Episode 69 – Eat Your Way To A Healthy Gut With Professor Tim Spector OBE
00:03:40 How effective a vaccine is going to be
00:05:34 Background of the Guest
00:08:29 Effects of getting our gut microbiome healthy
00:12:37 Basic principles around diet and nutrition
00:18:57 Food Industry changing our way of eating
00:22:15 Connection of our diet to massive health problems
00:35:30 Does the body adapt over time?
00:42:35 Microbes can help digest the fats much better
00:47:11 Takeaways that will re educate ourselves
00:48:35 What are Polyphenols?
00:51:51 Where can you know more about the guest
- Visit the Fitter Healthier Dad website
- Subscribe or leave a review on iTunes
Welcome to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast, where you can learn how to improve your diet, lose fat and get fitter in a sustainable and fun way without spending hours in the gym is your host Darren Kirby.
Darren: Welcome back to the podcast, guys. This is the number one podcast for dads in their 40s who want to improve their health and fitness. This is Episode sixty nine. And on today’s episode, we’re going to be talking to Professor Tim Specter OBE on the benefits of a healthy gut and how your diet can heal you and your overall health.
Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and the Director of Twins U.K. Registry at King’s College, London. His work focuses on OMICS, the microbiome, and he directs the U.K. funded Gut Microbiome Project. Professor Tim is a prolific writer with several popular science books and a regular blog focusing on genetics, epigenetics and most recently, the gut microbiome. Hi Tim, Thanks very much for joining me on the podcast today. How are you?
Tim: I’m good, thank you. Yes, I’m looking forward to it.
Darren: Thanks very much for taking the time out. I know you must be extremely busy right now with the studies you’ve got going on with Covid and things like that. So how are things around that progressing? Obviously it is ever changing landscape.
Tim: Yes, I was hoping to be nice and quiet by now, but it hasn’t happened, and yet rates in the UK are picking up everywhere. But this group, what we pick up is these real regional differences and differences in age as well. So it’s still being driven by people aged under 30, and in all the areas. And that’s the only good thing is that it shouldn’t cause as much problems for the NHS at the moment.
So that’s the only bit of sort of good news so far. Most of the diseases are mild, but of course, on the down side, we’ve just published this data about long Covid, which can affect people of all ages. So it’s not just about deaths or going to hospital. We’ve got this sort of one group of one in 20 or more that will suffer these long term problems. And that’s that’s, I think, something to worry everybody and people who are under 60 in particular.
Darren: Yeah. And the long term effects. Is there any pattern around that in terms of the underlying health of the people that have these long term effects?
Tim: Well, we don’t really know yet because we haven’t really gone out beyond six months and they’re certainly rare stories of people who have heart problems or nerve problems, six months later, what we don’t and there’ll always be these rare cases. What we don’t know is how common it is in the average person who gets a mild illness that just carries on for a long time. So it’s too early. Although, you know, the good news is that most people who are sick after a month will recover by three months. And so the numbers do go down.
So if there’s people out there who may have been, you know, tired and headache and fed up after a month, the stats do generally show the majority will improve and it probably doesn’t improve in a smaller group further on. So. But, yeah, we’re learning more about it and hopefully we start to get some early treatments and things for those people.
Darren: Yeah. And just quickly on that, before we move on around vaccines and things like that, what is your view on an available vaccine and how effective a vaccine is going to be?
Tim: I’m a bit skeptical that there’s going to be one miracle vaccine any time soon, and I think all of the vaccines that are really no ones, they may end up with them, end up with side effects we don’t know about. And we may have to use multiple ones given every year and things out there. So I think they’ll be tried mainly in the old and the very vulnerable right now. And I think we’re going to have to. Just deal with the virus, certainly for the next year by ourselves. Yeah, that’s my view at the moment. So we need to get used to it. But if any of your listeners are out there in the US or the UK, download our app and we give you masses of information about what’s happening in your area. And you can also contribute to the science study app.
Darren: Yeah, and congratulations on your recent OBE as well. With regards to work around, that’s a huge achievement.
Tim: It was a shock, but it’s bad for the huge team that did this really because I’m just the spokesperson. But yeah, I can’t do any of it myself.
Darren: Exactly. Excellent. Well, thanks very much for the information and kind of update on that. But obviously you’re more than just a professor of epidemiology around Covid. You obviously got a long and distinguished career around health and things like that, so for people that perhaps haven’t come across you before. And can you give us a bit of background on your career history and your field of research and books that you’ve produced? Yes, I’m not a classical doctor, although I trained in medicine and was a physician. And then I also trained in epidemiology. I did for most of my career rheumatology studying arthritis and bones, osteoporosis. And then I got into genetics.
Tim: I set up this …. To talk about it when I was in the UK of Twelve Thousand Twins, which I’ve now been studying for nearly 30 years. And then, you know, I get bored of subjects every five years or so. If it’s not producing something, I teach myself something else. Right.
And so genetics is pretty good. That kept me excited for a long time that I got into epigenetics, which is how you can switch your genes around and modify them then. I thought that wasn’t going to produce the big results. So then really the last 10 years have got into gut health and the microbiome.
And that’s and once I understood that, then that got me really interested again in nutrition because I could see it from a completely different light. And that’s really where it might before covid hit. That was really where it was all going with this idea of personalized nutrition, using the gut microbes, using the idea of unique and in a way demonstrating that with twins as well.
So that’s where I was. And I along the way, each time I teach myself a subject, I tend to write a book about it right as a good way of me doing the research from scratch. And I’ve now written four books and the latest one is called Spoonfed, which by Dortmund’s and the other one was one of four or five years ago, which I’m now revising, is called the Dark Myth, which is more about gut microbes. And they’re all very topical at the moment.
Darren: Yeah, yeah. I mean it is huge. And I have got a very deep interest in nutrition and gut health just from the small amount of knowledge that I want to dig into on today’s episode. Really. And it’s really why is it only now do you think that we started to do the research that we have on the gut microbiome and the amount of stuff that appears to be coming out? And research is quite profound in so much as the dramatic effects it can have on our overall health just by getting our gut microbiome healthy.
Tim: I think with a number of reasons, I think we were stuck in this myth up to 20 years ago that Gut was full of bacteria cost. OK, and what’s really happening, people study with those people studying infections and whether you got salmonella or got cholera or, you know, something nasty in a cupboard, that was really the sort of level of interest.
And so basically you just try to wipe them out with antibiotics and in a colonic irrigation and get rid of the toxins. It was all terrible. And then about around 20 years ago, a few people in the US mainly started to be able to identify these bugs worked out that could actually be helping people with the mice and things and that and say after the last 20 years, really following behind the genetic revolution, about technology, about how to identify them, because in the past, people have to grow them up on a plate like Flemyng and whatever it is, penicillin, you have to wait and see if it grew and then you identified it.
So we always must have this bug so that you only got a handful of microbes, whether or not we needed genetic data. We need collections. And so, um, and we also needed a whole new set of scientists and the infectious disease people weren’t interested and they still know only take it to a whole new group of scientists and medics to make that transition, to start using the new technology, these sequencing methods which are now used to cost you know, it used to cost 10, 20 thousand pounds to study your microbiome, for example, properly.
And now you can do it for …. You can get the genetic sequence of every single bug in you measured for less than a hundred pounds now. So it’s going to keep coming down. So I think that’s been the change. And in many countries, you have all been the experts around to do it.
And it’s had a bad reputation as well, I think, from the yogurt companies trying to flog products too much stuff and making huge claims that, you know, your life would be transformed with just one one yogurt Superman. So that’s in a nutshell, I think, why it’s taken so long. But the last five years have been amazing. And even the last year, we’ve seen how the technology is just totally opening up whole new areas in our research.
Darren: Yeah, yeah. I think the research and particularly the testing that’s coming out or being made available at such a lower cost for me is quite a big shift in the way that we deal with our health. And what I mean by that is that we’re now starting to go along the lines of prevention as opposed to kind of cure.
And I personally believe that’s where we need to go as a society, because as amazing as the NHS is, the way that it’s working right now is not sustainable, trying to treat based on illness as opposed to prevention. I just think that’s where we need to go. And so understanding the gut microbiome, it’s become quite a large piece of maintaining your health and balancing the bacteria in your guts.
So for people listening to this that haven’t even heard about microbiome testing the rest of it, where do you start? Or is it you just take it back to basic principles around diet, nutrition?
Tim: I don’t think it will take you back to basic principles if those principles are correct, but I think there’s lots of myths around what people are being taught, including medics like myself. So I think the way to start is to realize that the microbiome is essential. …. So most people know about the brain.
They know about the liver. They know about their muscles and their heart. You have some basic idea about how to keep them healthy and what they do. And so if you start thinking of how your gut microbiome is a crucial organ for you to stay healthy and prevent disease, it’s key for your immune system. It’s key for your mental health. Yes, it’s key for how you digest things properly, how you get all your minerals and your vitamins.
So absolutely crucial that everybody is interested in health, knows how to keep that organ, if you like, in tip top shape. And unfortunately, there’s no you know, there’s no your GP isn’t going to know how to do that or even your physio isn’t necessarily going to know this stuff. And so you’re going to have to learn it yourself from the latest research. Few people like myself and there are a few books out there as well as mine that tell you. But if you start with an idea, how do I keep my microbiome healthy?
That’s the basic principle. I think that works because then everything else starts to make at a general level. And we know that fiber doesn’t just work just by flushing out the system, which is what we used to think about, which used to be called roughage, you know, and you just sit on it for a year.
Remember, back at school, you’ve got to have your roughage. Yes. Some sandpaper that just went down your toilet and cleaned it out. And so we understand, you know, fibers are very different. So just having all your fibers, all bran, isn’t going to be healthy because you’re flexible.
And so it’s like suddenly learning how to be a gardener and who can say, you know, and obviously you don’t just want one plant in your garden and give it one type of food. You want a rich variety. And that’s that’s really where I think that, you know, it starts to make sense. So we know that generally plants are healthy for us.
A natural dot that’s rich in plants is going to be healthy for us, whether you are in NATO fish or whatever. And most people agree that a plant based diet is healthy. And so it’s important not to just have a kale smoothie every day because someone’s told you that’s a superfood or your chia seeds or whatever it is.
You really have got to start getting this mix. And, you know, in my books, I stress the idea that there’s these 30 ingredients, 30 different plants a week is what you should be aiming for to get the maximum diversity of your microbial species. OK, so I think once you start in a way, it’s working back from your gut rather than working from some textbook that says you’ve got to have this much fat, as much carbs, this much calorie, this nonsense.
And then once you start to do that, you start optimizing it for your gut health. The rest is just obvious and you don’t have to make any huge leaps of faith. No, you just do things and then you can start listening to your body as you do it. So this is the diversity and then you’ve got. The fermented foods, because that’s adding, you know, there’s a bit of a bit of extra petrol in there to fill it up in small amounts of fermented foods regularly, and you vary them and avoid ultra processed foods and chemicals and artificial sweeteners.
Yeah, the things that are negative for your gut microbes. So if you just, you know, very simply put, that stuff together. Plus we can discuss things like fasting and intermittent fasting and things. But it all seems to fit into the context of the gut microbiome, which I think many people who have read my books find is that it’s quite easy to understand and follow.
And then you can still eat most of the foods you like and the pattern that suits you. But you’ve got a general principle there. That doesn’t mean you’re always fighting about whether it’s keto or low fat or whatever. You can still not have to be part of one religious group to do that. Yeah, you can make your own mind up and see what works for you.
Darren: Yeah. And I think that’s that’s key as well, isn’t it. Some people have mocked me for this comment in the past, and that is there’s no one size fits all and there isn’t because our microbiome is, as far as I understand it is individual to all of us. And so what might be a counselor might be right for you?
Might be absolutely toxic for me. And I think it’s you know, you’ve been recently quoted that a lot of food education should be mandatory. And I 100 percent agree with that because I think we’ve lost the ability to determine what a healthy diet is.
And what I mean by that is, is that the food industry and as consumers, we are marketed to and sold to that because it’s green on the packet or is vegan. That is healthy for us and unfortunately, it’s not. So what I wanted to ask you is, is your view on how our diet has evolved, because I think that’s one of the key factors.
And to be specific is around the food industry and the processed foods and the kind of continually eating and just grabbing stuff on the go is affecting our overall health.
Tim: Yeah, absolutely, I mean, this is really the theme of my latest book, Spoonfed is about how we’ve been conned by the food industry into changing our way of eating and the easiest way to, you know, often time notice, if you live in the UK or the US, you look around you, everyone’s doing the same.
So you don’t think it’s anything weird. It’s only when you start to look at the stats of other countries and you realize that if you just look at what’s going on in Italy or Portugal, you know, they have a culture as much of ultra processed food as we have full time for. And the only country that has more ultra processed food than the UK is the US. 60 percent of those meals are ultra processed where 50 percent.
So you think, oh, is that because, you know, it’s poor people driving this? It’s just cheap food. But it’s not because Portugal is down at 10 percent to 15 percent. And so you suddenly realize, well, this has just been a gradual campaign over the last 30 years to get us hooked on cheap rubbish foods. And we’re susceptible in the UK, the US and English speaking countries because we lack food culture.
We lack a grandmother. We lack that grandmother who’s always telling you what is a good, healthy meal and us repeating it. And this is why we’ve been suckers for this and why our governments are also giving in to the pressure of the food lobby every single day because they’ve become huge budgets of these companies, bigger than half the countries in the world.
So they can afford any amount of propaganda. And they’re also driving all the research, all this stuff on artificial sweeteners and Diet Coke, Pepsi’s sporting drinks, you name it. They can twist and distort the research behind it all and very effectively without anyone really noticing.
And, you know, no one standing up like they eventually did against cigarettes’ or, you know, the pollution from the oil companies except the global warming thing. So it’s yeah, it’s a cultural thing. And the first thing is to recognize it and start to get education back in kids so people actually recognize what a vegetable is again, you know.
Darren: Yeah, well, yeah, I completely agree. I think it is education. I was actually thinking about this just before the interview that you will have to start with the children because the children aren’t going to be more adaptable to stuff like this, whereas the adult population are going to be more resistant to actually accepting what we’ve been told in the past. That is incorrect and no one likes to change. I think it does have to come back into the schools.
But one of the things I wanted to ask you was, what is your view on the connection between there’s a massive problem with obesity, mental health, children, kind of attention deficit disorders and things like that. Have you seen research to link our diets to all of those issues?
Tim: There are individual ones, so I mean, we know the mental health, for example, that good research now that you can alter mice and rats, anxiety levels and depression by changing their gut microbes. That’s now very well known. We also now know that in humans, your microbes can alter the way antidepressants work, the same pathway of an antidepressant drug. You can alter with your microbiome.
And that also means that as your microbiome is altered by your diet, your diet can affect your mental state. And there have been some studies, particularly one in Australia, where they gave a whole group of depressed people a couple of diets and they were able to they were generally depressed. People don’t bother with their food as well to go into a bit of a state, they announced.
But just by changing to a Mediterranean, high fiber microbiome, friendly diet, they got a 30 percent improvement in mental faculties higher than you got. You get depressed. You know, there’s this huge link in the mental state, obesity. We know. I mean, clearly it’s related to diet and news that is just junk food, saying it’s two groups of people, exactly the same food, but one is highly processed, the other isn’t.
And, you know, there’s the difference that if you have the junk food, you’re going to feel hungry and you go back many more. Yes. And it affects your metabolism adversely and your gut microbes. So, you know, it’s but the industry’s done extremely well to avoid any discussion that that’s our problem.
If you look in the paper, everyone says, oh, it’s all about calories. It’s all about exercising enough. Yeah. It’s all about five a day and just getting some orange juice down, you know. Oh, it’s just because people are eating too much fat. So you get a sticker, a low fat label on some crappy shirt. Suddenly they think it’s healthy.
It’s all about disguising the fact that every year we’re eating more and more ultra processed food with ten or more ingredients that we really don’t need that are artificial and not at all like the original plants we were supposed to be eating. So it’s a giant contract, really. And, you know, we’re all susceptible. You know, I was four years as well, so I’m not exempt from it. You know, I believe my team is getting better and better yet. Why wouldn’t I?
Darren: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And obviously, our our friend, Mr. Anzac’s as well, kind of contributed to all of that, I guess, in some ways, as far as I know, kind of started in nineteen fifty two and he done a study on that on the link to, to heart disease and high fat diet.
Tim: I started it. But you know, what interesting, interestingly what they found is that as soon as you say something natural is not good for you, the manufacturers can make it much cheaper and make it last longer, artificially.
And so then they can really gear it all up, make a cheaper product that will stay on the shelves for six months without going off and make much more profit out of it. So they’re delighted when someone comes along and says, yeah, makes us unhealthy or milk is unhealthy or butter unhealthy, whatever it is, you know, they will come up with a nice, cheap alternative that they can get people to eat much more of it. And you look at, you know, even snacks, you know, it’s like they’ve invented the whole idea of.
Snacking, you know, you go to other countries. They don’t snack. I spend a lot of time in Spain and, you know, half of them have breakfast, express a cigarette and eat till 2:00. Yeah, and they’re not fainting, saying, I’ve got a half my you know, my Twix or my biscuit. Those are fine. And they then have a very decent meal, if not at their desk. They get on it and, you know, they are healthier than we are. And we just need to learn from this. And, you know, we’ve got into our heads. So you can’t just go without giving them lots of snacks.
They don’t have hypos that are complete and absolute nonsense, that they’re just having sugar peaks all the time and that, you know, and we’re now showing that in our predicted studies about why that’s so wrong.
Darren: Yet 100 percent. And on the kids side of things, I completely agree. And they’re worried about kids, but high school, and yet they’re fueling them with sugar and bad fats and all the rest of it, and yet they don’t let them hydrate throughout the day. So it is basic fundamentals, right? Not even from a scientific standpoint, but coming back to the basics.
Tim: We’ve totally lost the plot. And parents feel totally guilty if they don’t give their kids breakfast and fill them up with sugary cereals and without any evidence. That’s, you know, that’s good for them. And lots of evidence is bad for them. So I think, yeah, it just takes a whole new look at this thing and also listening to ourselves.
And I think this whole thing of sugar is quite interesting because we’ve just finished this whole series of experiments to predict these boats that you might read about them. We published the first one in Nature Medicine a few months ago with UK twins and some extra volunteers in Boston. Yeah.
And gave all of them identical foods. Right. So we had thousands of people having identical meals, identical times, and we measured everything we possibly could. So we gave them that whole. But they and their TVs, we were taking blood every hour from them. And then they had a glucose monitor on them for two weeks. And we were looking at blood lipids after meals and everything.
And as far as sequencing everything in that gap and and, you know, for the pet shock was that never leaves. That’s the same food. So that was the real shock there, that even identical twins got a different response to identical foods. And some people and some even some twins might respond, have a lower fat response to their meal and others would have a, um, a better, you know, sugar, glucose, insulin response. And you couldn’t predict this from the label on the food.
So that was the big thing, because everyone told us. Well, the reason we have these labels is that because once you understand the fact that the carbs and the calories, you know how it’s going to affect you. So that’s what most people have been brought up to do. And it turns out is complete rubbish and you need it, it’s a complex algorithm to work out how you’re going to respond to your food, and that’s why we’ve come up with this whole concept of personalized nutrition.
And as you said, you know, there isn’t one size fits all. Everyone is different. And you can yourself experiment a bit yourself. And there are some people, for example, that noticed sugar dips or they notice whether they do, they run faster if they are on empty stomach or have just eaten.
But it’s pretty hard, having done this myself for six months is pretty hard to do it. And so the idea you can now do a test with this company. I’ve been working with Zawi and you can basically do like these twins did and have get your muffins, get a blood test, a monitor to monitor what’s going on in your gut.
And then in an app, you get a reading about what your score for each of those foods is, which is going to be different for everybody. And so you can start to just rearrange your priorities of foods depending on how it’s going to suit you and whether you don’t want lots of big sugar peaks, you don’t want lots of fat.
But again, you don’t want to replace that with lots of fat peaks. You know, you don’t think it sounds like you have lots of lipids floating around in you just because you’re trying to cut down on the sugar. So, it’s the idea of combining what’s going on with you, how you respond to fats you’re supposed to sugar and your gut response.
And in one package, I think we just started it in the US. I’m really, really excited to see what the response to it is we don’t know yet. It’s too early and if it goes well, we will bring it to the UK in the new year. But, you know, I think, you know, we are in an age now where we, all of us do need to self experiment and to sort of stop.
Changing our mentality about diet and food and what we’ve been told and start thinking about what works for us, you know, why do some Eskimos live on blubber? Why do some Massai just live on milk and meat? And a third of the world lives purely on vegetables. There must be some common ground and yet quite a lot of individuality.
Darren: Yeah, I agree. I think I think the self experimentation and the questioning of what we’ve been told is normal, I think is really key to a lot of this. And I think that taking responsibility for yourself is another important point, because, you know, like I said earlier on, that we’ve been brought up in this cultural society that we just kind of believe that the human body is bulletproof.
And to be honest, if you treat it right, I believe that this is an amazing piece of kit that we have. But if you don’t treat it right, know, the general kind of approach has been what? We just go and see a doctor and we have a pill that fixes the problem. That doesn’t really work, in my opinion, not for the long term anyway.
And so I believe that we have to take this approach where we maintain ourselves. You know, I use the analogy all the time. The people, I would say, probably maintain their cause more than they do their health. And I think we have to shift that. But I thought what was interesting, what you said there in the twin study, around two identical twins are completely different with regards to the work you were doing with Zoey.
And have you seen that when people are able to monitor and adapt their diets in line with what their bodies are telling them? Does the body adapt over time? Does it change over time?
Tim: It’s hard to know that, but what we think is happening is that if, for example, you know, we did the test with you and we found out that what’s your favorite breakfast of the moment?
Darren: Smoked salmon and avocado and eggs.
Tim: Ok, so we showed that you take that and then you have a big six hours, a big fat triglyceride rise in your fat case. We say change you and we say, OK, well, let’s change you to a more carb friendly breakfast or a yogurt or something or whatever, and you’ve got less of that fat rise said half the fat rise later in the day.
And we think that reduces. Well, we’ve got data that shows that it reduces inflammation in your blood. OK, so if we can get that less of that fat floating around, that means less inflammation long term.
That means less stress for your body. Your body is much more relaxed. And it’s not trying to repair itself, as is all the time, using up a lot of energy in repair. So we think that improves your metabolism, that allows you to lose weight more easily and gives you more energy and will generally be a long term benefit.
So it doesn’t change the short term reality. What we see with these glucose monitors will be the fat test and getting that long term impact. But, you know, this is early days. We haven’t fired people for more than about 12 weeks so far. OK, at the moment, we’re just seeing the people who have been in the study are just showing weight loss and improved general improvement in energy with a and the weight loss is generally due to less feeding a hungry, but not because we’re not telling people not to eat, which there’s not we’re not doing exact calorie restriction or anything with saying eat these foods.
And if you feel, you know, you want to eat more, do you know what they cannot do? So which I think is the only sustainable way to do a diet, really?
Darren: Yeah, I agree. And again, I think we’ve lost that way because of the kind of in the Western world, I believe anyway, the general availability of food. And like you say, the snacking culture that we’ve entered into, we no longer eat when we’re hungry.
We eat because we haven’t eaten for two hours or we eat because we are dehydrated. And I think that’s another big, big topic I believe is an issue is hydration. But we eat in the UK. There’s a lot of talk around the negative effects of sugar and sugar tax, but I’ve not seen too much being spoken about the huge negative effects of manufactured fats that it’s used in restaurants and cooking and things like that. So why unless I’ve missed something, why do you think that’s not being spoken about?
Tim: Are you talking about the trans fats or are you talking about. Because I think what’s what’s key is we shouldn’t oversimplify nutrition into carbs and fats and calories because, you know, there’s good carbs, there’s bad carbs, there’s intermediate carbs. And the same is true for fats.
So people say, I like using lots of cooking oils or whatever, but, you know, if like me, I use extra virgin olive oil, which has been shown every every study so far to be healthy and reduce your risk of diseases because it’s part of the Mediterranean diet and yet got 12 percent of it is saturated fat.
And so every day I’m having a lot of saturated fat, which some people say is bad. So it’s you know, you’ve got to be very precise about which one you’re knocking, but it’s perhaps you’re talking more about these palm oils and coconut oils and these other things that have been blended together, often into processed foods.
We tend not to have them on their own because, you know, coconut unless you love having all your food smelling like a bounty ball, you know, you don’t really get that all the time. And they’re often hidden in junk foods. And I think that’s where we get the problem. But let’s not be rude about Fats because some of them are actually really good for us and unhealthy. So we’ve done a reasonable job in getting rid of trans fats. Right.
Ok, although the US particularly was incredibly slow, it was about 15 years behind Scandinavia, but someone estimated probably cost at least half a million deaths just because of the pressure on the food lobby wanting to keep trans fats because they were. They made it tasty and cheap and they didn’t have to worry about it, but yeah, so there I do worry about new fats coming along, which is perhaps what you are also talking about.
We replaced trans fats with interest, terrified fats, which is another way of getting these spreads. Margarines stick together, like to be solid and we’re told they’re safe. I still think it needs more proper research. Before we should be doing that, so for the moment, you know, I’ve definitely gone back to butter and high quality olive oil.
Darren: Yeah, I mean, that’s similar to me. I have a fairly high saturated fat diet, but we had what I was meaning was around the seed oils, in the vegetable oils that when they’re heated at high temperatures, you know, the molecular structure changes and they can when they’re ingested by the body, can cause inflammation in the body.
And I believe that that’s not spoken about enough. We speak a lot about sugar and the detrimental effects of that from the heart, but there’s not enough spoken about these trans fats. Another fact that you’ve just spoken about with margarine. And I think, again, the culture is that we shouldn’t have fat, we should have low fat.
And like I said earlier, with the study that was done in nineteen fifty two, that’s been shown that that’s not necessarily the case. But that doesn’t mean to say you should go out and consume saturated fat. I think it’s everything in moderation isn’t it.
Tim: It is and we know some people tolerate saturated fat better than others, but in general, if you can balance your diet with enough variety of plants to have a good microbiome, the microbes can help digest the fats much better. And so it’s like having a buffer.
But if you don’t if you have low fiber, you don’t have foods that are good for your health, you will struggle to really deal with fats and it will start to build up and cause inflammation. But, you know, I think everyone is slightly different in their response to fats, and it also changes that with age as well. Yes. You know, if you know when you’re 30, it’s going to be different to when you’re 60 or more.
And, you know, we change. And as our metabolism changes and we did these studies also looking at time of day of eating. And we’ve got all of these dogmas about what’s the best time of day to eat. And that’s why people said, oh, you must have breakfast because you metabolize better at breakfast. And that was the dogma. Even if you’re not hungry, stuffing your face at breakfast is the best. And it is really stupid because I’ve now discovered often I don’t I don’t actually wake up starving.
No. And it’s just habit that makes you do it. And our ancestors never had breakfast. You know, I spent time in Tanzania with the Hunter-Gatherer tribe and they didn’t have it with breakfast yet. Never heard of it. And they’d never eat before 10:00 or 11:00 and say we probably never did before. Mr. Kellogg’s came around and said the first thing in the morning and you can’t go off to work or school without sticking lots of sugar in your mouth.
And so. Well, I guess so. We would say we metabolize better in the morning than the evening. So we gave all of our tools to these muffins at identical meals at different times of the day. And yeah, most people actually do metabolize better in the morning than the evening that less sugar peaks, less inflammation.
But one in four, it’s the opposite. And it’s about 50 50 when you get over 60. And I’m one I was one of those who actually metabolize the other way around. So I’m better in the evening. OK, so it makes no sense to me to have all my calories in the voice. Again, this is just an example of how our new studies, our new technology and destroying these old myths that, you know, someone started 30 years ago and food manufacturers or whatever, just get.
Increase again, the actual study was rubbish. No one’s gone back and really checked it, and if you only study 20 year olds, that’s what you will find. But if you actually study the whole population, you get a difference in large scale. But that’s typical of the nutrition studies. They were tiny, underfunded, underfunded. You know, we’re making huge recommendations for millions of people based on some study of seven people. And it wouldn’t if food was a drug, it wouldn’t do that.
Darren: Exactly. Yeah, I completely agree. And there’s a lot of conspiracy behind how certain studies are twisted based on who’s funding it and things like that. We won’t go down that path. But, you know, I think just to come back to basics, really, before we wrap it up, in summary, we’ve kind of discussed that, taking it or questioning our approach to food and trying different things and seeing how we’re feeling and the other key fact.
So I think the big takeaway is that we need to essentially re educate ourselves and say, you know, what would you say taking it back to basics, thinking about the microbiome and how people can adapt. What were the five key things that you would say to people listening to this that they could actually start taking away and just trying to themselves?
Tim: Ok, well, I think the first thing is to realize your unique effort to sit up and say what your partner, your neighbor or the guy at the gym said, hey, that’s going to work for you. And then I try to get the 30 types of plant awake. Right. And remember the nuts and seeds and also plants. So it’s actually easier when you just stop thinking that way. Lots of things to sprinkle on your food, have some fermented foods every single day.
And remember that if you haven’t tried things like cafÈ and kombucha, there’s many more microbes in them than in yogurt. And when you don’t have any additives in your stuff, have it full fat, no sugar, just the pure stuff. Then also look for your foods that are high in polyphenols. Right. Haven’t we discussed this? But polyphenols, the chemicals, natural defense, chemicals in all plants that are like rocket fuel for your gut microbes and they and so they’re the brightly colored berries and nuts and fruits.
The colors were generally good, but there’s no polyphenols in an iceberg lettuce, for example. And and finally, I think it’s, experiment, play with your male times. I try skipping breakfast, try changing your exercise routine around different settings, try intermittent fasting, which is good for microbes.
Try this new idea of restricted time feeding where you try and allow yourself a minimum 12 hour better 14 hours overnight where you’re not eating. And even that’s once or twice a week. You’ll notice the difference to your energy levels. And that’s really what I would do. And if I was in the US and I had the spare cash, I’d also easily predict the study test.
But with those things that you’ll get in a good part of the way towards getting it right. But you’ve got to listen to your body.
Darren: Definitely I think we haven’t spoken too much about intermittent fasting, but that’s something that I adopted a couple of years ago and it has made a dramatic impact on my morning in the morning. I don’t eat until midday as the first meal I have. I even train in the morning as well. And just my cognitive awareness, my mental capacity to deal with stuff if I’m doing detailed work and things like that is way more than it ever used to be after you’ve consumed, like you say, whatever breakfast you consume in the morning. So, yeah, I highly recommend people just try that out. And it’s not as difficult as you might think because if you’re having seven to nine hours sleep a night, you know, that’s a large chunk of it.
And so you only have to stop eating earlier in the day and eat a few hours later. Nice. No great difficulty is it really so.
Tim: Yeah. If you’re bored and you’re hanging around the fridge, it’s really tough. But we got a busy day or you’re doing sports and things like that. You’re out. You’re really down. It’s just a habit. And so yeah, I absolutely agree. Everyone should try it. And I think psychologically it’s great for you as well. So, you know, it’s like the five to stuff that, you know, if you.
You know, it’s good to be hungry occasionally, you know? You really enjoy that next meal so look forward to and you don’t tend to go wild as much as you thought. So, yeah, I think we’ve just forgotten what it’s like to feel hungry and then get distracted and then not feel hungry, you know. Yeah. That you can get through it.
Darren: Yeah, exactly. So before I let you go, how can people connect with you? Obviously you’ve got your books and stuff. You’ve got a website.
Tim: Yes. Well, everything should be on my website, which is www.tim-spector.co.uk and they follow me on Twitter on Tim Spector and Instagram.
And if you’re interested in taking part in your own personalized nutrition study in the US, go to joinzoe.com. And if you’re in the U.K. and you want to go on the waitlist, it’s the same thing to look at. And if you’re interested in any of our current studies, we’re also doing some nutritional stuff like the importance of nutrition on covid.
Check out the website there, which is covid joinzoe.com. So plenty of ways to do it. And the website joins every dot com link, most of those things up.
Darren: Yeah, I wasn’t aware of the one in the UK physically, so I’ll definitely be signing up to that link.
Tim: And the latest book is called Spoonfed and it should be available everywhere.
Darren: Awesome. Well, thank you very much for your time today. I really appreciate your time doing this.
Tim: It’s been great to chat. Thanks very much.
Darren: Yeah, I look forward to speaking to you again in the future. Take care.
Thank you. Thanks for listening to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please subscribe. And I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes all the things mentioned in the website will be in the show notes and a full transcription is over at fitterhealthierdad.com