nutritional wing in a way. That will be the first step in improving your nutrition. You’ll really be controlling the amount of salt and sugar in your diet. You’ll be reducing the amount of preservatives in your diet and that’s a great thing.
By doing that you’re not really addressing the chemicals that are applied to the fresh produce. Where I live in summer time helicopters flapping in the middle of [inaudible 00:54:41] helicopters boom spray with these huge booms on either side of the helicopter. Come and spray all the food that ends up being sold to humans.
It’s to control the insects or the caterpillars or the other bugs. The problem being is a lot of this stuff is systemic. By saying systemic, it gets into the plant system. It’s gets into the fruiting body which ends up in the supermarket and then you eat it. The next step for the person living in the apartment in Sydney is to try and search as much as possible and consume further these chemical food.
That’s how food has been produced for thousands of years. Our bodies are not designed at all to deal with active constituents like [inaudible 00:55:23] and all those preservatives. The next step would be to look at chemical sprayed food. Even we want to take a next step further than that, would be I’m going to go for whole foods that are chemical free and they’re local.
This is an amazing phenomenon for me to actually have to point out those 3 things in this era is hilarious. Because in years past humans were always buying local chemical free and whole fruits.
Stuart: That’s right, yeah.
Rohan: The fact that I’m having an interview trying [00:56:00] to communicate that is an indictment on our culture.
Stuart: It’s absurd, isn’t it?
Rohan: It is absolutely absurd for me to be saying that. It should just be part of our everyday life. Taking it even a step further than that is things like say community support agriculture. There’s a great thing in Brisbane called Food Connect Brisbane. Basically what it is, it’s a website where 100 different farmers are all connected.
You go on the website as a consumer and you pick all the food you want to buy. That creates a manifest and the manifest is given to all the farmers. They pick the food. They kill the pig and make the bacon by the way and they’re delivered to that distribution center and then it gets sent out to you.
You’re supporting, you know who the farmers are. It’s all listed on the website. You know who the farmers are, you know where the food is coming from. You’re eating relatively locally and you’re eating in season. At times you can even click the dropdown menu and say, “I want mine to be chemical free or organic.” They are the other steps. You can use that technology if you like.
There are some other different systems and schemes that are similar to say like Veg Box systems. I offer one over the summer period where we sell a box of organic vegetables for one farmer instead of [inaudible 00:57:14] 30 years to families down in Melbourne. It’s simply people jumping on the website, they order the box.
It’s about 12 to 15 kilos of organic mixed vegetables. I’ll say that again. 15 kilos at peak season of organic vegetables for $55. I just want to say to people, do not tell me that eating organic is expensive. Find a better alternative than buying the expensive organic crap at the supermarket and you’ll still be eating organic.
To answer the question you used. It’s up to everybody to find their own answers if you want it bad enough. Say you’re obese. I was obese. If I wanted to not be obese bad enough that meant I had to go jogging. If you want it bad enough you’ll [00:58:00] investigate the answers that are right for you.
That’s the problem being is, we may have times when I present talk and people put their hand up and say, “How do I do this? Give me the answers.” The problem being is we’ve stopped thinking for ourselves. Everyone does the thinking for us. You get to that point where you’re like, “Oh God!” The answers are there right in front of you. If you want the answers you can find them. It’s almost like everyone needs a Yoda to tell them, “Ask many questions you do.”
That’s the amazing thing is that we’re always saying, “Well, how do I fix this?” That’s like me going to Weight Watchers and saying, “Look. I’m fat. Give me the answers. Tell me what I need to do.” I couldn’t think for myself. Now it’s gotten to that point where I’ve had that matrix moment and it’s like, I can’t stop thinking for myself.
Stuart: We use, strangely enough, exactly the same analogy of taking that pill and when you take that pill you realize that you are in a world surrounded by just absurdities wherever you look. People chewing on all these crazy plastic food and getting sick and taking pills and getting health spiraling out of control.
Rohan: Energy drinks. Do you see people drinking energy drinks? I want to go up and slap them in the face. I want to get the can and just crunch it on their head and say, “Wake up! What are you putting in your body? Do you even know what this stuff is?” It’s amazing.
Stuart: It’s the funny thing. Again, I was only thinking about the red bull phenomenon this morning as I was walking the kids to school. I saw this one young lad and he had a can of red bull. In England when we were younger, the fashion was you’d go out into the clubs and you would drink red bull and vodka. The downside was that you couldn’t get to sleep when you got back from the clubs.
When you actually pull those drinks apart and realize what you’re actually doing to yourself, it is red alert [01:00:00] for your body when you’re down in this nonsense.
One other thing I wanted to raise as well, because you were talking about spraying of fruits and vegetables and stuff like that. About 20 years ago me and my wife as we were travelling around the world we spent 6 months fruit picking in New Zealand on the south island. We picked cherries and apricots and had a great time eating all these fruit.
We did it for literally 5 or 6 months. At the end of the time when we were going to head off up north, there was a big meeting and a farewell barbecue. One of the guys came out and said, “I just want to make sure that all of you guys are aware that we spray all of our fruits and vegetables to keep the pests off. It does interfere with the female contraceptive pill. Just be mindful if any of you guys are in relationships. Your pill might not work if you’re eating our fruit.”
Rohan: Those are alarm bells. It’s like, we have this knowledge yet the [inaudible 01:01:01]. I often scratch my head and just say, “WTF.” It’s not just ignorance. We’ve got enough information. There’s enough in regards to nutrition. There’s enough books on TV shows about nutrition. We have the knowledge. It’s not that we’re ignorant about it, it’s we’re stupid. We can’t make the right decisions.
I don’t know how to change that other than having some personal medical drama and then saying, “Oh I’m on the side of the vegetables they’re not sprayed with chemicals.” I just don’t [inaudible 01:01:46].
Guy: Yeah, it’s a tough one.
Stuart: I think food is the right place to start, because when you’re fueling yourself and nourishing yourself properly you feel better, you sleep better and they’re not going to affect you because you start to make more informed [01:02:00] decisions. When you’re zombified it doesn’t work so well.
Guy: I’m just aware of the time guys. Rohan, what we do, we have a couple of wrap up questions we ask every guest on the podcast. The first one is, have you read any books that have had a great impact on your life and what were they?
Rohan: I like reading Louis L’Amour who is a western author. The reason why I love that is because you see the world and you can probably by the end of the podcast you’d be thinking, “This Rohan Anderson is an absolute nut job.”
You can see how absolutely stuffed the world is and it just gets really depressing. I read these old western novels. There’s hundreds and hundreds that’s written with the classic well known American author. The reason being is that at the end of the book the good guy always wins.
That’s what gets me to sleep at night knowing that there’s always lots of gun fights and punching and goodies and baddies stuff and that’s fine. I do love that. On a serious note about nutrition and food and all the things that I do now, there is a book that I always talk about called The Unprejudiced Palate by Angelo Pellegrini. It was written in 1948. This guy was an Italian immigrant in America that got frustrated with eating pretty blunt American food. It start off as more of culinary perspective of as a blindness in, “What is this cheese? This American cheese is disgusting.”
Being an Italian immigrant he reverted back to his roots in Tuscany and started growing his own food and hunting. The way the books is written, it’s not the best written book, but I found it super-inspirational many years ago when I was taking punch to … It was one of the books that got me even more fueled up about the need to be on that self-reliance train of growing my own food and hunting.
Guy: Could you repeat the name of the author and the book?
Rohan: The Unprejudiced Palate by Angelo Pellegrini. [01:04:00]
Rohan: The things is as well, beside this absolutely beautiful book it’s only $9.95 and it holds the biggest inspiration for me to get [inaudible 01:04:10]. I would love to buy a million dollars’ worth of it and just walk down the streets and just hand it to people, give them for free, like one of those evangelistic religious people. It’s a really inspirational book. The basic principle is about growing your own food and cooking. Not a lot of recipes in there, but the other thing that was important for me when I was very [inaudible 01:04:35] working 6 days a week, earning loads of money but very, very miserable worlds.
This notion that this guy had about the idea that you get to this great sense of achievement of planting carrots and the carrots grow up and then you cooked a meal with the carrots and it’s a great sense of achievement. I think even identifying that in 1948 it is groundbreaking, because in 2015 most of our lives are unfulfilling.
We go to work, we sit at an office, we get a salary. Then we take that salary, we go to a supermarket, we purchase stuff. We go buy a new car, we go buy a house. It’s unfulfilling. Our bills alone happened a couple of years back. It was the most rewarding experience in my adult life. I chopped down the trees, I skimmed the trees. I built the log cabin and then I smoked food in it with a smoke house.
That experience was basically a social experience for me. It was trying to complete a task. You start to fruition and then tell the story about it and see what people thought about that. It was quite an interesting experience. I think that’s something I was lacking. That book absolutely life change informed.
Guy: Brilliant. I’ll get a copy of that and we’ll definitely link that in the show notes. Last question Rohan. What’s [01:06:00] the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Rohan: I really don’t know. Best piece of advice? I think it was probably in regards to cooking. When I first moved out of home, mom taught me this basic recipe then I called it hers. She used a lot red wine. I was like, “You’re using red wine in cooking?” As such a simple thing coming from a young version of me that had never cooked in my life. The notion of cooking with alcohol to enhance the flavor and all that stuff, basically opened the door for me. If that’s possible, what else is possible?
I think for me was basically the development of my sense of independence and just a sense of trying different things. I write about that all the time. I share that I had victories when I try something that works and also I share in the fails. Being given that knowledge of using, this is how [inaudible 01:07:07] you have onions, you have the mints, but then you out wine in, then you put the passata in and then you put your herbs and then you let it simmer.
Just the amazing input of information which is quite trivial, which you put red wine into [inaudible 01:07:20] at the time, I just remembered how groundbreaking that information was. Which then made me thing, “You know what, what else is possible?” Each of the [inaudible 01:07:29].
Guy: Bloody awesome. For anyone listening to this, would like to know more about you and get the book as well. What would be the best place to go Rohan?
Rohan: You can go to any good bookstore in Australia or New Zealand at the moment. US releases are out for next year, but you can also go into a whole lot of love come and buy directly to me. If you do I’ll give you the [inaudible 01:07:51].
Guy: Fantastic mate. Mate, that was absolutely brilliant. Thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your [01:08:00] journey. That was just simply awesome. It’s greatly appreciated. Thanks Rohan.
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.
Guy: Make no mistake, the importance of gut health is becoming more paramount than ever and it’s something I believe should not be ignored. So who better to ask than a board-certified neurologist who truly understands the gut, brain and health connection!
Our fantastic guest today is Dr David Perlmutter. He is here to discuss his brand new book ‘Brain Maker’ – The Power Of Microbes to Heal & Protect Your Brain For Life.
The cornerstone of Dr. Perlmutter’s unique approach to neurological disorders is founded in the principles of preventive medicine. He has brought to the public awareness a rich understanding that challenging brain problems including Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia, depression, and ADHD may very well be prevented with lifestyle changes including a gluten free, low carbohydrate, higher fat diet coupled with aerobic exercise.
Full Interview: The Key to a Healthy Gut Microbiome & the ‘Brain Maker’
In This Episode:
Why gut health and microbiome is critical for long lasting health
The quick ‘checklist’ to see if you have a healthy gut
What to eat daily to nurture your gut health
David’s daily routines to stay on top of gut & microbiome health
Guy:Hey, guys. This is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition. Welcome to today’s health sessions. This is a podcast I certainly thoroughly enjoyed recording and it’s one I’m definitely going to listen to again. There’s a lot of information on here that I’ll need to go over, but ultimately, I think it’s a podcast that if you take the time to understand what’s been spoken about and actually apply the things that are said, it can make a dramatic change to one’s health, to your own life and of course your longevity and quality of life moving forward. I think it’s that big a topic. The topic at hand is going to be pretty much with the microbiome, gut health. Our awesome guest today is Dr. David Perlmutter.
If you’re unaware of David, David is a board-certified neurologist and a fellow of the American College of Nutrition. I almost didn’t get my words out there. He’s been interviewed by many national syndicated radios and television programs, including Larry King Live, CNN, Fox News, Fox and Friends, the Today’s Show. He’s been on Oprah, Dr. Oz, the CBS Early Show. He is actually medical advisor to the Dr. Oz Show. Yes, we were very grateful for David to come on and give up an hour of his time and share his absolute wealth of knowledge with us today. He’s written a couple of awesome books in Grain Brain. He’s got a brand-new book out called the Brain Maker which is what we generally talk about today. That’s obviously the brain and gut connection.
The cornerstone of Dr. Perlmutter’s approach to neurological disorders has been founded in the principles of you could say preventative medicine, which is why we’re super excited to have him on. He has brought public awareness now to a rich understanding that challenging brain [00:02:00] problems include Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia, depression, ADHD may very well be prevented … All these things with lifestyle changes. Think about that for a moment, including a gluten-free, low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet, coupled with exercise and aerobic exercise.
Anyway, strap yourself in. This is fantastic. For all you guys listening in the USA, if you haven’t heard, you might have heard me speaking on a couple of podcasts, but 180 Nutrition and now superfoods are now available across America wide which is super exciting for us. If you haven’t heard about it, you can literally just go back to 180nutrition.com and it’s a very simple way of replacing bad meal choices. If you’re stuck and you’re not sure what to do, we encourage a smoothie and a scoop of 180 with other things. It’s the easiest way to get nutrient-dense foods and fiber-rich foods really quickly. All you have to do is go back to 180nutrition.com and check it out. Let’s go over to David Perlmutter. Enjoy.
Hi. This is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined by Stuart Cooke. Hi, Stewie.
Stuart:Hello, Guy. How are you?
Guy:Our fantastic guest today is Dr. David Perlmutter. David, welcome to the show.
David:I’m delighted to be here, gentlemen.
Guy:It’s fantastic. We’ve been following your work for some time now and be able to expose us to the Aussie audience, I’m very excited about. With that mind, would you mind, for our listeners if they haven’t been exposed to your work before, just sharing a little bit about yourself and what you do?
David:I’d be delighted. I’m a brain specialist. I’m a neurologist, and that probably doesn’t explain what I do. I’m very much involved in various lifestyle factors as they affect the brain, as they affect human physiology, and really have begun exploring well beyond the brain, [00:04:00] what are we doing to ourselves in terms of the foods that we eat, both positive and negative? More recently, how are our food choices and other lifestyle choices affecting the microbiome, affecting the 100 trillion organisms that live within us because we now recognize that those organisms are playing a pivotal role in terms of determining whether we are healthy or not. That’s pretty much in a nutshell what I do.
Guy:There you go.
Stuart:Fantastic. We first heard about you, David, when you wrote the book, Grain Brain which was fantastic. For me, I think it was important because we heard a lot of stories and press about grains and how they’re making us fat and they’re ruining our health. Other ways made the connection of it’s grains … I’m okay with grains. I don’t get any gut ache. I don’t get any gastrointestinal issues, but I never thought about it from a brain perspective. I just wondered if you could share just a little bit about why you wrote Grain Brain, what inspired you to write it?
David:Stuart, the real impetus behind Grain Brain was for the very first time, I thought it was critical for a brain specialist to take a position of prevention, of looking at the idea that these devastating brain conditions that I’m dealing with on a daily basis, autistic children, adults with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, you name it, that some of these issues are preventable, and that really flies in the face of pretty much mainstream doctrine. It is going against the grain, if you will which it seems to fit. It became very clear to me that our best peer-reviewed, well-respected literature [00:06:00] has been publishing information not only about gluten but about more generally, carbohydrates and sugar for a couple of decades, and no one has paid any attention.
It’s been published, but I really found that somebody needed to step forward and make that information known to the general public. I began implementing these practices in my clinical practice in treating patients day to day and began seeing really remarkable results. That is what got behind me writing the book, Grain Brain, really exploring how sugar, carbohydrates and gluten are absolutely toxic for the brain. Ultimately that book was translated into 27 languages and is published worldwide. The message has really gotten out there. I’m very proud of that. These are people reading the book that I will never see and yet, I know the information that they’re gleaning from reading this book is going to help them, and it makes me feel good at the end of the day in terms of what I’m doing.
Guy:Yeah, that’s fantastic.
Guy:Awesome. It’s interesting about grains because people seem to have a real emotional attachment to sugar and grains. The moment you ask them to start cutting down, reducing, removing, it can be quite challenging.
David:People have a religious connection to grain. It’s in the Bible. Give us this day our daily bread. For somebody to come along and say, you know, maybe that’s not what you should be eating, it challenges people on multiple levels. Number one, bread and carbs and grains are absolutely comfort foods that we all love. We all got rewarded as children by having a cookie or a piece of cake on your birthday. We love those foods. We love sugar. We are genetically designed to seek out sugar. It’s allowed us to survive.
The reality of the situation is we’ve got to take a more human approach to this in terms of our higher level of understanding and recognize that we [00:08:00] as a species have never consumed this level of sugar and carbohydrates, and that gluten-containing foods are in fact challenging to our health in terms of amping up inflammation, which is the cornerstone of the diseases I mentioned: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, even cancer and coronary artery disease. In that sentence, we’ve covered a lot of territory.
You mentioned grains, and I want to be very clear. There are plenty of grains that are around that are not necessarily containing gluten; and therefore, my argument against them doesn’t stem from the fact that they contain this toxic protein called gluten but rather because they’re a very concentrated source of carbohydrate. Rice, for example, is gluten-free and you could have a little bit of rice. There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of rice, but you have to factor the carb content of that serving of rice into your daily carbohydrate load and don’t overdo it. I’m not coming down on grains across the board, but I’m really calling attention to the fact that these grain-based foods are generally super concentrated in terms of sugar and carbs.
Guy:I understand your carbohydrate tolerance. You answered the next question where I was going to speak, like, should we limit it to all grains or just the heavily refined and processed carbohydrate kind of …
David:See answer above.
Guy:Yeah, there you go.
Stuart:What about the [high street 00:09:28] gluten-free alternatives where people are saying, well, look, it’s grain-free, gluten-free?
David:Again, Stuart, exactly my point. People walk down the gluten-free aisle thinking, hey, I’ve got an open dance card here. It’s gluten-free. How about it? That opens the door to the gluten-free pasta, pizza, bread, you name it, flour to make products, cookies, crackers and you name it. Again, the issue is that one of the most devastating things that’s happening to humans today [00:10:00] is that our blood sugar is rising. There is a very direct correlation between even minimal elevations of blood sugar and risk for dementia. That was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in September of 2013 where they demonstrated that even subtle elevations of blood sugar well below being diabetic are associated with a profound risk of basically losing your marbles.
Please understand, when we’re talking about Alzheimer’s and dementia, there is no treatment available for that issue. Having said that, then this whole notion of prevention and preventive medicine as it relates to the brain really takes on a much more powerful meaning and urgency.
Guy:Would glycation pop in there as well then where you’re speaking … Would that all stem then from the processed carbs and the fact the brain is …
David:That’s right. Guy, you bring up a very good point, and that is this process of glycation. Just for your viewers, let me just indicate what that is. Glycation is a biochemical term that deals with how simple sugars actually bind to proteins. That’s a normal process, but when it gets out of hand, it changes the shape of proteins, amps up inflammation and amps up what are called free radical production.
We measure glycation really very simply in the clinic, and I’m certain that’s done worldwide, by looking at a blood test called A1C, hemoglobin A1C. Diabetics are very familiar with this term, because it’s a marker of the average blood sugar. A1C is a marker of the rate at which sugar is binding to protein. The higher your sugar, the more readily that process happens. What we’ve seen published in the journal, Neurology, is a perfect correlation between levels of A1C or measures of glycation [00:12:00] and the rate at which the brain shrinks on an annual basis. There’s a perfect correlation then between higher levels of blood sugar through glycation that you bring to our attention and the rate at which your brain will shrink.
Well, you don’t want your brain to shrink, I can clue you. A smaller brain is not a good thing. That said, you’ve got to do everything you can, and that is to limit your carbs and limit your sugar. What does it mean? It means a plate that is mostly vegetables, above ground, nutrient-dense, colorful, fiber-rich vegetables, as well as foods that actually are higher in fat. That means foods like olive oil. If you’re not a vegetarian, that would be fish, chicken, beef that is preferably not grain-fed but grass-fed, fish that is wild as opposed to being farm-raised, like the chicken being free range.
This is the way that we actually give ourselves calories in the form of fat calories that will help us lose weight, help reduce inflammation, help reduce this process of glycation that we just talked about, and in the long run, pave the way for both a better brain but also a better immune system and really better health all around.
Guy:That’s a fantastic description of glycation as well. I appreciate it. Would you recommend everyone to go and get that tested once?
David:Yes, absolutely. In fact, in Grain Brain, I present a chart that demonstrates what I just talked about, the degree of glycation plotted against the shrinkage of the brain’s memory center called the hippocampus. In our clinic, hemoglobin A1C is absolutely a standard test just like fasting blood sugar, and also fasting insulin, the degree of insulin in your body. The level of insulin in your body is really a marker as to how much you’ve challenged your body with sugar and carbohydrates in the past. You want to keep [00:14:00] insulin levels really low.
When insulin levels start to climb, it’s an indication that your cells are becoming less responsive to insulin, and that is the harbinger for becoming a diabetic. Why am I fixated on that? It’s because once you are a diabetic type 2, you have quadrupled your risk for Alzheimer’s. That’s why this is so darn important.
Guy:They start just growing and growing, especially with diabetes as well.
Stuart:In terms of the growing number of people that are suffering neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and the like, is it too late for those guys or can they …
David:Not at all. I recently gave a presentation with the director of the Alzheimer’s Research Program at UCLA here in the states. We gave a talk, an evening talk at a place called the Buck Institute. This individual, Dr. Dale Bredesen, is actually using a low-carbohydrate diet, gluten-free, normalizing vitamin D levels, getting people to exercise, and actually put together a program of 36 different interventions, has now reversed Alzheimer’s in 9 out of 10 of his original patients. Only 10 patients, it’s not a large number, I admit that, but it is a start.
We are in western cultures so wedded to the notion of monotherapy; meaning, one drug for one problem. You say high blood pressure; I give you a drug. You say diabetes; here’s a pill. You say Alzheimer’s; here’s a pill. Well, the truth of the matter is there is no pill, despite the fact that there’s something on the market, but there isn’t a pill that will cure Alzheimer’s or even have any significant effect on treating the disease and its symptoms. That’s where we are as we have this conversation.
Now, it looks like the work [00:16:00] of Dr. Bredesen is showing that Alzheimer’s is a multifactorial event, and that to cure it or at least turn it around, you have to hit this problem from multiple angles at the same time. It’s happening. It’s not happening through somebody owning the rights to a specific medication.
Stuart:That’s fantastic. That’s radical.
David:I’ll send you the link to the lecture that we gave.
Stuart:Yeah. That was my next question. I would love to find out.
David:Consider it done.
Stuart:Thank you. In your new book, Brain Maker, you dig even deeper and talk about the connection between the gut and the brain. I wondered if you could share a little bit about that as well, please.
David:I will. Let me just take a step back. Last weekend, I went to University of California San Diego, and I met with, of all people, an astrophysicist who is actually studying the microbiome. If you think a neurologist paying attention to the gut is a stretch, how about an astrophysicist? It turns out that he is probably one of the most schooled individuals on the planet in terms of using a supercomputer technology to analyze data, and they drafted him there to look at data that deals with the microbiome in that they have probably the world’s most well-respected microbiome researchers there. They brought Dr. Larry Smarr on board to help Rob Knight really work with the data.
The things going on in the gut in terms of just the information are breathtaking for sure. We now understand that in one gram, that’s one-fifth of a teaspoon of fecal material, there are 100 million terabytes of information. This is a very intense area of research just because of the sheer amount of data [00:18:00] and information that it contains.
We recognize that these 100 trillion organisms that live within each and every one of us have a direct role to play in the health and functionality of the brain, moment to moment. They manufacture what are called the neurotransmitters. They aid in the body’s ability to make things like serotonin and dopamine and GABA. They directly influence the level of inflammation in the body. As I talked to you about earlier, inflammation is the cornerstone of things like Parkinson’s, MS, Alzheimer’s and even autism. The gut bacteria regulate that, and so it’s really very, very important to look at the possibilities in terms of affecting brain health by looking at the gut bacteria.
Having said that, one of the patients that I talk about in Brain Maker, a patient with multiple sclerosis named Carlos came to me and his history, aside from the fact that he couldn’t walk because of his MS was really very profound in that he had been challenged with respect to his gut with multiple courses of aggressive antibiotics. Why would I be interested in that? I’m interested because the gut bacteria control what’s called immunity, and MS is an autoimmune condition. At that point, I began reviewing research by a Dr. Thomas Borody who happens to be in Australia.
What Dr. Borody did, who is a gastroenterologist, a gut specialist, is he performed a technique on patients called fecal transplant where he took the fecal material with the bacteria from healthy individuals and transplanted that into people with various illnesses. Lo and behold, he noted some dramatic improvements in patients with multiple sclerosis. Think about that: [00:20:00] Fecal transplantation for patients with MS. His reports are published in the journal, Gastroenterology. I sent my patient Carlos to England. He had a series of fecal transplants and regained the ability to walk without a cane. He sent me a video, and I have that video on my website. This is a real person who underwent this procedure.
I just took it to the nth degree. The question was how do we relate the gut to the brain? Now we’ve realized how intimately involved brain health and brain dynamics are with respect to things that are going on in the intestines. It’s a very empowering time.
Guy:Yeah, that’s huge. Regarding gut health, and let’s say somebody is listening to this and they’re relatively healthy and they’re going about their day, but they might be curious to know if their gut integrity is good or isn’t. Are there telltale signs that your gut might not be quite right?
David:Absolutely. As a matter of fact, if you turn to page 17 in Brain Maker, I have a list of over 20 questions that you can ask yourself to determine if in fact you are at risk for having a disturbance of your gut bacteria. There are laboratory studies available of course, but these questions are things like were you born be C-section? Did you have your tonsils out as a child? Do you take antibiotics fairly frequently? Are you taking non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs for inflammation? Are you on an acid blocking drug? Do you have an inflammatory condition of your bowel? Are you suffering from depression? Are you more than 20 pounds overweight?
The reason these questions actually have traction when it comes to their inference with reference to the gut is because these are situations which really point a finger at disturbance of the gut bacteria. I open the book with those questions [00:22:00] because many people are going to answer a positive on multiple parameters and then I indicate to them that that’s not uncommon, but the rest of the book, the rest of the 80,000 words is all about, okay, we’ve all made mistakes in our lives. We all have taken antibiotics. Many of our parents had our ear tubes put in or we were born by C-section or who knows what? The important empowering part about the rest of that book, Brain Maker, is, okay, we messed up. How do you fix it?
That’s what I really spend a lot of time doing in that book, and that is talking about those foods that need to come off the table, those foods that you need to put on the table, fermented foods, for example, that are rich in good bacteria: foods like kimchi and cultured yogurt and fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, for example. How do you choose a good probiotic supplement? What about prebiotics? What about this type of fiber that we consume that actually nurtures the good gut bacteria within us? That’s contained in various foods like jicama, Mexican yam, Jerusalem artichoke, asparagus, garlic, onions, leeks, dandelion greens, etc. These are foods that are really rich in a specific type of fiber that then goes ahead and amplifies the growth of the good bacteria in your gut.
I really wanted to write that book in a very empowering way for all of us living in western cultures where we’ve messed up. The evidence is really quite clear when you look at the microbiome, at the gut bacteria in western cultures and compare what those bacteria look like with more agrarian or more rural cultures, less developed countries.
Stuart:We’ve gone to page 17 and we’ve filled out the checklist and now we’re concerned. How can we test [00:24:00] the diversity or the quality of our gut bacteria?
David:That’s a very good question. There are tests that are available and they are improving year by year, and you can have them done. I’m not sure what you have available to yourselves in Australia, but there are several companies that make those tests available here. The real issue though is I don’t think we yet know specifically what a healthy microbiome should look like. We know the broad strokes. We know that there are ratios between two of the larger groups of organisms called Firmicutes and Bacteroidete that tend to be associated with things like diabetes and obesity, etc. We really don’t know what it means to have a good microbiome.
One thing that’s really quite clear is that one of the best attributes for your microbiome is diversity. When you look at rural African population microbiome compared to westernized microbiome, the main thing that really jumps out at you is the lack of diversity in our type of microbiome, the lack of parasites, the lack of a large array of different organisms. You may have raised your eyebrows when I said a lack of parasites, but it turns out that we have lived quite comfortably with a wide array of parasites throughout our existence on this planet.
There is something called the old friend hypothesis, which means that we’ve had these bugs inside of us for a long time and not only have we developed tolerance to things like parasites, but we’ve actually been able to work with them and live with them in such a way that parasites and various worrisome bacteria actually contribute to our health. When we sterilize the gut with over-usage of [00:26:00] antibiotics, for example, we set the stage for some significant imbalances in terms of our metabolism. As we sterilize the gut with antibiotics, we favor the overgrowth of bacteria, for example, that can make us fat.
Why do you think it is since the 1950s we’ve been feeding cattle with antibiotics? Because it changes their gut bacteria. It makes them fat. Farmers who raise those animals make more money because the animals are bigger and they’re selling them by the pound.
Guy:Another question popped in. I don’t know if it’s a stupid question or not. Do you think we’ve become too hygienic as well? If we shower …
David:No question. That is called the hygiene hypothesis. I think that it really has been validated. That was first proposed in 1986 when it got its name. It holds that our obsession with hygiene … I paraphrase a little bit … Our overdoing with hygiene, the sterilization of the human body and all that’s within it, has really paved the way for us to have so much allergic disease, autoimmune diseases, what are called atopic diseases, skin-related issues.
We understand, for example, that autism is an inflammatory condition and really correlates quite nicely with changes in the gut bacteria. There’s an absolute signature or fingerprint of the gut bacteria that correlates with autism. Now there are even researchers in Canada, Dr. Derrick MacFabe is one … I’ve interviewed him … who correlate these changes in bacterial organisms in the gut of autistic children with changes in certain chemicals that have a very important role to play in terms of how the brain works.
This is the hygiene hypothesis. It’s time that we let our kids get dirty and stop washing their hands every time they walk down the [00:28:00] aisle in the grocery store and recognize that we’ve lived in an environment that’s exposed us to these organisms for two million years. It has a lot of merit, the hygiene hypothesis.
Guy:Sorry, Stuart. Another question that did pop in there at the same time.
David:Take your time.
Guy:Stress, worry and anxiety because you feel that in the gut when you’re … Have there been studies if that affects microbiome?
David:Without a doubt. I actually have written about these in Brain Maker. It goes both ways. We know that stress increases the adrenal gland’s production of a chemical called cortisol. Cortisol ultimately begins in the brain. When the brain experiences stress and the hypothalamic-pituitary axis is turned on and that stimulates the adrenal glands from make cortisol. Cortisol does several important things. It is one of our hormones that allows us to be more adaptable momentarily to stress but the downsides of cortisol are many. It increases the leakiness of the gut, and therefore increases the level of inflammation in the body. It actually changes the gut bacteria and allows overgrowth of certain organisms, some of which are not actually even bacteria but even yeast. In addition, cortisol plays back and has a very detrimental role on the brain’s memory center.
By the same token, we know that gut-related issues are front and center now in looking at things like depression. We now understand, for example, that depression is a disease characterized by higher levels of inflammatory markers specifically coming from the gut. Think about that. There is a chemical called LPS or lipopolysaccharide. [00:30:00] That chemical is only found normally in the gut to any significant degree. It is actually part of the cell wall of what are called gram-negative bacteria that live in the gut. When the gut is permeable, then that LPS makes its way out of the gut and you can measure it in the bloodstream.
There’s a very profound correlation between elevation of LPS and major depression. We see this correlation with major depression and gut leakiness and gut inflammation, and it really starts to make a lot of sense when we see such common events of depression in individuals with inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s.
Stuart:Back to the balance of the microbiome so gut bacteria. What three culprits, what would be your top three culprits that really upset the balance?
David:Number one would be antibiotics. We are so aggressively using antibiotics in western cultures. I think every major medical journal is really calling our attention to that. The World Health Organization ranks antibiotics among the top three major health threats to the world health of this decade. Antibiotics change the gut bacteria. They change the way that bacteria respond to antibiotics, in the future making it more likely that we’ll have antibiotic resistance, making it more difficult to treat bacterial infections when they should be treated. I think that we really have just begun to understand the devastating role of antibiotics in terms of changing the gut bacteria. The over-usage of antibiotics in children has been associated with their increased risk of things like type 1 diabetes, asthma, [00:32:00] allergic diseases.
You asked for three. The other big player I think would be Cesarean section. C-sections are depriving children of their initial microbiome because understand that when you’re born through the birth canal, right at that moment, you are being inoculated with bacteria, bacteria that then serve as the focal point for your first microbiome. When you bypass that experience, you are born basically with the microbiome that’s made of whatever bacteria happen to be on the surgeon’s hands or in the operating room at that time. Interestingly enough, children born by C-section who don’t have that right microbiome have a dramatically increased risk for type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, autism, ADHD and even becoming obese when they become adults.
We’re just beginning to understand really what an important event that is, and that is when you’re born that you receive genetic information from your mother that is what we call horizontally transferred as opposed to the vertical transfer from mom and dad in terms of their genome. Understand that you’re not just getting the bacteria but you’re getting the bacterial DNA. When you get your arms around the idea that 99% of the DNA in your body is bacteria contained in your microbiome, then the whole process of being born through the birth canal really takes on a very, very new meaning, doesn’t it?
Stuart:It does. It’s massive.
Guy:The thing, again, they almost can be beyond our control as well. Like you mentioned, it could have been given antibiotics as a kid and C-section. I just want to make a point that when you start to repair these things, [00:34:00] it’s not a short-term fix, I’m guessing, that it takes time to repair the gut. If somebody is listening …
David:In our practice, we see improvements happening very quickly. We often see people get improvements in as little as a couple of weeks, especially children. They seem to turn around so quickly. The truth of the matter is that we now see literature that indicates that antibiotics, each time you take them, change your gut bacteria permanently. There may not be a total reversal that’s possible based upon some of our lifestyle choices. That said, we are now seeing some really impressive results from what’s called fecal transplantation where you put in to the gut healthy bacteria from a healthy individual.
One researcher, Dr. Max Nieuwdorp in Amsterdam has recently presented his treatment of 250 type 2 diabetics, giving them fecal transplant, and he basically reversed their diabetes by changing their gut bacteria. It’s pretty profound.
Stuart:It’s quite a hot topic over here, fecal transplants. They ran a story a few weeks ago of a chap who was suffering from an autoimmune disease and he first went out of country and received the fecal transplant and his improvements were off the scale, but he put on huge amounts of weight. He was a skinny guy.
David:It’s not the first time it’s happened. Actually, the main use of fecal transplantation is for the treatment of a bacterial infection called Clostridium difficile or C. diff. Here in America, that’s a disease situation that affects 500,000 American [00:36:00] every year and kills 30,000. The antibiotic cocktails that are used for C. diff. are about 26% to 28% effective. Fecal transplantation is about 96% effective. There was recently a publication of a woman with C. diff. and she elected to undergo fecal transplantation and chose her daughter as the donor. Unfortunately, her daughter was very big. Immediately following the fecal transplantation, this woman gained an enormous amount of weight. I think something in the neighborhood of 40 pounds very quickly.
You’re right. It calls to our attention the work by Dr. Jeffrey Gordon here in the states who has demonstrated in laboratory animals that when you take human fecal material from an obese person and transplant that into a healthy laboratory animal, that animal suddenly gets fat even though you didn’t change its food. We’re beginning to understand the very important role of the gut microbiome in terms of regulating our metabolism, in terms of our extraction of calories from the food that we eat.
So many people tell me, you know, Doc, I am so careful with what I eat and I just can’t lose weight. The reason is because through their years of eating improperly, of having antibiotics, etc., they’ve created a microbiome that is really very adept at extracting calories from food. One of the biggest culprits, for example, is sugar. Sugar will dramatically change the microbiome. What do people do? They begin drinking sugarless, artificially sweetened beverages. It turns out that the weight gain from artificially sweetened beverages is profound and in fact, the risk of type 2 diabetes is much higher in people consuming artificially sweetened drinks than those who drink sugar sweetened drinks.
I’m not arguing in favor of drinking [00:38:00] sugar sweetened beverages. I’m simply saying that there’s no free ride here. What researchers in Israel just published was the explanation. The explanation as you would expect is that artificial sweeteners dramatically change the microbiome. They set up a situation of higher levels of certain bacteria that will extract more calories and will also help code for inflammation. There’s no free ride. You’ve got to eat right. You’ve got to get back to eating the types of foods that will nurture a good microbiome.
Guy:Do you think the local doctor or GP is going to start looking at microbiome in the near future? Because there’s only an antibiotic that gets prescribed when you go there, you’re not feeling well or you get a cut …
David:No, I don’t think so.
Guy:You don’t think so?
David:No. I wish it were. I wish that were the case. Next month, I’m chairing an international symposium on the microbiome with leaders in the field from all over the world, well-respected individuals. The people who are going to attend are really a very few group … a small group … It’s be a big group, but these are people who are really highly motivated to stay ahead of trends, and by and large, this is going to take a long time to filter down to general medicine. It just isn’t going to happen any time soon.
Guy:Proactive approach always seems to be the way.
David:You got it.
Stuart:Say I wanted to be a bit proactive right now and I’m going to jot down to the chemist and think, right, I’m going to ask them for their top pre- or probiotics. Is it a waste of time?
David:No, I don’t think so, especially as it relates to prebiotics. You can’t go wrong by increasing your consumption of fiber, but prebiotic is a special type of fiber that in fact nurtures the gut bacteria. [00:40:00] You can go to your chemist and in fact, they may very well sell you a wonderful prebiotic that’s made from, for example, Acacia gum or pectin or something like that. There happen to be some pretty darn good probiotics on the market as well. I think there are certain things that you have to look for. I’ve written about them in my book. There are certain species I think that are well-studied and there are five specific species that I talk about in the book like Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus brevis, etc.
The point is, hey, we have more than 10,000 different species living within us, so it’s hard to say what’s best. We do know that some of these species have been aggressively studied and do good things in the gut with research now coming out indicating that interventional studies, in other words where they give certain bacteria to people, there are changes that are measurable. Let me tell you about one interesting study that was just published.
A group of 75 children were given a specific probiotic for the first six months of their life; it’s called Lactobacillus rhamnosus. They followed these kids for the next 13 years. What they found was that the children who had received the probiotic, half the group, none of them developed either ADHD or a form of autism. Whereas the group that did not receive the probiotic, there was a rate of autism or ADHD of about 14.2%. What does it say? It says that balancing the gut helps do good things. This study took 13 years to complete, maybe another year or two to publish, but we’re getting to the point where we’re seeing interventional trials of specific organisms having positive effects [00:42:00] on humans. I think that’s what the future is going to open up with. I think we’re going to see much more of that.
Guy:Definitely. Even from us, we’ve been involved in the health industry for quite some time and we’ve seen microbiome, gut health, more and more information is coming out.
David:Yes, you are. It’s time. It’s really going to be very, very empowering.
Guy:Yeah, it’s become a hot topic. Look, I’m aware of the time, David. We have a couple of questions that we ask everyone on the show that they can be non-nutrition-related, anything.
David:Is this the bonus round?
Guy:This is the bonus round, man.
Stuart:I just wanted to pop in, Guy, just before you hit those last ones. I was interested, David, as to do you have a tailored personal daily routine specifically to nurture your microbiome?
David:Yes. It’s what works for me. I’m super careful about what I eat. The truth of the matter is I am at risk for Alzheimer’s. My dad passed away about two months ago with Alzheimer’s so I know I’m at risk. Probably one of the most important nutritional things I do is exercise. It’s nutrition for the soul. I guess I have a little leeway there. It’s really good for the microbiome as well. It really helps protect the ability of that LPS from damaging … ultimately leading to damage to the brain. Exercise actually increases the growth of new brain cells through something called BDNF. My dad is very low in carbohydrate, extremely low in sugar. I use a lot of prebiotic fiber, 15, 20 grams a day. I take a strong probiotic, vitamin D, vitamin E, fish oil, a multivitamin, a B complex. You didn’t ask about supplements but I just toss that in for the heck of it.
I generally, for me, do well with only two meals a [00:44:00] day. I don’t yet know who wrote down that you have to have three meals a day or the world would come to an end, but somebody must have obviously. Because I like the fact that I haven’t eaten from dinner until I have either a later breakfast or an early lunch the next day. That sometimes can be as long as 12 to 15 hours of not eating. It works really well for me because as I wake up in the morning, my brain is sharp and I never really liked exercising with food in my belly. A lot of people have breakfast and go to the gym. Fine. It doesn’t work for me. I like to go to the gym on an empty stomach and then have lunch and then dinner.
Stuart:That’s excellent. Does the type of exercise make any difference to the way you feel?
David:Well, sure it does. The type of exercise I really gravitate to is aerobic because as I talked about in Grain Brain, aerobic exercise is the type of exercise that actually will turn on the genes that will code for this BDNF chemical that will allow you to grow your brain cells. That’s what the studies at University of Pittsburgh have demonstrated. You really need to do aerobics. I do a lot of stretching and I lift weights as well. I think those are good for you, good for a person. I’m prone to back issues. I do a whole routine for my back. The one thing that it’s inviolate in terms of my routine is the aerobics part.
Guy:Fantastic. I appreciate that. That’s awesome. Back to bonus round, have you read any books that have had a great impact on your life that you’d like to share?
David:I have. From a medical perspective, there’s a couple of good books by Gary Taubes called Good Calories, Bad Calories, and another one called Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It. I would recommend the latter, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It [00:46:00] because it is so clear in terms of mechanisms that relate to sugar and weight gain and inflammation.
I’ve read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse on a number of occasions. I think it has resonated with me on a personal level in terms of my life journey, one of the most perhaps influential books for me. Pardon me?
Guy:Fantastic. You’re not the first person to say that book as well.
David:In fact, I just looked at it earlier today. I love books. I don’t know if you could see [crosstalk 00:46:41]. A lot of people these days send me their books to review so I’ll write a comment on them. I’ve got this really great conduit of new books coming to me, two and three a day now, which is really great. I really am fortunate because I get to see a lot of books before they’re actually even published. I reviewed a book today from a Harvard researcher on what is it that makes us hungry and what to do about it, a really incredible book.
I recently reviewed a book by Dr. Frank Lipman talking about the 10 things to do to stay healthy. Really it was The 10 Things That Make Us Fat and Grow Old, is the title. It isn’t out yet, but I read that book this morning, a very, very powerful, clean-cut, straightforward information that’s totally in line with current science.
There’s another really good book I would encourage people to look at called The Disease Delusion, and it’s written by Dr. Jeffrey Bland. It really is an important book because it talks about where we are in terms of how medicine is practiced, how we look at patients and really paints a good picture in terms of what medicine could look like in the [00:48:00] future. I’d encourage your viewers to take a look at that book.
Guy:Fantastic. We certainly encourage Brain Maker as well which [crosstalk 00:48:07].
David:Thank you. I appreciate it.
Guy:Last question: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
David:My dad used to say no matter how … As you go through life, my friend, let this be your goal. Keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole. It always worked for me.
Stuart:I like it.
David:There’s one other, I don’t know if it’s advice, but a statement that was made by Maurice Maeterlinck, a Belgian Nobel Laureate. I first read this when I was visiting a friend, Dr. Amar Bose. He’s the one who has Bose audio, the headphones and speakers. He took me to his laboratory in Massachusetts and I was very impressed, but then we went into his office and on his glass door was the following quote by Maurice Maeterlinck: At every crossway on the road that leads to the future, each progressive spirit is confronted by a thousand men appointed to defend the past. That always meant a lot to me because Dr. Bose really went against the system as he created his audio products. People said it couldn’t be done. You can’t cancel sound, on and on.
I really know what it’s like to be opposed by a thousand men appointed to defend the past because the stuff that we talk about is not status quo. It’s not what everyone is doing. I’m grateful for that. I think that it hopefully is ahead of the curve. Time will tell. We’ll see where we go. When maybe the three of us have a conversation in a couple of years, we’ll see where we are.
Guy:Yeah. Fantastic. We really appreciate it. For anyone listening to this who would like to get more of you, where would be the best place [00:50:00] to go online?
David:My website is drperlmutter.com. That’s D-R, Perlmutter, P-E-R-L-M-U-T-T-E-R, dot-com. Facebook I post every day. Oddly enough, David Perlmutter MD. My books are in Australia. They’re around the world so people can read my books if they like as well.
Guy:Yeah, fantastic. Greatly appreciate you coming on the show today and showing your knowledge and time with us and the listeners.
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.
We love getting peoples perspectives on health and nutrition, especially when they’ve interviewed dozens of health leaders around the world, then made two inspiring documentaries that go on to transform and enhance the lives of millions of people!
Our fantastic guest this week is James Colquhoun, the man behind the fabulous movies ‘Food Matters’ and ‘Hungry For Change’. We ask James in the above short video, what three food hacks would you suggest we could do right now to improve our future health? I bet you can’t guess what they are!
Below is the full interview with James, where he shares with us his personal story regarding his dads illness of chronic fatigue syndrome and how he took massive action to intervene. Because he couldn’t get his father to read about nutrition and natural health, he figured he could probably convince him to watch a film on the subject. What follows is a journey of transformation, inspiration and two internationally acclaimed widely popular documentaries.
Full Interview with James Colquhoun: Why Food Matters & I’m Hungry For Change
In this episode we talk about:
Why he spent his entire savings on making the movie ‘Food Matters’
The ‘tipping points’ that inspired his dad to turn his health around
The most amazing transformational story he has ever seen!
The foods he goes out of his way to avoid and why
Why he created a ‘Netflix’ for health & wellness – FMTV
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. Today is a beautiful day here in Sydney and I’m at my local Maroubra Beach, so I thought I’d bring my introduction outside. As you can see it’s just stunning here.
I’m fresh back off a Joe Dispenza workshop over the weekend in Melbourne.
Now, if you’re not aware of Dr. Joe Dispenza, we interviewed him on the podcast a couple of weeks ago and I highly recommend you check him out. And if you get a chance to attend one of his workshops, it’s a must. It was phenomenal. It was probably one of the best experiences, when it comes to workshops I’ve ever had, and he really puts the science behind the “woo woo” as he puts it in terms of meditation, understanding the brain, and being able to better our lives with the thoughts we think and how we move forward with that.
So, yeah, I highly recommend you check that out.
So, anyway, moving on to today’s guest. Well, we’ve got a pearler for you today.
So, I’m sure you can all share these experiences. You know, when you decide to make the change you voraciously change your habits through the foods you eat, the exercises you do and you get rid of the low-fat diet. You cut the processed foods out and you can see all the changes happening to yourself. And of course, you then want to go on and tell the world.
I know I did, anyway, with my family and friends. But when you go and share this with them, you find half the time they might as well be wearing earplugs, because the words never seem to go in and of course, they’re on their own journeys too and have to make the changes for themselves.
To take that to the next level with today’s guest, he shares with us how his father started to become very ill and of course wanted to change the way he ate and the way he looked at his health. It was very difficult.
So, what did he decide to go and do? Well, he went and decided to go and make a documentary and spent the next two years and his entire life savings and pumped it all into this documentary.
And yes, our special guest today is James Colquhoun and he’s the creator of the documentary Food Matters. He is one inspirational guy and of course, he went on then and made Hungry for Change.
We delve deep into everything behind what James went and did. Why he did it in depth. And of course, he got to then go on and experience interviewing some of the best thought leaders in health around the world and put them into a documentary. And of course, apply that in his own life.
So, we get into his daily routines. What he does. The best tips he’s learned and practical applications of what we can bring into our everyday life, as well.
One thing was clear with James is that he is a very, very, very upbeat inspirational guy. You’re going to get lots out of this today.
It was just a pleasure to have him on the show.
Now, you may recall, as well, a couple of months ago, if you have been following us for a long time; we actually sent out an email asking you what your biggest challenges are, just to get some feedback. We have been listening. We had an awesome response and we’ve been behind the scenes, me and Stu, for the last couple of months, actually, putting them into a quiz, if you like, and putting videos behind it so that you can discover what your number one roadblock is.
So, if you’re struggling to drop the last five kilos. If you’re, how can we say, if you’re struggling to stick to the diet. Or if you’re confused, you get it, but you don’t get it. You know that sugar’s not good. We should be eating more fat. But you know there’s still lots of areas that you’re trying to plug and trying to figure out. And that’s half the reason why we put this information together. But obviously, we want everyone to get a crystal clear understanding.
So, that’s going to be on our home page of our website, 180nutrition.com.au. It’s going to go live very shortly, maybe even by the time you listen to this podcast. But I highly recommend check it out.
And of course, if you do have those relatives that are struggling with their own journey, send them to this, because it’s a nice message and they’ll be able to get a lot of clarification on being able to take the right steps moving forward.
Anyway, so, that’s at 180nutrition.com.au and of course, if you’re listening to this through iTunes, leave a review, subscribe to us, five star. It’s really greatly appreciated.
Anyway, let’s go over to our awesome guest today, James Colquhoun. Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Hi Stuart.
Stuart Cooke: Hello mate.
Guy Lawrence: And our fantastic guest today is James Colquhoun. James, welcome. Did I pronounce your surname correct that time?
James Colquhoun: You got it spot on. Perfect.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect. Yeah, thanks mate. Look, I’m very excited to discuss all the work you’ve done over the years, which is obviously the documentaries, and I just think it’s absolutely fantastic what you’re doing.
But we always start the show, mate, just to get a little bit about your own journey, I guess, just for our listeners, to fill them in a bit. I mean, have you always been into making documentaries in nutrition or did that sort of evolve along the way?
James Colquhoun: Well, it’s actually really far from it and I think that’s common with a lot of people I speak to about their journeys into health and nutrition, is they were on a completely different trajectory before something happened; a sort of catalyst. And for a lot of people it’s illness in the family and that was certainly the case for us.
But, you know, I was a ship’s officer, driving high-speed passenger ferries, container ships, tankards…
Guy Lawrence: Oh, wow.
James Colquhoun: Private yachts. Worked for two of the top ten wealthiest people in the world for about three years, driving their big toys around. And got to see first-hand that all the money and all the freedom in the world doesn’t altogether mean happiness and health.
And these people struggle with some serious health conditions. And it was funny, but at the same time my dad was unwell, on a lot of medications and I was like, how come there’s this block for healing? How come people can’t get well?
So, this spurred a little bit of an interest in nutrition and personal development. Understanding more about how I could be healthy or how I could help my dad. And out of nowhere I started becoming interested in health and nutrition. Went to a few seminars; namely saw that big American guy with a thick accent, Tony Robbins.
Guy Lawrence: Of course. Yeah.
James Colquhoun: He had a day in his program, in the early, 2000s, when I went and saw it, on health and nutrition, which talked a lot about alkalizing and cleansing and topics I’ve never heard before, and started implementing some of that into my life. Sort of started to steer the ship in a bit of a different direction, so to speak.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that thing that fascinates me as well is that you went out and actually made a documentary to create change. I mean, most people struggle to even just implement change in their own, in themselves, let alone actually go out and do something.
Stuart Cooke: Where did that idea come about? I mean, crikey, I get that you’ve; you’ve embraced this new world, this health and wellness and you start to attach yourself to the power of, you know, food can have on the way that; on our well-being. But what inspired you to go, “Right! I’m going to make a movie.” Because that isn’t something that Joe Public would do generally.
James Colquhoun: Well, I think; that’s a good question. And it just came about from having studied nutrition and seeing that we could make an impact in my father’s health and then thinking further beyond that.
“Well, how can we influence my dad?” I think that was one of the biggest questions we had. And when we were sending him books, it didn’t really work. We were sending him articles by email, “Hey, check out this research. Check out this latest information about vitamin B3 or about detoxification.” And, you know, that didn’t seem to work either.
And then we thought, “Well, how could we help him?” We thought, “What about a documentary? What about a good film?” Because for me, at the time, I was learning a lot from documentaries and I thought, “What if that could help my dad?” And we started looking at what documentaries existed around health, nutrition, cleansing. You know, empowering your own immune system to heal itself. And also covered a lot of the topics about the pharmaceutical industry and the agricultural industry.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
James Colquhoun: And none really existed at the time that covered all those topics and I think that was something that sort of spurred a thought in our minds that said, why don’t we look to see if we could create something to help influence my father and then also help reach more people with that same message.
Guy Lawrence: Did it take a while to get the message across to your dad, you know, from the early days? Or was he very open to it all?
James Colquhoun: Well, you know, early days he was not at all open to it. I mean, he was; every time we’d send him something or we’d send a book across, my mom would read it enthusiastically and then he would always disbelieve it. He would go, “No. I trust my doctors.” He was suffering from severe chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, anxiety; he was on six different medications and he was practically bedridden for about five years.
And the medical profession, the best that they could offer him was a continuing juggling or a mixing up of his cocktail of medications, basically.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
James Colquhoun: Saying, “Let’s go up on this one and down on this one. Well, let’s introduce this new one, which has more side effects. Or we’ll have this other drug come in.” And they were basically saying, “One day we may find the correct cocktail of medications that will have you at some level of health. But we can’t guarantee that you’ll ever actually be cured from this.”
And you know, for him and a lot of people out there that suffer from chronic conditions of lifestyle; anything from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression, mental illness; especially things that are called a syndrome, like chronic fatigue syndrome, for instance. It means that we don’t really know what causes it. We don’t really know how to fix it.
And even a lot of these chronic illnesses I just listed off, they’re sort of; you’re not given much hope from the mainstream medical fraternity and to me that’s frustrating. Because we know for a fact that many of these diseases are caused by diet and lifestyle-related elements.
We know that food toxicity, lifestyle habits, how you handle stress, etc. play a deep part in these particular illnesses and that’s been proven now. However, we don’t acknowledge their part in getting rid of them and to me that’s ludicrous. It’s like, how can you acknowledge that there’s a causative element and yet there is no curative element to that.
So, basically, we know these factors play a part, but when you get sick, “Let’s not worry about them too much; let’s just focus on drugging you.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
James Colquhoun: Which basically causes toxicity of the body, toxicity to the liver. And, you know, it’s a tricky situation from there.
Guy Lawrence: Another thought that popped in for me and I know a lot of people could relate to this, is that; you know, even happened with my own family is, sometimes you can get very frustrated because you’re trying to get a message across to somebody that; whose illness could be getting worse and they just; they don’t want to listen or they don’t want to know and what’s very hard is to get that message across. But there’s normally a snap, a tipping point or something that goes “ah” and then all of a sudden they let the whole information in. Like what was the case for your dad?
James Colquhoun: Yeah. Sure. Before I go on, I just lost your video there, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I know. It’s just spinning around. I’ll have to stick a nice, good looking shot next to us all and play that.
James Colquhoun: Sorry. You know, it was really tricky for my dad, in that, he did have that turning point and he did have that catalyst. And for him it was a unique one and I bet it’s different for everybody. It might be a thought of not being around for your grandchildren. It might be, you know, it might be the thought that you might not make it yourself or get to achieve some of the goals in your life. Or it might not be that you have to have the physical health and the abundance of energy in order to be able to do the things that you want to do on a day-to-day basis.
But for my dad, some of the information that really shocked him was, one of the particular drugs he was on, which was a brand leader of antidepressants, called; it’s an SSRI antidepressant called Prozac. And that was a blockbuster drug for the company who made it. And they were coming out with a new version of the drug.
And when you come out with a new version of a drug, you have to say, when you put the patent application in to renew the patent, you have to say how it’s better than the existing drug.
So, what they do it they tinker with the molecular structure of the drug. Make a few improvements, a few changes and then say, “It’s better than the previous one, because of this, this and this.”
And one of the things my dad was suffering from was some really severe side effects. One of which was like suicidal thoughts and it was completely out of character for him. I mean, he had thoughts about taking his own life and that was something we knew wasn’t him. We knew it was the drugs, but he didn’t really believe that, and he thought it was because of his ill state of health.
And what happened was when Prozac was coming out with this new drug called, “Prozac(R).” At the time they said it will not cause the suicidal effects of the previous drug. And they had denied that for ten years.
Stuart Cooke: Oh boy.
James Colquhoun: They denied it. They denied millions of cases of payouts. They denied the fact that there were many cases in the U.S. where young kids had been put on these drugs and committed suicide and they said it had nothing to do with these drugs. And yet they had discovered later on that it did cause suicidal effects in some people, which meant many of them went on to take their lives.
And to me that’s; that was to me and to my father as well, a huge loss of trust, I think, in the medical fraternity, because the veil was lifted and he was able to see that there was such an economic confluence of events that happened in the background of that industry that caused these sorts of things to get passed over.
And I think, you know, when you start to look at where the money flows, you start to see a topic for what it really is. And when you look into the pharmaceutical industry and when you look into the agrichemical or the agribusiness industry, you start to see a really clear picture that it’s money that drives policy. And you have this revolving door syndrome between the regulatory body and also the industry. And they collude together in order to benefit shareholder outcome, but not so much patient outcome.
So, for my dad it was that big veil was lifted and he was like, “Oh my goodness. I have lost trust in the medical profession.” And that’s a huge thing to instill in somebody.
You know, you and I can’t do that around the dinner table with our uncles or aunties, because they just shoo it off and say, “Thanks, Stu. Thanks Guy. I appreciate your advice. I’m going to stick with my doctor.”
But if you think about sitting them down to watch a film, they can’t deny when you have MDs, you know, naturopathic doctors, medical researchers, journalists from around the world, all agreeing that there is this egregious aspect to the way that these particular industries are run and their outcome is not really focused on patient outcomes. They’re focused on profit.
And once you can get that clarity, then you can start to make decisions; like, “OK, well, this drug might be important because it’s short-term life saving.” The drugs have to be treated like a crutch. You know, you use it until the limb’s better and then you throw it out.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
James Colquhoun: But all the drugs that the drug companies are making these days are actually focused on, you know, white, wealthy, middle to upper class people that have diseases that are caused by what they eat.
So, they’re never going to be cured by the drug, but they have to take them for life. And that’s the perfect customer, if you think about it from a drug company. So, for me that was my dad’s big shift and we helped him, in a three-month period, go off all his medication. And he went on to a cleaned-up version of a diet; an upgraded diet. And in a matter of three months he lost 25 kilograms. He was off all six medications. He was practically back to perfect health after five years overweight, sick and on all these meds and offered no hope.
And so, that was another awakening for him and he’s like, “OK, I’m fully on board. This is amazing.” And he sort of helped us finish the film. We borrowed 50 grand from him. “Bank of Roy,” we call it, and finished the Food Matters film off and it then went to actually premiere in a cinema in Sydney and then went on to be seen by tens of millions of people the world over. It’s in multiple languages now. So, very grateful for this chance.
Guy Lawrence: That’s phenomenal. Look, just for the listeners, having watched Food Matters, what’s the basic concept of it?
James Colquhoun: Well, Food Matters; the basic concept is food is better medicine than drugs and you’re the best nutritionist and the best doctor that you can get is you. And that is; that’s it in a nutshell.
And I think the whole movie just goes to prove that nature has provided so much abundance and so many answers and yet we’ve confused it. We’ve made it difficult. We said, “No. No, nature doesn’t have those answers. The answer lies in this special chemical made-up formula.”
And really, all these manmade chemicals practically came about post World War II and to me that’s crazy, because World War II is not that long ago. I mean, we have great grandparents that were in that war. And so, that’s one and a half generations.
So, basically, in that time we have gone from everything prior to that, practically everything, was certified organic or not certified, it was organic. There was no or very little toxic chemicals that existed. There was a period around World War I/World War II where we were experimenting with some, but on a wide scale it didn’t really happen.
Post World War II, we started releasing wholesale into the environment over 44,000 manmade chemicals and we took the chemicals that we were using for warfare and we put them into completely unrelated uses. Like, if this chemical can kill people, we could use it in smaller doses to kill bugs or to control insects. And to me that’s a bit scary, because that’s your food. That’s what sustains you and it allowed us to do agriculture.
But then we use chemicals in so many different ways; skin care, food products, additives, preservatives, colors, flavorings. And we’ve really made a massive mistake. It’s been a huge, it’s been a huge experiment on our population and you know, maybe after a hundred million years, we might be able to evolve, to be able of digest some of those toxic chemicals. But the story of humanity is that we’ve never, we’ve never had them in our diet. We’ve never had in our lives. So, we shouldn’t have them now, is what I believe.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s terrifying.
Stuart Cooke: I do wonder in a hundred years’ time we’re going to look at us, back at ourselves and think, “What on earth were we thinking?” Like, “This is ludicrous!”
James Colquhoun: Yeah, yeah. I think, I think that’s hindsight always.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
James Colquhoun: We’re always going to have that perspective. We have that prospective on our lives too. We look back five years in our lives, “What were we thinking?” You know, we might be 20 years from now looking back, you know.
But I think it’s just really having a sit-down, getting the facts right and having a look at it and saying, “Hang on, this is not really adding value to our society.” It’s really adding value to some of the big multi-national corporations that have patents on that technology. So, really …
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: There’s certainly not a huge amount of cash to be made from being healthy, from some people’s perspective.
James Colquhoun: Well, good health makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t make a lot of dollars.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
James Colquhoun: That’s from the Food Matters film, Andrew Saul, and it’s true. It’s a hundred percent true.
Stuart Cooke: So, just thinking about the principles of the movie and everything that you’ve learned during your father’s journey as well and you know, million dollar question, what three things could I do for me, myself, right now, to improve the future of my health?
James Colquhoun: Sure. You know, it’s always; you know one of the hardest things when you make a film is take 40 hours of footage and then take it down to 90 minutes.
Guy Lawrence: Wow!
James Colquhoun: That’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Then you’ve got to go from 90 minutes down to 90 seconds …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
James Colquhoun: … and that’s so infinitely impossible. But it’s part of the film process and you do it. And I guess that’s what life hacks are about too.
It’s like, how can we take this infinite knowledge and try to condense it down and it’s not an easy thing. But one of the focus; the focus of the films is really about adding in these healthy foods and focusing less on taking out, although that can be very important; but focusing on adding in.
And if I think about three things, the first thing that comes to mind would be hydration. Most of us are hydrated at some level, varying from dehydration to chronic dehydration.
You know, Dr. Batmanghelidj is an eminent doctor and researcher in the hydration space. And he was an Iranian doctor that got locked up in Iran and had only water to help heal patients he was dealing with in the hospital that he was also locked up with. And he started to do a lot of research in his life about it and it’s become foundational for a lot of other research that’s happened. But hydration, with either some sort of structured hydration or just good quality water, spring or filtered water. Drinking a lot of that.
And what water helps to do is it helps to flush the body, it helps to move things out and it solves one of the biggest problems, which is constipation. I mean, it’s something that many people don’t talk about.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
James Colquhoun: But regularly detoxifying your system, that’s one of the main elimination channels. I mean you’ve got the skin and sweat. Then you’ve got the bowels and then you’ve got urine. They’re the major ways that we shed and eliminate and process and get rid of toxins in the body.
You know, with a newborn baby coming into this world, having over 200 manmade chemicals already in its system, that’s a study coming from the Environmental Workers Group in the U.S.; you know, these are chemicals that have even been banned for 50 years, like some of the DDTs and PCBs. They’re still in women’s breast milk to this day.
Stuart Cooke: My word.
James Colquhoun: So, we have this level of toxicity that’s just now the new set point.
So, you want to assist your body, not just from a detoxification perspective, but from also from an energy perspective. When you’re properly hydrated the blood cells can bounce along and move through the blood freely. A lot of your blood and your lymph system is all regulated by how hydrated you are and especially goes for a lot of the organs as well.
So, hydration; you know you can grate a bit of ginger and squeeze a bit on ginger into it, fresh ginger, and then a little bit of lime or lemon juice in some water. That’s a really great way to hydrate.
So, the first thing is hydration. Probably the second thing, I would say, is greens. Getting enough green plant food can be super powerful. It doesn’t matter what diet you do, vegan, pesca, lacto-ovo vegetarian or whether you’re paleo or whether you’re low carb/high fat or high fat/low carb or whatever you do, it doesn’t matter.
Greens are still some incredible goodness from Mother Nature and it’s in the way that they concentrate sunlight and concentrate it in chlorophyll. And when you consume greens, either through green juice or some sort of green powder that you can mix into water or you have sautéed greens or however you do it, you’re adding that concentrated sunlight into your diet. And that helps to alkalize and cleanse your blood. A lot of the bitter greens can be fantastic as well.
You know, it’s not a coincidence that in folklore they say, “bitter medicine,” because a lot of the bitter foods that you find in nature have stronger medicinal capabilities. And if you think about how a culture consumed food, there was this scale. There was this like everyday foods. Then there’s like sort of super foods or more powerful foods. And then there’s like medicinal foods.
And even in that is psychotropic drugs. They would have rituals where they would take certain types, either a brew or some sort of hard cider that they would make or some sort of; or even mushrooms, or some certain things. But tribally, if you just look at a tribal culture, they have this big array of foods and some of them would have up to 300 different species of plant and animal foods that they would be consuming.
Now, we’re down, stuck on this tent, we’ve got like iceberg lettuce; like next to nothing, you know.
So, try to get as many different types of greens; bitter greens. You know, get into your garden. Pick your weeds, I mean, you know: dandelion. You can also pick lots of different things, gotu kola sometimes is growing in people’s backyards.
Try to identify what some of the local green soft leafy herbs that you can have in your diet. You know, throw five or six different types of herbs into a salad, juice soft herbs, juice green vegetables, put them in a smoothie, however. Just try to get move of that green plant food into your diet and that will help.
Again, like the hydration helps to clean your blood and keep it alkalized and help to keep the cells energized. And if you look at blood from somebody who’s dehydrated and over-acidic, you’ll see you can identify their blood very clearly. And if you look at somebody who’s very well hydrated and someone who has a lot of greens, regardless of what they have in the other percentage of their diet, you’re still going to notice a very different quality of blood. If you look at the quality of blood, I can guarantee that will be who you are as a person; whether you’re more energetic and alive or more dead and sloth-like.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Oxidative stress and inflammation spring to mind straight from that.
James Colquhoun: Spot on. Spot on.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
James Colquhoun: So, that’s two. Sorry.
Guy Lawrence: That’s two. There’s one more. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: I’m hanging out for number three.
James Colquhoun: Three I would have to say would be fermented foods. I mean, fermented foods is the most epic fail that humanity ever made. It’s not that it was a fail, I mean, it was; ultimately they did it to preserve food. And so, they succeeded at that. It wasn’t an epic fail, it was mostly an epic success, really. But what was funny was that they didn’t realize how; the effect on health that those cultured foods would have.
And so, you know, the process of fermentation was they were controlling some bacterial fermentation from the environment in order to be able to preserve foods, such as cabbage made into sauerkraut. Or, you know, milk fermented into a kefir or into a hard cheese. Or you look at cultured veggies, cultured pickle from Japan. You’ve got the cultured condiments from India, the pickled vegetables. Tomato sauce or catsup in the States is originally a fermented food. You look at dill pickles.
And there’s always this history of consuming fermented foods with cooked foods.
And, you know, it was a fantastic thing that we did that as humanity to preserve foods.
But one of the most incredible things that we’re discovering more and more about now, especially as we start research more about the microbiome and the make up of the bacteria in the gut and how powerful that is for our immunity. And that even when a child comes out through the birth canal, that fluid that coats its mouth and then goes into the gut or if you take some of that fluid and put it on there, if there’s a different style of birth, that’s its first shot. That’s its flu shot. I mean, that should really be the only flu shot it gets. And then you can top that flu shot off with more cultured bacteria.
Now, most of the fermented foods are either wild ferments or they have been inoculated with a veggie culture starter. But we’re moving; more research now showing that the human bacteria can be very powerful in that fermentation process.
So, yeah, but fermented foods have a strong history for humanity and I think they’re one of the most healthful things that we can have. Every time I have a cooked food, I try to get a fermented condiment there with it.
So, of those three things: hydration, greens, and fermented foods, I think it’s super important.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: That’s excellent and I wouldn’t have expected that answer. Because things like sugar and vegetable oils, you know, are buzzwords and everybody thinks, “Oh crikey! I’ve got to do that.” But as simple as hydration. And I wonder how many people listening to this, right now, will pause it and rush off and get a glass of water and just stop to think about, “It makes perfect sense.”
Guy Lawrence: And put some greens in it.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
James Colquhoun: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: So, a couple of things, questions, occurred with Food Matters. Did; what was the; how was it received when it first came out? Did you have any criticism around it, because it was such a strong topic as well? Or did everyone just embrace it?
James Colquhoun: You know, it’s a great; it’s a good question. I often get that question. And I; to be honest I was really shocked, because we really had a very hard go at the pharmaceutical and agricultural industry. We were calling out particular drugs. We were referencing companies that were involved in this sort of deception of the human population. And part of me was a little bit, I guess, worried about what was going to happen. And another part of me said, “Why should I even care about it? This is the truth. Let’s get it out there.”
I think I was inspired by Michael Moore, because here’s the gentleman that made a movie about the then president of the United States of America, ripping to shreds every policy decision he’d ever made in his tenure and then getting broad, full theatrical distribution in the US.
And to me that marked a massive shift in an era where cinéma vérité or free cinema was now allowed. I’d imagine if Michael Moore was 20 years earlier, he probably would have been shot or taken out by the CIA.
I sort of felt protected by him. It was as if Michael Moore was my bodyguard. I’m like, if somebody came for me, I’d just call Michael Moore and say, “Do you want to make a film about this?” So I think that’s the problem now is that if anybody tried to attack us, that’s just great material.
I mean, if you had a pharmaceutical company try to say, hang on, this is litigious, or take us down, or buy us out, I mean, there’s another documentary and then they’re going to be put into a whole media spin.
So, I guess we didn’t really receive any lashback. One thing was we were booked during a press tour once in the U.S. to go on GMA, or Good Morning America. It’s America’s largest, most-watched breakfast show. And it got cancelled the night before.
And the producer loved the film. Was really batting for us. Absolutely wanted us on. And then she; legal went over it and basically canned it, because, they didn’t say, but because she said “it came from legal,” my guess was because a lot of the advertisements they run in between there are for drug companies.
So, we’re gonna go on and say, “Hey, food’s better medicine than drugs,” and it’s gonna cut to a break and it’s gonna say, “Take Zoloft.” And that would not be great for advertisers.
So, that’s probably the only thing that was quite subdued. But we have not really got the film onto many mainstream broadcasts. I mean, it’s been on some of; our films have on Jetstar or Singapore Airlines or we’ve also been broadcast into 33 French-speaking countries and we also channel in New Zealand.
But as far as TV and mainstream media, not a whole lot. It’s been very much more of an underground movement.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. And do you have any estimates how much that’s been viewed over the years; how many people that’s reached now?
James Colquhoun: I’ve made a few guesstimates. Certainly over 10 million would be on the lower side. I mean, just looking at the Netflix stats alone, there are 630,000 ratings of the film. And Netflix don’t share view data. So, if 1 in 10 rated a film, for instance, that’s 6.3 million on Netflix alone. And just through our websites and a lot of the community screenings all around the world. And the free screenings events that we run on our site has done a few million views over the last few years through those events. So, yeah, I’d say. . .
Guy Lawrence: Well done. That’s amazing.
So, then you go on and decide to make a second movie.
James Colquhoun: After Food Matters, we wanted to make another one. We saw through my dad’s transformation that one of the biggest things people noticed was how well he looked and how young he looked and how he’d lost so much weight. They never went and asked, “How did you get off the drugs?” It was like it was a taboo question. And it’s like religion and politics; cancer. You can’t talk about these things at the dinner table.
So, family would always go, “Wow, you look great. You’ve lost a lot of weight.” And then had Laurentine and I think more about well, we are really, as a culture, attracted to being healthy, to looking fit, to looking trim. And that’s a big thing that people strive for. And yet, statistics show that we’re getting fatter and fatter, as a society. I mean, obesity, especially in our younger population, teenage kids, is skyrocketing in the U.S. and Australia and most of the Western developed world, for that matter.
And we’re spending more than ever on diets. There’s $80 billion a year spent on diet and diet-related products in the U.S. This is like: sugar-free, fat-free, cleanse programs, fat pills, weight-loss surgery. I mean, it’s a huge industry. And yet, if you look at the statistics, that amount of spending is having zero to no impact on obesity statistics.
So, how, if we’re spending that much money a year, can we be getting bad results? I mean, surely there is some huge flaw in our thinking around this issue. Which is a hugely important issue, because obesity is the number one leading cause of death. And you think, well, hang on; how is that possible? Well, if you do the research, it’s because it’s the largest precursor to most chronic illness. So when you’re obese or overweight, the chances of heart disease or cancer or diabetes skyrocket. So, you become the biggest risk factor for those illnesses, and that’s the biggest gateway to a lot of those problems through obesity.
So, we started looking into it and then saw that, you know, a lot of what is promoted as a way to lose weight was very; did a lot of damage to the body; wasn’t helpful or healthy long-term. And we just wanted to uncover a lot of those issues and then try to set the record straight and say, well, what do we know about the human body, how can we handle these weight and body transformation issues in a healthy way. And then we interviewed a lot of people who had had success in that and were doing it in a good way. And that became Hungry for Change.
Guy Lawrence: Hungry for Change. Awesome.
Stuart Cooke: With those two movies, then, in mind, do you have, like, a standout transformational story?
James Colquhoun: The biggest one by far is Jon Gabriel in Hungry for Change. I mean, that guy. He’s, luckily, now, the godfather to my son. He lives about a 45-minute drive from here. And so I’m super lucky to have him locally, because he’s from the states originally.
But Jon lost over 200 pounds over about a three- or four-year period and was able to keep it off for seven years. And that’s going from morbidly obese. You know, most people don’t even have that much weight. They don’t even weigh that to start with, let alone losing that much weight.
So, Jon is incredible in that he really brought together two disparate elements, I guess, in health and nutrition. One was the mind and one was the body. So, everyone was focusing on this. Like, “Have your lemon detox drink, eat nothing for 30 days, or juice for 30 days straight.” I mean, some of these are good ideas; some of these are crazy ideas. “And then you’ll lose weight.”
But not many other people were going, “Hang on. What’s the emotional component? How can we look at using meditation or visualization to reduce stress in the body. Or, how can we, like elite athletes do, use the power of visualization to visualize the exact outcome you want?
So, athletes would visualize running that hundred-meter sprint or they would even visualize doing that big aerial maneuver. Or they used the power of this visualization to enhance their performance.
And there’s actually a lot of science showing that when you visualize something in a really powerful way, your body is actually twitching its muscles as if it was doing that action as well, whether you’re jumping high to do a slam dunk or something.
So, Jon took that knowledge and put it into body transformation. So, he would create visualization, guided visualization programs, where imagining the body, the perfect body you want, walking along the beach with the body. Being in that body, like creating a vision of you in that body.
And it sounds a bit crazy, but the subconscious mind is so powerful that it’s put to work in so many different ways. It subtly starts to regulate appetite, hunger, secretion of fluids by certain organs in the body. All these processes that are happening because of that visualization.
And he’s living proof of it and he’s helped thousands of people as well go through this process. So, if you’re looking to have extra strength or to lose extra weight, incorporating some sort of visualization to it might sound strange, but’s it’s actually an awesome secret that most people aren’t fully embracing.
And even just from the stress reduction perspective, we’re so on-edge and we’re so over-stimulated with a lot of foods that we eat that having that relaxation element and having really high, dense nutrient foods so your body is actually getting the omega-3s and the essential fatty acids and the proteins and the grains that it needs. That combined is an unbeatable combination. And Jon’s living proof of that.
Stuart Cooke: That’s; it’s such an unbelievable thought that the power of our mind. . . I mean, stress can have more of an impact than bad food.
James Colquhoun: Yep. Yep. Exactly.
Guy Lawrence: We’ve actually got Dr. Joe Dispenza coming up on our podcast next week. And I’m looking forward to delving into that topic, because that’s exactly what he’s about, for sure.
James Colquhoun: Before the next question, on that stress-food relationship, I think what’s really important to just bring up quickly about that is, you’re spot-on. If you’re stressed about what you’re eating, or if you’re like “I can’t eat this” or “I can’t eat that” or “I can only have this much of that,” that stress is actually doing damage to the body as well.
So, you know, Jon’s program and what we advocate in Hungry for Change as well is, like, let go of the stress in our food. Even though you might want to aspire to eat that perfect diet, don’t worry if you slip up and have some gluten every now and then. Or “I had a grain.” You know. Don’t freak out about it. Allow yourself to eat as best as you can when you can, and if you slip up, just make peace with that and acknowledge that there’s an element of biochemical reaction when you eat food, but also there’s the biochemical reaction when you think thoughts. So, really create a relaxed environment around food. Always, hopefully, sit down to eat, spend a few minutes just being still before you start eating. Eat in a relaxed way and your body will produce better results for you.
Guy Lawrence: And slow down, yeah.
Stuart Cooke: That’s helpful. And like you said, thinking and preparing for your body to digest and absorb it. Because you can be in another mindset, texting, watching TV, shouting at the kids, and your body isn’t ready to grab all of the good stuff.
James Colquhoun: They say that, you know, well, we’ve figured out that digestion doesn’t happen in the gut. It starts in the mouth, right? So the chewing and swallowing. But it starts before that. It starts when you see, when you smell the food.
But I think if you look at some of the longest-lived, healthiest people in the world, they sit down for hour, two-hour lunches. They’ve probably got multi-generations around the table. They laugh. They relax. The either some sort of prayer or some sort of gratitude before they eat. You know, all these really traditional people have it dialed, and the more we get back to that simple way, or try to incorporate some of those simple, ancient. . . You know, it’s Stone Age technology that’s gonna help overcome all the problems in the world. It’s just about how do we take that Stone Age technology, these ancient ideas, and bring them into everyday life? And I think those little rituals are super powerful.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome. You mentioned something regarding certain foods you wouldn’t eat. What foods would you go out of your way to avoid at all costs?
James Colquhoun: Foods I would avoid at all costs. I think, wherever possible, and I don’t want to say that I avoid everything at all costs, because sometimes you will eat something at the bar and it’s got hydrogenated vegetable oils. And it’s like, “Oh, shit.” I discovered that afterwards. You go to a health food store and eat something you think’s health food, then it’s got agave syrup in there as a sweetener, which I’m not huge on, even though that was a big fad awhile ago.
So, you know, but I would say that some of the things that I really go out of my way to avoid, wherever possible: vegetable oils. Like, you know, vegetable oils go rancid in the body; cause all sorts of havoc. They’re a new food. They’re a modern food. We were never designed to really process vegetable oils in that way.
Good quality oils are great. Some cold-pressed olive oil, some other cold-pressed oils that are very stable: avocado oil, things like that are OK. Then really good butters; ghee. We need good fats. Cod liver oil. That sort of thing is fantastic. But these highly unstable, easily-turned-rancid vegetable oils, we have to get that out. That’s, for me, that’s an “out.”
Other things that I really try to avoid but never avoid completely are things like grains. You know, I do have some grains in my diet. I go out of my way to properly prepare them, either soaking or fermenting. But, you know, as a general rule I really try to steer clear of a lot of the white, fluffy, floury products. I think they’re usually detrimental to health. Everybody, at some level, has a sensitivity to gluten and grains, and you may be a little bit or you may be a lot. Right up here’s celiac.
So I think that avoiding or reducing them as much as possible is helpful. If you are gonna have them in your diet, try to get really ancient forms of these grains, either einkorn XXor earhorn wheat 0:42:32.000XX or an emmer wheat. And then soak, ferment, do all those sorts of things. And that’s how we always used to do it. Again, Stone Age technology is gonna solve it all.
And try to get the non-hybridized original version of it. I mean, wheat was like eight foot tall. Now it’s like that tall and it’s got crazy amounts of bushels on it. They just come and harvest that shit up. Mix it in. The more gluten the better, because gluten makes it fluffy, because gluten is glue. It’s essentially a glue. That’s why you knead it and it gets all sticky and gluey and stretchy. Gluten is the glue in bread and we’ve become addicted to that fluffy white carbohydrate.
So, if you’re going to have any sorts of grains, get back to the original. That’s what I am about. So, those two. What else would I avoid at all costs?
I think one of the other things I would really focus on is, when I consume animal products, to make sure wherever possible they’re organic, fed their natural diet, which could be grass or other things. And free-roaming and humanely raised.
Because any animal product, whether it’s a good-quality, grass-fed butter, or a meat, or a chicken, or fish, when it’s reared in a natural way it’s fine. But when it’s unnaturally raised or fed hormones or antibiotics or fed only corn, wheat, and soy, then those animals get sick. They also concentrate a lot of the pesticides and the toxins in that food into their body. Because toxins are lipophilic; they’re fat-loving. So toxins always attract to fat. So, if you have adipose tissue or fat tissue if your gut, or cellulite in your thighs, and you squeeze it together; you see all that. That’s fat tissue, and it’s often trapped toxins, and they say water detoxing can get rid of that.
If you’re eating a sick animal that’s been having a lot of foods that have been grown with pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, then it’s concentrating those pesticides in its body. And then you’re eating a concentrated version of that toxicity.
So, any fat products, animal products, a lot have a high percentage of fat, good-quality fats, most of them, if they’ve been eating a good diet. But you also think about nuts and seeds which also have a high percentage of fat. You want to make sure those products, or I want to make sure those products, I, personally, are as organic as possible so that they’re not concentrating any toxins unnecessarily that I’m introducing into my diet.
So, I think those three things are the rules for me.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic. And when you think about the amount of people that actually eat them, mainly. You know, the foods that you go out of your way to avoid as well.
James Colquhoun: Yeah, XXunknown 0:44:57.000XX
Guy Lawrence: Unfortunately, yeah. Go ahead, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, so, I was quite excited just for you to touch on FMTV. Now, this is something that, when I heard about what it was, got super excited. Without giving it away, joined up and spent months watching all this awesome stuff.
So, I wondered if you could just tell us a little bit about what FMTV is.
James Colquhoun: Cool. Cool. Well, since producing Food Matters and Hungry for Change, we just dropped it, a lot of the film industry, the way the we distributed those titles, we didn’t go to the festivals. We didn’t do theatrical distribution. We bypassed a lot of the majors and got to our audience. And that pissed a lot of people off. A lot of the studios and that.
But it’s created a huge surgence in filmmakers that are basically disrupting the system. They’re splitting up their rights, they’re assigning rights differently, they’re maintaining their rights to distribute their film on their website. I think it’s fantastic that that’s happening, because the power’s shifting back to the content producers.
Now, there’s still a big issue in that for each film that’s made, for every Food Matters or Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, or Carb-Loaded, or Hungry for Change, or Fed Up, or Food, Inc., there’s a hundred other films that are awesomely well-produced, made by budding filmmakers that have put together great content, that don’t get picked up by iTunes or Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime or any of these platforms.
And over the years, I would freely consult with a lot of these filmmakers and just give them; I’ll have a call with them for a couple of hours and just tell them everything I learned. Because I want. . . every. . . a rising tide floats all boats, and the more films in this genre that are succeeding, the better it is for everybody, because the message is getting out. It’s about creating that XXWin-A-Thon 0:46:42.000XX environment, I call it.
And so I would consult with all these filmmakers and they’d come back to me a year later and they wouldn’t have fully implemented their process or they wouldn’t have done it right, and they’d be asking me more questions again. And I got a little bit, not frustrated, but I got upset that a lot of these companies were not taking these films on board, or they would get knocked back by distributors.
So, I had a thought about bringing all this content together in one space and essentially creating a Netflix but for health and wellness. So, a home for all this information around nutrition, health, natural medicine, peak performance, transforming your body, meditation, mind-body, life purpose, like some of big questions around: How can we be the best human we can be? Whether you’re a mother, or an elite athlete, the knowledge is really similar.
And then: How can we have recipe videos from some of these experts showing up some of this content? How can we have some cool exercise and yoga and stretching and back strengthening and more power exercises? How can we have all that in one place, and using this new form of media that is taking over the world? I mean, you look at what industry terms SVOD, or Subscription Video On Demand, it’s exploded. I mean, Netflix went from no digital to like over 50 million subscribers in the last eight years, I think.
Stuart Cooke: Is that right?
James Colquhoun: Yeah, so they are absolutely crushing it. And to me that says two things: one is people want to consume content differently. If they want to watch a TV series, they just want to watch it back-to-back and watch all 20 episodes. That’s like, binge TV they’ve basically given rise to.
But another part of that equation is that I think it’s most of the world putting a hand up and saying, “I don’t want ads anymore. I don’t want to watch this b.s. on TV in between the program I’m trying to watch. I don’t want to be sold on a drug. I don’t want to be sold on Coke. I don’t want to be sold on fast food or Carl’s Jr. or In-N-Out burger or McDonald’s. I want to watch what I want to watch, when I want to watch it, and I don’t want to be disrupted.”
And to me, that’s awesome. Because I’ve always hated disruption advertising. And, you know, I think that Netflix, in a way, has helped to pave a new movement of watching the content when you want. So, FMTV was born out of that, which stands for Food Matters Television. And it’s on FMTV.com, and it launched March last year, so it’s been going for just over a year, and we’ve had over a million view of content in the channel. We’ve got subscribers all around the world. And we’re developing for new platforms. We’re in Roku, which is like an Apple TV in American, and that’s in 10 million homes there. And really trying to help filmmakers that aren’t getting great distribution, plus also help people like you and I that are always thirsty for more knowledge and more information but want it in an entertaining way, where it’s fun to sit down and watch something, bring it together, and help get the message to more people and hopefully create more of a groundswell around this important knowledge.
Stuart Cooke: Brilliant.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s awesome. We subscribe, and we love it. And we’d certainly recommend anyone listening to this, check it out. FMTV. It’s a great one-stop shop.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, I was just; I actually loved the mastery, from Food Matters, so you get to delve into more of the individual interviews and learn about that, and just, yeah. It blew me away. That kind of stuff really, really interests me.
James Colquhoun: Yeah, there’s so much great content that you have leave out of a film. And I’ve encouraged a lot of filmmakers that we’ve signed to FMTV to give us their outtakes; to give us the extended interviews. And we get them up there as well, because people watch the film and they get inspired and they go watch the whole interview with, like, XXDr. Ed Lorsoro 0:50:27.000XX and they’ll go watch the whole interview with Gary Tubbs or they’ll go watch the whole interview with whoever. And they’re like, whoa, this is a totally new depth of knowledge that got brushed over in the film, but in that interview they give you information that’s a lot more applicable.
So, yeah, I like that, too, so that’s fun.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s brilliant, James.
We actually ask a couple of questions on the show every week, before we wrap up, and the first one is: What did you eat yesterday?
James Colquhoun: OK. Cool, cool. For breakfast, I had some sautéed greens and I had a cabbage that was sitting in the fridge, almost turning itself into sauerkraut. So, it was getting old so I ripped a few of the sheets off, chopped the core out, chopped it up into chunks, got some Swiss chard, chopped it, lots of fresh herbs from the garden; got mint and basil.
And with the cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, you’ve either got to ferment it or steam or fry it, because the goitrogenic effects of the cruciferous vegetable. So, watch out for; they’re the most powerful vegetables we know, like broccoli, kale, cabbage, Romanesque, these sorts of vegetables, are better and more easily digested when they’re slightly cooked.
So, I took some of those greens, fried them all up in a pan, had some soft-boiled eggs. I love soft-boiled eggs; I know some people don’t like them. They’re one of nature’s perfect foods. And make sure to keep the yolks slightly undercooked where possible, because that’s where, contrary to popular belief about eating only the whites, you know, the yolk is where the nutrition is. I mean, that’s where the really powerful DHA and EPA, the essentially fatty acids that drive all sorts of processes in your body, especially in brain function, they’re in there, and they get damaged by heat, so having them slightly undercooked is a good idea.
I also had some breakfast meats, which I don’t do that often, but it was a Sunday morning. And so I had some organic, free-range bacon in there as well. So, that’s something that’s new for me. I started introducing, like, liver meats and organ meats as well. I didn’t have any of them for breakfast though. I didn’t have any toast or gluten. It was just basically greens.
To me, greens, eggs, and then some sort of protein source, so it could be a quinoa or it could be some sort of meat or something, that’s a really filling, super-hearty breakfast. And if you get that, you’re gonna have less blood sugar issues at 10, 11, 12 o’clock. If you wake up and have jam on toast, it’s basically rocket fuel on rocket fuel. So, your blood sugar goes “bang” and down.
So, that was breakfast. What did I have for lunch? What did I have for lunch? I can’t remember. If it comes to me, I’ll remember it. I had a smoothie in the afternoon and it was one that I don’t have often, but I’d bought some pineapples; were available, so I put a little bit of pineapple in a blender and then I put lots and lots of coconut; the creamed coconut. Not coconut cream in a can, but creamed coconuts. So, it’s like they take the whole coconut, they make it into almost like an almond butter cream. It’s ridiculous. Everybody should be on that. So I put heaps of that in. And then I put some coconut milk in as well. And watch out for all the additives and that sort of stuff. You want to try to find one that doesn’t have any of the guar gums or anything like that in there.
Then some ice, maca powder, whole hemp seeds (which are illegal for human consumption in Australia and New Zealand, so I didn’t say that. This was a facial mask, actually, that I made). So, what else did I put in there? That was about it, actually. So, it was like piña colada, really. Oh, actually, I put tahini in there as well, which is milled up sesame seeds. A little bit of that in there. Whizzed that up and it was absolutely amazing. I mean, I always, like, wing it with my smoothies. I’m not a recipe sort of guy, but that was one of the better ones that I’ve made in awhile.
Stuart Cooke: So, was it one or two shots of vodka in there?
James Colquhoun: There was none.
Then I went around to my dad’s place and got a haircut yesterday afternoon. And I had a beer with him at sunset, which was really nice. It was a hand-crafted, three-ingredient IPA from a U.S. brewery. So, always make sure your beers have three or less ingredients. Ideally just three. You can’t really have less than three ingredients. And that’s a German rule, 1846, der Reinheitsgebot, make sure you always try to have German beers if you’re having any.
And for dinner, I actually had a lamb curry, which I made from scratch. And it was like, we had made the recipe in the office the week before. We were doing some filming. And it was so delicious I wanted to make it at home. So I made that from scratch and we had lamb curry with rice.
And to healthify that sort of dish, what we do is have, like, three or four big, heaping tablespoons of sauerkraut on there. So, you’re getting that fermented food with the cooked food. And then also we made another fermented side, which was yogurt with, like, turmeric in there, which is good for inflammation, and fresh cucumber chopped up. And if you don’t do any organic dairy yogurt, you can always have a coconut yogurt in there as well, so it’s no dairy.
And, to me, I still get to have that beautiful, rich, delicious meal, but then have the sauerkraut or the yogurt; any of those fermented sides. Even mix it. I’m not a mixing guy. I like to piece it together. But that was my day. I still don’t remember what I had for lunch, actually.
Guy Lawrence: Maybe you skipped it because your breakfast was so nourishing.
James Colquhoun: Yeah, it was a big, late breakfast. Maybe it was just the smoothie, actually. Yeah, that was yesterday.
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome, mate.
And the last question is: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
This generally stumps everyone.
James Colquhoun: Yeah. It’s a tough one, because I try to think, well, was it nutrition-based, or is it life based. I mean, you said “best advice.” That’s just wide.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, anything.
James Colquhoun: I think it’s probably from the big man Tony Robbins again, who I admire his work. He XXcollates? Curates? Creates? some of the best personal work 0:56:55.000XX on the planet, and peak performance work on the planet as well.
And, to me, his statement, “take massive action,” is so simple, but it’s super radical. I mean, you think about that all of us have so many ideas in our day-to-day life. I mean, you guys started an awesome company, you’re getting great information out there; that started as an idea.
I mean, all of us have, and I know you guys probably have another 30 or 50 ideas that you’re thinking about right now. And so am I. So, it’s taking those ideas, distilling it down to your top two or three, and then not thinking about it anymore. Just going and doing it. And, to me, a lot of the things where I’ve had success in my life was from taking massive action, whether that’s learning about a new piece of nutritional information or whether that’s learning about something where you want to have an impact or do some philanthropic work or something. It’s about taking massive action.
It might seem like a little bit of a copout, that statement, but to me that’s a really important element of my life. I think if you learn something and you want to do it, just go do it. And have a blatant disregard for the resources that you have on hand at the time. So, I think people then go, “Well, I can’t take action because of this.” And that’s just b.s. Again, act as if that’s not an issue. You know what I mean? Just go for it. And you find the resources, you find the way, you make it happen; possible.
And with just about everything I’ve done in the last seven or eight years, after completing it, if you’d asked me, would you have done that knowing how difficult it is, it’s like, I probably wouldn’t have started.
Guy Lawrence: No way, yeah.
James Colquhoun: And I think that’s true for everybody. And if you think about that, then it makes that statement even more powerful, which is “take massive action.” Because you realize that had you stalled any longer or had you had hindsight, you probably wouldn’t have done it. So, you’ve got to do it.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. It was the same with us. Like, we had nothing when we started. We had no idea what we were doing. But we were passionate and had the intention of getting out there.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. And I remember reading a book by Richard Branson, and that was his driver. It was: Just do it. Get on with it, and do it. Create the problem, and then something will happen. Because there’s an energy there already.
James Colquhoun: Yeah. Yeah. He did it in a massive way. I love his work as well. “Let’s negotiate a lease of an aircraft!” It’s like, what? Are you kidding me?
And that’s the sort of thing. I think even with the TV station, like, “Let’s create a subscription TV service.” It’s like, well, how do you do that? We’ll need a contract to sign content. OK, let’s do that. Then you need a delivery platform. All right. Let’s build that.
It was like, we had no idea. We just built it from scratch. And now we have an awesome team in here that’s acquiring content. We’re speaking to the biggest distribution companies in the world. They’re based in New York, in L.A. We’re speaking with Jamie Oliver’s team and all these people about signing this content, and we’ve basically made this idea up 12 months ago, 18 months ago, and put it on a contract. And I think that; I don’t think anybody would; I mean, that’s how most businesses start. How most ideas start is it’s just something you’ve created a vision in your mind and you went and did it.
And I think that everyone will acknowledge, like you guys are now, and like I am here, is that if you go back 12 months, eight months, you know, we didn’t have a clue. And it’s that learning. Now I know about contracts. Now our team knows about contracts. You learn more about how to do it. That’s the fun.
Stuart Cooke: That’s brilliant, mate.
Guy Lawrence: And so with all that in mind, what’s next for you guys at Food Matters? Is there anything in the pipeline?
James Colquhoun: There’s a few things in the pipeline. You know, one of the things that, a core message; if I could show you into the kitchen, just around here in the office, we’ve got a poster here, it’s our guiding principle, really, which is how can we help share this life-saving message with more people?
So, I think we’re constantly looking, thinking about that, and musing on it, and thinking, well, how can we; what’s the next step for sharing this message? FMTV was a big deal, it took a lot of our focus, and now, you know, we’re focusing on some more things but we have some food products coming out this year. You know, we’ve got a whole food vitamin C powder, which is awesome because vitamin C’s such a critical nutrient and there’s so many awesome plant-based sources of that, and yet there’s very few quick powder drink mixes you can take. We’re one of the only animals that don’t produce our own vitamin C, so it’s important for us to get it from our diet, and that’s great for stress and all sorts of other things. And energy and mood.
So, there’s a few other products we have coming out like a chocolate and a protein and an update greens in new packaging. I’m looking at that calendar here. We’re working to help create a curated selection of the top sort of 30 or 50 products that Laurentine and I and the team here at Food Matters use on a regular basis and making that available in a store environment where people can just pick them up and stock their kitchen up. So, if you’re either coming at this fresh or you’re some sort of gastronomic guru, sort of get a little bit of a distillation of the years of research we’ve been doing. Plus, that’s been; our research has always been based on tapping into experts who have been doing years more research than us. And then saying, here are top sort of 50 products that we have in our house or in our kitchen and sort of helping recommend.
And it’s a tricky line to walk because we’ve been so heavily education-based, now that we have products it’s like, hang on, people are going to think we’re biased. But I’m just going to hold a pure intention and say, look, these are the products that we use. If you’re gonna have these products, then these are the ones we recommend.
It’s sort of like, you know, you’re welcome to buy it and you’re entirely welcome to go into a corner store and buy something different. I don’t really care. It’s more just about putting that out there, so we’re gonna get more of that out there.
And we’re working on a transformational program, like a 28-day challenge. Like Food Matters challenge or like a mind-body or a whole body challenge. We take people for 28 days and hold their hair through, like, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, exercise, movement, meditation, visualization, mind-body work, and sort of put together a 28-day program and help take people through a process and set them up for some healthy habits for life, because it’s a big challenge that people have and it’s something we want to have a deeper impact with the people that we get to reach. So, that’s on the pipeline for now.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Busy boy.
Guy Lawrence: That was fantastic, James. And, look, for anyone listening to this, where would be the best place for them to go to start if they’re not familiar with Food Matters, Hungry for Change, FMTV. Like, on the web?
James Colquhoun: Sure. I think FoodMatters.tv. That’s the hub; that’s the home. Go there. You know, jump on our newsletter list. Check out all the articles and the recipes that we have on the page.
But probably before that I would recommend watching the films. I think the films have this ability to just crack you open. And we all know when we watch a great documentary about a topic we knew nothing about, be it genetically modified organisms or even something completely unrelated, it just completely opens you up. You learn so much in such a short period of time.
So, I actually think if you’re starting here, if you’ve watched some great documentaries, go and watch five or 10 or 15 documentaries. It’s like doing a condensed nutrition and life degree, almost, because you’re getting curated knowledge from great filmmakers. So I’d suggest jumping on FMTV, which is FMTV.com. We have a 10-day trial there as well, a free trial, so you can register as a user and get 10 days free. And you can cancel within those 10 days. So, go in for 10 days to a movie marathon. Watch one a day for 10 days. And then you can absolutely cancel and it doesn’t cost you anything. Or stay in. It’s like $7.95 a month or $79 a year. So, really quite affordable.
And, you know, I guarantee that if you watch 10 or 20 films in there, I will guarantee you’ll have a shift in your perspective on life. And some of the big ones in there right now, I just jotted a few down here, are: E-motion, The Connection, Super Juice Me. Carb-Loaded is a great one about the whole paleo carb question. It’s a fantastic film. Perfect human diet is another one I think your viewers would really enjoy. There’s some great docs in there. Some of the life purpose ones, check on them, like The Shift or even The Connection documentary, the power of the mind-body, watch them and you will not be the same again, I guarantee it. You will be a different person. And that’s an exciting prospect. I mean, nothing’s more powerful than that. I love them.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, well, mate, that’s brilliant. We’ll link to all the show notes anyway, so anyone that comes in can read the transcript, they’ll be able to click through and check everything out. And may their journey begin there if it hasn’t already, which is fantastic.
So, James, we really appreciate you coming on the show today. That was mindblowing. That was awesome. And, yeah, I have no doubt everyone who listens to this is gonna get very inspired very quickly.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. Yeah. There were some huge nuggets of inspiration in there as well. Take-home things. I just love that you can dial in for an hour, listen to a podcast wherever you are, and just empower yourself with this knowledge. Just do it. Start somewhere.
James Colquhoun: Keep up the great work, guy. Great chatting, Guy. Awesome, Stu.
Guy Lawrence: Thanks, James. Speak soon. Bye-bye mate.
Modern diet trends have turned into a booming, thriving business. It is estimated that close to 45 million Americans find a new diet plan for weight loss each year. Yet, more than 68 percent are overweight or obese. Though the diet trends seem to be expanding, it seems that occurrences of heart disease, cancer and a myriad of other ailments are rising as well. Why don’t these trends seem to work?
New Weight Loss Resolutions, Few Solutions
Almost every day, a business will emerge with a new weight loss plan that claims to hold the solution to society’s weight and health problems. Based on today’s modern food pyramid, a new twist will be given to an already existing trend. Eating less and exercising more just doesn’t seem to solve the gist of the problem. Why do these diets have such short life spans?
Will Eating Poor Food Choices on a Smaller Plate Really Solve the Problem?
Even the so-called health food that we pick up today is filled with trash like processed sugar, colouring and chemicals. Eating junk food in smaller quantities can’t solve the problem because your body’s ‘engine’ will still be running on junk. The trick to living healthy is not about the quantity of food that you’re eating, but the quality. The idea is to steer clear away from the trash that lines the shelves of the grocery store. The ultimate goal is to change the attitude towards healthy living and eating.
Healthy Eating is a Way of Life
This is where 180 Nutrition comes in. Founded by fitness trainers and health food specialists, we believe that healthy eating starts with a fresh new perspective on health. We offer natural super-foods that will set you on to the path to weight loss and healthy living. Our nutritious meal packages are 100 percent pure. They don’t contain processed sugars and grains or chemicals. They are filled with protein and packed with satisfying, wholesome goodness in every bite.
We have more than 20,000 happy customers that are passionate about following the path towards living in good health. We have also made freely available instant access to resources about healthy eating, dozens of healthy recipes and food ideas and health tips and podcasts from leading nutrition revolutionaries around the world.
So we’d love for you to stick around, become part of our ever growing community and use our resources, as you can discover for yourself why your existing diet plan for weight loss may need a new approach.
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: With all the years I’ve been working in the health and wellness space, there’s been one thing that has stood out over time. Yes, I believe one of the corner stones of great health is the integrity of the your gut. Not the most glamorous answer I know, but one you seriously don’t want to overlook. Some estimates say that bacteria in our gut outnumber our own human cells 10:1 in our body!
Whether you want to lose weight, recover faster from exercise, increase energy, elevate mood etc, then gut health is worth delving into and applying these simple strategies below.
Welcome to the world of ‘microbiome’. Over to Lynda…
Lynda: What is the gut “microbiome” you ask? Put simply its the trillions of microscopic bacteria that live within your gastrointestinal tract.
Why is it so important to nourish and have a wide variety of gut microbiome? There are many reasons. I have touched on some of these below:
A healthy, diverse microbiome protects you from harmful bacteria, fungus and viruses.
90% of our the body’s serotonin is made in the gut. Serotonin is affected by the health of your microbiome and is responsible for a healthy mood, sense of calm, optimism, sleep and appetite.
Gut bacteria produce and respond to other chemicals that the brain uses which regulate sleep, stress and relaxation such as melatonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, acetylcholine and GABA.
They produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA’s) which promote weight loss, ward off inflammation, protect against colon cancer and are crucial for overall good intestinal health.
They improve the strength and health of your intestinal walls, prevent leaky gut and reduce inflammation by maintaining the tight junctions between the cells in the lining of these walls.
A balanced gut microbiome helps avoid unhealthy weight gain.
Helps to break down toxins and improve the absorption of nutrients from the food you eat.
Helps prevent or reduce nasty symptoms of autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus.
The following are my top 5 gut loving foods. Those that can be easily added to your daily diet…
Don’t be put off by the fancy word. Simply put, polyphenols are compounds found mostly in colourful fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, red wine, green and black tea. Polyphenols ensure that the balance of your gut microbiome is maintained. They reduce inflammation and improve overall metabolism, especially of sugar (glucose) and fats (lipids). This enhances the quality of your health and prevents disease.
Polyphenols contain antibiotic properties and each polyphenol acts as its own prebiotic, promoting growth of healthy gut bacteria. When the cell of a bacteria breaks down it releases a toxin. Polyphenols communicate with your microbiome, reducing the growth of these toxin containing bacteria.
You can find polyphenols in the following foods and beverages:
Nuts and seeds: almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, flaxseeds
Beverages: cocoa, green, black, white tea, red wine
Olive oil and olives
Prebiotics are generally the non digestible, plant fibers found in food. They are the foods that feed and nourish the friendly bacteria already present in your gut.
Inulin is the main prebiotic compound found in foods such as asparagus, onions, garlic, and artichokes. Other forms of prebiotics are fructo-oligosaccharides, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS) and arabinogalactans.
Inulin and GOS have much positive research behind it and are shown to prevent bacterial imbalances in the gut, leaky gut, obesity and its complications.
Foods rich in prebiotic fiber are asparagus, leeks, onions, radishes, tomatoes, garlic, artichoke, carrots, kiwi fruit.
Resistant starch is a form of natural prebiotic that is digested by our good bacteria many hours after eating. As the name states this form of starch is resistant to digestion in the stomach and small intestine. It instead reaches the large intestine intact and goes on to feed our good bacteria. RS contain mostly unusable calories and create little or no insulin or blood glucose spikes.
Good RS sources are boiled potatoes and brown rice, that have been cooled down, cannellini beans, black beans that have been cooled down, green (unripe) bananas and plantains. I like to add 1 tsp of organic green banana flour (I use the brand Absolute Organic which is easy to find) to my smoothies or I recommend that people have 2 tbsp of an RS source for lunch or dinner to cultivate a healthy, well balanced microbiome.
3. Probiotic rich foods
Probiotics are the living bacteria that restore and renew our microbiome. They reduce inflammation in the intestines, improve the quality of the gut and reduce absorption of toxins.
Poor bacterial balance in your gut microbiome can lead to inflammation and can affect your body composition and metabolism in various ways. Any imbalance weakens your gut barrier and leads to an increase in inflammation. Weight control and blood sugar regulation is dependent on a good balance of gut microflora.
Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchee, fermented vegetables, yoghurt and kefir are natural probiotics. They contain their own living cultures of bacteria, which nourish the healthy bacteria in your microbiome.
4. Healthy fats
Your cell walls are made up of fat so in order to do their jobs they need healthy fats such as nuts, nut butters (almond, cashew, macadamia), seeds, seed butters, avocado, oily fish, flaxseeds and olive oil.
Having healthy cells ensures that you are the best version of your inherited genes because whatever enters your cells affects your DNA. Unhealthy fats such as vegetable oils feed the harmful bacteria, the microbes that ignite inflammation, encourage your body to store fat and produce toxins.
Omega 3s, particularly from oily fish reduce gut inflammation and repair the mucosal cells of the digestive system. Gut mucosal cells are damaged easily because they regenerate very quickly- within a 24 hour cycle. They need a constant flow of good nutrition to support their rapid turnover and prevent damage.
5. Apple cider vinegar
Your microbiome and stomach acid stimulate your small intestine to produce the enzymes needed to break down nutrients from the food you eat. If you have an unbalanced or unhealthy microbiome or low stomach acid this important signal is not given and digestion is compromised. You will absorb less fabulous nutrients from your food and if leaky gut is present, undigested food may pass through the intestinal wall causing inflammation.
A simple way to improve your stomach acid is to use Apple Cider Vinegar. I dilute 1 tbsp of this household favourite, in water before most meals and use it as my staple vinegar whenever vinegar is called for in a recipe. Salads, slow cooking, sauces.
In a Nutshell
There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that poor food choices such as too many processed carbohydrates and unhealthy fats cause disruption in your gut microbiome. So opt for fibrous foods rich in colour, packed full of the ammunition your gut flora needs to ensure you flourish.
A simple option if you are low on time or stuck for choices would be to replace a poor meal choice, like toast & cereal etc with a high fibre 180 Natural Protein Smoothie. Simply mix it with water, a little avocado for extra healthy fats and some low GI fruit like berries which are also rich in antioxidants.
Your gut has the power, it just needs the right environment and your help. Feed it well, save yourself a motza of money by avoiding illness and medications and use your hard earned cash on a holiday instead :)
If you want to delve into t your gut health further, you can start by having it assessed with these tests here.
Lynda is a fully qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist with over 13 years of experience in the health industry.
Lynda specialises in detoxification and weight loss. She has extensive experience in running healthy, effective and sustainable weight loss programs and has expertise in investigating and treating the underlying causes of weight gain and metabolic problems.
If you would like to book a consultation with Lynda, CLICK HERE
The video above is 03:07 long. Use your time wisely ;)
Unless you’ve had your head under a rock recently, you probably know that Saturated Fat has been getting a lot of good press.
If you want to learn why eating saturated fat is good for you, the best foods for exercise and why The Heart Foundation is not the way forward, then this episode is for you.
Full Interview: Fat, Calories, Exercise & The Heart Foundation
This is the full interview with Professor Grant Schofield. Professor of Public Health (Auckland University of Technology) and director of the university’s Human Potential Centre (HPC) located at the Millennium Campus in Auckland, New Zealand.
In this episode we talk about:-
Clearing up the confusion regarding saturated fat [003:05]
The South Pacific Islands study. Why one got sick & one remained healthy[006:25]
Why the Australian Heart Foundation have got it wrong [010:30]
What fats should we be really eat [016:17]
What we should really be eating for sport & exercise [023:10]
Did you enjoy the interview with Professor Grant Schofield? Do you eat saturated fat? Do you exercise with a fat adapted diet? Would love to hear your thoughts in the Facebook comments section below… Guy
Grant Schofield Transcripit
Welcome to the 180 Nutrition Health Sessions podcast. In each episode, we cut to the chase as we hang out with real people with real results.
Stuart Cooke: You’re not missing much, mate.
Grant Schofield: It’s kind of like a football with a bum underneath.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. That describes my face quite well. OK.
Guy Lawrence: All right. Let’s start. I’m Guy Lawrence. I’m with Stuart Cooke, of course. And out special guest today is no other than Grant Schofield. Grant thanks for joining us, mate. We really appreciate it.
Grant Schofield: Likewise.
Guy Lawrence: I don’t know if you knew, but you’re actually our first New Zealander to come on the podcast show as well.
Grant Schofield: I’m honored.
Guy Lawrence: It’s a good thing. It’s a good thing.
Grant Schofield: You should be saying “kia ora,” Guy. Kia ora.
Guy Lawrence: I was looking at your blog just now, Grant, and on the About You section as well, and I figured there was a lot for me to remember there, so I thought the best person to explain a little bit about yourself would be you. If you could just tell the audience a little bit about yourself and why we’re excited to have you on the show.
Grant Schofield: Well, I find myself, now, talking about nutrition, but I never had any intention of getting into the field of nutrition, or, as a matter of fact, to keep your eye on what foods. But I originally trained, actually, as a psychologist. I’m pretty much XXleaguedXX well with psychologists, and that’s sort of a compilation of marginal intelligence and XXunknownXX that will generate XXunknownXX I read two-thirds of the XXunknownXX combination.
But I ended up in public health in the end, around obesity and especially exercise, and a lot of my recent work I’ve based it around; I’ve really spent my whole career around the conventional wisdom of it’s energy-in, energy-out. And if I can just get these moving more, it would be great.
Now, exercise and moving is good for people. But, as a solution to weight, it fundamentally misunderstands the metabolics of it all. And so, more recently, I think I’ve made some mistakes. I’m quoting Albert Einstein, if I understand this early Albert Einstein quote, which was: “Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.” And I think in obesity, research and chronic disease research especially, the nutrition side, we are kind of simplified to the point of doing half. And we need to rethink that.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fair enough. And it’s amazing, because, like, especially with saturated fat is now the hot topic in the news at the moment. The ABC Catalyst have just screened two shows about it, along with statin as well, and obviously there’s a lot of people out there that are a bit confused, a bit miffed, as well, with the whole message and what to do.
I mean, is that something you’ve always believed, like saturated fat isn’t healthful, or is that something you’ve been led…
Grant Schofield: Well, no, I looked at it in my early days as a professional triathlete, I would say I wasn’t an especially good professional triathlete. I went into being a professor and ended up better.
But part of what, for me, made me as fast as I could was I could never understand why I was; I was about 87 kilos, which for the professional athlete is hopeless. And I was training up to 30 hours a week and I just couldn’t keep my weight down. I was eating exactly; I had a dietician, I was eating exactly what I was told to, a sort of high-carbohydrate, mainly heart-healthy diet. Keep away from the fat, especially the saturated fat. I was telling people that myself.
And, I’d start to go, and I think most people in the nutrition that exists outside of the ivory towers now understands that it’s true, and there seems to be a parallel universe going on in nutrition where the public and most of the people in practice have figured it out, and the powers that be are in some sort of denial about what’s going on. So, saturated fat, I think, completely vilified.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough. Because the one thing I want to especially raise as well, because, you know, with yourself being a professor and your background of knowledge as well, it must be hard for even just the average person to think any differently, because that’s what we’ve been taught our whole lives, you know.
And the message out there is so confusing at the moment. And, you know, it’s the same for myself. Until I lived and breathed it and actually started investigating deeper and deeper, then you don’t; you know, what would be your message to someone that is sitting on the fence about this.
Grant Schofield: That you just, I think if you’re sitting on the fence and you’re trying to decide about this same thing, there’s plenty of resources out there and this “n equals 1.” We hear a lot about this n equals 1. It’s self-experimentation. But that’s exactly how I got into this. That’s how I’ve managed to coax everyone I know into this way of doing things is just try it for a few weeks and see what happens. And if it doesn’t turn out, well, that’s short-term. You’re not gonna keel over. You can re-evaluate after that and when people do that, of course they see that the science was wrong. It had to be. Because you do the opposite of what everyone recommends and the exact opposite of what they said happens happens, so it’s sort of “Opposite Day,” really.
Guy Lawrence: It’s still; it’s incredible that it’s come to this. Like, it blows me away.
Stuart Cooke: It is crazy. I had also read a little bit about a study in the South Pacific as well. I was reading about that. I wondered if you could elaborate on that for us?
Grant Schofield: That’s just, we’d been doing this diabetes prevention work in the South Pacific islands and, you know, there’s a lot of South Pacific island countries, and there’s quite a lot of them. And if you wanted to; the Pacific, the South Pacific islands have probably suffered some of the worst obesity and chronic disease of anywhere around the world, but it’s not uniform across those islands. And I think it’s interesting.
You go to the best of them, which would be something like Southern Vanuatu, and these are islands; I mean, what actually happened in the end is an air force pilot called John Frum from the States turned up in World War II and started one of these cargo cults around the islands, sort of the beginning of a religion, and it’s interesting. They noticed that he did no actual work or anything that was XXunknownXX. He marched around and raised American flags and eventually got upon a funny box and stuff arrived and, “Hey, that sounds good.”
But he had one religious message which I think actually pans out to be a good one, which was something like: “Look, white guys are gonna turn up here. Don’t trust them.” And so what you’ve seen in these islands is really XXall-outXX development. So, there’s still a traditional subsistence living, and, really, a complete absence of chronic disease. So, there’s big, strong, healthy men and women and vibrant kids.
And the thing is, you look at the food supply and, you know, it’s eating whole plants and animals, but it’s very high in saturated fat from the coconut products. So, it’s probably about 60 percent of calories by saturated fat, with no chronic disease.
If you go to the other end, the worst of the Pacific are these countries like XXKiribatiXX and Tuvalu, which are all quite small coral atolls that; XXKiribatiXX, the main island is Tarawa, it’s only a metre by sea level, except for the large piles of rubbish which sort of go beyond that. And irregardless of this, the kids are all malnourished. And so, on a calories-in, calories-out, we think Mum and Dad must be eating all the food. Which isn’t the case. The kids aren’t getting the fat and protein. They’re malnourished. The adults are metabolically disregulated and diabetic.
We tested the; I was just showing the diabetes team how to test for fasting blood glucose, and 10 out of 10 had a fasting blood glucose above 10 millimoles, which is; five is acceptable. That’s the prevention team is completely uncontrolled diabetes, and it’s running about 70 percent in the population.
And you try and, you walk around there with your XXmanual guideXX, “Look, if you could just move a bit more,” that’s not relevant. “And just eat a bit less and cut down your saturated fat,” you know. It’s so ridiculous that you wouldn’t even; it would come out of your mouth when you see the food supply, which is instant noodles, rice, sugar, and flour.
So, it becomes very obvious that there’s a metabolic problem with these simple carbohydrates. We’ve done XXit with thisXX, so.
Guy Lawrence: That’s amazing. And that’s what the Heart Foundation, they’ve got the tick of approval on half the products that you just mentioned.
Grant Schofield: That’s right. It really becomes obvious at that point that, at least in that situation, that’s not the problem. Fat’s not the problem, at least.
Stuart Cooke: It’s interesting. I’m just going to mix a few of these questions around a little bit, Guy.
Guy Lawrence: Knock yourself out, man.
Stuart Cooke: So, over here, you know, obviously, the Australian Heart Foundation recommends a low fat, high-carb diet. And how similar is it over in NZed?
Grant Schofield: Yeah, well, I just think it’s; what actually happened this week was sort of a perfect storm, really, of the British Medical Journal paper on saturated fat, the ABC shoes in Australia attracting a lot of attention in New Zealand, and we had a two-page feature article on low-carb, high-fat in the national newspaper, all within two days of each other. So it was a perfect storm as far as I was concerned.
It did a few things. First of all, it attracted a media release from some of the big, old professors of nutrition here undersigned by the head of virtually every health agency in the country about the dangers that this posed, and, sort of, meant to calm the masses.
It was all sort of ridiculous. But also, the Heart Foundation was about to release its new food XXpictures that weekXX, so they’ve put a hold on that until the masses control themselves.
But I think I have moved to more of a Mediterranean-style diet. I started to move away from the whole grains. And I think sometimes the reasons you go to the heart foundations and diabetes and feel like you’re not moving, there’s a lot of forces there that push them around. There’s food and food companies. There’s government. There’s scientists from all walks.
They are moving. They haven’t got to the saturated fat thing. So, you know, I think rather than turning into a fight, you know, when you become enemies it’s hard to have a productive and fruitful conversation.
So, we’re trying. … So, I’m happy now. Just keep moving.
Guy Lawrence: Hey, I hear the Swedish government recently turned their laws around with saturated fat. Have you heard anything about that?
Grant Schofield: Yeah, well, that’s; they did quite a big review because there’s; Sweden is relatively progressive. They’ve also had a longer history of that complaint around the delivery of low-carb, high-fat medicine, which was upheld, thankfully. So, I think they have probably moved ahead.
Look, I think the evidence says that eating a diet that’s low of dietary carbohydrates and higher in fat, as long it’s not all processed food, it’s likely to be highly healthy. XXThere’s random controls. It’s fine on all of them; carrying the metabolic ??? went wellXX.
People then seemed to object to the idea that there’s not long-term health data when we’ve had people on these diets for 50 years. It’s true we haven’t done those studies, but, equally, there’s; we are talking about the sort of foods that humans have eaten for 99 percent of the time they’ve been on the planet.
And, you know, humans, contrary to popular belief, didn’t die at age 30. The XXnormal age of death was probably somewhere near the 70sXX. So, on the basis of pure scientific common sense, I’ve begun with this approach to start with.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, you only have to look at the overweight statistics, you know, here in Australia, and the same with chronic disease as well. It’s not getting better.
Stuart Cooke: Something’s going wrong.
Grant Schofield: I guess the other approach, way of approaching it, is to go, well, in public health we talk about these health inequalities, that different things affect people differentially, and we get really concerned about that. But we don’t make the healthy get healthier and the sick get sicker. And why take on that as well, you know, a high-carbohydrate, low-fat, whole-food diet can work for some people. There’s evidence of that. But I think it works for the most insulin-sensitive of us, the people least prone to chronic disease.
And, for the people who are least insulin-sensitive, most easily metabolically disregulated. And they tend to also be our poorest in this country XX??? PacificXX people. It may do harm. And that’s another thing to consider.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely. Do you think the Heart Foundation will ever change their minds about this? You know, will they accept it or…
Grant Schofield: You know, and I think people come in and say, “Hey, you were right. Let’s change their minds.” I think they move more slowly than that. I think; people can ask me about government guidelines and Heart Foundation guidelines. Look, if this changed overnight, would it change the world? I don’t think it would. I think what will change the world is the fact that the world has changed electronically, that things like this, these podcast and the intelligent blogger and the open access of science, I think that the people will change this through pure experimentation and common sense.
I already see that the movement for low-carbohydrate and healthy, whole-food eating will come from the people, not from the government or the Heart Foundation. So, that will take time as well. But the world’s different.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah. That’s a good point. I’d like to clear up a bit of confusion as well around the topic of fats, because with this message getting out there, I know some people who think they’ll be able to look at potato chips and go, “Oh, there’s fat content in it; it’s quite high,” then it’s gonna be OK to eat that? You know?
And I see this, you know, and I’m, like, “Jesus.”
Grant Schofield: It has consequences.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah. So, I’d love if you could just sort of, you know, what fats should people be eating, what fats should people be avoiding, how can they simplify it?
Grant Schofield: Well, I think there’s two levels of that. The first is that you’ve made a good point: that you eat a diet low in fat, or high in fat and low in dietary carbohydrates, that’s fine, and I think as long as the fats are fats that have come from foods that have existed naturally on the planet: animal saturated fats, those in plants, avocados, nuts, seeds, those sorts of things.
As soon as you start to muck with them and turn them into these industry seed-type oils, these Omega-6 and transfats, then I’d just be avoiding those altogether. In our house, we have butter, we have coconut oil, and we have olive oil. That’s what we have as added fats. And then it’s the XXcuringXX of some sort of plant or animal. That’s what I’d go with.
I guess the second point that you’ve made, which is probably more important, is if you combine fat with processed carbohydrates, then you’re on the standard industrial food diet and, as we, know, that’s got a really nasty ending.
And so they have been including high-protein, high this, high that, but I really think you can classify diets into three categories in terms of macronutrients. A low-fat diet, which, by definition will be high-carbohydrate, even if you over-consume protein, that will be turned into glucose anyway through the liver. At the other end, you’ve got a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. And in the middle you’ve got the standard industrial diet, which is high in both. So, that’s the choice. So, I think we should be going for the one lowest in carbohydrates.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. It’s interesting. I guess I hope that when people realize that they need to make the shift to a diet higher in fats, then they don’t presume that all of the bottles of sunflower oils on the shelves with the Healthy Heart Foundation tick is the go-to fat. Because they’ve got beautiful pictures of, you know, smiling people and healthy hearts on there.
Grant Schofield: Yeah, I mean, it’s sort of; forget the glycemic index, the GI factor, and go for the HI, the Human Interference factor. If you can tell it was alive very recently, eat it.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, no, it’s a good point. Do you think this dietary approach is recommended for everybody, or perhaps more specific to those seeking weight loss?
Grant Schofield: Ah, well, I mean, it can be effective for weight loss, but I think, you know, weight loss is usually a symptom of metabolic dysfunction. If you’re insulin-resistant, if you’re lethargic, if you’re low on energy, getting afternoon crashes, I think this is a fantastic way to go.
I mean, frankly, I don’t have a weight problem but one of the main reasons I keep on a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet is the cumulative and energy benefits, and I think anyone who does this sort of thing will attest to that. You’re not falling off a glucose cliff every three hours, so you’ve just got this constant energy, you can miss meals, you can have a flexibility in choosing your eating, and all of sudden you can deal with this much better.
XXI hear all that stuff about ????; it’s just not ???XX Metabolics drive behind it.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, it’s huge. Because once you’re metabolically changing, you’re fat-adapted. Because I eat a high-fat diet. If I eat carbs, it knocks me out. It’s as simple as that. I don’t feel great. I mean, I have some, but I’ve very conscious of what ones I eat, but my appetite is; my energy, mood, appetite is just fantastic.
And the other thing that I notice as well is that I don’t crave the other foods, the sweet stuff and everything else, you know, Once I adapted to this way of eating, I kind of look through them foods, you know? And it’s almost like I want people to just eat like this for a couple of weeks just to understand that feeling, you know? Because some people, if they’ve been on sugar all their lives, they’re not even gonna know what it feels like.
Grant Schofield: Well, I’d like to get the academics who criticize us or the practitioners who criticize us, just to try this as an approach. For goodness sake, just try things and example the physiology on yourself. Like, it’s not; it’s like being in the personal training business and telling people how to do pushups. Or, say, “Go do pushups,” and you’ve never done one. I mean, it would be laughable. You’d be laughed at XXat the gym? Like a chump?XX
Stuart Cooke: Guy mentioned fat-adapted. How far do we need to go to actually reap the benefits of a high-fat diet? Do we need to go as far as ketosis?
Grant Schofield: You know, that’s something I think we still need to do more research on. I don’t know the answer to that. I’ve experimented with myself and others that are getting into their fat-adapted state by doing it on a gradual basis and just gradually reducing their carbohydrates. The trouble with that method is, you can end up in a bit of a gray zone of actually not fully adapting. And your brain’s still dependent mostly on glucose, but you haven’t got it quite good enough, and it can be a nasty little state to be in. But I, my personal opinion, there’s not much science on this, is that if you’re going to get fat-adapted, get very strict and drop your carbohydrates right down to the ketosis, 50 grams a day, top level, for a few weeks, get fully fat-adapted, and just see how you feel while introducing carbs again after that.
My view is that you really need to force that real XXfrustation?XX of substrate, especially ketones and b-hydroxybutyrate, to run the brain and other organs, modern humans don’t do that. So that can be difficult. But that’s my view. I don’t know what you guys’ view on it is.
Stuart Cooke: Well, I guess it’s a tricky one. And everybody, you know, we’re all built in a very different way, you know, metabolically as well. Some people are more attuned to just straight into ketosis, whereas others, you know, can take much longer.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Like, I’m 25 kilos heavier than Stu, right? And he eats twice as much food as me, easily. And, you know, his metabolism doesn’t turn off at all, ever. It’s incredible.
Stuart Cooke: Actually, I’ve got to eat now, Guy.
Yeah, no, it’s good.
I just thought we’d move into exercise now. And I know Guy’s got a question for you about…
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I’m keen on this because, again, with exercise, you know, I think a lot of people can get confused with what they should be eating, especially around intensive exercise and endurance exercise. And I know you yourself have worked with a triathlete and an Iron Man. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the science, a little bit, behind all that.
Grant Schofield: Yeah, I think it’s very interesting. I mean, I’ve of course spent an entire career telling my people to supplement with carbohydrates and use those as they exercise all the time. We’ve done some work on a group of triathletes, mainly, actually.
I’ll just give you a case study as a nice example of the one elite Iron Man competitor that we’ve worked with. So, he was, first of all, he was 85 or so kilos. He was a bit shorter than me. And that was a limiting factor in his Iron Man performance. So, we put him on a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet for 12 weeks leading into Iron Man New Zealand last year.
First of all, he ripped down to 78 with no problems, 78 kilos, and was in the best shape of his life. But I think much more interestingly was how his fuel utilization changed across some different power outputs.
So, we were, probably, the easiest way to describe the way we measured his performance using breath-by-breath gas analysis, is we were calling this the metabolic efficiency point. What power could you produce when you were using 50 per cent of your fuel as carbs and 50 per cent of the fuel as fat, you know, just from your body. And we think that mix is about what you need to complete an Iron Man triathlon at the best possible speed. And you can go slower for an Iron Man and use more fat, or you can go faster but you won’t get there because you haven’t got enough carbohydrate on board or you XXunknownXX. So, about 50’s probably about right.
So, when we brought him into the 12-week phase, he was already pretty fit and he was a high-ish carbohydrate diet. He was at 50 per cent fat, 50 per cent carbohydrate utilization. He could push 130 watts, which will get you on the Iron Man very, very slowly. And, after 12 weeks, he switched that metabolic efficiency point to 330 watts, which will get you around, in this case, first place in the age group race that he was in.
Guy Lawrence: That’s over double.
Grant Schofield: What’s that?
Guy Lawrence: That’s over double.
Grant Schofield: More than double. Triple.
Guy Lawrence: Almost triple, yeah.
Grant Schofield: So, his maximal output hasn’t changed, but the point where he could, which he could sustain for a long time, using a lot of fat, had massively increased. So, that sort of change in fuel utilization is massive.
Now, unfortunately, what happened in that race, because everybody goes, “How did he do in the end?” well, he was first off the bike. He didn’t actually complete the race, not because he ran out of fuel, but he hit a XXnoise interferenceXX I’d been telling him XXnoise interferenceXX phase. I’m telling him, look, as you’re ditching the carbs, you must et more salt, especially if you’re feeling lightheaded, your kidney will be XXdealing sodium or potassiumXX. And what he needed was a couple of teaspoons a day.
And I hadn’t realized this, but in the month leading up to the race, I mean, he’s getting cramps every time he didn’t a flip-turn on the XXpoleXX. So, he really had a sodium problem that we never got on top of. He subsequently got on top of it and is doing very well.
But, you know, that’s just, I think, a good example. He got his weight down. Didn’t restrict his food intake. Trained and felt good. Felt he recovered better in the sense that he’s producing much less glycolysis, XXto offset the burdenXX carbs does to your body. And was a happy camper, really.
Stuart Cooke: What would he be eating during the event?
Grant Schofield: Well, that’s XXanother thingXX. We don’t give him “no carbs” during the event. These XXcreteXX cycle that burns carbohydrates reasonably fast, so we probably have the amount of carbohydrate. He had a gel an hour. He probably was doing two or three when he was carb-dependent, which acted XXas a kickstop, quite a lot of salty cashewsXX. And, yeah, that was better. So, you know…
And, you know, bacon and eggs for breakfast. Didn’t do anything else.
Guy Lawrence: And he wouldn’t have been carb-loading before the race.
Grant Schofield: No, no, no.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
Stuart Cooke: So, what about the weekend warriors out there?
Grant Schofield: XXIt’s man-hours as well andXX I think a lot about that and do quite a lot of reading and thinking and research in that area. And I really think that you need to consider the difference between high performance and the health costs of that, and why you’re doing the event. So, my view is if you stop to think about easy movement and training that was mostly fueled by fat-burning, and then a middle zone that’s mostly fueled by; that’s hard-ish training that’s mostly fueled by carbohydrate, and then a very, very hard zone, which you could maintain sort of a XXminuteXX of, then I’ve really spend most of my time in that middle cardio zone. And I really agree with the Mark Sisson approach, which is it’s a chronic cardio type thing.
But the science is really, like, you’ve been in glycogen. You’re glycating tissues and creating glycating end products, you’re creating oxygen stress, XXunknownXX oxygen spaces. That has an immune cost and an inflammatory cost and an XXunknown systemsXX cost. And I don’t think that’s worth it. I don’t think you need to do that. The trouble with XXexcluding all that stuff inXX training, it’s actually quite good for your overall speed. So, you don’t get those threshold-type workouts. So, I would spend most of my time in an easier training zone burning fat. You get 99 per cent of the aerobic benefits, and the final 1 per cent you need to be really fast without any of the oxygen stress. And then I’ve spent a little bit of time with this very hard, sort of, sprinting. And, for me, I might do, say, 10 times one minute on the track running, one-minute rest. The rest of it 20-minute workouts.
Guy Lawrence: So, if you were a test subject who was not influenced by any beliefs or anything, and he said he wanted the ultimate optimum health exercise program. So, you know, I’m assuming most people exercise to feel good in their health, right? And then you’ve got the high-end athletes, of course, that are wanting achievement. What would the typical week look like? What would you include?
Grant Schofield: Well, I think it should be a mix of easy and hard exercise, but I also think that the demands of that exercise should change quite a lot. And that sort of falls under the theory of hormesis, which means that we should suffer stress and then that the stress should be mild enough that we can adapt to it, but not too mild. And I think when you start to just do something like one sport, like running and swimming or cycling or, you know, you don’t; then you get into a stage where you’re not providing stress to a whole lot of the body but providing too much stress to another part. So, you know, that’s the opposite; that promotes fragility and not resilience.
So, you know, my week now is I’ll start, return from work, I would; I’d walk the dog, I might run the dog, I might sprint the dog. He always beats me but it’s always fun.
Stuart Cooke: Just change your food. Change his food. It will be fine.
Grant Schofield: Yeah, exactly. I might run up some steps. I might go to the gym. You know? I’ll never be there more than 20 minutes and then my whole body sort of exercises. I might do that on a tree down at the beach. Whatever. XXI’m a terrible thinkerXX. But I’ll even, I’ve sort of copied one of those Australian guys. I’ve been watching this sort of XXzooXX stuff where, you know, it’s a very short exercise. Are you familiar with that?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, good natural movement; that kind of stuff.
Grant Schofield: Yeah. I mean, we’ll be on the XX??XX, transition into a sprinting back-and-forth and people are sort of looking at you like you’re crazy, but who cares?
Stuart Cooke: Now, that’s right. What are your thoughts on CrossFit? How does that fall into the lifestyle?
Grant Schofield: I’ve done CrossFit. I quite like it. I don’t think it’s particularly safe, at least the ones I’ve been to. I mean, you tend to go so hard that it’s very hard to keep a form that isn’t gonna do some damage. Or at least that’s what I’ve found, because I’m like, “I’m gonna beat that guy.” And if you’re a little less competitive maybe. It doesn’t really work for me, at least.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. I think it all comes down to the trainers in the actual gym themselves, if they’re onto it, it’s a pretty safe place to be. But if they’re not, then, yeah, absolutely.
Grant Schofield: XXI’ve only been to one spot.XX
Guy Lawrence: OK. I’d love to touch on as well, calorie counting. Because you mentioned it earlier. Especially with exercise as well, and weight loss. Everyone seems obsessed with counting calories. What are your thoughts on that? I’d love to hear a professor’s thoughts on counting calories.
Grant Schofield: Well, I mean, at one level, you can’t defeat the law of thermodynamics, that if more energy goes in than out, or vice-versa, then something will happen to that system.
But the behavioural aspects of that are hormonally regulated, and the partitioning of those calories are hormonally regulated. So, really, it becomes stupid to be thinking about the calories.
My view is sort of three-fold. One is that under metabolically well-regulated conditions, humans will self-regulate both energy in and energy out. When they become metabolically disregulated, through any of the mechanisms that make you insulin-resistant, be it high sugar, high trans Omega-6 fats, a lack of sleep, too much stress, too much exercise, too little of exercise, smoking, XXpollution?XX, whatever it is, then all bets are off. You won’t behaviourally control your nutritional calories.
Stuart Cooke: I heard a great analogy of the kitchen sink, when the, you know, the tubes and the pipes are clean, you can fill up; you just keep the tap running and it will just flow. But the moment the pipes become blocked, that’s when you start to get issues.
Grant Schofield: Yeah, that’s what Jonathan Baylor and those guys are saying, XXeating stuff differentlyXX, and I really like that. I think it’s dead right.
And the compelling thing is also this study last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Ebbeling and Ludwig and Co. And it’s just massively convincing. When they get a whole bunch of people to lose weight using the same strategy, once they’ve lost, basically, between 10 and 15 percent of their body weight, they randomize them to different types of isocaloric diets.
And this was a hugely expensive, massive study. It’s a metabolic XXwork?XX study. People come and stay there. They get measured very carefully in terms of their energy expenditure and they eat exactly what they’re supposed to and you just notice that on different diets, even with the same amount of calories, energy in and energy out aren’t the same. So, when you feed people a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, they down-regulate their energy out. When you feed them a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, then they up-regulate their energy up. So, the difference is really 300 calories, which is XX????XX
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it’s interesting, because last year I did a little self-experiment when we were with family at holiday, and I ate around 6,000 calories at day for two weeks. Yeah. It was a real affair of it. I struggled to move for about an hour after each meal. And, just to see what would happen. And at the end of the holiday, I’d lost a kilo and a half.
Grant Schofield: So, you were eating a high-fat, carbohydrate-restricted diet?
Stuart Cooke: I was eating pretty clean. Lots and lots of meat and veggies. You know, carbs were few and far between. But, boy, I was piling it in. And it just didn’t work for me. I thought I’d beat the system, but it beat me.
Probably, people go online and Google Sam Feltham, the UK, he says 5,000 calories high-fat and 5,000 calories high-carb.
Grant Schofield: I can imagine the outcome.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it’s not pleasant on the high-carb.
Grant Schofield: No, absolutely not. But it’s good to do these things. I would imagine, because we’re talking about the fact that everyone’s different, and, you know, we metabolise things in a different way, I wonder what would happen if you did that, Guy, and put yourself on a…
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: I’ve done a high-fat, high-calorie diet. And I continue to; my weight remained stable the whole time. I did it for four weeks. Going back a couple of years ago now, but I was drinking gallons of coconut cream, coconut fats, eggs, and absolutely cranking it up. But the one thing I did was keep my carb intake under a hundred grams a day. And I was cycling probably 20Ks a day at the time and lifting weights, because I was working as a personal trainer in the city. And my strength continued to increase and my body fat remained stable.
Grant Schofield: It really refutes the whole notion, doesn’t it, of calories-in, calories-out.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely. I, personally, I think if somebody wants to count something, count the carbs, not the calories. And actually make the food count that goes in your mouth. You know, eat nutrient-dense food, not deprive yourself of it.
Grant Schofield: In a lot of criticisms, people say to me, “You’re talking about a diet, asking people to stick to it.” It’s not very hard. I mean, you can eat as much as you want. The food’s really yummy. And I’m not seeing the downside to this.
Stuart Cooke: No. That’s right. There is no downside.
Guy Lawrence: If we decided to undertake this change tomorrow, for our own health, and, I guess, general awareness, what kind of testing would you recommend that we underwent, thinking along the lines of things like glucose and cholesterol, et cetera?
Grant Schofield: Yeah, I mean, the things you can get from your local doctor, your lipid profile and HbA1c for glucose are all interesting. I mean, the problem is, of course, the typical general practitioner looks at him and goes, “Oh, no, your total cholesterol has gone up,” which it probably will. And so people need to go over the research about that, and I think, you know, as long as the HDL and triglyceride XXratio??XX holds up, triglycerides will probably go down. And the HbA1c, which is this long-term measure of your control of glucose in the blood will almost certainly go down.
I think those are good indicators. Blood XXglucose?XX as well is, of course, interesting. I would much rather do more complex tests, and I think the two that are most interesting to people that we haven’t got sorted yet, but I’d love to see more widely available, is there’s a way of; I mean, you can measure blood glucose through a finger prick. I’d love to be able to measure serum insulin using the same technique. Because I think it’s a really dynamic insulin response that matters. And it’s fabulous to track that.
And the second thing which we have available, and it just costs a lot of money, but I can’t see why someone can’t invent a portable unit that can plug into your iPhone or something is this breath-by-breath gas analysis. Because it really XXproxies?XX; insulin controls your ability to burn fat or carbohydrate as a fuel. When insulin’s raised, you won’t burn fat. You’ll only store it. When insulin is reduced, you’ll burn fat as your primary food source.
And it’s very easy to measure that through the expired contents of your breath. It would be fabulous if it was available. And that’s what we’re trying to do more with.
Stuart Cooke: That’s interesting. Yeah. I would certainly welcome that. It sounds like something for the future, for sure.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, it’s hard for people to get their mindset anywhere else, especially when, if they go to doctors and they get the conventional wisdom, like the whole system sort of funnels you in a certain direction and it’s very hard to step outside of that.
Grant Schofield: I look at my mother’s totals, she’s on a low-carb, high-fat diet, of course, at age 70, and her total cholesterol is too high and doctors told her to do the following: “Look, eat more whole grains for the next month, and if that doesn’t improve, we’ll put you on a lipid-lowering medication.”
Stuart Cooke: Oh, crikey.
Grant Schofield: We moved her in the end. It’s ridiculous.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, well, that’s right. I wonder if he asked her how she felt. “How do you feel?” “Well, I feel great!” Wonderful.
Grant Schofield: It was beyond… But, you know, the other thing sort of in that same thing as the Heart Foundation thing, I think it’s especially so in the U.S., but it certainly applies in Australia and New Zealand as well, is these guidelines that these guys are put under. “This is what you do for this.” You know, it’s literally malpractice not to prescribe a statin medication for high cholesterol. So, you do feel for these guys.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, no, absolutely. They’re just following the circuit, I think.
Guy Lawrence: I’m just going to ask what you eat every day. What is your typical daily diet?
Grant Schofield: So, what I had this morning, I just whipped up a sort of four-egg omelet fried in coconut oil made with whipping cream and I had some cheese on top. I would have actually preferred to put some more vegetables in there, but there weren’t any around this morning.
Last night for dinner we had pork ribs with a bit of a salad with XXoil in itXX. I was sort of picking through all the bones from the kids and stuff, because they only eat all the meat off the ribs so I sort of go through all the leftovers.
I was actually still a little bit hungry, so I ended up with some berries. Berries are pretty nutrient-dense, with some whipped cream and a bit of some almonds.
Guy Lawrence: Very nice.
Grant Schofield: And lunch I had sort of one of those high-fat salads, you know, put as many bits of vegetables as I could find lying around and then just added some cheese and nuts and meat.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Grant Schofield: It’s nice. I’m not hungry. I feel full of energy and I’m at a stable weight.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Lots of nutrients.
Guy Lawrence: Real food.
Grant Schofield: I just want to say, you can ask anyone who actually finds this controversial who’s watching it, especially in the science community, just kind of try this. See how you feel and make your own mind up. Don’t criticize people and go, “Well, I’m not sure about the long-term randomized control trials.” I mean, the basic physiology supports this way of eating and people feel great and operate well. So, you know, their well-being is better.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fortunately for us, because we do what we do, we get to speak to many people like yourself, Grant, and, you know, there are so many great people out there speaking and living and breathing and doing this, you know. And it’s, like you say, just try it for a little period of time and see how you feel.
Grant Schofield: And if they feel like rubbish, they can document that and if they want, they can go back and everyone’s happy.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely. You mentioned berries. What would; I love asking this question: What are your thoughts on fruit?
Grant Schofield: I mean, I’ll eat fruit in smallish quantities. If you try and do a low-ish, a fairly low carbohydrate diet, it’s hard to have that much fruit and not take your carbs that high. But if you want to have grapes, go for it, I mean. I think it’s probably a good way to supplement, especially in some more intense exercise before or after that session.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s when I generally do it. After training. Yeah, David Gillespie, we had him on the show a few weeks back, and he said treat it as nature’s dessert. And I thought that was…
Grant Schofield: Yeah, that’s probably it. He’s got a good point there. It’s fine. The other thing about fruit, of course, I mean, you know, just think about the history of humans. There have been fruit lying around to gather. It’s not essential for human survival, but it’s nice and it’s there and it’s; go for it.
Guy Lawrence: And I guess prior, you know, it was always seasonal, so you’d get what the season provided, but now, of course, we’ve got every season under the sun on offer.
Grant Schofield: Yeah. Well, I think that’s a very good point is probably one that I’ve been thinking more and more about scientifically and experimenting with is, and people do this sort of a week where they might have a pattern that actually changes quite a bit, so there will be generally quite low-carbohydrate and might have some periods of fasting. You know, go through some periods of actually eating a meal or two quite high in carbohydrate.
And I think there might be some merit in that in the sense that there’s two conditions there, which I think are both essential to human health. One’s the anabolic, which is rebuilding and growing cells. You know, that’s an inflammatory state and temporarily, that’s good. So, you do need that anabolic state, and I think insulin through dietary carbohydrates can provide that.
Equally, you also want that catabolic state where there isn’t any food, and the human cells don’t divide and they start to scavenge and repair and we get this production of the XXtrehalose???XX and these sorts of enzymes that start to clean up XXthe DNA endsXX and that sort of thing. So, I’ve been thinking a lot about, not so much a low-carb, high-fat way of eating the whole time, but perhaps cycling more in and out of what is more of a human condition. And, I mean, you don’t have to go by week or anything, but I think there might be some merit in that.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. No, that’s right. Almost like a periodic system reboot.
Grant Schofield: Yeah. And I think the dangers, if you’re going low-carb all the time, that you start to down, I think there’s some evidence that you start to down-regulate some things, especially lectin, and it’s probably worth a bit of a reboot.
Guy Lawrence: That’s interesting. I’ve never thought about that.
Grant Schofield: XXThere’s not been a lot of science on thatXX, by the way. And probably won’t be for a long time because no one wants to fund this sort of stuff, but that’s another story.
Stuart Cooke: Of course.
Guy Lawrence: Any special requirements for children? I mean, many people think, “Well, children need their carbs because they’re so active.”
Grant Schofield: Right. I mean, my kids are, I’ve got three boys, they’re on a low-carb, high-fat diet, but they don’t know they are. They grew up with that and seem to be functioning all right. But the thing is, they’re not metabolically disregulated. They are fine. They eat carbs and they get dealt with. They come and go. And that’s fine. Then they have the occasional junk food party or something and I’m comfortable with that.
What I’m not comfortable with is, I saw a boy yesterday in a practice-type situation, and he’s 11, obese, and he is metabolically disregulated. He’s highly insulin-resistant. And he’s saying to me, “Well, I eat the same amount as my mates. I do the same XXliving regime?XX, and they’re skinny and I’m not.” And so he can’t deal with the dietary carbs in the same way and we have to rethink that.
And that’s an interesting thing. He’s been to a bunch of specialists who have sent him away, told him to eat less and move more. When nothing’s happened, they’ve told him that he must be stealing food and he must be too lazy. And he can’t help but get to tears. It’s disgusting.
And, to put that in context, these kids get bullied. I asked this young man, I said, “Look. Do you think about your weight?” And he’s, like, “Oh, I do.” “Much?” “Yeah, quite a bit. About 99.9 percent of the time.” And, you know, a tear comes to you. This 11-year-old boy. So, some kids will need to do something about their carbs. But the metabolically healthy ones, there’s more flexibility.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. Yeah. Just get away with it, I guess.
Guy Lawrence: Very good. All right. I was just looking at the time. We’ve got a wrap-up question, Grant, that we ask everyone every time we’re on the air and it doesn’t have to be nutrition-related at all. But what’s the best single piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Grant Schofield: Well, it’s no so much advice as an insight. Look, I just clearly remember a day in my life where something clicked for me and I don’t know if people have had the same experience when they’re students at school, but I remember the teacher going, “Ah, yes, he’s very bright” (not referring to me, of course) “but he just doesn’t try.” And I remember that point going, that fundamentally misses the point, because achieving in life is nothing to do with being bright or smart. It’s to do with knowing how to try. And the myth that you don’t know how to try means that you’re stupid by definition.
So, I just remember the teacher saying that and me thinking, “That just doesn’t make any sense.” So, you know, my advice to, I had to speak to a high school XXclass?XX the other day, and what I’d like to see in my kids, it may not turn out this way, is that; I don’t know what the world’s gonna look like, I don’t know what job you’re gonna do, but whatever you do, you’d better be good at it. The only way to be good at it is to follow what you’re passionate about, work to your strengths, and know how to try.
If you don’t know how to try, good luck. It’s not gonna turn out well. But if you can, it will all work out.
Stuart Cooke: Just try. Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Give it a go. Absolutely.
And us Aussies, if we want to know anymore about you, where’s the best place to go, Grant?
Grant Schofield: OK, so, my best place is my blog, which is ProfGrant.com.
Guy Lawrence: I’ll share that link anyway. I’ll get it out on the blog as well. And, yeah, I was checking it out today. There’s some cool stuff. How long have you been blogging for?
Grant Schofield: I’ve only been blogging for about six months. I just sort of thought I should; I was talking a lot and not putting it anywhere. I found it a thoroughly fulfilling experience, the interaction with people and the ability to actually get your thoughts down coherently. It’s a great deal of fun.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Grant Schofield: And of course it gets hundreds of thousands of hits, which also surprises me.
Stuart Cooke: You’ll have to sell a range of t-shirts.
Grant Schofield: “All you’ve got to do is try.”
Guy Lawrence: Awesome, Grant. Well, look, we really appreciate your time today, and I’m sure a lot of people will get a lot out of this. That was fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: That was really cool.
Grant Schofield: Thanks, guys. I appreciate it. I love talking about it.
Guy Lawrence: No worries. You’re welcome, mate. Thank you.
This is the full interview with Sweet Poison Author David Gillespie. He is s a recovering corporate lawyer and has deciphered the latest medical findings on diet and weight gain. In his own words he says that what he found was chilling.
Did you enjoy the interview with David Gillespie? Has it made you think differently regarding sugar or fructose? Would love to hear you thoughts in the Facebook comments section below… Guy
David Gillespie: The transcript
Guy Lawrence: I’m Guy Lawrence. This is Stuart Cooke. And our special guest today is no other than David Gillespie.
David Gillespie: G’Day.
Guy Lawrence: Thanks for joining us David. Really appreciate it.
Now, I thought the best place to start would be from the beginning, and I know for any of our viewers that don’t know who you are, could you just sort of tell a bit about yourself; your story and how you came to writing about sugar in the first place; I’d love to know that.
David Gillespie: OK. So, I guess I should start out by saying I’m not a nutritionist or doctor or a biochemist or any of that sort of stuff. So, I’m phenomenally unqualified to talk to anybody about any of that stuff, but because I’m a lawyer it’s not gonna stop me.
I came to this because I spent most of my life getting fat, not intentionally, but every year I was a kilo or two heavier and, you know, I guess about almost 10 years ago now, I weighed in at 130-odd kilos, which put me well and truly into obese category.
And I thought when my wife rather inconsiderably announced that our fifth child was going to be our fifth and sixth children, that it was time to do something about it because I wasn’t coping with the four we had, who were all under the age of 9, let alone adding twin babies to that. And so, I thought, you know what, I need to understand how the human body works. I can’t believe that we don’t know how it works. It’s just obviously the case that I’m misunderstanding something.
So; and there was just the logical part to it as well which I didn’t get, which is you look around the planet, you see every other animal on the planet controls its weight the same way it controls its height, on auto-pilot, and there’s no gyms for monkeys, there’s no tigers on Jenny Craig, you know, they all work without willpower, on auto-pilot and the only exception to that seems to be us and any animal unfortunate enough to be fed by us.
So, I thought: I must be misunderstanding something. So, I went looking for the evidence and what I found was that there was very little evidence for what we are normally told to do about weight; that is: Stop being fat and exercise more.
But, there was an entirely different stream of evidence concerning sugar and in particular a part of sugar called fructose, which is one half of table sugar, which appeared to have significant dire metabolic effects, not just making us fat but lots of other stuff that we’re gonna talk about probably today.
What I thought was, well, you know, if that’s right, all I’ve gotta do to fix my weight problem is stop eating sugar. And, well, I can do that. It sounded a lot easier than it ended up being but I thought I can do that and I did and I dropped 40 kilos, got to this weight, which is in the mid 80s, and have stayed eating for the last 10 years without being on a diet. Which to me is pretty incredible since before this, you know, I just had look at a packet of Tim Tams and I’d be putting on weight.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: When you decided to lose the weight and make a change, was sugar the first thing you looked at or did you sort of. . .?
David Gillespie: Oh no. No, I didn’t, I didn’t, I didn’t know where to start. The only relevant training I have is gathering evidence and so where I started was to look at what the official line was. So, I went to the National Health and Medical Research Council, which are the people who determine the Australian Healthy Eating Guidelines, and I looked at what they say you should do to lose weight. And I thought: I’m not gonna go to a diet company or anything like that; I’ll just go to the people whose job this is. And I went looking at what they said and I thought: I can see what they say sounds very similar to what diet companies tell you to do. But I thought maybe there’s something missing that I’m not getting in the details. So, using the only relevant skill I had, which is to gather evidence, I then started looking at the evidence behind the statements.
So, what was the evidence behind the statement that fat makes you fat? What was the evidence behind the statement that exercise would make you thin? And I kept looking at evidence which referred to early evidence, which referred to early evidence, which referred to earlier evidence, and all the way back to evidence in the 1950s which essentially amounted to a great big guess.
I wasn’t at all satisfied with that, but in reading through that stuff I came across other evidence which hadn’t been referred to, but which was just as good a pedigree and this is from the London School of Nutrition, a fellow by the name of John Yudkin did some work on sugars in the 1950s and because of some political fighting it turned out his message got drowned out by a different message from the United States about fats.
Guy Lawrence: Interesting, because the first time I heard about really starting to look at sugar, from my own personal health, would have been about five years ago and I was involved with a small group of people that were helping people with chronic disease and a lot of them had cancer and by that time they had been established about seven years and they were saying that they probably had over a thousand people go through their doors and they were using nutrition and weight training, of all things, to help them.
But the first thing they eliminated from their diet was sugar and that was the sort of first time I sort of heard of anything like that. I only raised this because it made me start to think about, you know, sugar, what I’m eating, and things like that. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on, I guess, you know, on the defects of sugar, fructose and overall health, as well as what you sort of learned from your journey for our listeners.
David Gillespie: Well, I started out on it just through sheer vanity and wanting to not be apathetic. I thought that if I lost the weight I’d be more able to cope with young kids and probably be healthier. But now what I found since that, and I mean that’s where I started but I kept reading and I kept looking and I just kept finding more and more things linked back to this really unusual molecule in our diet, fructose.
Now it might even sound really weird to say that fructose is an unusual molecule in our diet. It is, after all, in fruit. So it’s; people say: “Oh, it’s natural, you know, can’t possibly be anything wrong with it.” It is natural but it’s not natural in the kind of quantities we’re consuming it and we’re not getting it from fruit. We’re getting it from sugar. And that’s the bit that a lot of people don’t connect that it is one-half of sugar.
And this molecule was very, very rare in the human diet until around about 1820. You might ask yourself: What happened in 1820? Something that people have been trying to do for a good half a century happened in 1820, which was that we finally cracked the problem of producing sugar, the stuff we have on the table, in commercial quantities. And the search for “white gold” and that was what it was literally called, “white gold,” had been on for half a century.
It is an extraordinary difficult thing to do and I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to make sugar. It isn’t simply a case of squeezing out a bit of sugar cane. It’s an extremely complicated process and involves a lot of steps and a lot of chemicals and every single step can go very, very wrong. But they managed to finally nail the process in the 1820s and then sugar went from being an extremely rare thing that only really the rich could afford to something that everybody could afford and that was added to more and more foods on a continuous basis.
Now, when I talk about sugar, people think I’m talking about chocolates and soft drinks and so on. I am; they obviously contain sugar, but much more dangerous is the sugar embedded in foods which you wouldn’t even think about containing sugar. You know, things with Heart Foundation ticks that are 30 percent sugar or 70 percent sugar, things that are being sold to us as health food that have loads of sugar in them. Why do they have loads of sugar? Because that “white gold” makes products with it in sell better than products without. So, this molecule we are spectacularly uninvolved to deal with; are you guys both still there?
Guy Lawrence & Stuart Cooke: Yeah, yeah we’re still here. I’m recording your . . . Your picture’s frozen but we’re still here.
David Gillespie: OK. Anyway, so this molecule; we have no real evolutionary background for it because the only sugar that we’ve really evolved to deal with in insufficient quantities, is our primary source of fuel, which is glucose. Everything we eat ultimately ends up in our body as glucose. Glucose is our fuel. Every single cell in our body can use it. It is the primary and only fuel for our brain, which consumes 25 percent of our energy.
So, it is a very, very important molecule in the human body and in any mammal. But fructose has no purpose whatsoever. It turns out, we just shovel it straight to the liver, none of our cells can deal with it at all and the liver just converts it immediately to fat. And that isn’t, it turns out, why we’re fat because of eating fructose; it’s just the start of a process which actually got quite interesting when I dived into the evidence; which is that that fat ends up wrapped around the liver, ultimately giving us something called “fatty liver disease” which now affects 1 in 3 of us, up from almost none of us 40 years ago. It now affects 1 in 10 teenage children. This is a chronic disease that can ultimately lead to cirrhosis of the liver and cancer of the liver.
And that fat wrapped around the liver affects our insulin sensitivity. In doing so it affects our appetite control and that’s how it makes us fat. It isn’t that the fructose is converted to fat, which that in itself makes us fat, it’s that it is converted to fat which becomes visceral fat wrapped around our internal organs, which increases our degree of insulin resistance. Ultimately that cascades through to Type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, chronic kidney disease, hypertension, heart disease, and the list goes on and on and on.
So, you know why getting fat on this stuff is a very, very fortunate thing because it gives us some visible warning that it’s happening.
Guy Lawrence: How; given that it’s everywhere and in so many foods that we’re unaware of; how would you recommend cutting it out? What should we do?
David Gillespie: Well, the first thing is: Listen to your taste. You can taste it. It’s not; if a food tastes sweet, then it contains fructose. You can be absolutely certain of that. And so you can taste it. And that’s the really good news is if you pay attention and listen for the taste that’s sweet, if you like, you can detect it.
The other is, start to get use to where it’s likely to be. So, be suspicious of all processed foods; have a look at processed food, look at the ingredient list; if sugar’s in there put it back on the shelf. It’s as simple as that. If it’s something you really, really must have then find the variant of whatever product it is that has the lowest amount of sugar and preferably aim for less than 3 grams to 100 of added sugar.
Do that and you’ll be fine. And people initially say, when they start this process, they say: “Wow, I just did what you said, and, you know what? There’s nothing in my supermarket that satisfies those criteria. That’s disturbing in itself, is there’s nothing in the supermarket that doesn’t have less than 3 percent added sugar. But there are things. In every food category there are things. And I’ve prepared lists and so on and some of them are in some of my books that go through that and rank them and show you which brands have the lower amounts of sugar. But the easiest way to do it is just to eat whole food.
I’m only talking about sugar added to food. So, eat whole fruit. Eat whole vegetables. Eat milk; dairy, eggs: whole food. Some will be required. And if you do want to eat processed food, then that’s when you need to get careful.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, OK, even when you cook your own meals, at least you start to know what’s going in them. I mean. . .
David Gillespie: I mean, if you add sugar, you’ll be aware of it. You know, you can’t accidentally pour sugar into a meal.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, absolutely. What’s your thoughts on people that say, you know, you need sugar for energy?
David Gillespie: We do. You need glucose for energy. So, remember that sugar is half glucose and half fructose. And you do need glucose for energy. As I said before, your brain runs on nothing else. And if you don’t eat something that can be converted to glucose, it will convert protein to glucose.
So, you do need glucose. You are a machine that runs on fuel. The fuel glucose. But that’s not the same as table sugar. Table sugar is only half glucose. The other half is this fructose stuff.
And some people say, yeah, but don’t I need the glucose half of it? No. Because everything you eat, ultimately, gets converted to glucose. And so you don’t need to eat sugar to get the glucose.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, and I think that’s where a lot of the confusion can lie.
Stuart Cooke: I think especially in energy and sports drinks and gels as well where people think that they need that added burst of sugar, which if I, just thinking back to my childhood day, I used to drink Lucozade, and I think that is one of the only drinks at the time that is glucose-based, right?
David Gillespie: That’s right. It’s only glucose-based. And it’s used for glucose tolerance tests even today in hospitals, because it’s the only drink you can use that is sweetened only with glucose. And so it’s a great sports drink because it’s only sweetened with glucose.
Stuart Cooke: Right. Perfect.
Stuart Cooke: So, your comments on fruit. So, I guess number one: Is fruit the enemy? Should be eating it? How much should we be eating?
David Gillespie: There’s no need to eat it. If you want to eat it, then treat it like what it is, which is nature’s dessert. So, you know, rare. You could have up to two whole pieces of fruit a day if you wanted to. Personally, I don’t eat any unless it’s offered to me. I don’t go out of my way to consume it. There’s nothing you can get in fruit that you can’t get in an equivalent vegetable without a whole lot less fructose.
But that being said, if you really like fruit, there’s no reason to not eat it. And if you’re going to eat fruit, then I’d veer toward things that are higher in fiber and lower in fructose such as all of the berries: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries. They’re all great choices and I’d steer away from things which are high in fructose and low in fiber like the three most popular fruits on sale in Australia today, which are: apples, bananas, and grapes.
So, those are the ones that I would be tending toward. But even there, have them. If you’re going to eat them as whole fruit, then go for it. If that’s your only source of fructose in a day, you’re not doing yourself any harm.
Stuart Cooke: OK. It’s amazing how your palate changes over time as well when you do eliminate sugar, because I used to devour bananas and now I can barely stomach them because they are so sweet.
David Gillespie: And that’s exactly right. I used to think bananas were the most boring fruit in the world. Completely tasteless, powdery fruit, why would anyone eat them? And now, you’re right, I have one and it’s like dessert to me. It is massively sweet. And so that palate changes is really an important part of knowing when you’re off sugar.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, absolutely. And I look at it exactly the same, you know. I like to think I’m on top of my nutrition and my food and I have a piece of fruit and I thoroughly enjoy it. But I generally don’t have 10 apples and a fruit juice in the morning.
David Gillespie: And if you did sit down and eat 10 apples, you wouldn’t be eating much else. You really wouldn’t. That’s a lot of fruit. But you could drink the juice of 10 apples very easily and still have a meal.
Guy Lawrence: That’s right. Absolutely. Yeah.
David Gillespie: So it’s only when we juice it; all juicing is really just extracting the sugar and throwing away everything else. There’s no reason to ever consume juice. It’s just soft drink.
Stuart Cooke: Another question I wanted to raise, because, you know, I follow Sarah Wilson’s blog as well, and saw an interview with you on there awhile back. I think it was an audio podcast. And there was just a stream of heated discussions afterwards with different people coming in, and arguments.
So I just wanted to raise, you know, where do the arguments lie, and why is there the critics out there that are against, basically, the whole fructose thing?
David Gillespie: This is very threatening to some very lucrative XXrulers of gold?XX. It’s a very threatening message. It is not called “white gold” for nothing. Processed food companies add sugar to food because they know it sells more with it. They don’t want to have to remove it. That’s why it’s not part of the accreditation for the Heart Foundation tick. It’s not even a criteria. They don’t even pay any attention to it at all. Because if they did, almost nothing would receive a tick.
So, the thing about sugar is that it moves a lot of product and there are a lot of people whose money depends on continuing to move that product. And those companies have put a lot of effort into muddying the water, into putting confusing science out there, to mounting clandestine lobbying.
And the process is almost identical to what the tobacco lobby undertook in the ’60s and ’70s. Almost identical. Sponsoring dubious science, having scientists on the payroll to do weird studies that if you design it just the right way it will come out showing that smoking’s all right. Recruiting; well, with smoking it was recruiting doctors. Now it’s more recruiting dieticians. But it’s the same basic plan.
Guy Lawrence: Well, certainly speaking for myself, you know, the moment I stopped putting sugar in my body I definitely noticed the difference. Even allergies went over time and things like that that I had before.
David Gillespie: Yeah. You’ll find most people report a whole series of things that are seemingly unrelated to sugar. And the interesting thing is, a lot of them can be traced back through sound biochemical processes to an explanation from fructose.
Some can’t. I still can’t explain why a lot of people report massive improvements in eczema. I don’t know why that is. But when people quite sugar, their eczema goes, even if they’ve had chronic eczema their entire life. It goes. And I don’t know what that is. I’ve looked and looked and looked. But, you know, that’s one that I can’t explain.
But a lot of them you can trace back biochemically to why they found it different.
Stuart Cooke: I got a question from Susie Lee, via our Facebook channel as well, and I think it relates a little bit to probably ourselves as well, or especially Guy and myself. Susie was wondering if you ever felt pressured into eating sugar. How do you avoid the awkward family gatherings where sugar is everywhere? Because I know the way that Guy and I, myself, present ourselves, sometimes we feel ostracized in the way that we behave in social gatherings.
David Gillespie: You know what? At the start, that was a problem. Now, obviously, the best way to fix that is write a book about it and then no one offers you sugar ever again. In fact, people tend not to eat sugar in your presence.
But, at the start, absolutely. And I found the easiest way to get around the awkwardness of it is to not make a fuss about. Just, you know, if there’s something you can eat, eat it. If there isn’t, don’t eat. Wait till you get home and find something to eat. Don’t make a big fuss about: “Oh, have you go something that hasn’t got sugar in it?” You know? Just pay attention and pretty quickly you just fit right in.
The people who find it most difficult, and this was me right at the start, is people who say, “I really wouldn’t mind; have you got a version of that without sugar?” And then people think you are a real pain.
Stuart Cooke: The awkward moments come, though. You can be at a birthday party or something and the cake comes ’round and I’m thinking, “If I eat this, I’m gonna have a stinkin’ headache later.” You know?
David Gillespie: You know, my strategy for that is: Find someone who’s still eating sugar and chop a bit off their piece of cake and have it just so that you can be part of it. You make a wish for the person and so on. And you’re not gonna eat the rest.
Stuart Cooke: Fair enough. We got another Facebook question that came in as well. It was: “I’d like to know what is worse: sugar or sweeteners and the use of macrosweeteners like honey, agave, dates, etcetera in cooking.” Are they OK or are they just heightening our tastes for more sugar?
David Gillespie: OK. So, honey and agave and, what was the other one? Dates? All of those sorts of things are just expensive ways to white sugar. So, you’re not changing anything by switching from sugar to honey. Honey is still half fructose. In fact, when sugar was first discovered, it was called “honey without bees.” Because the only kind of sugar we had before that was honey.
So, it’s; you’re not changing anything by switching to agave. Agave, dates, etcetera are about 60 to 70 percent fructose. So, those are not substitutes for sugar. They are sugar.
Other things, artificial sweeteners and such, are better-known for high-intensity sweeteners and you get into the whole artificial-natural debate. High-intensity sweeteners like stevia, sucralose, aspartame, things like Splenda and so on; those things are referred to as methadone for sugar addicts. So, they are great to get you off the addiction.
I developed quite a serious habit with artificially sweetened soft drinks while I was going through the withdrawal phase, which can last two to four weeks, or, in some people’s cases, even months.
And the interesting thing, though, is, as you were saying before, Stuart, about the palate change is that as you start to go though the withdrawal, those things become less and less appealing. And the reason for that is they start to taste less and less like sugar. At the start, they taste just like sugar. A barely detectable difference.
By the end of withdrawal, they start to taste very much like a chemical. And you find yourself really not enjoying it much at all. And I got to the point, probably around the three- or four-week mark, where I was having these things and thinking, “You know what? I think I’d rather just have a fizzy water than this stuff, because it’s just not tasting very nice.”
And so it’s not like I read the science and decided to not consume them. Because the science is a bit iffy either way. There’s plenty of science that says they’re perfectly safe. There’s plenty of science that says they’re not, depending on who’s paid for the study. If the sugar industry paid for it or the people making the substance paid for it.
But I prefer to take the view, you know, using it during withdrawal is not gonna kill you. And it does help you get through withdrawal.
Guy Lawrence: If someone walked up to you on the street and said, you know, I was a big sugar eater; should I go cold turkey or should I wean off it? What would you say to them?
David Gillespie: Look, I think weaning off is just pure torture. I think you’d have to have extraordinary reserves of willpower to be doing that. And what that would require is correctly identifying every bit of sugar in your diet and then systematically removing a percentage of it every day. Five percent, 10 percent, whatever, and ensuring that you stick to that.
To me, that would be torture. But that’s just me. Some people tell me that that’s exactly what they need and it worked great for them. Most people who are successful at this, though, tell me that the way they do it is they go cold turkey. And they just have a great big bin of all their favorite foods and then the next morning, they’re off. And they don’t go near it again until they no longer have the cravings.
And believe me, it is a withdrawal. It is very much like withdrawal from smoking. I have never smoked, so I can’t tell you from personal experience, but people who have given up smoking and given up sugar tell me the experience is almost identical. You can an intense period of cravings, you get the mood swings, you get the depression, you get the headaches. Except that with sugar, the cravings feel like hunger so that you are constantly hungry, or at least you think you are. But the reality is that you’re not. That’s just how your body knows to get you to eat sugar.
Stuart Cooke: And another question popped in regarding the sweetness. Coconut sugar. Have you done anything. . .
David Gillespie: It’s just sugar. Another way to spend a lot of money on sugar.
Stuart Cooke: Because I see that flying around a lot at the moment, coconut sugar, you know.
David Gillespie: Coconut everything. I mean, the only thing out of a coconut that is good is oil. And that’s an entirely different topic for another day.
Stuart Cooke: We won’t broach that right now.
We’d like to steer it over a little bit into children. Obviously, you’ve got a big clan. I’ve got three children too. So, I’m very interested in steering them on the right track. Do you have any recommendations, perhaps, for lunch boxes? Because lots of people struggle with this because of all of the kiddie snacks out there, I guess, with yoghurts, obviously fruit, raisins; little boxes of raisins, and sandwiches and the like. What would you recommend for a really simple child’s lunchbox?
David Gillespie: The first thing is that you are going to be almost; it’s almost impossible to buy pre-packaged anything for children that isn’t full of sugar. So, right away you’ve got a difficulty in that whatever you put in their lunchbox, you’re gonna be making. And the only choice for you is how much effort do you want to put into making it.
Now, I put out a recipe book earlier this year. And a lot of people said, “Why do you even need a recipe book if you’re off sugar? Surely you don’t even want cakes and stuff.” One of the big motivations for it is for kids’ lunchboxes. Kids still need stuff in their lunchboxes and so we created recipes just using dextrose, which is the glucose half of sugar. So, just glucose as the sweetener. And these are recipes for things like cake and biscuits and the things kids have in their lunchboxes.
And what Lizzie does, my wife, is make those; cook up a big batch of that sort of stuff on the weekends, cling-wrap portions of it, and freeze it. And then, when it comes to dealing out lunchboxes, she just reaches into the freezer and plunks it in.
And that’s the way to deal with. There really is no other efficient way to do it. The other thing you can do is just get really good at making sandwiches, putting whole fruit in there has obviously not changed. Put a banana in if you want. Just don’t put dried fruit, juices, or packaged processed food. And anything else goes.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right. Because the thing is with kids is you’ve got same problem with adults with the parties and they’re gonna go to these things and sugar’s everywhere.
David Gillespie: Look, and there’s nothing you can do about that and nor should you try. I have a rule in this house which is: “Party food is for parties.” So, it’s not for every minute of every hour of every day. It’s for parties. And our kids go to parties with kids in their class and they’ll eat sugar and that’s just the way it is. But their exposure to sugar is infinitesimally small compared to all of their peers.
And the interesting thing is that if they do eat sugar, pig out at a party, they often come home with a hangover. And this really surprised me. And I’m not joking when I call it a hangover. It is like an adult with an alcohol hangover. They have headaches. They start saying things like, “Never again.” You know? Are really genuinely meaning it. Until the next time.
And it’s really interesting to watch. And also their capacity to eat it is also limited by the fact that they don’t eat it all the time.
Stuart Cooke: That is a good point. . . . I’ve got a little trick. I’ve got three girls and I give them a nice bowl of porridge before they go out the door so they’re not. . .
David Gillespie: That’s a good trick. I wish I’d thought of that. That is a good trick. Fill them up before they get there.
Stuart Cooke: Exactly right. Yeah. It does help.
I’ve got a few kind of miscellaneous questions as well. And I might jump into the top one, Guy, if you don’t mind.
Guy Lawrence: Go for it.
Stuart Cooke: Your thoughts on bread- and wheat-based products, given the high glycemic load.
David Gillespie: I don’t pay a lot of attention to glycemic index or glycemic load. I think they’re nonsense terms. I don’t think they’re helpful at all for anyone who’s not diabetic. And even for people who are diabetic, I’m not entirely certain they’re very helpful.
The way our body deals with carbohydrate is with a glycemic response. That is, we release insulin to use the glucose that’s in our blood. Now, the efficiency of that response is measured by the degree to which we’ve impaired our insulin response by consuming fructose.
So, yes, someone who has spent their entire life, like me, consuming fructose, has probably seriously damaged their glycemic response. And it may take a long time to repair that damage. And so you might want to be cautious about carbohydrates.
The interesting thing that I have found is, once you give up the sugar, carbohydrates are a far less enticing thing. You don’t find yourself craving carbs anywhere near as much as you did before. And that’s probably because there’s a lot of sugar addiction involved in the process.
I am working on research on the degree to which we should be worried about carbs, and even proteins like gluten that you find in bread, and fibers. And, ultimately, that will turn into a book, I suspect.
But for the moment, I would say: Do what most people do, which is break the addiction first. Break the addiction. Then you can start to make seriously sensible choices about what you choose to put in your mouth. Because one thing people who do break the addiction find is they fill up quickly. So, once they have a functioning appetite control system, they find themselves not able to eat anywhere near as much as they used to be able to get through. And I used to; I found that, too. You’d sit down to a meal that you previously would have knocked back, no worries at all, and you start getting a half or two-thirds of the way through and thinking, “Oh, I really can’t finish this. I’m really full.”
And that’s just your hormones working; your appetite control system working. And when that starts happening, people start saying, you know, with that happening, I’ve got to be really choosy about what I put in my mouth, because I know my appetite control system’s not gonna let me put that much of anything in my mouth. So, if I have this big slice of dextrose cake for afternoon tea or this big bit of cheesecake for afternoon tea, I know that I’m not gonna fit my dinner in. And then it’s a balance between what’s for dinner and do I really like it or do I prefer it over this piece of cake.
So, people find themselves starting to make choices about what they put in their mouth. And a lot of people start doing things like saying, “You know what? I just don’t get that much out of carbs anymore. And I find when I’m not eating them, I feel better. So I won’t eat them that much.”
Stuart Cooke: Would it be possible for our audience who may be a little confused just to kind of loosely run through what you might perhaps eat in a day.
David Gillespie: Sure. So, let’s talk about today. I started today, my 12-year-old boy very helpfully cooked me some bacon and eggs this morning. That was a nice bit of meal: bacon with all the fat still on and an egg. And then I’ve just had lunch, which was I some leftover mince on toast, basically. And the toast was sourdough bread that my wife made a day or two ago. Now, the reason she’s making bread is just to avoid the seed oils, which is a topic for another day. But it also helps you avoid sugar.
And for dinner; what will dinner be? Well, tonight it’s likely going to be some sort of pasta and meat sauce, I suspect.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right, OK.
David Gillespie: That’s not our typical; that’s just because of Friday night. Normally it’s some sort of meat and veg kind of fare.
Stuart Cooke: Got it. OK.
Guy Lawrence: I have another question that popped in there and we haven’t got it down, only because I CrossFit. You know, I love my exercise. But from reading your books as well, you discuss the topic of weight loss and exercise and the relationship there.
I’d love you just to share your views on that, because, you know, from what I find, when I train more, my appetite goes up and I generally et more food and if I’m not careful I can eat the wrong foods, you know, and that’s what I’ve seen from my experience over the years, especially working as a fitness trainer. But I’d just love you to share that with us a little bit for people.
David Gillespie: Well, when you expend more calories doing anything, if you spend Saturday out in the yard working, whereas you normally sit at a desk, you’ll eat more on Saturday. Your body is a complex machine that measures the amount of energy you burn and the amount that you consume and make sure it stays in balance.
And the same goes for exercise. It doesn’t matter if you’re out mowing the lawn or doing exercise in a gym. If you burn more energy, your body will ask you to eat more food. In other words, it will increase your appetite. And that’s not a bad thing at all. That’s a perfectly good thing and perfectly normal thing.
The problem is when the appetite control system is broken, and that’s what fructose does. It messes with the hormones that control how much we eat. And it just knocks your system up, just a fraction, not much, just a tiny little bit, maybe a quarter of a Monte Carlo biscuit’s worth.
But you do that every day for years, end-on-end cumulatively, and you start to get the kind of weight gain that you are seeing in the Australian population.
Guy Lawrence: And so for anyone listening to this that’s thinking of putting their runners on tomorrow and going for a run, that eat sugar and fructose as well, they should be given the fructose up first. Which sounds. . .
David Gillespie: The thing about exercise, people think that I’ve got something against exercise. And I have nothing against exercise. Do it if you feel like it. And the reality is that since I’ve lost the weight, I feel like doing it a lot more than I did before. And a lot of people report that, which is after they lose the weight they exercise more than they ever did before. Not because of the weight; just because they feel like doing it more.
And so if you feel like doing it, if you really enjoy it, then keep doing it. If you’re doing it because you think you’ll lose weight doing it, don’t bother.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s fair enough. It’s funny because I train constantly. Most days. But I do it because I mentally feel fantastic after it, you know? That’s what drives me to do it.
David Gillespie: My 16-year-old boy, he’s a rower. He trains 40 hours a week. OK? He is an exercise nutbag. He does it because he loves it. Not because he wants to lose weight.
Guy Lawrence: That’s a good point.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right, and that’s kind of what we tell lots of people, too. There are so many benefits from cardiovascular. Feel good. It’s your own time as well. You’re there and you can process thoughts and get through anything that might be on your mind. But as a tool for weight loss, I do struggle to see the connection as well. But see what happens.
I’m just wondering about the future for David Gillespie at the moment. What does the future hold? You mentioned the possibility of another book? What’s in the pipeline?
David Gillespie: Well, one of the things that I’m doing at the moment is I’m really focusing on is, I put a book out earlier this year called Toxic Oil, which is about the dangers of vegetable oils. And by “dangers” I mean they are even more insidiously dangerous than the sugar. At least you can taste sugar. You can’t taste these oils, and they’re added to every food on the supermarket shelf.
And there’s clear evidence that they double the rate of cancer in humans. And when we’re seeing the phenomenal increase in rates of cancer that we’re currently seeing, it scares me. I know a lot of people now who have cancer, who are suffering from it. And I really want that message to get out there loud and clear.
So, I am focusing on that and I will focus on that in the immediate future.
Next year I have a book coming out on a completely unrelated topic, which I’ll reveal more about towards the end of the year. It’s nothing to do with nutrition. And we’ll see where go from there.
But as I said to you before, one of my areas of focus at the moment is the whole, I guess the “bread cortex,” if you want; the gluten, fiber, carb question. Are any of these things bad, good, indifferent for us?
Stuart Cooke: Definitely. I’ve just read a very interesting book about that, so I’d love for you to put your spin in the way that you write as well and research and resource. I’d be very interested.
David Gillespie: It is interesting.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, it is. It will stir up our household as well because I’ve been though Sweet Poison two or three times and Toxic Oil and our cupboard seems to be changing from month to month, and it’s a topic of discussion.
David Gillespie: Well, it’s probably going backwards in time. If you follow what I say in Toxic Oil, you’ll find yourself making most of what you eat and, really, your cupboard starting to consist of mostly raw ingredients.
Guy Lawrence: Exactly. You know, the one thing I wanted to add as well, because, you know, I’m single. I live by myself. And it’s very easy for me to, if I do shop, I can just get whatever. But once families are involved, you know, it’s amazing. And I’m sure that day will come for me and it’s gonna be a whole new challenge.
David Gillespie: You need a partner that’s going to help. People tell me it’s very, very difficult to go it alone on this, you know? Very difficult for you to just decide, “Well, I’m gonna do this,” and the rest of the family will just keep eating a normal, modern diet. That’s very difficult to do. So you need to have everybody working on the same page.
But, look, the good news is you’re not going to do yourself any harm at all by doing this, and you learn an amazing set of new skills. If you’d said to me, two years ago, “You are going to be cooking the only bread you eat,” I would have laughed at you. Because that sounded like way too much effort. But the reality is that that’s what we’re doing now. And the end result is we eat a lot less bread because if you’ve got to cook it yourself, you’re not gonna eat that much of it.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. We’re almost reconnecting with skills that have been lost along the way and we’re actually learning how to eat again.
David Gillespie: We’re also learning that it isn’t that hard. A lot of these things sound daunting if you’ve never done it. But once you have done it, you find it’s actually just not that hard.
Guy Lawrence: Any other questions?
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, I’m just gonna ask a little bit of a wrap-up question, really, and we ask all of our guests this and I’m guessing that I probably know the answer. But if you can offer a single piece of advice for optimum health and wellness, what would it be?
David Gillespie: Don’t eat sugar. But, look, if you really want to be super duper well and avoid just about every chronic disease in modern society, then don’t eat sugar or vegetable oil.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right. OK. Perfect.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect answer.
Stuart Cooke: And for anybody that would like to get hold of your books or find more about the resource, where can they connect with you?
David Gillespie: Well, look, if they want my books, they go to a bookstore. My books will be available just about anyplace that sells books. If they want the books signed by me, they can buy them from my website, but they’re a lot more expensive that way. If you don’t care, then your average bookstore or supermarket is a good place.
If you want to connect with a community of people who are like-minded, then the very best place is the Facebook page Sweet Poison, which I think has 49,000 people on it. And they are all gung-ho. Get on there with any question; they’ll answer it, and if they can’t, I will.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, fantastic. I went through the forums the other day and I was surprised at the amount of engagement in there. The numbers are voluminous, and it’s a really community as well. Fantastic.
David Gillespie: And very knowledgeable. I mean, these people know their stuff. You know, people put stuff up on Facebook. . . I check it every day to see if there’s anything getting missed or where people are not getting the answers that they need and that almost never happens. Everyone else is already well and truly there and giving them everything they need to know.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic. You’re making a lot of people aware of what they should be putting in their mouth, David, which is a great thing.
Guy Lawrence: OK. All right. Well, look, thank you so much for sharing your time and also writing these great books as well. And we hope to have you back on the show in the not-too-distant future talking about the oils.