Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on youriPhone HERE.
We chat to Sami Inkinen, a world class triathlete and tech entrepreneur. Whilst we don’t encourage anyone to eat 5000 calories of saturated fat a day, we feel it’s a very important message that Sami shares with us.
Sami and his wife Meredith recently did a phenomenal achievement, where they physically rowed from California to Hawaii. It took them 45 days straight rowing, up to 18 hours a day, and some days they didn’t even get any sleep.
Awesome achievement, but more importantly was the message behind it, as they did it without the use of any sugar and sports gels, pushing the message that you don’t need sugar to power the body daily, not even as a world-class athlete.
So they did it running on, yes, about 70 to 75 percent fat on each meal, and we were very keen to get him on the show and pick his brains about this, because there are so many things we can learn from it.
Full Interview with Sami Inkinen, World Class Ironman
In this episode we talk about:
How he ended up being involved in the documentary Cereal Killers Two – Run on Fat
Why he decided to embark on his toughest challenge yet, rowing to Hawaii from San Francisco
How they prepared for their meals. Sami was eating a whopping 8,000 calories a day!
The effects of eating 5000 calories of saturated fat a day whilst rowing
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence with 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. Our special guest today is Sami Inkinen. Now, Sami has achieved some remarkable things in life, including he’s a world-class triathlete, he’s a tech entrepreneur, and him and his wife did a phenomenal achievement recently which is they basically physically rowed from California to Hawaii. Took them 45 days rowing up to 18 hours a day straight, and some days they didn’t even get any sleep.
Awesome achievement, but more importantly was the message behind it, because they did it without the use of sugar and gels and basically pushing the message that you don’t need sugar to power the body daily, not even as a world-class athlete like that.
So they did it running on, yes, about 70 to 75 percent fat on each meal, and we were very keen, obviously, to get him on the show and pick his brains about this, because there are so many things we can learn from it. He also shares many other things as well, which is fantastic, and it was an awesome podcast. I have no doubt you’ll get lots out of this today whether you’re an athlete or not. It was just brilliant.
Of course, if you are listening to this through iTunes, hit the subscribe button, leave a review, all very appreciated. A, it’s nice to know that you’re enjoying our podcasts, but B, it helps spread the word by simply subscribing or leaving a review more people can find us and more people can listen and more people can benefit from the message that we are putting out there to the world which we feel is very necessary.
And, of course, come back to our website, 180nutrition.com.au, where we’ve got a heap of resources including a free ebook which is a great place to start if you find all this information a little bit overwhelming. Anyway, enjoy the show. This one’s awesome. Cheers.
Guy Lawrence: Okay, hey, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Hi, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: Hello.
Guy Lawrence: And our awesome guest today is Sami Inkinen. Sami, welcome to the show.
Sami Inkinen: Thanks very much. Excited to be a part of your show.
Guy Lawrence: Oh, mate, that’s awesome. Me and Stu have been very excited today, because it’s certainly a topic I think we thrive on, especially when it comes to sports as well, and it’s clear that you’re a guy that doesn’t do things by half-measures, you know, and just to, I guess, for the people who are listening to sum it up in a short way, you’re a world-class athlete, you’re a tech entrepreneur, and you’ve just gone and done something with your wife recently which is a phenomenal achievement and which I’m looking forward to getting sucked in with everyone.
But just to kick start the conversation, mate, would you mind just sharing a little bit about your background? And even, you know, how you ended up in San Francisco in the first place, because you’re from Finland.
Sami Inkinen: Yeah, so I was born and raised and brainwashed in Finland. Grew up about 200 miles, so 300 kilometers, from Helsinki on a farm, a chicken farm, but I wasn’t really a farm boy, I was more into computers, so as soon as I got out of the farm, I studied physics at a university in Finland and got into software and computers early in my life. Started on company in Europe and then in 2003, which seems like a long time ago now, about 12 years ago, I came here to San Francisco Bay Area in the U.S. to attend Stanford Business School and, you know, I’ve been here ever since.
Guy Lawrence: Are you missing the cold weather? I’m assuming it can get quite cold in Finland as well, right?
Sami Inkinen: You know, there’s a reason why I stayed here.
Guy Lawrence: Go on, Stu. You look like you’re going to say something.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, so we’ve been following a little bit of your background, Sami, as well, and realized that you did extremely well in the triathlete Ironman scene as well, but then made it to the big screen. I was just wondering how that happened? What happened there?
Sami Inkinen: Big screen as in…
Guy Lawrence: Cereal Killers 2.
Stuart Cooke: The movies.
Sami Inkinen: Well, first of all, I have, quite honestly, zero interest in promoting myself for the sake of promoting myself. However, given that I thought that I was kind of a poster boy for healthy living because of my crazy amount of endurance training and, what I thought, healthy living, regardless of that kind of lifestyle, I found out that I was pre-diabetic a couple of years ago, and I got ridiculously frustrated that, “How is this possible that it happens to me? And if it happens to me with that kind of lifestyle and a focus on exercise and, what I thought, healthy eating, what are the chances that an average person can avoid that sort of health issue?”
And the answer is, “Fat chance.” There’s no chance, so I wanted to do anything and everything I can to promote the message around healthy diet and healthy nutrition and, therefore, I was more than happy to lend my own crazy adventures and experiences for the benefit of others.
And I think that was the reason why I ended up teaming up or helping Donal O’Neill who has produced these two movies, Cereal Killers and Cereal Killers 2, so that was the background story. So I thought whatever I do and what I did with my wife, if it can help other people to avoid what was happening to me health wise, it would be worth the embarrassing exposure on the screen.
Guy Lawrence: Did it take you awhile? Was that the wakeup moment? Because I know you mentioned, like you said, you were going to be prediabetic and did you instantly look into increasing fats? Like, how did that message sink in to you, because there are so many people resistant to that message to this day and don’t even, won’t even consider it, you know? How did it work for you? Who did you discover to make you think differently about that?
Sami Inkinen: Well, first of all, I, obviously, it was almost like driving a car to a rock wall 100 kilometers an hour when I really thought it’s impossible that I would get sick or, more importantly, it would be impossible that someone like me would become diabetic or prediabetic with the kind of lifestyle that I was living, so it was really kind of a stopping moment for me.
And, of course, as a computer scientist, the first place that I went was online, so I started reading a lot and, unfortunately, spending time on, kind of, research databases like PubMed isn’t a very effective way of educating yourself because there’s so much science as well as bad science that you could spend the rest of your life reading research reports and still just be confused.
So I think the best sources for me were books and, you know, there’s a number of books, but I think one of the better overviews was the book written by Gary Taubes called Good Calories, Bad Calories.
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Sami Inkinen: You know, it was just one of the information sources that I relied on and we talked with a number of physicians and scientists directly, but that was definitely one of the more transformational books for me.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, it’s a very in-depth book, too, and certainly recommended to everyone, yeah. So, let’s, talking about the challenge, can you explain a little bit about the synopsis and what you and Meredith achieved? What you did?
Sami Inkinen: Yes.
Guy Lawrence: And, as well, who came up with it? You know? Why that challenge?
Sami Inkinen: Well, yeah, first of all, Meredith, my wife and I, we decided to row completely unsupported with no past rowing experience in a, kind of, special adult rowing boat from California to Hawaii across the Pacific Ocean about 2400, 2500 miles. Well we ended up rowing 2,750 completely unsupported this past summer, so we just finished a few months ago.
I’d love to blame my wife for the crazy idea, but I think I was the person who initially got inspired and got this idea and the initial inspiration came from the book called Unbroken, which actually it was just turned into a movie about six months ago, but in this book a second World War Air Force pilot was shot down above the Pacific Ocean and he floated across the Pacific Ocean in a life raft, and I just thought that experience was so amazing and I didn’t want to be in a life raft, but just to experience the wilderness of the Pacific Ocean, so that was kind of a seed in my mind, and I thought, “For once in my lifetime, I want to experience the craziness of the Pacific Ocean.”
So that was the initial inspiration, but then we wanted to turn this crazy expedition into something that would benefit others as well, so we wanted to combine it with this message of, “Sugar is dangerous and more likely than not the processed carbohydrates are dangerous to you as well,” and so we wanted to do this adventure, an expedition, with absolutely no sugar and practically no carbohydrate as well, and that’s what we did.
Guy Lawrence: It was amazing. Was it harder than you thought? Or was it what you expected, you know, or, like, especially if you’ve never done something like that before. I can’t…I struggle to envision being on a boat for 45 days like that.
Sami Inkinen: Yeah. So I grew up in Finland not far from lakes and we had a small summer cottage by a lake, but I have to say I know why oceans are called oceans and not lakes. It’s a completely different environment, and, as you mentioned, neither Meredith nor myself had any experience with oceans. We aren’t sailors. We’ve done nothing related to oceans and we weren’t rowers, either, so to answer your question, we really didn’t have any expectations, because we had never experienced this environment before and we went from zero to sixty miles an hour in many ways in six months.
So six months before the launch, we started to train rowing. We started to train about survival in ocean environments, so we did massive amounts of survival training, navigation training, seamanship, and all these things that you really don’t worry about when you don’t know about sailing boats or anything, getting radio, you know, license and certificates, and understand how you use radios and all these things, so it all happened in six months.
Quite frankly we, I think we had, we didn’t really expect much because we had no idea what this is going to be like, and this may sound really crazy, but we didn’t even spend a single night in our boat until the first night. We slept in the boat, but we kind of slept in a very, sort of, calm condition, so for better or worse, we had a lot of first time experiences once we got out there, which may not sound like the perfect way of preparing for something like this.
Stuart Cooke: Tell us about motivation. With all that prep work that you did for the other elements of the boat, I mean, what, direct, physically stay motivated for that length of time, how is this possible?
Sami Inkinen: Well, first of all, the motivation for this draw was really twofold. One was, we both think that pushing your physical and mental limits is just kind of a full human experience, so we like pushing ourselves beyond what you would expect to be normal, and we find that it’s a very rewarding way of living your life, and you learn all kinds of interesting things about yourself and human life.
And then the second thing is really this motivation to bring awareness, build awareness, around the danger of sugar and processed carbohydrates. Those were kind of driving forces for us. But once you’re out there, the good news is, there’s no turning back, so the only way to get out is to freaking keep rowing.
And we kept rowing up to 18 hours a day, so you can’t really turn back. You really simply can’t, because of the winds and everything, so the only way to get out of the boat is to row to Hawaii, which we thought might take two months.
But then on a more practical level, you really have to focus on the process at the very moment, and you know, this applies to other things is life, but you can’t let your mind get into, kind of, “What is it going to be when we finish? Or what is it going to be…?”
You may be able to think that when you go for a sixty-minute run or a three-hour bike ride, but when you’re there for two months rowing eighteen hours a day, you have to focus on the moment, otherwise, you’ll mentally fall apart and you’re on the ground in pieces, so you focus on the moment and then, you know, like eating an elephant. How do you eat an elephant? You eat it one bite at a time.
Guy Lawrence (simultaneously): One bite at a time.
Sami Inkinen: Yes, you really focus on these micro small milestones, whether that’s your two-hour shift, and you take a five-minute break, maybe it’s a little drinking or maybe it’s your lunch break or something like that, so those two things, like, focus on the moment and then, you know, you have this, sort of small bit-sized chunks that you focus on as opposed to, “Oh, in a month’s time we might finish.”
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
Guy Lawrence: Well, that’s just getting done, isn’t it? Do you meditate outside or, as in outside the rowing, do you do meditation…?
Sami Inkinen: Yeah, I actually…yeah, I started mindfulness meditation practice about two years ago and so did my wife, so I do a couple of minutes every morning the moment I wake up, and frankly we had plenty of time to practice activity-based meditation on the boat. It was actually interesting and powerful to try that during the row, which really helps you to focus on the moment and the sensation and this kind of related to how can you stay focused? It’s obviously uncomfortable for the most part, you know?
Your ass is hurting, your hands are hurting, you’re tired, but there’s nothing more powerful than embracing that pain and discomfort, because once you, sort of, give in and embrace and recognize that feeling, nothing can break you, but as long as you keep, sort of, fighting and bitching to yourself, like, “Oh, my god, my ass is hurting. Oh, my god, I’m tired,” the feeling just sort of escalates in your brain, but the moment you’re like, “I’m hurting. I’m feeling it. It’s uncomfortable, but I’m in it and I’m embracing it,” it’s like, “All right, so what’s worse? It can’t get any worse. You’re in it.”
So, there are a lot of mental lessons that I think are applicable to…
Guy Lawrence: Day-to-day life. Yeah.
Sami Inkinen: Yeah. Day-to-day life at your office or your exercise, so, you know, relationship with people and all other things.
Guy Lawrence: Amazing. Yeah. Something else occurred to me as well, because they say traveling with your partner is the best way to test the relationship, you know, and being in a rowing boat would certainly test that, you know, for me, but obviously it went good, you know? It’s incredible. Yeah.
Sami Inkinen: Yeah, we’re still married, so… You can see I still have the ring, so all went well, but, no, absolutely, it’s a… Not only was it an amazing test, but also an amazing experience that we’ll share for the rest of our lives, and fortunately it turned out positively from a relationship perspective.
Guy Lawrence: Go on, Stu. Go on.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, I was just wondering how you felt when you got off the boat, I mean, what were your feelings and how did you feel?
Sami Inkinen: Well, emotionally, I, and I think my wife as well, we cried a lot immediately after, so it was just, kind of, a big emotional moment to come out. Physically, so we had a doctor who did a quick checkup right after who actually has worked with a number of ocean rowers and her immediate comment was, “I can’t believe how healthy you guys look.” Like, nothing crazy, no crazy inflammation going on.
I had blood work done just a couple of days after the row and, like, we were incredibly healthy from the perspective of inflammation, hormonal markers, and other things, so other than, especially with myself losing a lot of, or having a lot of muscle atrophy in the muscles we didn’t use, which is completely natural, nothing to do with your diet, it’s just if you don’t use those muscles…Other than that, I was feeling incredibly well and within just a couple of days I felt like I was completely back, too.
It took several weeks to build the muscle mass back to some of the muscles that were really… because I didn’t really even stand, I didn’t do anything weight-bearing for two months, so other than that…
Guy Lawrence: So, just upper body, yeah…
Sami Inkinen: Yeah and, you know, rowing is, you do use your legs and low body, kind of like a squat movement, still, you don’t even stand or carry your body weight. There’s a lot of muscle and soft tissue that’s completely unused, and I lost a lot of that, so, like, walking was difficult coming off the boat.
Guy Lawrence: Just to touch back on the diet, because, you know, obviously you’ve changed your diet dramatically. Could you explain what your diet used to look like as a triathlete and what it looks like now, especially preparing and on the boat? The differences you made?
Sami Inkinen: Yeah. So, first of all, I did start changing my diet quite significantly before the row and I’ve raced as a triathlete following graphically similar diet I followed on the boat, but for almost twenty years I followed what I thought was a perfectly healthy diet and the diet that’s promoted by, you know, most governments, including the United States, including Finland, which, to me, was anything that was low-fat or no fat was healthy and, you know, I tried to eat fresh foods, but I ate a lot of packaged foods as well.
So my diet was extremely low fat. I tried to eat whole grains, obviously, not crap, and just a very low-fat diet. Low-fat, I thought it was good, and if it said no fat, it was great, so whether it was bread or skim milk or low-fat cheese or low-fat mayo, you name it, that’s what I was eating. And then, you know, the more I read about sports performance books, it was always, like, “Oh, you have to carb-load and that’s high-octane fuel,” you know, to put it simply, I was on an extremely high-carbohydrate diet, mostly whole grains, grains, vegetables, and all the meat that I was eating, it was super low-fat, so chicken, turkey, no skin, low-fat beef, that was my diet, and I followed that about twenty years.
I kept myself reasonably lean and my race weight low, but it required a ridiculous amount of willpower. We’ve seen what a lot of athletes are capable of doing, but 99 percent of the population just can’t do that and it’s not fun to apply 95 percent of your willpower 300 days a year to just always eat less than you would like to eat.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah, and then moving to the boat, because we watched the documentary a few days ago and what was clear is you were meticulous about, you know, the amount of calories and the amount of fat you ate and the way you set your meals up. Would you mind explaining a little bit about that for us as well, because that was fascinating I thought.
Sami Inkinen: On the boat?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, for the boat, yeah.
Sami Inkinen: Yeah. Well, first of all, obviously, when you’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean there’s no eat stations like in a triathlon race, so there’s no convenience stores or grocery stores that you can stop by when you get hungry or realize that, holy crap, you don’t have enough protein or this or that, so we had to be careful, and even our diet, at least by traditional standards, was very extreme, we want it to also be very scientific about preparing, because we knew that if something goes wrong, whether it’s food-related or something else, we just can’t; there’s no way, no helicopter is going to drop us extra food or extra sodium or extra this or that, so that was one of the reasons we were very, like, everything was calculated, measured, weighed, and we knew then what we have on the boat is sufficient.
But what we ate at the high level, we only tried to pack and eat real whole foods, so in as natural form as possible. That was one. Two, it was extremely low-carbohydrate diet from a macronutrient perspective, so caloric-wise my carbohydrate calories were somewhere between five and ten, around maybe nine percent of calories was carbohydrates. Protein, I think, was about fifteen percent, up to fifteen percent, so it leaves 75 percent to 80 percent of calories from fat, so, you know, I ate probably 5000 calories of fat every day, of which most was saturated fat, so if you want to shock a cardiologist, that’s a pretty good line, “Yeah, I ate 5000 calories of saturated fat for two months, almost two months.”
Stuart Cooke: So, a typical meal for you on the boat would’ve been what?
Sami Inkinen: Yeah, so, and we packed pretty simple, not too much variety, so consequently I was practically eating the same stuff every day. So my breakfast was often salmon or tuna with craploads of olive oil and maybe some macadamia nuts.
My lunch was typically freeze-dried beef that was maybe like 70 percent fat calorically and 30 percent protein mixed with a little bit of freeze-dried vegetables and then I just mixed with water and it became like, you know, like a fresh food, and then I threw in, again, crazy amounts of olive oil into it and salt that had extra potassium and then some seasoning, maybe some olives, so it was kind of a… wasn’t very appetizing-looking necessarily, but I loved it, so that was the reason why I keep so much…
Guy Lawrence: And it was practical.
Sami Inkinen: Yeah, very practical, and we didn’t have to cook anything. We didn’t have to boil water. I didn’t boil water. I boiled water a single time just as an experiment in the first few days, but that was all. So that was kind of my lunch most days.
And then I wasn’t, because we ate very high fat, we were very fat-adapted, so we didn’t have to be eating every 45 minutes, every hour, so sometimes I’d have five, six, seven, hours between meals, but nuts were my favorite snacks. Nuts, coconut butter, and then different nut butters, so macadamia… I had plenty of macadamia nuts, almonds… so that was kind of a typical meal kind of setup.
Guy Lawrence: Were you, do you know if you were in ketosis the whole time or coming in and out? Did you have a doctor on that at all or…?
Sami Inkinen: Yeah. I did measure my ketones along the way. With hindsight, I overate a little bit protein to be in optimal ketosis, so that’s my understanding, that I ate a little bit too much protein, which flipped me out of a perfect zone, but I was definitely on ketosis. I don’t know deep I was, because I didn’t measure that frequently and my personal experience is that if you measure your ketones right after workout, I notice that my ketones actually go down right after the workout, so you give it a couple of hours after that and then they kind of come to the equilibrium of whatever they are and, you know, I was, usually when I measured it was right after my rowing, so…
Guy Lawrence: Do you still eat this way, in terms of the proportions, fat and carbs, or do you…?
Sami Inkinen: Yes.
Guy Lawrence: Every day, training or not?
Sami Inkinen: Yes.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, okay.
Sami Inkinen: The only difference is I have way more fresh food, so, and the fresh food is mainly green leafy vegetables, which weren’t available and I really missed those, so I eat a lot of those, but in terms of the macronutrient composition, I’m, let’s see, yeah, probably five percent carbohydrates, maybe ten, fifteen percent protein, and the rest is fat.
Guy Lawrence: There you go.
Stuart Cooke: Wow. And do you think that this way of eating is beneficial for everyone?
Sami Inkinen: Well, first of all, people look for shortcuts and for simple sound bites like…
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Sami Inkinen: One size does not fit all, so my recommendation when people come to me is, unless I have time to spend, like, two, three hours with someone to talk about XXtheir ???XX [0:26:21] is buy real, whole foods and cook at home. You’re probably better off not buying grains and, yeah, lots of carbohydrates, so that’s my advice to everyone, and if you buy real, whole foods and cook at home, you can’t go wrong, and if you limit carbohydrates, you’re probably better off. Beyond that, it’s kind of an individual situation and it depends on what your health standard is. If you are completely healthy now, you exercise a lot, you’re very carbohydrate-tolerant, insulin sensitive, you may be able to lead a happily healthy life with reasonable amount of stuff that might kill someone else.
So, I don’t, like, one size fits all in this kind of a one sound bite, it just, that’s for people looking for shortcuts and simple answers. There’s no simple answers other than eat real whole foods and cook at home and everything else after that you have to be quite nuanced…
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. A lot of self-experimentation.
Stuart Cooke: I’m guessing then if you retired from sports tomorrow, you would continue to eat this way.
Sami Inkinen: Oh, absolutely, yeah. The way I eat, well, first of all, I think a healthy foundation in your body is an absolutely foundation for sports performance. So, you can’t start from the performance angle first and say, “Hey, why don’t I eat something that makes me somehow, like, really good at sports.” Well, that’s somehow that makes you really good at sports is something that optimizes your general health, because then you recover best, you can train hardest, so I don’t really see those as mutually exclusive, sports performance and health.
Then race time eating or race time nutrition might be different, because you may not be able to, you know, take a plate and take a frying pan and start preparing meals if you’re in the middle of a race, so a race is a different situation but in terms of health and sports performance, it’s tough for me to make the case that they would be mutually exclusive so the answer is, “Yes.”
I want to be as healthy as possible, because that makes me the best possible athlete as well.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, because that’s a focus you don’t see a lot, but athletes do, like, you know, the health sort of becomes a far distant second and that’s all about how can I perform better and achieve more and consequently health would suffer. Like, even with yourself, the change the diet now, have you noticed differences with injuries and things and just with the body itself? Can you put more demands on it the way you’re doing it?
Sami Inkinen: Yeah. Well, this is kind of an n equals one experiment so this is just a personal. It’s anecdotal and those who want to rip apart everyone’s opinions and comments will certainly rip apart my comment, but the thing that I don’t have, which is a good thing, one is, I have much less, knock on wood, but I feel like I don’t get sick at all now. So I used to have my sore throat and sinus and this and that all the time. That’s one.
Two, I don’t have, like, sort of inflammation nagging injuries. I used to have Achilles and shoulder and this and that, lower back and this and that, all the time. I don’t have those at all.
And then anecdotally, I feel that I recover much better, so those are the things that…It appears to me that have significantly improved when I got off the super high-carbohydrate, low fat diet, and then just overall feeling is like, you know, I’m not thinking about really food much at all. I’m not obsessed about always trying to eat ten percent less than I wanted, so I can focus on life rather than, “Oh, I need to be on this athlete diet which sucks all the time.”
Guy Lawrence: I know, we now a few, I mean, you know, a good endurance athlete as well, and they get ravenous, like, you know, they’d eat a loaf of banana bread in seconds, you know, and then they come out and it’s like, “Wow. That can’t be helpful.”
Stuart Cooke: So, we’ve touched a little bit on food, I’m interested to know your thoughts on sports drinks.
Sami Inkinen: Sports drinks?
Stuart Cooke: Sports drinks, yeah. So I guess, what did you drink while you were on the row and perhaps, historically, what did you used to drink when you were training as to what you might drink now?
Sami Inkinen: Yeah. So our sports drink of choice on the boat was water which was made out of ocean water with our desalinator, so we, you know, carrying the amount of water that you need for two months when you are sweating, rowing eighteen hours a day, obviously, which people used to do, the few crazy individuals who did this before, solar panels and desalinators, the rowing boats were gigantic because they had to carry all their water through the whole thing.
Guy Lawrence: All their water. Yeah.
Sami Inkinen: So, we were drinking ocean water, which was desalinated, no sodium, and we had zero electrolyte solutions whatsoever on the boat which probably could be surprising to people. So our sports electrolyte solution of choice was table salt.
Guy Lawrence: Plain old table salt.
Sami Inkinen: Yeah. We had table salt that had, you know, added potassium, but you know, it’s a grocery store product that you buy. That was the only thing that we had. We also had a magnesium tablets, but the only reason we had that was because all the beef that, and the meat, that we ate was dehydrated and it was treated in a way that it had lower amounts of magnesium that you would otherwise find, so we had that just in case that we wouldn’t have muscle cramps, but that’s all.
And, like I said, we had no aid station, we had no sports stores, so we were absolutely confident that the real whole foods based diet, regardless of our eighteen hours of exercise a day, is completely efficient, so I guess long story short to answer your question, we were able to exercise eighteen hours a day with zero sports drinks and eighteen hours a day, I burn about the same amount of calories as running two marathons each day for 45 days non-stop.
Guy Lawrence: That’s amazing, man.
Sami Inkinen: That doesn’t make it science, but it’s not a very good headline for a sports drink marketer.
Guy Lawrence: Do you ever get people just going, “Oh, that’s rubbish, “or disbelief or…what’s the reaction being… for you achieving this in the sports fraternity especially, you know? Like, because it’s so against everything we’ve told.
Sami Inkinen: I don’t know. I don’t really care. I mean, I let others judge and form their opinions and, if somebody doesn’t believe in what we did or that might be the right way to eat or drink or hydrate yourself then that’s their choice. Yeah, but your question of what do I have now, so if I go to a four or five-hour bike ride, I just have water in my bottle, but I usually try to make sure that I have, like, lots of salt before. I might throw in some table salt into my water bottles in my bike, and then, once I finish, I have extra salt to swallow.
So you certainly need the sodium, but I’m just conscious of that if I do something that is more than two hours and it’s hot and I know that I’m going to be sweating, yeah, I kind of buffer a little bit, but I don’t run out of sodium.
Guy Lawrence: Amazing. And just one question that I really wanted to touch on while we’ve got you on the show, Sami, is just for the listeners out there regarding your training, could you share with us now even when you’re leading up to an event or something what a typical training day and a typical training week would look like? The amount of volume you would do in that?
Sami Inkinen: Yeah. Well, it obviously depends on what I’m preparing for, but looking at the last five, even ten years of my training log, it’s… overall volume is the same, the content just changes, but weekdays, I usually work out between 50 and 90 minutes per day. You know, maybe an average of an hour a day, and then the weekend, either for training or social reasons, I do a longer, usually it’s a bike ride that’s anywhere between three and five hours, more often three to four hours, so if you do the math, I mean the second day might be another one or two-hour bike ride or run or something, but you know I end up training about ten hours a week, week in, week out, and you know, I love exercising so that’s one of the reasons.
It’s my way of, like, clearing my mind, and if I’m training for an event it’s much more focused, so there’s more high-intensity and that’s sort of thing, but the hours I’d say… eight to eleven hours a week. It’s difficult to find a week that’s out of those parameters for less than eleven hours, and then you know, I might sometimes more strength-training, sometimes less, but that’s kind of the setup.
So when I say one-hour day, so it could be a recovery workout where I go and ride about a bike for 50 minutes. Super easy, so that’s almost like doing nothing for me, but it counts as a one-hour workout, so another one-hour workout might be ten times one-minute all out, warm out, cool down, so once again it’s one hour, so it’s again, it’s an hour, but you know, it really depends on what I do there, but I’m so used to exercise that I kind of end up spending the one hour every morning just to get out there and do something and, yeah, but what you do within an hour makes a huge difference.
Guy Lawrence: Oh, yeah.
Stuart Cooke: It does, it does. One question as well, Sami, that we ask everybody, and I know we’ve got thousands of people that would love to know, a typical daily diet for you. What have you eaten today?
Sami Inkinen: What have I had today? Probably the most dangerous, no question about, answer, because everyone always asks, “So what do you eat exactly?” I always try to avoid going into details, because then people either want to copy, they’ll want to rip it apart, so I’ve always tried to avoid, like, posting somewhere, like, “Here’s exactly what I eat.” Not because there’s anything scandalous or anything, but, again, people are looking for this, like…
Guy Lawrence: Magic fix?
Sami Inkinen: …sound bite, like one size fits all, but typically I eat, before workout, I probably have, like four or five hundred calories of fat and, practically speaking, that’s usually coconut butter or coconut oil in a tea or coffee or butter so that was the case this morning as well, so, I mean, I don’t count the calories, but just to give you a sense of, like…
Guy Lawrence: Guestimate, yeah.
Sami Inkinen: You know, a crapload of fat with a drink, and you know it’s pretty fast to digest and it doesn’t feel like it’s in your stomach if you go and work out, so that’s… Then right after workout, I usually have a little bit of a protein, so this could be three to five eggs, fried with top fat again, butter usually, in a pan, depending how busy I am. My lunch is usually a salad, so it looks like it’s lots of salad, but it’s lots of greens and then with a little bit of protein, so that could be a salmon or ground beef and then a lot of olive oil or butter or some sort of mayo.
Snacks oftentimes it’s some sort of meat or sausage or almonds or macadamia nuts and then dinner is even a, you know, a bowl that you would usually feed a horse from. That kind of size full of greens that I may sauté in a pan with a bunch of butter or just like put in, like, it’s gigantic and then again with some kind of protein. It could be shrimps or fish or grass with beef or more butter. I usually drink water, but I might have almond milk, just for the heck of it, maybe some frozen berries after that, like blueberries or something like that. Nothing too scientific.
Stuart Cooke: Sounds delicious.
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome. Mate, we’ve got one more question that we always ask everyone on the podcast as well and it can be related to anything, but what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Sami Inkinen: That someone has given to me?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Sami Inkinen: Oh… happy wife, happy life. It sounds like a cliché, but once you’ve been married for a few years you realize that it’s so true.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: That’s a great answer.
Stuart Cooke: I hear where you’re coming from, Sami, with that one.
Guy Lawrence: Just to wrap it up, what does the future hold for Sami Inkinen? Any more challenges ahead or anything in the pipeline?
Sami Inkinen: Well I’m working very hard on my MacBook Air, just kind of on the technology side of things, but athletically I’m doing the eight-day mountain biking stage race in South Africa in March called Cape Epic, so it’s, you know, five to seven hours on the bike each day for eight days. So that’s coming up in less than two months, so two months’ time. Excited about that, so that’s my athletic in the horizon, so I’d better get myself on the bike.
Stuart Cooke: My word, I’ve been a mountain biker all my life, I would shudder at the thought of undertaking something like that, so I would… We’ll keep an eye on that one, for sure.
Guy Lawrence: Definitely! And for them listening to this, Sami, if they want to, you know, track your progress or follow you, do you have a website or a blog they can check out at all or a URL?
Sami Inkinen: Yeah, well maybe a couple of things, the row, if you’re interested in learning more about the row, we have a website called Fat Chance Row, fatchancerow.org, so you can go there and read a little bit about the background and we raised money for a non-profit and we are still doing that, so if you want to support, none of the money comes to us, it goes directly to the non-profit. So that’s one, and then, if you want to follow me on Twitter, one way to follow what I might be up to, is just my first name, last name on Twitter, so S, A, M, I, I,N, K, I, N, E, N, Sami Inkinen on Twitter, and you know I sometimes blog on my website, but it’s not too frequent so…
Guy Lawrence: No worries. We’ll put the appropriate links to that on the show anyway and help spread the word. Thanks, Sami, thanks so much for coming on the show. That was awesome and I have no doubt everyone is going to get a lot out of that today.
Stuart Cooke: I think so, very, very inspiring. Really appreciate the time, Sami.
Sami Inkinen: Yeah. My pleasure, so thanks so much, guys.
WATCH the full interview below or LISTEN to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Guy: Whether you are an elite athlete, weekend warrior or even a coach potato, there’s much wisdom to be had here when it comes to fuelling your body daily for optimum performance. With so much conflicting advice out there when it comes to nutrition, who better person to ask than someone who walks their talk. Elite CrossFit athlete, Ruth Anderson Horrell shares her insights around nutrition daily and also during competition time. No matter what your goals are, it’s certainly worth a few minutes of your time… Enjoy.
“Never say, ‘can’t’… The word just makes me cringe and it is such a negative thought to ever think that you can’t do something. You may not be able to yet, or whatever it is, but if you decide you can’t, it’s like you’re already there.”― Ruth Anderson Horrell, Elite Crossfit Athlete
Ruth Anderson Horrell is a New Zealand representative CrossFit Athlete. She has represented the Australasia region at the World Reebok CrossFit Games in 2011, 2012 and 2013! Ruth competes for NZ as an Olympic Weightlifter. In 2012 she competed at the Oceania and Trans Tasman Champs. Ruth is a successful co-owner and coach at CrossFit Wild South and works as a Locum small animal veterinarian when she has time :)Currently she is training towards being Australia’s best female CrossFit athlete. She trains in Los Angeles under the instruction of Dusty Hyland for parts of the year.
Ruth Anderson Horrell Full Interview:
In This Episode:
How she walks the fine-line between optimum training and overtraining
Her recovery strategies
Her own exercise routines
What CrossFit Regional Games looked like 8 years ago!
The advice she would give her 20 year old self when starting CrossFit
Guy:Hey this Guy Lawrence from 180 Nutrition, and welcome to today’s health session. You’ll have to forgive me, it’s nearly 40 degrees Celsius in this room; it is hot. That’s okay, lets push on with the intro. Today’s guest is Ruth Anderson Horrel. She is an incredible athlete, as far as I’m concerned. She’s a Crossfit athlete, if you’re not familiar with her, and she’s been to the Crossfit world games three times. I can assure you now, that is a hell of an achievement. She has a wealth of experience when it comes to exercise, nutrition, and recovery, and I think the one intention was today, whether you’re into Crossfit or not, we really wanted to tap into Ruth’s experience, and wisdom, and hopefully get a few gems across to pick up for everyone, ’cause I think there’s certainly a theme that’s coming across in the podcast, and the way people approach their diet, whether they’re at the elite end of athleticism, or not.
Whether you just move daily and just trying to drop a bit of weight, there’s always some fantastic lessons to be learned from some of the best people that we can get hold of, that’s for sure. The other thing I’d encourage to do as well, is actually follow Ruth on Instagram, and then you’ll start to see what I mean by what her athletic abilities are, and what she is capable of.
Now, I haven’t asked for a review for a while, but I will. We had a fantastic review on iTunes come in the other day. I always ask for them because they obviously help with the rankings, but other people read them as well, and it’ll encourage them to listen to the podcast, so if you’re getting great befits from listening to my podcast every week when we push them out, then it takes two minutes if you could leave a review. The one we had just the other day says, “my favorite podcast by far,” with 5 stars, that was very generous, by [chinlo 00:01:47]. “Thank you, Guy and Stu for hours of learning. My favorite thing to do is listen to your podcast while going for a nice, long walk. I’ve listened to most of them twice or more. I never tire of your fantastic hosting, A-grade guests, [00:02:00] and the wonderful insights your podcasts bring.” I thought that was absolutely wonderful, so thank you for that, and hence why I gave you a shout out.
We read them all. Tell us how you listen to our podcast. I’d be fascinated to hear because we’re in, I think over 50 countries now, getting downloaded anyway, which is really cool. All right. I’m going to stop blabbering. Let’s go over to Ruth Anderson Horrel. Enjoy.
Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart [Cooke 00:02:27]. Hi, Stu.
Guy:Good to see you. You’re looking well, mate.
Guy:Our lovely guest today is Ruth Anderson Horrel. Welcome, Ruth.
Guy:I just realized, did I pronounce your last name correct?
Ruth:Yeah, that’s good. Yeah.
Guy:Okay. I always get confused slightly on that. You’re not the first guest, either. I have no doubt they’ll be two parties listening in on this podcast today. That’s going to be one that’s going to know [inaudible 00:02:55] is, and who you are and Crossfit fanatics, and then I think a big portion of our listeners, as well. They will have heard of Crossfit, but are not going to have any idea. I think hopefully we can, between us all, please both parties today. That’s our intention, anyway, and tap into some of your experience over the years, which we’re excited about.
Just to start and get the ball rolling, as always on our podcasts, can you just mind sharing a little bit about what you do, including Crossfit and outside of Crossfit as well? I know there’s a lot more to you than just going to Crossfit every day and training your heart out, really, isn’t it?
Ruth:Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s a big part of it. It’s a pretty big goal for the last few years has been competing at the Crossfit games and doing well there. In the meantime, on the Crossfit journey, I ended up opening a Crossfit gym about 5 years ago also. That’s been steadily growing and keeping us busy. That’s been a whole new experience for me, just learning how to run [00:04:00] that business. I also run a website, ruthless.co.nz, where we sell Crossfit equipment and accessories and things. That’s normally a few hours of my day, as well. Then I’m a small animal veterinarian and I’ve been doing that for 2 days a week for the last … I’ve been fairly part time, actually with it, probably for the last 3-4 years, so that I can focus on my training. Yeah.
Guy:Many balls in the air.
Guy:Can you share with the listeners where you are, as well? It’s a part of the world that I really want to go to.
Ruth:Yeah, yeah. It would be a bit of a temperature drop for you guys. I’m in Invercargill, which is right on the south coast of the South Island in New Zealand. We were the southern-most affiliate. I haven’t actually done a check lately, but we’re pretty south as far as Crossfit gyms and population, generally, I guess.
Guy:Yeah, yeah, yeah. What’s the weather like there now. Is it all right? Not too cold?
Ruth:Well yeah, it’s our summer, but we’re sitting early 20s today. At most over the summer, we’ll hit 30 degrees probably only a few times. It’s not a huge variation.
Stu:Comfortable. That’s what I like, cool and comfortable, doesn’t keep you awake at nights like last night.
Ruth:No, definitely not. No, no. No trouble sleeping. The room’s always fairly cool.
Stu:Good. Good on you. For our audience that are not Crossfit savvy, and for anybody else who really doesn’t entirely understand what Crossfit is, I wondered if you could just explain? Give us your elevator pitch. What is Crossfit?
Ruth:As Greg Glassman always says, [00:06:00] “I’ll show you. Come and have a go.”
Guy:I’ve never been there, but you’ve explained it.
Ruth:It is a really tough question. It’s actually funny. We were sitting around at the Queenstown Crossfit Tour and there was a bunch of all these elite athletes at a table. The waiter came around and said, “So what is Crossfit?” Everyone looked at each other. It was like, “Who’s going to answer it?” You’ve got people that have literally based their life around it and still have trouble explaining well how it works.
It’s a strengthening conditioning program. It’s constantly varied, so people that train Crossfit style, every day they go into the gym, they’ll be able to try new things that there will be either a variation of movement, variation of weights, variation of complexity, and a variation of time that they’re going to work out. A huge range of energy systems get used because it scopes literally from workouts that can take seconds to workouts that can take probably around an hour or so. There’s a few that go a bit longer.
For me, it’s a sport. For most people, it’s a way of just maintaining health and fitness. For me, it’s become a sport and it creates a slightly different level, I guess, a different level of complexity in terms of movements and weights and everything else.
Ruth:It’s different. The movements are very much preparing people for everyday life. That’s probably the thing I love most about it. I’m training an older lady at the moment who’s preparing to walk one of the big, there’s [00:08:00] lots of beautiful walks in New Zealand, and she’s 65 and she’s preparing to walk a trek that’s about 60 kilometers with a pick. We know that we can get her ready for that.
Guy:What is the diversity of people that you train, then? I think with Crossfit, if you’re on the outside looking in, it’s very easy to say, “Oh, that’s an elitist thing,” because the guys are generally pro videos, the guys that are really good at it. You don’t see the other side of it.
Ruth:Yeah, for sure. In our gym, the oldest person is actually my dad and he’s about to turn 70, but there would be no reason we couldn’t have older people. That’s just as old as we currently go. In terms of the youngest, well, we’ve got Crossfit kids and teens at our gym, so those kids are learning body weight movements and things from age 6. There’s a pretty huge range there, and then of course you get that huge range in how much sport people have previously done and also just what they do in their everyday life. We have people that have relatively sedentary jobs and in our box we also have a lot of people that are laborers or mechanics, builders, gardeners, that do a lot of physical work. It’s important for them to either reverse some of those effects of some of the quite repetitive movements that they’re doing and address some of the mobility problems and things that may come from that, and also just so they can be stronger and reduce the chance of getting injured while they’re lifting heavy objects and things they do at work.
Guy:Yeah. I’d imagine you’ve seen quite a few transformations all the time, as well, with people coming in [00:10:00] and following the protocol all the way through and seeing how that impacts their lives.
Ruth:Yeah. It’s really cool when people that they haven’t done a lot of exercise before, they’re the most scared. They’re the most apprehensive at walking in the door, but in many ways, they’re the most exciting people to train because you’ve got a little bit of a blank canvas and you know you can really make a difference by coaching these people in movement and having a better way of life.
Guy:I’d just say anyone listening to this who hasn’t tried Crossfit, they should put it on their bucket list and at least walk into a box and try it once and see what all the fuss is about. I recommend you.
Ruth:Yeah, absolutely. I think …
Stu:I’m thinking about just common issues, Ruth, as well. If I’m new to Crossfit, I’m going in, what do you typically see from people that walk into your box, because we’ve experienced it ourselves, Guy and myself, and we were voracious when we started. We probably hit it a little bit too hard, personally. What are commonalities that you see with the newbies?
Ruth:Yeah, I guess that wanting to have the more advanced movements before having the basic elements.
Ruth:That’s cool. You’ve got to have a goal and a dream. I know when I first discovered Crossfit, there was much less on the internet about it than there is now, but I remember seeing videos of people doing … Girls were the biggest thing, not guys, of seeing women do things like muscle ups and lift weights over their heads and things like that. That was what inspired me to get started with it. I didn’t have a box to walk in the door of, but [00:12:00] that’s what inspired me to get started. You know that people need to have those dreams, but just not paying attention to the basic movements first before, “But can I get up and just hit it a go? I just want to jump in those rings and I just want to do this and that and swing around.” They’re just not quite grasping some of the complexity and the amount of elements that needs to be tied in.
That’s just the learning process. A lot of that is our job as coaches, to help people see, “Well, okay. Well, there’s some deficiencies here and here, and if we work on those parts, then we’re going to get this mastered.” Then I guess just not paying any attention to their own recovery or mobility. I’d probably put those 2 together. Just trying to get in the gym right when class starts and get straight into the workout and just not paying any attention to some of the things that they need to do to get their body well-prepped. We coach people into generally trying to come 15-20 minutes before class. We still run a warm-up, but we want people to work on their own specific things that they need to address.
I know for myself, I took way too long to start addressing my problems with my thoracic mobility, and basically because I just didn’t know any better and I didn’t have anyone to tell me any more than that. It ended up that I ended up having an injury when I was competing. I had slipped a disc at T-5, which is quite an unusual injury. That forced me to address it, but that’s neither something that you would want to happen to an athlete that’s coming into, for a strengthening conditioning program. They need to be aware of where those deficiencies are [00:14:00] and what they need to do to resolve them.
Stu:Great. One of the take homes for me, from being a Crossfitter for a couple of years, was just the importance of my mobility and flexibility. That’s something that I do every day as well now. Just the realization that we really do need to get moving and stretch these muscles and open up the joints … Every day from sitting at a desk, I go over and I’ll go into a squat and just sit there for 5 minutes, roll my shoulders and just get, open myself up and just try and get in a few positions that ordinarily, most people would just never even conceive of wanting to try. It makes me feel so much more alive and open. Great lessons in there.
Ruth:I think range of motion has a huge impact just on our quality of life and when you see older people that just haven’t been able to maintain activity, just how quickly range of motion gets lost, and then strength goes with it. Yeah, that’s definitely … I’m still learning about range of motion and how things can be improved, really.
Guy:How long have you been involved in Crossfit, just out of curiosity, Ruth?
Ruth:I think about 8-1/2 years.
Guy:Right, and you’ve been in Invercargill that whole time? What made me think, is because you opened a box there 5 years ago. What were you doing before the box came?
Ruth:Yeah, we just started out. My brother-in-law was living down here at the time and he had been living in Melbourne. Someone had just showed it to him. I’m not even sure if he’d done a workout with these people. Some people just showed him the Crossfit.com website and he came back. He was taking me through some personal training. We were just doing some strengthening so I could [00:16:00] compete at a triathlon that I wanted to do. Yeah, we just decided to start following some workouts on Crossfit.com and things got wild pretty quickly. Within 4 months, I went out to the first-ever regionals, which was in …
Ruth:Yeah. Yeah. Is that eight years?
Guy:It’d be a while back, because I had a friend that competed in it.
Guy:Long time ago.
Ruth:Yeah, I went out to CFX there and that was just when you could roll up to regionals.
Ruth:[crosstalk 00:16:57] since you had no idea what. We didn’t even really know what all the movements of Crossfit were at that stage. I was like, “Oh, okay. Clean and jerk. All right.” The judge is out back with each person, showing them all the movements that they’re going to need to do, a bit like a level 1.
Stu:That’s a radical change from any training that you would have been doing at the time, as a triathlete, as well, to then suddenly go into these wild and wacky Olympic lifts and technical movements. Wow. How did that work out?
Ruth:I did miss one of the workouts at the competition because I couldn’t do a ring dip, but I think I had captain pull ups by then, had no idea what a butterfly pull up was at that stage. We actually had a sand dune run, so I did really well on that and I think there was another workout I did quite well in. It was okay, but I know I did miss on 1 of the workouts, not being able to do a ring dip. I just couldn’t believe that there were girls there that could do ring dips. I was like, “Oh, my goodness.” The rings was totally, was not even something that I had, wasn’t a piece of equipment that we even had. We were playing. We didn’t even have a kettlebell, actually. We were swinging a dumbbell.
Ruth:We did okay, probably as you would expect, but it really was an inspiring moment for me to realize the level that some of the athletes were at and that in some ways, I could see that I could be there.
Guy:That’s amazing, because Crossfit’s come such a long way. Like, when you look at the caliber of athlete today that you compete against, if anyone seemed again to walk into a regional games, it’s well and gone in Australia. Go and check it out for an hour. It’s phenomenal, the standard of athlete today. How many were competing at the time back then? Was it …
Ruth:I’m going to say there might have been about 30-40 women, and probably the same for the men.
Ruth:Yeah, so I imagine it was just advertised on the Crossfit.com website. Just clicked the link and registered, and all the sudden, I flew to Sydney and had a go.
Ruth:I’ve been really fortunate, to be able to grow with the sport, I guess.
Guy:You have, yeah, fully. Absolutely. Move on to the next question, when you’ve talked, because we’re still on the topic of training, how do you, I’m always curious to ask athletes this, walk the fine line between optimum training and over-training?
Ruth:Yeah. I’ve definitely crossed the line before, so I know what that feels like. I’ve had to be aware of how to modify. I had quite a big hand surgery this time last year and I have had a few injuries along the way, so I’ve had to be aware of how to be patient with those and modify things as needed. I know my body. Generally, if I’m over-doing [00:20:00] it, I generally wake up very early in the morning. I never have too much trouble getting to sleep, but I have a little bit of trouble staying asleep. That’s normally the warning sign for me, if I’m not able to maintain my regular sleep pattern. There’s normally something amiss, because generally that won’t happen. As soon as something like that, if I become aware of that, then I’ll normally start throwing in some more rest days, beyond what my regular rest days are.
Ruth:I guess it’s a difficult thing. I feel like you probably need to cross the line to know exactly where it is, in some ways. You probably need to make a couple of errors to work it out.
Guy:Along the way, you learn from it. Yeah. You intuitively get in-tuned in. Maybe you should explain to everyone listening to this, as well, what a typical day of training might look like for you. We know coming into the season of Crossfit … You’ll be competing for the regionals, Auckland regionals this year, Ruth?
Guy:Yeah. Some of the listeners might not know, you picked up an injury last year leading into the, was it the open or the regionals itself?
Ruth:Yeah, yeah, we were about 3 weeks out from the start of the open and my tendon on my thumb snapped. It was a little bit of, “Maybe I just don’t have the surgery and have a floppy thumb,” and then I decided I needed to get it done. That was a tricky decision because I’d obviously worked my butt off to come back and give it to Carson and go back to the Crossfit games and have a good shot. I felt like everything was falling well into place, so it was one of those stumbling blocks.
Guy:[00:22:00] Yeah, but a year comes around quickly. Here it is again, right?
Ruth:Yeah, yeah. Sorry, what was your question again?
Guy:We were talking about the fine line of over-training and recovery.
Guy:Now we get into the season, just to give listeners an idea, what would your typical training day or week look like?
Ruth:At the moment, I’m generally doing 3 days on, 1 off. That varies a little bit throughout the year, but that’s currently what I’m sticking with. Today, for example, I’ve been in the gym and I’ve done a couple of hours of gymnastics training, working position, a very small amount of what I would consider conditioning, but for the most part, just working position and some of the movements that I find more challenging. I quite like to start my day with more technical elements like that, but I have a little bit of variation. Sometimes I will lift in the morning. Generally, I’ll try and get in at least an hour. It will depend on my coaching schedule, but at least an hour, possibly 2 before lunch and then in the afternoon, I will generally start an afternoon session with a good 90 minutes or so of lifting and then I’ll have a little break and then I’ll start having my conditioning.
[inaudible 00:23:25], so what people would commonly get if they go in for a class, and then I often end a session with some interval-style training. Yeah, that’s about it. It’s a bit broken up into little blocks, 60-90 minutes at a time, and give myself a bit of a break. The break might include getting in a personal training session with someone or getting some of my other business work done and then coming back to [00:24:00] training. I find it pretty hard to just hit a 3-hour block or something, of training. There has been times I’ve had to do it because of my schedule.
Guy:It’s a huge commitment, isn’t it?
Stu:3 days on, 1 day off, so that 1 day that is going to be really, really important for you to rest and recover. I’m interested in the strategies. Are there any? What does a Crossfit champ do on the recovery day to absolutely maximize that day for everything?
Ruth:I need to do a lot of mobility work, so I try and get in, it will be an hour, and I try and do more if I can. Some of that, for me, it needs to include a bit of activation-type work as well, just to get my shoulders moving as best as they can and glute activation and making sure my hips are as mobile as possible. For me, that’s been important. Number 1, I’ll be 32 this year. I guess in the life of Crossfit athletes, it’s creeping up there at the end of staying at world-level competition. It’s just something I just have to make sure I’m really on top of the mobility side.
I used to do a bit more of things like having a jog, like doing a long run in the bush and things like that. I don’t do that every … I consider that more of a workout now. I try and have my rest days as being a bit more rest days. It will depend on my state of mind, I guess, as to whether I want to throw in some skill work at the same time, as well. If there’s something that is just technically challenging and not going to be over-fatiguing, [00:26:00] I might do that, as well. If I just feel like I’ve been at the gym so much over those last few days and would prefer to have a break, then I won’t.
Guy:How many hours sleep do you get a night, Ruth, normally?
Ruth:My target’s 9.
Guy:There you are. Okay. Yeah. A good night’s sleep, right? I like it.
Ruth:Yeah, yeah. I probably hit 8 most of the time and try to get another 30 minutes in the afternoon. I love getting an afternoon nap. It just makes training in the afternoon go better and just feel so good. That’s my favorite thing, but just, life doesn’t always allow it.
Stu:That recovery day is wildly different to anything that I thought you were going to say. I imagined that you were going to say, “I’m going to sleep in, have a coffee, go down to the local video store, get my favorite movie, sit back on the lounge with my dog, and just veg out.” I didn’t expect to hear that …
Ruth:I wish. I wish, but no, I’ve got to run the businesses and do all those other things, so I probably have a bit more catch-up and try to get on top of the world as much as I can, emails and all that kind of stuff, have a real tidy-up so that it allows me more time on the training days.
Ruth:Yeah, yeah. I don’t … I’m not big on lying around too much. I like to get out of the house, mow my lawns, and I like to keep moving. Yeah. As you see, get in squat position and stuff while I’m weeding my garden.
Stu:I’ll write you a recovery program, Ruth, and see how that goes down for you: lots of movies and stuff like that. Guy touched on sleep there, as well, which obviously is critical for everybody, even more critical when you’re an elite athlete. Have you got any tips or tricks that have worked for you? Do you do anything in particular to get that solid sleep working for you?
Ruth:[00:28:00] Yeah. I don’t like bright light. I know I’ve stayed at some other people’s homes and I’ve found if their living rooms and things are really lit up, I find that quite buzzy. I just think they interfere.
Ruth:I try not to spend too much time watching TV or anything late at night. My room is really dark. I live right at the end of the street and there’s no street lights that affect my room. I’ve got proper blackout curtains and things. I typically don’t have any trouble. It’s cool, I should mention, but that’s just, that’s without air conditioning. It’s just the temperature is cool.
Stu:I could have done with that last night.
Ruth:It’s pretty good. I always take magnesium in the night time, and the amount will depend on if I’ve had a massive training day or have some with my dinner and some again just before I go to bed.
Stu:Any particular type of magnesium that works for you?
Ruth:I think it’s called diglycinate?
Ruth:Yeah. Is that right? It’s a powder drink that I make up. I find that fantastic.
Stu:Right. Got it.
Ruth:I just notice it, if I’ve missed it for a few days. I just feel like I’m missing it. It’s been a supplement I’ve taken for a long time.
Guy:I’m interested, as well. You’re going to be pretty switched on with the nutrition. I know we’re going to get into that topic a bit later, but in terms of recovery, have you ever deviated from the way you eat, and how did that go on and affected your recovery? Have there been any kind of correlations that you’ve seen at that end?
Ruth:Yeah. I’ve had things like I’ve trained, a workout’s taken way longer than I expected. [00:30:00] I’ve literally got 10 minutes and I need to run a class, so I’m having a shower and then starting class. I totally skip having any post-workout nutrition. I’ve generally been more sore for that the next day.
Ruth:I know that I need to get some carbohydrate and protein in after I train, and it does seem to be quite a difference if I haven’t got it in within 30 minutes of training. The next day’s always going to be tougher. Definitely just, life’s got in the way and I haven’t done things as I would have liked. I’ve known the difference for that.
Guy:Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, fantastic. Excellent. Now, do you have … I’m assuming you have coaches, as well, guiding you to the games. I’ve also noticed that you’ve gone to America for the last few times that you’ve competed prior to the games, as well.
Guy:Why do you go to America, first of all? Yeah, beforehand.
Ruth:In our town, there wasn’t Crossfit. My first introduction to some high-class, quality coaches was when I met Dusty Holland at the gymnastics [cert 00:31:19] at the [Schwartz 00:31:23] Gym in Melbourne, about 4 years ago, I think. Met him and we became really good friends and I traveled out to him. I think I’ve had 6 trips out now to the states to spend good blocks of time with him. They also gave me an opportunity to train with some amazing athletes like [Sam Bricks 00:31:48] and Lindsay [Vellanzuella 00:31:51], [Tina Lee Brixton 00:31:52], some really, really amazing athletes out there. Initially, my gymnastics was my largest weakness [00:32:00] in my range of movements, so it seems like the perfect match. Dusty’s continued to program for me for a number of years now. We don’t chat as much as we would like to at the moment because we’re both really busy people, but he definitely helps guide me to making sure I’m working on some of the new movements that are coming into the sport and just continuing to develop my virtuosity in the more basic elements, as well.
I’ve also had a weightlifting coach here in Invercargill for a number of years, which has been fantastic, Joe [Stinsy 00:32:43]. He’s actually one of the New Zealand coaches now, as well. We traveled to Papua New Guinea and competed at the Oceaneas last year, did there as well.
Guy:Yeah, because I was going to ask, it requires so much discipline, what you’re doing leading up into the open and competing, so do you have a coach at every training session with you, or is a lot of it self disciplined, that you’re just literally just turning up and training, because it’s hard to ask. Some people, it’s hard to do a bit of exercising in a day, just to motivate themselves, let alone at that end.
Ruth:Yeah, yeah. I have some days where it is totally no one else at the gym, so they’re probably the more challenging days. I find even just having someone else there, whoever it might be, is just useful. In recent months, I’ve actually been grabbing some of the guys and saying, “Hey, I’ve got to do these 6Ks or row sprints. Do you want to join me on it,” things like that and just fun.
Guy:Do you get any takers?
Ruth:Yeah, I do. Yeah. I choose things that I like, totally, and they will help. They’re like, “Yeah, yeah. Okay. Take you on at that.” I’ve also had a bit of [00:34:00] the athletes partnering up and taking me on at a workout. They’re doing it as a partner would, thing like that. We try and find ways, but for the most part, no, I don’t have a coach hanging with me in the gym each day. That definitely has its down sides, but some part of me likes being at the bottom of the earth and away from too much hype. Probably one of the harder things of training at Dog Town with Dusty was, cameras would be showing up every second day and different people wanting to take videos and pictures and just a lot more people, just a lot more going on.
In some ways, it gives me a little bit more focus. I do a lot of, what’s the word, visualizing, so even in my sessions this morning, which probably weren’t the type of things you would expect to see at a competition that were quite skill-based things, before the clock starts, I still am imagining I’m either on the games floor or I’m standing up there at regionals. I try and put myself in that mental space.
Stu:Do you use your visualization for stuff outside of Crossfit, as well, everyday life? I know that I always visualize the rock star car parking space when I’m out and about and I need to pull in somewhere, and 9 out of 10 times, I get it. It’s true.
Ruth:I have to think about that. I don’t know if I do as much.
Guy:You should try it. Stu recommends it. I do well at it because I’ve got a motorbike.
Ruth:I’m really good at parking anyway. No, I don’t know. I’ll have to think about that. I might subconsciously do it.
Stu:I reckon [00:36:00] that there’s merit in that stuff. I do, just all of that stuff. I’m just really into, “I’m thinking it, I’m seeing it, and I’m going to make it happen.
Guy:Yeah. It’s interesting what you said, Ruth. It made me think of a podcast I listen to with [Dorian Yates 00:36:18]. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Dorian Yates, but he was the bodybuilding world champion in the 90s. I think he won 7 titles and incredible. They used to call him The Shadow because he always used to stay out of the glitz and glamour of LA and the limelight. He had a little gym in Birmingham and nobody knew what he was up to. He said he used to use it to his advantage, so he would train, he would visualize going to all these great competitions where everyone else was seeing actually what they were doing and competing and judging themselves. He just stayed away from the whole thing and then would turn up when it was time for Mr. Universe and just blow them out of the water, you know?
Ruth:Sometimes, if you’re competing against another athlete and you’re actually, if you’re beating them by a lot, or say if you’re training with them and you’re beating them by a lot, you can think that you’re doing quite well and back off. Whereas if you’re visualizing someone that’s better than you or just beating you, then that’s, I see that as an advantage. I’m not going to lie. There’s definitely days when you’re all alone in the gym and you just think, “Gosh, this is a tough ask.”
Stu:It is tricky. I know that training on your own versus training with a crowd versus training with a crowd of elites, there is that impetus to absolutely excel and put on your best show. There are days when I go down and lift a few weights in the gym and I think, “Well, I’ve had enough. Nobody’s around. Nobody knows.”
Ruth:[00:38:00] I have probably ruined myself a little bit, training against some other athletes. I had a bit of a shoulder niggle, but I was still trying to do the workouts, because the other athletes were doing those, and they weren’t things I should have been doing, if I was just sticking to what was going to be good for me. I probably wouldn’t have done them. That’s probably one of the disadvantages, that you get a little bit hyped up in the moment and you want to do exactly what everyone else is doing, and that’s not always the right thing to do.
Stu:Yeah. Completely. Next time you’re in Sydney, you come train with me and I guarantee that won’t happen.
Ruth:I’d like to see that.
Stu:You’re wandering down the street in Invercargill and you bump into a 20-year-old version of yourself. Obviously, you’ve got 10 years of experience, all this wonderful knowledge that you’ve gleaned from everything that you’ve done. What advice would you give the 20-year-old version of yourself, if that person had just started Crossfit and wanted to be the best?
Ruth:This might just be the 20-year-old version of me, and not every other 20-year-old, but for me it would be spending more time mastering body weight movements with a fantastic coach that knows exactly how to do it, having a coach that was really well-versed in gymnastic movements. I think in gymnastics, there’s much more understanding, or in gymnastics coaching, there’s so much more understanding of the importance of getting correct range of motion. In my first year of Crossfit, I went down to the … We have a great gymnastics gym in this little [00:40:00] town. I went down there and this guy was … I wanted to do muscle ups and he was showing me how to walk across the parallel bars. I was just like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I can do that.” I would quickly do it to be like, “Yeah, I can do that. I want to do this,” and just not understanding just exactly the movements that my body needed to be doing to do those elements well and the importance of them.
Because I didn’t have those correct, one of the regionals I went to, it was 2010, I came back with a bad sprain in my shoulder, which was probably from doing muscle ups, which was probably from not moving correctly. For me, in the sport, it would definitely be mastering some of those elements and also playing. Do other sport, as well. I probably stopped doing other team sports and things by the time I was 20, I think, and I think playing some other sports is really good for you.
Stu:It’s solid advice, and it works for you, as well, Guy. I know that Guy has really embraced Zumba, and that’s 1 of those things. He’s quit good at table tennis, too.
Guy:Yeah, I mastered it. Mastered it.
Stu:Follow the advice, Guy. Follow the advice. We’re not getting any younger.
Guy:I actually had a profound question and then you’ve just taken this right out of my head.
Stu:My mum told me once that, if you forget it, it’s either it’s a lie, or it’s not worth asking.
Guy:It’s not worth it, yeah. Is Crossfit season on for you now, Ruth?
Ruth:Like, do I have an off-season?
Ruth:[00:42:00] I guess my off-season this year was 3 months in a cast, so yes. No, I do a little bit. My program’s a little bit period-ized, I guess. The conditioning goes right down. I do more strength-based and technical-based movement and then I bring it back up. That works quite well because it’s not nice to get out and run in the middle of winter here. It probably just gives me a little bit of a mental break from doing lots of high-intensity stuff. I have that little bit. I think probably after the Crossfit games this year, I would probably look to take 1-2 months off, but yeah. This last year was a bit of a … It was a little bit different.
Stu:All over the place.
Guy:Just out of curiosity, how long is it until the open starts? Is that far away?
Ruth:It starts February 28.
Guy:Okay. 4-5 weeks?
Stu:yeah, about 5 weeks away.
Stu:I’d really like to delve in a little bit now, Ruth, just on nutrition.
Stu:Again, a big part of who you are. Without it, I don’t think you’d be able to do half of what you do, if you’re not eating the right way. What right now does your typical daily diet look like?
Ruth:I describe my diet as paleo. I guess the things that would be different from what people would consider paleo is that I’m okay with a bit of rice and I use a bit of Greek yogurt or kefir. For the most part, there’s a lot of vegetables and a good amount [00:44:00] of, I’m a big fan of lamb. We have awesome lamb in this country and seafoods, so plenty of that. I also am pretty in charge of my macro nutrients. I actually had a really great mentor, Brad Stark, who’s at Stark Training, which is out in Orange County. I’ve been working with him for a couple of years and he has just made the world of difference to the way that my body performs. He’s helped me work out, just in brief, is that I prefer to have quite a lot of fats with some proteins for the first part of the day and then we really delve into more carbohydrates with the protein towards the end of the day. It’s a little bit more calculated than that, but that’s probably for the most part, how it works.
If I have too much carbohydrate in the morning, I tend to crash out. I don’t do very well with fruit at all, so I don’t tend to eat it. I have a little bit of berries in smoothies and that’s as far as my fruit intake goes. I’m just not a real big fruit eater. It just doesn’t do well for me. I would literally, if I hit some fruit and then an hour later did a workout, I would be, my head would be spinning and I would just have this real crashing thing going on. Yeah, we played around a bit with that.
Guy:Can I add to that?
Ruth:I love fresh vegetables.
Guy:Yeah. Just for our listeners, what carbs would you generally eat, and what carbs would you generally avoid?
Ruth:Yeah. My carbohydrate is mostly [00:46:00] rice or sweet potato.
Ruth:I have a little bit of white [inaudible 00:46:04] every now and then. I’m not too worried about that. I have worked out that gluten is horrible for me. I’ll occasionally have some gluten-free wraps and some other grain-based products that aren’t full of gluten. I’m okay with those, but I actually still, I never feel like it would get the same good muscle recovery that I get from having sweet potato post-workout. I’m okay with them for a treat, but I don’t treat them as great post-workout carb.
Guy:Yeah. Have you ever counted the amount of grams of carbohydrate you eat in a day, just out of curiosity, or not?
Ruth:It’s only about 180.
Guy:That’s a good number.
Stu:Yeah, that is a good number.
Guy:Yeah, no. I only ask because obviously, your workload is massive, right?
Guy:A lot of people would be eating twice that amount of carbohydrates with 1/10 the amount of work you’re doing on a manageable, on a daily basis.
Ruth:Yeah. I know I’ve had some different nutritionists and things have a look at what I’m eating, and say, “No, that’s wrong. You need more carbohydrate.” I’ve just been there. We’ve tried it. It just doesn’t work.
Stu:That’s right. You’re your best judge, I think, of that just by how you feel and perform, based upon your feeling.
Guy:I remember when we, we actually showed you, a post of yours, Ruth. I don’t know if you remember a couple of years back, a dietitian came in there and just said, “You shouldn’t be pushing this content out to people because it’s just so wrong.”
Guy:There’s a great thread of conversation going on there and [00:48:00] it’s like, the proof’s in the pudding. You walk and you talk.
Ruth:That’s interesting. Things that people say, or that, “you’re not getting enough fiber.” I’m eating 7 cups of vegetables a day. I’ve never had a problem and felt like I needed more fiber. Just unusual things that you just realize, it’s almost textbook stuff, and it’s like, what’s the point in having this textbook knowledge? You’ve got to actually have a go at … You eat the paleo diet and see if you don’t have enough fiber, because I just, I’ve never had anyone that I’ve coached in my gym get on the paleo diet and come back and say, “Man, no. My body just hated me because it was not enough fiber in my diet.”
Ruth:Just not something that happens.
Guy:Another question, because we did a talk the other week, a workshop in Wollongong, and the biggest hurdle we felt from talking to them is preparation. People love the idea of changing their diet, becoming more tuned-in, and being able to do it, but the reality is, more from what we see, is that people don’t prepare. Then they get caught up and they get all sorted and they don’t change their eating habits. Any tips? How do you do it?
Ruth:I’m a little bit of a, when I cook meat, I generally get the crockpot out. If I know I’m going to be home late, I’ll often have something already cooked in terms of the meat department, or I’ll cook a lot of bigger cuts of meat like roasts and things like that. There’s always some form of protein ready to go in the fridge.
Ruth:Then, I eat quite a lot of [00:50:00] salads like cabbage and kale and vegetables that don’t take very much to prepare. If I know I’m going to be, if I’m just crazy busy or grabbing something on the run, I’ll even buy just the pre-cut vegetables, the stuff that’s already sliced up and put in bags. I try not to do that. I try and just avoid plastic generally, but I think you’re better to do that than skipping the veggies all together. What else do I do?
Probably lunch is the time or mid-afternoon, where people fall down because they haven’t been prepared with lunch. I’m pretty fortunate because most of the time, I live a few blocks from the gym, so most of the days I come home and quickly prepare something. When I haven’t been enjoying that, I’ll either when I cook dinner, I will put enough aside for heat up leftovers the next day, or I will, as I’m preparing my breakfast, I will quickly prepare some lunch at the same time. I feel like, if you’ve got some kind of protein that works for you, whether it’s boiled eggs or whatever it might be, if it’s ready to go and you’ve always got a steady supply of just something ready in the fridge, then I think it just takes away your temptation. I don’t really get those temptations, but I’m just thinking about the athletes that I coach.
Stu:Yeah, it’s just easier, isn’t it?
Ruth:The temptation of … Yeah, it’s got to be easy. What you’re trying to do, you need to make it easier than going through the McDonald’s drive-through or whatever is your temptation.
Stu:Yes. Definitely. Does your nutrition change at all during competition, or is you just ramp it up even a bit more? Do you do anything any differently?
Ruth:[00:52:00] I do probably a bit more shakes then. If there’s a lot of workouts throughout the day, it’s hard for me to have as much vegetables as I would like, because I just can’t digest that quickly. I’ll just do more shakes.
Ruth:Yeah, that’s generally the main difference. Probably it works out, a bit more calories because there’s a few more post-workout meals.
Guy:We might be biased, but we love encouraging the shakes and things.
Guy:It’s true, though. It’s true.
Stu:From a supplemental perspective, then, what supplements do you use? What and why? Obviously, you’re putting your body through heavy load, day after day after day. What are your favorites?
Ruth:Fish oil’s been here for a long time. I always take some of that. The turmeric capsules, I’ve been on. I’ve been on for a shorter while, been on those, just to help with my healing of my wrist surgery. I have a few amino acids that I take, and that’s based on the supplement protocol that Stark Training has guided me …
Guy:That’s individualize for you?
Ruth:Yeah. yeah, so it’s things like glycine and tuarine, things that are quite good to calm me down after I’ve trained and try and bring everything back to normal as quickly as possible.
Guy:Interesting, yeah. Magnesium as well, you were saying earlier.
Ruth:Magnesium, yeah. That’s about it. I haven’t got a cabinet full of supplements. I’m pretty big on vegetables as the answer.
Stu:That’s [00:54:00] right. Real food. Yeah.
Ruth:[crosstalk 00:54:07] The vegan protein, at the moment.
Guy:Okay, yeah. It’s interesting. We have conversations with people and they may never have heard of 180 before, and they’re like, “Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t take supplements.” I’m like, “Well, you’re our perfect customer, then.”
Guy:We don’t look at it as a supplement at all.
Ruth:Yeah, it’s totally how I feel. I just consider it another form of real food.
Guy:Yeah, fantastic. That’s great advice. What foods do you go out of your way to avoid?
Ruth:Anything with gluten. Cheese is bad; it just work well with me at all. Generally, a little bit of dairy, I seem to cope with, but I definitely wouldn’t go and buy a milkshake or have a large amount. As I said, yogurt seems to be okay. When I’m getting a bit more savvy with things like … I used to be like, If I order the chicken salad, for example, you think you’re going to get chicken and salad, but then you get this big sticky, weird oily sauce that they put on it and it’s really sweet or whatever. I’m getting a bit more savvy with just asking whether there’s a dressing and if there is, either having it left to the side so I can decide whether it’s safe enough to eat. If it’s going to be an olive oil dressing, that’s probably okay with me. Probably the biggest thing is keeping it gluten free because I had some pretty wild reactions to … I went to a wedding and had a cake a few months back and just had a terrible reaction to that. Just becoming a [00:56:00] bit more aware of …
Stu:That’s it. That’s really the main thing, as well, just being aware of that kind of stuff just switches on a light bulb when you are out and about, like you said. If you’re going to order a salad, I would guess there’s going to be a dressing there. Who knows what’s in that dressing. It may suit some people. It may not, but just be aware of it. We chatted, too, with [Chad McKay 00:56:28] a while back and talking to him about nutrition and stuff like that. He told us that after the regionals were over and he’d done the best that he could do, he has this cheat meal. I think it was a whole pizza and a whole tub of ice cream, something like that. That’s just my off switch. I’m done, I’m dusted, smash this meal down and get on. Do you have anything like that? Do you go nuts to zone out of everything with a cheat meal, or are you just clean all year round?
Ruth:I get this question a lot, and I always feel like I’m a little bit boring. I’m not really big on big desserts and things. I know after the Crossfit games, I’ve done some big donuts and things. I probably did it more for the novelty of it than the pure enjoyment. It literally felt like I was just eating solid sugar. I just found it a bit too much. Do you know cassava crisps?
Ruth:yeah, I put those in my mouth and it’s like they dissolve on my tongue and then I have to have another one. They’re probably something that … If someone had some of those, I’m like, “Oh, no, don’t bring those near me,” because it’s literally like I have one and then just [00:58:00] immediately want to have another one. That’s probably the one food I can think of that I know is not good for me, but my body still wants to eat it.
Stu:It’s funny. It’s hardwired somewhere in there, isn’t it. I don’t get to New Zealand very often, but I used to live there. We lived there for 5 years and I stumbled upon … This was pre-my healthy days and pre-180, and stuff like that. I stumbled upon this chocolate chip cookie by a brand called Cookie Time, and they were huge. They’re huge. Every now and again, when I do end up in the country, I’ll head over to a New World and I just head for the Cookie Time aisle. [crosstalk 00:58:52] these things, and it’s like something is programming. Something is guiding me around. I’m on automatic pilot and I get this Cookie Time thing. I only need the one.
Guy:I need to get that shot in Instagram for everyone.
Stu:Cookie Time, it’s like the biggest chocolate chip cookie you could ever have.
Ruth:Yeah, they’re like this big.
Stu:Oh, they’re huge.
Ruth:At least. People are like, you buy them. You can get them heated and stuff, as well, so all the chocolate’s all gooey and things, as well.
Stu:Yeah, I had a friend who used to put them in the microwave for 10 seconds.
Ruth:Yeah, yeah. Now, to me, probably I know that having the gluten and the sugar and stuff, that within a very short time, I’m going to feel very unwell from having it, so I just don’t have the same urge for it. If you showed up to my gym and you had some gluten free, very similar paleo-style cookies, I’d probably be pretty tempted because I know that I wasn’t going to be …
Stu:Got it. We’ll work on something for our recipe section on [01:00:00] the website. I reckon we’ve got a good base there already. We’ll see what we can do for you.
Ruth:Okay, sounds good.
Guy:That’s going to be awesome. Now, Ruth, I see the time’s getting on. We have a couple of wrap-up questions. We’ve actually asked one, which is “What did you eat?” Yeah, we’ve asked that.
Guy:What’s the single best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Ruth:My dad always says to me, “Never say, ‘can’t.’” Whenever I have someone in my gym now that tells me that they can’t, it makes me cringe. The word just makes me cringe and it is such a negative thought to ever think that you can’t do something. You may not be able to yet, or whatever it is, but if you decide you can’t, it’s like …
Guy:You’re already there.
Ruth:You’re already there.
Stu:That’s right. You’ve already switched off. No, that’s good advice. Wise words.
Stu:That’s what we could say.
Guy:For anyone listening to this, if they want to get a bit more of Ruth Anderson Horrell, where is the best place to go?
Ruth:I’m pretty consistent on Instagram, ruthlessnz, and I have a Facebook page, Ruth Anderson Horrell. That’s pretty much it.
Guy:You’ve got a website, too?
Ruth:Yeah, they can pop onto the website, ruthless.co.nz.
Guy:Awesome. We’ll link to the show notes, anyway, when this goes out and that was awesome. I have no doubt everyone listening to this today, Ruth, thoroughly enjoyed that. Ruth, thanks for coming on and thanks for your time. I really appreciate it.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
They say you learn something new everyday, well we certainly did with todays guest! If you or anyone you know are struggling with symptoms like IBS, food allergies and intolerances, acid reflux, migraines, hives, insomnia, chronic fatigue (the list goes on!)… then looking into and understanding histamine intolerance is well worth your time.
Ex-CNN/BBC journalist shares with us how she heals her chronic inflammatory condition.
We have another awesome guest for you in store today and her name is Yasmina Ykelenstam. She’s an ex-journalist with over 10 years research and international news production experience for people such as 60 Minutes, CNN and the BBC, so she knows how important it is to get her facts straight!
In 2008, after 20 years of being misdiagnosed with everything under the sun, she was forced to quit a career of a lifetime after seeing over 68 doctors. In 2010 she was finally diagnosed with histamine intolerance. Yasmina then embarks on a mission to get to the bottom of it all with the help of nutrition, lifestyle, meditation and a different approach to exercise… Prepare to be inspired!
Full Interview: Histamine, Food Allergies, Skin Care & Meditation
In This Episode:
From journalist to health advocate; her story
What is histamine & the role it plays
How to test for histamine intolerance [07:28]
Why fermented foods were not the best choice
The ‘Natures Cosmetics’ she uses for her skin
Why meditation has played a big part in her recovery
Guy:Hi this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s health session. We have another awesome guest for you in store today and her name is Yasmina Ykelenstam. She’s an ex-journalist with over 10 years research and international news production experience for people such as 60 Minutes, CNN and the BBC so she knows how important it is to get her facts straight which is a big one and she has an amazing story to share with us today.
In a nutshell, in 2008, after 20 years of being misdiagnosed with everything under the sun, she was forced to quit a career of a lifetime after seeing over 68 doctors she reckons. In 2010 she was finally diagnosed with histamine intolerance. If you’re unsure what histamine is don’t worry about it, I think it’s actually really relevant for everyone and we do explain there in the podcast today and Yasmina’s explanation is going to be much better than mine so hold for to that.
She goes into that, how she’s radically changed her nutrition and lifestyle, her exercise approach and started including meditation as well, which I will add and we do discuss all awesome topics and how she’s pulled her life around and is a great example of what a bit of determination can do and change and now she’s out there spreading the word as a low histamine chef and doing an awesome job of it and we were just very privileged and proud to have her on the podcast today and she was a lot of fun, she was great, superly down to earth. Superly, could I say that word? Anyway I’ll stay with it. Top girl, great to have her and you will get a lot out of it to enjoy. Of course any feedback please send us back to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can go into our Facebook page, 180 Nutrition write on the wall. We generally get round to them all as [00:02:00] quick as possible.
This is the part where I’m going to ask for a review, I do it every episode and I probably will just leave it at that. If you enjoy the podcast leave us a review on iTunes and they really are appreciated. Anyway, let’s go over to Yasmina and the low histamine chef, enjoy. Okay, let’s go for it.
Hi this is Guy Lawrence, I’m joined with Stewart Cook, hi Stu.
Guy:Our fantastic guest today is Yasmina Ykelenstam. Did I pronounce that correct?
Guy:Ykelestam and I even practiced it before the show as well oh God, hopeless. Thank you so much for coming on the show today Yasmina. We’ve got some amazing topics to cover, but more importantly could you share your absolutely fascinating story with us as well and our listeners because it think it’s just fantastic.
Yasmina:I’ve been sick most of my life, on and off, with strange symptoms, allergy-like flues that weren’t flues, IBS, hives those kind of things. Then it really intensified when I was a journalist working in war zones in Iraq and Lebanon and eventually it got so bad that I had to quit my job and I had to find a career, a business that I could run from my bed basically which was I did some marketing and I used to pull on a shirt pretend I was sitting up in an office but really I’d be lying in my bed because I was so sick and nobody could tell me what it was.
Then finally I came across some woman in a … Not some woman, she’s a very good friend of mine, she’s also a blogger too and she told me it might be a histamine issue. I was in Bangkok at this point and I flew straight from Bangkok via New York, all the way to London and I got a diagnosis of something called histamine intolerance which I will get into in a minute and then it was I was then re-diagnosed with something called mast cell [00:04:00] activation. It’s not really clear, I seem to have both or maybe they are kind of the same thing but in any case it all worked out in the end and I’m feeling much better.
Guy:How long ago was that Yasmina?
Yasmina:The first was in 2010 and then the second diagnosis was in 2013.
Stu:There you go.
Stu:For everybody out there so for our listeners who are unfamiliar with histamine, now in my very limited knowledge I’m thinking it’s the kind of reactions that I used to get when I had high fever as a child, with stuffy, itchy, watery eyes and I just want to … Could you just touch on the role of histamine, what it is, what it does to the body?
Yasmina:That’s basically it. Histamine, we are used to hearing about anti-histamines, most people have histamine reactions. Histamine is an inflammatory molecule that lives in mast cells which are part of our white blood cell system. But it’s also found in foods. Histamine’s job is if there is some healing that needs to be done, the mast cells break open and histamine and other inflammatory mediators go to the site of the infection and begin the healing process. But as I said, it’s also found in foods, but also, histamine’s role is diverse in the body. As I said, it’s an important player in the healing process, it’s a neurotransmitter which affects serotonin and dopamine, it plays a role in our metabolism in weight gain and weight loss, it’s part of the digestive process and it also helps set the circadian rhythm so our wakefulness cycle and it’s now been shown to be involved in narcolepsy.
Guy:Wow. What would the symptoms be of histamine intolerance? Everything? [00:06:00].
Yasmina:Pretty much everything which is why it takes an average, I’m going to use mast cell activation as an example here but it takes up to a decade or rather an average of a decade for the average woman to be diagnosed with mast cell activation which is related to histamine intolerance. A decade because the symptoms are so incredibly diverse and they rotate, and they migrate from different parts of the body as different clusters of mast cells become activated and depending on diet, which part of the world you live in.
In any case, here are some common symptoms, there are literally dozens of symptoms. I had 55 symptoms that were directly attributable to histamine intolerance or mast cell activation. Here are a couple of them otherwise we’ll be here all night. There’s IBS, acid reflux, food intolerance-like issues, migraines, hives, insomnia, blurry vision, palpitations, chronic fatigue, intolerances to extremes in temperature, and inability to fly in planes because of the vibration and changes in pressure, food allergy-like symptoms and in the extreme, idiopathic anti-epileptic shock, idiopathic meaning we don’t know why.
Stu:Okay, well, given that very varied and almost crazy list of symptoms, how can we test for it?
Yasmina:With difficulty, the first step is finding someone who believes you and on my website, there’s a post which you can print off medical studies and take them to a doctor with you but I’ll tell you how to get there later. I’ll start will histamine intolerance. Histamine intolerance is generally diagnosed by a high blood plasma which is the overall [00:08:00] amount of histamine in your blood. A result of a low di-amine oxidase enzyme in the body. Di-amine oxidase is one of 2 histamine lowering enzymes, it’s also known as DAO. The other is HNMT but that right now can only be tested for in your genetic profile and some people say that the only definite way to diagnose this is by having a decrease in symptoms when going on a 4 week histamine elimination diet.
Some people, a lot of people walk away with a false negative from the testing for this because there’s many causes for histamine issues, you don’t have to have low DAO and your plasma histamine can be low one day and very high the next depending on your stress levels, what you’ve been eating, all that kind of stuff. Generally I would say, look for allergy-like symptoms with negative allergy tests and by these I mean IGE testing rather than IGG which is the food sensitivity testing.
As I said, plasma histamine fluctuates so it’s a little difficult. Also there is the issue that you can have a relatively normal histamine level but if your other inflammatory mediators are elevated, such as prostaglandin, interleukins, leukotrienes, that kind of thing, the other inflammatory mediators that are also housed in the mast cells along with the histamine, they can potentiate whatever level there is of histamine. If there is already some kind of inflammation going on, let’s say the histamine is normal, prostaglandins can enhance the effects of any histamine that’s being released in the body. Plus if you have excess leukotrines, that then enhances the prostaglandins and the histamines.
Just testing for plasma histamine is not very [00:10:00] reliable. For mast cell activation syndrome, it’s urinary test of n-methyl histamine. It’s a 24-hour test so you get an idea of the level throughout the day. It’s the prostaglandins, the other inflammatory mediators I just mediators that I just mentioned, and then something that’s also very important in my view is I’m finding more and more people are having a problem with something called oxalic acid which is found in plants. It’s a plant defense mechanism and it can cause major inflammation in people who are already dealing with some kind of inflammation.
It’s found in kale, almond, celery, zucchini, for example. What happens is when we get sick, we try and get really, really healthy and so a lot of what we do is we eat high histamine foods, by accident the avocados, the tomatoes, the pineapples, because we’re told all these are great for us and lots of nuts and all of that, they’re also high histamine, then we are adding lots of oxalic acid into the mix with the kale, the almonds, all of these wonderful plant foods. If there is an existing inflammation issue, these can temporarily aggravate the issue. I’m not saying don’t eat these foods, these are all the foods that I eat, but it’s good to be aware of it.
Guy:Wow. There’s a couple of things that spring into mind, the first thing is I’m going to have to listen to that again once I get off this conversation to make sure I fully understand what you just said. But on top of that, where would you start? Because you’re naming foods that people assume are healthy so unless you get the diagnosis correct, you could be continually triggering this inflammational problem off from the get-go without even realizing it.
Stu:Another point is well, I’m thinking Yasmina from a bloke’s perspective, my blokey way to fix that would be to run down to the chemist, get some Claritin, take a swig of [00:12:00] Claritin and see what happens. Does that fix it? That kind of … Well, maybe it’s a histamine problem if Claritin works.
Yasmina:You know, funnily enough that was my ex-boyfriend’s logic which was just take a few fistfuls of antihistamines and if it works it works. By this point I was already on a few antihistamines a day. He said, “Well how come that’s not working for you? This obviously isn’t it.” Poor thing was just used to hearing me talking about different theories about what was wrong with me and he had just had enough. He’s just like, this girl is just a hypochondriac. Which is why most of us get sent to psychiatrists actually because we’re told it’s psychosomatic.
The antihistamine issue, that’s a very good point, but there are actually 4 histamine receptors in the body. Claritin, for example, and most antihistamines work on the H1 receptor which to really oversimplify things means the respiratory system. You have a fever, you get [sniffly 00:13:00], you can’t really breathe, they give you an H1 blocker and that dries up your nose and it blocks that histamine receptor. But there’s the other 3 histamine receptors.
The H2 receptor is, again, oversimplifying, is to do with the digestive system. If you have a person who’s suffering mostly from digestive issues, they don’t really know and if they go to a doctor who doesn’t specialize in mast cell issues, they might be told, well take an H1 blocker and your symptoms should dissipate but the fact is if it’s digestive issues, an H1 blocker isn’t going to do anything.
Then there’s the added problem that a number of the doctors I’ve spoken with including Dr. Janice Joneja who is a pioneering immunology researcher who was one of the first people to research histamine issues, a concern with antihistamines is that throwing the histamine receptors out of whack can cause more histamine release into [00:14:00] the body basically. First of all you have the rebound effect which is when the antihistamine wears off, the body produces more histamine to make up for the shortfall. There’s lots of different reasons that that might not necessarily work.
That is also an issue with the histamine elimination diet by the way. A lot of people feel better after 4 weeks, myself included, and then they think, well, I’m just going to stay on it because I feel better. Then what happens is, you just keep losing foods, and losing foods, and losing foods and you’re even reacting to the low histamine foods and you’re like, oh my god, I’m just so histamine sensitive that I literally, I cannot be in a room with any histamine. Well no, the fact is your body keeps producing more and more … This is one of the theories that your body produces more histamine because you need the histamine for so many essential functions in the body and I keep trying to share with people that histamine is a good thing, it’s our friend, we just don’t want too much of it so we need to be careful, we need to find ways to balance the histamine.
Stu:If I was completely distraught and in a very similar place to where you were and said to you, just tell me one thing. What do I do right now? What one thing can I do right now? What would you advise?
Stu:Right, because we do have another question about mental stress as a trigger so [crosstalk 00:15:28].
Guy:I’ve got a question for you off the back of that. Why do you think you got if from the first place? From what?
Yasmina:There’s many different theories as to why people develop histamine issues. One is genetics, they are finding people with mast cell activation … I keep referring back to mast cell activation because we have research on that. unfortunately histamine intolerance is being treated by nutritionists and holistic practitioners … I’m not [00:16:00] saying that this is not a valid way of dealing with it, I’m saying that these people don’t normally release medical studies so we don’t have anything concrete to go by. I’m a big believer in holistic methods of treatment, just I would like the research to be able to talk to it about people. Oh no, I’ve just lost my train of thought. I did say I woke up very early today.
Guy:It’s very late over there in Paris too. That’s cool. Because I’m jumping around [crosstalk 00:16:33].
Stu:We’re on the topic of meditation and how you first thought that you came to … Where the histamine came from in the first place for you.
Yasmina:Right. We have the genetic aspect which is that in mast cell activation studies they are finding that people who have high inflammatory mediators, it runs in the families. This would apply to histamine intolerance as well, one would assume. Then there’s exposure to pesticides, to chemicals, there is viral infections. For example there’s a theory that you could have some sort of childhood virus and your immune system, once it’s dealt with, remains hyper activated. The immune system just stays in overdrive believing that there’s something to continually be dealing with but in some cases that could be true, some people have childhood viruses that remain in adult years but it remains dormant in the body unless there’s some sort of major health event in which case it can reactive.
Food poisoning has been said to potentially trigger it. Serve cases of food poisoning and serve illness of some kind, operations, that kind of thing, again the immune system remaining in overdrive [00:18:00] and trauma. I was listening to a very interesting talk by a doctor, I believe it was Milner and he was saying that the majority of his patients, they came to him and they say, I don’t know, I was so healthy, everything was going totally right, and then suddenly this traumatic event happened in my life, a car accident, a husband dying, a child dying, some sort of personal incident, and that is what triggers the mast cell or the histamine activation, which is not an uncommon thing.
There’s a great book called The Last Best cure in which the author who is a science journalist herself, she shares a questionnaire developed by a medical company in the States that can actually predict how likely you are to develop an immune system dysfunction based on the level of trauma you have had in your life. When I read the book, I just thought, okay, I grew up during a war and I went to war as an adult 3 wars. I haven’t really had really traumatic events like some people have. Some people have had really terrible, terrible things happening to them. But then I read the questionnaire, it was like, did you move once, more than once every 5 years before the age of 11? Did you ever hear your parents fighting in the next room? Did one of your pets die before you were the age of 8? I just thought, wow, I’m in trouble and I scored off the charts, off the charts.
Stu:To me when I heard what you did as a journalist, I thought, my god that’s stressful. For me personally, from an outsider looking in, I don’t know how stressful it was.
Yasmina:It was highly stressful and …
Guy:Just thinking about the sources of [00:20:00] histamine triggers as well. Outside of food, personal body care products, sun screens, all that kind of thing, would that fall into that category as well?
Yasmina:Yeah, absolutely. Bath products, even so called natural products like cocamidol betaine which I can never pronounce and the SLS which we now know are not so great for us, and various other products can cause immune system disruption that can affect the mast cells. When you consider that what we put on to our skin, I heard 60% of what we put onto our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream. That figure is contentious but it’s interesting to think. I had not really considered it before although it made complete sense.
But the good news is that when you consider that beauty products have lead in them which we thought was an urban myth but was then proven to be the case and there was a big expose on it in the New York Times, people had always told me, “No, no, no, it’s a myth, it’s a myth, it’s a myth.” It’s not a myth. When women are eating, I think it was 5 pounds of lipstick a year, it all adds up. The good news is that although there are things that can trigger us, there are other things that we can put on our skin that make us better such as moringa oil which is a natural anti anaphylactic and an antihistamine. There’s pomegranate seed oil which increases collagen production but is also an antihistamine. You have brands like Dr. Alkaitis, their product is so pure you can eat it. You can eat it. I have eaten their almond face cleanser just out of curiosity to say that I did.
There’s RMS beauty created by a woman who had multiple chemical sensitivity, she actually does the makeup for the Victoria Secret Angels, and she created this amazing range of beauty products with just the most incredible raw beauty products that treat the skin in an anti-inflammatory way and there is 100% pure which is … I don’t get anything for mentioning these things. I hope it’s okay, I just want to …
Guy:Go for it. Help people yeah.
Yasmina:Yes. 100% pure, it’s an American brand but you can buy it all over the world and their products are the cleanest I have found anywhere. Even though people write to me and they’re like, Oh so you use 100% pure but it has tomato in it. Well, when you compare a little bit of tomato or a little bit of strawberry in a face cream to phenol-exo-hetra-tetra-cyclne-adol, you know I’m just pulling from air. I know which my body triggers to more and it’s not a little bit of tomato or strawberry.
Guy:Yeah, right. To pull it back, with everything that can trigger histamine, which is incredible really when you think about it you’d be afraid to go out the door sometimes.
Yasmina:I used to be. I used to wear a mask. I was one of those weirdoes.
Guy:That’s amazing. With Steward then asking, what’s the one thing you can do right now and your answer was mediation, my question would be why probably because I sidetracked this conversation 10 minutes [crosstalk 00:23:28].
Yasmina:No worries. My life fell apart and interestingly I had my genetic profile read by somebody and I carefully chose someone because I didn’t want somebody who was sell me thousands of dollars of supplements. But I told him, look, I just want to know about the mast cell stuff, I don’t want to know about any other health issues and he says to me, “That’s very unusual, nobody’s ever told me that. You know, just ignore everything else, I just want to know about this.”
I said, “Well, you know, I, I am a high stress person, you know, [00:24:00] especially when it comes to my health and I really don’t want to know anything else because the likelihood is I’m, I’m just not going to be able to deal with it right now.” When we spoke, he started first of all by laughing at me, and I said, “What’s up?” He said, :I can now understand why you made that request. In your genetic profile, every possible gene relating to stress is in your genetic profile.” He said, “It’s my belief that you should be able to control your symptoms through stress release.”
Funnily enough about 2 years before that I had started meditation after reading this book The Last Best Cure. I was told that … I’ll come back to this later but I started meditating and I started noticing some positive changes, lots of positive changes. Then I reached the point where I thought I’m eating 5 foods, this is not working because I’m terrified of eating anything else. I came up with this really, really, crazy idea, I had been on a meditation retreat for a week and after years of restriction and misery, I ate everything I wanted on that mediation retreat. It was all vegan, it was all made from scratch there was no tofu, it was super, super healthy whole foods. I ate it all and I was fine and I just though, this is the key, this is the key. At the time, I just thought, right, this is how I’m going to get my life back. I’m done with sitting at home, I am done with not being social, I am done with thinking that my life is over…
I had made so much progress and happiness and feeling better about things but really was still stuck in this mindset of I’m never going to get better. There is only so much better I’m going to get and maybe I’ve already reached there. I read The Last Best Cure and she talked about [00:26:00] how meditation fights inflammation. I just thought, that’s when I went on the mediation retreat and after that, I came up with this idea that I could re-introduce foods as long as I stayed calm while I was reintroducing them.
I’m not suggesting anyone else try this, I don’t have any message to sell people on how to do this, talk to your doctor, your shaman, your whatever, your witch doctor but get a medical person on board. What I did was I did a risky thing, I took a bowl of strawberries and I had gone into anaphylactic shock from having 1 strawberry a few years earlier. My health was a lot better at this point. I was no longer fearful of going into regular anaphylactic shock. I have to say that I was much, much, better than I used to be.
I did a mediation, mindfulness mediation at the dinner table 15 minutes and then I started eating the strawberries one after the other, mindfully, really being in the moment, being in the experience. Just not allowing the fear and the dizziness and the anguish that accompanied every single meal in the last few years, I just let that all out. I experienced it and I saw it there in front of me and I made my peace with it. I actually said to myself, you know what? At this moment, I’m okay with letting go. Whatever happens, happens because I’m at peace. I haven’t experienced many moments like that since but it was an incredible moment and I just let go of the fear and I ate the bowl of strawberries and [inaudible 00:27:46]. That was [inaudible 00:27:48] for me.
Maybe I would have survived anyway, but the point is, I had set something in motion whereby I had told my brain and my body [00:28:00] that this was the key and my unwavering, unshatterable belief that this was going to heal me, was possibly a placebo effect but the fact is, if anyone can find that one belief, even if it’s the eating McDonald’s every day is going to heal you, it might work for a time anyway but there are more sensible ways to do it. Mine seems to have a lasting effect so far, nobody can predict the future but the point is the meditation has brought me peace and acceptance. It doesn’t mean that I’m not going to continue fighting for my life but for my recovering but I have made my peace with however it is that I wake up on any given day.
Stu:Well that is fantastic. Do you continue to eat strawberries today?
Yasmina:I do, I eat a lot worse that strawberries.
Stewart:No it sound like you certainly got a strategy that works for you. In terms of knowing where to start, there’s so much to do to try and get your head around what might be happening, what you could do. If I wanted to gravitate to perhaps some natural antihistamine foods, where would I start? What would be the best ingredients to choose?
Yasmina:That’s my personal choice is starting with those foods, so plentiful in nature. Really, I think if I had grown up in Lebanon where my mother is from where the food is just natural, you just literally just pluck it from the tree and put it on the table. My mother always commented, “When we used to go to Beirut, you never had any food issues.” She was right. That’s also because the diet was rich in these following foods.
What I have found to be my most powerful ally and that for many of my readers are bioflavonoids, quercetin, rutin [00:30:00] and luteolin. They are found in plants. They are what’s called mast cell stabilisers. There has been some amazing research by a doctor in the States, Dr. Theoharidis at Tufts. He’s funded by the National Institute of Health, he has over 300 studies on mast cells, mast cell activation and he found that these bioflavonoids, in particular, quercetin and luteolin, quercetin, the study was done on, is as powerful as the most commonly prescribed medication for stabilizing mast cells to prevent histamine release. But this is also applicable to people with histamine intolerance because quercetin acts as an antihistamine, so it works in preventing the mast cells from releasing histamine that’s in the body already and it acts as an antihistamine so when we eat dietary histamine, it doesn’t bind to the receptor in the body. It doesn’t appear to have the same side effects as antihistamines.
In any case, you can find these bioflavonoids in fresh green herbs. I eat so many green herbs. People watch me cooking and they’re like, when do you stop putting, I don’t see you measuring anything? How do you measure the herbs? I say, when it tests like one more handful is going to make things taste funky then I stop. Fresh green herbs, things like sweet potato, butter nut, squash, broccoli, most brightly colored vegetables and greens. The thing is, it gets a little confusing because you’ll have a lot of articles that say things like pineapple is an antihistamine, tomatoes are antihistamines, well those foods are found on the high histamine food list. That’s’ because partially because different parts of the fruit or the food can have different properties. The leaf can have one property, but the fruit itself can have others. Is it the combination of other nutrients or the lack of nutrients or the sugar? Things like that.
Raspberries for example are on [00:32:00] list as high histamine but they’re also a good source of quercetin. People say, well, they have quercetin but there’s an … I look for foods that have these qualities. My first choice would be rather than eating tomato ketchup, which is a processed food and is also high histamine, I will have a bowlful of raspberries because they do have some quercetin, they are anti-inflammatory but they are slightly higher histamine than blue berries for example. As I said, severe histamine restriction is not a great idea. What I do is I try and balance things by including as much of these antihistamine foods as possible, to balance out the higher histamine foods that I eat.
Stewart:Would non-organic plants and vegetable be an issue? I’m thinking along the lines of pesticides because not all of us, me included, can afford to feed a family fully organic. It gets crazy. I really increase the amount of fruit, many veggies really, I eat lots of veggies but I’m thinking, I’m washing and scrubbing but I still think they’re loaded with pesticides and nasties.
Yasmina:Yeah, scrubbing them only does so much because it’s inside the food but yes. Pesticides would be an immune system trigger which would exacerbate the histamine or mast cell issues, but at the same time, yes, it is expensive. I try and eat as much as I can organic, there have been some studies that have show that quercetin levels may be higher in organic vegetable and in organic farming. I can’t remember the reason why and that was contentious also. That was just one study.
What [00:34:00] I do is take the list of the most heavily contaminated foods and try and eat those organic and then eat the rest conventional farming. There’s money saving strategies like I eat an incredible amount of herbs and they are not always in season so what I do is I buy in bulk and I freeze. I chop them up and I freeze them. Then that gives me a year’s supply. You can go to farms and make some kind of deal with then … If you have anybody local, you can get vegetable boxes, you can … It’s tough, I would say that I spend most of the money I earn on food.
Guy:But you feel a lot better for it though right, so it’s?
Yasmina:I do but it’s a delicate balance eating a little bit left overs [inaudible 00:34:52].
Guy:What about fermented foods? Because I hear they can be a catalyst for histamine triggering as well.
Yasmina:Fermented foods a double-edged sword absolutely. We’re told they are the best way to heal the gut and yet they cause histamine release because of the bacteria. A lot of people arrive finally at histamine tolerance diagnosis or the suspicion that being what they have because they were on a highly fermented diet such as the guts for example. The interesting thing is a lot of people are eating the fermented foods to heal the gut but new research tells us that there is a mast cell involved to leaky gut, therefore quercetin and other approaches to mediating histamine and mast cell issues could be applicable to leaky gut and I had horrific, horrific, horrific leaky gut symptoms and I have to use the real name here, intestinal permeability because if we want people to take us seriously we need to use names that doctors will pay attention to.
[00:36:00] I managed to heal mine in my opinion, it might have been other factors as well but I didn’t do any L-glutamine, I didn’t do any fermented foods, I didn’t do any bone broths. Just generally I think that anyone who says that they have a healing protocol that will definitely work for you, is a little delusional or lying or has the best intentions but just we’re all different.
Guy:100%. We hear that all the time with diet too. This is the diet, this is … It’s like come on guys, really? Yeah.
Yasmina:Exactly. The first thing I tell people is the histamine lists are terrifying. Forget sticking to any one dietary dogma, forget about sticking to list. Make your own lists of foods. Trial and error, make a list of symptoms, IBS, blurred vision, blah, blah, blah. Don’t do a food diary because that’s just setting yourself up for failure. It’s like eating something and then sitting there with a notepad, what’s going on in my body? What’s going on in my body right now? Oh, I twitched, I twitched, okay.
It’s like the research on how concert violinists for example, they put them in MRI machines and the parts of the brain that get denser with neurons, the more they practice, that kind of thing. You become better at playing the violin the denser that these neurons become because you’re spending more time, more time, more time. We have become virtuosos if of our sickness. We’ve spent so much time focusing inwards, looking at what is going on in our bodies, looking for what’s going wrong. We’re intensifying our perception of these things. That is my experience, my own experience and I’ve seen it in others. That’s one of the amazing things about mediation. At times, when my symptoms were at their worst, I would go into [00:38:00] the discomfort and just accept it and release it. It’s absolutely mind-blowing.
Guy:The mindset’s massive, it’s massive. I think of Tom Gabriel when he spoke on our podcast and he was talking about chemotherapy, once somebody was diagnosed with cancer they did a study, about 30% of the people were starting to lose their hair before they even started the chemo because they were just going in and just absolutely terrifying themselves, and the body takes over, which is fascinating.
Yasmina:There was an article I was just quoted in yesterday that was on US world news, the website and world news and reporters, I can’t remember right now, sorry. But it was on the nocebo effect. The evil twin of the placebo effect. Yeah, absolutely, expect to react and you probably will.
Guy:While we’re on the topic, for any of the listeners recommend listening to our podcast with Dr. Joe Dispenza because he actually wrote a book recently called You are the Placebo. I’ve read it. He was an awesome guy but he explains that really well in the podcast so if anyone wants to check that out they can too. Yeah, let’s do it.
Stewart:I have a question. Do you support your diet with any off-the-shelf supplements?
Yasmina:I do. Again, these might not work for everybody and I’m certainly not a doctor so please don’t run off and buy these but to discuss them with a medical professional. I started out taking quercetin by a brand called Twin Lab T-W-I-N L-A-B and quercetin with vitamin C. initially I was told that vitamin C was great for histamine and mast cell issues but I reacted to all vitamin C and I thought, wow, wow, that’s another thing I [00:40:00] can’t take. But then I realized that ascorbic acid is often made from fermented corn. Fermented number 1 and corn, which is highly allergenic and is a trigger for many people.
I found the Twin Lab, coincidentally which has the vitamin C that’s made from ascorbyl palmitate, which is made from palm trees and to my knowledge is not actually fermented. That was just great. I stated taking that and then I became aware of a stronger quercetin and luteolin supplement developed by Dr. Theoharides who I talked about earlier and the mast cell researcher. He created this supplement and it changed my life.
People say that you can’t work your way up to a therapeutic dose of quercetin and luteolin through your diet. My argument to that is, well if you eat nothing but quercetin and luteolin rich foods you’re hedging your bets anyway. Even if the quercetin isn’t doing anything you have all these amazing plants foods and you’re not ingesting any garbage so you’re giving your body a fighting chance. This neuroprotek perhaps in combination with the diet, really, really changed my life. The one symptom I forget to mention earlier that is such a huge problem for many of us and was my absolute nightmare as a journalist, imagine this, brain fog and memory loss. A journalist with brain fog and memory loss in war zones.
Stewart:Not the ideal situation.
Guy:No. Eventually that played a huge part in why I left journalism because I worried that I was endangering myself and others by being out in the field. Yes the neuroprotek cleared my brain fog up entirely. Again, in combination with diet I’m sure, and it doesn’t work overnight. Dr. Theoharides told me it will take about 6 months for it to kick in, [00:42:00] and it did take 6 months for it to properly start working. All kinds of people are using it now. People with autistic kids are using it for them because … I’m not entirely sure the length of it.
Stewart:That was neuroprotek was that?
Stewart:For anybody wanting to access that, is that readily available on the internet?
Yasmina:It is. They sell through Amazon and also through their website. You can just google it or google Dr. Theoharidis, it should come up. Oh god, I’ll have to spell that name.
Stewart:Yeah, it doesn’t sound easy.
Yasmina:Vitamin C also [mangosteen 00:42:39] I started taking when all my hair fell out and I lost most of my hair, it was quite traumatic but that turned out to be combination of shampoo and inflammation generally and [mangosteen 00:42:50] and a little bit of vitamin B12. The [mangosteen 00:42:54] is an antihistamine, it’s a mast cell stabilizer and it also inhibits the synthesis of prostaglandins from mast cells. Histamine when it’s released, prostaglandin is synthesized as the histamine is released and they augment each other. I theorized that dealing with the prostaglandin would help with the histamine reactions and it also apparently helped my hair grow back. Prostaglandin D2, excess prostaglandin D2 is often to blame for male baldness or plays a role in it, just to remind you.
Guy:It sounds like you’ve been through so much. How do you feel now after everything listed-?
Yasmina:I feel like it was my scariest war and I felt very much like a soldier having been, well, perhaps on a crusade for many, many, many decades and I just turned 40 this year, and I’m now finally [00:44:00] experiencing health, good health for the first time since I was maybe 8 years old and it’s pretty amazing. I used to feel quite buttered and angry. I was very, very angry. I was so angry, I had the shortest fuse on the planet, I would just scream at the drop of a hat. Journalism didn’t help that very much working in war zones and being in horrible situations where you have to evacuate a team or deal with incoming fire, but there’s no room for politeness in most situations. It’s just all changed and I’m happy and peaceful and I let go of my anger. I was very angry with doctors, who didn’t spot the sickness and I was angry with … I was just angry with life and now, I don’t know. It’s so much-
Guy:That’s amazing. I know you’re inspiring so many other people with your own message which is fantastic.
Stewart:Just thinking that we’ve spoken lots about food and the catalysts for histamine reactions. Given the impact that mediation has had on your body as well, what about exercise? Because exercise can be a stresser on the body as well, so what do you do?
Yasmina:Absolutely and I wish somebody had told me this. It was very frustrating to exercise, exercise, exercise and eat really well and gain weight for most of your life. I now know it was inflammation and stress on the body and I was doing the wrong kinds of exercise. There are a lot of people with histamine … Histamine can make you collapse if you exercise too intensely. Running, lots of cardio, maybe football, things like that. Lots of cardio can upset your histamine levels [00:46:00] and cause it to spike. Now generally inflammation spikes for up to 72 hours after intense exercise as the muscles break down and the repair themselves. That causes inflammation.
In the long-term, it’s anti-inflammatory. Now for somebody who has a histamine issue, that temporary spike and inflammation can be very detrimental or even a little bit scary. I used to pass out on the treadmill, I would lose feeling in my hands and my feet. Just really horrible things. Then I read the research … That stopped me exercising for many years. I didn’t know what was going on but I became frightened of exercise and it turned out to be a great excuse because I can be quite lazy by nature. Couch potato, it was a pastime.
Eventually, I found the research on how to exercise without causing a histamine spike and it turned out that exercises in which you use your own weight, such as yoga, Pilates, things like that, or lifting weights calmly, without cardio will not cause that histamine spike. I went back to yoga. I used to practice yoga in 2000 and when I’d just started out working for CNN and although I loved it and I was doing Ashtanga which is fast paced, is the power yoga. I told my aunt one day, I just need to beat the crap out of something. I love yoga but I feel like I’m in class and I just want to beat somebody up. I think I just need something a bit more dynamic so I went to kickboxing.
I went back to kickboxing last year mostly just to prove to myself that I could. [00:48:00]I started running again, I started kick boxing. I was doing an hour and a half a day of kickboxing. I felt great. I could do it. But then the strangest thing happened, I started feeling like I wanted to beat people up again.
Yasmina:I realized the stress hormones were just causing, because stress hormones cause mast cells to break open and dump inflammation into the body. If the mast cells are in the brain when that happens, than can affect your other neurotransmitters. It can make you aggressive, it can make you depressed, it can do so many things to the brain and it’s a topic that’s starting to be researched more now. If you go on the internet and you type in, inflammation and depression, you’ll have tons of results. I was misdiagnosed as bipolar. I believe it was a miss diagnosis because as soon as I changed my diet, I had no more episodes. Over the course of 6 months, the episodes stopped. I was a rapid cycler. I would be laughing, I would be a great mood and then suddenly bang, I’d be screaming, I’d be angry, yeah, I’m going … The beast would come out and then I’d start crying.
Stewart:Wanting to beat people is okay when you got the skills to do that so you’re on the right track.
Yasmina:Eventually I realized that the key was yoga. It combines the mediation, you’re using your own weight and even if it is cardio, the immediate inflammatory benefits counteract or seem to, at least for me and the many, many others of my readers who do yoga, it’s very, very popular, instinctively, some people just know that yoga was a big part of it for them and that they [00:50:00] needed to go do it.
Guy:It almost seems like inflammation is at the root cause of everything. It all traces back to inflammation, essentially.
Yasmina:Yeah, but I worry that it’s becoming, oh it’s inflammation.
Guy:Oh, it’s paleo, oh you eat this, oh, you’re going to do that.
Yasmina:Exactly, what’s causing that release and I’m finding for so many people, it’s trauma, unhappiness and stress.
Guy:Yeah. Hence why mediation has been such a big part. They’re some great tips. We are just aware of the time. We have a couple of wrap up questions that we do on every podcast. Very simple. The first one is, what did you eat today?
Yasmina:Okay, I had a green smoothie which was mango, broccoli, cucumber, arugula, watercress, karela, spirulina, vegan DHA which is like an omega 3 fatty acid thing and that was it. Then I had a massive, and I mean massive, my salads are these epic bowls of greens with thyme, coriander, basil, chickpeas, grilled veggies, and then I was naughty. Then I was naught. I had a homemade blueberry, wait, blueberry coconut sugar, raw vanilla, ginger coconut oil cake that I baked and it’s based on a muffin recipe that people can get for free on my website and I’ll tell them how they can get there at the end.
Guy:Perfect. That would make me be naughty too, it sounded-
Stewart:Doesn’t sound that naught. I thought you were going to talk about a milk burger or something along those lines.
Yasmina:No. I do make my own ketchup though, but I didn’t make it yesterday. If you’re a histamine person you’ll be like, oh my god you made ketchup? Yeah, yeah, I do.
Guy:[00:52:00] Do you eat meat?
Yasmina:I eat a little bit of it. I was vegan for a while but when you’re down to so few safe foods that don’t cause any kind of reaction, you have to eat whatever doesn’t bother you and meat was one of the things that didn’t bother me. I tell people that what I do is I’ll just chop up a little bit of meat and then I’ll toss it with lots of veggies or stick it in a salad or something.
Guy:Cool. The last question is … Were you going to say something Steward?
Stewart:No. Did I look like I was?
Guy:You did. You had that look there and I thought-
Stewart:I always have that look.
Guy:What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Yasmina:Oh wow, well, there’s 2. One was when I was falling apart and tried to check myself into a mental institution because I thought I was having a nervous breakdown, stress invaded. A friend of my mothers who picked me up from there said to me … She took my hand and she just said, “Yasmina, sometimes all you have to do is chose to walk on the sunny side of the street.”
Stewart:That’s good advice, that is good advice. I like that [crosstalk 00:53:15].
Yasmina:So true. That’s number 1 and number 2 was, and this was life changing. My doctor in Spain told me this when I was finally diagnosed with mast cell activation. She said, “If you go into anaphylactic shock, the best thing you can do is lie down on the floor and relax.” When she said that to me, I said, “What do you mean?” Because they don’t like giving EpiPens in Spain. She said, “Call the ambulance but lie down on the floor and relax. It’s the most important thing.” I just said, “What do you mean?” Then she explained to me the stress hormone thing and whatever and then that kicked off my research.
That actually saved my life. When I was in Kenya, I didn’t have any medication on me, I was too far from hospitals, couldn’t get anywhere, I was in a house, nobody could hear me, there was a [00:54:00] party going on downstairs. I lay down, well I actually fell down on the floor and I began a mediation involving a visualization before I lost my vision and I mediated and eventually I was found and I continued meditating, meditating, meditating, and it was just life changing. Just suddenly my vision started opening up again and my heart started regulating.
There’s different levels of anaphylactic shock, not every anaphylaxis leads to death. I can’t tell you, oh I had a level 5 anaphylactic and I thought I was going to die and I had never thought that before. I was convinced I was going to die this time and I got through it and that was the changing point in my life and I thought, I can control this, I can heal. This has shown me that this plays a big part.
Stewart:That’s right. There’s some truth to what you’ve been practicing. I think I like the sound of that.
Guy:Have you written a book in all these experiences that you’ve been through?
Yasmina:I’ve actually written 11 e-books. I’m working on getting a book published. I’ve written the outline and I’ve spoken with a few people that worry there aren’t enough people who are interested in this so we’ll see, I’m still working on it but in the meantime, there are eBooks for download on my website. It covers everything from beauty to diet to a little bit on mediation. I have a yoga course that’s going to launch in January. I teamed up with my teacher to do this yoga course to take people who aren’t exercising right now and it just steadily gets progressively harder more intense, to try and help the healing process. More cooking videos, there’s a bunch on YouTube and stuff like that.
Guy:Fantastic. Where would the website be?
Yasmina:It is the low L-O-W histamine [00:56:00] H-I-S-T-A-M-I-N-E chef, C-H-E-F .com thelowhistaminechef.com
Guy:We’ll be [crosstalk 00:56:07].
Yasmina:I won’t give you my full name because you’ll never be able to [crosstalk 00:56:10].
Guy:I had 2 cracks at it and got it wrong [inaudible 00:56:13], so yeah.
Stewart:That’s awkward. I can testify that here’s heaps of stuff on there. I’ve got a number of your eBooks. Men Food was great, love the paleo granola recipe, I thought that worked for me. Yeah, get on there, dig around, loads of stuff and some of the videos are entertaining too.
Guy:Yeah. Thank you so much for your time Yasmina. That was just absolutely beautiful and I have no doubt, heaps of people get a great deal from that and so I really appreciate you coming on today and sharing your journey with us. That was awesome.
Yasmina:Yeah, it’s been wonderful talking to you guys talking to you guys. Thank you very much. It’s been a great interview.
Guy:No. Thank you.
Guy:Cheers. Bye bye.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Guy: No doubt about it, there’s lots of debate with fluoride on the internet. So who better a person to ask than holistic dentist who has over thirty five years in the industry.
The big question is; Should we us toothpaste with fluoride in it?
We felt this would make a fantastic topic for this weeks 2 minute gem. We also discuss fluoride at length in the full interview below.
Our fantastic guest this week is Dr Ron Ehrlich. He is one of Australia’s leading holistic health advocates, educators, and a holistic dentist. For over 30 years he has explored the many connections between oral health and general health, and the impact of stress on our health and wellbeing.
He is also co-host of a weekly podcast “The Good Doctors”, currently ranked amongst the top health podcasts in Australia. Together The Good Doctors explore health, wellness and disease from a nutritional and environmental perspective, looking at food from soil to plate and exploring the many connections between mind and body.
Full Interview: Unravelling the Fluoride, Dairy, Mercury & Teeth Connection
In This Episode:
Fluoride; should we avoid it?
Do mercury fillings effect our health?
The lessons learned from the legendary Weston.A.Price
Guy: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition, and welcome to today’s health sessions. We have a fantastic episode for you in store today. Our guest is one of Australia’s leading holistic health advocates. He is an educator, a broadcaster, and a holistic dentist, and yes. We do tackle our topic today and get into that. He also has a fantastic podcast called The Good Doctors, and his name is Dr. Ron Ehrlich, and he has a wealth of information, and it was awesome to sit down with him for the last, I guess, 45, 50 minutes while he shares his wisdom with us.
We tackle some great topics we feel, fluoride being one of them, and this very debatable mercury fillings is another, dairy for strong bones, so we start delving into these things and what his conclusions have been after probably now, 35 years in the industry. I’m going to also talk about the legendary Weston A. Price who was a dentist back in the ’30s who uncovered some of phenomenal research as well. Awesome subjects, and yeah, you might look at the way you brush your teeth a little bit differently after this episode.
The other thing I wanted to mention is that we currently run two episodes a month generally now, and we interview a guest that we bring in, and [inaudible 00:01:17] discussed and then when we look into bringing in a third episode a month if we can fit it in. We really want to get this content out to you by just making sure we have the time, but what we’re looking at doing is a bit of a Q and A style kind of episodes where we want to answer the questions that we get coming in. If you have a question for us that you would like us to personally answer on the podcast, we will fit your question on there, and we can discuss it and topics at length, so it’d be great to get that feedback from you guys. Yeah, we’ll bring it into a third episode for a Q and A.
I really want to thank you guys for leaving the reviews as well. I’ll do ask often, but they’re fantastic. I thought I’d actually read one out. I’ve never done it before, but we do check every review that comes on. The latest one says, “Thought provoking,” by [inaudible 00:02:08]. I could read that slightly differently but I won’t. They say, “I don’t think there hasn’t been a single podcast where my jaw hasn’t hit the floor with some of the pills wisdom that have been shared. Keep them coming boys.” That is really appreciated honestly. That means a lot to us. Another review we had recently was, “Such informative podcast, five stars as well. I’ve started listening to Guy and Steve on walking and in the gym, so much more interesting than music. It feels like I’m learning while getting my daily exercise. Perfect.” Yeah. We are big advocates of doing two things at once. That’s for sure.
Look. I appreciate it. Keep those reviews coming. It’s like I said it helps our rankings and also, yeah. Keep an eye out as we bring in the third episode. Like I said, drop us an email at email@example.com and just mention the podcast, and we’ll take a look at tackling your questions or some. Let’s go over to Dr. Ron. Enjoy.
Hi. This is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined by Stuart Cooke as always. Hi, Stuart.
Guy: Our awesome guest today is Dr. Ron Ehrlich. Ron, welcome to the show.
Ron: Thanks guys. Lovely to be here.
Guy: I really appreciate having you on, mate. I seem to see your face popping up everywhere. There is a nutritional talk, a seminar on Facebook, social media, and even on podcasts. I thought it would be best for you to describe [inaudible 00:03:32] exactly what you do if you could share that with us first, because you seem to be man of many talents.
Ron: A man of many talents indeed but at the moment … What I really would describe myself is a health advocate. We’re an educator. I’m in the process of writing a book, so I’m soon I’m going to be to call myself an author, and I’m a dentist, a holistic dentist. There, a few different hats there.
Guy: It’s fantastic. Now, I remember seeing you talk quite a number of years ago. I think it was [inaudible 00:04:05]. I’ll jump in, and you walked on the stage and the first thing you said was you get asked all the time what the hell is a holistic dentist. Would you mind sharing out with us the [inaudible 00:04:17]?
Ron: Sure. Traditionally, dentists focus on the oral cavity. As a holistic dentist, what we focus on is the person attached to that oral cavity. That is a small point perhaps. It rolls off the tongue very easily but it’s a pretty important one because it then leads you into understanding what we’re looking at here is the gateway to the respiratory tract. If you think breathing is important which I think we’ll all agree it is, and sleeping well is important then this gateway is important as well. We’re also the gateway to the digestive tract, so chewing is an important first step in digestion. Getting this mechanism working well optimally is an important part of digestion. As well as that, there’s a huge amount of neurology in this area. Teeth is so sensitive that you could pick up 10 microns. A hair is 20 microns, so there’s a lot of sensitivity and neurology in this area. That’s going on and that leads us on to being involved with chronic headaches, and neck ache, jaw pain. It’s the site of the two most common infections known to man, woman, and child, tooth decay and gum disease, and almost every chronic disease is now seen as a reflection of chronic inflammation.
The big breakthrough was that people discovered that the mouth was connected to the rest of the body. No one knew that up until about 30 or 40 years ago, and that was a big, big breakthrough. Because of the decay, we implant a hell of a lot of material into people’s bodies, in fact, probably more than any other profession put together so all the other professions to put together. There’s a lot going on there and when you consider that this mouth is connected to a human being, with all those things going on, then that affects some of the decisions we make.
Stuart: Fantastic. You’ve touched upon a few topics there as well, Ron, that we want to want to delve into a little deeper down the track especially inflammation and chronic disease, things like that. We’ve got a few questions that we have to us for everybody, and they are largely hot topics in your area as well. First stop, fluoride. What’s your take on fluoride?
Ron: There’s no dentist present in this room, myself. The chance of me being stoned by someone is pretty low. It’s almost heresy for a dentist to discuss what are fluoridation in a negative sense. My take on it is this. Of the 140 or so elements there are in the world, 60 of them are required for the human body to function well, optimum. Stuff like calcium, magnesium, zinc … We could go on 60 of them. Fluoride is not one of them. Fluoride is not required for any normal biological, biochemical function, so if it’s not a required element, then it’s a medicine. If it’s a medicine, then it’s the only medicine that is put into the water supply without our individual permission. It doesn’t have regard to whether you’re a 2-month-old baby or you’re a 40-year-old building laborer who is 120 kilos or an 85-year-old woman who is 60 kilos or 50 kilos. There’s not a lot of nuance there in terms of exposure.
We’ve got a medication. There’s an ethical issue there about a medication added to the water supply which I have a serious concern about. Now going back to high school chemistry, fluoride belongs to the same family as the other halogens which are bromine, chlorine, iodine, and fluoride; therefore, halogens, right? We interviewed recently … We’ll talk about my podcast in a moment. I can’t resist getting it plugged in. Anyway, we interviewed a few months ago Professor [inaudible 00:08:23], who is talking about iodine deficiency and iodine is the biggest deficiency in the world. Two billion people in the world have iodine deficiency. Because it belongs to the same family as fluoride, chloride, iodine, fluoride, fluoride has the potential to compete with iodine for the thyroid, so it was used at the beginning of last century right up until the mid-century, mid 1900s as overactive thyroid.
When someone had an overactive thyroid, they gave them fluoride because they knew it would downscale the thyroid function. Here, if you … You guys may not take as many medical histories as I do, but as I get people coming through my surgery, many of your listeners may have been diagnosed with either underactive or overactive thyroid. It’s a huge problem in our society. I have some concerns about including something in the water supply that has the potential to affect thyroid function; that’s number one. In America interestingly enough which has been fluoridated since the 1940s or 1950s, since 1975, the incidence of thyroid cancer has gone up 160% since 1975. Is that to do with fluoride? No. I’m not saying that is. There are lots and lots of reasons why that might be the case, but that’s of concern to me.
Also Harvard University did the study … They did [mineral 00:09:53] analysis of about 30 different studies and there was some suggestion there that in fluoridated areas, IQ levels came down. There is some suggestion that it may affect bone in young men. This thing … Interestingly enough, of the 200 countries there are in the world, only about five of them, I think, it’s Australia, New Zealand, Canada, America and parts of England, they are the only ones that fluoridate. Are we saying that the rest of the world is just so ill-informed that they cannot make a sensible decision? I don’t think so. I think Scandinavia has a good history of looking at research and evidence, and there’s never been a randomized control study which is supposedly the GOLD standard about the effect of fluoride on tooth decay.
For example … I could show you a graph which showed really clearly that in those five countries, tooth decay has come down significantly over the last 30 or 40 years. You would look at it and you go, there it is. There’s proof that fluoride works, but if you go on to the UN side, the WHO side, World Health Authority, there is another graph which shows non-fluoridated countries, trending exactly the same way. What is this all about? A lot of reputation has been built on it. I know that’s true, but I have … In Europe, they do something called the … they have something called the precautionary principle. That is that if something has the potential to cause harm, why not best avoid it? I think that is definitely the better way to go because it’s a really good example of how we approach stuff in western medicine. You eat something that produces the plaque, and the plaque produces the acid, and then it makes a hole in your tooth. Therefore, let’s make the tooth harder. That’s what dentistry does, focusing just on here.
If you ask me, what is a holistic dentist, and I go, “Well, hang on.” This here is attached to the whole body. It’s got a thyroid, it’s got a brain, it’s got bones, it’s got nerves, and it’s got … We need to think about that and the precautionary principle is the one that I would endorse. To get rid of decay, it is far better to say if the hardest part of your body decays because of what you will imagine what’s going on with the rest of your body, why don’t we address what’s going on with the rest of your body and not only get rid of tooth decay, we might also get rid of a whole range of other chronic health conditions in the process.
Guy: You’ve triggered up so many questions already. I don’t know where to jump in.
Ron: In short, guys, I’m not in favor.
Stuart: Again, just to touch on this a little more, water supply aside as the ingredient in our everyday toothpaste, is that something that we should be weary of?
Ron: Now, there is some evidence to support a topical application of fluoride. We now practice use it very sparingly. I don’t personally use it in my toothpaste. I don’t personally apply it to every patient that comes through the door. If I see a tooth surface that is showing the early signs of tooth decay, just a bit of demineralization, then I will clean that surface and I might apply a fluoride varnish to that one surface and instruct my patient not to eat or drink for an hour. The rest of it is a great marketing ploy. I think there is some evidence to support topical application in a controlled way. I know you can make statistics look brilliant. You could say, “By using this toothpaste, we have reduced tooth decay by 30%.” That might be … Your chance of getting tooth decay was to have two surfaces of a tooth filled over five years, and by using this toothpaste, you’ve now got one third of the surface only required, so it’s playing with statistics.
Stuart: Totally. In a randomized study of two people, so [crosstalk 00:14:05].
Ron: I think there’s a place for very careful application of fluoride, but I don’t use it in toothpaste. We don’t use it as topical application in our practice, and we don’t … I personally don’t use it. We don’t recommend it for our patients.
Guy: Fantastic. That was what I was going to ask actually. To recap what you’ve commented on so far being a holistic dentist as well on fluoride and everything, the teeth … Would you be better off actually just changing your lifestyle and nutrition then as opposed to fixing the problem?
Ron: Absolutely. You guys and many of your listeners would be well aware of the work of Weston A. Price. He was a dentist. This is a really interesting story, but you probably haven’t interviewed Weston A. Price, but …
Guy: No. Please touch on it. Yeah, go for it.
Ron: Anyway, the point being, he in the 1920s and ’30s wanted to find out what caused tooth decay, so he went out and he visited traditional cultures around the world. He went to Malaysia, the Malaysian Peninsula, those specific islands, the New Hebrides, up in Scotland. He went to the Swiss isolated villages in the Swiss Alps. He went to Eskimos, he went North American Native Indians, the South American Native Indians. He visited all these different cultures, and what he found was something really unique. What he had was this amazing experiment could never be really repeated now. He had villages that were living on traditional foods and had done so for hundreds of years. What he observed in those villages were that none of them or very few of them had any tooth decay, whatsoever, but more importantly, they had enough room for all 32 of their teeth with some space even
behind the wisdom tooth.
They not only had enough room for their teeth, and we’ll talk about why that’s important in the moment, but they didn’t have any of the diseases of chronic degenerative disease.
They had no heart disease, no cancer, no rheumatoid arthritis, no diabetes, no obesity.
They were structurally, physically, very sound as well as being dentally healthy. What he then did was he talked … He went into the towns, and he looked at the same genetic group.
He really was doing in a way of controlled study, looking at the same genetic group and the one … The genetic group, the same tribe or family even that had moved into the city after 5 or 10 or very soon after a few years was displaying tooth decay, all of the degenerative diseases that are seen in modern civilization. From that, he wanted to determine what was it about traditional foods that was so unique and what was it about our western diet … Remember this was 1935, where people were only eating 12 kilos of sugar a year, now they’re eating … In Australia 45 kilos, in America 60 kilos to 70 kilos.
Put it in perspective here, he was looking at those people and they were healthy. He took food samples from there and he brought them back, and he analyzed them. He found there were three things they all had in common, the traditional diets. Now, they weren’t all Paleo. They weren’t all on Paleo. They were up in Eskimo land. In Alaska, they were on fish and blubber, and da, da, da. In New Hebrides, they were on oats and some seafood, and seasonal fruits, and in the Polynesia, they were on seafood, and they were on some fruits and some root vegetables, all different types of things. They weren’t all along Paleo, but what they all had in common was the traditional diets all were nutrient dense. They had 10 times the amount of water soluble vitamins that may … They likely the … and minerals and they were four times higher in fat soluble vitamins.
You need fat soluble vitamins to incorporate the minerals into your body. They had that and the interesting thing was the best source of these fat soluble vitamins which are A, D, K, E was animal fats that had been grown on pastured lands in traditional ways. This was a fabulous study done in 1935, and I’m about to give a presentation on Friday where I’ve actually done a little bit of a cut and splice of the catalyst program that was on the beginning of this year, so an ABC program in Australia, Catalyst, and it was on gut reaction. One of the senior professors of research at Monash University said, “You know what? There’s this huge breakthrough that’s occurring. It seems that what we eat could be affecting heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and a whole range of other things.” He was saying it like this was an amazing breakthrough, and if we were careful about what we ate, we could actually extend our life by years if not decades.
Stuart: I don’t believe a word of it. Just advertising. It’s just advertising.
Ron: The beauty of that is if you look at that, and you listened to what you would think, “Oh, my God.” Like, “What is going on?” If this is the breakthrough to the medical community in 2015, this is why we’re in the [inaudible 00:19:34] because you can press the rewind button to a lovely little segment of Weston A. Price where he himself taught and says pretty much the same thing in 1935, so it suddenly taken us 80 years to get on top.
Stuart: It’s so tricky as well, isn’t it? You realized that there is such huge power in even these beautiful and yet nutrient dense foods, but then if you were to take that group who were truly thriving and pull them over perhaps with the same diet, but surround them in the conditions that we have today with email, and stress, and pollution, and the rat race, I wonder how they would feel whether that would have a …
Ron: It’s a good point, Stuart. It’s a good point because one of the things … Stress has been of an interest to me over the last 35 years. In fact, today’s rather that would feel [inaudible 00:20:26] guys. I’m sharing this with you. Today is the 35th anniversary of my practice in the city of Sydney, but that’s another story, but for the last 33 years, the model of stress that I have used, the model of health that I have used in my practice is that our health is affected by stress. I define that stress as a combination of emotional, environmental, postural or structural, nutritional, and dental stress. Those five stresses and people say, “What’s dental stress? You’ve just pulled that out of the hat because you’re a dentist.” I’ve just defined for you what a holistic dentist is. Respiratory tract, digestive tract, chronic inflammation, nerve damage, chronic pain, all these materials that we use.
Dental stress is an important thing that’s often overlooked, but they are the five stresses, so what you’re saying is absolutely true. You could be on the best diet in the world, but if you are in overload, stress, the fight-and-flight mode that many of us, in most of their [inaudible 00:21:29], and you are not going to be absorbing those nutrients absolutely right.
Guy: What I noticed myself … I can us myself as an example because I don’t think a lot of us even appreciate that we’re in the stressful mode. We just assume it’s normal from our day-to-day actions. I went to Mexico a couple of weeks ago, and I was actually meditating four days on and off in a workshop, but I didn’t realize how stressed I was until I got there and then slowly started the wrong way. By the end of it, I got, “Oh, my God, I feel like a different person.” I’ve been carrying that for weeks or months prior to it. It’s amazing.
Ron: Go ahead, Stuart. Sorry.
Stuart: I’m just going to say, can you imagine my stress as Guy is away in Mexico meditating, carrying the business and raising a family, so it works well for both of us, isn’t it, Guy?
Guy: It was fabulous.
Ron: Meditation is another. It’s the big one, isn’t it? It’s just such an important part of being healthy in this day and age. I think you should not be without it.
Guy: There you go. Yeah. I’m certainly exploring it and I’m enjoying the process. You can look then along the way, but …
Ron: Stuart, you look like you’re about to say something.
Stuart: I do. I’m going to bring it back on track to the dental route as well. I’ve got another million-dollar question for you. Guy and myself, we’re children of the ’70s and the ’80s. We’re anything. We always had mouthfuls of sweets and pop and fizzy drink and didn’t really care about too much. We’ve got fillings in our mouths; most of our friends have at this age. Should we be concerned about these fillings particularly if they are mercury amalgam?
Ron: Yeah, I think you should. See, the interesting thing is that it’s mercury. I’ll have to explain. The silver fillings in people’s mouth what it used to be called silver amalgam fillings euphemistically, half of it is mercury and the other half silver, tin, zinc, and copper, so it’s an amalgamation of silver, tin, zinc, and copper, mixed up with liquid mercury. That when you plug into a tooth, within an hour goes hard, and within 24 hour goes much harder. It’s a cheap, it’s been used for 170 years in dentistry, and nowadays, if I … I haven’t done an amalgam filling for almost 30 years, but if your dentist who you might ask this question or say, “Should I be worried about amalgam? ” “No. Don’t worry about it. It’s perfectly safe.” Okay. Let me ask you this question. When you’ve done a mercury amalgam filling on your patient, and you’ve got a little bit left over, what do you with the scrap?
I know it’s a rhetorical question, it’s a trick question, but people should ask it of their dentist because the answer is this, it’s against the law for you to put that scrap into the toilet, the garbage, or down the sink. That scrap has to be disposed off as toxic waste.
However, through some twist of faith, it’s perfectly … The only safe place to put this toxic material is in the mouth of a human being. I don’t know whether … To me, that defies logic.
Guy: It’s like the world has gone mad.
Ron: It’s the mercury, but time … The question then goes because when I was placing mercury amalgams in the late ’70s and up to about 1981 or 1982, I was parroting what the university told me and that’s was, “It’s locked in. It doesn’t escape.” A chiropractor who is referring me patients at that time said to me, “Ron, it does escape. Read this literature.” I said, “Okay. I’ll read it. I’ll read it.” I read it and I couldn’t believe it, so I took … There was a piece of patient came in, a bit of old filling had fallen out, so from the records, it’d had been six or seven years earlier, so I sent it off to the Australian Analytical Laboratory to have it tested. It came back 40% mercury, and it had gone 50% mercury. I thought, “Oh, my God.” Hang on.
Guy: [crosstalk 00:25:55].
Ron: I don’t believe this. I don’t believe it. I repeated that with about four other samples and they all came back 37%, 43%, 39%, 41%. Clearly, mercury was escaping and when it escapes, it gets stored in the kidneys, the liver and the brain, so doing a blood test does not tell you whether you’ve got mercury toxicity or not. It is an issue. It’s one that is very difficult for the profession to grapple with and again it goes back to what’s the difference doing a holistic dentist and a normal dentists? If all your focus is here, and you’re trying to restore a tooth as best as you can, as economically as you can, then mercury amalgam is a great filling material. There’s only one problem, and the problem is that tooth is attached to a human being. Apart from it, perfectly fine.
Guy: If you got mercury fillings, is it quite a procedure to change them?
Ron: Look. It’s not rocket science but it seems to … There is some precautions that one should definitely take. You are better off leaving it in your mouth. Obviously, if there’s decay in there, you don’t leave it in your mouth, but if you’re having it removed because you’re wanting mercury removed from your body, then you need to take a few precautions, and in our practice, the precautions that we take are we use a rubber dam which is a shape of rubber that acts like a diaphragm. We punch a hole in that and the tooth or teeth that we’re working on pokes through, so it forms a barrier so that it protects the airway. We also give people a nose piece, because as soon as I put my drill on to a mercury filling, I create a vapor which your nose is very close to, so I don’t want you to be inhaling mercury vapor. We also use a lot of water to dampen down the vapor for us. We also use high-speed suction to avoid the exposure for us and the patient. We move it in a certain way, so we can flick it out rather than grinding out because that creates more vapor. In our practice, we have air purifiers and negative ion generators to help us deal with that as a OHS.
Guy: Cool. Sure.
Ron: There are some precautions, you should not have it just removed. It does raise the issue of mercury … It raises a really important issue and that is dental materials in general. I was attending a course last year from a professor from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden which is very big on Toxicology, and introduced me to this idea of metal-induced chronic inflammation. By being exposed to metal, on a 24/7 basis, the potential for your body to react by then going into chronic inflammation is there, so in our practice, we’re try and avoid metal as much as we can, and we can pretty well do that. There are some issues around dental materials that need to be considered carefully, but mercury for us has been a no-no for almost 30 years, and whether you’re removing a small filling or a whole mouth, you do it carefully and you support the person. Usually, we work with the person’s naturopath or nutritionist outside.
Stuart: If for instance, I did have a filling, a mercury filling, but I went to the trouble of getting a heavy metal analysis test. Maybe a hair testing kit, and I didn’t have any issues with mercury, happy just to go along and not really pay too much attention to it?
Ron: In our practice is in the city of Sydney, it’s called Holistic Dental Centre. There’s another plug, but anyway … The point about it is that we do not take a dogmatic approach to things to alter it. In a way, I envy those that do, that say, “All amalgam fillings should come out. All root canal teeth should come out. All these, all that.” We’re not dogmatic like that. I think there are two separate issues here. One is should we still be using the material? To me, the answer is definitely no. There is no excuse for using that material in today’s dental world. That’s number one. The second issue is should everyone be having every filling out? The answer is maybe, maybe not. We need to consider each one individually, each person individually. If for example, you were in excellent health however we define that. Of course, you got to be thinking about physical, emotional, mental, all these different …
Ron: Dental. All those different aspects of health, however we define excellent health. If you were in excellent health, and you’re sleeping well, and you’ve got good digestive, all the functions are going well, and … Hey, I don’t lose any sleep over the fact that when that filling needs to be removed, it should be removed, but when it is removed, it should be done carefully.
Stuart: Right. Got it.
Ron: Hair analysis is a gauge. It’s reasonable indicator. I remember I said mercury is stored in the kidney, the liver and the brain, it’s stored in fat tissues, so to get a proper analysis of what mercury load you have, you need to do a heavy metal … A challenge if you like, so you can take a chelating agent. People are exposed to heavy metals. Say you swallowed lead or something. The way that get that out of your body is by using what’s called the chelating agent. An example of that is something called DMSA. You could take DMSA and for you … Firstly, you would measure your urine before, and you’d have a really low level of mercury in your urine or your blood. It’s not a good measure. It doesn’t float around there, but then you take a couple of capsules of DMSA, and then you retest three, four or six hours later, and you collect the urine or a blood, and then you measure the before and the after. What you’ve done is you’ve dragged the mercury out of the organs and you deposited it in the …
Guy: In the urine.
Ron: … urine hence, to be excreted. That’s a more accurate way of determining it, but as I said, we’re not dogmatic about it. We’re very careful. I have some patients that have come to me from all over the place that they’ve had their amalgams removed in two or three sessions, and I’ve had other patients that have taken 10 or 15 years.
Stuart: Okay, got it.
Guy: Great answer.
Stuart: It’s good to know.
Guy: Another question, Ron on dentistry, and it’s a hot topic that will come up all the time for us is dairy consumption. Is this a key to strong teeth and bones?
Ron: Look. One of the things that I’m also very interested in is why public health messages are so confusing and contradicting. You only have to look at who is sponsoring some of the major professional organizations like the Dairy Corporation is a major sponsor of every professional, nutritional organization as well as the Asthma Council as well as … You name it. The Dairy Council are offering some sponsorship. That is, I think, clouds over some of the issues. I think there is some place for dairy, perhaps in a cultured dairy sense. If the dairy is grass fed, that’s a different story as well as opposed to being grained fed, but it’s certainly not an essential requirement for healthy teeth. No. I think fat-soluble vitamins are and within dairy … There are some fat-soluble vitamins, but there are some other issues that go with them. When we pasteurize and homogenize milk, we remove a lot of the enzymes that help us cope with the proteins in the milk, the casein and that is a common allergy that people and food sensitivity that people have.
I think what’s important is that you have … For strong healthy teeth, from the moment of conception … You get this from the moment of conception. In fact, probably for a good year or two, prior to conception, both male and female, to be eating a nutrient-dense diet that is high in vitamins, fat soluble and minerals, fat-soluble vitamins, and has a really broad range of vegetables and good fats and moderate amount of protein … I could go on about what it is, but it is not dairy. Dairy is not the essential [inaudible 00:34:53].
Guy: I appreciate it. You say fat-soluble vitamins, right? Yet, we’ve been told not to eat for God knows how many years as well to digest the vitamins that are fat soluble.
Ron: It’s actually set us up for the perfect storm. We’ve had the food pyramid which is food grains at the bottom, and avoid fats. We’ve had the low-fat dogma coming to us via [inaudible 00:35:18] and every heart foundation and every pharmaceutical company in the world because that’s something that doctors can measure. They can measure cholesterol, and they can give you a drug to lower cholesterol, so it makes them feel like they’re doing something. We’ve had the food pyramid and we’ve had the low-fat dogma, and we still have heart disease, number one. Cancer, number two, one in two male, one in three women. We will get cancer by the time they are 65. We’ve got autoimmune disease, it’s going to the roof. There are over 200 autoimmune diseases. By autoimmune, we mean Crohn’s, irritable bowel, thyroid function, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s, et cetera, et cetera. Then we’ve got diabetes and obesity. How is that food pyramid and low fat diet been working for us over the last 40 or 50 years? Not all that good.
Guy: [inaudible 00:36:13].
Stuart: You touched … You mentioned it like a certain type of dairy and you’re also touching on upon the importance of fat-soluble vitamins as well which led me to think of reminineralization. Are we able, through diet and all of these key nutrients, or be it in a different dairy from fats, whatever, great foods, can we assist our teeth in remineralizing themselves?
Ron: I think the answer to that is yes, up to a point.
Guy: Can you explain the remineralization [crosstalk 00:36:50]?
Ron: Let me just explain what demineralization [crosstalk 00:36:52].
Guy: Okay. Perfect.
Ron: Let’s start what’s the beginning of the problem. A tooth is covered by enamel which is really hard. Underneath enamel is dentin which is considerably softer, and underneath the dentin is the nerve and the tooth, right? [inaudible 00:37:08] on a tooth. Now, within the mouth, there are at least 500 different species of microorganisms that we know of, and they live in perfect harmony. There’s a struggle like the rest of the world, the struggle between good and evil in the mouth as a symbol of struggle that goes on a daily basis between good and evil. If you are eating a good diet, then the good bacteria, just as they are in the gut proliferate, and you enjoy good health. If you’re eating a poor diet which is sugar, refined carbohydrates, grains which often break down into carbohydrate and sugar which breakdown into sugars very quickly, then you have a lot of sugar substrate for the bad bacteria to proliferate. You’re like any living organism that eats, it’s got to excrete. It’s got to go to the toilet. What did it excrete is an acid. The tooth is made up of calcium and phosphate, crystals, and so it starts to demineralize the tooth.
That shows up as little whitish spot on the tooth surface first, then it becomes a brownish spot and then it starts to undermine the softer dentin under the enamel, and then one day, you bite into something, and suddenly, out of the blue, you’ve got a hole. It’s been going on there for a while. Now, if you have the early stage of demineralization where you just got this early stage of decay, white spot, or even maybe the brown spot is starting and you eliminated all those substrates that fed the bad bacteria, and you ate a nutrient-dense diet which we’ve already talked about, then there is the chance to arrest decay and stop mineralization and remineralize the tooth. There are some products that [purport 00:38:54] to assist that. One of those products is called Tooth Mousse.
Tooth Mousse is a dairy product derivative and it’s a bio-available calcium and phosphate.
We do use some of that in our practice. I think the issue of mineralization, remineralization is a really important one, and then you get on to the topic of drinks, and water, and sports drinks, and carbonated drinks, and the alcohol, and the acidity of those drinks, you’re pushing up against it. I had somebody coming in to see me the other day who was complaining about sensitivity around the neck of the tooth. This was around 12 o’clock in the morning, and they told me, I said, “What did you have for … What are you eating?” They go, “Oh no. I’m on a really good diet.” “I started today with fruit juice. I have a big glass of orange juice and a big bowl of fruit, and then I have some muesli or some cereal with some milk. I’ve got low-fat milk. I don’t want to get … You know, I don’t want to be unwell, so I’m going to have low-fat milk.”
The Heart Foundation [text 00:40:00] going there and then she comes in to see me with iced tea. [crosstalk 00:40:05]. I calculated for her, and it was only 11 o’clock in the morning, but she’d already had the equivalent of about 27 teaspoons of sugar, and it was on the 11 o’clock in the morning. Really, what we are up against is dairy is not answer, remineralization is definitely possible. You need to consider the food that you’re eating and the drinks that you’re drinking.
Guy: [crosstalk 00:40:30].
Stuart: It’s so sad because that lady would have thought that she is doing the best that she can based upon the information that she is receiving from the supermarkets, from the government, from pretty much everybody in her circle.
Ron: I’m really … One of the things I’ve come to realize is we’ve got a real problem with our health system. In terms of crisis therapy, there is no better place to be. The level of ingenuity, of skill, of intelligence, of equipment that’s available to deal with a crisis, analysis on the medical health crisis is phenomenal. A friend of mine had a 1-week-old baby, open heart surgery for a heart defect. My 89-year-old mother had a new aortic valve replaced. What they can do is amazing. Crisis therapy, tick that box, brilliant. What’s wrong with the healthcare system is that it’s really not a healthcare system. It’s become a chronic disease management system. Really, between chronic disease management and crisis, it’s a great economic model. It generates billions, literally billions of dollars of profit for the processed in pharmaceutical industry, and for the health industry. I reap … I don’t reap billions of dollars sadly, but dentistry is a product of western diet.
Guy: Culture, yeah.
Ron: If I was a dentist in the Swiss Alps village, I wouldn’t be having a very busy time, so we have a chronic disease management system and that’s got to change. It’s unsustainable financially, the human cost, the loss of human potential is enormous.
Guy: Do you think people are being more proactive?
Ron: Definitely. I think there’s two schools … Actually, Guy, that’s a really interesting … but I think that’s a rising tide. I think there are two schools of thought out there at the moment. One is total faith in the Western health model like, all I need to know is my doctor’s phone number. Apart from that, I’m going to be fine. I’ve got health insurance and my doctor’s phone number always work. They’ll just tell me what medication I need, if I need surgery, so be it. It’s all there for me. There’s the other group that says, “Wait a minute. I know that’s there for me, but I don’t want to get it.” They are becoming far more proactive in their life. I think that’s a rising … That’s a definitely a rising tide.
Guy: I was going to add as well even just for the [inaudible 00:43:08] podcast and blogs and things that are popping up the message and from the growth of our podcast over the last years, people are definitely at least hungry for information, and trying to get it out there for people to proactively change.
Ron: I’d agree with that.
Stuart: I did have a question when we were talking about the remineralization and you touched upon the oral microbiome, and I listened to a great podcast a couple of weeks ago all about that very topic. My question to you is mouthwash. Does that affect the oral microbiome because they were saying that it did at the time, and so I just thought we’d ask the expert.
Ron: Were they saying it did in the positive way or negative way.
Stuart: A negative way.
Ron: Absolutely. That whole issue of bad breath for example is a classic example of … It’s such an interesting topic. I could talk to you for half an hour and an hour on bad breath but basically, there are medical reasons why you have bad breath. It’s dental and medical reasons, and yet it is a 10-billion dollar industry of mouthwashes, breath fresheners, da, da, da, da, da. You name it and most of them are totally ineffective and do not address the root cause of the issue which is the same as tooth decay or bad gut biome or bad oral biome, gut biome. The same diet that promotes a healthy gut biome, guess what? It promotes a healthy oral biome as well. That product that you buy … If you have an infection or you’re dealing with something on a short-term basis, maybe we use a herbal mouth rinse, tincture of calendula which is very effective in a short term, but I wouldn’t recommend that for more than a couple of days for any patient. I certainly recommend a mouth rinse on a regular basis.
Guy: Great. Great questions then.
Stuart: It’s interesting. The microbiome in the gut health now is so huge. You see the next breakthrough but many of us don’t even think that it starts in the mouth, and we’re drinking sodas with all these crazy acids, very harsh mouthwashes and rinses or manner of foods that we put in there would have to have an effect at some point I would imagine.
Ron: Look. Like I said, the two most common infections known to man, woman, or child is tooth decay and gum disease. That only arises through an imbalance of the microbiome in your mouth. If that happens there, why on earth wouldn’t it happened anywhere else in the body and it certainly does. That’s what Weston A. Price found out, big breakthrough in 1935. It’s just taking a little while for the [ballot 00:46:05] to arrive.
Guy: [crosstalk 00:46:06].
Ron: He posted a letter 80 years ago, and it’s only arrived on our shores recently.
Guy: That’s amazing.
Stuart: [crosstalk 00:46:14].
Guy: What does a holistic dentist to do with the care for his teeth?
Ron: I try to eat a good diet. Listen, I work on an 80/20 principle, 90/10. If I get to 90/10, I am saintly. I’m very proud of myself. I’d like to think that throughout, most of my … All my week, I’m on an 80/20 basis. You’ve got to work out what percentage is right for you. Some people think 50/50 is pretty good, and to me, that’s ridiculous; 60/40 doesn’t cut it; 70/30 is not going to make that big a difference; maybe 20 is the bottom line; 90/10 is what I do, and if I was 100% or I’d be a social outcast and known whatever [inaudible 00:47:03]. I think you’ve got to cut yourself a little of slack here because you end up getting so stressed out about what you’re reading, that it becomes pathological in itself, but essentially, the basis of my diet is I eat … The majority of my diet, I’m trying to make vegetables of varying colors, as many colors as I can. I try to keep low-ish carb and by carb level, I mean around 70 gram to 80 grams of carb a day is achievable and if people want to know what that is, I would suggest to get a carb counter and spend a week looking and weighing everything you do.
You don’t have to do it for the rest of your life. You’re just going to do it for a week or two to start getting your head around it. I would try … I had moderate amount of quality pasture fed, preferably organic protein, and by moderate I mean … We’re talking about … For me, who is 80 kilos, I wouldn’t want to be eating more than about 60 grams of protein a day. An egg has got 7 grams of protein, so if I have two eggs in the morning, there’s 14 grams, and a 200-gram piece of steak would have 66 grams right there and then. We eat too much protein. There’s no doubt about it. We eat too much meat, and we eat too much meat for two things. Problems with that is, one, for our own health, it’s not good, and two from a sustainability and planetary point of view, I don’t think it’s good. The other thing is good fats. By good fats, I would include butter, olive oil, avocado, coconut oil. I do most of the cooking at home, coconut oil. I indulge myself with some roasted vegetables and duck fat occasionally.
Then I have clean water. I actually purify my water. I have a reverse osmosis filter which removes everything and then I might add a couple of grains of Himalayan or Celtic sea salt. If I can taste it, I put too much in. If you have salts, I use either those salts, Celtic sea salt or Himalayan rock salt which have 60 trace elements in them, and I have moderate amount of seasonal fruit. I restrict my fruit intake, but I do have seasonal fruit and I do have some apples, bananas, berries, preferably organic. They’re very high in pesticides, strawberries and blueberries. Then sea food, moderate amount of sea food. I’m very careful with sea food. The best sea food is I think sardines. A lot of the other … The bigger fish, I wouldn’t touch.
Guy: From the mercury perspective or …
Ron: From a mercury sustain … There’s two issues about seafood. One is sustainability. We have raped and pillaged sea, and we’ve now reduced to up to 90% of its fish stocks over the last 20 or 30 years, so that’s a bit of a problem. The toxicity issue is inescapable, and the higher up the food chain you go, so the big fish are our problem. Then you go to farm fish, and I don’t really want to touch farm fish either because the farm fish are not in a natural environment. They often eat trash fish, so when they scour the ocean, they use big nets and that will take out the fish that can be sold at the fish market, but they have a huge amount of what’s called trash fish which were either too small to eat or a bottom feeders, and so they end up getting milled up to fish meal or they might … I just think farm fishing is not a good … I think sardines are the best alternative, calamari, okay. I don’t eat much. I don’t eat much seafood. It’s overrated.
Stuart: How would you move? What would you do? Are you a marathon runner or are you a crossfit aficionado?
Ron: I’m a functional movement aficionado.
Ron: No. Really, I am. For the last … One of the most liberating things I’ve learned is that if you did 10 minutes or 20 minutes of interval training, high intensity interval training, then your metabolism is up for 24 to 48 hours. If you did a 10-kilometer run, your metabolism would be up for six to eight hours, so you don’t have to do that much to make a difference. For many years, I have attended a fabulous gym. I think he is one of the best trainers in Australia, Origin of Energy in Bondi Junction in Sydney, and Aaron McKenzie is into functional movements. It’s bending, twisting, turning, lunging, reaching, extending, flexing, doing all those movements that we do in everyday life and incorporating them into a workout, and then also focusing on the core. I have tried to do that three or four times a week, and I also do some stairs, high-intensity cardio but only over a short period, and so I don’t … I’m not a runner.
I think people run for various reasons. It’s very meditative. It’s not just the health thing people go out for long runs, but it’s not a really good thing for you. It’s not good for your joints. It’s not good for you. It’s not necessarily a good thing. That’s the first thing. The other thing is I try to wear a pedometer because you could work out for 30 minutes or an hour a day, but you’re sedentary for the 23 hours, and that’s a good thing either. In my surgery, I actually have measured that in a working day, I would walk about 6,000 steps just backwards and forwards from patient, around from where I parked my car to where my surgery is and back again, and to and from. I try and incorporate movement. Every morning, when I wake up in the morning, I do some yoga. I usually do the Salute to the Sun, a few rounds of that. If you’re wanting to do an all-around exercise, that is brilliant. Salute to the Sun, a couple of rounds of that in the morning really gets you going, so yeah. Movement is important.
Guy: A lot of people just don’t move. That’s another thing and another topic but nice to hear you do. I’ve been bringing in yoga to my weekly routine, and I’ve been trying to get
Stu there but he’s not prepared to [inaudible 00:53:46] and come down.
Stuart: Yeah. One day, Guy.
Guy: I’m aware of time. It’s going on a little bit, Ron, and I’d love for you to just talk a little bit about your podcast just to let the listeners know that you’re a podcast to Good Doctors, is that right?
Ron: We do.
Guy: I know Stu has become a fan. He’s been listening to a lot of it lately.
Stuart: I have. I’m loving it.
Ron: Yeah, good. It’s been going for a couple of years now actually, and my co-host, that it’s called The Good Doctors, Health Care Unplugged. Each week we explore. Here comes the introductions too. Each week we … no. Each week we do, we explore health wellness and disease from a nutritional and environmental perspective and we look at food from soil to plate and we look at the connections between mind and body, and we do that because they’re all connected. We really are talking about alternative medicine, we’re talking about good medicine, and my co-host in that is a fabulous doctor in the Mornington Peninsula, integrative holistic GP called Michelle Woolhouse. I personally … we’re up to episode 170, I think, and we do Healthy Bytes which very … Sometimes we interview people, sometimes we have a Healthy Byte which varies from 5 minutes to 20 minutes, and we’re just starting to do book reviews, but I have personally learned so much.
Each week, I get to pretend, and it’s not much of a stretch for me, but I get to pretend that I don’t know everything. I get to ask either our guests or Michelle something, and I’ve learnt so much from that, so it’s a great show. We’re starting to take it little more seriously. We’re going to do some live events next year. It’s going to be really good. It’s a really exciting project. It’s one we both really enjoy.
Stuart: Fantastic. If we wanted to connect to The Good Doctors, the best way to do it?
Ron: iTunes or you could go on to our web page which is thegooddoctors.com.au, and we’ve got a Facebook page, we got a lot of information going out. We’re just about to publish an ebook on what is good health, and we’re about to do a whole series of varying programs. We did a fertility series, we’re doing a cardio series, a cancer series, so there’s a lot exciting things happening there next year.
Guy: I think you’re right. Since we’ve been podcasting, I’ve learned so much. I find it a privilege. We have guests on like yourself, and we currently do them [inaudible 00:56:18] interview, but the absolute variety of knowledge that you exposed to, it’s awesome.
Ron: I’ve started a second podcast as well.
Guy: Have you?
Ron: I have on through my surgery, but it’s called Holistic Health Conversations. It’s where I interview practitioners that we work with around Australia or around Sydney, and also internationally who have a holistic approach to healthcare. That’s starting up in the next couple of weeks as well from our surgery web page.
Guy: Well done. Fantastic. There you go. Ron, just to wrap up, we have a question we ask everyone on the podcast every week. Nothing too technical, but what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Ron: I think the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given … The best lesson I’ve learned is to take control of yourself and keep an open mind because we love certainly, and if you’re going to change your health, there are two things that are important in change, any change. The first one is to accept control. It’s called locus of control. Do I have the control over my health? I know I don’t 100%, but I want to be as much in control of it as I can, so that’s number one. Number two, a tolerance of ambiguity. Meaning things are not black and white, and keeping an open mind and incorporating information and having knowledge is a very powerful tool, so take control and be the best you can be. That’s the best lesson I’ve learned.
Guy: Awesome. It’s funny you come up with that answer because I’ve been [inaudible 00:58:04] the phrase, beginner’s mind, when you approach the things, and that’s come up in the last couple of podcast actually.
Ron: Look, I often say that I only wish I knew as much I thought I did when I graduated from dentistry. When I graduated, I passed all the exams set by all the professors, and I thought I knew it all. Actually, the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know, so it’s fun to learn.
Stuart: That’s right.
Guy: Fantastic. What’s coming up next for you?
Ron: I’m just in the process … I’m just finishing a book, and the book is called Simply Be Well. It’s an exploration of the five stresses in life that break us down which I’ve mentioned, emotional, environmental, postural, nutritional, and dental, and the five pillars of health that build us up which is sleep, breathe, nourish, move, and think. It also explores why public health messages is so confusing and contradictory. That’s coming out in the New Year. If people are interested, they can go into my website and we’re going to be … I think I’m going to have the first couple of chapters ready in a couple of weeks, and so we’re going to give them out free, send out the first couple of chapter.
Guy: [inaudible 00:59:10] awesome. Let us know when it’s out. It would be great. Everyone listen to this. Your website, best place to go back to the [inaudible 00:59:19] would be?
Ron: The surgery website, the shdc.com.au. SHDC, that stands for Sydney Holistic Dental Centre.com.au or they go on to drronehrlich. All one word, lower case, dot com, and there’ll be a lot of information on their too. [crosstalk 00:59:37].
Guy: [crosstalk 00:59:36].
Ron: Workshops coming up in the New Year, a Simply Be Well workshop to go with the book, and we’ve got an app that goes with the book as well, so a lot of exciting stuff coming up.
Guy: Awesome. We’ll link to the show notes as well, so people can just go and check it out.
Guy: [crosstalk 00:59:52].
Ron: Thanks for having me.
Stuart: [crosstalk 00:59:53].
Guy: Thanks for coming on. That was brilliant. I really appreciate it.
Stuart: [crosstalk 00:59:55]. We continue to learn which is great.
Ron: Don’t we? Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it.
Lynda: It’s a common problem that most avoid talking about. I on the other hand, love discussing constipation, particularly because it can be a big indicator of your current health. Constipation has many causes, from poor diet and fluid intake to the presence of a pathogen (bacteria, fungi), emotional imbalance and so on.
This article will focus on “WHAT YOU CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT RIGHT NOW” and delve into causes at a later date.
Here Are My Top 15 Ways To Get The Bowels Moving…
1) Express Yourself – Holding onto past memories or emotions can lead to anxiety and amplify stress. During stressful times it is common to hold onto our poo as well. In Chinese medicine the large intestine AKA our garbage collector, and the lungs when out of balance are associated with an inability to grieve and let go. As a result our bowel movements become sluggish and we store and recycle our waste, collecting toxins, bad breath and all sorts of funky conditions along the way.
2) Fibre - Every meal should contain a portion of fibrous food such as brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, berries and avocado. Fibre helps move waste through our digestive system and is also food for your gut bacteria. A healthy, diverse gut flora is important for regular bowel movements.
3) Prebiotics, Resistant Starch & Probiotics – These guys are food and fertilizer for gut bacteria. Stimulating their growth and encouraging regular bowel movements. Good sources are asparagus, artichokes, green (raw) banana, brown rice (that has cooled down), kombucha, fermented vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchi and apple cider vinegar. Gradually include probiotics such as fermented veggies, sauerkraut and kimchi otherwise you might experience digestive upset such as wind while the gut adjusts to a new bacterial environment. Start with 1 tsp with meals, increasing to 1 tbsp.
4) Water – Purified water has the power to nudge poo out from your colon. The amount will depend on your activity levels but as a general rule aim for 1.5 litres daily. Add ¼ tsp of Himalayan salt to your water to enhance absorption. Fluids should be warm or room temperature. Warmth loosens, unblocks and welcomes muscle relaxation. Cold seizes and constricts.
5) Routine – Routine can dramatically improve constipation. To promote a healthy evacuation, you’re morning may look like this; 1tbsp of apple cider vinegar in warm water upon rising, followed by a smoothie rich in fats and fibre. Relax for 15 minutes post brekky, calmly plan your day ahead, read a blog post or engage in calm conversation. I stand following brekkie and read a blog post. Standing helps move things along faster than sitting.
6) Herbs & Spices – Certain herbs and spices nourish the organs of digestion and elimination, such as the liver, kidneys, stomach and spleen. This in turn improves overall breakdown of foods and can dislodge the waste that clings to your intestinal walls. Add them to your meals, smoothies, tea, slow cooking and salads daily. My favourites are turmeric, cayenne, ginger, oregano, black pepper, rosemary, coriander seeds, cloves and cumin.
7) Yin Yoga – Yin Yoga works on improving the health of organs, bones, joints, connective tissue, fascia and mind and incorporates breathwork. A class that works on the lungs and large intestine is a good example of how yin can unlock constipated colon doors. If you have been holding onto grief and are unable to let go and move forward in life, supporting these organs can dramatically change this current reality.
8) Standing Desks – Sitting, particularly after eating can slow digestion down because it compresses the abdominal organs. Sluggish digestion, can lead to constipation and an imbalance in your gut microbiome (gut flora), according to Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease. Try standing or using a standing desk post meals instead.
9) Breathwork – When the flow of breath is laboured or short. It is physically impossible to let go. The mind becomes agitated, stress and anxiety are amplified and not enough “life-force”, space and nutrients get to areas in your body like your digestive system. Without breath, there is tension, blockage and resistance. 10 minutes of breathwork daily can help regulate bowel movements. I find deep belly breathing to be most helpful.
10) Apple Cider Vinegar – Apple Cider Vinegar improves the production of stomach acid, which means a more effective breakdown and absorption of foods and better elimination of waste. Aim for 1 tbsp of ACV in warm water upon rising or 10 minutes before meals.
11) Healthy Fats – Our intestinal cell walls are made up of fat, therefore they need fats to function well. Healthy fats such as coconut, olive and macadamia oil, avocado, oily fish, butter, nuts and seeds lubricate the bowels and help move waste through the colon.
12) Ileocecal Valve Massage – Sometimes the ileocecal valve, located between the small intestine and large intestine does not work well, which can lead to a backlog of poo in the small intestine and constipation. Dr David Williams explains how to massage reflex points to improve its function here.
13) Magnesium – Magnesium is a muscle, (intestinal wall muscles included) and nervous system relaxant, making it perfect for constipation, stress and anxiety. I use magnesium bisglycinate as it is absorbed well and therefore gets to the areas I want to target before conducting its magic.
14) Avoid excessive protein - Stick to a palm portion of quality protein per meal. Undigested protein can putrefy (rot) in the bowel and stimulate the growth of bacteria. This toxicity can over-burden the liver, reducing it’s ability to effectively remove toxins and metabolic waste from the body. This can lead to chronic disease. Excess protein can also over-tax the stomach, reducing its ability to produce enough stomach acid to digest and use nutrients well.
15. Squat or use a squatting platform - When we use the common seated toilet we push poo up, against gravity. Squatting or using a squat platform such as Squatty Potty allows for a more natural angle and pressure. This straightens the anorectal angle and unkinks the sigmoid colon and creates an easier passage for poo to leave the colon.
This list is not conclusive. No doubt you have some pearlers that have helped you regulate your BM’s? Please leave a comment below I would love to hear how you have successfully grooved the poo :)
This article is brought to you by Lynda. She 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
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.
Guy: If you’ve been following us and our podcasts for a while, you’ll probably be aware that we believe every ‘body’ is different when it comes to weight loss, diets, health and even exercise! I think the short clip above is gold when it comes to having a greater understanding of our bodies and why some people will lose weight quicker than others.
Our fantastic guest today is the very lively Jonathan Bailor. Jonathan is the author of the NYT best selling book; The Calorie Myth.
He exposes the fundamental flaw upon which the diet industry has been built: the “eat less + exercise more = weight loss” equation simply doesn’t add up.
In this revolutionary work informed by over 1,300 studies and the new science of fat loss, food, and fitness, Bailor shows us how eating more—of the right kinds of foods—and exercising less—but at a higher intensity—is actually the key to burning fat, healing our hormones, boosting metabolism, and creating long-term weight loss.
Full Interview: How to Eat More, Exercise Less, Lose Weight & Live Better
In This Episode:
Why counting calories is outdated and is not the best approach to long-term health
Why the body acts like ‘kitchen sink’ & should be the first thing to address weight loss
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence at 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s Health Sessions. So, today we’ve got a fantastic guest lined up for you. I know I say that every week, but that’s okay anyway, because we like to think they’re fantastic anyway.
He is an internationally recognized wellness expert who specializes in using modern science and technology to simplify health. I know we certainly want to simplify health with our message.
Our special guest today is Jonathan Bailor and he’s collaborated now with top scientists for more than 10 years to analyze and apply over 1300 studies, which led him to write; which became a New York Times bestselling book called “The Calorie Myth” which came out, I think, at the beginning of 2014.
Now, “The Calorie Myth” comes with the slogan, “How to Eat More, Exercise Less, Lose Weight and Live Better.” And I think after all the years that I’ve been doing this, this certainly is a message that I like to push as well.
It was great to get Jonathan on today to share his wisdom that he’s learned. And of course it’s, you know, the quality of the food, not the quantity. I certainly don’t count calories any more, that’s for sure, and that’s a big message.
But also, on top of that, what Jonathan shares with us is that high-quality foods balance the hormones that regulate our metabolism and what’s behind that. He has a great analogy as well where he talks about the body’s regulatory system becoming, inverted commas, “clogged.” And it prevents us from burning those extra calories and actually, you know, the body running at its full efficiency.
So, we get sucked into it and he shares some fantastic bits of wisdom with us for today’s show. So, I have no doubt you’re going to get lots out of it.
I also did some mathematics yesterday. Yes, I do get a calculator out every now and then and worked out that somewhere in the world every four minutes, at the moment, somebody’s listening to a 180 Nutrition podcast.
I thought that was actually pretty cool and thought I’d share that with you. It keeps inspiring me and spurring me on to do these podcasts more and I truly want to try to get into the top five on iTunes here in Australia, at least, in the health and wellness section by the end of this year.
And the reality is, the only way I can do that is with your help. All you need to do is subscribe, hit the five-star and leave us a small review if you’re genuinely enjoying these podcasts and they’re making a big difference to your life.
I’ve always pushed for podcasts. They’ve made a huge impact on my life over the years and it’s certainly something I love doing and strive to do even more and continue to get this message out there and simply reach as many people as possible in the way we do it.
So, if you could take two minutes and do those things for us, it would be greatly appreciated.
Anyway, let’s go on to Jonathan Bailor and you’re going to thoroughly enjoy this. Thanks.
Guy Lawrence: Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke. Hey, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: Hello, mate.
Guy Lawrence: And our awesome guest today is Jonathan Bailor. Jonathan, welcome to the show.
Jonathan Bailor: Hey, guys. Thanks for having me.
Guy Lawrence: That’s fantastic, mate. We found over the years that this topic of counting calories, weight loss, even exercise, has a great deal of confusion. So, we’re looking forward to getting some clarity and pearls of wisdom from you today for our audience. So …
Jonathan Bailor: Well, I hope I provide as much wisdom as I can.
Guy Lawrence: That’s appreciated, mate.
So, the way we start the show is, would you mind just sharing a little bit about, you know, background, what you do and why we’re excited to have you on the show? Because I know you’ll do a much better job than me in doing that.
Jonathan Bailor: Yeah. I know we’re limited on time, so I’ll give you the short version, because I could give you a very long version.
My journey actually started when I was very small. I’m talking 3 years old. If you go to my website, SaneSolution.com and you check out the backstory, you’ll actually see photos that confirm that I was really into eating and exercising and trying to become a Superman even when I was really, really, really young.
So, I grew up as a naturally thin person. I still am a naturally thin person. And don’t hate me; this is going to come full-circle and turn out to be a good thing. But I wanted to get bigger. I wanted to be like my very athletic older brother.
So, I became a personal trainer over at Bally Total Fitness here in the States and that’s the way I paid my way through college. During that time period, I had a painful experience that then changed the trajectory of my life moving forward.
So, while I was a trainer, this was during my late teens, early 20s, I was eating and I’m not exaggerating, 6,000 calories per day in an effort to try to get bigger. Like we sometimes forget that there are people who want to gain weight and can’t do that.
But while I was doing that, I was training predominately mothers and grandmothers who I was telling to eat 1200 calories per day and we were all trying really hard. I was trying really, really hard to gain weight and I knew I was eating 6,000 calories per day.
These were partners at law firms and MDs and they weren’t stupid people. They weren’t lazy people. They were really; really smart, brilliant, capable people. And I saw their food journals. I knew they were eating 1200 calories per day and they weren’t losing weight.
And I was stuck with this reality, which is, “Hey, I’m a homosapien. We’re all homosapiens. How is it that I can eat 6,000 calories per day, try my hardest and not gain weight? And these people, same species, can eat 1200 calories per day, exercise more than I’m exercising and not lose weight.
So, that then caused me to quit being a trainer, because I felt I was a failure, because I was. I couldn’t even reach my own goals. And it set me on this journey, which got us where we are today.
Which was 15 years of deep, deep, deep, deep academic research with top doctors and researchers at the Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, like 1300 studies, New York Times bestselling book, USA Today bestselling book, blah, blah, blah, blah blah … to answer the one question, which is: Why is it that some people can eat a whole lot of calories and not gain weight and other people eat very few calories and not lose weight? What’s going on there?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. There you go and I got to say, Stu is exactly that person you just described.
Stuart Cooke: I am that person. I’ve done the whole 6,000 calories a day thing for two weeks. I did it as a self-experiment when we were on holiday and I really wanted to put on a little bit of size and I lost a kilo and a half. It just goes to show that we’re all very, very different biological machines.
I had a question for you, Jonathan, because over the course the weekend I went with my family and we visited some markets and when I in the queue I was kind of listening to the lady behind me queuing up pay to get in and I heard her tell her partner, “I can only eat 500 calories today and so, I don’t want to be naughty.” And I thought, “Boy, that’s not a huge amount.”
So, I’m just, you know, kind of crazy, but how did we in up counting calories?
Jonathan Bailor: Well, starting back in, at least in the States, so in the States in the late ’70s there was a bunch of government documents that came out that said …Well, first they thought that we were unhealthy back then.
So, they thought we were unhealthy back then, oh boy. We thought we’re just horribly, like orders of magnitude worse since then. And some of guidance was to eat less and exercise more and also to change the composition of what we were eating. Specifically to eat less fat and to eat more carbohydrate and anything as long as it was low in fat. And the way they simplified this message for everybody, was to introduce the concept of a calorie into the mainstream.
It’s hard to imagine right now, but prior to the 1980s or so; I mean, in the ’70s even exercise was thought of kind of some weird fringe thing, right. It wasn’t this popular thing that everyone did. In fact, my mother tells me a story… My mother’s not that old; she’s in her late 60s, that when she went to University she was not actually even allowed in the gym. It was thought of as bad; unhealthy for women to exercise.
So anyway, starting in the late 1970s the concept of the calorie and the concept of exercise entered the mainstream and we were told that we just need to eat less and exercise more. So, exercise more is why exercise got introduced and eat less was just … okay, eat less, what’s that mean? It means eat less calories.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Jonathan Bailor: So, we stopped talking about food and we started talking about calories and just telling people, “Hey look, all you have to do is eat fewer calories and exercise more and all your problems will go away.” And if you just, you know, for whatever reason and we can talk about that, since then everything’s gotten worse.
So, clearly that doesn’t work. We can debate why it doesn’t work, but the guidance to just eat less and exercise more has not worked.
Guy Lawrence: There you go. Do you think that the message is changing? I mean, if you still walk in the gymnasium, I don’t know what it’s like in the States, but is everyone still counting their calories and on a kind of exercise-diet program?
Jonathan Bailor: It’s changing. So, the exercise isn’t really changing. People still think they need to exercise more and more and more. In fact, with things like Fitbit and all the tracking tools, it’s actually getting worse.
But the eating, I think, we are, actually I know we are, statistically seeing things like Weight Watchers and calorie counting is thought of a little bit as last generation.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Jonathan Bailor: And new generation is much more … if you think about the things that have garnered headlines recently. There’s things like veganism, Paleo, Atkins, South Beach. And while those are all very different, they do share one thing in common and that’s change what your eating, not how much your eating.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. It’s so important. I remember, Jonathan, a couple of years ago stumbling across your video “Slim Is Simple.” And I remember sharing it to our audience, but you had an analogy of the kitchen sink, which we thought was spot on. Would you mind sharing that analogy with us, please?
Jonathan Bailor: Sure. The reason that the “calories in/calories out” equation, which again it’s not that that doesn’t exist, it’s just that that’s an oversimplification. The reason that stuck is because it seems intuitively correct.
It’s like, “Oh, your body works like a balance scale and if you exercise more for here, it shifts and you lose weight. Or if you eat less it shifts.” But that metaphor, while it’s intuitive, it’s wrong, and a better metaphor is to think of your body a little bit like a clogged sink.
So, when a sink is unclogged; so when a sink is working properly, when a sink is working as it’s designed to work, more water in just means more water out, right? Because the sink is designed to balance itself out.
Now, to be clear, if you dump a bucket of water in your sink, the water level may rise temporarily, but it will go down and you usually don’t dump buckets of water into your sink. That’s not how most people use their sinks.
But now, if your sink gets clogged, any amounts of water, right, you just leave your faucet running just a little bit, it will cause the water level to rise and evidently to overflow. And now you could say: Oh my God, my sink is overflowing. Here’s what I’m going to do. First, I’m never going to wash my hands again, because putting water into the sink will only make it worse. So, I’m going to put less water in, and then I’m going to dress up in Spandex and I’m going to get a teaspoon and I’m going to put on techno music and I’m just going to be like “boom, boom.” And I’m just going to bail water out of that sink for like two hours per day and I’m going to be extreme about it.
And, again, the water level will fall. But why not just unclog the sink, right? The problem isn’t that there’s too much water in the sink or that you’re not pulling enough water out of the sink. The problem is the sink has a lost its natural ability to balance itself out.
So, our body works similarly. When we eat the wrong quality of food, just like when you put the wrong quality of stuff in a sink, it gets clogged, right? Sinks don’t get clogged from using a lot of water. They get clogged from putting things other than water, other than things they’re designed to handle, in them.
So, when you put things other than food into your body, it gets clogged. And at that point more in does result in more fat stored. Whereas conventionally, more in would just result in more out or more burnt.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. That is beautiful. No, I love that and it was such a visual message when we saw it. It just made perfect sense.
So, where do most people get it wrong then, when trying to lose weight? I guess one, you know, not understanding the analogy of how everything works together. But if you could offer a couple of kind of golden nuggets of information, what would they be?
Jonathan Bailor: The first and most important is that, it’s not their fault. Because the experts have given them incorrect information, right? So, if we were told, and this seems crazy, but it actually happened; if we told that smoking wasn’t bad for us and then we all got lung cancer, is that our fault? Smoking is delightful, I guess, I’ve never smoked. But people who smoke seem to really like it and if you were told it wasn’t bad for you, you’d do it, right?
So, up until this point, especially if you’re over 25, you’ve been told you need to count calories. You need to eat less and you need to exercise more. And chances are you’ve done that.
Let’s be very clear. You’ve lost weight. We’ve all lost weight. The issue is you haven’t been able to keep it off.
The reason you haven’t been able to keep it off is because you’re sort of fighting against that clogged system, rather than unclogging it itself.
So, the first piece of wisdom, yes, wisdom, I would tell people is that if you want a different result, you have to take a different approach and it’s not your fault.
And a different approach is so much simpler. It’s what every single person ever did prior to the obesity epidemic. Which is, eat stuff, eat food, like actual food when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, and just move your body.
Stuart Cooke: Wow. You mean real food?
Jonathan Bailor: Real food.
Stuart Cooke: No plastic food? Packaged food?
Guy Lawrence: Now, you’ve touched on a point there, because so many people have unknowingly got it wrong and they’re genuinely out there trying to do the best they can, what they perceive to be a healthy approach. And that is one really frustrating thing.
You know, can you touch on a little bit as well for us regarding hormones and how they can affect weight? Because I think that’s a real strong topic as well.
Jonathan Bailor: It’s very important and it actually relates back to the “just eat real food” message as well.
So, I want to … I’m going to address hormones and I also want to address the “just eat real food” message.
So, important distinction here: One is, prior to the obesity epidemic people just ate real food, but all they ever ate was just real food. So, I want to make a distinction between someone who’s never been hormonally clogged, continuing to just eat real food, and someone who is hormonally clogged now, who needs to first unclog and then move forward. Right?
So, that’s sort of really important. Because if you took someone … say you have a person who’s 250 pounds and is diabetic and you say, “Just eat real food,” and they take that to mean, “I’m going to get 60 percent of my calories from white potatoes.”
Like, white potatoes are real food. They’re found directly in nature and they have nutrients in them, but we have to actually heal the body first and that requires a little bit more nuance than “just eat real food.”
So, the value that I try to bring to the table is taking sort of common sense wisdom, which is do what we did prior to having the problem with really rigorous modern science. To pair those together and to say that “just eat real food” actually isn’t enough guidance.
Because when you understand hormones, you understand that there are certain types of real food that are a lot more hormonally beneficial than other types of real food and based on your hormonal state, we need to adapt that. And also just from a common sense perspective for … like tobacco is real and found in nature, but it doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
So, we’ve got to take the “just eat real food” guidance, then we need to understand our hormones. We need to understand our neurobiology. We need to understand our gut biology. Then we need to refine down the best real foods to heal our hormones.
Guy Lawrence: There you go.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. Okay. So, has anyone from a kind of regional and cultural perspective, has anyone got it right in terms of their diets or the way that they have always been eating? And I’m thinking, like, Mediterranean diet for instance, something along those lines.
Jonathan Bailor: A lot of the debate that takes place on the internet is, you know, like, “What’s best? Like high carb/low carb, all this, like, which types of real food should you eat?”
Now, again this depends on your goals. It depends on your starting point. So, one thing we can’t argue with is results.
So, there are tribes that eat a super high-fat diet, have always eaten a super high fat diet and are radically healthier than the average westerner. There are tribes that eat a very a high carbohydrate diet and have always eaten a very high carbohydrate diet and are very, very healthy.
There is no culture anywhere, ever, that has eaten a 40 to 60 percent refined nonsense diet, which is what most Americans eat, that is healthy.
So, what we need to do is sort of focus less on, I think, what one way is right and what we can focus on and with a lot more confidence, is what is wrong. Like, it’s way easier to disprove something than it is to prove something.
So, I don’t know if we’ll ever know the perfect human diet. Just like I don’t think we’ll ever know the perfect outfit a person could wear. I don’t think one exists. I think it’s contextually dependent.
But I do think we know what we should not be eating and if we can just get rid of that stuff, we’d be good to go.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. A question popped in there, So, with everything we’ve covered so far, right, if somebody’s listening to this and they might be late 30s, early 40s and they’ve neglected their health and they’ve got to a situation in life where they’re overweight. They’re behind the eight ball a bit. They’re realizing that, “Oh shit. My kitchen sink is blocked and all these diets I’m doing is not working and I’m frustrated. I’m just over it all.” That’s all great.
What would your advice be? Where would you sort of start chipping away with that? What would be the first protocol? And they’re probably exercising every day too.
Jonathan Bailor: From a food perspective it’s very, very simple and that’s where the SANE framework comes in to play.
So, SANE is the name of my brand. But it’s also … it was just, you know, I don’t know if God or some higher power had this planned out all along, but eight years into my research I was trying to figure out; okay it’s all about high quality. We get that. It’s about quality not quantity.
And then I noticed that there were these four factors in the research, which helps to determine … like, you ask someone on the street, “Hey, what’s a high quality food?” They’re like, “I don’t know.” If they’re a vegetarian they give you a much different answer than if they’re Paleo, right?
So, how do you actually, scientifically, objectively determine the quality of a food? And then once you can answer that question, I can then tell you, “Step 1 is eat these. Step 2 is eat these.”
So, let me unpack that really quick.
So, SANE is an acronym fortuitously for the four factors that determine the quality of a food.
So, the S stands for Satiety. This is how quickly a food fills you up and how long it keeps you full. So, you know, like, soda you can drink 600 calories of soda and it does nothing to satisfy you. In fact, it actually makes you hungrier, right? So, there’s low satiety.
The A is Aggression. Where the hormonal impact a food has, so glycemic index, glycemic load, things like that.
N is Nutrition. So, the amount of nutrients, essential nutrients: vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, you get it per calorie.
And then E is Efficiency or how easily your body could store the given calorie as fat.
So, for example, protein is very, very difficult for your body to store as fat. It’s not an energy source. It’s a structural component. So, if you ate just way too much protein, all sorts of chemical processes would have to happen in your body before that could even be stored as body fat. So, it’s very inefficient. That’s why higher protein diets often result in weight loss.
Anyway, so now we just have to say, these are four scientifically proven and scientifically measurable factors. And we can just stack foods, right? We can say which foods are the most satisfying, unaggressive, nutritious and inefficient.
And when we do that, here’s the coolest thing; here’s where it all comes together beautifully. So, the most rigorous science in the world and common sense come together.
So, the most satisfying, unaggressive, nutritious and inefficient foods on the planet are, drum roll please: non-starchy vegetables, right? So vegetables you could eat raw.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Jonathan Bailor: You don’t have to eat them raw, but you could. So, corn and potatoes, you can’t eat them raw. They’re not vegetables. They’re starches.
So, the first thing I’d say is, 10-plus servings of non-starchy vegetables every time you’re eating. Non-starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables.
Next on the list is nutrient-dense protein. So, these are humanely raised animals. Also certain forms of dairy products that are low in sugar, such as Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.
Then next on the list or in terms of volume of what you’re eating are whole food fats. So, these are things that get the majority of their calories from fat, but are whole foods. So, eggs, nuts, seeds, avocados, things like that.
And then finally, low-fructose fruits. So, not all fruits are of equivalent goodness. For example, blueberries have a lot more vitamins and minerals and radically less sugar than something like grapes.
So, I would tell them, “Here’s your four steps. In order, you eat: non-starchy vegetables, nutrient-dense protein, whole food fats, low-fructose fruits.”
Fine anybody on the planet who’s doing that and has done that and isn’t free of diabetes and obesity and I will be shocked.
Guy Lawrence: There you go.
Stuart Cooke: I like it. I like it simple. So, I’m guessing then that foods that really don’t adhere to any of those quantities would be insane to eat, right?
Jonathan Bailor: That’s exactly right. They’re insane. And there’s actually three factors I forgot to mention.
So, if you don’t want to remember satiety, aggression, nutrition and efficiency, you can remember three things, which are a little bit simpler, and that is: water, fiber and protein.
So, sane foods are high in water. They’re high in fiber. They’re high in protein. Insane foods are low in those things.
So, for example, processed foods. If you notice, they’re all dry. So, cookies, cakes, crackers, pies, you put them in a blender you get a powder. You don’t get something liquidy. They’re low in fiber and they’re low in protein.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect.
Guy Lawrence: So, with all that said, right, Jonathan, what did you have for breakfast this morning?
Jonathan Bailor: I had a green smoothie. So, green smoothies are God’s gift to humanity. And I also had a, believe it or not, some SANE ice cream.
Guy Lawrence: There you go.
Stuart Cooke: What is SANE ice cream?
Jonathan Bailor: What is SANE ice cream? Yes. So, it’s a combination of coconut. So just shredded, unsweetened coconut. Chia seeds, some clean whey protein powder, cinnamon, guar gum, vanilla extract.
Guy Lawrence: Sounds good.
Jonathan Bailor: Some stevia and I freeze it and then I thaw it for two hours. Throw it in the blender and I eat it.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic. That sounds awesome.
So, we got a tiny bit of time left. I just wanted to touch on exercise for you. Given that everything you told us about the way the hormones interact with our body and the way that we look and feel: running shoes or kettle bells? So, what do you think?
Jonathan Bailor: Oh my goodness. I’m going to offend some people here. I’m going say neither.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Jonathan Bailor: So, kettle bells are certainly preferable to running shoes, but I think we can do even better. And remember that my message is targeted at, let’s say, the average American and if you hand the average American a kettle bell, all they’re going to do is hurt themselves.
Guy Lawrence: Uh-huh.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Jonathan Bailor: So, it’s not that kettle bells are bad, it’s that kettle bells are probably like Step 6.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jonathan Bailor: So, Step 1 would be … I want people to focus on doing very heavy resistance training, very slowly. And the “very slowly” is very important, because the quickest way to derail your fitness efforts is to hurt yourself and to try to do too much too soon.
So, instead of trying to do more running, you would do less, but way higher resistance and way slower weight training.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. And across the board: male, female, everyone?
Jonathan Bailor: Yeah. And in fact, I would say, even more so for females, simply because they have heard the opposite message for so long. I mean, since the ’50s, guys have been told to left weights. Women have been told the exact opposite. And women, especially given the hormonal changes that take place in women’s bodies, like post-menopause and after having given birth to children, the hormonal therapy that heavy resistance training can have on a woman’s body is fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. You know you’re spot on, because I worked as a fitness trainer for many years and the biggest mistake I would see is people who haven’t done anything for three or six months and they get all motivated and then they come in and they go hard and then the next thing you know, after a week later, they’re just out of there. They couldn’t just turn up, slow it down and then create a progression as each week goes by.
Jonathan Bailor: Yeah, and Guy and Stuart, can I add one thing that I think is going to be really helpful for your audience, because it’s been really helpful for me?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Go for it. I’m not in the way.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jonathan Bailor: Not at all. I’m looking at my camera but not at your faces.
So, there’s a … one of the most influential books that I’ve ever read in my entire life, easily, is a book called “Antifragile” and I can’t pronounce the guy’s name. It’s like Taleb is his last name. Anyway, he makes a point in the book that oftentimes the longer something has been around, the more likely it is to be true or good and the more likely it is to continue into the future.
So, for example, these sort of cutting; these new forms of exercise, like how often do we see something new that comes around and then next year it’s gone?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jonathan Bailor: Whereas, like, squats, pushups, shoulder press, chest press, like these six physical movements; like move heavy things in the basic way your body is designed to move, that’s been around for a long time. It works for a really long time. Anyone who actually knows anything about building a world-class physique will tell you that their workout routine revolves around squats, bench press, dead lifts, pull-ups, shoulder press and basically those five exercises.
So, just anytime, whether you heard something new fancy… blah, blah, blah. Get the basics done really, really well and you’ll achieve fantastic results.
Guy Lawrence: There you go. And that was “Antifragile” was it?
Jonathan Bailor: Yes.
Guy Lawrence: The book?
Jonathan Bailor: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Okay. We’ll link it in the show, one of us. That’s great.
Stuart Cooke: Wow. No, that’s good information. I’m just thinking about you, Guy, with your new passion for Zumba. How that fits in?
Guy Lawrence: Don’t tell anyone. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: No, exactly.
So, I wonder whether you could tell us a little bit about your book, “The Calorie Myth” because I’ve been reading a little bit about it and it sounds quite exciting. So, could you share that, please?
Jonathan Bailor: Yeah. It’s the culmination of 13-plus years of research, distilled down into, really, three sections. The first is we bust the three; like, none of this is going to make sense unless you can free yourself of three myths.
And the first myth is you have consciously count calories. That’s a myth.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jonathan Bailor: I prove that definitively in the book. The second is that a calorie is a calorie. So, we disprove that definitively in the book. And the third is that calories are all that matter and that’s where hormones come into play. We disprove that in the book.
Then we talk about how all these myths, which we, I mean like, disprove, disprove in the first part of the book. Like now, “That’s crazy!” Well, how did we come to believe that anyway?
And then the third part of the book we introduce the solution. So, the new quality-focused eating and exercise and then also introduce you to SaneSolution.com, which is my company,
And also people read “The Calorie Myth” and they say, “Okay, that’s great. You’ve blown my mind. You’ve stripped away everything I thought I knew about eating and exercise. So, now what do I do?” And we provide meal plans, tools, resources, all kinds of fun stuff like that on sanesolution.com to help you live that new lifestyle.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect. Excellent.
Guy Lawrence: It’s all well and good, and that’s the one thing we see, right? It’s all well and good understanding this message: “Yes, and I’ve got to change” but actually implementing it on a daily basis, moving forward is quite a; can be quite a challenge and certainly support is needed. Yeah, we’ll certainly link back to that as well, Jonathan. That sounds awesome.
So, mate, we’ve got a couple of wrap up questions we ask on the show.
Jonathan Bailor: Sure.
Guy Lawrence: First one is, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? And this normally stumps everyone.
Stuart Cooke: We’ve got him, Guy. We’ve got him.
Jonathan Bailor: Uh-oh. This is the first one that popped into my mind. So, it’s from my mom and it’s, “If you have to think about it, the answer is no.” So, if you debating whether or not something’s good or bad, it’s bad. Because that’s your brain trying to tell you, “You know better.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: That’s good. That does resonate with us actually.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Excellent. One more, mate, and you touched on it earlier about a book. Is there any books that spring to mind that have influenced you over the years that you want to share with the audience?
Jonathan Bailor: Oh, absolutely. In fact, I could give you the numbered list right off the top of my head. So, the most influential book I’ve ever read is the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jonathan Bailor: Without question. Also high on the list is, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jonathan Bailor: “Antifragile” is on the list. I think, at least off the top of my head, those would be the three that most resonate right now.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Perfect. Excellent.
And for anyone listening to this where can they get more Jonathan Bailor?
Jonathan Bailor: Please go to: SaneSolution. So… SaneSolution, singular. Not solutions, SaneSolution. Not thesanesolution. Not thesanesolutions, but SaneSolution.com.
Guy Lawrence: Brilliant. And have you got any exciting projects coming up in the future, mate, that people can look forward to in the pipeline? Any more books?
Jonathan Bailor: Oh, absolutely. Well, we’ll see on the books, right? Now we’re focused on helping people actually live this lifestyle and we’ve found that the easiest way to do that is to make real, whole, SANE food more convenient.
So, we’re reinventing the supplement world. We’re kind of replacing supplements with what we’re calling “meal enhancements” which is whole real food put into a convenience form so that you could get eight servings of the best non-starchy vegetables in the world in like 17 seconds.
It’s incredible. It’s like taking all that’s good about supplements, but moving it into the whole foods space so it’s all natural. And you can check that out at: SaneSolution.com. Just click store. It’s pretty phenomenal.
Guy Lawrence: Perfect.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: And that’s our message too. I think that the whole industry is moving that way and the sooner it does, the better.
Jonathan Bailor: And we ship to Australia.
Guy Lawrence: There you go. It’s got a long way to come, but it does get here.
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely. I’ll place my order today.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: Jon, thanks so much for coming on the show, mate. That was awesome. We really value your time and I have not doubt people heaps out of that.
Jonathan Bailor: Awesome. Thanks guys.
Guy Lawrence: Good on you, Jonathan, and thank you.
Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Are grains really the enemy? Who better a person to ask than a guy who’s interviewed hundreds of health leaders from around the world and walks his talk when it comes health and nutrition. His answer wasn’t quite what we expected! Hence why we loved it and it’s this weeks 2 minute gem.
Abel James is the founder of ‘The Fat Burning Man’ show. A health and wellness podcast that’s hit No.1 in eight different countries on iTunes and gets over a whopping 500,000 downloads each month! It was fantastic to get the laid back Abel on the show today to share with us his own personal weight loss story, his discoveries, the trial and errors and the applied wisdom of others.
To sum up Abel James in his own words: My goal is to create a place where people can have spirited discussions and debate about issues that truly matter – not just fat loss and fitness, but ultimately health and quality of life. I also feel obligated to expose the truth about nutrition, fitness, and health so that people are no longer reliant upon deceptive marketing practices, misleading corporate propaganda, and powerful special interests that have accelerated the worldwide obesity epidemic and health crisis.
Full Interview: Lessons Learned From Becoming The Fat Burning Man
In This Episode:
Abel’s journey from being overweight to becoming the ‘Fat Burning Man’
What the body building industry taught him about weight loss
Guy Lawrence: This is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s Health Sessions.
So, as you can see, if you’re watching this in video, I’m standing here at Mcmahons Pool here in Sydney, which is a pearl of a location and I quite often find myself jumping in first thing in the morning. The water is cold here in winter in Sydney, although the sun’s shining, but it’s a great way to start the day nonetheless.
Anyway, on to today’s guest. I might be a little bit biased but I think this show today is fantastic and we’ve got an awesome guest for you. And he has a podcast himself, and I reckon he has one of the smoothest voices that is just designed for podcasts and radio, I tell ya. And that might even give you a clue already.
Stu often says I’ve got a face for radio, but I don’t know if I’ll take that as a compliment. But anyway. So, our guest today is Abel James, AKA the Fat-Burning Man. And if you are new to this podcast, definitely check it out. I’ve been listening to them for years. And Abel has had some fantastic guests on the show, as you can imagine, when you’ve been doing a podcast for over four years.
And we were really keen to get him on the show and share his experiences with us, because, you know, once you’ve interviewed that many people and some absolutely great health leaders around the world, you’re gonna pick up on what they say, their experience, and how you apply it in your own life. And we’re really keen to find out from Abel why he does, you know, because he’s covered, obviously, topics on mindset, health, nutrition, exercise, and what are the pearls of wisdom has he gone and taken over the years of experience and applied it. And some of the stuff what he doesn’t take, you know, take on board as well.
So, Abel shares all of that with us today, including his own story. Because Abel was once overweight. He’s looking a very, very fit boy at the moment, just from changing his nutrition.
So, anyway, that’s what you’re going to get out of today’s show and it’s a great one. So, it’s a pleasure to have Abel on.
And also, I ask for reviews, you know, leave us a review on iTunes if you’re enjoying the show. Subscribe, five-star it. You know, let us know where in the world you’re listening to these podcasts. I think we’re in 32 countries at the moment or maybe even more getting downloaded. So it’s pretty cool. And we always love to hear from you, so, yeah, jump on board and of course drop us an email back at 180Nutrition.com or .com.au now.
So, let’s go over to Abel. Enjoy the show.
Stuart Cooke: Guy, over to you.
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke, as always. Hey Stewie.
Stuart Cooke: Hello, mate.
Guy Lawrence: And our fantastic guest today is Abel James. Abel, welcome to the show.
Abel James: Thanks so much for having me.
Guy Lawrence: Now, you will have to forgive us this morning, mate. It is very early in Sydney. So, I’ve never seen Stu up at this time of the morning, I think, so it will be interesting to see how he responds.
I’m just kidding. Come on.
Yeah, look, obviously we are big fans of your podcast. It’s great to have a fellow podcaster on. And what we were curious about, just to get the ball rolling, is I guess a little bit about your journey and what got you into podcasting and what let you to that. Because you’ve been doing it awhile now.
Abel James: Yeah. Well, the podcast itself kind of comes out, or it comes somewhat naturally, because I’m a musician and have been doing that for a very long time. So, you know, I had a blog, and this was, I guess, like, four years ago when I first started Fat-Burning Man.
But before that I worked as a consultant with some companies in the food and beverage industry right after I got out of college. And so I’d actually been blogging about health for many years before that, but anonymously. My site was called Honest Abe’s Tips. And it was a picture of, like, this digitized Abe Lincoln peeking out from behind the laptop.
But then with Fat-Burning Man, I realized that when I went through my own struggles with health, basically, I got fat and old and sick in my early 20s and didn’t want to keep being that way. So I kind of turned things around and found that it was a lot easier and more straight-forward and simpler than almost anything I’d ever read had made it out to be, you know, in the fitness magazines and the media. Even some of the science.
And so I started this up and realized that, you know, if I were looking at a fitness book or a fitness blog or something like that, first thing I’d do is, like, turn around, look at who’s writing it. Like: Are these people actually living it? Are they following their own advice?
And so I figured, you know, it’s the internet. Let’s just put it all right out there. And so I came up with this ridiculous Fat-Burning Man, like superhero type thing and just wanted to make it about being positive and showing that you can be happy and healthy at the same time. Because so much of the messaging, especially then, but still now, is that you need to be hungry and miserable and punish yourself. But you really can have a more holistic approach. So, that’s what I try to do.
Guy Lawrence: Did you ever imagine the Fat-Building Man would take you on this journey to where it is today? You know, when you started.
Abel James: You know, it’s so funny. Because now it kind of sneaks up on you a little bit. You know, like, I was just out at a health food store here in Tennessee and like within five seconds of walking in, someone’s like, “Abel! Hi!” We just moved here and that just happened in, like, New Orleans, in California. And so I don’t even realize how many people are listening but I’m so glad that they are, because when I first started it was just me talking into a microphone and hoping that people would listen and trying to get this message out there that was different and still is kind of different.
Because most of the stuff you find in health, and I’ve had to learn this the hard way, is not health information. It’s marketing propaganda. You know, designed to sell you supplements, shakes, consumables. Whatever they’re selling you is usually kind of, like, disguised in something that’s information. And that information is hurting people.
So, I wanted to just be totally open about all this and say, like, “These are the things that we think might be right, but we’re probably wrong about a bunch of stuff. But that’s definitely wrong over there.”
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome. That’s awesome.
Stuart Cooke: So, when you mentioned that in your early days you were fat and sick and things just weren’t working out for you, do you think that was particularly diet-based?
Abel James: Yes. Absolutely. Because basically what happened is I grew up, my mom is a holistic nurse practitioner and an herbalist, and I was raised eating from the back yard. And we had fish sticks and stuff like that, too, sometimes, but it was; I had a very strong education in eating naturally, from the real world, back then.
And then, for me, like every teenager who wants to prove that there’s a better world out there than the one that they came from or whatever, to pay off my loans I got this big, fancy job in consulting and I got this big, fancy insurance that came along with the consulting job. And I’m just like, “All right. I’m gonna find the best doctor and listen to his advice and take his drugs and do his thing.”
And so I did that, and it was… You know, when I first walked in, he’s like, “What is the family history?” And I said, well, you know, there’s thyroid problems, most people gain weight as they age, my grandmother has high blood pressure, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
They looked at my blood and they’re just, like, “OK, well, we need to put you on a low-fat diet right away.” And, you know, zero dietary cholesterol and the whole… you guys are familiar with how that works, I’m sure.
And so I got that whole spiel and I’m like, OK. Well, if that’s gonna help me live longer, help my heart be healthy, and basically guarantee that I’m doing the right thing, then let’s do it.
Except it didn’t really work out that way. You know, for the first time in my life… I was always athletic and I love fitness and just getting outside, going for hikes or runs or mountain-biking. Whatever. And so I never really had a problem with weight. And all of a sudden, it’s creeping up, and it wasn’t until my boss made fun of me for being fat that I realized that I was, like, “Oh. This is fat.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. “There’s a problem.”
Abel James: And I wasn’t, like, massively overweight. But if you imagine me with less muscle and 20 pounds of flab, then all of sudden you kind of look like someone who’s much older than you actually are. And certainly not thriving anymore. Not athletic.
And I always want to be the best at whatever, so I had to turn that around.
Guy Lawrence: Was there any, like, little tipping points with books or information that made you sort of go, “I’ve really got to start delving into this” and looking down that path?
Abel James: Well, yeah. For me… So, I’m pretty narrow-focused a lot of the time and my focus then, when I first got into it, it was my first job, you know. My first real in-the-workforce job. I worked with my dad growing up and in restaurants and stuff. But this was the first thing I was taking seriously. And so I just wanted to pay down my debt as quickly as I could so that I could be free to do whatever more passion-based stuff.
And then I, basically, like, a little bit at a time saw that it wasn’t working. But I had outsourced it from my own brain, you know? I had always focused on being fit and athletic and running a lot, whatever. But it kind of like got away from me, because I was working so hard doing something else that was kind of like stealing my attention. And then it wasn’t until that comment and a couple of other things happened that I was just, like, “Oh. I guess I’ve got to focus on this.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: So, for all of our listeners, and your listeners as well, what did you focus on and what did you change?
Abel James: Well, it was interesting, because I grew up, my brother is about five years older than me, and I watched him go from… he’s a little bit obsessive and he watched Pumping Iron, the Arnold Schwarzenegger bodybuilding classic movie of the ’70s. He watched that for the first time, and I watched him over the next few months go from 155 pounds to well over 200; up to 220 of just solid, massive muscle.
So, that; it was in the back of my mind. I think sometimes you need something crazy like that. You need to see it happen in front of you before you really believe that it’s possible. You know what I mean? And so I hid that in back of my mind.
And so I always knew that you could do stuff that didn’t make any sense and it would kind of work out. And he did a lot of things that, dietary-wise, who knows what he was eating but it certainly wasn’t healthy. It was very different from the foods that we were eating.
But it was more generous with fat and protein and lower on carbs and kind of like counter to everything that I was told was healthy. And so I saw that whatever I was doing was not working. So I needed to do something different. And I was just like, well, why don’t I just flip it on its head and get some of the fats up there again and take down the carbs, take down the processed food, just kind of look at… I was looking at ketosis, cyclical ketogenic dieting that the bodybuilders were doing in the ’60s and ’70s, and it was like, you know they’re eating 26 eggs a day. Or drinking two gallons of milk a day. Or just chugging heavy cream. And getting down to 3 percent body fat. And for someone who had too much body fat, I’m like, “That’s interesting. I gotta try that.”
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: It happened for us the same, because I worked with mainly people with cancer about 10 years ago and I used to do the weight-training programs for them. And it literally started from a bodybuilders’ diet. They got them on a ketogenic diet and weight-training, and that was the first time I was exposed to a high-fat diet, and back then I saw the results too. You know, it was quite remarkable, and their health, everything gets turned on its head overnight and you’re, like, “My God, I’ve got to tell the world.”
Abel James: It’s very bizarre. Because it should kill you, right? According to everything that the doctors tell you. That should just put you straight into a stretcher or a coffin or whatever.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
Abel James: But oftentimes it does the opposite.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. So, with all your guests and podcasts, there’s all these amazing people you’ve interviewed and things like that. Any pearls of wisdom that have stood out or guests that have jumped out at you? It’s probably quite a big question but…
Abel James: I look for the things that… Well, I should just say, even the people who come on my show, which are, like, curated (to a certain extent), by me, they have to go through some sort of vetting process. They love to disagree about a lot of things. And for me I just try to keep it on point, step aside. I’m not gonna be combative even if I disagree with what they’re saying. I think it’s really important to see the richness of experience in people who are getting results.
And so I look for the things that they agree about. And there are very few. But number one is that everyone should be eating more leafy green vegetables and colorful vegetables, especially the non-starchy kind. And almost everyone agrees on that. Pretty much 100 percent.
Yet, almost nobody does it. Even the people who are, like, super paleo and super healthy or whatever. They’re more, usually, obsessed with the latest gadget, pill, carb-backloading approach, like new things that… I just had Kiefer on, I have a lot of people on with kind of like new spins on whatever. And so people get obsessed with, like, the new spin instead of having a salad. Which is like… So, one of the things that I try to do is encourage people to do the simple things that we already know, because it’s really easy to ignore that.
Or, if you go and you’re paleo and you’re really excited about it and you’re getting all these results and you’re doing CrossFit and then you go and get a paleo treat or whatever from the grocery store, because now you can find those, at least in America. And, you know, all of a sudden you take down 25 grams of sugar without even realizing it. But it’s “totally paleo” because it has honey in it. Wait a second!
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, half a jar.
Abel James: That kind of goes against the whole thing. So, I try to make it simple for people and more habit-based. More like, my background’s in brain science and psychology so I try and take it from that angle where, like, you guys know: If you’re training people or if you want to achieve something in your own life, it’s not really about the information that you have as much as, are you doing it. Right? So, I really try to focus on getting people to do it, making that easier and more simple.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. You always find you can go on these crazy paths and you always get back to basics. Just keep it very simple.
Stuart Cooke: I think those basics generally come back to how our grandparents ate as well. It’s, like, super simple, really.
Abel James: It was wonderful. Beautifully simple.
Stuart Cooke: It’s it? Yeah. It couldn’t be more simple, yet in other respects it couldn’t be more complex with all this crazy info out there.
Abel James: Especially today.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Totally. So, over here we had quite an interesting article that came out in the Sydney Morning Herald about grains and bread and how everybody’s becoming more resistant to gluten and they’ve got intolerances and sensitivities to everything under the sun.
In your opinion, are grains the enemy?
Abel James: That’s a great question. I think they’re one of the enemies, yes. But that’s more a function of the fact that we’re eating grains in a way that we never ate grains before than the fact that they’re grains, if that makes sense. So, what I mean by that is if you take a chicken and then breed it to have certain characteristics like having breasts so large that it topples over or breaks its legs like most of the turkeys and poultry we have and then you inject it with a bunch of antibiotics and, you know, feed it with poison and whatever else. It’s not the same chicken that our ancestors would be eating.
And if you take wheat and, over the course of time, you breed it to make sure that it’s well-adapted for transport, ready for harvest months before it would have been otherwise, and basically mutate it and change it into something that it wasn’t before, it’s not the same wheat either.
And so what we do with that wheat, for example, is then, if that weren’t bad enough, kind of like mutating this thing into something that’s bred not for your health but for basically industrial efficiency, then you throw it through all these industrial processes, like grinding it into this really, really fine powder and not allowing it to ferment on the stalk, which releases enzymes to make it digestible, and then you let it fester on a shelf and get old or whatever, but it’s so irradiated and processed that you barely notice that the food is so spoiled.
It’s not the same thing as eating wild rice like Native Americans did here, especially in the Southwest. And you can you still, though, my wife is from Arizona, so we go there quite often, you can go and get, like, Native American wild rice and eat that.
So, if you compare that to, like, Uncle Ben’s rice, a brand we have here which is basically like processed white rice, not the same thing. So, we do eat some grains, but it’s in an entirely different way than almost everyone else eats grains these days.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, totally. No, that’s a good point. I read, a few years back, a book called Wheat Belly, and it really does kind of open the lid on the wheat industry. And, crikey, you really do think twice.
Abel James: It’s hard to get away from them.
Stuart Cooke: Very, very hard to get away from them. Unless, of course, you eat like your grandparents ate and then it’s actually a little easier to get away from… putting labels on vegetables.
Guy Lawrence: What are your thoughts on… Because I struggle with wheat and gluten and a big thing for me has been looking at food sensitivities over the years, and allergies. What are your thoughts on that? Have you personally looked into that?
Abel James: I have. It’s interesting because we don’t know how reliable it is. Especially… food allergy testing is one thing, but food sensitivity testing is quite another. And so for me, there are so many different variables but I’m trying to get better and better.
And a few years ago I had… Probably about two years ago, at this point, I remember I talked about food sensitivity on the podcast with Dave Asprey, the Bulletproof Executive guy, who just loves testing of all kinds. And so we went through various things that I was supposedly reacting to. I did the tests again about a year after that and most of the things had gone down. A couple of them stayed up. And then there was a new one, like pinto beans or something else I “highly reacted” to. Whatever.
And there were some other unfortunate ones that were, like, paleo foods. Like olives. Olive oil. And honey. From the first test. Those seemed to kind of stay elevated. And then I took it again about three, four weeks ago and I’m reactive to almost nothing now.
So, from my own personal experience, it’s been interesting to look at that because I love science, I love numbers, I love personal experimentation. And I don’t know what’s going on with that. I can say that I’m pretty happy about it, but I don’t know if it kind of like invalidates the tests that were done before. Because one of the arguments against it is that it kind of just counts the stuff you’re eating too much of anyway.
Guy Lawrence: When, like, the olive oil and honey came up on the test, did you then avoid those foods?
Abel James: I did. I avoided them, not completely, because it’s really hard to eat a salad anywhere that’s not your own home without olive oil or GMO oil or whatever else. And so basically if someone knows that you’re paleo or gluten-free or healthy-conscious, then they’re giving you honey and olive oil and… mushrooms was another one that came up.
Yeah, so, kind of bizarre things, especially considering how healthy those things are normally and how much they would be included in almost any meal that you eat out. You don’t really think about not eating something like mushrooms, right? Or olives. But once you have to look for that, it’s in everything. You can’t believe it. It’s just hard to get away from.
But, yeah, I definitely; I went from eating those things on purpose to eating less of them or basically not forcing myself to eat those foods anymore. And that seemed to do the trick.
But gluten is one that we’re not really sure if it’s the gluten itself or just the wheat being so manipulated and so low-quality that that’s hurting us. But there’s something in modern wheat that’s terrible for us. It might be the gluten. Some people are definitely allergic to it, flat out. Other people are kind of reactive to it or whatever. But I just avoid it, pretty much at all costs.
Guy Lawrence: It’s interesting. Like, Stewie, had the short straw when it came to sensitivities tests. He came up eggs, glaringly.
Abel James: Oh, no.
Stuart Cooke: One of these things. And I was loving my eggs. I’d eat two, three, four, five a day, which is great. But then I also do wonder whether worrying about the foods that you shouldn’t be eating, worrying about all these crazy diets, you know, does more hard than good. Can it actually then evoke food sensitivities because your cortisone levels are going crazy.
Abel James: Right.
Stuart Cooke: You know, it’s just insane. I’m wondering, from your perspective, how important do you think it is to try and unplug or really work on stress management as part of your kind of holistic approach to health?
Abel James: I think it’s the number one thing that people don’t really talk about. Because it’s not that sexy to say, “Sleep. Go to sleep early.”
“Don’t get stressed out. Meditate. Chill out. Take a walk. Take a vacation.” It’s really easy to say those things. But it’s like eating a salad, right? We all know that that’s exactly what we should be doing. The problem is that we’re not doing it.
And so, yeah, I mean, one of our secrets, why we “look and feel so great all the time and always have this energy” is because we go to sleep, like, way earlier than most other people. And we take flak from it sometimes.
But, at the same time, when you show up to a… So, we go to a lot of, like, health masterminds and stuff like that with a lot of the other big names in the field. Stuff like that. And I can tell you, these people are just, like, running themselves into the ground, a lot of the time. And they’re not really sleeping. They’re kind of compensating.
And we’re ready to rock, and usually, like, we’ll go out and party and hang out with all these people because it’s so much fun. We don’t really get to do it that often. And so you see just the huge tax that running; that basically doing too many things at the same time doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, if you’re in health or not, it’s beating you up and it will get the best of you at some point.
And so the really boring things that we do every day are the things that really matter. So, like, for instance, my wife and I, we wake up every morning, we do Qigong. We’ve been doing that now for a few years, I guess.
Guy Lawrence: Can you explain that?
Abel James: Qigong, or yoga, which is like tai chi, and so it’s basically fluid, kind of almost active stretching type movements. Balance and stretching. And then we meditate for, not necessarily very long, 10, 20, minutes. But we do it every single day. And we tend to wake up fairly early and we go to bed early as well. With some exceptions, but not very often.
And it’s the things that you do every day, if you’re in the habit of slumping on the couch after a hard day of work and then you have a beer or two every night, that’s a lot of beer. It compounds.
But if you, every night, you have tea or something like that or you just relax, you have a glass of water, you hang out, you relax, you slow down, you get some sleep. And then on the weekends you go out and you have too much wine or you have a few beers, totally different thing. You’ll probably get away with it, because it’s not the thing that you’re doing every day. Right? That’s the exception.
So, you have to kind of like train into yourself the right habits that are automatic that aren’t getting the best of you. And part of that is definitely tuning down the stress. Because we’re all, like, with the amount of technology that’s around us these days, we’re all totally cranked out of our minds.
Stuart Cooke: We’re plugged in, aren’t we?
Guy Lawrence. Massively.
Stuart Cooke: Do you sleep well?
Abel James: Thank you for asking. What a sweet question. I’ve been doing interviews all day and that’s the sweetest question I’ve gotten.
Stuart Cooke: This is the million dollar question.
Abel James: Yes. I didn’t used to. I used to have a lot of trouble sleeping, especially staying asleep around the morning. It was like I would wake up, it didn’t matter how late I had stayed up the night before… As a musician, my gigs would start at midnight and I’d have to play under three or something and then go to bed at 4. But I’d always wake up at 6 or 7 and again at 8:30, even if I was trying to sleep it through.
But these days, I think a lot of it has to do with how we time our carbs and starches, which is almost always in the evening. And we eat very lightly or kind of like fast most of the day and then we have a big feast at night, pretty much.
And so we have a compressed eating window. And saving the brunt of our calories and food for the evening seems to slow you down and put you in digestion mode at the right time, especially if you are staying… There are other things where we stay away from alcohol most of the time. On the weekends we go out, have some fun, whatever. But pretty much every weeknight we’re not letting that disrupt our sleep. Because science shows that there’s no getting away from it. If you drink alcohol, it’s disrupting your sleep patterns for sure.
And if you stay up certain nights really late and other nights try to go to sleep early, that messes with your clock, too. So we stay on a nice, steady clip of sleeping and waking up in the morning.
And I don’t do well on very little sleep. I’ve always know that about myself. I think it’s one of the reasons that I do well, succeed, is because it’s something I’m obsessed about. Other guys, like, as a musician, you go on tour or whatever, other guys are staying up all night. It doesn’t really seem to be a problem. It is a problem, like, if they actually looked at it, but it affects other people less than it affected me, it seems like. So, I’ve always just made that the one thing that I do. I sleep, and it’s important.
Stuart Cooke: Any particular gems or strategies or hacks that you can share with everybody right now?
Guy Lawrence: You love the sleep topic.
Stuart Cooke: Well, I, crikey… this is my topic. And I’m fanatical about sleep. But always interested in, you know, it could be the tiniest little thing that you do that makes the hugest difference, and of course sleep is the number one. You can be eating like an absolute prince, but if you don’t sleep, then you’re not recovering or restoring; all of those things.
So, any little gems that you could share with us right now to say, “These worked for me”?
Abel James: Well, I think you touched on something that’s really important. Sleep should be time for recovery. And what that means to me is that almost every day I do kind of like micro-exercise, where I’ll do five to 10 minutes of an exercise pretty much every day except for Sunday. And I put that in the morning. So, I do my exercise like first thing, gets my blood flowing, and by the end of the day I’m tired and I want to go to sleep. And so I honor that.
If you try to force it and crack work out, that’s another thing that’s really important. It’s like, I work hard but I’m almost always off of communication by, like, 7 or 8. Usually before that. I shut my laptop. I’m not checking; I don’t have notifications on my phone. That’s a pretty big one, too. Or on my computer. My email comes in; I don’t know. I have to go in and check it. I’m not having all these things that are, like, “bloop, blop, bloop,” no matter what time of day or night it is. That’s really important.
And staying away from technology in the evening is really useful. So, one of the things I do is play guitar or play piano or sing. Do something that’s right-brainish. Gets you into that flow, that relaxed state, that’s kind of sleepy and dreamy. It’s just like perfect timing to kind of lead you into going to sleep.
Guy Lawrence: What kind of… Just touch on exercise. What kind of philosophies do you abide by, then? What do you incorporate in your week?
Abel James: Well, I used to run marathons.
Guy Lawrence: All right. Wow!
Abel James: I’ve always been a runner of some kind. I was never great, but I was always good. It was something I did more for meditation. I didn’t call it that back then, but I’d run outside and I’d get into this state, that the only way I can describe it, is meditative, for sure.
So, I used to do a lot of exercise. And I raced mountain bikes when I was younger and stuff. Now, I’ve found that exercise is something that I do as a habit, not as something that I kind of, like, force in there, if that makes sense.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Abel James: So, at this point it’s pretty much automatic, that in the morning I’m going to be doing something.
On Mondays I do monster lifts, which isn’t anything too crazy. It’s basically just like I have a couple of dumbbells …
I always work out at home, I don’t really go to gyms, because our nearest health food store is in a different time zone. Like, we’re out here in the middle of the woods, so, I don’t really have any other choice.
So, I’ve got a couple of 52-pound dumbbells, free weights, and I use those to do squats and some dead lifts and maybe a couple of other little exercises, some presses or whatever, on Mondays.
Or I might do a kettlebell workout on that day. But every Monday I’m hitting it, I’m making myself sore, and then I’m going to go and crush a bunch of work, my worst work, I put that all on Monday.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Abel James: So, it’s just one of those days, it’s just like, “All right, we’re getting it!”
And then, maybe on Tuesday, then I would do something that’s a little bit less intense, like yoga-type moves, some holds, focusing more on balance and mobility.
And then on Wednesday, I might do a very intense sprint workout. That’s what I did today. Which is, basically just like tabatas. So, you do 20 seconds on, all-out exercise that’s intense. So, I’ll do sprints or burpees. So you do that 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. Repeat it ten times. You’re done in five minutes.
Guy Lawrence: Oh yeah.
Abel James: And if you’re not smoked by the end of it, you’re doing it wrong.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Right. That’s perfect.
Abel James: It’s the week, … sorry, go ahead.
Stuart Cooke: It’s just interesting, you know, there are a lot of people now kind of almost ingrained to think, “Well, I’ve got to go to the gym every day and I’ve got to stay in the gym for two hours. And I’m on that treadmill and I’m watching TV and you know, that’s me, done.”
But like you said, you can do this in five minutes. You know, I do a little kettlebell burpee workout and I can do that in about six minutes and I’m toast. Done. But yeah, massive effects on how you feel later on in the day.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. But it’s bringing it back to making sure your sleep’s dialed in and your nutrition is dialed in.
Abel James: Right.
Guy Lawrence: And then you can spend the time enjoying your life outside of these things, instead of obsessing about them all.
Abel James: Yeah. The simple things. It’s is just kind of … get your calendar in order. Grab a hold of that thing. Shake it around a little bit, if you need to, and then put the right things in, especially in the morning. That’s, I think, from a habit point of view. It’s like, if you’re forcing yourself to go to the gym every day, for two hours, and go on a treadmill, which almost nobody likes.
Guy Lawrence: Oh yeah.
Abel James: That’s why you watch TV, because you’re so just bored. Then it’s hard to believe that that’s sustainable. It’s hard to believe that you’re going to be able to do that for the rest of your life.
It might work, kind of. But if you can’t do it for a really long time, if you don’t love to do it, you’re going to stop at some point. Then you’re going to fall off the wagon. Get out of shape. Then it’s really hard to get back in shape.
So, like, make this … if you can do your workout in six minutes, do it! I mean I’m a “health guy” or whatever and that’s exactly what I do.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Abel James: I think that it’s the best to know that science supports that too, right?
Stuart Cooke: It does. Yeah, that’s right.
Abel James: I’d much rather; I like running, but to be perfectly honest, if I can do it in five minutes instead of three hours, I’m going with five minutes.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Every time.
Guy Lawrence: I think you touched on something else as well. It’s important you’ve got to enjoy it. Just do something you love doing. I think that’s so important psychologically, as well, so you can go and do it again.
I worked in a gym for a long time and I found people who forced themselves through the door, just staying there for so long, just like a diet per se, as well. And then they would drop off at the other end and everything they gained, what they’d struggled to gain, it comes back anyway.
Abel James: And it’s heartbreaking, right?
Guy Lawrence: Ah, yeah.
Abel James: When you know what works. You know they know what works, too. But sometimes it’s just; it all goes away.
Guy Lawrence: Yup.
Abel James: It’s a bummer to see that.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
So, moving on, we mentioned your book “The Wild Diet.” Can you tell us a little bit about it? Because it’s launched I’m thinking a few months now.
Abel James: Yes. Yeah. It’s been out for about a month now. It’s called “The Wild Diet” basically, because what we have in most societies now is this industrialized food system that is feeding us junk food, processed food, and junk food disguised as health food. And so a lot of people are getting burned by that.
On the other side of that, we have kind of like this wild world. The opposite of industrialized domesticated. You know, where animals, if you choose to eat them, are raised eating the diets that are natural to them in nature.
So, cows are eating grass, for example. So you eat grass-fed, pasture-raised animals.
Your getting heirloom and heritage varieties of seeds, nuts, plants, as much as you can, because those things are inherently designed by nature, generally most healthy for our bodies at this point. We’re well-adapted to eat things we’ve been eating for a long time in the form that they used to be.
And sometimes that can be hard to find. You know, like finding wheat strains, for example. Finding really traditional sourdough breads, made with an ancient variety of wheat, is something you need to try to do. You need to look for it or whatever. But it can be done.
And so, “The Wild Diet” is basically trying to … I come from the paleo world in a lot of ways. But paleo as a theme has kind of subsumed a lot of other movements.
Guy Lawrence: Yup.
Abel James: It kind of like absorbed them, right? Like the eat local movement, the low-carb movement. And so, I’m somewhere in between all these.
And one of the problems, it’s exciting but, one of the problems with like, paleo, for example, is that it’s gotten so big and so many people have heard about it, that the marketers know that it’s a hot market and so they’re starting to flood the market with a bunch of “paleo health foods.” And a lot of people are getting the wrong idea about what that means.
You can’t just go to McDonald’s and get a hamburger or three hamburgers, throw away the bun and call it paleo, right? If you’re doing it right.
So, I felt like I needed that other word that hadn’t been poisoned yet. So, I wanted to come up with “wild.”
And basically it’s just a … it’s more of a philosophy on how to eat and live than it is about some crazy dogmatic diet. It’s basically like: Here’s everything that you need to know to actually do this, in a simple fun book.
And so, I basically wrote it according to what my community and fans and followers liked and wanted to listen to and then we filled it up with some of the best recipes we’ve ever made. So …
Guy Lawrence: Good one, yeah.
Abel James: … it’s a fun book.
Guy Lawrence: But it’s a bit of a big task putting a book together I can imagine, right?
Abel James: Oh, boy. It’s the worst possible thing you can do for your health, is write a health book.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
So, given the fact then that you’ve got all this knowledge and you’ve put it into this book, this fantastic resource for everyone, the million-dollar question is, what have you eaten today?
Abel James: Oh, good one. So, that’s the question that I can almost not even ask on my show, because a lot of people are so embarrassed about what they actually do.
So, I started the morning with supplements. A lot of them are herbs and adaptogens, you know, like rhodiola is one of my favorites. And fermented cod liver oil I usually have in the morning, because it’s a nice little dose of fat and kind of like front-loads lot of nutrition. Vitamin D is something I take pretty much every day. So, I’ll take that in the morning as well.
And then I made myself … well, every morning I wake up, drink a big glass of water, I usually keep that going throughout the day. So, lots of hydration.
And I had … this is my sixth interview today.
Stuart Cooke: Oh, crikey.
Abel James: And I have two more after this.
Guy Lawrence: Oh, wow.
Abel James: So, on interview days I generally fast until the evening. Sometimes until the afternoon, depends if I have the time or the breaks.
So, I make myself my own, like, usually I roast the coffee about once a week, so I’ll make some French press coffee and then I’ll fill it up with a tablespoon or two of heavy cream or some sort of fat. Which gives me some interest, right? I like drinking that with my coffee and I might have some coconut oil with it or medium-chain triglycides or other fat that I put in there.
So, that’s what I had today and I’ve had, I think, two cups of coffee with probably about three tablespoons of heavy cream, pasture-raised. And then right before this interview I felt like I wanted something and so my wife made an awesome green smoothie, which we have almost every day.
That’s usually how I break my fast, is by having basically a blended-up salad. But you can pick the right thing so it tastes really good.
So, it’s got like three different types of greens in it. It’s got strawberries. It has chia seeds and flax, so it’s full of omegas, the right kinds of fats, and plenty of fiber. So, I hit that with some coconut on top, some shredded coconut, because it’s nice to chew on something.
And that’s all I’ve eaten today.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic.
Abel James: Tonight I think we’re going to have a big steak and probably a big salad and maybe a side of red rice, I think we have some going. And we have some soup. Some bone broth that we made, that’s left over, that we’re just going to heat up and some of that too and probably some really tasty chocolate or some of Alison’s homemade cookies for dessert.
Stuart Cooke: Wow. It’s almost breakfast time and you are making me hungry.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: That is fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome. Mate, we have a couple of wrap-up questions for the podcast.
Abel James: Hit it.
Guy Lawrence: And first one is, are there any books that you’ve read that have been a great influence in your life?
Abel James: “Chi Running” by Danny Dreyer. He’s one of my past guests. That’s one of the most underrated books there is I think.
It’s about how to incorporate symmetry and balance into your movements. Specifically for running, but it really applies to almost everything using, you know, ancient … I’ve seen a lot of similar things in Taoist textbooks and certainly like the tai chi and things like that.
That’s an awesome book. It’s called “Chi Running.” Danny Dreyer’s the writer who’s been on my show.
Guy Lawrence: We’ll include it in the show notes. Yeah. Fantastic.
Abel James: Yeah. That one’s great.
The “Perfect Health Diet” is done by Paul Jaminet. It came out a few years ago; another just wonderfully researched book.
And Paul … I was fortunate to hang out with him a bunch of times and kind of become friends with him. And he’s not your typical health professional, in the sense that he’s not really interested in any of the marketing or whatever. He likes research and he likes the science.
And so I really like that book too, the “Perfect Health Diet.”
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. Perfect. I’ll check them out. I haven’t seen any of those two.
And last one is, and this is a pearler. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Abel James: I worked with this Russian guy when I worked at restaurants growing up. And on one catering gig, he just messed up royally. I don’t know what happened exactly, but the boss was really pissed off and this guy was not having a good time. And then he just kind of like turned to me and I’m 14 years old or whatever and he’s this massive Russian guy and he’s just like, “Every kick in the butt is a step forward.”
This is how it started off and you could tell that he didn’t care at all. He was going to have a great day no matter what. And after I kind of like saw that happen and I was like, “All right. That’s cool.” The way that he handled that, I want to be able to handle something like that …
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Take it on the chin and move on.
Abel James: … when the world comes crashing down on me someday.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, that works. That’s fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome, mate. And is there anything coming up in the future, Abel? Anything you’d like to share? Any exciting projects?
Abel James: Sure. Yeah. We’re excited about … well, we decided basically that, this is my wife and I, this is something that we’re just going to do, you know. We’re going to make this our … we’ve been doing it full-time for a while, but we weren’t sure exactly if we wanted to do apps or you know some other type of publishing or helping publish other people or whatever. But we decided to make the blog and the podcast and our new video series kind of our main thing.
So, we just recorded a huge cooking class, that we invite all these cameras into our kitchen. We set up a bunch of GoPros and other cameras. And so, it’s like documentary-quality. Just hanging out with us in the kitchen learning how to cook things quickly and easily.
And so, it’s called The Wild Diet Cooking Class and you can find that at: FatBurningMan.com/cooking.
So that’s just one of the things, but if you go to FatBurningMan.com and sign up for the newsletter, we’re planning to come out with cool stuff like that every few months or so and just keep a steady clip of like, “You guys want to learn more about ketosis? All right. We’ll do this class.”
Stuart Cooke: Perfect
Abel James: And keep that going.
Yeah. So, it’s been fun. It’s a lot of work, but after taking about a year off traveling the world and going to Australia, which is loads of fun, it’s been really cool to come back with a renewed passion and focus.
Guy Lawrence: That’s awesome, mate and for your book, “The Wild Diet” as well, go back to FatBurningMan.com, as well?
Abel James: You can actually, if you want to see that, you can go to: WildDietBook.com.
Guy Lawrence: Okay. There you go and we’ll put a link in the show notes, as well. Brilliant.
Abel James: Right on. Thank.
Guy Lawrence: Abel, thanks so much for coming on the show. That was a treat. And I have no doubt everyone listening to this will get a heap out of that. That was awesome.
Abel James: Awesome. Yeah. What a pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Stuart Cooke: No problems and we really appreciate it. And you enjoy the rest of the day. Good luck with your interviews and enjoy that meal. Sounds delicious.
Abel James: Thank you so much. You guys have a great day.
Guy Lawrence: Thanks, Abel.
Stuart Cooke: Thank you buddy. Take care. Bye, bye.
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 your iPhone HERE.
Do diets really work long-term? With every weight loss plan, diet calorie counting and exercise regimes out there all claiming small miracles, it can be challenging to figure out what we should really be doing! So who better to ask than a man who lost over 100kg’s without dieting.
And from the words of Ray Martin (A Current Affair TV Program) “He lost more than 100 kilos (220 lbs) without diets or surgery, now meet the man who says we can all melt fat using the power of our minds”
Yes, this week our special guest is Jon Gabriel, which I honestly believe is one of the most inspiring transformational journeys I have ever heard! Jon’s story has been featured on A Current Affair and Today/Tonight in Australia. His success in helping others lose weight has also been discussed on many popular talk shows in the U.S., including The Jane Pauley Show, Hard Copy and Entertainment Tonight.
Full Interview with John Gabriel: How I lost Over 100kg Without Dieting Using These Techniques
In this episode we talk about:
Why diets never work long term
How the body fat just ‘melted’ off him when he applied certain techniques
The best place to start if you are always struggling to lose weight
Guy Lawrence: Hey, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. Today I’m standing at Coogee Beach and that building right behind me is Coogee Surf Club. And believe it or not, that’s where it all began for 180 Nutrition now over five years ago with me and Stu.
And I thought I’d bring the introduction here today, because when we started I had no idea where 180 was going to lead to and what was to follow. And it’s quite a special moment for us, because we’re literally about to launch into the USA. And I never in a million years thought that was going to happen when we started a conversation just over five years ago.
So, from probably about the second week of August, you’ll be able to head to 180nutrition.com for you to listen to this in America and our superfoods are going to be available in America. So, that’s really exciting and a really big deal for us.
So, if you’re over there, check it out.
Anyway, on to today’s guest.
Today’s guest is Jon Gabriel and I reckon this is probably the most transformational story I’ve ever heard and one maybe the internet has ever seen. The guy was weighing in at 186 kilos at one stage in his life and he said he had tried every diet under the sun. It wasn’t that he was lazy, he was just struggling; he even went and saw Dr. Atkins at one point and he feared for his health. And if you see him today, ten years on, the guy’s got a six-pack and looks fantastic. I mean it’s incredible.
And what made Jon’s story even more exceptionable was that, basically, fate intervened with him one day and he should have been on the flight from Newark to San Francisco back on September 11, 2001, yes the terrorist attacks, and he missed the flight and he should have been on it and he said everything changed from then because he realized he’d been gifted a second chance in life. And he moved himself and his family to Australia. And then the weight just started to fall off. And a big part of that was using visualization techniques and meditation and, I guess, letting go of a lot of self-beliefs.
But I guarantee from listening to this episode today, you will be inspired to meditate. You know, if it’s something; like, for me, it’s always been a bit of a task, but I’m fully embracing it at the moment and loving it, only because I’m starting to “get it.” And from this episode, you know, you’re going to be sitting there, getting up an extra hour early in the morning, I promise you.
And last, but not least, before we get on to Jon a big thank you for everyone that’s leaving reviews on iTunes. Please let us know if you’re getting something out of this podcast, leave us a review. Tell us a little bit about your story. It’s awesome to hear them. We know these podcasts are making a big difference in people’s lives. And it’s just wonderful to hear it and know that we’re getting our message out to as many people as possible.
So, if you get the chance leave us a review.
Anyway, let’s go over to Jon Gabriel. This one’s awesome.
[text on screen]: 180 Nutrition
Guy Lawrence: Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke as always. Hi, Stuie.
Stuart Cooke: Hello mate.
Guy Lawrence: And our fantastic guest today is Jon Gabriel. Jon, welcome to the show, mate. Really appreciate your coming on.
Jon Gabriel: Great to be here, Guy. Thanks.
Guy Lawrence: We actually had James Colquhoun on our podcast recently and for anyone listening to this, he’s the man behind Food Matters and Hungry for Change, the awesome documentaries. And we asked him actually, “Of all the people that you’ve met and interviewed, who’s been some of your most inspiring? And he instantly said, “Jon Gabriel.”
Jon Gabriel: Wow.
Guy Lawrence: So, we’re very honored to …
Jon Gabriel: That’s a huge compliment.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. So, we’re very honored to have you here, mate.
Jon Gabriel: Awesome.
Guy Lawrence: So, could you, just to kick start the show, I guess, yeah, share a little bit about your amazing story. Your journey from where you started, what you used to do, too.
Jon Gabriel: Yeah. Sure. So, I used to be over 400 pounds or 180-some-odd kilos and I was working on Wall Street. I was stressed out. I felt like I was killing myself. I felt like I was on a treadmill that was just going too fast.
And I got off of that treadmill and over a two-and-a-half-year period I lost a hundred kilos, or 220 pounds, without restrictive dieting. That is: without forcing myself to eat less or forcefully denying myself and without killing myself with exercise. It was almost as if the weight had just totally melted off of me.
And because of the way the weight melted off of me, I knew I had a really powerful message for the world. And I wrote about how I did it in a book called, “The Gabriel Method.” And “The Gabriel Method” touched a chord with a lot of people that had been trying to lose weight by dieting and have not been successful. And the book went on to get translated into 16 languages and is in 60 countries and a bestseller in several languages.
And we went on to create this whole process of losing weight by what we call getting the body to want to be thin rather than forcing. And even today, there’s; a lot of the information that we put out is similar to what other people are putting out, at least from a nutritional standpoint. There’s like a convergence going on in terms of: You need to take care of your digestion and you need to nourish your body properly and how healthy fats. . . And all this kind of stuff.
But nobody, even today, and this is now ten years down the road, we published The Gabriel Method in 2007, but I lost the weight in 2004. So, it’s been; I’ve been out there now over ten years.
I still don’t hear anybody talking about losing weight by getting your body to want to be thin. I hear people talk about speeding up your metabolism and cutting carbs and healing your digestion and reducing stress, but I never, ever, ever, hear anybody talk about getting your body to want to be thin.
So, our whole focus is the science and study of getting your body to want to be thin, because as in my case and now thousand of people all over the world, when you get your body to actually want to be thin, you’re not at war anymore. You don’t have to; you don’t need to know how many calories you should have in a day. You don’t need to know whether or not you should eat in the morning or in the afternoon or whether you should intermittent fasting or eat every two hours.
You don’t need those rules anymore. Your body does the accounting by itself, because you become, in essence, a naturally thin person. So, that’s what we’re trying to do, is turn people into naturally thin people.
Stuart Cooke: How did you arrive at that solution, Jon? Like where was the light bulb moment?
Jon Gabriel: Right. So, it was; basically it was through my life experience. So, what happened was I was sort of a naturally thin person back in like 1990. I was about the same weight as I am now. I was athletic and I ate a healthy diet. But I didn’t have to ever make an effort to keep maintaining my weight. I was like most people or many people that we know.
And I moved to New York. I started working on Wall Street. Really high-stress job. Working my butt off. Try to make ends meet. Blah, blah, blah.
And as soon as I moved I started gaining weight. And I gained maybe five or ten pounds the first year, five or ten pounds the second year, and I didn’t think too much about it. But then by the third or fourth year I was looking at, you know, I was 220, 250 pounds. A hundred kilos.
And so, that’s the first time I decided that I’m going to do something about it. And I did what everybody does, which was go on a diet. Because this is what we’re taught, right? It’s calories in, calories out, just cut your calories. So, I went on a diet and I lost a little bit of weight and then I’m fighting cravings left and right and I gain it back.
And then I went on this process over an 11-year period, where I went on every diet I could find. And every diet I went on followed the same approach. I would lose five or ten pounds through sheer brute force restriction willpower over a one-month period and then I’d come to this place where I couldn’t take it any more and have a huge binge. I’d gain that ten pounds back, literally, Guy and Stu. And when I say I gained that ten pounds back in a day, two days max. I am not exaggerating, I mean …
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Jon Gabriel: Boom! It would come back and then a week later I’d be five pounds heavier than when I even started that diet.
So, I went on this process where I lost ten pounds, gained fifteen pounds, lost ten pounds, gained fifteen pounds over a ten-year period till I was over 400 pounds.
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Jon Gabriel: And when I say I did everything, I met with Dr. Atkins, face-to-face for a month. He’s not alive anymore, obviously. But he was living in New York and so was I, and I met with him every Monday morning at 7 o’clock and I spent three or four thousand dollars with him. And in the end, I’m sitting in his office and he’s reading all my test scores. I’m borderline Type 2 diabetic and insulin resistant, metabolic syndrome, cholesterol through the roof, high blood pressure like you wouldn’t believe, all this stuff. And he just looks at me and he goes, “What are you doing? You’re killing yourself.”
Stuart Cooke: Wow.
Jon Gabriel: And I’m thinking to myself: Is that really the best that you can do, Dr. Atkins? You know, you’ve written this book called The Atkins Diet; 30 million people are on the Atkins Diet. I’m going to you face-to-face and the best that you can do is yell at me? Like, I’m going to lose weight because you’re ashamed of me or like you’re shaming me into losing weight? Like I don’t have enough motivation? I had fitness trainers at six in the morning. I would wake up with fitness trainers.
The important message with me is that I was a disciplined, hardworking person and I think that’s true of most people that gain weight. We have this stereotype, you know, where people are weak and lazy.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: But that’s not the case. What happens, I discovered, is there’s like this switch that goes off in your body where there’s the feedback regulating mechanisms that naturally regulate your body weight get completely out of whack and you have this unregulated mechanism where you just keep gaining and gaining and you’re hungry all the time.
And so, yeah, I would go on these diets, but at 11 o’clock at night if I didn’t have my carbs, you know, donuts, pizzas, whatever, I couldn’t sleep. So, then I’d have to eat that.
So, you know, this thing goes on and it’s not about being weak or lazy or undisciplined or trying hard or any of these things. And you go to the doctor and he goes, “Well, you should just eat less.”
And I remember walking into so many different doctors’ offices and they’d just look at me and they’d just give me this look, like, you know, “Oh, this guy doesn’t care about himself.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, as if you don’t care, yeah.
Jon Gabriel: Yeah. “Oh, well, you should just eat less.” And that’s what doctors are saying.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: It is kindergarten medicine. It flies in the face of hormonal molecular biology as we understand it today; it flies in the face of it. There is switch that goes off. I lived through it.
So, when I recognized, and the turning point for me was in 2001 I realized that for whatever reason, my body wanted to be fat and as long as it wanted to be fat there was nothing I could do to stop it. And I stopped dieting. I stopped this whole craziness and I just started researching everything I could about the hormones and the biology of weight. And I had a solid foundation in molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania because I’d gone to the Wharton School of Business, but I wanted to be a doctor too, so I took all the pre-med courses of organic chemistry, molecular biology and all these.
So, I had enough of a foundation to read the researchers’ reports and make sense of it. And I studied and studied and I realized there were a lot of components to it. The biggest thing I studied was stress and the hormonal biology and the biochemistry of stress and what I discovered is that stress sometimes causes the exact same chemistry as a famine.
So, if you were in a famine you would have certain changes in your chemistry. So, your triglycerides would elevate and your cortisol levels would elevate. Certain proinflammatory cytokines would elevate and all these things are the exact same things that happen when you’re in a famine and you’re chronically hungry all the time. And what it is, is a signal to your brain that you’re in a famine.
So, what happens is your brain gets tricked by other stresses into activating the famine mechanism and it becomes this unregulated thing. Because if you were, if you were in a famine in real life you’d have all these stresses. Your brain would go, “Oh, we’re in a famine and we need to eat and eat and eat.” Then you’d eat and you wouldn’t be in a famine anymore. You wouldn’t have the stress anymore and you wouldn’t be signaled anymore.
But if the stress is coming from something other than a famine, but it’s causing the same biology as the famine …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, right.
Jon Gabriel: It’s like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Like, I once saw this National Geography thing with these sharks and this shark had had its belly cut open and its intestines were coming out, but it was a feeding frenzy, and the shark was eating its own intestines. So, it’s like, you know like, one side doesn’t …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: You know, it’s like one part of your brain doesn’t know what the other part is doing, you know. And this is what people are living through. They’re living through this situation where one part of the brain is not responding properly to outside stresses.
So, what I started to do was look at all the different stresses that can cause this trigger to go off. And so, it turns out there’s a number of stresses and that’s what we published in The Gabriel Method. And some of them are physical and some of them are emotional.
So, if you’re in chronic emotional stress all the time, you’re pumping out proinflammatory cytokine cortisol, the same way you were in a famine in certain instances, not for everybody and we can talk about that, but for certain people it’s the same.
If your digestion is off and you’ve got leaky gut, you’re pumping out proinflamm; you’re pumping out toxins into your bloodstream, which is activating your immune system and causing a low-grade chronic inflammatory XXtechnical glitchXX [:12:40.0] it’s the same as famine. If your triglycerides are elevated because of certain processed foods you’re eating, it’s the same as famine.
So, the key is to change your biology so that your brain is not whacked out anymore and getting miscommunication. And then what happens (and this is what happen for me and this is what happens with the people we work with) it’s like imagine this scenario: You’ve got 200 pounds of excess weight on you. Your brain, because it’s whacked out because of the chemistry, thinks you have zero fat, right? So, you’re eating and eating and eating. And this is what’s going on with people. And then all of a sudden one day imagine you wake up and your brain is getting an accurate assessment of how much weight you have on you and your brain says, “Oh my God, we’ve got 200 pounds of excess weight. This is crazy!” And then what happens is you just start losing weight like crazy. So, I just stopped being hungry.
What I did is, I moved to western Australia. I started growing my own food. I started meditating. I started visualizing. I started taking lots of probiotics and digestive enzymes. Taking super greens with protein powers and smoothies and all this kind of stuff. And all of the stresses that were causing this went away and the weight started to melt off me and I wasn’t even trying to lose weight at that point. I just couldn’t; I just had given up on life kind of.
In my job, I couldn’t work anymore. I was just totally at a breaking point and I just wanted to take care of myself for a little while.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: But the weight started to melt off of me. Melt off of me. And this is; and then it just totally melted off of me, all of it, and I’ve been the same weight now for ten years and I never, ever diet. It’s just that I know how to take care of the communication mechanism that causes your brain to listen properly to the amount of fat that you have. And that’s what I do when I work with people.
And the most overriding comment that I get from people when I work with them and these are people that have been serial dieting for 30 years and might have 50 or 100 kilos or 200 pounds to lose, they say; they go, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m just not that hungry anymore. You know, you tell me to eat a good breakfast. I can’t eat a good breakfast and I’m not hungry after lunch. Should I still eat every two hours?” No! You have changed. You’ve got it. Your chemistry has changed. Let your body lose weight. Let your body do the accounting now. Your body is your own best friend right now. Let it lose weight.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: Get your body to want to be thin; you lose weight sustainably.
Stuart Cooke: Fascinating.
Guy Lawrence: Did you have to reach a finite tipping point? Like a breaking point? Because we find that with many people that it’s almost like something has to become unbearable and then they snap.
Jon Gabriel: It’s like a perfect storm. It was like a perfect storm for me.
So, I was at 400 pounds. I was working three jobs on Wall Street, you know, I was running three companies on Wall Street and so I was working around the clock. So, one of them was a; just a brokerage company that had 16 brokers working for me. Another one was a startup online company and another one was an online overnight trading company. So, I was getting up every two hours to check the markets.
So, this was what I was doing. I was just racing and racing and racing, but at the same time carrying 200 extra pounds on me.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: So, I felt like I couldn’t go any further. Then I was almost on one of the planes that crashed in XX2011 – misspoke. Edit? 0:15:34.000XX and I just said, “I’m on borrowed time right now. I almost died. Life’s giving me a second chance and here I am killing myself. I’m just going to take a step back.”
And I sold my business. I moved to western Australia. I bought a piece of land. On 12 acres I started growing my own food and I just started living day-to-day. I figured; okay, it didn’t cost me much to buy the property, because currency was real strong for the U.S. dollar back then; this was some time ago. And property prices were really, really cheap in western Australia back then. So, it cost me; it cost me almost; it cost me $75,000, something like that, to buy this property.
You know, it was like; and I just; I said, “Okay. I have a place to live and I have some food, because it’s growing outside. So, today’s taken care of.” And I started living just one day at a time, saying, “Okay. I have a place to stay.” And as I was saying; I used to say to myself, “Okay. Air is free. I have a place to stay.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: “And I have food and water. So, today is taken care of.” And that was how I lived my life. And as I was doing that, it just; I didn’t; I wasn’t even trying. I still had; like I still would buy chocolate, eat pizza and all things that you can’t eat because they’ve got fructose and they’ve got; they’re insulin resisting. You know, all the things, but I still ate them and I was losing weight. And then eventually I lost my cravings for them entirely, because my body just kept going healthier and healthier. But it came from a very organic place.
So, when I tell people I lost weight without dieting, they’re like, “Oh, I bet if you measured your calories…” I’m, like, I didn’t measure my calories. I started; my body wanted to let go of weight, I started being less hungry and started craving healthier foods. Eventually I started having enough energy to exercise and so I started riding my bike.
You know, it just all happened from a very organic place by taking care of the chemistry that communicates your brain to your body.
Guy Lawrence: Wow. So, another question that popped in. So, for anyone listening to this who is struggling to lose weight and, “I’ve tried everything,” you know. Where would be the best place to start for them?
Jon Gabriel: So, the first thing you have to understand is that there’s reasons, there’s certain reasons why your body wants to hold on to weight. It comes from a confusion of survive; it comes from your body accidently activating a survival program. So, holding onto weight is a survival program. It protects us against famines when we’re living outdoors. And our body has a switch that activates that survival program. The stresses in your life can trip that switch.
So, the first place to look when you’re trying to lose weight isn’t necessarily how many cupcakes you’re having or any of these other things or how often you’re exercising; those things come into play, but the first thing to do is look and say, “What is the stresses (stress or stresses or stressors) that are tricking my body into activating this fat program?” That’s the first place you have to look.
So, it could be your digestion. And the way that; the clues to that are: “When did I start gaining weight?” So, sometimes people tell me, and I deal with people that have had serious, serious weight issues, lifetime weight issues. They tell me it all started when, for example, God forbid, they were abused as a kid, right? And that’s a trauma that causes stress. It causes chemistry.
Now, if you don’t relieve that trauma and make your body feel like you’re in a safe place, then dieting isn’t going to work. Because as soon as you lose a little bit of weight your body’s going to be like, “Well, no, we need that weight.” It’s a protection, you know, so you have to deal with that.
It could have been when you had a nasal infection. You started taking antibiotics. And then if you look at that and so you took antibiotics for a month or whatever, your friendly bacteria is destroyed. So, if your friendly bacteria is destroyed, that causes an inflammatory stress in your body. So, now we have to heal your digestion.
It could be that you just have too many toxins in your body and you need to detoxify. It could be you’re not sleeping well; you have sleep apnea. That’s a really big one.
You know, one thing we think; you know, you take a guy who’s three, four hundred pounds, work him real hard and he’s trying to exercise; he’s exhausted, he’s trying to eat well and you’re trying; and he goes to a fitness trainer or doctor or whatever and then they say, “Well, you need to exercise more. You need to exercise seven days a week.”
Well, really what he needs to do is sleep. And he’s not sleeping because he has sleep apnea. Because the weight of his neck is choking off his, you know, his windpipe, so he’s not getting into a deep sleep.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Jon Gabriel: That’s causing a chronic low-grade stress. It’s activating his inflammatory hormones and also his cortisol levels and that’s activating this fat program. He needs to get a CPAP machine to learn how to sleep.
If you’re chronically stressed all the time, he needs to learn how to meditate. If you’ve been emotionally abused you need to work through that emotional abuse.
So, you need to focus on the root issue. And the key to finding the root issue is always going back to finding the trigger of “when I started gaining weight?”
So, when you go back there, it’s the first thing I always ask people, “When did you start gaining weight?” and we talk about that. I don’t talk about what they’re eating. I don’t care what they’re eating.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: I want to find out when they started gaining weight. “When I started having kids. When I was in a divorce. When I got married. When my parents separated. When I started working on Wall Street.” Whatever the thing is, we need to go to there. We need to work through that.
So, the first place you always have to look is: what is the trigger, because there’s always a trigger, that’s causing this miscommunication with your body.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah that’s fantastic advice, mate. It’s so difficult to get our message through. Like, you know I worked as a fitness trainer for ten years and that’s why we started 180. Because, you know, I wanted to try and put out the beliefs out there. What I truly felt to be doing including, like, these podcasts and stuff. But when you’ve got; when you’re getting bombarded by the calorie in/calorie out, the diet message like you’re saying “flogging yourself” harder and harder at the gym and sleep comes into the problem. It’s really hard to cut through all that nonsense.
Jon Gabriel: When I work with my coaching people, I’ll work with people that have had a lifetime of weight issues and they feel like they’re failures. They feel like they’re sabotaging. But it’s not any of those things. The approach has failed them. The irresponsible way that we’ve looked at the data that’s out there and analyzed it and our lack of ability to respond to the current; to the new information, is what’s failing them. Not themselves.
So, I will talk; there are people that I have worked with, where I say, “I do not want to talk about food or exercise.” For months, we’ll go three months and then I’ll say, “Okay, now let’s talk about food.” And then we’ll do that for a couple of months and then I’ll say, “Okay, now let’s talk about exercise.” And we’ll do that for a couple of months and then I’ll say, “Okay, now you’re in a situation where you can expect to lose weight.” And they go: Poof! 80 pounds gone within two months. Boom! And stays off. Stays off!
Guy Lawrence: Incredible.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. It’s amazing.
Jon Gabriel: It’s the exact opposite of the diet. So, a diet, you lose weight real quick; 20 pounds in 20 days. And then your metabolism slows. You further activate that famine response, which was already activated for some other stress, right? So, you further activate that. You go to war with your body. You’re fighting cravings all the time. And boom! You gain it back.
This, maybe you’ll do this groundwork, you know. I call it; you pay it forward. You do this groundwork to get to reverse the insulin resistance, the leptin resistance, the inflammation, the cortisol, the mindset, the nutrition. You do all these things in reverse and then you just go, poof! And the weight starts falling off.
And for me, too, when I lost the weight and kept it off; I didn’t lose weight quickly in the beginning, I lost weight really slowly and then it started to speed up and at the end I was losing weight like crazy, because my body became very efficient at burning fat. All the issues were gone. The weight wanted to let go. I had so much energy to exercise and it just; it was like this accelerated thing and that’s what happens with the people that we work with, it’s the exact opposite.
There’s this transition period, where you’ve got to do the work and then poof! The weight falls off.
Stuart Cooke: It’s amazing, because I think the majority of people immediately would assume that, “Well, I have to eat less.”
Jon Gabriel: Right.
Stuart Cooke: And then given what you’ve been telling us that would put enough stress on your body. Just the sheer worry about not knowing …
Jon Gabriel: It’s not just the worry. Think about this for a second. So, remember I said that sometimes the stresses in your life trick your brain into activating the famine response, right?
So, picture this scenario. You’re worried about making ends meet or your digestion is messed up, you’re not getting sleep; whatever it is. But you’ve got stress hormones that are communicating to your brain, your survival brain, not your conscious brain, but your survival brain, which is what’s in charge, that you’re in a famine, right?
So, your brain thinks you’re in a famine and then you go on a diet. What happens? You’re already; your brain already thinks you’re in famine and now you’re in a real famine …
Stuart Cooke: That’s right. Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: … and then you go to war with your body. And that’s why diets don’t work. There’s an inherent conflict of interest, because you’re not working with your body.
So, I’ll give you a perfect example of eating less with someone I just talked to just yesterday. So, we’d been working together for a few months and she says to me, “You know, I’m just not hungry. After lunch, I’m just not hungry anymore and I’m losing weight.” Is what she says and for a long time and she goes, “And something weird is happening. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. But if I do eat at night, I know I’m not that hungry, but if I do eat a certain amount or whatever, I start getting really hot and I sweat and I don’t know what’s wrong.” And I said, “Your body doesn’t want weight right now, which is why you’re not hungry.”
So, yeah, you have to eat less but you’ve got to want your body to want that so your body’s not hungry. Your body wants to lose weight, so you’re not hungry. And if you do eat, your metabolism speeds up so that you burn that food before you go to sleep. That’s what’s happening.
Stuart Cooke: Unbelievable.
Jon Gabriel: Your body just doesn’t want the weight anymore. That’s the way you lose weight sustainably. Get your body to not want the weight anymore.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: Brilliant. Fantastic. Tell us a little bit about meditation, because you touched on it earlier. Is that like an integral part of stress management?
Jon Gabriel: Yeah. So, meditation and also what I call “visualization,” which to me is targeted meditation, is really, really important and so incredibly useful, because it rewires your brain chemistry so that you’re not pumping out stress hormones all the time.
So, if you look at the way brain chemistry works, the more you do something, the more it reinforces the signal so you’re going to do it more. That’s how habits are created. But thoughts are the same.
So, if you’re thinking fearful thoughts all day, what’s happening is there’s a signal going to the limbic part of your brain, activating a part of your brain called the amygdala, which is the seed of aggression and fear, which then pumps out inflammatory hormones and stress hormones. And so, what’s happening is the more you do that the more it gets reinforced.
So, you’ve got this unregulated feedback thing that’s pumping out stress, causing stressful thoughts. Pumping out stress, causing stressful thoughts. And if you were to actually trace the chemistry of that part of your brain, it becomes a stress-producing factory or a stress hormone-producing factory, which basically is like taking a weight loss drug all day. It’s like, if you were inter. . . Or a weight gain drug.
So, if you were intravenously tied to a weight hormone that causes you to gain weight and it’s pumping into you all day, you’re just going to get heavier and heavier. This is what’s happening with people.
So, how do you break that?
Well, when you meditate, even though if you’re only mediating only for like ten minutes a day, you start activating, creating inroads to activating areas that make you feel safe and relaxed and connected. And it’s not just for those ten minutes. It’s for the whole; it’s for the rest of the day and then evidently over time, it becomes all the time.
So, it’s just like the same as if you were to work out 20 minutes, three times a week, you’d be stronger all the time. Not just when you’re working out. If you meditate every morning for 10, 20 minutes, you then change your chemistry all day so that you’re not producing those stress hormones.
Guy Lawrence: Okay.
Jon Gabriel: So, that’s really, really powerful. And then when you use visualization, you actually get your mind and body to communicate. So, anything you imagine doing; if you imagine the weight melting off your body, if you imagine yourself craving healthy live fruit or going to the gym or doing well at business or any of these things. When you’re in that meditative state, your mind is very powerful and you become much more able to achieve your goals.
And by achieving your goals, not just weight loss goals, but other goals, sometimes it helps with weight loss too, because if you’re worried about finances, for example, and you’re able to use visualization to help improve your business and to have a good meeting and be successful, then you’re not worried anymore. There’s less stress and the weight comes off.
If you imagine yourself eating healthy foods, then you’re more likely to eat them. If you imagine yourself going to the gym, you’re more likely to do it. Many studies have shown that when you practice, rehearse mentally something, especially when you’re in a meditative state; you’re going to do it. It’s how you create habits.
So, we’ve incorporated meditation and visualization. That’s like the framework to get your mind and body to work together.
Guy Lawrence: So, just for people to visualize it …
Jon Gabriel: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: …you know, I’m thinking meditation is almost like a pressure cooker scenario, where you’re releasing the lid off it and allowing pressure to come.
Jon Gabriel: That’s one way to look at it. I would also look at it as it’s also creating a different connection so that you never even go into that pressure cooker.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: So, on the one hand you’re letting off the pressure, but you’re also connecting in another way so that you’re never even creating the pressure.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, perfect.
Jon Gabriel: So, like, you’re waiting in a bank line, right? And you’re late for work and you get to this; you’re pumping out stress hormones. But what you find, if you do meditate on a regular basis, is you’re not doing that anymore. You’re late for work or whatever, you recognize, “Look, I’m in a line. I’m going to be to work. I’m going to explain this to my boss. There’s nothing I can do about it now.” You don’t have that pressure any more. You give into the outside world, maybe doing whatever it’s doing.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah and you’re in the moment. So, with meditation, Jon, it’s a word that I hear get flung around a lot, and visualization and it’s something that I’ve always grappled with, as well. There’s things I grasp and just run with, you know, in areas of my life and I probably speak for Stu as well. So, for people listening to this, and I know a lot of people that fall in and out of meditation constantly, you know, as in they’ll do it for a week and then they don’t do it for six months. And then all of a sudden it builds up, you know. What would be; like if you could give three tips, like, what would be the simplest way for …
Jon Gabriel: So, I’ll tell you how I started and I get every…
Guy Lawrence: Okay, perfect.
Jon Gabriel: You want; the key is you want to become addicted to it. But there’s a lot, there’s a long road to get there, right? So, what I did was I listened to a meditation every day. It was a 20-minute meditation. I listened to it every day for about two years. Eventually, I would get; when I started doing the meditation I would just get this incredible bliss and relaxation, like, you’re sitting there and you’re not fidgeting anymore, And you’re not trying; like most people; that’s the other thing, it’s very paradoxical in the sense that if you try to concentrate you actually take yourself out of the meditation. Do you see what I’m saying?
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: So, its like, you know, it’s like they teach you in martial arts, if you’re tense and you’re using muscle, you’re not going to be as effective as if you’re relaxed and you have sensitivity and you can move fast and you can think clearly. It’s the exact; as soon as you start trying you get discouraged, you get out of the meditation, and then you give up.
So, what I tell people, I’ve created seven- to ten-minute visualizations. It couldn’t be easier. They’re seven to ten minutes long. I say you have it all set up in your room. You do it as soon as you wake up.
So, you wake up. You don’t check Facebook and then do the meditation. You wake up. You press the button. You close your eyes. And the most important thing is, you let your mind wander. You don’t try to get; so if I say, “Imagine the weight melting off. Imagine yourself.” You don’t try. You just let your mind wander and you just sit there for the ten minutes or seven minutes.
Because what happen eventually; number one: you don’t give up, because you’re not getting discouraged. You’re not thinking, “It’s not working, my mind’s wandering.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: You’re not trying. You’re not taking yourself out of the meditation. But something takes over where all of a sudden you’re, you know, your mind’s going “mee-mee-mee-mee-mee,” then all of a sudden you go “meep” and you are there. And it feels; it’s just like, you know, if you think about it all the best experiences you can have are experiences when you’re just there; your mind isn’t doing it.
So, if you’re getting the best message in the world, you might start out, your message therapist is saying, “How’s your day? Blah, blah, blah.” “Oh, yeah, blah, blah, blah.” Then all of a sudden, you know, 20 minutes into it, she’s working on your back and your shoulders, and you’re just like “ah…”, right? Your mind’s not wandering.
You know, if you’re making love and it’s amazing, “ah…” Your mind’s not wandering. Like if you’re having; like if you’re sky diving or skiing or snowboarding …
Guy Lawrence: Surfing. I think of surfing.
Jon Gabriel: …surfing, your mind’s not wandering, right? You’re watching the best sports event, you know, it’s 30 seconds left; your mind’s not wandering. You’re just right there.
So, every great experience that you have across the board has one thing in common. You are just right there. And what happens, you can’t create it with meditation, but it creates you. It takes you over.
You don’t ever know when it’s going to happen and I’ve been mediating for years now and I never know when it’s going to happen. I’m always surprised every time. It’s like “mee mee mee mee mee and tomorrow I’ve got to call this guy” and all of a sudden I go. . .
Stuart Cooke: Boom.
Jon Gabriel: And you’re like; it’s like you’re plugged in.
Do you remember Star Wars; the first Star Wars episode?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: And C3PO? I don’t know if remember, like in the video he goes, …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: “If you don’t mind sir, I’ll just turn off.” And he just goes …
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: That’s what it is. It’s like you go “whoop.” And you just; it’s almost like, you feel like you’re being plugged into a source of energy. Where you’re just energized and focused and you feel it and then it permeates your day where you feel this bliss, you know, all throughout the day. And then you’re hooked.
Stuart Cooke: I hope I can work at that. I’ll have to work at that. For me, I liken it to looking at a TV shop with 20 different TVs and they’re all playing different stations. And I’m looking here and here and here. All these conservations coming in, so I need to …
Jon Gabriel: Yeah. All right. But listen to your languaging. You say, “I have to work at that.” And even that is going to take you out of meditation. So, rather than say, “I have to work at that.” just say, “I’m going to listen to that every morning.”
Stuart Cooke: Right.
Jon Gabriel: Just press the button every morning.
So, I take; when I work with people, I take that feeling of that activity out of it. So, all you have to do is press the button every morning. Even if you’re just lying in bed, it’s best if you’re sitting up, but you just press the button every morning until once you become hooked you’re; that’s it. You never have to worry again, because you’re going to do it.
Like I don’t have to go, “Ah…” Like, if with yoga, for example, I have to go, “Ah, I’ve got to do yoga.” You know.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: But there’s some people that are hooked on yoga. You know, they’re going to do their two hours in the morning, because they love it and I’ve never getting that. I will never get to that place. I hate it, hate it, hate it and it’s just that it.
But you can get to that place with meditation. Where, like, for me, I’m hooked. I don’t have to think, “Ah, I have to meditate today.” I sit up and it just comes in and then you’re just; you have this ability to focus and imagine how your day’s going to work out. And you find this correlation between what you imagine happening and what happens in real life. It’s just uncanny.
When you’re, like, a business meeting, you want to do really well. You imagine it and all this light coming out and people just spellbound and it happens. It’s just a cause and effect relationship that’s unreal.
So, it’s like this mechanism. You imagine the weight melting off your body and it happens.
And you know for me I imagined myself, when I was 400 pounds. If you’ve ever seen my before and after pictures, I imagined myself with tight skin and stomach muscles. And everybody thinks those pictures are PhotoShopped. I even; I went back to the lady that took them, just recently we created another video, where we videoed me getting pictures again and had her swear that they weren’t Photo. . . They’re not PhotoShopped.
Like, there’s probably a lot of reasons why that happened, but one of them was, I imagine; really, really, really focused and just tight, healthy and it just, it happened. You know, and I just, I don’t know how much of that is in the mind, but I don’t want to discount the mind either. Because I think the mind is so much powerful than we can even imagine.
We can even, you know, there’s studies with the mind right now, where they did this placebo study with cancer patients, right? Where they wanted to test a form of chemotherapy. So, one group got the real chemotherapy and one group didn’t get chemotherapy, but they thought they got chemotherapy. The group that didn’t get chemotherapy, but thought they got chemotherapy, 30 percent of them lost their hair.
Stuart Cooke: Oh boy, oh boy.
Guy Lawrence: Wow!
Jon Gabriel: 30 percent! We didn’t, we have no idea how powerful our minds are.
Stuart Cooke: It’s hugely powerful, isn’t it. It’s unbelievable.
Jon Gabriel: And everybody’s, nobody’s looking at that. And I’m like why are we not looking at this? But when you apply it the other way, rather than getting you, tricking you into losing your hair, you can apply it the other way into getting you to be thin and fit and successful. And so, that’s what we do with our meditations and our visualizations, is we apply that power in the right direction.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Jon, listening to you just makes me want to do it. You know, like it’s phenomenal.
So, again for anyone listening to this and going, “Well, I’m going to have a crack at this.” and they’ve not done it before. What would be a good amount of time to start with to make it a habit? So, I remember you saying to once, “make it a habit first,” right?
Jon Gabriel: Five to seven minutes. So, but you need; I suggest you need to; you listen to something. Like, we have, we have lots of visualizations that are seven minutes long. Just keep listening to it until you become addicted to it until you can feel the energy, because you feel the vibration, because you feel the calmness and you can feel why it’s working. And that can take six months to a year and then you’re like, “Oh, I get this. I really, really get this. I see why I can’t wait to do this again.”
When you’re there, you do it on your own. But until then, press the button. Don’t work at it. Don’t try. But just press the button every day. Make a commitment to pressing the button first and just sitting there for seven minutes every single day until you become addicted.
And believe me, it’s easier than becoming addicted to yoga, because you don’t have to do anything but sit. You just sit instead of feeling that intense pain that you …
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Well, what we can do, like, if you’ve got visualization techniques for people that we can link to the show notes for this so when they listen to this they can come and check it out.
Jon Gabriel: We have some free visualizations, you know, on our site and we have; we’ve got a support group with 40 visualizations in there …
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Jon Gabriel: … that, you know, I keep making new ones and that you can join and have a; you can join for free for 30 days. So you can literally, you can join this support group for free and download all 40 visualizations and then cancel the next day.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: You know, like, we want to give these out. I want the world to; I want people; I feel like it’s a blessing to, for me and I wouldn’t be able to do what I did unless I, this happened to me where I became addicted to this; to mediating and visualizing in it. I just want that for the rest of the world you know.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Brilliant.
Stuart Cooke: I had a question now to shift this over to about parents and children.
Jon Gabriel: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Because I’m a dad myself and I take my girls to school every day and I have noticed that there are kids now that are carrying a lot of weight and parents are looking frazzled as well. You know, they’re plugged into the grind.
Jon Gabriel: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Any particular strategies for the parent perhaps who are struggling?
Jon Gabriel: Well, you know we wrote a book. I wrote a book with a pediatrician, named Patricia Riba, named “Fit Kids”. Specifically, I’m the Gabriel Method to kids.
But it’s the same thing. You’ve got to look at causing the chronic low-grade inflammatory stress that’s causing them to gain weight.
So, let’s talk about some of the things. Kids have stresses in school. They have bullying in school. There’s abuse that goes on. There’s nutritional depletion. So, the foods that we’re eating are so full of; so devoid of nutrition that they’re getting nutritionally deplete. And of course, all the chemical changes that take place when you eat all the junk food, that’s a big deal.
The toxins. There’s so many toxins in our food.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: And toxins can cause you to gain weight; then all the toxins of the medications. We’re living in this culture where it’s just expected that we medicate our kids and there’s something like; there’s something like 70 more vaccinations that we give our kids than we had when we were growing up.
Stuart Cooke: Right
Jon Gabriel: So, including a vaccination for hepatitis the second a kid is born. Why you have to get a vaccination for hepatitis the second someone’s born is beyond my imagination. But if you think about what a vaccination is designed to do; it’s designed to cause you to evoke an inflammatory response.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: That’s what it’s designed to do. Which is fine every once in a while. We did it. We had vaccinations. We had our vaccination schedule for our measles and our whatever. But now you’ve got vaccination schedules for itchy knees, I mean, for anything. You know, 200; some statistic by the time you’re three you’ve had like 70 or 100 vaccinations.
So, if you’re constantly injecting substances into your kid all day long and if you look at the childhood obesity; if you look at a graph of how childhood obesity has grown over, since 1990 when we started accelerating the vaccination schedule, it’s pretty much the same exponential curve as the rate of which vaccinations have grown.
So, I don’t want to just dis vaccinations. That’s a heated discussion. But you need to look at the inflammatory consciences from a weight perspective and you need to balance how that’s going; how frequently you have them and do you need every single one of them always.
Is everything life-threatening, that you have to do that? And what are the consequences? And so, that’s one thing.
Another is just other medications. Antidepressants can cause you to gain weight. And maybe; and sometimes the answer when you have depression is you don’t have the right gut flora. There’s a lot of studies to show that.
So, we’re not taking care of the gut flora of our kids. We’re pumping them with medications that cause inflammation. We’re giving them food that has no nutrition. They’re in stressful environments. They’re emotionally abused, you know, we all suffer; that’s there too.
So, you need to look at all those different things with the kid and you need to approach it that way. Because if you don’t approach it that way and just say, “Okay, eat less cupcakes.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: You get into this situation where the kid feels shame. The kids; it’s a futile effort that’s destined for failure and then it makes the kid feel like a failure.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
Jon Gabriel: You’ve got to give the kid a fighting chance by reducing the chemistry that’s causing them to want to eat chronically. You’ve got to nourish them. You’ve got to heal their digestion. Help detoxify their bodies. Help reduce stress.
We do a lot of visualizations for kids that are really good. There’s one called “The Dreaming Tree.” Another one called, “The Magic Carpet Ride.” “The Ride of the Blue Clan.” Cave Clan I think it’s called, something like that. We just have all these different stories that we tell the kids to reduce those things. And you’ve got to look at the medications that you’re putting in you kids and the frequency. And you’ve got to make an informed decision about which ones are the most important and when to do it. You have to be active and proactive with your kids.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect.
Guy Lawrence: Go on, Stu.
Stuart Cooke: What sounds like the key word is “stress.” Whether it be from toxins, you know, the environment. Whether it’s from our gut. You know, everything.
Jon Gabriel: And that’s not what we’re doing. We’re just saying, “Okay, how may calories?” I remember the lady that we wrote this book with, Patricia Riba. She talks about this 4-year-old kid that carries a cup wherever she goes. And it turns out that she does that because the nutritionist said, “Only eat this much food.” So, she has this cup wherever she goes and she’s just this, you know, poor little 4-year-old kid.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: And whose fault is that; that she’s in a situation, we’re putting it on her. Like that she’s eating too much.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: And you, you know, you have to live through it too. So, like, when I was living this thing, where I was hungry, hungry, hungry all the time and now I’m not. You know that you’ve got to get to that place.
You don’t just take a kid who’s hungry all the time and deficient in so many nutrients and so much; and their gut flora is so messed up, and they’re so insulin resistant or leptin resistant that they’re hungry all the time. You don’t take a kid like that and say, “just eat this much food” and shame them all the time. You’ve got to address the real issues. So irresponsible, because if you look at the research that’s out there; so irresponsible not to be doing that.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, such a huge topic. I mean, do you hold hope for the future, Jon, in the whole?
Jon Gabriel: Yeah, I do, because I see like a convergence of information. I see people, I see people; parents are getting educated.
I mean if I look at my support group, we’ve got a private forum where people may ask stuff and I’ll be; it’s like a Facebook forum. So, I’ll see it on my feed and I’ll think, “Oh, I’ve got to get back to that man to answer that question.” I go back two hours later and there are better answers than I could give. More informed answers.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Jon Gabriel: I thought, okay. These are parents. These are people that had weight issues. These people are very into it. You give people a direction to heal themselves and it starts to work for them. And they’re like, “Screw this, I want to know” and they’re taking their health in their own hands.
So, there’s a convergence and a spreading of people that are taking their health in their own hands and sharing information. And that is hope for the future. That’s real hope.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Fantastic, fantastic.
Mate, we have a few questions we ask everyone on the podcast as we go towards the end and I’m going to bring in one more as well, ask three. But do you; what is your daily routine, like non-negotiable practices that you’ve kind of brought in over the years now?
Jon Gabriel: So, I don’t have many non-negotiable. I meditate every morning; that’s non-negotiable. I won’t start my day without mediating. I do this meditation and as soon as I know I’m ready, I ask for guidance. I ask my higher self to guide me throughout the day and work through me. Once I know I’ve made that connection, because that’s one of the things meditation I feel does is it helps you connect with your higher power. So, that’s non-negotiable. I’m not going to start my day.
So, like if I’ve got to wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning to catch a flight, I’m going to wake at 3 o’clock and meditate. I remember, I remember I was, I was with my video editor somewhere and I had to pick him up at 6 o’clock in the morning and I was looking for him and getting lost. So, it was like 6:10, 6:20 and the guy who’s with him said, “You think Jon didn’t wake up? He fell asleep?” He said, “No man. Jon’s been up for three hours. He’s been mediating for three hours”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: And it was true. I had meditated; I had gotten up hours before and meditated. That’s non-negotiable for me. I love it.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: I have to do it that. The other thing is I nourish my body. I don’t focus too much on; I don’t have a rhythm of I have to eat breakfast at a certain time or lunch at a certain time or don’t eat this, don’t eat that. But I will have super greens. I will have smoothies. I will have green juices. I’ll have salads. I’ll have sprouts. I’ll have fermented foods. I will eat lots of really nutritious foods and I’ll focus on the adding of those things.
And the other things you can’t eat after a while. You know, when your body gets really, really healthy you cannot eat junk food. And that’s a beautiful place to be, because it’s very different than fighting junk food.
So, those are probably the two non-negotiables. I’m going to do my meditation every day and I’m going to nourish my body really well every day. Those are non-negotiables.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: And what about, we always say, “motion equals emotion” and we love to get off our seats.
Jon Gabriel: Yeah, yeah. So, we didn’t talk about exercise. So, let’s talk about exercise for a moment.
Guy Lawrence: Sure. Go for it.
Jon Gabriel: From the perspective of survival. So, how fat or thin your body wants to be and remember how we talked about how you’ve got this sort of survival program in you to force you to gain weight if you’re in a famine, right? You’ve got another survival program in you that forces you to get thin if your body thinks that you need to be thin in order to be safe. I call it the “get thinner, get eaten” adaptation. And so, let’s imagine, so when you get the theory of it then exercise, how to apply it to exercise, is automatic. It just makes sense.
So, the theory is that if you were; if you want to get; if you were living thousands of years ago in an island, where let’s say where you had all the food in the world. It’s all healthy and real live fruit. You can eat all you want. So, you’re not having a famine, right? So, you don’t have that famine stress saying, “Hey, we need to hold to the weight.” And it’s warm; so you don’t need weight for, to hold on to, you know, protect you from the elements. So, you don’t have those stresses that would make your body want to be fat.
And let’s imagine that you lived outdoors, in the jungle, 10,000 years ago and every couple of times a week tigers would run out and they would chase you. And if you weren’t lightning fast, you were dead, right?
Now, that’s a different stress. It is a stress too, but it’s not a chronic low-grade inflammatory stress. It’s a 30-second life or death stress. That 30-second life or death stress changes your body’s chemistry. It makes you very sensitive to the hormone leptin and you start melting fat, because your body says, “Hang on. Forget about everything. If we’re not thin, we’re dead.”
And so, you can replicate that with exercise. And the way to replicate that with exercise isn’t the traditional 40-minute power walk, seven times a week. Because if you were living outdoors and chased by a bear all of sudden, you wouldn’t got for a 40-minute power walk, right?
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: You would run for 10 to 20, 30-second maximum, and you would either be eaten or you were dead.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Yeah.
Jon Gabriel: Now, so, if you apply that to exercise, what works really, really well is, let’s say you’re gone for a 20-minute walk or whatever, walk leisurely and enjoy it. But every once in a while, for just ten seconds, move as fast as humanly possible and imagine you’re being chased by something. It’s life or death. Because your brain doesn’t know, the survival brain doesn’t know there’s been a real or imagined experience. You imagine that, the weight just melts off of you.
And you don’t have to do this. It’s not about calories in/calories out. It’s about getting your body to want to be thin. So, that actual 30 seconds, you’re not burning much calories in that 30 seconds, but the hormonal changes that take place are forever, because your body goes, “Stop everything. If we’re not thin, we’re dead.”
So, that’s the way to apply it and you, and so when I work with people, I say, “Do this a couple of times a week. Two times, three times max. Exercise for a maximum of 10, 20 minutes, but within that period you need the ten seconds all out.”
And so, when you look at also the high intensity types of workouts that they have, they measure the on and the off, so 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off or a minute sprint, minute rest. I don’t care how long you rest. I don’t care about keeping your heart at a minimum heart rate or a fat burning range, I don’t care any of that. I don’t care about fat burning during the exercise. I just care that when you do that ten-second sprint or 20 second, you are life or death. You are all out, because that’s what’s going to create this specific stress that’s going to make your body say, “We need to be thin.” And it’s all about getting your body to want to be thin.
Stuart Cooke: Excellent.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Stuart Cooke: Perfect.
Guy Lawrence: Mate, we have one more question that we ask everyone on this show. And what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Jon Gabriel: To follow your heart. Because I think there’s a part of us that knows why we’re here and knows our life’s purpose. Knows the future. Knows all of that. It’s communicated through our heart.
And a lot of times we don’t want to listen now, we want to listen to this and it says, “No, no, no. We don’t have time for that. We got other things we’ve got to worry about. Blah, blah, blah.” It’s got all those voices, “I’m going to take care of you, blah, blah, blah.”
But this other voice is going to always push you in the right place at the time. And so I say, whenever you can listen to that voice.
Guy Lawrence: Now, that’s perfect advice and that’s something I can relate to, mate. I think, yeah, fantastic.
Jon Gabriel: Awesome.
Guy Lawrence: Jon thanks so much for it all. So one last thing.
Jon Gabriel: Oh, yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Where can people get more of Jon Gabriel.
Jon Gabriel: Yeah. You just go to TheGabrielMethod.com. So: TheGabrielMethod.com. There’s hundreds of pages of free information and we’re always doing, like, we’re doing a meditation for weight loss challenge coming up and we’ve got all kinds of visualizations you can listen to and podcast information. So, it’s a good place to check out.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome. We’ll link on the show notes as well.
Jon, thank you so much for coming on the show …
Jon Gabriel: My pleasure.
Stuart Cooke: Yes, thank you. A wealth of information and I just cannot wait to share it. Thank you so much.
Jon Gabriel: Excellent.
Guy Lawrence: Good luck to you Jon. Thank you very much.