In the first of what we hope to be a regular feature in the form of online interviews, we bring you an interview with Cliff Harvey.
Cliff is a renowned naturopath, holistic nutritionist, reiki master, international author, speaker, world champion weight lifter, and all round great kiwi guy. Cliff has a wealth of knowledge on nutrition, so today we are chatting about the topic ‘how to get more energy and performance from your diet’. Cliff is the founder of Holistic Performance Nutrition, based on the North Shore.
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Q: Let’s start off with the basics, how did you become involved in Health and Holistic Nutrition?
A: 0.46min– Initially I was more involved with the performance side of things, I know that the bases of performance is health, but that’s not always applied, so performance can be quite different to health I think in terms of what people are actually doing. You see this with top level athletes who are performing well but they are probably doing things that are quite detrimental to long term health. So I got involved in nutrition initially through that avenue, through performance nutrition. Initially I wanted to be a landscape designer, I wanted to design Zen inspired gardens, that was my thing, and then eventually why I was still at high school I was offered the opportunity to captain the rugby first fifteen, if I put on a certain amount of weight, because I was too small. They basically said if you put on this weight you will captain the first fifteen, if you don’t put on the weight you won’t even play for the first fifteen. Given that I was a typical kiwi bloke, and I wanted to play footie at that level, it was a pretty big honour really to be offered that, so I launched into discovering everything I possibly could about how to train to put on size and strength and how to eat to put on size and strength, and just became fascinated with how the body performs and how we can improve that. So I went off after that and studied at AUT, and within a short period of time was practicing as a student practitioner, giving people nutritional plans and things like that, and then got out of AUT and had a little consultancy had supplement stores, and was giving a lot of advice to athletes, very high level athletes, so within a couple of years I was working with members of the Auckland Blues Rugby team, the New Zealand rugby league team, Olympic athletes and all sorts. And then it wasn’t till several years into practice that I became quite unwell and started losing a whole lot of weight, started experiencing all these gastro systems, obviously having done some level of study in nutrition I sort of had my ideas to what that was, and I was subsequently shown that I had, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. And so from there I went off more into left field I guess, I was thinking about studying psychology but instead went off and studied naturopathy instead, because I wanted to really round out the more global aspect of health and understand more about that, become more holistic, I realised that although I was young and performing well and all these various great things on the outside, that I may be not looking after myself as well as I could be on the inside. So I went off and studying naturopathy and that brought I whole holistic bent to what I was doing in terms of nutrition. So still very much stayed in the nutrition field that has always been my speciality, but started practicing as a naturopath and clinical nutritionist rather than just the performance nutritionist. So that was the beginning of getting into it all.
Q: In terms of fat adaption, can you explain what that actually means for the average New Zealand person or in ‘laymen’s terms’?
A: 4.11min – It’s an interesting term, because it’s something that we as researchers began to throw around a long time ago, this idea of becoming fat adapted, it’s actually a bit of a misnomer in some respects because in a natural setting we should all be well fat adapted, and all fat adapted really means is been able to utilise fat as a efficient effective fuel source. We obviously also utilise carbohydrates as a fuel source but what has happened we think at least, and there is very good information behind this, we think people have become what we would term carb dependent. So through a diet that is probably to high in carbohydrates full stop. to high in sugars, to high in those highly refined and processed carbohydrates, very fast digesting, highly Insulinergic carbohydrates, people have become very dependent on using carbohydrates as a fuel source. And they have consequently become quite poor at utilising fat as a fuel source. So this ideal of becoming fat adapted, it’s just about getting back to a state where we can use fat more effectively as a fuel. Overriding that is another concept which you’ll hear thrown about called metabolic efficiency or metabolic flexibility and that’s really the ability to use mixed fuel sources, so weather its carbohydrates, weather its fats, weather its other interesting compounds like ketone bodies, or using even the small amounts of protein that we might need to use to fill in the gaps so using those all effectively and efficiently. So it’s just about been more efficient in terms of our fuel usage.
Q: When you have a calorie restricted diet, how diets work initially is you use those fat stores they get broken down to fuel you, would you say you would be becoming more fat adapted then?
A: 6.09min -Yes, whenever you are calorie restricted, you are going to by nature become more fat adapted, but different diets will encourage fat adaptation more quickly and more effectively we think and make that more sustainable, certain diets will make that process more easily to do, so one of the biggest things that we have seen in the research and in clinical practice, for example if you go on a standard old calorie restricted diet e.g. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, whatever it happens to be, it’s still very high in carbohydrates as a percentage, you will lose weight no doubt, because you are calorie restricting, and we kind of have to calorie restrict to lose fat, in most instances not all. But if we are on a diet that contains the same amount of calories but we are eating more protein for example or more protein and more fat and less carbohydrate, typically our satiety levels are much better and we are more satisfied, we feel filler for longer from our meals, we have less of that inerrant hunger drive its better for leptin response and all those types of things.
And so typically on that same calorie diet that has more protein and more fat we feel more likely to exercise which is a great thing obviously for long term compliance and its just easier to stick to so that’s one of the big differences there you can either be actively starving yourself I guess and really feeling like you are calorie restricted, or you can be calorie restricted to the same level but not have it be anywhere as much of a burden. And that’s one of the very big behavioural compliance things that we are seeing a lot and it’s been completely missed I think in a lot of the research. Because the reality is if you have two diets Diet A and Diet B side by side and they both get about the same response in terms of fat loss for example people are going to say there is no benefit with either one but we need to look deeper than that and into the human experience of the diet and what’s going to be easiest basically. Now that’s not only for compliance but that also gives us a pointer as to what is probably most anthropologically and most biologically appropriate for the human as well because it doesn’t make sense that we would be getting hangry and we would be suffering irrational thought patterns and all this kind of stuff on a particular diet in a natural setting. We would probably be in a better state of mind and body balance if the diet is right for our physiology.
Q: Do you think that the kind of hangryness and stuff like that is steaming from not having enough fuel?
A: 8.50min – Yes it is, and I think this idea of almost metabolic starvation and that, that I quite often talk about now days, you might have the same amount of total fuel but if you are not using it effectively that is going to dictate how you feel. And if we are very carb dependent we are probably not going to be using fuel as well as we otherwise would. Because we are just not using fat as effectively as we could. And if we don’t have that extra level of fat burning on a base level and maybe we are also not creating cool alternative compounds like ketone bodies that our brain can use as fuel we are probably not going to feel as good. Sometimes it’s an interesting clinical aspect because quite often we will see clients and they will say for example I need to eat every two hours otherwise I just feel terrible, to my mind that also says that they are not using fuel effectively because that’s probably not a biologically appropriate place for the human animal to be. We come from a long history of periods of relatively scarcity in terms of food and it doesn’t make any sense that we would be completely debilitated almost by not having food available, you would be dead, you would be food for something else if that were the case, so we should actually be able to go fairly long periods without eating and the only place that we really see that happening is when people are fat adapted and insulin sensitive and all there hormonal and biochemical functions are working really well and that basically comes down to the diet that someone is eating. Now people can be fat adapted and insulin sensitive eating a high carb diet but they are probably in the minority. Most of us are somewhere between those people who thrive on a extreme high carb diet and a extreme low carb diet what’s happened in the modern world is we have pushed the curve to far to the high carb end and we just need to re-evaluate it down a little bit and everyone needs to find their own individual balance. Because it’s not about being high carb v low carb that’s a silly debate it’s about finding what’s appropriate for you.
Q: And what about the type of carbohydrate? Are you pushing more towards the low GI carbs rather than fast acting?
A: 11.06min – Yes and I think the best way to explain that to people and to get the most balanced view of food is to get back to food, real food. We want to look at the baseline of , this is what I talk about in this concept I’ve developed of carb appropriate the first step in that is to eat a whole and natural unprocessed diet and its not because there’s this arbitrary idea that natural is best because natural doesn’t mean anything either so it is an arbitrary term but we all understand what we are talking about when we say that. So if we look at food in its more natural state its more whole state it’s just a good way of providing a foundation that provides for a really good damage control those foods are going to probably digest more slowly and if they don’t they typically have pretty proportionate insulin response and they have a lot of really cool co-factors, they have the vitamins and minerals that haven’t been stripped out they have typically high levels of fibre and resistance starch that help the microbiome. We have all these various things that are converging together and that’s one of the key things now is we really need to look at the baseline in terms of convergence with nutrition. So how nutritious is the food, not what’s it’s carb level, what’s it digestion rate, what other things does it have pulled out of it because that’s where we begin to become way to prescriptive to soon. The first step I always think is natural, whole and unprocessed first, see where you are at and for most people most of the time that takes care of everything. If it doesn’t it shows probably some level of metabolic or other damage or maybe genetic probability that may mean they need to be a little bit more refined in what they are doing but that is typically not the case for most people. So real food first!
Q: Intermittent fasting what are your thoughts?
A: 13.06min – I think intermittent fasting is great, this is an area, as you guys know I was probably the first practitioner to start really working with low carb diets back in the 1990’s and that was when it was considered completely crazy to even be looking at that but along with that came some interesting delving into the research around fasting as well. At that time fasting was pretty common but it was only really common in the left field of complementary and alternative health so it was really naturopaths and the like subscribing it for a detox sort of outcome and I am not big on detox’s but we will talk about that later. The other use was people using fasting for spiritual reasons, which I think is extremely valid and it’s a really good thing to be fasting for but I had some clients way back in the days when I was working with a lot of body builders and they were Islamic and they were interested in the effects of Ramadan fasting on their body building efforts. I looked into the research expecting there to be negatives but you deal with that because it’s important spiritually to have this period of fasting. And what I found was the results were quite mixed but it tended to say on average that there wasn’t any negative result from Ramadan fasting particularly in terms of health outcomes.
In fact it seemed like there was good evidence to show that it was possibly beneficial or cardio metabolic factors and for insulin sensitivity and all these various things. So that shifted my perception a lot because back in those days we were really told that you had to be eating around 6 plus times a day because you needed the silly ideas of drip feeding glucose into the system drip feeding nutrients in and all this kind of stuff. It really shifted my perception because given that these fasting periods didn’t seem to negatively affect health and maybe they positively affected it, it didn’t necessarily mean that I thought that people should fast all the time what it meant is I thought that it threw out this been married to the clock idea and you could get back to a much more natural way of being of eat when you are hungry and you eat till you are fill and you eat when you are hungry again. Now if you are eating a diet that is appropriate to your human physiology you shouldn’t be getting constantly hungry anyway. So it kind of takes care of itself. And there will be times where we fast because of that anyway intuitively because we are just not hungry. There will be other times we are rushing around and we don’t have a chance to get a meal, and I am completely against eating on the run because I think its contra to what our physiology is all about so in those times we do little fasts anyway and I think occasionally a longer fast is really beneficial. It may be proven in the next few years that it is very effective for various immune factors and I think it’s a very interesting thing to do behaviourally as well. Fasting to recognise our attachment to food and the behavioural aspects of food that aren’t necessary tied in with our physiology they are just much more about other stuff so I am a big fan of fasting.
Q: In terms of fasting and performance – there are a few books that recommend that you fast prior to doing a sport like a multisport event or a long endurance event what’s your thought on that?
A: 16.42min – Take one aspect there’s not really any clear benefit of doing fasting and cardio for fat loss that seems to be a bit of a myth. And what’s more important is doing the exercise and eating a diet that’s conducive to fat loss in totality so that’s one thing we can put to bed a little bit.
In terms of doing fasting exercise I really think that it comes down to the type of diet that you are eating across the board and how you feel individually because different people are quite different in terms of their fuel realisation. One of the interesting aspects that we see in the research is if you talk about for example having a carbohydrate meal before training and what the effect on performance is you’ll pretty much find an even split between a negative effect, no effect and a positive effect. So that is probably telling us that there is a lot of individual probability there. So when athletes ask me should I eat before training, you shouldn’t need to eat before training number one. As long as the rest of your diet is good, but if you feel better for eating before training, or your performance is boosted of course you should eat before training. But if the converse is true whereby you feel worse or you perform worse then don’t eat. I think it’s one of the topics that’s extremely variable depending on the individual. However if you are more fat adapted you should be much more tolerant of fasted exercise as well just in the same way as if your more highly fat adapted you’ll be much more resilient in the face of fasting as well. I would be quite happy to fast for two or three days and not really feel any negative effect because I am use to fat as a fuel. If you are use to using a lot of carbohydrates as a fuel you have to tap into tissue to free that up you are going to be in a pretty high state of stress and you are probably going to feel pretty crap as well if you are fasting.
Q: So when you are saying you are fat adapted and you eat fat adapted styled foods what foods are you referring to? What would be your average fat adapted diet food wise?
A: 18.54min – Because fat adapted is really how the body is utilising fuel not necessarily what you’re eating it can be variable I would say for most people most of the time again it starts with a diet that starts around natural, whole and unprocessed foods number one. For most people though it does probably mean a lower carbohydrate diet as well so it could be going down the spectrum of Paleo which isn’t necessarily low carb but its lower carb than standard American styled diet or it could be a low carb high fat or low carb high protein diet all the way down to the most extreme end of the fat adaptation scale which is a ketogenic diet. Now that’s not necessarily where you are going to be most fat adapted in terms of base line fat usage but you are going to be differently fat adapted in terms of converting fat into ketone fuels that your brain and other tissue can use as well. That’s an interesting state of fat adaptation and that works really well for a lot of people.
Q: In terms of sports wise it works well or everyday people?
A: 20.00min – Everyday people primarily because in terms of athletes there’s a lot of variability in terms of what’s going to be most conducive to performance. We have a lag in the research now because almost all of the research that’s been done in the sporting field has been done on athletes or other people who follow a high carbohydrate diet because everyone eats a high carbohydrate diet. So if you have isolated studies that are to short in duration where you have different levels of carbohydrates applied what you are typically going to see is the more carbs someone eats the better they perform, because its short term. If someone is given a chance to sufficiently fat adapt and get use to using fat as a fuel again then the results are quite different. But it’s not to say one is better than the other, it depends on the individual, the sport they are doing, the duration of the activity. But there are for example ultra endurance athletes that respond extremely well to very low carb diets because they get really good at using fat for fuel. There are other athletes who compete in anaerobic sports where there’s such a short duration of activity that they do really well on highly fat adapted diets as well/ketogenic diets because they don’t really need a lot of carbohydrate. And there’s most sports that fit somewhere in between where they would probably benefit from being more fat adapted but they shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater and just go extremely low carb because that’s probably not going to give them the best benefit. So again even for an athlete you probably start with get back to eating real food first and use that as a behavioural exercise. Because a lot of athletes they are really good when they are good and are really bad when they are bad. But it’s because they haven’t developed baseline health strategies that are just about better eating. You cover off that first then any good practitioner is going to be monitoring those athletes. “this particular athlete he’s not getting the best results from that so let’s see where he’s at and maybe drop his carbs or maybe even increase his carbs a little bit depending on what we are seeing”. We will be able to see the indicators of where a diet is affecting someone negatively you are going to see it in their blood measures and you are going to see it in there anthropometry another words there body composition typically.
Q: Are you talking about their lipid blood profile? What blood measures are you talking about?
A:22.26min – Blood lipids and knowing how to understand those properly looking at the various blood lipids looking at HBA1C which is their average blood glucose and also there anthropometry. If someone is really resistant to losing body fat, that probably along with other things indicates some degree of metabolic dysfunction whereby they are not as insulin sensitive as they could be for example.
Q: How about young athletes as they are growing and changing all of the time so there diet requirements are always changing do you sort of advocate whatever they feel like at the time?
A:23.07min – With young athletes I typically try not to be to prescriptive at all because I think the worse thing we could do is encourage them to be scared of foods or to be to obsessive or compulsive about what they are eating what I’d rather do is really encourage them into better baseline patterns of eating well and that’s basically about eating enough vegetables looking at food and the compendium of food they have got and really picking the foods from a good basis of natural whole and unprocessed food. So really with young athletes it’s just about treating them as you would anyone else and at that baseline level where people are eating natural food. We want them to eat ad-libitum anyway we want them to eat as much as they want as much as they feel they need because they should be able to do that if they are eating the right foods for their body because they won’t desire more than they unnecessarily need. So basically when we are working with young athletes it’s more about working with the family and just having lots of good food available. Get rid of the junkie stuff and then just let them go for it and they will pretty much be ok. And it’s not till they get older that we often fine tune that a little bit more an stuff by adding in supplements and things like that because we really just want to get them into a foundation of good eating.
I use to work with athletes up in states of Canada, these were young athletes, high school and college level athletes, some of them were going to go on and do some really big things, and these were top level high school and college athletes. And one thing that I’d always say to them is you can perform well in spite of a bad diet but you can’t do it for long period of time so at this age it really comes down to setting a base of health for performance that is going to carry you through a long career. Because if you are not eating a good diet, you are going to begin to break down eventually.
Q: Good Green Stuff, a personal favourite, how did you get involved in developing it and how do you actually use it yourself?
A: 25.20min -The short end of a long story there is I’ve helped to develop many products over the years for quite a few companies, some of them very big multinational companies, some of the biggest companies in the world and I won’t mention them by name, some of the products that I put together in terms of formulations, unfortunately you put together a really good formula and you are really proud of it and by the time you get through all the nit pickers and pencil pushers it ends up being a completely different product by the time it hits the shelves. One that you are not proud of anymore, because it’s been degraded for cost cutting. I’ve been involved with formulation for quite a long time, eventually I worked with a few companies up in North America and was doing research and development for supplement companies behind the scenes, I was doing that in conjunction with another guy who’s a kiwi based in Australia and there came a point where after working with several brands for quite a few years we were so disenfranchised with the way the businesses were run, the formulations they were putting out and how they were so concerned with profitable costs that they were putting out what we considered to be substandard formulas that we decided to form our own company and put out formulas that we could be proud of. And so there was a group of initially about five of us that got together and founded this company and my role was to develop the formulas, so I designed Good Green Stuff, Clean lean protein, Kids good stuff, and now I have some colleagues who help with the development as well Dr Robert Mckirk in the UK, who’s a very well known research scientist, Melanie Aldridge his assistant and we basically co-formulate all the products together. So basically the rationale behind it was we wanted to develop really great supportive products that are at a completely different level in terms of quality, control and assurance. And of course I use it because I designed it for that purpose and one of the reasons as well is as a practitioner with the good green stuff for example its really nice to have a base product that you can then plug in a few things on top that someone might need rather than the person having to take 12 different supplements so in many respects it’s just a foundational food like a food based supplement that can fit in as that sort of bottom of the pyramid so it’s a multi nutrient formula its a multi vitamin multi mineral in a base of whole foods I mean you guys dig it so you know what its about. The key difference is if you look, and you guys will know what you’re looking for but most people don’t and as a practitioner you will look at vitamin and minerals for example and you see the absolute difference in terms of quality between good green stuff and all of its closest competitors on the market. It’s things like the difference between a methylated folate verses a synthetic folic acid.
Q: When I was looking for a methylated B formula even in the actual practitioner only B products you couldn’t find it. This year they have started adding the methylated B’s in. But that was one of the reasons why I really like your product. I’m a vegetarian and so it was really nice for me to get those methylated B’s.
A: 28.44min – Yes methylated B12, we often talk about the B methylated folate and that’s fairly well known now but I just did a little research review on methylated B 12 verses your cyanocobalamin and the outcomes are really different. This is why I’m not what I call a utopian regressionist, I don’t just get into this idea that we should live as we did when we were in the paleolithic era and that natural is always better than synthetic because I don’t think that’s necessarily the case there is definitely an argument for synthetic vitamins and minerals whatever it happens to be at certain times. That’s particularly true when they are exactly the same. I honestly believe that ascorbic acid is ascorbic acid it doesn’t matter whether it comes from a plant or out of a lab to be completely honest but that’s because it’s the same chemical when you are talking about something like folate its different chemicals that we would consider to be folic acid/folate and so those different chemicals have very different functions in the body just like the B6’s and the B12’s and those types of things they can mean different things depending on what you are looking at. Just the proviso around the ascorbic acid thing however there is obviously a lot of co-factors that go along with the natural vitamin C and those are important, but I am just talking about the actual ascorbic acid itself there would be no difference from a lab or a plant but of course within a plant you are also getting those bioflavonoid and other auxiliary compounds that make it more affective.
Q: Talking about Vitamin C what’s your take on the calcium v’s sodium ascorbate, do you have any preference for either one?
A:30.31min – Not really and it could just be because I haven’t looked into the literature enough in the last couple of years but whenever I have looked in the past there hasn’t seemed to be all that much difference in outcomes between the various forms of vitamin C, so I don’t really worry about it too much. I think one of the things that played into the calcium ascorbic was purely a fare of sodium which has been fairly prevalent. I don’t play into that fear because I think it’s misplaced and I think that the target levels for sodium are actually worsening outcomes for people. You may be more up to date with it than me.
Q: It’s a debate whether the calcium ascorbate, is linked to increasing Oxalate (Oxalic Acid) and leading to kidney stone formation and your sodium just pushing up your sodium. If you were having really high dose Vitamin C for a long period of time if you were taking it then how would it be pushing your sodium levels up would that be then changing your balance.
A: 31.35min I think that’s certainly a consideration if someone is on extremely high doses of vitamin C sodium ascorbate for a long period of time and then it would be something you would want to consider is how much sodium they are actually taking in. But I think this sodium debate I think we can move past a lot of it. The safe level of sodium intake from what I remember is around 2.6g to 6g a day or in some of the reviews it was slightly lower around the same up to about 4.5g per day which is a lot the target level is 1500mg.
The problem is we push down to the target level and we see adverse outcomes for a number of disorders so we don’t see any benefit for most people but what we see is adverse effects for some of the most at risk with existing cardiovascular disease, renal disease and all sorts of things. So what we are seeing is adverse effects for some of the most at risk people and no real benefit outside of that but that’s our target level now that just seems ridiculous to me. The only reason we have these target levels is because when you push down to those levels you see a statically reduction in blood pressure but statically significant is not all we need to look at in health research we need to look at clinically significant. What we see in the systematic reviews is the literature is when people push down to those lower levels of sodium intake they reduce their blood pressure by 1 to 3.5% now as practitioners sitting in this room we could all look at a blood pressure result and say you know what a 1% reduction in blood pressure is probably not going to mean anything let’s look at other stuff instead. So is that sodium reduction going to be overly effective probably not and what else can we look at some of the biggest things is are you eating enough vegetables are you getting enough of those naturally occurring nitrates because they’re going to push down blood pressure probably more and average of six plus mmol of mercury. Do you have consistently high blood sugar levels and a lot of people now days do even if they are considered normal I don’t consider a constant average blood sugar level of 6.5mmol to be normal. That’s still too high and that’s a big co-factor in blood pressure of course. So you get someone eating well, eating enough vegetables eating a carbohydrate appropriate diet and you typically take care of the blood pressure problems. And not in a long period of time I mean it happens really quickly. We normalise blood pressure in some of our research participants for example some of our clinical patients within days. And that’s just through getting them on a good natural diet number one but also potentially a lower carb diet is effective for some of those people as well.
Our interview with Cliff Harvey continues in this PART 2:
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Q: Pea protein I know that’s what you use in your protein formula so is there a form of pea
protein or style of pea that’s better than the other and why is it that you use pea protein?
A: 18sec – We are probably going back about 10 years when we first started looking at different protein types because I’d used all sorts of things I’d used rice protein, soy protein, whey protein, casein and all these various proteins tried them, self experimentation over many years but whey protein was and probably still is the most common protein and was considered the gold standard. And when we started not even formulating anything at this point we were just thinking about ideas as to what protein we could use we really wanted to find the most hypo allergenic protein we could and that was just so it could be used by almost all people most all of the time. We started to notice that there was significantly more research coming out around whey and around casein and around the idea of combined milk protein allergies to the point where it’s probably around 1% of people now days have a defined diagnosed milk protein allergy of some sort. It’s not a huge amount of people but the subclinical effects of that are a lot higher and there are probably a lot more people to some degree are intolerant to the diary protein. I’d always been a fairly big fan of the functional benefits of the diary proteins for performance for body building and all that kind of stuff but there was still that underlying intolerance and allergy issue that was going to affect some people and that’s not going to be beneficial so we were looking around for something else.
I was quite surprised how far pea protein processing technology had come by that point and there was some companies in Europe that were doing fantastic things with pea protein getting it to a point where the protein content was in fact higher than most of your whey proteins. So you had a higher protein formula, lower carbohydrate so it was really good for providing that protein without any residual effects in terms of fat gain. The satiety rating was higher so people felt fuller for longer after drinking pea protein as compared to whey. Any of the negatives that could be associated with legumes for some people basically aren’t there with the pea protein all the leptins are gone all the phytic acid is gone there’s no saponins, there’s all those things that might cause problems are basically gone. So I was quite surprised cause what we had was an extremely high protein formula, extremely low allergen, didn’t have any anti-nutrients in it so it could be used by most people most of the time and provide a great satiety. So we thought great lets go down this track and see what we can do. So we purposely work with the best companies out of Europe to produce this protein and that means it’s the very highest quality there are a lot of other pea protein that have come on the market since but a lot of them we just can’t be assured of the quality control because they are grown in areas where perhaps there is a risk of pollution or the’e processed using inferior technology where you are still going to get some of those anti nutrients coming through or they are not going to be of the same sort of quality so that’s basically where we got to and the interesting thing now is there’s been a couple of really good studies that have come out in the last few years showing that the functional benefits of pea in terms of muscle building and retention are equal to or better than whey and so it’s basically just the same but it can be used by more people more of the time.
Q: And obviously vegan people can use it.
A: 4.01 min – Yes exactly and that was part of the whole having a universal protein that can be extremely affective and everyone can use it. It’s able to be used by vegans most vegetarians. Vegetarians can’t use most whey either because even though it’s a diary protein it’s still processed using rennin so if you are a strict vegetarian and even if you are not vegan you can’t use whey anyway so it checked all the boxes because it can be used by everybody.
Q: So people wanting to build heaps of muscle like your body builders who take these things full of collagen and all sorts would it be just as beneficial because a lot of what they take have got heaps of added stuff in them.
A: 4.45 min -And that’s the thing, I think a lot of what’s in these products its either for taste or consistency its fillers or its token amounts of certain things thrown in just to make it more marketable. But at the end of the day a good quality protein is a good quality protein and so what we should be looking at when looking at a protein powder is just protein really. High quality protein, high amounts of protein, low other things purely because you want to be looking for the most protein, and if we are comparing all of the proteins head to head in terms of functional outcomes there’s not probably that much difference between say your gold standard whey and pea so there’s no advantage to taking whey at all. The only advantage we could see really between the two is that if you are taking whey at the moment and you are getting bloated and crampie and all that kind of stuff it’s probably not working well for you so try something else and the variable option is pea protein. Now I don’t really like the sell per-se because I figure the benefits speak for themselves. So if someone does use whey and it works really well for them and they get no adverse affects there’s no reason not to use it. But there’s also probably good rational for them to having some variety as well, as we don’t really want to eat the same thing all of the time.
Q: So if you have a person that eats a huge amount of meat and then drinks down these massive shakes, and are going in at the gym and thinking I am drinking all of this protein so I can push these really heavy weights… what’s your take on the average younger guy in 20’s that wants to look buff but are forcing this drink down with no idea what is in it in terms of caffeine etc what’s your general take on that you must see it in the gyms and stuff.
A: 7.28 min – I think it can be overkill and I think the most important thing there is just to look at what your outcome is. What’s your desired outcome, what’s your goal and marry what you are doing to that it’s quite simple. And we don’t have any real evidence to show that having more than 3 or 4 grams of protein per Kg of body weight per day is going to do anything apart from just be wasted. However 3 grams of protein per KG of body weight per day is a lot so that could probably be the limit as to how much benefit you are going to get. What I am getting at there is that if you are eating 3 or 4 really good meals a day and they contain if you eat meat, meat and vegetables and all the good stuff and you are getting enough protein across those meals there’s really no good rational to have any extra protein. You might want to do a little bit around your training window you might want to have a little bit of protein before and a little bit after but outside of that lugging down protein shakes when you are getting enough protein from other sources is just a waste of time. We have been sold this misplaced idea that protein drinks are somehow magical in that you drink back the protein you train hard and you are going to get massive but protein powders and protein drinks have no benefit over food and that’s why I always say and this is something as a company we say in Nuzest as well ‘food comes first’ and we would never try and convince someone to take our product if they don’t need it or as a substitute for food that’s just crazy. What all protein powders do is provide convenience because if you are an athlete competing at a high level or if you are a body builder, because body builders are probably the exception to the rule where it’s probably fare to say are more constant protein intake is going to be of benefit and a higher protein intake is probable going to be of benefit if that’s going to be difficult to get in for whatever reasons through food having some protein shakes absolutely not a problem. In terms of developing to quickly we don’t see that happening unless people are taking steroids if people are taking steroids then we do see some interesting things happen like bicep tears and peck tears are a great example you very seldom see peck tears where the peck muscle actually comes completely away from the humorous you don’t see that in people training naturally typically you only really see that in people taking steroids. So that’s an example of when the body develops to quickly for its supportive tissue connective tissue all that kind of stuff. When people are just eating a good diet and sure they might be supplementing with some protein and doing good quality strength training they typically won’t develop to quickly but they absolutely can injure themselves if they are being silly with their training and that’s all those things you talked about making sure you are strong enough at a base level first before going in and pushing it too hard.
And that’s where I think people will be much better off in a lot of cases training within themselves it’s the easy strength ideal that guys like Dan John and Pa Ball talk about. Where you are not necessarily always pushing yourself to absolute failure absolute destruction of the body kind of thing at every training season because that is very limited in terms of how long you can do it and it puts you at greater risk of injury. You are much better off training within yourself and that’s what we use to do with weight lifting. You don’t see weight lifters in their training to failure on each and every set that would be completely counterproductive for two reasons. If you train to failure that point of failure is usually accompanied by poorer form because you can’t have good form at the very limits of the human bodies capacity plus there is also a potential that you could be training yourself to fail because that’s just part of a neural patterning aspect. You also push yourself to a point where you are breaking down the body to the point where you can’t train again for quite some time. Where for strength gain you would be better off training more frequently but not to the same point of fatigue, if you know what I mean. Because strength is a skill like anything else, if you swing a 50kg tennis racket you will probably be able to do it once before you are to tired to do it for a couple of days you won’t learn to have a better swing that’s for sure. You are better off swinging that tennis racket over and over again just like with weight lifting you are better off doing those movements over and over again but the difference is you need to do them under load to get use to being under load and to encourage the body to handle more load so it’s a fine line between frequency and intensity load and all those types of things.
Q: I’m a swimmer that’s my background and we use to do a lot of aerobic base and just what you are saying there because I’m a sprinter do you think it’s important to have that aerobic base?
A: 12.40 min – It’s an interesting one because there probably is rational for it and its probably quite contentious in the areas of sports physiology because first thing we learned at university that rowers and swimmers are typically the most over trained athletes because they generally do way to much volume compared to what there length of event is. On the other hand there is also a balance there because you want to get in a lot of strokes to become more efficient with your strokes and to learn at times to develop power under fatigue which is important for any event so I think training methodology in rowing and swimming has changed a lot over the years but there is still absolutely a place for having a good aerobic base. The other thing is having a god aerobic base and a good work threshold does is if you train yourself to have a higher work threshold you can get more seasons in during a week of the high intensity stuff and that’s an interesting aspect as well and I think that’s where you are seeing athletes in sports like MMA and in cross fit they’re doing different things now because they are training so much across so many different modalities it doesn’t really make sense but they are able to do it because they have built this amazing work threshold underneath it all so there’s lots of various aspects to it.
Q: And it depends on the person as well doesn’t it some people can handle 8 or 9 sessions a week and some people can handle 5 sessions they slack off but they are still fast in the pool.
A: 14.21 min – Absolutely there’s a great book called the The Purposeful Primitive and it’s by a powerlifting coach and good powerlifter himself called Marty Gallagher and within that book he evaluates or looks at a whole bunch of legends of powerlifting and bodybuilding and the various ways that they train and they are really different. These are world champions all of them you have people who will train twice a week and just do very short sessions they might go in and train one hour twice a week that’s it and others who would train six days a week. Other athletes who would do two sessions a day six days a week so they are training 12 hours a week as compared to the guy training two hours a week but they are all at that same sort of level and it comes down to how you respond to training, what else is going on in your life and what the volume and intensity of your training is. If you train closer to failure you probably need more time to recover.
Q: You often see that, I am just relating again to people in the pool who train really hard every session and those people who train like that you feel deserve to actually do better but have actually not improved. Yet the kids when they are feeling they have slaked off a little bit they have done really well.
A: 15.53 min – To give yourself that recovery time as well and to come into an event fresh is interesting but that changes across the boards as well a lot of power lifters I know use to not train a week before a meet because they wanted that recovery time but allot of the top power lifters I know now will train more like weight lifters where we will train right through till the Thursday night if we had a meet on a Saturday because you want to stay fresh but fresh in terms of being really fined tuned with your lifts you want to stay in the groove basically so you are going to back off allot of things you are not going to do allot of volume and you are not going to necessarily use the same intensity but you are still going to go in and do the movement because that’s critically important.
It’s an interesting one and the area of sports physiology and research is expanding so quickly and there’s lots of cool things coming out there heart rate variability as a measure fatigue and all sorts of cool stuff. And here’s an interesting point sports physiology a lot of times naturopaths clinical nutritionist are more holistically minded they kind of ignore because I don’t want to deal with sports they see it as being outside of the scope but I firmly belief having come from a performance background all those years ago and having been an athlete but also someone who has health conditions that I have to deal with I work with terminally ill patients and all sorts of things I can see an interesting correlation there where often research that’s done in sport because sport has money behind it and it’s a glamour kind of thing research that comes from that often translates very interestingly into other aspects in health. The reason why AUT really got into the lower carb high fat thing which is now getting really great public health outcomes was because they were seeing interesting results in the lab with their athletes they wanted to elucidate more or with things like chronic fatigue, adrenal exhaustion whatever you want to call it in the field of naturopathy and complementary alternative medicine chronic fatigue and adrenal exhaustion those terms are very inexact they are very imprecise they are basically waste basket diagnosis’s that have no real clarity around them. But what we can see from exercise physiology is some really interesting stuff in terms of overtraining syndrome which is much more closely defined, it’s probably a very similar thing. So we can look at that data and that sort of evidence in terms of blood markers and how we might help people to recover from it from that set of evidence but often because we are not looking at it we don’t have that same appreciation.
Our interview with Cliff Harvey continues in this PART 3:
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Q: Having a holistic and mindful approach to performance is this something also that you would encourage your athletes in and how do they perceive that?
A: 15 sec – It’s critically important not just for athletes but for anyone really. Mindfulness is a key aspect of every plan I have put together and you guys will probably know that there has been really interesting research done around that in terms of eating patterns for example you can have two groups one of them you give a mindfulness plan and one of them you give a nutrition plan and the group with the mindfulness plan do better at eating than the people with the nutrition plan. Because they are more aware of what’s going on. And so I think its critically important for health, it’s critically important for performance as soon as we develop a more mindfulness approach to life it’s almost as if it gives us a little junction it’s like a little window of opportunity when we are about to react to a situation in the same way we always have instead be that little bit more aware so we can respond to it more appropriately in terms of a way that’s going to be more conducive to where we really want to be heading. So I think its critically important and in my experience it’s been received really well and I think one of the reasons that it’s been received well with my clients is because depending on who they are they can relate to my position, my journey to this point and if I am working with an athlete they know that I am an athlete so they are probably going to take some aspect of that in terms of ‘well its probably worked well for him, so I should probably give this a crack’. And someone with a health condition they think it’s probably helped Cliff with his health conditions and so it’s possibly going to work well for me. The other side of that is because I typically temper the complementary side of what I do with an evidence basis people know it’s not without any sort of rational in terms of what we are doing, so typically received really well and I think mindfulness has gone past a point where it is considered weird and wonderful now it’s so foundational and so much of psychology and just general health practice that I think most people are very open to it. And let’s face it most people who come to see us as practitioners they really want to change anyway so they are quite often prepared, they have already lost a lot of their resistance by actually making the appointment. You will get some people who are still quite resistant but a lot of them have gone so far and it’s been such a hard challenge for them to actually get into your office in the first place by the time that they are here so much of the resistance has actually been broken down and they are prepared to give things a crack and I think because of that it makes us have to be very clear with what we are doing and very clear about our professional responsibility because it puts us in quite a position of power in some respects and we can potentially abuse that power if we are doing things that are not valid I think so we have to be very careful with that as far as what we are applying does that make sense.
Q: Your holistic approach that you have taken and obviously the adjustment in diet over a long period of time how has this helped with your depression, or is this something that you are still having to be aware of and do you identify your triggers
A: 3.56 min -It’s a good question because I am very resistant to the ideas of curing illness to some degree, you know I think we can certainly transcend a lot of our own health stuff our own health challenges I think we can transcend but I get very wary when people claim to have cured this or that and I quite often get approached by people saying you cured your crohn’s disease how did you do it? I don’t think about it in that respect I don’t think about it as having cured my Crohn’s, I live really well now without crohn’s symptoms which is not to say I might not relapse at some stage who could tell, at this point I feel pretty dam good and have done for many years but my experience of that may not be the same as someone else’s so simply applying what I have done may not work for somebody else and shit it could be coincidence as a researcher I can never say what I have done just isn’t coincidence because that’s what you see in the data as well sometimes.
But the mental health thing is interesting because that’s probably the bigger ongoing thing for me. I wouldn’t say that I have suffered from depression I still continue to suffer from depression. My particular depression is bipolar two depression so within that there are pro’s and con’s even. There are as many benefits as probably challenges within that because the hypomania that’s a characteristic of bipolar depression for me expresses that has hyper productivity hyper focus those types of things so I can be hyper productive and hyper focused and actually in some respects be very happy go out and give a big talk to a bunch of people and write a book and do all these sorts of things and also at the same time suffer from periods of very very serious depression. So it’s a very interesting place because like I say there are benefits to it there are challenges.
I think the fact that I have made physicality in terms of exercise and physical challenge and those types of things for a long period of time has been massively helpful for that and I may not have always recognised the value of that in the early days but I think just having that base in really important to encourage that general resilience that I think is so important when you have got mental health things going on. Recognising triggers the biggest one is stress, lack of sleep, those are critically important across the top of it the key thing that comes to mind again is mindfulness because you can recognise your triggers but you can also be mindful of your triggers and when you’re mindful it’s a deeper level of recognition. Your aware that maybe I’m starting to get to that point where I might fall over that cliff again so what’s going on? What can I do to change the situation in the next couple of days should I get to sleep just that little bit earlier should I be that little bit more mindful about what I am eating should I tighten things up just that little bit more that’s critically important so I think everything flows from a base of mindfulness. It’s a process, I think whenever we have any sort of health challenge whether it be physical, mental they are all the same anyway its all the same complex, I think we really need to be happy with where we are and that’s a strange thing to talk about in the context of depression, but be happy with where we are but not necessarily satisfied and that way it’s an ongoing process of continuing to grow and evolve and develop but it also doesn’t mean that there is an end point where everything’s going to be suddenly perfect and one thing I have worked a lot with particularly with other practitioners actually as a mentor is they will often come to this field because they have a healing journey and I always ask them well when are you going to be healed because it becomes this ever retreating mirage that they are chasing after at some point through all these things I’m doing and learning I’m going to be healthy, or I’m going to be happy or life’s going to be better but if we view it that way it’s never going to happen so I think we have to recognise that hey this is the way it is and we can continue to learn, grow and evolve but that’s the process of life and that’s ok we are constantly breaking down and building up the body it’s not like we are in the state of healing and then perfection it’s the same thing all at once I think we need to get to that point.
Q: If you are getting into a state of feeling really dark, it’s so hard to get people, I think its there own journey to get themselves out, or to get back to your equilibrium.
A: 9.05 min -One of the problems there is that we pathologize things to the point where we don’t do anything till we feel bad and so I think one of the most important things is that we are setting the base for better health all of the time and even if we occasionally do get depressed clinically depressed for those people who suffer from depression, hopefully we can be that much more resilient and we rebound more quickly maybe we don’t have the same duration, severity, frequency of relapse like with any health condition it’s about setting that base more constantly. One of the problems we have is for example I’m depressed, I’m going to go see a councillor, you start feeling better you stop seeing the councillor. You might be better off seeing the councillor more frequently but unfortunately there can be a whole bunch of other things come in terms of time poor, cash poor, all these things play into it so we tend to just look after ourselves when we are sick. You guys will get this question, if I have a cold people say you can’t have a cold you’re a naturopath. Why can’t I have a cold it’s an expression showing that I’ve got a functioning immune system, I’m actually ok with the fact that I’ve got a cold, and they say well what are you going to do about it. Nothing, I eat pretty well anyway, I exercise, I try to get enough sleep, I mediate I do all those things I’m not really going to do anything necessarily markedly different while I’ve got the cold because I am just going to be ok with the fact that I’ve got a little cold, that’s alright, I’m sure I’ll be ok in a couple of days it’s not a big deal. It’s just part of life but people see it as being anti life or anti health and it’s the same thing.
Q: Your either healthy or your sick
A: 10.46 min -Yes it’s like with nutrition there is good foods and bad foods, but in isolation there is no such thing as good or bad there are generally probably more health promoting diets if you look at them in totality or diets that we would consider to be generally less health promoting but that’s the only way we can really see it we can’t really necessarily say a chocolate bar is a bad food because if you have one chocolate bar a year and the rest of what you eat is all natural, whole and unprocessed stuff it’s not going to make a dent it might actually be good for you in the same way we see interesting doses around chemicals I couldn’t with conscious say that alcohol is bad for people because one drink a day appears to be health promoting in fact for all cause of mortality. It’s like coffee, three cups of coffee a day appears to be health promoting not health negative but dose and exposure you have more than that and it starts to go over the other side. And again it’s dependant on the person. That’s an area we are looking at a lot more in the research now, I mean really researching this which is really cool is that the N equals one experience is critically important. What we often do in the health arena is we look at what looks best for people most of the time and we create our best practice guidelines around that but we do our clients a disservice when we apply that in a complicated manner. So we say well this is what works best and it should work for you but it may not it’s a starting point because we are basically protecting ourselves and our client by starting from that point because in all probability it’s going to work the best for you but they might be one of those significant outliers so we need to be prepared to pivot and pivot quite quickly to change what we are doing to meet the needs of the individual.
Now the N =1 experience is critically important – why because it’s what works for them and on the individual level what works for you or you or me is going to be the most important thing to you or you or me and it may not be what works for everyone else which is why we can’t always use that to determine what’s going to work best for the other person as well. What works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for someone else that’s why I’d always start from best practice basis but I temper that with my own experience and what I am seeing in their experience that’s when we get a really good outcome.
Q: Do you give them food diaries and monitor their sleep to give you that insight?
A: 13.22 min -Depending on the client, yes. It’s somewhat responsive to their goals and where they are at right now. If through our consultation processes through follow ups and things like they are sleeping really well that’s not something I monitor because that’s taken care of. What I might look at or think is maybe they are not actually been that clear with themselves with what they are eating so then I apply a food diary but if I think that that person is after seeing their food diary I think they are being honest with it and it seems like they are eating really well and doing everything right there then we look at something else. So maybe we will look at sleep or stress levels or blood markers to see is something else weird going on. So, it’s very much responsive to the individual.
Q: Do you look at their own self talk , their own attitude to life?
A: 14.25min -Big time, that’s probably the key area outside of nutrition that I work with. I did a lot of study years ago, I did a few interesting things studied PSYCH-K® and Ericksonian Hypnosis and Reiki and all sorts like other aspects of more traditional psychology as well in a lay setting reading text around that I haven’t studied psychology per say to get a better idea of human behaviour and human patterns and one of the most important things was our self imagery self talk all those types of things and how that affects or how we then behave, and I think that is a massively underappreciated aspect of what we do either in nutrition or naturopathy because those self limiting things that people subject themselves to are typically the reasons why they self sabotage and typically the reasons why they just stop they are typically the reasons why they are not able to put in place those patterns of behaviour that are really important. So we look at that from two angels one is to identify the limiting self imagery and self talk and try and shift that and also just instituting really positive patterns in terms of self talk self imagery, positive visualisation and all that kind of stuff and doing that in the most effective way because there are much more effective and less effective ways of doing that as well so that’s all stuff that I have gleamed from the things that I have studied but also the personal experience of having been an athlete was a big part of that and again that’s an interesting place we can take a cue from in terms of helping people perform.
Competing at the very highest level in sport is tuff and it takes a very interesting mindset and a mindset that needs to develop and grow just as much as your body is and so we can take some of those leads from very high performing athletes in terms of how to encourage people to be more highly performing just in life because that’s what performance is about. And that’s why holistic performance and nutrition is not about just sport it’s about performing optimally in life whatever that means for you it could be sport or it could be being a better wife, husband, sister, brother, son, friend whatever, business person you know it’s about having that basis of health that allows you to perform well in whatever you do.
Q: Do you encourage specific routines for people, like making the most of your morning, exercising, drinking lots of water, stuff like that, journaling?
A: 17.05min -Yes, and again it can be different for individuals but there are certain things that seem to be a theme one of which is exactly what you said getting up and having a couple of big glasses of water to make sure your rehydrated after that time when you are asleep and you are probably slightly dehydrated that’s number one. I think the morning period is a very powerful time because I think where people need to get something important done and this is not the urgent stuff this is the important stuff this is like if you want to write a book, I’ve written a few books and if I hadn’t set aside time every morning to write there no way I would have written those books, but none of those books were urgent it wasn’t like the taxes that I have to compile or the emails I have to reply to or whatever it was stuff that was discretionary but critically important so I think that’s the time in the morning where we want to do those things that are most important for our optimal life satisfaction but are not urgent. But you do it first thing, you do it every day you get it out of the way and you chip it away so you basically get there and you are done. But it’s also a very powerful time for setting an intention for the day. One of things I often work with, with clients is to encourage mindfulness and that basically means mediation in the morning but also setting an intention around how they want their day to be why because a day is a nice big bite size chunk of life they can begin to infuse through the rest of their process. So how do I want to be every day? I want to be this, or I am this or I am or have this. It might be simple things like I am happy or my life is a perfect example of synchronicity and flow something like that little positive things that help to set a great intention for that day and they also can become personal mantras that we go back to when we feel like things are getting out of control. One that I have used a lot is I have all the time in the world because that’s typically what we are starved for or we think we are. We feel like we have all these things we have got to do we don’t have enough time in fact if we stopped ourselves and say I have all the time in the world or realise that that’s actually true because what we have in terms of 24 hours in a day we then allocate to what we actually on some level want to do and it could be that we over commit we take on to much we get distracted by various things they are all things we have drawn into our life so if we are going to change them great change them but in the moment we can still bring ourselves back to a point of relative balance or ease by just applying those little suggestions.
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Our interview with Cliff Harvey continues in this PART 4:
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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.