Watch the full interview below or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
Guy:I’m certainly not one to dramatise content and blog posts just to grab peoples attention, but when you hear what some food manufacturers are up to, it really does give you the sh**ts!
I think our take home message from this weeks 2 minute gem video is this; you really do have to be proactive when it comes to your own health.
We spend an hour with one of Australia’s leading nutritionists, as we tap into all her experience on how we can achieve greater health and longer lives.
Our special guest today is Cyndi O’Meara. Not your typical nutritionist, Cyndi disagrees with low-fat, low-calorie diets, believes chocolate can be good for you. Amazingly, she has never taken an antibiotic, pain-killer or any other form of medication her whole life! The one thing that was clear from this podcast is that she is a passionate, determined and a wealth knowledge. Sit back and enjoy as she shares with us how she helps others improve their quality of life so they too can enjoy greater health and longer lives.
Full Interview: Achieving Greater Health & Longer Lives. What I’ve learnt so far…
In This Episode:
Where we are going wrong from a nutritional stand point
With so many ‘diets’ out there, where the best place to start is
The simplest nutritional changes that make the greatest difference on our health
Hey, this is Guy Lawrence of 180 Nutrition and welcome to today’s health sessions. Today, we have an awesome guest here in store. I know we always say that but it’s true. She is Cindy O’Meara. I believe she is one of Australia’s leading nutritionists and she often appears on TV and radio and has a massive amount of experience, and get this, at 54 years old, I think she’s an amazing example of health. She’s never taken an antibiotic, a painkiller or any other form of medication her whole life.
I think that’s incredible and she certainly got a lot of energy and a lot of knowledge and it was awesome to tap into that for an hour today. We get into some fascinating topics. The big one that stands out in my mind is deceitful food labeling. Some of the things that are going on with manufacturers is quite jaw dropping and scary. Looking back as well, this is why we started 180 in the first place and the 180 Superfood because I was working with cancer patients with weight training programs and we couldn’t access any really decent supplementation back then, especially protein and whole foods, making them much more accessible for them anyway.
That’s where 180 started if you didn’t know. Anyway, so we get into food labeling lies. The first place to start with all this information out there, Paleo, Keto, Mediterranean, low carb, I’ve always got confused out now. She really simplifies it and how to work out what’s best for yourself and where to go first if you are struggling with them things. We tap into her own daily habits and philosophies on life as well because she’s in such amazing shape.
It was great for her to share her bit of wisdom on all that too. I have no doubt you’ll enjoy. The internet connection does drop in and out slightly here and there but all and all, it’s all good and sometimes it’s beyond our control with Skype but the information is [00:02:00] there and you persevere, you’ll be fine. Thanks for the reviews coming in as well. We had a great one yesterday saying, “Superfood for your years, buy a highway to health.”
It’s always appreciated. I know you’re probably driving a car, walking the dog or whatever it is you’re doing in the gym and you go, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I enjoy the guy’s podcast, I’ll give a review, you know,” and then go and forget about it which is what I would do anyway because I’m pretty forgetful like that. If you do remember, leave us a review. They’re greatly appreciated and we read them all and yeah, they help us get this message out there.
If you’re enjoying it, that’s all I ask. Anyway, let’s go over to Cindy, this is another great podcast. Enjoy. Okay, let’s go. Hi, this is Guy Lawrence. I’m joined with Stuart Cooke. Hi Stu.
Stuart Cooke: Hello mate.
Guy Lawrence: Our fantastic guest today is Cyndi O’Meara. Cindy, welcome to the show.
Cyndi O’Meara: Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: Look, with all our guests that come on, we generally end up intensively looking into the guests more as the interview gets closer. I’ve been listening to a lot of your podcasts over the last few days and it’s clear that you’re very passionate and knowledgeable, so I’m hoping to extract a little bit of that and get it into today’s show. It’s a pleasure to have you on; I really appreciate it.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, no worries.
Guy Lawrence: Just to start, have you always been into nutrition? Is this or has this been a thing that’s evolved over time? Where did it all start for you Cyndi?
Cyndi O’Meara: Well, I’m from a fairly different family you could say. My dad was a pharmacist who then, after 6 years of pharmacy, realized that, and this was in the 50s, realized that pharmacy wasn’t the way to health. He went from New Zealand to the USA and went to Palmer College of Chiropractic, he became a chiropractor. He learnt the difference between mechanism, philosophy and vitalistic philosophy and had us kids and chose never to give us medications unless it was a life [00:04:00] threatening situation.
We ate well, we had an outdoor lifestyle; we just lived a different life. We never went to the doctors unless I broke a bone. I remember going twice because I broke bones. I’m 55 and I’ve never had any medications, no antibiotics, Panadols or anything. Then he gave us a really outdoor lifestyle, travelling and we traveled 3 months around the world, we skied, we went skiing a lot. When I got a love for skiing, I thought, “Well, I don’t want to go to university. I want to ski.”
Then someone said to me, “Well, why don’t you go to a university that’s [inaudible 00:04:36] skiing?” and I went, “Well, that’s a good idea.” They don’t exist in Australia so I had to go to the University of Colorado in Boulder and that is where my life changed. I did pre-med and had one of my classes that went for the 12 month period was with a gentleman by the name of Dr. Van Guven. He taught me cultural anthropology and anthropology.
I realized that food had a lot to do with the way we evolved. If it wasn’t for food, we’d be dead. If it wasn’t for hunter gatherers, our agriculturalists, our herders, our pastoralists, we would never have survived and it was our adaptation to the environment that we were living in that enables us to do that. That’s what I learned, so I went, “Yey! I’m going to be a dietician.”
I came back to Australia and studied nutrition at Deakin University and didn’t agree with anything, not one thing. I just went, “Oh, I can’t be a dietician. This is just ridiculous. They don’t … They’re teaching margarine, they’re thinking low fat.” We didn’t do low fat. Meat’s bad for you, this is bad for you and I just went, “I can’t do it.” They wanted me to feed jelly to sick patients and even the pig feeds were made of high fructose corn syrup and I just couldn’t do it.
I thought, “Well, I’ll go back to university and I’ll become a chiropractor.” I went back to university, did 2 years [00:06:00] of human anatomy, cut up cadavers for that whole time and went, “Hmm, it’s not the dead ones that I really care about. It’s actually the live ones.” It was a result of realizing my knowledge of the human body and my cultural anthropology and all of that just came together and I went, “I know what the human body needs.”
I set up practice as a nutritionist and did the opposite to everybody else. That was 33 years ago.
Guy Lawrence: Wow.
Stuart Cooke: Excellent.
Guy Lawrence: That was very radical back then as well, 33 years ago.
Cyndi O’Meara: Oh yeah. I think goodness … Nutrition wasn’t big back then. It’s not like it is now. You see Pete Evans get absolutely slaughtered because he says, “Eat real food.” Back in those days, there were 20 girls that I went to school with and they just followed the guidelines. I was just a little pimple, I wasn’t annoying anybody until I started to write for the Sunshine Coast Daily and then I annoyed everybody.
That was a lot of fun. 2 years of letters to the editors, suing by food companies, all the usually stuff-
Guy Lawrence: The usual stuff.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, that somebody like me would get. That was the early 90s and then by late 90s, I wrote my book Changing Habits, Changing Lives. Nobody wanted it so I self published it in ’98 and then it just went from strength to strength and now I run a company. There’s 20 people in this building so hopefully, they won’t make a noise, I’ve warned them all. We now have a food company, we have an education company, we’re about to put out a documentary because food’s big, nutrition’s big.
People realize what we’re doing is not working and we need to do something different. We have a lot of sick people in the world and I’m on a bit of a crusade to go, “Hey, there’s another way. We don’t have to live like this,” and it’s the philosophy of vitalism which is the human body is intelligent. It has the resource … If you give it the right resources [00:08:00] and stop interfering with it, it has the ability to heal and to stay healthy through prevention. Yeah, so that’s in a nutshell.
Stuart Cooke: Amazing.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. No, that’s an awesome story and I can see that you’re super passionate. From a nutritional standpoint, and everybody has … Much like religion and politics, everybody has got their own opinion on nutrition, “Got to eat this way to get these gains.” In your opinion, where are we going wrong right now?
Stuart Cooke: Look, I think we’re looking at science a little bit too heavily. I look to science to back up anything that I’m thinking at the time, but in the end, I look at culture and tradition. I look at how did we survive millions of years without science, adapt to the environment, survive, all the things that have been thrown at us from volcanic eruptions with heavy metals being spilt onto our environment to having to adapt to a changing world?
I have a philosophy of vitalism, so looking at the body as an intelligent, innate presence and then I look at food in exactly the same way, that it’s intelligent. Then with the help of cultural anthropologies and the vast array of different foods that we can we can survive on, I then go and look for science that may be able to help me back up these claims because everybody is into science, evidence based. I hear it all the time but you what I’ve learnt is that you can absolutely look at all the science out there and it’s all opposing.
That really depends on who’s funding, who has a theory and they have a passion about it and they want to get that theory out there such as Ancel Keys [00:10:00] in the 1960s who started the low fat. My thing is that we’ve just thrown culture and tradition out and we’re just looking at science. When we look at epidemiological studies, we’re actually really not doing an exact science, we’re just doing it, “Oh. Well, this population does this then they get these problems so that must be the issue.”
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Just thinking now to go on from that, we’re very fortunate because we’re absolutely involved in the nutritional space. Everyone I speak to, myself and Stu, we’re bouncing all these theories off and we delve into it and podcasts every week is awesome. Obviously, there’s a lot of people out there that it’s not their thing, they’re very busy and they just want to scratch the surface; make simple changes.
Then when you go to look at where to start, we’re bombarded. We’ve got Paleo, primo, low carb, high carb, ketosis-
Stuart Cooke: Keto.
Guy Lawrence: Keto is another one and all of a sudden, it’s like, “Well, they’re all claiming to be right. Where do I start? How do I do it?” and even in the messages because everyone seems to have good intentions as well, it’s getting lost still. What would your advice be to somebody listening to this going, “Oh okay,” they’re confused on where to start?
Cyndi O’Meara: Well, I doubt that anybody eating McDonald’s hamburgers is listening to you right now. I really doubt that, okay?
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I hope not.
Cyndi O’Meara: I’m thinking for the person who’s out there that is eating that way and has no awareness about their body or what they’re consuming, they’re probably not listening. The people that are listening to you are probably people that are well educated and have a fair idea of they need to make some changes. If they’re in crisis, then they have to do crisis care nutrition.
If they’re not in crisis and they’re just looking at, “Hey, I need to make some changes, [00:12:00]” well, I recommend … I wrote the book Changing Habits, Changing Lives. That was back in 1998 and it’s about looking at one aspect of your pantry and swapping it for a better quality, organic ingredient. Just let’s look at salt, so I go, “Let’s throw away the white salt which …” And I explain exactly what they do to white salt, what iodine that they put into it.
Then what I do is that I then say, “Well, there’s a better quality salt out there.” Let’s say over 52 weeks, they do 1 pantry item, they will revolutionize their pantry. They will start to use the right ingredients in order to be well. Because it’s really hard to say, “Let’s just throw everything out of the pantry and let’s start again,” because then they go back to their old ways. For me, it’s about getting quality ingredients into the pantry to begin with, realizing that nobody can cook a food like you can and because at the moment, I’m rewriting my book Changing Habits, Changing Lives.
I’m looking at the food industry really intensely. You know, since I wrote the book in ’98 and then I did another edition in 2000 and another edition in 2007, so this is only 8 years on, they’re getting sneaky, they’re so sneaky. They’re doing this thing called clean labeling where they’re changing the name of the ingredient so they don’t have to put a number on it. For instance, BHA and BHT is an antioxidant that’s produced by the food industry. People are on the lookout for it. They know that it cause health issues.
Well, they’ve now renamed it rosemary extract or extract rosemary. That sounds better, doesn’t it?
Guy Lawrence: Oh, [crosstalk 00:13:45] that sounds like something I would actually quite like to consume.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah. Well, I saw. I first saw it on breakfast cereal quite a few years and I’m like, “Okay, something’s fishy here. I don’t trust them.” I’ve never trusted breakfast cereal makers but I definitely … When I saw that [00:14:00], I went, “What’s rosemary extract?” so I went looking. When I found this new thing they’re doing, it’s clean labeling. I think number 1, become educated. Do not trust the food industry to tell you what is happening.
Another thing they’re doing is they’re using this new thing called NatureSeal and they don’t have to put it on the ingredients and you know why? Because it’s part of the processing of the food, so if-
Guy Lawrence: Could you repeat the … What was it called? Nature-
Cyndi O’Meara: It’s called NatureSeal.
Guy Lawrence: NatureSeal.
Stuart Cooke: It’s NatureSeal, and so what it does is if you cut an apple and put NatureSeal in the processing of it and put it in a plastic bag, it will last 3 weeks. It won’t go brown, it won’t go off, nothing will happen to it. The makers of NatureSeal go, “Oh, it’s just a bunch of, you know, citrus and vitamins and minerals.” Now, finding the ingredients wasn’t easy. I had to go to the [Paint 00:15:02] office in order to find exactly what they’re putting in NatureSeal.
They make up these stories, the food industry are no smarter. They just go, “Aah! 3 weeks and my apples are going to survive.” We just put it in packaging, they don’t put it on lettuce so you wonder why you’re lettuce is lasting forever, [inaudible 00:15:20] NatureSeal on it. They don’t have to put it on the ingredient list. For me, it’s about you have to be a savvy consumer these days and I’m more into the 1 ingredient pantry.
I have … All my pantry is just nuts and seeds and grains. I’m not against grains. In actual fact, I’m doing a documentary called What’s With Weight? What’s happening to it, why are we having problems with it? My 1 ingredient pantry is just herbs and spices and nuts and seeds and cacao and salts and sugars. I’m not against sugar. We needed sugar to survive, we needed carbohydrates to [00:16:00] survive, but if I have somebody in an emergency situation and nutritionally, I have to make drastic changes there.
Let’s just talk about the common man or woman out there that just wants to improve their health. Number 1, become educated, know what they’re doing to your food. Number 2, clean out your pantry and bit by bit, swap different ingredients for high quality ones. In my industry, in my foods, I call them faucet foods. They are the foods that are organic, sustainable, ethical and you can trust me because if it’s not in my pantry, it’s not on my warehouse and I’m pointing out there because my warehouse is out there.
I don’t put a food in because I know it’s going to make money. I put a food in because I want it in my pantry and I want the best and I learn. When I go looking for a food, sometimes it takes me years to find a food. When I go looking, I go like, “Let’s take that.” This is one that we’ve just brought into our foods. Do you know that they pollinate dates with the pollen, so they have to get the pollen, but they add wheat to it to distribute it over the trees so that they pollinate; so that they don’t have to hand pollinate each one. They just do a blanket spray of wheat and pollen.
A lot of celiacs can’t eat dates these days because of what’s happening. This is where we start to learn, when we go looking for food. Another one we bought out recently, we bought out camu camu a couple of years ago. The people that we were buying the camu camu on said, “Well, why don’t you put it in a capsule and we’ll send you the ingredients of the capsule?” They send me the ingredients of the capsule which they said is a gelatin capsule and I read the ingredients and I went, “You’re serious? There’s probably glycol in here?”
It’s like, “Probably glycol has been taken out of medications in the USA because it causes liver and kidney and kidney damage [00:18:00] and you’re putting a perfectly beautiful food into that?” These are the things that I learn and every food that I have purchased to go into my kitchen, to then give to my family and friends and then to a community, is thoroughly investigated. If it doesn’t match up to what I want, then it doesn’t go into our food supply.
Guy Lawrence: It’s so scary. You have to take quick responsibility in your hands and move forward and it’s time consuming, that’s the thing. It made me think about the posts we put up, Stu, last night on Facebook. We put a photograph up and it’s the new health star ratings, I think from the government.
Cyndi O’Meara: Oh, do you want to just shoot me now?
Guy Lawrence: No. We put a photo of them. We had the organic coconut oil at .5 out of 5 and the Up and Go Breakfast, Liquid Breakfast was 4.5 out of 5. It was good to see everyone was just absolutely disgusted last night, so people are savvy too. Again, I guess it’s our audience listening that are already onto it. There are people out there sadly, they’re …
Stuart Cooke: I think really one of the take-home messages must be that … And we always talk about eat like our grandparents used to eat. It’s simple whole food ingredients because they are going to be, you would think, less altered and less processed and products. I think as a general step, if you can move towards the whole food items and eat less processed food, then you’ve got to be on the right track.
Again, I was interested Cyndi, especially your changing habits, we are by our very nature, creatures of habit. We’re very habitual and how can we change our habits when we’re used to getting up in the morning, spending 2 minutes pouring in our cereal at breakfast time. Because we know that even … People out there are still smoking. They know what cigarettes do to our health but it’s so engrained in their daily habits [00:20:00] that they can’t get out of it.
A lot of our friends know the right thing to do but they’re creatures of habits and they just don’t … So how can we tackle the habitual side of things?
Cyndi O’Meara: We’re not going to change everybody, that’s what I’ve learnt but you can change the people who are willing to make a change. People that are willing to make the change are people in crisis. That will be number 1. They’re in such a crisis that if they don’t make a change, then they’re not going to be able to get up in the morning to even pour their breakfast cereal. The other people that make the change, and these are the ones that I love, I love this group of people out there, and they’re mothers who have sick children.
Because of the choices that they have made perhaps or the choices that the food industry have made for them or what our governments are making for us as far as the amount of chemicals that are being sprayed on our sports fields, on our playgrounds. Mothers will move mountains to save their children. I see it over and over again and you know what? They’re the ones that I look out and I go, “I can help you,” but if I have somebody who’s smoking and doesn’t want to give up smoking, I just go, “Well, there’s nothing I can do for you.”
Let me give you a really good example. I swim with a very intelligent man. He’s a emergency care medical doctor. He has an autoimmune disease and when I met him a year ago, I said to him, “You know there’s a lot we can do with nutrition and autoimmunity now.” Now, he’s in crisis by the way guys, he’s not … He’s about to have another hip replacement, it’s not good what’s happening but he’s an intelligent, amazing man.
I gave him Terry Wahls book, The Wahls Protocol because I think, “Medical doctor, he’ll relate,” so he reads it and I said, “What are you thinking?” He’s at page 70 at this point and he goes, “Oh, it’s not a priority Cyndi. [00:22:00] I haven’t finished the whole book.” Okay, so I go, “Oh okay, okay, cool, cool, cool.” Then he gets to about 140, page 140 and I say to him, “So what are you thinking,” and he goes, “I’m not giving up ice cream.”
Guy Lawrence: Wow. Yeah, right.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: Then I spoke to him the other day and I said to him, “You know, and I noticed you’re limping.” He goes, “Yeah, bad engineering.”
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it’s very, very tricky and you … [crosstalk 00:22:27] trigger foods and they just don’t want to … They don’t want to let them go and often times, it’s the trigger foods that are really holding people back.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: His pain isn’t great enough yet, that’s the problem.
Cyndi O’Meara: I don’t know how it’s not great enough. I text him last night because we swim together and we were going to do ins and outs this morning at 6am. I text him, I said, “Are we doing ins and outs? You’re bringing Bonny?” Bonny is our buoy that we swim out to and he went, “Oh, my hip was really bad.” Now for him to miss swimming and to miss coffee with our group of friends, it’s not something that he likes to do.
I don’t know what else I can say to him. He’s not somebody I’m going to change I don’t think so I have to work on the people that want to change. They will change their habits. You don’t have to hit them over the head. They’re going, “What’s my next step? What do I need to do next?” For the people who are listening out there that are not in crisis or are not a mom, then it’s a step by step process.
Educate yourself on what breakfast cereals are doing to your body, educate yourself on how they make breakfast cereals and the way of excreting it is no longer the way Kellogg’s did it back in the 20s and 30s. It’s very different. They had vitamins and minerals. One, you can pull out with a magnet called iron. I’m not sure you’re meant to do that with the food that we eat but I’ve actually tried that with carrot and green beans and things like that, but I can’t seem to be able to get it out with a magnet but I can with the breakfast cereal.
They make the B1 from acetone. Who [00:24:00] makes vitamin B1 from acetone? You just have to become educated. You have to understand what they’re doing and we think because it’s fortified, it’s a good thing. To me, if I see anything fortified, I do not touch it because I don’t know how they’ve made the supplement or the fortification. Naan bread is folic acid and iodine, must be fortified with those 2.
Well folic acid, your body has to convert to folate. It’s synthetically made and iodine is mined out of a mine out of Japan, comes to Australia in these big barrels and on it, says, “Warning, dangerous to your eyes, to your skin, to this.” Yes, it’s in great amounts but-
Guy Lawrence: Could just explain what fortified is and why they do it as well just for any listeners that might not be familiar?
Cyndi O’Meara: Okay, so back in the 1930s, 1940s after the depression and the war, they recognized that there was some mineral deficiencies and vitamin deficiencies, so with pellagra and beriberi and diseases like this. They thought if they added that to the flour, then they could help, so it was for diseases. Now, I just think it’s something that we’ve always done so let’s continue to do it. We’re not using probably the vitamins that we used back in the 20s and 30s and 40s.
We’re using something that chemistry has figured out how to replicate nature, so they think. They fortify it with vitamins, with minerals, mainly just vitamins and minerals are fortified [inaudible 00:25:37]. Then they think that the population is eating breakfast cereals or drinking milk so they might fortify it with vitamin D but where is that vitamin D coming from?
It’s something that we’ve been doing for a long time but it was first for actual diseases. Now, it’s just, “Well, we’ll just throw it in because it’s no longer in the food.” There’s nothing in white flour anymore. It’s completely [00:26:00] gone and it’s a destitute food and so they go, “Oh, well put nice in and iodine in, [inaudible 00:26:07] and thiamine and we’ll throw some iron in there,” and so they throw everything out then they go, “Oh, we’ll just replace it now.”
Stuart Cooke: A marketer’s dream as well of course because you’ve got these beautiful slogans on the front of the packets that tell you how helpful these products are and we’re drawn to this kind of stuff.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, and there’s a whole aisle dedicated to the stuff.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: Seriously? Who eats that stuff? Really?
Stuart Cooke: You see these foods now slowly moving away from the cereal aisles into the … What used to be very small health food aisles which very few people used to ponder. Now of course, they’re infiltrating.
Cyndi O’Meara: Oh. You’re going to love this, so I went to the health food aisle just recently and I took a photo of one food in there and it was the gluten free food. Let me just see, so I’ve got my phone so I’m just going to see if I can get it. Okay, so here we go. This is the original Freelicious Cracker. Okay, so it’s made up of maize starch, rice flour, organic palm oil thickener (1422). I think that comes from wheat actually, so it’s gluten free anyway, egg white not egg, and you know why?
Because they take the yolk out for other things, I don’t want to spoil that with egg yolk, it’s too expensive. Pregelatinized rice flour, emulsifier (lecithin from sunflower), sugar, salt, thickener (guar gum), raising agents (sodium bicarbonate, ammonium, hydrogen bicarbonate), dextrose, natural flavor, rosemary extract which we know is BHA and BHT. I find it hysterical, I really do. I’m just going through them. Here’s another one.
This is in the health food aisle. [00:28:00] This one is … I don’t even know what this one was. Oh, this is … It’s a cookie, so gluten free flour, tapioca starch, starch, it’s not even tapioca. In my new Changing Habits, Changing Lives, I talk about starch and how they make it, rice flour, potato starch, it’s not potato flour, it’s potato starch, modified tapioca starch, dextrose, thickeners (466464), emulsifier (471), vegetable gums … Do you want me to keep going? It’s just goes line after line.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: Natural color, flavor, preservative … This is in the health food aisle and there’s another flavor and then there’s another flavor. I mean we’re duped.
Stuart Cooke: It’s a marketers dream because essentially, it’s just a problem. How can we make this Frankenfood look so beautifully healthy? Of course they’ve got a team of people, “Well, that’s easy. Leave it to us.” I’ve been a graphic designer for 25 years and if I really wanted to, I could do that. I could come up with the slogans and the logos and the beautiful colors that depict the farmer carrying the basket and it’s all they think about I guess.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s all they care about.
Stuart Cooke: It’s just a joke.
Cyndi O’Meara: There’s an old movie and my dad used to tell me about it. He’s a really, very wise 87 year old. Very healthy, takes the occasional medication so he’s not on [inaudible 00:29:25], lives by himself, still adjusts as a character, he’s amazing. He said to me, “There was an old movie out called The Piano Man and it was about a man who comes into town that creates a problem and then he has the solution to the problem.” What I find is that we are creating problems all the time and then finding the solution.
Do we really have the problem in the first place? The first problem they had was salt, it causes hypertension. Salt was taken out of everything, everything was low salt. Second thing was fat’s a problem. Was it really a problem? Not really but anyway, fat was a problem, everything went low [00:30:00] fat. Then we found trans fats and then now the industry is saying, “Oh, trans fats are bad,” makes me laugh.
Since 1978, we’ve known trans fats were bad but it was only 2007 when the Heart Foundation went, “Ooh, trans fats are a problem guys. We’d better stop … We’d better stop advocating it.” Then fats became a problem, everything went low fat. They found a solution to the problem we really never had and now sugar and carbohydrates are a problem.
Stuart Cooke: That’s right.
Cyndi O’Meara: The ketogenic diet was a diet that we had throughout evolution in order to survive a bad summer or a bad growing season where there was no sugar available and only lean meats because the cows didn’t have anything to eat. They were really skinny and they had lean meats. Sugar was there to tell the human body that it’s a great season, we can have babies.
All the tests on ketogenic diets are done on men, not women. Women go into infertility, intimate infertility, not permanent but intimate infertility in the ketogenic diet because that was the way nature intended us to survive as human beings. Who needs a pregnant woman when there’s no food available in the winter? She would die, she would not survive and neither would the baby.
I don’t have a problem with ketogenic diet but people have to realize that the ketogenic diet is actually a survival diet for evolution. It wasn’t something that we lived on for years and years. We lived on it periodically in order to survive so that we could use ketones, not sugar because sugar wasn’t available, but we could use those ketones. If sugar never came, then we would just live on those ketones although we would be fat burners, not sugar burners and as a result, we [00:32:00] wouldn’t lay down fat.
As a result, lactone wouldn’t be increased in our body which is the master hormone to say, “Hey, let’s have some fun. We can have a baby.” The ketogenic diet is brilliant for epilepsy, for Alzheimer’s, for … We’ve realized the importance of the ketogenic diet for certain populations.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, for when they’re in crisis a lot of time.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: It’s interesting as well because people are … We’re very much now in the environment where people are crashing themselves with exercise and they’re pulling the carbohydrates out of their diet and you are seeing hormonal issues, especially with females as well where they’re skipping periods and just things are crashing for them. It’s a very good point.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah. It’s natural, it’s what the body has to do. It doesn’t know it’s living in 2015. It could be living in BC, long BC because genetically … Like the Paleo all talk about this, they all go, “Well, we haven’t adapted in 40,000 years you know? We adapted 1.5 million years ago and we haven’t adapted in 40,000 years.” Genetically, we don’t have to adapt. What has to adapt is our microbiome.
It can adapt every day to your different food choices if you don’t destroy it. Yeah, I just find that … Let’s just get back to normal eating. Let’s just get back to the way we used to eat. Just don’t think that there’s a panaceum like a macro-nutrient out there such as protein, fats or sugar that is your issue. What your issue is is that we’re in a state right now where our children are getting sicker, even adults are getting sicker.
I don’t know, and I’ve interviewed 14 people [00:34:00] about this and the question was, “Have we gone past the point of no return? Is our microbiome so destroyed that we have no hope of getting past this where our kids can’t even drink mother’s milk? Are we at that point?” Half of them said, “No, I don’t think so Cyndi. We have a resilience, we can change.” The other half were very, very like, “Not sure, not sure if we can get out of this.”
This all started in the 1930s when arsenic was starting to be sprayed on the cornfields in US, let’s say Iowa, USA. That was to destroy a grasshopper plague that was decimating the corn and the wheat in the Midwest. The use of chemicals after World War 2 such as DDT, were then sprayed on the corn fields and the wheat fields. Whenever, I think it was Jane Goodall, said, “Whoever thought that it was okay to grow food with poison?”
My grandmother’s from the cornfields of Iowa and I look at … She lived into her 90s, so my mother was born in 1937 when they were starting to spray arsenic. My sister was born when they were still spraying DDT in the 50s and both my mother and my sister have passed away. My sister got an autoimmune disease at 25, my mom got lung cancer, and never smoked a day in her life, in her 60s.
I look at the destruction of the microbiome through each successive generation. I was fortunate that I was born in Australia and my father was a New Zealander and my brother was born in Australia. The 3 of us seems to have really done well as opposed to what was happening back there. I think [00:36:00] what we could have done 30 years ago when I first started nutrition was just get people off a junk food diet on a real food diet, worked. These days, it’s not working as well and in the last 5 years, I’ve just noticed a huge crisis. I think-
Guy Lawrence: It’s like we’ve gone and messed up almost every aspect there is to be messed up and it’s gotten us in a whole world of trouble and yeah, is the task can we turn it around and actually, going forward for the next generation? I mean I still think the most proactive thing you can do is vote with the money you spend on your food every week and your shopping pool and actually start supporting the small businesses, the local farmers and actually stop buying anything that’s produced on a mass scale too. I don’t know how else.
Stuart Cooke: That’s very tricky because we don’t have the money to shop organic, especially those with large families as well. We have to try and do the best we can so it’s a really delicate balance.
Cyndi O’Meara: Look at this, and it’s about priority also. It is about priority, so I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Homegrown.
Stuart Cooke: Yes.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, it’s brilliant. It’s about this guy who lives in LA and he has basically grown … His whole land is just growing food and he’s got goats and chickens and everything in there and this is the way we used to do it. My grandfather had a garden. My grandfather had 11 children. From his garden, he fed those 11 children in Iowa, USA. My grandmother would get all the produce in the summer.
It grew like mad, it was humid, got all the produce and she would ferment or she would can or bottle [inaudible 00:37:44] and because they had a basement, everything went to the basement. In the winter, when the snow was on the ground and the ground was frozen, they lived off that so [crosstalk 00:37:54]-
Stuart Cooke: Totally, and I remember my grandparents had a garden or an allotment estate.
Guy Lawrence: Allotment, yeah [00:38:00].
Stuart Cooke: My parents, we had potatoes and beans and berries, blackberries down at the bottom of the garden and grew Braeburn apples and almost everyone had a hot house for the tomatoes as well because it gets cold in England. Yeah, that’s where we come from and now of course, it would be crazy. Grow my own vegetables? I could just purchase them.
Cyndi O’Meara: Well, you saw Michelle Bridges, she thinks we’re all freaks.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: You know, seriously? That’s the attitude that we’re up against when people like us that are talking this way. There’s a town in England that’s an edible town. Have you heard of it?
Guy Lawrence: No.
Stuart Cooke: No, I haven’t.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah. It’s called the edible town and about 8 years ago, this woman, Pam Warhurst, just went … Didn’t have a committee, didn’t care about what the council thought, we just started to plant trees that would produce food. Now, it’s very famous and it’s called the edible town and you can watch it on the TED video, ted.com and just look up edible town, Pam Warhurst and watch it. It’s just … I get goose bumps, just thinking … Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, and it’s just all doable as well. That’s the thing. we have the conditions to grow our own food and it doesn’t have to be costly, it just has to grab a little bit of our time and we can do it. I’ve got a question for you. Now, you’re almost the ultimate food detective and I heard a great phrase and I think it came from Sarah Wilson where, “We can’t unlearn what we’ve learned.”
You know all of this stuff and you’re a super sleuth where ingredients are concerned. Do you have any nutritional no-nos, so foods that you simply will not consume if you’re out and about and you’re at dinner parties or barbecues or in a restaurant? What foods would you avoid at all costs?
Cyndi O’Meara: How much time do we have? [00:40:00]
Stuart Cooke: About 20 seconds.
Cyndi O’Meara: I think that answers your question. I have a lot of no-nos, a lot and I like going to restaurants that I know the chefs will feed me single ingredient foods and I do travel by the way. Then when I travel, I look up … Pete Evans taught me this. He says, “Don’t look for the best restaurant, look for the philosophy of the chef,” and so that’s what I do. If I’m going to go somewhere and I don’t know a restaurant or something like that, I’ll … Look, people hate me.
I woke into a restaurant and I’ll ask questions and I’ll walk out if it’s not what I want. Yeah, Pete taught me that. Pete just said, “Find the philosophy of the chef and if they are a chef that is not a gastro-” what do they call it? Gastron … Whatever, the ones that use chemicals, those ones which you can pay $1,000 a head to go to these restaurants, I’ve seen them. I’m really [inaudible 00:41:02] figured that one, I’ll just go to a place down the road that just does meat and veggie for me.
I have a lot of non-negotiables and they’re all basically additives, preservatives, flavorings, margarines, hydro generated vegetable oil, interesterified fats, [inaudible 00:41:19] fats, homogenized milk, some pasteurized milks, skim trim, [red shape 00:41:23]. Would you like me to go on with fine foods?
Stuart Cooke: I think we’ll stop you there, that’s all.
Guy Lawrence: The scary thing is is that I know people mostly dieters are consuming them foods.
Cyndi O’Meara: I don’t know what’s better.
Guy Lawrence: You know?
Cyndi O’Meara: I want to live the best life I can. I want to be energetic. When my grandchildren come, I want to be on the floor with them. That-
Stuart Cooke: No, that’s exactly right. Yeah, and it’s about being the best version of yourself. We’ve got time on the planet, let’s try and make the most of it.
Guy Lawrence: 100% and it’s nice waking up in the morning feeling [00:42:00] good and ready to bring on the day. Yeah, I constantly think about it because I made the changes.
Cyndi O’Meara: I can hardly wait [inaudible 00:42:08].
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I probably-
Cyndi O’Meara: I can hardly wait [inaudible 00:42:09].
Cyndi O’Meara: I can hardly wait to get up in the morning. It’s just like … I’m going, “Let me go to bed so I can get up in the morning,” because then I get to go for my swim and I get to enjoy the sunrise or … And people don’t live like that. They can’t get up out of bed, they’re tired, they drag themselves around. It’s so sad and most people have just got these blinkers on and they probably think, “Oh my God! She must live such a boring life, you know? She has these non-negotiables. Oh, no. I don’t know, far from it.”
Guy Lawrence: They’re missing out. With all that in mind, I can bring in another aspect that we haven’t spoken about yet and be interested to get your views on it is emotional stress and how much that affects our general health. What’s your take on that because-?
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, food’s just part of it. I love that and my dad is the ultimate chiropractor, a chiropractor who will fix everything. That’s his belief whereas my [inaudible 00:43:14] is that we have to look back to our cultures and traditions. We have to look at what our evolutionary body needs. Most people are in the sympathetic dominance. They are constantly in fight or flight.
They never have a downtime. They’re [melons 00:43:33] are always going, they’re emotional bankrupt and I think when you are aware of this and you’re aware of certain things that are happening in your body and you know you’re in sympathetic dominance, you need to back off. Many people are hunched over, so they’re hunched over ready to fight or flee. They’re hunched all the time on our computers. I guess it’s really important [00:44:00] to sit up.
We have constant life sources, so there was a time when we had [inaudible 00:44:07], draw away all your life sources that no computers or phones or anything like that. Have some downtime. Who needs a TV these days? Really, TV is boring. I think that there were a lot of other things that were involved in sympathetic dominance and if we can calm all of that down and know how to calm it down and not be in that fight or flight, and doing things for our evolutionary bodies such as sleep and movement and relationships and connections and face to face.
Here we are, I know I’m seeing you on a screen but it’s so much nicer to be around somebody and that’s really important, that face connection because that’s how we lived as hunter gatherers and agriculturists. I actually look at the hunter gatherer, the agriculturalist, the pastoralist, the herder and I look at the life that they lived and we are so lucky that we can glimpse into these people that are still living traditional lives such the Kyrgyz of Pamir, up on the Afghanistan belt, they live at 14,000 feet.
The Hadzas, the Himbas, the Hunzas, the Dani of Papua New Guinea, there are people that are living this way and we can get a glimpse into how they have survived, so emotion is a big part of it. We look at our whole life as opposed to … And we live vitalistically as opposed to mechanistically where we just look at diet or we just look at movement or we just look at sleep patterns so yeah.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah
Guy Lawrence: What-
Stuart Cooke: You mentioned holistically as well, so we’ve spoken about diet and we’ve spoken about stress, [00:46:00] so movement. What do you do? What do you do for exercise?
Cyndi O’Meara: I’m not your go-out-and-run-100-miles. It just bores me to tears. I have a girlfriend who is the 24 hour marathon champion, and don’t’ get that at all, but then she doesn’t get what I do and I love to swim. I ocean swim so-
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, that’s us too.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, I just get into the ocean every day. I come down to Sydney and I swim with the bold and the beautiful. I’ll go down and I’ll swim the crew in Tokeh if I’m down there. Up here, I swim at the Mooloolaba Beach Bums, so swimming is really important. I have a desk, I’m sitting at the moment, I have a desk that rises so I can stand and work. My belief is that we need to be on the move all the time.
We did that as hunter gatherers, agriculturalists and herders, so to get up and down on your desk, to stand up on your desk, get a treadmill. I was listening to Ben Greenfield recently, I don’t know if you follow Ben Greenfield?
Guy Lawrence: [crosstalk 00:47:08] Yeah, I’m aware of Ben.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, so Ben was talking about the Spartan Race and how he trains for the Spartan Race. He’s whole thing is stay moving all day long and then he [inaudible 00:47:20] 30 min intensive. He says that’s how he trains for the Spartan Race which worse than the Iron Man Race and I went, “You know, I’m a person that does that.” I do intensive sometime and then I’ll just move most of the day.
I find that I’m probably fitter than most 30 year olds without having to try. I can run 5k without even training for a 5k race. I’ll just go run it and I think we believe that exercise is something that we should take our time out to do but we don’t think it’s okay to take time out for hunting for foods, gathering [00:48:00] our foods, cooking our foods. Michelle Bridges did it perfectly on that weekend that she did the worst for a part of her life.
She believes that exercise is something that we have to take time out to do, but we can just throw a plastic container full of yeast extract and other things in the microwave, press the button and we’re all cool. To me, that’s the biggest myth of … It’s just [biggest 00:48:33]
Guy Lawrence: Yeah.
Stuart Cooke: No, and it is about … There’s a disconnect between how we used to be as kids and how we’re conditioned now because I’ve got 3 young girls and I was watching them-
Cyndi O’Meara: Lucky you.
Stuart Cooke: We’ve got a busy household. These girls, they don’t stop, like they don’t stop. I was innately aware the other day. I was thinking, “You 3 really don’t stop,” and they’re wandering up and down doing hand stands, they’re playing on the floor, they’re lying down. Yesterday, we went to Bronte Park and they said, “Dad, come and take us to the park and come and play with us.”
I thought, “Well, I’m going to do everything that you do for an hour,” so before we hopped in the pool for a swim, I just said, “Right, what should we do.” We were on the monkey bars, we were climbing, we were on the roundabouts, we were racing up and down and today, I feel like I have been worked. It’s just one of those things. We didn’t lift any weights, it wasn’t … No treadmill, it wasn’t exercise, it was just play and it is that deconditioning where we used to just run and be free.
Now, we’re kind of … Like you said, we’re hunched and we’re sitting and we’re immobile but we have to make time for our treadmill session. It’s just let’s get back to where we were and just remember that we can move and we can … We don’t have to be sore if we lay on the ground [00:50:00] because we’re just deconditioned to it. It’s just a mindset I think, isn’t it? [crosstalk 00:50:06]
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, and I think it’s awareness because we were not doing this that long ago. It’s only probably in the last 4 decades that we have completely gone off our evolutionary path and most people don’t even realize it’s happened. They think it’s okay to sit in front of the television for 4 hours. They think that you get in your car and you drive to the local store or that you shouldn’t go barefoot because you get parasites.
I’m barefoot until I come to work. I’m barefoot to the beach, coming back from the beach, to the coffee shop. Like all the guys go, “We are all [inaudible 00:50:41] for [inaudible 00:50:42]. We are feeling so sorry for you.” I just think we’ve lost that … I think we have to become aware, become educated and start to play again. I bought a farm and I went up to the farm this weekend to work because I had to finish the 5 hour edit on my documentary.
I’m trying to get it down to an hour and a half. I said to everyone, “I’m going to the farm to work.” “Oh, we’re coming to,” got no work done, no work done whatsoever because it was storm and it was raining. We wanted to go down the bottom of the farm and see the waterfalls. We’re trekking around the farm and there’s leaches everywhere but I noticed my-
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, it’s just fun.
Cyndi O’Meara: It’s just fun. I noticed my son and his girlfriend just throwing each other around the place and I went, “Girls and boys don’t do that anymore.” I noticed that beautiful play that they were doing and tickling each other and I don’t know. I don’t see that anymore and it’s really cool to get them back into nature, into the mud and into the playground at Bronte Park, you know?
Stuart Cooke: Absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I’m aware of the time but I will add-
Cyndi O’Meara: Sorry Guy.
Guy Lawrence: No, that’s cool [00:52:00]. It’s awesome because I was listening to your podcast and how you homeschooled your kids and you all went round Australia in a camper van, is that true?
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah, we did.
Guy Lawrence: That’s just awesome. I got so much inspiration from that. I’m like, “That’s something I’d love to do,” yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: It was the best years because we homeschooled the children. I didn’t have to get up pluck their hair, put their school uniform on, make sure they had their lunch. They would get up at 6 in the morning and work for 3 hours knowing at 9:00, we could play. They would get up and do it themselves. These were 6 year olds, 9 years olds and 11 year olds, that’s how old they were.
We’re about to leave, the 5 of us and the girlfriends now and the … Your old [inaudible 00:52:44], we’re about to leave for a 4 week skiing vacation just because we go, “Let’s go play. Let’s go and play.” We ice skate, we ski, we trek, we do snow angels, we do road trips. People just don’t do holidays like that. They go to the islands and they sit in the sun. I couldn’t think of anything … Although hiking in the sun … But just, yeah.
I know I could go on and on but I’m not happy that I have inspired some people to go, “Hey, maybe I’m not aware of my body and what’s happening and what foods I should be eating and that I should ground by going barefoot.” I’m not the hippy, I was … You think you’re the hippy but look at me. I dress well.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah, exactly, straight from Nimbin.
Cyndi O’Meara: You think?
Stuart Cooke: Like you said, it’s holistic so in order to be able to do all these wonderful things in play, you have to have the energy for that and in order to get the energy for that, you really do have to eat the foods that provide you the energy and you have to get the sleep that, again, affords your body to rest and recuperate to give you the energy to do all these wonderful things. It’s holistic so yeah, absolutely. [00:54:00]
Guy Lawrence: Brilliant. It’s a brilliant message Cyndi, absolutely.
Cyndi O’Meara: Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: Now, we’ve got 2 wrap up questions we ask everyone on the podcast so I thought I’d get into them. The first one is could you tell us what you ate yesterday just to give people an idea or even this morning for breakfast if you’ve had breakfast?
Cyndi O’Meara: Okay. Let me do yesterday’s breakfast because everybody was at the farm. I cooked up, so I laid down lettuce, avocado, tomato, I had made up some pesto and I had just made a tomato chutney, so I laid that out on a plate. Then I fried up some sage, so I had some fresh sage so I fried that up in butter, put that on the plate then I had some leftover pumpkin from the night before so I put some pumpkin. I heated it up and put that on the plate and then I scrambled up some egg with some parsley and put that on the plate.
That was breakfast and then I went to a friend’s place who lives off the grid and is very alternate. I had a late breakfast and for dinner, I had … He made a paella. He’s a medical doctor, a GP, integrative medical doctor. He’s very Keto and Paleo but he made me a paella with rice. I’m like, “Huh, that’s amazing,” and that was with all sorts of sea foods. That was my meal yesterday and I’m not about how much I can eat.
I’m about how little I can eat and still feel amazing. I think to say I need to increase my metabolism so I can eat more, I just think we’re at the wrong end. I would rather eat less and live longer eating more than eating more in a day. I look at sometimes what I eat in a day and it might be just [tart eggs 00:55:48]. I might just feel like tart egg.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, you’re just tuned in and listen to your body and if you’re hungry, you eat and if you’re not, you don’t.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. The last question, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? [00:56:00]
Cyndi O’Meara: When I was 19, I was working for my dad in Bendigo, Victoria as a chiropractic assistant. This lady from Colorado came to me. She was a chiropractor’s wife, oh, and I think she was a chiropractor as well. They were coming and they were … She was … I don’t know where I was but I remember her saying this to me, “You’re a smart girl. What are you doing in a town like this doing nothing with your life?”
She went back to Colorado, showed me where I could ski and the university I needed to go to which was in Boulder and she changed my life. I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have her make that comment to me. That was a defining moment in my life, very … Yeah. I’m still in touch with her, Katie Felicia was her name and she works in Colorado Springs and I saw her a couple of years ago. Yeah, that was probably it.
Stuart Cooke: Fantastic.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic, yeah. Somebody give you a little budge and it all changes.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: Awesome, and for anyone listening to this, where would be the best place to go to get more of you Cyndi?
Cyndi O’Meara: Just changing habits dot com dot au is my website and there’s everything in there, how you get on Instagram and how you get on Facebook, how you get on Twitter feeds, how to get to the education, what foods I have, my podcasts because we do podcasts. We’ve been going 2½ years now called Up For a Chat. Yeah, it’s all there so [crosstalk 00:57:40].
Guy Lawrence: Perfect. We’ll lead to it all anyway. You mentioned a documentary. When will that be out?
Cyndi O’Meara: That will be out late March next year, so we’ve done all the filming for it. We’re not just in the editing stages and the storytelling and the story, I think it will get a lot of people thinking really about what they’re doing. That’s my [00:58:00] aim, so it’s called What’s With Weight? We have all have a website called What’s With Weight but that’s not up and running yet. That will be the end of March. Get on my feeds and I will tell you what’s happening.
Guy Lawrence: Keep everyone posted, yeah.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah. I’ll keep everyone posted including you guys.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. Yeah, let us know.
Stuart Cooke: Please do.
Cyndi O’Meara: Yeah.
Guy Lawrence: For sure. If we can help, we will absolutely.
Cyndi O’Meara: Thank you, appreciate it.
Guy Lawrence: Well, that’s it. Thank you very much for coming on the show Cyndi. That was awesome.
Cyndi O’Meara: Thank you.
Guy Lawrence: Really appreciate it.
Stuart Cooke: Yap. Take care and we hope to hook up with you in person outside of the cyber world very soon.
Watch the full interview above or listen to the full episode on your iPhone HERE.
In this weeks episode:-
Internet fame with her famous Ted Talks: Minding my Mitochondria Over 1.3 million views on youtube & counting!
From relying on a wheelchair to being able to bike ride 18 miles! The steps Dr Terry Wahls takes to help overcome her battle with MS (multiple sclerosis) [03:12]
What is mitochondria & why it’s so important [06:10]
What she was eating before MS & how much her diet has changed [07:30]
Why Dr Terry Wahls decided to seek alternative means to conventional medicine [09:10]
Her thoughts on being a vegetarian [16:20]
Why inactivity is deadly [19:15]
This is a must: Dr Wahls’ single piece of advice for optimum health/wellness [28:30]
and much more…
Dr Terry Wahls is a clinical professor of medicine. In addition to being a doctor, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000.
By 2003 it had transitioned to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. She underwent chemotherapy in an attempt to slow the disease and began using a wheelchair because of weakness in her back muscles. In her own words she says it was clear: eventually she would become bedridden by her disease.
To cut a very long story short, she ended up redesigning her diet for her condition so that she was getting those important nutrients not from supplements but from the foods she ate & created a new food plan.
The results stunned her physician, her family, and herself: within a year, she was able to walk through the hospital without a cane and even complete an 18-mile bicycle tour.
If you would like to learn more about Dr Terry Wahls, click here.
Over 1.3 million views on youtube & counting! You can watch the Ted Talks Minding my Mitochondria here.
Guy Lawrence: Brought to you by 180nutrition.com.au. Welcome to the Health Sessions podcast. In each episode, we cut to the chase as we hang out with real people with real results.
Hey, this is Guy Lawrence with 180- Nutrition and welcome to another episode of the Health Sessions. Our special guest today is Dr. Terry Wahls. If you haven’t heard of her, she’s a clinical professor of medicine. In addition to being a doctor, she was actually diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000.
By 2003, the transition into secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, get my words out, she underwent chemotherapy in an attempt to slow the disease and began using a wheelchair because, simply, the weakness, and her back muscles had just disintegrated.
And, in her own words, she says it was clear eventually she would become bedridden by her disease. To cut a very long story short, she ended up redesigning her diet for her condition so that she was getting, simply, important nutrients not from supplements but from the very foods she ate and created a new food plan around this.
Over a period of time, the results stunned her physician, her family, and herself, she said. Within a year, she was able to walk through the hospital without a cane and even completed an 18-mile bicycle tour.
And, I just think that the story is fantastic, you know, and whether you have MS or not or chronic disease or you’re, you know, in the best shape of your life, I think the overall message within this conversation is fantastic and it’ll definitely make you think twice about what you have for breakfast tomorrow morning.
As always, you know, if you’ve got any questions just drop us a line to HYPERLINK “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com and, yeah, any shares or reviews are greatly appreciated. Until the next time, enjoy the show. Thank you.
Awesome. Awesome. Well, I’ll start with the introduction. This is Guy Lawrence and, of course, we’re joined by Stuart Cooke and our lovely guest today is Dr. Terry Wahls. Thank you so much for joining us.
Dr. Terry Wahls: Yes.
Guy Lawrence: I have to say, I was just checking your YouTube TED talks video just now and I didn’t realize, but you have reached over 1.25 million people now with that…
Dr. Terry Wahls: Yes.
Guy Lawrence: …that talk, that’s a lot of people you’ve touched. Did you expect it to go as viral as it has when you did that?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Well, I wasn’t expecting a million. I was hoping, you know, I’d get a 100,000 or so, yet, when I last looked it was about 1.3 million. So, I’m very pleased.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. That’s amazing. Normally, it’s a double rainbow or something like that that tends to go viral and finally it’s something with a stronger message, so that’s awesome. So, what we’d thought we’d do just to start, Dr. Wahls, was…
Dr. Terry Wahls: Yes?
Guy Lawrence: …you know, we want to expose you to an audience over here in Australia, so could you basically share with us your story? Because we think it’s just incredible.
Dr. Terry Wahls: So, I’m a clinical professor of medicine here at the University of Iowa. In 2000, I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. That was on the basis of a problem with foot drop and stumbling and abnormal MRI with lesions in my spinal cord, a history of optic neuritis ten years earlier, and oligo bands in the spinal fluid.
I went to the Cleveland Clinic, an international MS center, for a second opinion. They agreed that I had multiple sclerosis. At that time it was called relapsing-remitting, which meant that you have intermittent episodes that are acutely worse.
They advised me to take disease-modifying drugs and so I took a daily injection of Copaxone. Over the next three years, I had just one episode of worsening or one relapse, so I’d be considered a success, but the problem was I was gradually deteriorating and it was becoming difficult to have, to sit up in my office chair, my desk chair, because of back fatigue.
My physicians suggested that I get a XX?XX [0:04:39] inclined wheelchair because of the worsening back fatigue and that I take medication known as Novantrone and they told me that my disease had transitioned to secondary progressive MS.
And so I did that and, at that time, that’s when I realized that I wanted to do my own reading, my own research, to try to figure out what else I could do, and so I began searching pubmed.gov, reading the latest research, and I retaught myself a bunch of brain biology, immunology, and gradually began to add some vitamins and supplements to help my mitochondria, because I decided that mitochondria were key into my progressive brain disorders happen.
And the vitamins and supplements maybe slowed down the steepness of my decline, but they didn’t stop my decline. By the summer of 2007, I could walk short distances, two canes. I could not sit up in a standard chair. I had to be in a recliner or in bed, and that’s when I discovered the Institute for Functional Medicine, which is an organization which is committed to using the latest basic science to treat chronic diseases.
I can hear you. Can you hear me?
Guy Lawrence: Yes, I can. Well, it’s okay. Let’s proceed with the audio like this. I think this will be fine.
Stuart Cooke: Yeah. Absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: So, I was interested, Dr. Wahls, in, I guess, mitochondria. So, for our audience, I wondered if you could just explain that, please. What is mitochondria?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Yes. So, mitochondria are, about 1.5 billion years ago, large bacteria swallowed up little bacteria that were capable of creating energy using oxygen, and that increased the efficiency of those bigger bacteria so that they were able to become multicellular which then eventually became animals and then became mammal and then became primate and then us, of course.
All of our cells rely on these little mitochondria to generate energy more efficiently to run the chemistry of those cells. So our brains are critically dependent on mitochondria. All of our other organs, you know, our muscles, hearts, glands are also dependent on the mitochondria.
Guy Lawrence: Right. Got it. So, essentially, like a battery for our cells.
Dr. Terry Wahls: A battery for the cells.
Guy Lawrence: Yep. All right. The next question I have here would be what you’re eating prior to being diagnosed with MS to what you’re eating now, and how much has that varied?
Dr. Terry Wahls: For years, maybe a decade, I’d been a vegetarian. I was eating lots of vegetables, some rice, and legumes. Then I began eating some fish, still a lot of vegetables, a lot of grain and legumes. I did not have a lot of junk food, just not a lot of processed foods. I was eating most of my meals at home.
When I was diagnosed with MS, I continued to be mostly vegetarian, although I did eat some fish. Then in 2002, I began a paleo diet after reading Loren Cordain’s book and began eating meat. I was eating, you know, vegetables, fruit, meat, but I continued my decline.
2003, I hit the wheelchair, you know, and continued to decline. In 2007, I had a long list of nutrients that were critical for my brain and reorganized my dietary choices to maximize the nutrients for my brain.
And when I created that structure, that’s when there was a dramatic improvement in my function and health.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. Right. The other thing that fascinated me as well was the fact that many people don’t look to seek alternative means to improve their condition, like, and just accept, I guess, “This is how it is. This is all we can do for you.”
So, my question would be what made you decide to really seek alternative matters to overcoming MS? Especially through the food you ate?
Dr. Terry Wahls: So, the first seven years I took straight conventional medicine, latest drugs from the top researchers in the country, but when I got into my wheelchair in 2004, that’s when I decided that it was clear that I was likely going to become bedridden by my disease, and at that time I began reading the science myself, slowly piecing together the fact that maybe some vitamins and supplements might be helpful, that maybe mitochondria were very important to the disease and no one was yet talking about that in the MS research community.
And then when I discovered functional medicine, that just deepened my understanding of what the latest science was saying about autoimmune types of diseases and XXthat I was launched and on my wayXX [0:10:18]
Guy Lawrence: How many vegetables do you eat a day now? Do you eat to get the quantities in, because you mention a lot of…
Dr. Terry Wahls: So I would say nine to twelve cups of vegetables a day.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. That’s a lot, and do you juice any of that?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Wow, that’s a lot, but these are XXaudio breaks upXX [0:10:38] So, I will have smoothies where I put my vegetables and some fruit in this high-powered blender I call a Vitamix. It blends everything, all the fiber is still in the juice, and so I’ll drink that smoothie, you know, 18 to 24 ounces of all of that.
I’ll have huge salads, maybe six cups of salad greens every day, and a lot of non-starchy vegetables with that.
Guy Lawrence: Are there any other dietary considerations to take in, you know, I’m just thinking for anybody listening to this with MS. I mean, because obviously, we’ve got chocolate, coffee, alcohol, all these little crazy things like that.
Dr. Terry Wahls: So I’m going to step back a bit. The structure that I teach is three cups of green leaves, three cups of sulphur-rich vegetables that I get out of the cabbage family, onions, XX?XX [0:11:39] mushrooms, three cups of bright colors, and the easiest way to determine that is the vegetable or plant colored all the way through? Eat protein, high-quality protein, preferably animal protein as much as desired, have some seaweed on a regular basis.
If you’re going to have coffee or tea, a couple of cups are fine. You can have herbal teas as desired. A glass of wine every day would be fine. I would specifically avoid gluten grains, dairy, and eggs.
That also means avoiding beer.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right, and why seaweed?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Seaweed for the iodine, selenium, and other trace minerals.
Guy Lawrence: Okay. Okay. And the next question I have for you was the diet you prescribe, would that, sort of, help anyone, even if they didn’t have MS but had other chronic diseases? I mean…
Dr. Terry Wahls: You know, in the hundreds of people I’ve seen in my clinics and the hundreds of followers that I have, I see people being helped with traumatic brain injury, psychological problems like depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, and then we see diabetes, heart disease, obesity being helped, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, eczema, allergies, asthma.
So, I’d say, in general, if you have a chronic disease, feeding your mitochondria and feeding your cells will have the effect of reducing your symptoms, improving your function and your quality of life.
Guy Lawrence: Okay, and for anyone that is actually just, you know, is healthy and is happy with their health as well, I’m sure, eating like this would benefit them as well. I’m assuming.
Dr. Terry Wahls: Yes. I’ve had a couple of athletes contact me and tell me that their athletic performance has improved markedly.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, okay. That’s interesting. Yeah. IN your view then, as well, a question I was really was keen to ask, how much of the diet is contributing to chronic disease in the first place do you think? And even with your own condition, from MS, do you think that food is a big player in that?
Dr. Terry Wahls: I think food is a huge player. The chronic diseases that we have are a reflection of how your unique and my unique DNA interacts with my choices around food, the toxins to which I’ve been exposed, my exercise level, and my social/spiritual life, but the vast majority of all of this will be the food choices that we make.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, right, and why do you think the fact that most people don’t turn to food initially, like, it just baffles me, personally, you know? I think…
Dr. Terry Wahls: We’re addicted. We are very much addicted to white flour, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, that when you take that food in it stimulates the dopamine receptors, you release more dopamine in your brain, it enhances your pleasure.
We are addicted to those XXsphereXX [0:15:15] spikes. It becomes very difficult for them to select vegetables, berries, meats, other foods that are health promoting, and instead we do what rats do. They will starve themselves eating the sugar and white flour and kill themselves from the micronutrient starvation. We are absolutely doing that as well.
Guy Lawrence: You know, if somebody wanted to change their diet, should they just go cold turkey and start cutting out the things you mentioned, you know, the sugar, the grains, the gluten, or should they…
Dr. Terry Wahls: If you go cold turkey, you’re going to be going through withdrawal, and that’s going to feel very uncomfortable. If you wind down the bad food as you wind up the good food, that’s less uncomfortable, and, in general, I counsel people that this is a family decision. You’re going to be much more successful if you negotiate the pace of these changes with the whole family.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough. Then you mentioned, as well, the fact that you were a vegetarian at one point, as well, and I’m always interested in this topic in particular because I know one of the arguments is about the fact that you don’t get your essential fatty acids from animal sources.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on…what your thoughts are about, you know, fat in the diet.
Dr. Terry Wahls: My brain and your brain is 60 to 70 percent fat, and without cholesterol you have a hard time making healthy cell membranes, you have a hard time making hormones. We need cholesterol. We need to manufacture cholesterol. We need a lot of fats in the omega-3 variety, the docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), in order to make the XXmylanXX [0:17:16] structures in the brain.
We need a lot of fat to make all those things happen, and, unfortunately, fat has been so demonized that many, many people are relatively starved for these very essential brain nutrients with negative health consequences.
Guy Lawrence: And what would a vegetarian do then to get those essential fatty acids in?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Well, they’ll have to take in a tremendous amount of ALA, alpha-Linolenic acid. That’s in flax, walnuts, but the body will have to convert that to DHA, which is what your brain needs. That is a complicated step and we can make about five to seven percent of the vegetarian omega-3 into the form that we use in our brain.
And you could also project that those of us with a chronic brain problem probably have enzymes that are even less efficient than those conversions, and so I think it’s very concerning for people with a brain problem or a heart problem. Are they getting enough of these health-promoting omega-3s?
And particularly the animal form? That’s the form that your brain and your heart need.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, absolutely, and what about things like ghee and coconut oil?
Dr. Terry Wahls: So, that, ghee is a butter that has been clarified so the milk proteins are out of it. It’s a saturated fat. Coconut oil is a saturated fat. And both of those fats, I think, can be quite health-promoting. You certainly want to have organic sources for both of those fats.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, fair enough, fair enough. The next topic I wanted to cover with you, Dr. Wahls, was exercise. The first question, I guess, does exercise help MS and even people with chronic disease?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Tremendous number of studies that show that strength-training and aerobic-training, either, or, and both, are very helpful for multiple sclerosis, helpful for fibromyalgia, heart disease, depression, basically any chronic health problem.
Our brain expects us to move. In prehistoric times, men would move six to nine miles a day and women two to three. So inactivity is deadly.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I think it’s deadly to the mind as well as the body.
Dr. Terry Wahls: Absolutely.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, yeah, which is so important, you know, especially when you’re suffering with some sort of chronic disease, if it isn’t enough just trying to deal with that as well and then if you’re not moving, I’m sure the mind can, you can manifest all sorts of problems through your thoughts.
Were you exercising before? Before you were diagnosed with MS?
Dr. Terry Wahls: So, before I went to medical school, I was big in tae kwon do. I competed nationally and was very much an athlete. During medical school, I still did tae kwon do. I ran. I did biking, cross-country skiing. When I was diagnosed with MS, I knew that exercise would be critical to maintain function as long as possible, so I worked out every day doing strength and aerobic training.
As I got more and more disabled, I could do less and less. In 2007, I could do about ten minutes of exercise. If I did more than that, I was flat out exhausted for four or five hours, but I exercised every day, and I still exercise every day.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, and you do resistance-training in amongst that as well?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Yes. So, right now I’m doing pilates, biking, swimming, and I lift free weights.
Guy Lawrence: That’s fantastic. That’s amazing, and did you ever expect to be getting to this point when you, you know, were in a wheelchair?
Dr. Terry Wahls: You know, when I tell the story of how I got my bike down and decided to try for my first bike ride, my family came out, and we had this pow wow, would they helped me bike ride? And they decided that, yes, they would, and my kids, one ran on the right; one ran on the left, and my spouse biked behind me.
And I still get tears in my eyes talking about that because I had fully accepted that I would never have that come back in my life, but instead, you know, I’m biking. I’ve been able to do 18-mile bicycle rides. I’m lifting weights.
You know, I’m still not normal. My gait, in the morning, looks normal, but by the afternoon you can probably tell that it’s not normal. Standing for a lecture, I can do that for an hour. I cannot do that for two hours. I can walk a mile. I can’t walk longer than that. So I still have a ways to go to be normal, but I’m getting my life back, where, if I hadn’t made these interventions, I would be bedridden by now. Absolutely, I would be bedridden.
Guy Lawrence: But not only that, you’ve not only, you know, changed, turned your life around, you know, you’re touching so many people now with your story, which is a credit to what you’re doing, so, I just think that’s awesome. That really is.
Dr. Terry Wahls: I’m very grateful to have my life back.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I can imagine. I can imagine. With all this information, what do you think the future holds for medicine itself?
Dr. Terry Wahls: I think if physicians don’t get on board with realizing drugs are not the solution, it’s teaching people that lifestyle is how we create health, that teaching people how to eat a nutrient-dense diet, moving their bodies, meditating, creating spiritual and social harmony in their lives…If physicians won’t get on board, realizing that that is how you treat chronic disease, we will be replaced by another profession that understands that.
And so I’m encouraged that there are more and more young physicians and more medical schools embracing functional medicine, thinking that lifestyle interventions are going to be key, but that is the future. I’m not sure which profession is going to be at the cutting edge of that, however.
Guy Lawrence: yeah, fair enough, and do you think drug companies inhibit this message?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Well, there’s a lot of money to be made with drugs, procedures, quick fixes. That’s what’s funding the research. It’s very difficult to get research that looks at medicine from a systems standpoint.
I mean, you and I, we are incredibly complicated biochemical systems, and, when we’re chronically ill, multiple parts of that system are screwed up, wrong, not working well, so, if you want to restore health, you try to correct as many systems as possible.
That’s a very messy research design. That’s not what’s being funded by our basic science institutes in any of our countries. So the type of research that I’m doing, which is a much more complex systems approach, it’s very hard to get funding for it. It is outside the mainstream paradigm, but that is the future. We have to do systems biology. We have to do systematic repair of these broken thought systems.
Guy Lawrence: If, for people that are listening to this now, obviously outside of the States and they have MS, where would be, what would be the best thing for them to start, the best place to start for them?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Well, I’d tell them to go to my website, terrywahls.com, and I have a lot of information there. I have books. I have lectures. I have stuff that you can download and see virtually, so you can still get it even there in Australia. We have newsletters. I have my current book. We’ll have a new book coming out next spring, The Wahls Protocol.
So I’m working very hard at putting this information out to the public. At the same time, I’m doing these scientific studies testing my intervention, showing that it’s safe and effective, and we’re getting ready to launch the next study.
So I try to do things in parallel, create tools for the public, and create the science for my medical colleagues.
Guy Lawrence: That’s fantastic. Did you have a video? I notice you had a video series on there as well, so I’m guessing people can, you know, get there and start watching these things and take actions right away.
Dr. Terry Wahls: Absolutely, I think it’s very helpful.
Guy Lawrence: Absolutely.
Dr. Terry Wahls: People need to understand the why. Why it makes sense to give up food that you love. Why it makes sense to do the work of exercising in order to stay motivated to sustain these very uncomfortable changes.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah, I think it’s very important, as well, to have some kind of support network behind you when doing this, as well. You know, get support of the family and then make the decision to actually say, “I’m going to do this and not deviate and, sort of, try not to get distracted with many other things.”
Because there’s so much information out there, as well, and it can pull you in all sorts of directions without actually, I guess, it confuses the matter, you know? We tend to have a habit of doing that, human beings, for some reason.
Have you got anything in the pipeline for the future?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Well, we have the book, The Wahls Protocol. I’m working on that. That will be released March 3rd, so that’s coming up really fairly soon. I will be going to the Ancestral Health Symposium in August, presenting some of our research there. We’ll actually talk about two of our studies there. That will be a lot of fun.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic.
Dr. Terry Wahls: And we are writing up and submitting our research findings, so, again, making good progress there.
Guy Lawrence: Fantastic, and I’ve got one last question for you, Dr. Wahls, and it’s a question we ask everyone that comes on our podcast, and that would be, if you could offer a single piece of advice for optimum health and wellness, what would that be?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Eat a lot more vegetables. Ditch the junk food.
Guy Lawrence: Eat a lot more vegetables. Ditch the junk food. Absolutely. Absolutely. I actually had a nice big salad for breakfast this morning with a little bit of grass-fed steak on it, so I’m quite proud of myself.
Dr. Terry Wahls: Perfect.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. For sure.
Dr. Terry Wahls: That’s my perfect breakfast as well.
Guy Lawrence: Yeah. I’ve been doing that a lot recently and I definitely feel good about it. Just to mention your website as well, so the URL is?
Dr. Terry Wahls: Terry. T. E. R. R. Y. Wahls. W. A. H. L. S. dot com. When people go there, do sign up for the newsletter, which goes out every, once or twice a month. We have a lot of videos and there’s a lot of educational material right there.
Guy Lawrence: Guy Lawrence: Fantastic. I’ll put the appropriate links on our website, too, and when we send that out.
Dr. Terry Wahls: Thank you much.
Guy Lawrence: Thank you for your time. Apologies for the technical errors. I have no idea what happened there. it, yeah, that’s the first time that it’s done that for us, so we’ll look into it.
Dr. Terry Wahls: All right. Thank you much.
Guy Lawrence: You’re welcome. Thank you.
Dr. Terry Wahls: Bye, bye.
Guy Lawrence: Bye, bye.
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