Cliff Harvey Interview – Part 4

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Our interview with Cliff Harvey continues in this PART 4:

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Cliff Harvey
Holistic Performance Nutrition

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Q: I am going to go back and ask you a question  You mentioned earlier that you don’t agree with detox can you explain more about the detox disbelief.

A: 26 sec – Absolutely, a couple of things I think are fallacious and one of the things is that our digestive organs get overly taxed by food and all of the things that we do and I don’t believe that that is correct I think if we are eating a good health promoting diet our natural and inherent detox systems will work just fine and there is no need to detox them per say.  I also think that we have got a real fear around toxins in the modern world that has come very hyperbolic its not to say there aren’t toxins in our environment that are negative to health but I think people are far too scared of them and they are trying to rid themselves of these things unnecessarily and I think part of that is it plays into this idea that we have polluted ourselves in some way through the food we eat and the environment we are in and by extension we have become we have become unclean we have become bad it’s all this very negative sort of imagery I think that irrespective of where we are at in terms of our physical condition or things we have exposed ourselves to the best place to start from is one of positive empowerment it’s about loving, honouring, nourishing the self, nourishing the self not starving the self to try rid of the evil you know. Its about nourishing the self so it’s about getting back to real food and building the body, rather than trying to starve it out of where it’s been. So it’s basically taking the more positive mindset.  And like I say there is still absolutely rational for fasting but that should be done in a positive way where we are using it as an experience almost to recognise our behaviours and patterns that we have fallen into or maybe to rebuild that sense that we are encouraging increased adaptation we are learning to use fuel more efficiently we are encouraging insulin sensitivity all those types of things rather than freaking out about the things that are within us it’s almost a medieval archaic mindset about all these demons that we are trying to expel and it doesn’t make any sense. And the other reason is I think a lot of the detox particularly the detox products that are out there they are not that effective they are not really evidence based and they are a good way for people to line their own pockets I think we would be better off just getting back to good naturally eating.

Q: What about fermented food what your thoughts on that?

A: 3.06 min – Massively into it, in my next book I devoted a chapter to the whole topic of traditional fermented foods because they have always been a part of our diet even probably preceding Homo sapiens, Hominids were fermenting foods or eating fermented foods of some type so it’s always been apart of our natural diet its always been apart of our hunter gather its always been an even greater part probably of traditional diets once we think agrarian it absolutely appears to have the microbiota which we are discovering as you well know is so critically important for every aspect of health whether its from performance through to obesity through to cardiovascular disease, cancer whatever it happens to be the microbiota is so critically important.  I use to think that if we are eating a really good health promoting diet you don’t necessarily need to have probiotics per say all the time I still believe that, but I think there is probably a better rational to now have some more constant sort of frequent intake of probiotic containing foods because they were so ubiquities across traditional diets and I think that’s one of the things we drastically reduced when we began to go more towards our longer food chain and more highly processed more highly refined foods.  We just didn’t need to have that same level of fermented food for storage purposes anymore now we have cold chain instead we have refrigerators we don’t really need it so I think and I don’t know if anyone has evaluated this in terms of actually doing studies on it but I imagine if you actually looked at that how much fermented food people use to eat compared to now it would be virtually nothing now compared to a pretty high proportion of diet so that would have given us a fairly high level of constant intake of probiotic compounds and so I think there is absolute a lot of benefit to having those more frequently and they are easy to make too.

I really practice the lazy man’s approach to fermenting and sprouting and all that kind of stuff because I think that people complicate it. If you need to watch a 20 minute you tube video to figure out how to ferment something you are over complicating it. I buy sauerkraut in jars the good quality stuff and only very infrequently because I tend to ferment a lot myself now. But basically eat that and there is still a little bit left in the bottom I just fill it up with whatever like over summer I was pickling a lot of beetroot so I just cut the beetroot chuck it in their full it up with filtered water chuck some salt in chuck it in the bottom of the pantry four days later you have got fermented beetroot pickles its beautiful, easy.

Q: Do you think also in terms of people eating fermented foods they wouldn’t of had anything else to eat so for us we could eat lots of fibre all throughout the year now we can have access to prebiotic food whereas they wouldn’t of have access to many foods hence the reason to take in fermented foods .

A: 6.27  min – Yes I  think to some degree its chicken and egg because if we are getting back closer to eating more seasonally a more natural and unprocessed diet anyway I think we are going to have accumulative benefits across the board we are going to be taking in more fibre and more axillary nutrients that aid structural gut health anyway and if we are also having those fermented foods we are taking in those probiotic compounds as well so I take what you are saying but I don’t think there was ever a point where we were eating those fermented foods in isolation.  There was always going to be foods around that.

Q:Yes but maybe not so many prebiotic foods because maybe it would be meat and fat and fermented vegetables because they wouldn’t have had any vegetables through the winter time for instance.

A:7.20 min – Yes expect that some of the most resistant foods that provided a much more of our food stuff back in the day were very high in resistant starches and fibres things like dandelion, coltsfoot, thistle the things that now people just throw away out of the garden.

Q: So we would be eating that in the summer time

A:7.45 min – Yes but they can also be dried and eaten they can also be fermented . I agree with you but on the other hand a lot of the fermented foods are also very high in fibres and starches as well so you do get some of that coloration but I absolutely agree that they would have been a much greater bulk of our diet back in the day where as now we have a much greater variety that we eat year round and it’s probably not seasonal we have greater access to things we use the probiotic foods almost as more of a condiment rather than a staple of food.

Q: I have read some research around lactobacillus acidophilus and how having too much of it is actually not beneficial. So that is why I am saying if we are making it ourselves we are feeding it, and I know it doesn’t live very long anyway taking it in could we be actually promoting some unbalanced scenarios for some people.

A: 8.52 min – It’s possible I think that the way we mitigate the risk of that because we have to remember the microbiota research is very much in its infancy and we really have no real clue about exactly what we should be doing.  I think we mitigate the risks there by having a diet that is varied; a diet that is more seasonal; a diet that includes lots of those different types of vegetable for example that have different resistant starches different fibres in them which different bacterial feed better or worse off depending so you get a bit of variety there anyway.  And also bear in mind the fermented foods that we are eating because if we are having sauerkraut we are getting predominantly lactobacillus plantarum verses getting some of the different cultures from a kefir or a yoghurt or a different type of culture vegetable so as long as I think we are getting variety we mitigate the risk of over supplementing with anything in particular plus probiotic foods are not that high in probiotics really.  They are high and they are going to help to supplement the gut but it’s not like taking a 35 billion CFU capsule which is I think where we would begin to run into problems if we were supplementing with one strain and that’s an interesting thing that comes out of the research because supplement companies will often say well this is the only strain that’s been proven to affect this but what that can sometimes mean is that it’s the only strain that’s really been studied for that as well and it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the only strain that’s affective it’s just an affective strain but to look at the trillions and trillions of bacteria, fungus, yeast, protozoa, bacteriophages in the body and say that we should supplement with this particular one doesn’t make any sense. And it’s another good rational for food first. When things are really complex we want to simplify them down in the most eloquent way not Dum them down simplify them down with an appreciation of the complexity of the whole thing and I think the way we do that is to look back in order to look forward and we basically go back to a diet that is probably most appropriate to the human animal in general and then we take a realm of a few things around that but we keep that as a base all of the time.

Q: Closing off three key things that you would recommend people to do to encourage their nutrition, sports and energy.

A: 11.43 min -The most important thing is to eat a diet that is 80% plus natural foods so if man made it it’s not part of that 80% and that’s not to say that foods that people create or sympathise or whatever are bad it’s just in terms of providing that base that’s what we want to look at first so eat natural food number one.

Number two meditate – encourage that mindful practice because that’s going to play into everything else in terms of the behaviours that we carry on our positivity levels how we are able to continue to eat well everything basically is affected by that.

And number three lift heavy things because I think that’s one of the missing components of what most people do now is they don’t develop baseline physical strength which I think has so many health cross over’s physiologically and I think it’s also an interesting mental correlation where when we become stronger physically we feel stronger mentally as well.