Episode Highlights

00:02:19 Guest Background
00:06:25 Why is too much information dangerous?
00:07:50 Functions of Immune System
00:11:54 T Cells vs B Cells
00:15:09 How do vaccines affect our body?
00:19:22 Is boosting the immune system necessary?
00:29:31 Impact of Gut health in our immune system
00:39:49 Different types of Fiber
00:42:18 Relationship between the immune system and physical exercise
00:46:07 Immune system and mental health
00:56:38 5 Key Takeaways


Fitness Guide





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. Here 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 88. And today we’re joined by Matt Farr, who is a leading expert on the immune system. Matt specializes in helping men and women to heal, recover and balance their immune health. Hi, Matt. Thanks very much for joining me on the podcast today. How are you?

Matt: Hey Darren! Yeah, I’m very good. Thank you. Thank you for having me on.

Darren: No, no worries. It’s so and yeah. Thanks for taking some time out of your day, I know you’re hugely busy right now with the launch of your book, which will go into later on. But obviously a topic of conversation is an important topic for what we’re going to talk about today is obviously the pandemic and the craziness that’s going on. So what’s it like where you are?

Matt: Well, there’s not a lot happening. I’m in London, so, you know, like the rest of the country, we’re in lockdown. So most of the time is spent indoors. I can’t really say too much about what’s happening out there, to be honest. Yeah.

Darren: Yeah. Well, I think whatever we say has already been said, isn’t it really? And yeah, we just have to kind of get on with things really as best as we can and kind of look after ourselves. So, you know, this topic of what we’re going to talk about today, Matt, for me personally, the immune system, an immunity is being spoken about, obviously, for obvious reasons. So much now. But I genuinely believe I think he’s like I’ve just said to you, that I don’t think many people really understand, you know, they understand the immune system and immunity what it means. But I don’t really think they understand the full functionality of it and what we can do as individuals to kind of improve that. So that’s kind of what I’d like to dig into today. But before we go into all of that, it might be great for you to go on to give us some background and insight into you and how you’ve kind of come to where you’re at today.

Matt: Yeah, sure. So to my background is as a health coach. So I work with people a lot around things like health problems, sleep problems, fatigue, weight loss. Those are the kinds of areas where I’ve worked a lot with people. My background before that, I started off in the health and fitness industry about 18 years ago as a personal trainer, and I’m a sports massage therapist. And then really just over the years, as my own knowledge and my skills have evolved, I started to work with people in other ways, in nutrition, functional medicine, side of things, holistic lifestyle coaching and all kinds of different modalities. Working with the mind, the emotions, hearing a lot of the things I’ve trained in over the years that allows me to help and work with people. And that then I think the other thing that’s kind of contributed to my journey, I think, is my natural curiosity, which I have a very curious mind thirst for learning is really my own kind of health challenge. I used to have a lot of problems with fatigue, OK, and probably in my mid twenties when it kind of started, which is quite unusual because. You know, obviously from a young age and I was living a healthy life, I was a personal trainer at the time and, you know, I was sleeping well, eating well, exercising well. But I still have problems with fatigue. And that kind of started me really researching and training in different things, particularly functional medicine. And also more recently in the last few years or so, more into the biohacking side of things as well, which has helped me immensely. And just studying lots of different programs and stuff along the way. So all of that kind of has come together and led me to where I am now.

Darren: Yeah, I mean, super interesting, isn’t it? Because I think, you know, what you said there when you were young, you wouldn’t normally associate fatigue and issues like that, A. With people that were young, but B. More so that the fact that you said you were a personal trainer. So is that what kind of led you on this kind of disguise? You’re very curious like this discovery as to why that was happening.

Matt: I think so, yeah. I mean, I’ve always had a passion and interest in biology and the human body and mind. Even before that, I didn’t agree and support science, but I think it really kind of really gave me that extra bit of drive and to really look beneath the surface because, you know, on the surface, everything seemed like I was doing all the right things. So it just led me to go, well, what else is going on? What am I missing here? And digging deeper?

Darren: Yeah, yeah, definitely. But I mean, for me, it seems like now or maybe because I’m in this industry like you, it seems to be that people are becoming way more aware of just general health. I mean, there’s been a shift over to becoming fitter and healthier. I feel like people are getting way more curious and researching just kind of general health and why we all the way we are, as opposed to kind of waiting for us to get sick. Is that something that you’re seeing or.

Matt: I think there’s definitely a big move. And, you know, the industry is growing. It’s obviously matured. And then we’ve got information just more readily available on the Internet and stuff. So I think all of those things combined and again, new science has moved on. And, yeah, there’s so much more information out there and deeper understanding of why the body and the mind works. So, yeah, I think all of those things combined are really nice to this.

Darren: Yeah, definitely. But I also think it’s kind of a Double-Edged sword in so much as, you know, a little bit of information can be hugely dangerous, can’t it? Right. And we think that Google is the God to everything. And actually, I think it’s great for, like he said, being curious and understanding. But I definitely feel that the health practitioner and the practitioners that are qualified in these fields are becoming way more important in deciphering what that information actually means, because you can go off on really crazy tangents. And actually it’s probably not good for you.

Matt: Yeah, one hundred percent. I think this is where I think there’s so much information out there to understand what actually applies to you and your unique situation and what you are dealing with and have to work with someone that has the understanding to be able to interpret that and assess so that you can begin. Because like you said, you know, you could. God bless tens of thousands of different ways you could have, but which some actually should do more harm than good?

Darren: Yeah, definitely. So talking about the immune system, then, like I said in the outset, I feel that not many people understand exactly what it is. So can you kind of give us a bit of a high level overview of the immune system and its function and how it functions?

Matt: Yeah, sure. So obviously, the immune system. Primarily, it’s there to help defend us against any kind of invader, foreign invader, primarily pathogenic pathogen being a harmful microbe. I mean, all of those that the immune system that can affect our memory, learning and emotions has those and in that regard as well. But that’s the primary goal and obviously why we’re here. Yeah, what we’re talking about. So we have. Different levels to the immune system, so first of all, the first place where we find a lot of the immune system is on our barriers, our skin barrier, then the Kozu barrier of the respiratory tract, the digestive system, the ordinary tract. We find a lot of the immune system, which is immune cells, and the antibodies are found there, which is the first point of contact when they’re going to come into any potentially harmful pathogen. Yeah. And then, you know what another important part of the immune system is really? We can think of it as the innate or adaptive immune system. You may have heard those times. And what happens is the Innate immune system is the first part of the immune system that goes to defend us against any kind of invader. So, you know, let’s say we become infected and with certain types of immune cells that will then come into action. Immune cells known as macrophages, the dendritic cells, neutrophils, these types of cells come into action. Right. And they will be there. We go into response and inflammatory response. That’s what information is. Yes. The first stage really of the immune response and not triggered not just from a microbe, but if we have an injury as well.

So an injury, what happens is the cells split open. And one of the main things that causes that immune response is the mitochondria in the cell. Right. So the origins of our mitochondria are actually bacteria that is essential. We can think of them, the mitochondria in the cell as bacteria and they are newer to the body, the human body, than the adaptive immune system. So they see them as the enemy because the system is much older. So that triggers the immune system, seeing that as effectively a pathogen, which is why even with an injury, we get an inflammatory response. So what happens is, these immune cells will come along. Yeah. And what they will do is they’ll get a lot of these where they try to gobble up a bit of the pathogen and they will then take it to a different part of the immune system, which is more adaptive. So we find most of the adaptive immune system in the lymphatic system right now. And so we find it in other places, too. But primarily it’s there. So there’s an innate immune cell and macrophages that dendritic cells particularly will take the sample, shall we say, of the pathogen and present it to the immune system. Now, these are lymphocytes, OK? Now we have two main types of lymphocytes, the T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes. Right. Well, T cells B cells are called.

And it’s the B cells that produce the antibodies. Again, a hot topic right now. We have a lot of antibodies. Yeah, well, it’s the cells that produce that. And the T cells are involved in that process to some degree, too. They don’t produce the antibodies when they play a very important role in our immune system as well. Without worrying too much getting to that and yeah, getting too complicated. And essentially what the main role of the T cells is in the overall context is to help to regulate the response of the innate immune system. OK, so they become more sensitive, more active to the offending pathogen. Now, the other thing about the adaptive immune system is it’s very specific to that pathogen. So when we are exposed to this specific pathogen, it takes time for the adaptive immune system to respond to make the necessary changes. The proteins, the genetics, all these different things are involved before we have an outcome, which is why there’s a long delay and why we have things like vaccines to try to accelerate that process. So then we’ve got antibodies. Now, what antibodies do is they help to essentially tag the pathogen that’s specific to the pathogen. What they do, they latch on to the virus or bacteria and let the rest of the immune system know that this is here. OK, they also interfere with their function. So it will stop, for example, viruses from being able to get into the cell where they can cause the potential damage. Yeah, because now they’ve got this antibody attached to them, preventing them from doing what they want to do. The same with bacteria. Right. And, you know, now the immune system can identify them and launch an attack against them because it’s got these tags on. Yeah. So that’s kind of how it all works. You know, antibodies can I think they can kill pathogens as well, but that’s not their main goal. I mean, we always talk around the massive immune system to do what it needs to do. Yeah. So that’s kind of a broad overview of how it works.

Darren: Okay, so on that then it obviously is very topical right now. The functionality of the immune system and you obviously mentioned vaccines and antibodies, that a vaccine and an antibody, obviously two different things, right. So you’re saying that the vaccine is there to kind of accelerate the process of the protection of the virus against attacking the body or is it to accelerate the fact that the immune system knows it’s there so it can build up the immunity?

Matt: The vaccine will present some form of maybe it’s the RNA, the DNA of the virus, depending on the type of virus or bacteria that it is, and it will also help to induce a response. It will contain a piece of protein or even it may contain what’s called a live virus or a dead virus. There’s different vaccines that work in different ways, but they’re there to try to affect the adaptive immune system. So, yes, it produces antibodies. But more importantly, what we want is an increase in the memory of the immune system. So the B cells and the T cells have a memory cell after an antibody after the body is new. Defended itself against the pathogen. It starts to produce the memory cells, right? Yeah, so that’s why the antibodies go down yet after an infection, after a period of time. Because now the energy and resources going into producing the memory cells, which will hold up and the memory can can be. A year, it could be decades, it just depends on many variables.

Darren: Yeah, so, when so once the body or the immune system is developed, that memory that we’re talking about when it sees or if it sees that pathogen or virus again. Yeah. Is it almost like, ah, I’ve seen this before and now I know what to do with it so I can protect the body in a much more efficient way.

Matt: Yeah, exactly. So what happens is the body will see this or get presented to the lymphocytes and then you have these memory B cells and T cells. Yeah. Yeah. We’ve seen you before. We know we already have the coding, the proteins to deal with it. They start multiplying and then produce what could plasma B cells which produce the antibodies. Yeah. Now we’ve got lots and lots of antibodies being produced very, very quickly. Right. Because up to that point that will still take a couple of days. But within a couple of weeks when we don’t already have.

Darren: Yeah. Yeah. That might make sense. That, that gives it good. That gives a good clearer understanding on the role of a vaccine. Because for me personally, I’m dead against the vaccines because I perceive it to be that you kind of influence the body trying to speed up its process where the body has enough of a system to deal with the virus. But like you say, it doesn’t necessarily deal with it in a speedy way instead of days. It might take weeks. And my perception is that if you have this vaccine, then the chances are that you’re going to affect the immune system from doing what it’s supposed to do. But from what you’ve said, that is actually not necessarily the case/

Matt: I mean, there are lots of factors with vaccines that we might have some caution with. And I think, you know, rationally so in my view. But, yes, the whole point now is to accelerate the response of the adaptive immune system, which in theory at least helps protect us.

Darren: Yeah, OK. Yeah, that makes sense. So that’s kind of the basic understanding. And I think that you explain that quite well. And I think everyone listening should be able to kind of grasp exactly how it all works. So when we’re thinking about what we can do as individuals to ensure that and this is a question I actually want to ask you actually before I go into that, is that is there is this phrase expanding around that you can have an immune system boosting food and things like that. But I’ve heard that boosting your immune system is not necessarily that’s not correct. Or am I incorrect?

Matt: Now, you just spoke to one … I like when I hear people talk or you see all these. I don’t need blog posts or Facebook posts. I talk about boosting the immune system, and it’s misguided, very misguided that we don’t necessarily do what you could do a lot of harm to boosting your system. Now, maybe this is something we’ll talk a lot more about as we go through the podcast, but. Ultimately, there’s other ways of influencing the immune system that’s going to produce positive outcomes in terms of our protection against an infection. Right. And that doesn’t necessarily involve it. So, yes, we can regulate and increase the response of the system to an infection. And there may be time and place to do that. But it’s always what we want to be doing.

Darren: Right. OK, that yeah, that’s good confirmation for that. Yeah. So what I want to talk about is nutrition and the role that plays in the immune system. Yeah. But I specifically want to focus on first because this is a real what with what’s going on at the moment. I’m hugely conflicted over this and that is the role of and I’m not going to convince nutrition because it’s just not taking away food and how it can affect, you know, inflammation in the body and what the detrimental effects that can have to the immune system. And to be specific, what I’m saying is, you know, when you when we’re seeing at the moment the NHS is trying to get information out there about what people can do, but then on the very next advert, you’ve got companies and I’m going to call it out, McDonald’s advertising a triple Big Mac. And I’m like, well. On one hand, we’re saying to people, you need to take care of yourself, but then on the other hand, the very fuel that’s fueling the fire, we’re advertising to people that we should not necessarily be eating, but we are glamorizing that. That’s food and it’s just not. So what’s your view on the immune system and kind of fast takeaway, highly processed food?

Matt: Well, obviously, it’s not going to our immune system any good. Yeah, we get to see, like you’ve already mentioned, we’re going to see an inflammatory response to the way the food is prepared, who chemicals are used in that which can cause a lot of confusion, like why the immune system works. They can use certain chemicals in the food, can elevate the production of certain immune messages that regulate messenger cytokines, that will regulate the way the cells work. So we can create all kinds of confusion and up or down regulation, suppression of immune cells when we eat those foods that we don’t even know that’s going on. Yeah, then we’ve got the inflammatory fats, fats being cooked at high temperature foods cooked to very high temperatures, damage, proteins, all those different things in the foods. There’s obviously no nutritional value in a lot of them. Yeah, it’s very processed foods or foods, even what would normally be nutritious foods, say vegetables. But the way they’ve been prepared is not going to be particularly beneficial. So all those variables are going to make for the food that is not conducive for good immune health whatsoever.

Darren: Yeah, yeah. So specifically talking about the inflammatory process that happens in the body when we consume this food, if you can call it that. And then my understanding is that, you know, if your body is constantly trying to fight, this is raising its inflammatory response because of what you’re doing, then my understanding is that at the time when you potentially contract a virus, i.e. covid in this case or the flu, the body’s already working like 100 miles an hour to try and deal with what you’re doing from a from a food standpoint, then you add a virus on top. And I believe that that’s where you kind of know that all kinds of snowballs is that right?

Matt: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the thing is, if we think about ourselves and our work, we only have so much capacity to deal with things. If you’re totally working as maximum as you can and then you’re given another workload, you don’t have to deal with it. No, it’s the same with the immune system that when we’re in an inflammatory state, obviously, for example, inflammatory foods are one example that can cause that. And our immune systems preoccupied dealing with this has little resources now available to go and deal with a new threat. Yeah, because as far as your body is concerned, it’s food you’ve eaten is a threat. Yeah, exactly. As far as the immune system. So it’s putting its resources. And so the other thing as well that’s going to do is when we’re constantly. Constantly demanding of the immune system in this way accelerates the degeneration, what’s called immune and say the word amino sentience, I think it has pronounced anyway, it’s basically the aging and degeneration of the immune system. OK, and so that’s going to accelerate the demise, shall we say, of the immune system. The more we ask for it through inflammation, inflammatory foods. So there’s an immediate impact and a longer term impact on the way the immune system works and our capacity for then dealing with a microbe, a virus or bacteria.

Darren: Yeah, yeah. And I guess that what springs to mind there is, is when you consider somebody who’s got a serious illness like cancer and things like that, you know, I’m assuming that the body at that point is just so overwhelmed with trying to fight off what’s happening to it. You know, the immune system is just not able to kind of keep up. And obviously that’s an extreme example of what I’m saying there. But it’s kind of in a way similar to what you’re doing when you’re not paying attention to nutrition. And then you get one of these viruses.

Matt: Yeah, I mean, exactly. You know, this is no surprise that people who can be more vulnerable to a virus or bacteria, people who are not for many, many reasons. Obviously, inflammation is a major one.

Darren: Yeah. So talking about nutrition and food, then, you know, what can we be doing as individuals to ensure that we’re giving ourselves the best possible chance? Should we have a contract, a virus and stuff like that? Is it kind of a protocol you would recommend following?

Matt: So I think the biggest thing we can do is what we do before we become infected, which is just how we live our lives in our day to day diet. And, yes, that’s far more important than what you do when you’ve become infected. Right. This is going to dictate much more about how long you’re going to be, how much you’re going to be affected. So, you know, I mean. Things we just talked about with the processed foods and takeaway foods and all those different things, inflammation, all those things are not going to be supportive when you then get infected. It’s not like suddenly we can you if your immune system’s degenerated and it’s turned off and it’s dealing with all this information which can suddenly with one food or supplement or whatever, suddenly transform all that in a second and be able to fight this virus, you need to be eating the right foods that of support the immune system and in the longer term, as well as all of those things.

Darren: So it’s kind of in some ways then what springs to mind is it’s like a muscle, isn’t it? When you go to the gym, you don’t train once and you’ve got an amazingly lean muscle, right? You constantly train it. And if you stop training at that muscle, it doesn’t become it’s not as strong or it’s not as lean. And so it’s no different than really, is it?

Matt: No, 100 percent. I mean, it’s a bit like I guess another analogy is an exercise. Yeah. It would be like, well, I’m going to run the London Marathon next week. Let me just do a couple of runs now and then I’ll go and do it. No problem.

Darren: So it’s basic principles. And when we’re talking about making sure that we’re giving ourselves the best chance when we can track the virus, that you have nutrition. I call it a nutritionally dense diet. I’m really opposed to specific diets because I think when you break them all down fundamentally is just about nutrients and nutrition and making sure that you have a balance. You know, anything of one thing is always going to be a bad thing, isn’t it, really?

Matt: Yeah, I think I think you’re right, because there’s obviously all these different kinds of diets out there and this particular type of macronutrients, for example. And then, you know, then there’s so much you’re not getting whether you’re missing out on. And I think you’re right. I think there was basically one, a nutrient dense diet. There’s some basic principles we should all be following and there may be, you know, maybe certain health conditions. Yeah. And individuals for what? The different kinds of reasons we might need to be eliminating or focusing on specific things. But as a general rule, yeah, we just want to stick to the basics I think is the most important thing.

Darren: Yeah. So that kind of brings you down quite nicely to what I want to talk about next was, was around gut health, obviously gut health has become a hugely popular topic right now. And I think it’s due to the fact that technology and science has evolved, which has enabled scientists to get a true understanding of what goes on in the gut. So how much of an impact can our gut health have on the immune system.

Matt: For gut health and I guess what we can think about gut health in a number of different ways. We can think about gut health in terms of the microbial balance. We can also think about. Gut health in terms of things like stomach acid production, enzyme production, even the liver and the pancreas and all these different things that are kind of involved in the digestive process. I mean, one, I would say stomach acid is super important because the PH of the gut is very important to the digestion of foods, but it’s also there to defend us against microbes. So the stomach acid is very acidic. And so if we consume a food that may have some potentially harmful microbes on there, this is our first line of defense. Yeah. Is the stomach acid? So if we’re not producing enough stomach acid, that’s going to be a problem. And so I just think maybe we can start this question again.

Darren: So that brings me on to something else I wanted to talk about. And that is the kind of influence or the impact that our gut health has on the immune system. Obviously, I think that with technology evolving and science evolving, it’s giving people a lot more opportunity now to really understand the gut. So what part does that have? What does that play with that, with our immune system?

Matt: I think it’s very, very important as there’s many ways in which our health and our immune system interact and evolve. In fact, you know, some people might be aware 80 percent of our immune system is in the car. Right. So that’s the first obvious indication of the importance here, but also there’s lots of different ways from the microbes, the microbiota, our gut microbiota play very important roles in how, yeah, even how much stomach acids we produce has an influence. It’s really our first line of defense. So when we consume food, if that food has some kind of microbe, the stomach acid is there to help to kill it, in fact, does its job most of the time. If we’re producing adequate amounts of stomach acid, that goes a long way to defend us against any potential pathogen. OK, so that’s that’s the first thing we need to make sure we’ve got enough of the other variable or the other factor is obviously the biota. Yeah. So they help regulate the height of the colon, for example. They help very much in terms of producing certain nutrients such as vitamin B, particularly vitamin B, 12. It’s OK to these all involved in the immune system in some degree or another. It’s also very important when it comes to regulating the way the immune system works. So the. The microbiota helped to calibrate and educate the immune system to identify what is self as in the body and what isn’t. So as in a micro, OK, so it helps to teach from a very young age who from the moment we’re born, in fact this is happening.

So when we compromise our health by compromising the microbial balance, we actually compromise the whole way the immune system works. Yeah, because it’s not going to be regulated in a way. It’s not learning. It’s not being educated. Calibrated. Right. So they play very important roles that can absorb nutrients as well, which can obviously be needed by the immune system. And they also help in terms of the colonization of the microbiota. Yeah, if we’ve got an imbalance, we’re more prone to developing further pathogens, pathogenic bacteria, parasites, fungal infections and all of those things because the bacteria actually help to defend us in that. In that sense, they also help to protect the lining of the crop, which is very, very important. Yeah. And so when that gets compromised, you may be familiar with the leaky gut check out, which is where basically the tight junctions between cells start to. That’s a gap, the forms, and that’s where microbes, food particles can get into the gut wall. And then cause havoc, create immune problems, because now the immune system’s got a deal with it until it passes, it gets lightning strikes in the body, right. So the importance and the tightness of these junctions is very important. And the gut microbiota play a very important role that we’ve got immune. We have a lot of the immune system there because it’s there for a reason, because this is a very potent time when we’re vulnerable, when they’re digesting food. So we need the immune system in the gut. So it’s very, very, very intertwined. Yeah, I mean, how so?

Darren: So, I mean, again, for me, that just says that we need to come back to basic principles and ensure that we’re having this nutrient balanced diet so that the gut can develop and the microbiome can can have all of the probiotics and probiotics it needs to kind of develop this gut flora that that’s kind of my understanding of it. And so that we have this kind of balanced gut. And the other thing that I want to I want to talk about as well is that and I’ve been mocked by somebody, another podcast guest, about this, about the fact that we are all individual and we’re not we’re all we kind of all unique and there’s no kind of one size fits all. And the reason is kind of that was because around diets and around how not all not all diets are healthy for everybody. And so my point about this is that, you know, there’s always people talking about, you know, super foods and healthy foods, always kind of stuff where really it’s just food and it’s whatever works for you. Right. So and what I’m trying to say is that, you know, what’s your kind of view on the food that we eat in relation to the kind of probiotics and prebiotics we need to kind of balance the gut? Because that’s that’s really there’s not a clear way unless you have a gut health test to understand what you need.

Matt:  Well, I think there’s some basic principles, right. You know, so, for example, fiber is super important to the development of our gut microbiome. OK, so if we’re not getting enough fiber in the diet, maybe we eat very little plants, we invade processed foods. Yeah, it’s going to cause problems and lots of sugars going to cause a lot of problems. Knowing inflammatory foods with chemicals is going to cause problems that are very obvious and you know things. So you prebiotics you talking about prebiotics fibers. Prebiotic, this is the importance of eating lots of heart. True. Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s that. Although there might be individual differences, I think we all need to be eating whole foods. We all need to be eating on a level of plants. Obviously there might be some differences and might have a different take on what kind of philosophy you adopt. But the basic principles are there. And if we’re not getting any fiber, how is the gut microbiome developing?

Darren: Yeah, yeah, I think that I think that’s a super important point to make. But I equally think that fiber is very misunderstood because when you talk about a diet and you’re talking about macronutrients, you know, the general rule of thumb is you talking about carbohydrates, proteins and fats. But very few that I hear talk about the importance of fiber in the diet. You see all the cereal companies put fiber on the boxes and everything else. But, yeah, we could get down off that path, I’m sure. But but yeah, I mean, it is understanding the role and the importance that fiber plays in the gut. And on one Canaveri that I looked at fairly recently is this whole, particularly in the dieting world where people seem to gravitate towards juicing. Right. Which for me is completely destroying the kind of reason why you’d eat fruit in the first place. Right. You eat fruit for its nutrients, but the minute you juice it, you effectively turn it into just raw sugar. And then when there’s no fiber that goes into the gut, then at that point and it’s you know, they can’t deal with the food in the basic way they should do so. Can you just kind of talk about what fiber is, what it does, and kind of generalized food groups that contain high levels of fiber?

Matt: Yeah, I mean, so. We have different types of fiber, we have soluble fiber, we have insoluble fiber, we get depending on where we get it from, will influence the type. And they perform different roles. Yeah, fiber can help. For example, it can give you the kind of old school of thought on fiber because it keeps us regular. Yeah. And yeah, it kind of does that. Right, scratching the surface. Right. You know, obviously anything that’s plant based they contain typically pretty much most forms of plant to contain fibers. Obviously when you start processing it, that’s a different story. Yeah, but whether we’re talking grains, we’re who we’re talking fruits and vegetables less. So, I mean, it’s more insoluble fibers. Yeah, a lot of fruits. But the good ones are most beneficial. I feel that it comes from vegetables and there’s so many different types of fibers out there as well. For example, we have something called beta glucose. Right. So beta glucan is a type of fiber we find in oats and mushrooms. That actually helps to regulate immune cells. I know it’s not just food for the microbes. It’s not just going to help keep us rakia. It can also help with cholesterol levels and blood sugar regulation. You know, so we’re running all the time. I don’t think we even know that much about why, but to be honest. Yeah. Compared to what there is to know. So I think we’re starting to understand that actually fiber is much more than maybe we used to think it was.

Darren: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s super interesting, actually. But, you know, in terms of the positive changes that we can make as individuals, you know, we’ve talked about following a nutrient dense diet and, you know. Getting out and about getting moved in, but particularly around physical exercise, because, you know, physical exercise is what is two things in a sense that is good for us. But it does also, you know, put high stress on the body when you’re performing the exercise. So what would you say are some of the key elements around the relation between the immune system and physical exercise?

Matt: So there is some research out there that tells us when we’re working on a moderate to high intensity level for long periods, it lowers so secretory immunoglobulin and is an antibody that we find in along the mucosa. So remember I told you earlier, which is where we find it in the gut, in the respiratory tract and into the urine retracts as well. So when we what’s been known as is that lowers if we prolonged more kind of cardiovascular exercise. Really. Yeah. A moderate to high intensity for a long period, usually for about 90 minutes or so. Yeah. We would see a lowering of that. You could also say depletion of glycogen in the liver, which can also influence the immune system. So we are more prone to infections in these instances. Mm hmm. If we had somebody that does chronic,maybe not the right word, but prolonged exercise on a frequent basis for long periods of time. Yeah, I mean, exercise can affect us in different ways and the benefits depending on the type of exercise as well. I mean, that’s more than negative. But for the most part, exercise can be very positive.

Darren: Yeah, but I guess though as well is that if you are doing these prolonged periods of exercise, it makes the nutrition part of what you’re doing even more important. Right. Because I understand that to be kind of the area where that’s going to is going to rest, recover, replenish. And if you’re eating a decent diet, then, yeah, whilst that might kind of lower the potential of protection from the immune system is very, very key to make sure that you’re replenishing the body with the nutrients you just deplete it from.

Matt: Yeah, exactly. And there may be certain nutrients you need to eat more as well. Yeah. You know, and. Yeah, I mean, absolutely. I mean, it’s kind of obvious.

Darren: Well I think it’s funny. I mean well not necessarily funny, but I think it’s interesting that, you know, again, I did a Facebook live a few weeks ago about the fact that, you know, the government is telling everybody to move, get outside and everything else and again comes back to the whole McDonald’s thing. Sorry, McDonald’s, but you’re going to get it. You know, is this like if you are going out and doing an hour’s work and then you go and smash McDonald’s, that’s just not helping you?

Matt: Yeah, I think I think you bring up a good point is the way most people kind of relate to food is the calorie scenario. And I think that’s very damaging because people kind of say, well, as long as I’m burning more calories and I’m eating, then I’m going to be healthy. But yeah, right. That’s that’s just not at all like the nutrients involved in exercise required to support exercise. We need, like you said, we need to replenish it.

Darren: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And I think, you know, you and I kind of said, you know, it’s obvious, but I don’t think it is. I genuinely don’t think that it is obvious to people because they make this assumption that it might be a bit of bread and it might be a bit of me. But you’ve really got to understand as to how that’s got to you and the process is gone through. So, yeah, I think that’s quite key. So just just before we kind of wrap up, I’d like to kind of just briefly touch on the immune system and mental health on what kind of associations there are between those two.

Matt: Yeah, I mean, so. The the mind, the emotions are very intertwined with the immune system because one of the two main systems that really helped to regulate the immune system, the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system, the hormones, the biochemistry of the body, there are certain biochemicals that will help to suppress the immune system and others will help to increase the immune system. So, for example, cortisol is typically going to have a negative effect on the immune system, also being the stress hormone. Yeah, and then, of course, we’ve got things like melatonin, which is very, very important with other hormones like oxytocin and endorphins, dopamine, which are much more intertwined with our emotions. Yeah. That will help to improve the immune response up, regulate the immune system. If we look at the nervous system, we’ve got to sides to the autonomic nervous system.

We’ve got the simple fetich. I’m at the pass, right, so the sympathetic is more involved in the immediate response, so inflammatory responses really when we talk about the immune system and the rest of the immune system is really primarily involved in a parasympathetic activity. Right. So if we’re chronically in a sympathetic state, we’re very much compromising on the system. OK. And so we want to we if we want to be optimally protected suicide bombings system, we need to be looking at our emotions. We need to be looking at our mental health, because if we’re in any kind of more of the more distressing emotions, anger, anxiety, depression.

And. My mind’s gone blank and, you know, holding onto resentments, for example. Yeah, frustration, all those kinds of emotions are going to increase cortisol, activating a sympathetic nervous system. Mm hmm. And the ones that we want to feel good. Yeah. The joy, happiness and love know all those kinds of emotional states are going to help up, regulate, get us into a sympathetic state. So there’s a strong connection. So whatever we can do in our lives to keep ourselves in a better state, a higher state, you learn to work and manage stress a bit better. Yeah. Anything we can do today, maybe doing things like forgiveness in class, which is very beneficial to the immune system. Yeah. This study is showing, for example, that emotions like anger increase inflammation. Yeah. And suppress natural cholesterol. So natural killer cells are the main immune cells that defend us against viruses as well as cancer. Wow. That they are what they call intracellular immune cells that fight intracellular infections. Yeah. And for that reason, you know, engaging too much in those emotions can be detrimental to our immune health. Whatever we can do to improve our mental health, our emotions are going to have a positive effect on me.

Darren: Yeah. And I think that’s so interesting and really key to point out, because, you know, a lot of what you’re talking about with with how we feel, with how we behave, how we react, gratitude, you know, that’s all emotions that once you’re aware of those, they’re really easy to kind of I wouldn’t say to change, but easy to be aware of and to work on to improve upon, which ultimately will go to kind of, you know, reduce that inflammation response, reduce the cortisol levels. And it’s just having that information, I think is so key that the information and awareness that that is how it works and the simple things that you can do in order to improve your state and to where you’re at, other than going the other way, which is down the pharmaceutical route, which I accept that there are people that have to go down that route. But I think if you can start the basic levels, you know, particularly now, you know, there’s a lot of people out there who are really stressed out about what’s going on. You know, the stuff that goes on in the media, you know, is in some ways this is kind of it’s not scaremongering, but, you know, they magnify the situation from what it actually is to kind of protect everyone. And I understand that. But you can know, I’ve even known family members that have got so consumed by watching the news that they kind of get themselves into a bit of a frenzy. And they obviously, like you say, you know, that can’t help the underlying systems that go on in the body.

Matt: Know for sure. You know, if you’re in a state of fear, then you’re going to be suppressing your immune system. And so there’s obviously circumstances in our lives that put up these emotions. But like you just pointed out, how we live our lives, our lifestyle and the environments we put ourselves in. Yeah, not just environments, physical environments, but, you know, the television is our environment. Yeah. So what we choose to watch on television is going to affect our emotional state. It’s going to affect our state of mind. And if we’re constantly watching things like the news. Yeah. And it’s not going to have a beneficial effect on our immune system for sure. Yeah, definitely. So I think we need to take that level of responsibility. And health is all about personal responsibility.

Darren: So that’s a great point. That’s a really great point. Sorry I’m just interrupting you, but I think that is such a great point because we have been conditioned to think that health is when we get sick, we go and see a doctor, we go to the NHS. And I personally don’t think that model is not sustainable. I think the NHS and doctors do an amazing job. But I believe now it’s time for us as individuals to say, actually, no, how am I feeling before I get sick? What can I do to improve? I just think it’s really, really important for us to understand that.

Matt: And I think this extends beyond that to like in the solutions that we look for. Yeah, some people will go. I guess they go, I’m going to take a supplement. Yeah. A nutritional. I’m not saying those things don’t help. Yeah, I do have some benefit, but not that they play a small amount. You’re talking small margins. Most of it is about what you do in your daily choices. Yeah. Even with a vaccine yet, you know, the vaccine is a response to the immune system, to an infection. Yeah, but ultimately, if your immune system is compromised, his dysregulated, you’re chronically stressed, you’re chronically inflamed, which is from your lifestyle choices, then the immune system is if it’s operating at 50 percent, the vaccine will help. But it won’t be anything like actually, you know, taking responsibility for your lifestyle choices for the way you think and feel that we have a far bigger influence where your immune system works.

Darren: Yeah, yeah. I couldn’t agree more, really, because I’ve said this over the last few weeks. I believe that we are put in way too much emphasis on the vaccine. And when there’s not I haven’t seen and I personally stay away from the news, but I haven’t seen anybody come out and say, look, this is the long term approach. It’s almost like we’re all operating from a fear standpoint, which I understand, because there’s millions of people affected and it’s like the vaccine is going to drop and it’s all going to go back to where it was. And it’s just not. And I think, you know, unless we wake up to the fact that this is just humanity or whatever it is you want to call it, saying you’ve been taking the mickey for too long and mistreating what nature’s giving you now we need to wake up.

Matt: One hundred percent and we can extend this forever with the way that we’ve affected the whole ecosystem and the habitats of plant life and animals on the planet. Actually, I’ve just been reading this really interesting book called Spillover, and it’s all about pandemics and how they come about. Yeah. And the real origin, really. I mean, I’m very much paraphrasing, but the real origin is we are seeing an increase in pandemics. Wwe are seeing an increase in pandemics for two reasons, but the influence of how we’ve treated the planet and the ecosystems that have driven, it’s obviously damaged the habitat of many animals, which some are dying out. So many of these host viruses and bacteria, but then have to find a new host and that just moves closer and closer to us and our interactions. And we have the whole globalization where we get food from all over the world traveling from or so a pandemic in which in the past might have only occurred in one region of one country suddenly becomes a global thing.

Darren: Yeah, I think that’s an important point as well. You know, the fact that we have become more globalized is as a human race and it has been able to kind of reach areas, like you said, probably 20, 30 years ago. It wouldn’t have happened. It would have been contained. So, yeah, that’s fascinating. I could talk about this topic for a long, long time, but just to be conscious of your time and everything. So before we leave today, are there five things that we could give the listeners they could take away and just kind of be aware of or implement into that to their daily lives to help?

Matt: Yeah, OK, great, great question. So I think one is to just be more active in life so that can look like exercise for other ways we can be more active. Might be. I know we’re speaking particularly to dads and their 40s engaging with the kids, sport, even dancing people are not dancing actually. How to boost your immune system? Yeah, in my book, I talk about it. It’s very important in many different ways that being more active, just getting more movement, ensures that walking doesn’t have to be an exercise of being is looking at. How can you do this? Yeah. How can you bring it into your engagement with your kids as well as just your everyday life. And being active is one really important thing and it affects the immune system in so many different ways. Sleep we haven’t really talked about this, but it’s a massive one when it comes to the immune system and for so many reasons. Yeah, it’s when the immune system is going to be most active. So anything we can do to improve not just how long we sleep, but the quality of the sleep. Yeah. What we do before we go to bed to prepare our bodies for sleep in the same way we warm up exercise, we need to prepare the body of mind for sleep. Yeah, I know we haven’t really got to talk about it today, but there’s so much there is.

Darren: There is again a whole podcast on it.

Matt: Yeah, totally. And, and probably many. Yes. Sleep is really, really important. We talked about it a lot obviously on this Whole Foods, you know, getting lots of nutrient dense foods and foods, getting those foods into our diet, focusing on diet on those is going to be super important to developing the immune system. Yeah, we touched on it again, getting outdoors. Yeah, super important. Like getting into nature like this. There’s chemicals that when we’re walking in the woods, we’re going into the park to be released by plants that help to increase the immune system function. Wow. Cool. Titanosaur is released. Wow. And just the fact that it has on our nervous system and our biochemistry, just being in those environments, connecting with the earth as we do it as well. So I’m a big fan of Earthing and Grounding. Yes, I am. Yeah. And so definitely getting that in sunlight, of course, as well when we go outdoors has a huge impact. Obviously there’s vitamin D that everyone is aware of, but there’s actually many other mechanisms in which sunlight influences our immune system. So getting outdoors on a regular basis every day, really. And then I think another one that’s really important in terms of our emotional and mental well-being is learning to let go.

Right. And what I mean by that is in our modern lives, we get so focused on trying to control everything. Yep. That becomes super stressful. Yes. We think we have to have everything right and everything sorted. And also we know why this this might look Loki’s we get attached to our ideas about how things should look. How about how our lives should not we get attached to our emotions. Yeah. How people should behave and in our view and our righteousness. Yeah. So learning to let go of all of those things and not be so strongly attached to our own perspective. Yeah. And the way we think things should be and controlling everything is all of that just creates stress. Yeah. It creates these distressing emotions that I was talking about earlier. So the more we can learn to just practice in letting go, meditation is a great tool for that. Yeah, I need to let go of our thinking and thoughts and I think that has a really positive effect on our immune system as well. Yeah. So those five things are so minimal and previously a whole food nutrient dense diet, getting outdoors and just learning how easy it is.

Darren: And I think that’s a great the last point you made is a great point, because I think that we are and I’ve been reading a book from a psychologist at the moment, it’s about accepting that the future is unknown. It’s almost like we hang on to this. The future must be in a certain way. And, yes, you know, that’s natural for us to want to do that. But it’s also accepting that actually we can’t really control it if we’re honest. And it’s just accepting that it’s a bit of unknown. And I think that’s, you know, particularly with what’s going on right now, people are becoming very stressed because it is almost a little bit like it’s unknown, isn’t it? We don’t know where this is going or if and when it’s ever going to end. Right. So, yeah, I think that’s a really, really great point. It is. Is that psychological element, and I agree, meditation, calm in the mind, is something I struggled with for a long time, but I’ve managed to grasp it now and I do a 10 minute meditation every morning at ground. Grounding is great and people think this is probably a bit a bit crazy. But with all of the electronic frequencies that go around the body of that in the environment right now, now reconnecting with the Earth and everything else like that is very, very it’s very calming.

Matt: Yeah. And I think I think over the next five, 10 years, we will start hearing a lot more about this. I think that the bodies are electric in nature. Yeah. By electric, we ourselves have electric charge. Yeah. And this is very, very relatable to disease and health and, you know, just simple things, simple things like getting outdoors in the sun and connecting with the grounding. Yeah. Very, very important because they help to increase electrons flow of electrons in the body, which is super, super important to our health and wellbeing.

Darren: Yeah, absolutely. It’s been fantastic. I really appreciate your time. But before I let you go, can you just tell us about you got a new book, this either coming out or just come out, see if you can tell us a little bit about that and obviously links to it and your suggestions on how people can connect with you.

Matt: Yeah, absolutely. So, yes, I have a book that kind of comes out and kind of depends where in the world you are. Right. So basically, it’s called an immune system hacks containing over one hundred and seventy five, to be more precise. One hundred and eighty seven cool hacks. Obviously I’ve shared a few things in this and this is just a flavor of that part. But you know, this book is coming out. The physical copy comes out on the twenty first of January in the UK. And you’re right, it came out in the US on the 15th of December just with covid and yeah. All the shipping impact and things like that. And the digital and the audio versions are already out, OK, all over the world. So you get that it is so audible. And when you make an audio that I’m not sure of, you get them anyway. So this is the book. And then what I’ve done is put together a ton of resources to help people get the most out of the book. So one of the most important things in there is I’ve put together a reference guide which allows people to understand which hacks apply to whatever your goals are, health conditions, which are the most important ones to you? Yeah, really helps people because it is a lot of. So it’s like, well how can I decipher which is most relevant to me so I could skip that and some other resources and what people can grab www.immunesystemhacksbook.com

Darren: We will put links to that in the show notes as well.

Matt: Yeah, that’ll be great. And then also I’ve got a Facebook group, Immune System Hacks, which have just launched recently, again, just to give people more information and people can learn more. And then what? I have an Instagram again. It’s something I’ve recently launched, and have resisted Instagram for a long time. I finally surrendered. Yeah. And yeah. So that is building resilience. And so one as in no one’s a building resilience one. OK, so if anyone wants to connect on that as well, they can do so. Yeah.

Darren: Yeah. All right. That’s great. Matt, thank you very much again. So yeah guys go to www.immunesystemhacksbook.com Matt got some great resources on there.

Matt: So I completely forgot one one final quick on that. Yeah. This is my website. So that’s just simply www.mattfarr.co.uk Yeah. Which is all your stuff about myself and my services.

Darren: Perfect. Yeah. So check out those two website guys who put links to those in the show notes and yeah. I’d love to get you back on again Matt, to talk about some more detailed topics. Maybe we’ll do an episode on sleep. That would be at one I think. And yeah. Good luck with the book. Good luck with the launch. Did you actually read the book on Audible Yourself or.

Matt: No, I didn’t. I well, I haven’t listened to yeah. I really want to like it. I hope I sound really super intelligent. Yeah. I was hoping Patrick Stewart might do it.

Darren:  Yeah. That would make it wicked awesome. All right. Well, thanks very much for your time again, Matt. And I look forward to catching up with you again soon.

Matt:  Thank you, Darren

Darren:  Thanks for listening to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast If you enjoyed today’s episode, please hit subscribe and I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes. All the things mentioned in the episode will be in the show notes. And a full transcription is over at fitterhealthierdad.com