Episode Highlights

00:03:06 Problem elements of coffee
00:05:03 Functional Medicine vs Lifestyle Medicine
00:12:09 Seasonal Living Concept
00:14:03 Utilizing Food Nutrients for our Health
00:21:46 Flexibility and Mobility is the key to longevity
00:25:23 Improving mental resilience
00:32:24 Do we need supplements?
00:36:15 Three phases of detoxification
00:41:01 Best protocol in optimizing health
00:53:40 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 92 and on today’s episode, we’re going to be speaking with Alex Manos on the subject of nutrients, what we are lacking and how we can ensure we’re getting them in our diet. Alex is a certified functional medicine practitioner with an MSC in personalized nutrition and various qualifications in personal training and performance enhancement.

Hi, Alex, thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today. How are you?

Alex: I am very well, thank you, Daryn. How are you?

Darren: Yeah, very well indeed. Thanks very much. And we were just talking before we started recording. It seems like it’s been a long time since we last spoke and that. But time is flowing quite quickly.

Alex: Yeah, it really has. I think that kind of setting for me at the moment, the monotonous of every day, just being the same. I think that for me we get to Friday, it’s like, oh my God, it’s Friday again. Yeah.

Darren: Yeah. And it’s interesting you say that the monotony side of it, because, you know, the funny thing is, is that in the last lock down and I think it was very much due to the time of year it happened because it was sunny, it was warm, and I really have felt it this time. And generally I’m an extremely positive, upbeat person. And just this time in the last couple of weeks, I felt like, wow, you know, this is really starting to kind of drain on me now. So, yeah, it does feel like monotony. But, you know, again, you know, I always want to try to take the positives out of it. The fact that I haven’t been affected by the fact that we’re all healthy.

Alex: Yeah, definitely. I think it is sometimes, isn’t it, focusing on those little, quite frankly, big things that we can be grateful for?

Darren: Yeah, definitely. So obviously, when we spoke last time and we had you guys on exhales how is it going to affect how how how how’s developing.

Alex: Yeah, it’s going really well. So I think there’s been a really great kind of reception ultimately. You know, it’s one of those things. Coffee lovers love their coffee, obviously. So it’s one of those things, but it’s going really well. There’ve been a couple of great sort of press releases and sort of national papers, which has been really beneficial for the business. And I know Alex is just crazy busy at the moment. So, yeah, it’s fun and exciting times. Definitely.

Darren: Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. And it’s really good to see you as well. And I think, you know, timing and a lot of these things is very important. And obviously there’s a huge focus on health right now. And any way that we can optimize a little bit of how you enjoy your coffee, why wouldn’t you right now? Right.

Alex: So, yeah, and I think, you know, I have that great point of actually just making people aware of the health benefits of coffee, because I had to speak to a client just this morning and he generally was feeling a bit guilty for the number of coffees he was drinking. So it’s great to be able just to break it down and say, you know, if you take away the the negative connotations of too much caffeine, which is what most people associate with the body or the problem elements of coffee, if you don’t if you’re not experiencing those things, then then great, you know, enjoy your coffee. And the sweet spot in the resource in the research does seem to be kind of three to five cups a day. Yeah. So as long as it’s not influencing your sleep quality, as long as you’re not getting the kind of the jitteriness and things, then yeah, get yourself a good tasting coffee and you’re good to go. Yeah. Yeah.

Darren: I’ve got mine here. You said. Yeah, it’s always good for the soul and yeah. Any of those like we just said, any marginal gains we can get right now. Why not.

Alex: Exactly.

Darren: So for people that haven’t come across you before, Alex, can you give us a bit of background into you and kind of, you know how you’ve got to where you’re at today.

Alex: Yeah. So gosh, where to start. So I guess, you know, from a professional perspective, I started out actually as a personal trainer and sports massage therapist. So straight out of university, I studied with Premier Global, went out to Cyprus for three months and kind of got my qualification there. Yeah. And then partly because of my own health issues, I then went into nutritional therapy. So I did. It’s a play with the Institute of Nutrition that then morphed into doing a degree and then a master’s in nutrition. And it was when I was at twenty sixteen that I graduated, so to speak, from the Institute for Functional Medicine. So these days I guess I’m most known for being sort of a functional medicine practitioner. A background in nutrition and an exercise really, yeah,

Darren: Yeah, and that’s awesome. And again, you know, I’m very fascinated by functional medicine and interestingly, how does that compare to lifestyle medicine or are they the same thing?

Alex: Yeah, I would say they are pretty much the same thing. So, you know, you can talk about functional medicine as more of a US term in some ways. And I actually would actually say that nutritional therapy to some degree is almost like the UK equivalent of functional medicine. So if I go and think about how I got taught as a nutritional therapist back in 2007, I think I started it’s the same kind of principles that ultimately was trying to understand what are the underlying imbalances that are contributing to someone’s symptoms or status of health. Yeah, whether you’re talking about practicing lifestyle, medicine, integrative medicine, functional medicine, naturopathic medicine. But they all have, I would say, a similar theme there, the base of what they do.

Darren: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. OK, so that makes perfect sense. So on that topic then, because, you know, I don’t know what would be interesting to get your thoughts on this for me personally. Now, I believe that this functional medicine practice, if you can call it that, nutritional therapy is really so key to our underlying health now. And I think for me personally, this has been massively highlighted by the environment in which room with the virus and everything else right now. However, I do generally feel kind of sorry for the wider population because I think in some cases they’re kind of scared off point when you mention these big terms, functional medicine or the rest of it. Whereas for me, I don’t want to kind of generalize this too much. It’s almost taking it back to basic principles. And I think we’ve kind of lost that knowledge, if you like, or have. We’ve never had that knowledge in order to determine what we need as an individual and where we can get it from.

Alex: Such a great point. And I think I would say you’re right to some degree. It’s a really tricky one, I think. I think at the core of a lot of the conditions we see epidemic levels in the modern world, which we now know are lifestyle driven. Right. I come from a complete disconnection with how we’re meant to live our lives. And I know that can sound really sort of a bit negative, almost a bit cynical and depressing. But it’s true because we’re still meant to be living more of a, I guess, you know, a hunter gatherer lifestyle. And what I mean by that is we’re meant to be outside a lot of the time, to be in sunshine a lot at the time. And unfortunately, we’ve kind of created a bit of a society that is just not conducive for a kind of a natural way of living. And what we’re seeing in the research is more and more of this idea that actually nature heals and it’s this disconnection from nature which is driving a lot of these epidemics, unfortunately. So it’s getting that balance of how can we get back to nature a little bit more? How can we bring it into our homes? What can we do within the context of the lives that we now live to try and get a better balance here? Because there’s some really interesting research around the therapeutic benefits of light, for example, whether it’s natural sunlight or whether it’s from blue artificial lights, the health benefits of what they call grounding or earthing. Yes. Idea of just getting barefoot on the ground. We’ve now got at least 20 studies looking into this that have been published in peer review journals showing us that its healing has anti-inflammatory benefits. It literally speeds up the healing process from injuries and things like this. So what better kind of evidence to suggest that we just need to go back to a slightly more natural existence?

Darren: Yeah, I completely agree with that. I think it’s and when you boil it down to its basic fundamentals, all of the way in which we are supposed to live and that we can live is really basic, isn’t it, when you think about it. And it’s just kind of stripping that back and understanding that. I mean, just to pick up on your point about grounding, I started doing that about a year ago, and I do it every single morning, even when there’s snow on the ground. Nice. And he’s funny. It’s just really weird because it’s almost like you feel even at half five in the morning when I’m standing in the garden, feeling out of place because it’s not a normal thing. You kind of step outside of what’s socially not what’s perceived to be normal. But I generally get a real uplift in my just my general energy levels when I do it. Yeah, I’m only doing it for like five minutes and I’m breathing, doing my breath work because I’m doing it. But it’s those types of things, isn’t it, which can have such a difference.

Alex: Yeah. Profound difference. It’s crazy. If you use the term stripping back which I love a lot of people I’ve spoken to over the years have similar terms. This idea of sometimes unlearning what we’ve learned, which is sometimes a bit dysfunctional, for example. So going back to the basics of grounding time outside Sunlight’s traditional diets for maybe all kinds of geographical location or ethnicity, it is kind of stripping back the complexity of modern living and getting back to those kinds of roots. And I think for a lot of people, that’s what we need, because we’re all leading such sort of busy, distracted lives. And it is stripping it back. It’s kind of going back to the basics and trying to clutter our lives in kind of all aspects to some degree.

Darren: Yeah. And I think it’s great what you mention there about the diet being related to geographical location, because I recently read something about carbon footprint, reducing carbon emissions and and the large majority of why why certain, I guess studies or reports are saying that the Carnivore diet is killing the planet is because of the transportation of all of this produce around the world. And I distinctly remember when I was a child and when we’d go to the supermarket, you would only have certain foods certain times of the year, for example, strawberries. You can get strawberries all around them. And if you like what you said, you know, if we just stop that simple thing of having seasonal food when it’s available, you get the diversity in your diet, you get the time of year. And when the crops are the most that they’re beneficial to you. And so it’s things like that, isn’t it? Which I think is really key.

Alex: Yeah. The concept of seasonal living, I think is a really interesting one. So on that note, I came across a paper not that long ago. I think I even. You may have seen it because I think it was one of my Instagram posts, it was that it was around, it was looking at the tribe. And for those that aren’t familiar with them, the house, the tribe, they’re kind of microbiome. So that gut bacteria have been looked at and they’re often cited as having this really abundant, diverse microbiome, one that we probably all could sort of strive for because it’s quite different to the modern Western microbiome if you or I get our stool tested, for example. But then they looked at the microbiome over the course of a year during the dry and the wet seasons. And what they found was like these huge fluctuations in the amount of specific bacterial strains that were present in the results. So there were certain bacteria that would be abundant in the wet seasons that would literally be undetectable in the dry seasons because of nature and the change of the diet and what was available to them in their local environment based on the weather, basically. So you can see that. And when you go and look at other research in other areas of health, you see this, which is that we are part of nature and there are seasonal variations in our own physiology as a result of the changes in the seasons. And an obvious one obviously would be related to circadian rhythms. Yeah, I would say, you know, we’re designed to sleep longer in the winter months than the summer months than we would have, I imagine, from a sort of a historic evolutionary perspective. And the changes that we have in physiology, et cetera, are really profound. So it’s just another example, really, of this idea of trying to get back to a slightly more natural way of living, obviously within the context of enjoying all the luxuries that we have in the modern world as well.

Darren: Yeah, and I think that’s an important point to raise as well. We’re not kind of saying that it’s almost the luxuries that that’s available to us and the perceived bad foods. And we’re not saying just kind of don’t do that. We say we have balance almost right, and to live a more balanced life, whereas we kind of live, I believe, anyway, in the Western world, we kind of a one sided right now. And I want to talk to you about nutrients and food and stuff like that, because you mentioned your Instagram page. You put some fantastic content out and we’ll give Alex’s Instagram handle out at the end because you’re really brilliant, like I learned so much. And, yeah, I want to touch on the content, not content, but the actual nutrients and nutrients in food, because something that really triggers me, I guess, and that is when people say healthy foods. Right. And. I don’t believe that there’s this concept of healthy food. Food is just food with nutrients in it. Right. And so I believe this is a slightly different approach in so much as we just need to understand what nutrients are in what foods and what they do for us, you know, and how we can utilize them to optimize our health.

Alex: Yeah, and I would almost take it one step further in the sense that, you know, it might sound silly having a master’s in personalized nutrition, but I’m not going to be very good at telling you what nutrients are in certain foods. Like I can do obviously the basics, but I think you can just make it so simple when you come back to the practicality of this, which is we want the diet to be really diverse. So from that perspective, you then don’t have to worry necessarily as much about am I getting enough foods that are good sources of zinc or vitamin B6, et cetera? Because I just think if you do have that diverse, colorful diet, you’re kind of likely taking care of a lot of these nuances that you can just, I think, overcomplicate sometimes. So I think there are some general guidelines that we can consider that help with this. And then obviously there are factors that we need to consider. On top of that, yes, there are genetics that can come into it. So you might have a slight predisposition to needing a higher intake of zinc or you may struggle to convert things like beta carotene into retinoic acid or retinol, sort of the preforms vitamin A, and therefore you may need to consider actually eating some organ meats or supplementing some cod liver oil.

So I think one of the challenges we have at the moment with nutritional therapy and nutritional science is you can make it so complicated and you can make it sound like such a precise science. And to some degree it is. But it’s also a really complex gray art. At the same time, this idea is as much an art as it is a science. And I just find that sometimes when people do go down these deep rabbit holes of trying to understand all of the pathways and figuring out the exact amount they need to take of things, it just gets overwhelming. And sometimes people are left feeling quite anxious as well as a result. So, you know, the idea of eating a rainbow, eating all the different colored food groups, at least one portion every day, is a way of getting some of these phytochemicals or phytonutrients since the diet and meaning. Obviously, we’ve got our vitamins and minerals that everyone is very familiar with. Not everyone is familiar with it. This idea of phytonutrients, which are just plant based compounds, is the easiest way to describe them founds in our fruits and vegetables to some degree in our grains there in the plant kingdom, so to speak.

And therefore, if we’re just getting that diversity on boards, perhaps if we’re going back to our previous topic around within the seasons, then that’s almost like a box ticked. You’re getting that diversity of fighting nutrients into it. And then a lot of people will talk about and different numbers are used here, but something like 30 or 40 different plant foods per week, you’re consuming. So fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, legumes, lentils, pulses and beans. I think we’re all pretty much all of them. So 30 different ones of those at least every week. So you’ve got this diversity from a dietary perspective that then has an impact on the diversity of the microbiome. And a lot of us are becoming very aware of the role that the microbiome plays in systemic health for different reasons. So you’re kind of saying, what if you’re doing these things? You can rest assured that you’re doing a lot. Well, and then, yes, you can then start to kind of overthink a little bit. But with that in mind, if you’ve got some good quality animal produce in there as well, obviously there’s some good quality red meat, some eggs already fish. And you’ve got the framework of a really great diet there, then.

Darren: Yeah, and that makes sense. And I think you’re absolutely right. And I think that’s why sometimes people just don’t give up, but they don’t pay attention to a balanced diet because from their perspective, it’s very complicated. It’s unclear. And I think, like he said, I guess it depends on your disposition on how far you want to take it. If you are just looking at it from the standpoint of I want to improve my diet, how to improve my diet. Well, you said seasonal, seasonal eating almost and eating a rainbow. When you look at your plate, it’s the colors of a rainbow. You pretty much cover most things.

Alex: Yeah. And again, I, I, I really like to sort of look at the thirty thousand view. So, you know, let’s just take maybe longevity or kind of just how a healthy long life. And you’ve got things like grip strength being associated with longevity. So you know, what’s your strength. Like, are you doing any strength training in your week, you’ve got coffee, which has been associated with longevity and all sorts of other health benefits, you’ve got socialization, you know, are you around people? Are you feeling comfortable? Do you have strong relationships? There are so many variables that will feed into this and diet. It’s just one small part of it. Yeah. So, again, it comes back to this idea of all we kind of sometimes overcomplicating this element of things and not paying as much attention as we should to all the other parts of, I guess, the human existence ultimately. And I also sometimes have to remind myself this like I always look back to my granddad and I say this to clients sometimes. So if you’re ever getting overwhelmed, just think back to your grandparents and what their lives and how they were eating. So it wasn’t rocket science. He didn’t have this perfect diet, but he lived a long, healthy life and passed away in his sleep. But he still enjoyed fish and chips from the local chippy every Friday evening. That was balanced there. But he was a farmer, so he was outside a lot. He was in the fresh air. He was physically active. He probably had a strong grip most of his life and things like this. So it’s just chipping away at all these different areas. And yeah. And I guess taking peace of mind that you’re doing that.

Darren: Yeah. And I think that’s a good point. You know, we do focus on the nutrition side of things and in some ways fitness as well. But like you said, there are a whole host of other things, you know, the human connection oxidizing that happens when we have that connection in humans. Obviously, right now it’s a little challenging, but things like for the kind of stress relief or ease of stress is grounding breath work. I mean, you know, the funny thing is, is I was introduced to this about 18 months ago. And when I used to talk to people about breath, they look at you. You are absolutely crazy, you know, but we do lose that function of being able to breathe properly. Nazel only breathed the way that we designed to breathe. And if you add those elements and another area that I’m particularly interested in right now, and that’s functional mobility, that’s not heavy, hard hitting fitness is being able to move in the way that we were designed. And if you look at 18 month year old children, they are a perfect example of how we’re supposed to move. Yet obviously, as we evolved, when we grow up, we lose the ability to have that flexibility, that mobility, which I believe in. You can correct me if I’m wrong. This is key to longevity as we get older.

Alex: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s this idea that. When we’re old, especially if we’re living on our own, we kind of need the capacity to be able to get up off the floor if we fall over. I’m just a very fundamental, practical perspective so that mobility and stability and strength are just fundamental components of a healthy life. And that then feeds into a whole conversation around resilience ultimately as well. There’s an amazing paper that discusses the term acquires resilience, which is this idea that like we have acquired immunity. So if we get exposed to a bug, the next time we’re exposed, we have a more rapid and more efficient immune response to it. Sometimes the same is true for resilience. So a very simple example. You go to the gym, your weights, you’re breaking down muscle fibers, they come back stronger and you become stronger. And it’s the same thing with any other area of living ultimately. So in this paper called Discussing Acquired Resilience, they talk about being exposed to the elements being in cold environments, being in hot environments, which in the modern day might be putting your feet in the snow when it’s snowing outside or having a sauna and doing some sort of therapy. They spoke about physical exercise and how that’s just been part of how humans have developed resilience. They spoke about sunshine. They spoke about fasting because we were just forced to fast during the evolutionary process. And then they spoke about these phytochemicals. So they spoke about the examples they gave with things like curcumin and resveratrol. Often people used red wine as an example, but obviously it’s in fruits and vegetables as well. And the idea of these phytochemicals is they are produced by plants in response to the plants, stresses, sunlight, cold weather, insects, etc.. So actually one of the ideas is when we’re then consuming these plants that have these kinds of chemicals in there, they are having the same sort of benefit for us. So it’s this idea of building resilience through consuming these things. So it’s kind of like, again, how beautiful is that connection between nature and what we’re consuming? So, yeah, it’s really interesting.

Darren: Yeah, it’s very interesting and obviously on resilience as well as mental resilience as well. Now, you know, particularly at times like we’re in now is having that resilience to be okay with stuff not being okay. Was talking to you before we started to kind of record. And that was you know, I’ve been filling in the last couple of weeks. I’ve been feeling that this is weighing on us now, this lockdown and things like that. And we’re not used to having this kind of mental challenge where we have to stay in one place or have to do certain things. So how would you say people can do to kind of improve their mental resilience or at least just acknowledge that that’s what’s happening?

Alex: Oh, that’s a good question. So, I mean, I guess an interesting word you use, though, is acknowledge. So I guess in some ways the first step is, is just that is actually to acknowledge that I’m struggling, I’m suffering. There’s something going on because it sounds a bit weird. But, you know, working with clients who often have some degree of chronic illness going on and as a result often have a degree of anxiety or let’s just call it distress as a result. Um. We can distract ourselves from the suffering we are experiencing and sometimes that can be helpful, but sometimes we firstly just need to sit down and acknowledge that we are suffering. So I think that’s a great way that you kind of ask that. And that’s the first one which kind of then brings you into almost practicing mindfulness in some shape or form and having a degree of self compassion. So self compassion. And I spoke to Dr. Chris Girma once about this as one of the researchers on self compassion and they broke it down. Is self kindness. So being kind to ourselves, just stop beating ourselves up, putting pressure on ourselves? What kind of expectations are we having that we might not be able to meet? An easy example at part of self compassion is mindfulness.

So we need to be aware of the dialog that is going on. What is that in a chatter? And actually is that contributing to the way that we’re feeling? And the third is a sense of common humanity, which I guess in the last year is a huge factor because a sense of common humanity is this idea that we’re all going through our own stuff. And when we’re struggling with our own stuff, we can often forget that actually everyone else is as well, even if Instagram isn’t showing it. So it’s this idea that actually we need to remind ourselves that we are all processing. We all do have baggage. Some people might be more aware of it than others, but it’s all there for all of us. And, you know, I have a colleague who makes a great point, which is that we have all been traumatized by the last year. Yeah. There’s no way you can’t be ultimately, though, we’re all having to do with that to different levels ultimately. So having that awareness consciously cultivating a sense of self kindness and consciously cultivating the sense of common humanity, we’re going through this together, especially this last year. And I think sometimes it can be that simple. And again, it can be more complicated depending on someone’s back story. But for me, just holding things lightly and being softer on ourselves.

Yeah. And just taking that sigh of relief and being OK. And I don’t think the house doesn’t have to look perfect. And as a common challenge, many of us will be having, especially being housebound for so long. Sometimes I think it can be taking the pressure off ourselves and having to do a kindness, giving ourselves a break, taking that bath on a Wednesday afternoon at lunchtime. It doesn’t have to be rocket science. Sometimes another big one is obviously seeking help. Yeah, you know, I’ve got quite interested in masculinity over the last year. And obviously it can be so true for women as well. But there’s definitely a theme within men, which is we just grit your teeth and get on with it ourselves. You know, asking for help is a sign of weakness and all of these sorts of beliefs that we get conditioned to believe as we grow up as kids. And it’s actually saying, look, if you want to if you really want to, I describe it as open, that pressure valve is often going to require asking for help or at least expressing what you’ve now acknowledged, which is you’re struggling with something maybe, and that can be so therapeutic and healing in its own right, I think.

Darren: Yeah, I completely agree. And I think it’s almost like men, particularly when you’re in a family unit, it’s almost like you take on the role and responsibility that you’re the man of the house and you always have to protect the family unit within the house. And there’s almost like if you admit you were struggling or you’re not OK with stuff, you become less of a man or protection. And it’s just not the case. You know, I’ve spoken to a couple of clients over the last couple of weeks who have just really struggled and jumped on the phone with them and said, look, just talk, let’s just talk, because it’s not as bad or things are not as big as they seem. Once you’ve spoken about them and I think just that simple fact of acknowledging and being speaking and just getting out can really, really help.

Alex: Yeah, it’s huge and so huge. And, you know, once you’ve done it once and you kind of build that confidence and believe that you can do it, then it almost opens up. It opens up the door for future seeking of help when required. But, you know, this idea of communication is just a fundamental aspect of a healthy person. So encouraging everyone to do that, I think is just so important, especially during this time.

Darren: Yeah, and I agree. And I think also, if you are able to do that as the adult is the parent. You can auction and teach the children OK, for them to do that, because I’ve found my two boys, you know, obviously they’re the boys that want to be outside there in the house. And, you know, they’re often displaying actions or annoy each other or stuff like that when actually that’s just the result of how they’re feeling. The direct action of what they take in is actually not the cause is something else that’s going on. And if you can just try and stop that situation and diffuse that situation, say, you know, what else is going on here and just kind of allow them to kind of let it out, you do it doesn’t have to descend into this big kind of, you know, argument and kind of upset in the house.

Alex: Yeah, absolutely.

Darren: Yeah. Yeah, it’s cool. So in terms of like coming back to the door and everything, like what’s your view on supplementation? Because if we take it back to the season eating and the rain by planting everything else, what’s your view on supplementation and whether or not we need it?

Alex: And I think my personal view is that the majority of us do need it fundamentally. And there are different reasons to consider that. One is obviously just the fast paced way of living that most of us are in. You can go down, obviously, and consider the quality of the soil. The food may be growing and how that could be compromised. Sometimes that then means that the crops or the foods are as nutrient dense as they once were. So you’ve got you’ve got reasons from the quality of the soil that our food is being grown through to the quality of our overall environment that we’re living in. So, you know, living in London, for example, and being exposed to that sort of level of pollution, is that increasing our requirement for certain nutrients because we’re just utilizing our nutrients at a quicker rate, because certain physiological processes are basically busier than maybe they would have been or could be. So there’s all sorts of reasons why I think we’re not necessarily meeting the requirement for our nutrients. And certainly in the testing I do I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone who’s had optimal nutrient status. So, again, that comes back to living a certain lifestyle that doesn’t really match how we are fooling ourselves. That the commonly used example of you wanting to use the best quality fuel in an F1 car kind of thing is the same sort of principle, I guess. But then also, I think it’s now 40 percent of GP visits are related to digestive issues. So you could also then say, well, actually, there’s a lot of people who just aren’t digesting and absorbing their food and nutrients as effectively as they should do.

And in those situations, do we need to consider obviously supporting and improving gut health, but in the short term, actually trying to support nutrient status as a way to potentially heal the digestive system at the same time. So there’s lots of reasons to argue that supplements have a role to play and it’s just dependent on how healthy someone’s lifestyle is. But if we’re talking from a population level perspective, the diet is so poor that, yes, we obviously want to be working on that kind of behavioral element to things. But obviously the topic of supplements, I think they can be really beneficial. And I don’t think necessarily there are specific ones that we can highlight. I mean, in the testing, B vitamins are often suboptimal magnesium, zinc and antioxidants like vitamin A and alpha acids. There’s a wide range that seems to be deficient in the general population. And so the question really becomes why and not individual, do we feel they have suboptimal nutrient status? Is there a gut issue or are they just manically stressed? Is the diet poor? And which of these do they feel they can work on at this point in time because they might not be able to do anything about the deadline at work or the fact that they’ve got two young ones and that sleep is just completely messed up. And so it’s kind of saying, OK, well, what do you feel is within your control at this point in time? So I’m not actually against a good quality multivitamin sometimes if you’re wanting to if there’s someone listening in I like.

But what should I supplement then? I don’t think a good quality multi is something to not consider. I know I’ve started following a couple of people who are trying to raise the awareness of like Omega three toxicity and the problems of supplements and make it three. But I don’t fully follow this logic. And when you look at the research on Omega three supplementation in all sorts of. And conditions, it’s to me, seems really obvious that that would be another good consideration, dependent obviously on how much already fish you’re consuming. If you’re having a lovely wild salmon two or three times a week, that may not be a need. So, again, there are often factors to consider. And then you’ve kind of got what I would describe maybe as some of the bonus or optimization type supplements. So whether that’s certain medicinal mushrooms, whether that’s adaptations like regular Rosaire or Wigan’s, you know, I’ve got I’ve done some genetic testing on myself in my phase to detox pathways just from a genetic predisposition perspective. Our opponents, I think, is the technical term, though I do do a little bit of detox work every now and again. And to give people a bit of context, a very nice analogy or metaphor that was once given to me is, you know, there are people who will often talk about three phases of detoxification, phase one, two and three.

And phase one is like you putting your garbage at the end of the driveway. Phase two is the dustbin, men coming and picking it up. And the phase three could be described as kind of then eliminating it from the actual body. So my phase to my dustbin men is just really lazy. I say supposing that process just from a longevity health optimization, preventative sort of perspective makes sense to me, basically. So, again, you can tailor it to the individual if you have done any form of kind of functional testing as well. And I guess a way to summarize all of this is I think I got this from Chris Caressa, who’s a functional medicine practitioner out in the States. He’s very popular. And you can have kind of a maintenance program or therapeutic program when it comes to supplements. Your therapeutic program will be personalized to you with the intention of healing something. So, you know, maybe you’ve done a test and maybe you’ve got some imbalances in the gut microbiome or whatever it may be. And a practitioner has recommended some supplements for very specific reasons, whereas a maintenance program might be something you do kind of day to day as a way to maintain good health and to ensure that in your latter years you are as healthy as possible. So that’s where you would fit in things like your multivitamin, maybe some vitamin D, maybe some additional magnesium and omega three supplements. And that might be it. Ultimately, that kind of covers all of your bases.

Yeah. And the final thing on that before I’m I’ll stop ranting is there’s something called the triage theory, which is really interesting. So I think it’s Dr. Bruce Ames who initially came up with this, I think quite a long time ago. But it’s this idea that our body I describe as our bodies like a distribution center. So it’s distributing nutrients to the organs, tissues, cellular pathways where they are required. But obviously there is a triage system in place because if your heart stops beating, that’s a problem. Whereas if your liver becomes a bit sluggish in the way it’s working, you’re still going to wake up tomorrow and be living. So your body’s distributing your resources, your nutrients to the most important life saving organs, glands, tissues, etc.. So if you are not providing the body with the appropriate amounts of the nutrient that is required for optimal health, you will distribute what you are giving it to the heart or to the lungs, to the brain, etc. And that’s not going to lead to a symptom then and there. But after 30 years of not providing enough nutrients to an organ or a tissue or a metabolic pathway that isn’t needed for sort of a life giving property, that’s when maybe we end up with osteoporosis or dementia or cancer or whatever it may be. So let’s try our theories, this idea that we’re distributing nutrients to critical processes and we’re sacrificing those that aren’t as critical. And over time, maybe that’s one of the ways that we age and what influences how we age.

Darren: Yeah, yeah. That makes it. And that makes sense. And I guess that’s where, you know, if you want to make sure your optimal is not really if you can then go down the testimony. So personally, I’ve done a couple of gut tests, blood tests and DNA tests. But what I will caveat this with is whenever you do this kind of test, always make sure as a medical practitioner, this kind of deciphering the information, because as individuals, we just can’t. And if we did, it probably would be quite dangerous. So. So in terms of. Cause I know that’s something that you. In your practice, so if someone’s listening to this and say, okay, well, for the last year, I’ve really been dialing in my diet, know, I’ve been doing the kind of seasonal waiting, I’ve been doing the rainbow play and I feel okay, but I’d like to kind of find out where I can optimize my health. What would you say is the kind of best protocol to follow?

Alex: Um. I think the first thing to do would be just to have a session with a health practitioner ultimately, because, you know, that they will be able to explore your lifestyle. They’ll be able to look at the diet. They’ll be able to kind of explore your exercise patterns, your sleep patterns, the health of the circadian rhythm, what you might not be doing, that you would be the first thing really you want to be doing. But based on all of that, they’ll be able to help you obviously decide which test might be most appropriate for you based on your overall health and symptoms and and what you want to get out of that process, because obviously you could go and look at nutrient status. You could go and look at kind of gut function and health. You could look at hormones that the list is ever growing in regards to what we can assess ultimately. So we really need to make as educated a decision as possible because a lot of these tests aren’t cheap either. So you want to make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck, basically. And therefore, if you speak with a practitioner, they may even just say, you know what your diet is in your diet needs improving. So why spend so much money on a nutrient test when actually we know we’re going to find deficiencies because of X, Y and Z? So I would say the majority of people are going to be able to improve their behavior before necessarily going and doing some sort of broad’s test to look at their physiology.

Darren: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That definitely makes sense. And it just comes back down to kind of keeping it simple, doesn’t it, really?

Alex: Yeah. Definitely.

Darren: I guess you can go off on multiple different tangents like you say, you know, I definitely have done that. I thought what DNA testing did? The gut health test needed a blood test. And each time I’ve done a test, I’ve obviously found out various different nuances. That happens not too much further. But I think you make an extremely good point. And we are in this unique time in so much as we’ve never had so much access to be able to get this information. However, you know, information can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

Alex: It really can. I mean, we’re just in information overload. Both the public and quite frankly, practitioners know we can feel overwhelmed with the amount that’s out there, the amount that you can do. And it comes back to me sometimes, which is we just need to strip it back again. Can you truly eat the best diet that you can? And obviously, that’s quite a vague question in some ways, but most people aren’t. You know, there are some real fundamental things that a lot of us aren’t doing that we probably want to focus on. Yeah, I was speaking to a client this week, and she’s got a long history of health issues for various reasons. And I think we have a tendency to want to go to the test. So I want to go to the supplement. I want to go to our restaurants because we can control it. And it’s easier than dealing with some of the potential emotional, psychological things that often are going on. And I know I’ve been there myself. Yeah. Whereby if you look sort of certain, like the health industry, you can see it whereby we’re so hyper focused on foods with my background obviously being nutritional therapy, that’s kind of the lens that a lot of the people I follow, etc. That’s what they talk about. And it’s really important, but. A lot of people have. Other areas of life that they really need to be paying as much, if not more attention to how truly, deeply hand on heart is your emotional well-being right now? Are you suffering? Going back to what we were speaking about, are you reaching out or are you just trying to struggle through on your own? Going back to the idea that we’ve all been traumatized by the last year, what are we doing for ourselves from that perspective? And I definitely have clients and I probably, I think, have done this myself to some degree, where we kind of go to food because it’s so easy to control and we’re looking for safety.

That’s what most of us are always looking for. We want to feel safe ultimately, and we can feel safe if we feel we’re in control of the environment. And what can we control what we put on now? That’s a really easy one. So there’s got to be this balance between psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical world. And I think at the moment, at least what I see in the clinic and what I kind of see to some degree online is what we do. A lot of us seem drawn to the physical, but not necessarily as much to others. And it’s just trying to make sure we know where we’re at least acknowledging what’s going on there and thinking, OK, well, our my emotional needs being met on my spiritual needs being met on my emotional needs being met and and taking that truly holistic approach to it.

Darren: Yeah, I completely agree with that. And I can definitely resonate with that in so much as having that introspective view of yourself or just stopping and just feeling how you feel. And that sounds really bizarre to me saying that. But I believe it is that because, like you said, it’s the physical and the external that we gravitate towards as opposed to just kind of stop in reflecting, you know, really analyzing or just kind of sitting with how you’re feeling right now, why maybe that’s come up for you or whatever.

Alex: Yeah. And I think, um, I think one of the reasons and again, I’m making assumptions here and it obviously comes from me because it’s I’m thinking this, but the other roots, the emotional, the spiritual, in my experience, they require an element of surrender. And that’s not easy for a lot of us. Going back to this idea of control and safety. It’s like what happens if I were to truly surrender? And looking back at experiences I’ve had in kind of psychedelics and and kind of deep breath work sessions, it’s once I have surrendered where the beauty and the healing kind of takes place at a very deep level. And that was something that came up in that conversation with my client. This idea of surrender is this idea that for so many of us, we’re scared of truly letting down the mosque and being like, I am struggling right now. That’s a really bold, courageous thing to do and to be that vulnerable, even if it is with a loved one or it’s with a stranger, a therapist, etc. And that takes it a lot.

Darren: It does. And I think there’s almost, you know, outside of just doing it with a loved one, there’s a fear within you that, wow, if I if I really stop and reflect on this, what is going to come up, you know, and it’s that element that perhaps, you know, I’m just going to push that down and you do it subconsciously. I definitely did it. You know, any thought if I’m going to let this happen, where is it going to go? Yeah. Yeah, I think it’s there’s a lot of value in it. And I think it’s courageous in some ways for people to stop and actually do that

Alex: Hugely, hugely. And you are so true, though, on that point of what’s going to come out and what am I going to do? Because I was actually reflecting yesterday on a similar sort of conversation and watching. I can’t remember what his name is. But basically we were watching a series whereby the presenter goes to different remote areas and he spends a week with people who are kind of living off grid. Sometimes they have no electricity, etc.. And I think and this might sound a little bit extreme to some degree, but when you’ve had those sorts of experiences. It’s another reminder of how dysfunctional society is, and it can be very hard to just go back to your old way of living. And I think that’s where certainly for me, that’s where some of the fear has been. I think this idea of, well, what if I have this profound moment of realization and I want to go and live in a cave for the rest of my life, it’s like, well, you know, then then we kind of have to process that. But it’s not like you’re going to be forced to do anything. So that’s where having a therapist, if it is through some sort of let’s just say obviously something that’s becoming really popular at the moment and well known is kind of the psychedelic renaissance. It’s like speaking to a therapist who’s kind of got experience in what they called integration therapy. So use what comes up as a way to make those small changes in your lifestyle. So go barefoot in the morning for five minutes before the kids are up or after the kids have been pushed off to school or whatever it may be.

What are some of the actual small changes you can make that are just starting to get you closer to where you would like to be? Let’s say in five, 10 years time? There is a small change that I’m kind of in the process of making. I really want all of my clothes from now on to be kind of recycled clothing. So, you know, making that small gesture to kind of the environment and things. And it’s just little things like that. I am speaking to Dr. Tom O’Brien that some people will be familiar with, he’s kind of a big guy in the world and the world and he kind of has that idea. And one of his books, he kind of just encourages everyone to once a week. Maybe it’s changing from plastic Tupperware to a kind of glass Tupperware seal reducing that toxic exposure. And I love that idea. The idea of just do one thing a week yourself with everything. And that, I think is a really nice way to think about our lifestyle, because as everyone has heard the saying, it’s a journey, it’s not a destination, not like you get to health and then you’re never going to have worries or struggles again. So it’s a matter of just plotting your way through this life, looking for that connection and returning to as natural a way of living as you can within the context of, you know, where you are in society and things.

Darren: Yeah, and I think that’s a great point you make in terms of just changing one thing, because naturally, as humans, we like to stay with the people in our line, what we know and what’s comfortable to us. And people basically just may be going that one degree, changing that one thing, changing to a different route as you walk, you know, going to a different shop or whatever we can, and just literally triggering different neural pathways in the brain to kind of maybe open up your perspective. And I think that’s a really great point.

Alex: Know the brain loves novelty. So. Yes, right. The idea is that I think why so many of us are struggling. It’s, you know, where we’ve just seen the inside of our homes for God knows how long. Absolutely.

Darren: Before we wrap up, then, Alex, what would you say are five tips that you give the listeners today to kind of take away whether that’s kind of the stress, whether that’s nutrition? You know, we talked about a lot of stuff today.

Alex: Yeah, all five things. OK, let’s see if I could try and maybe categorize them. OK, so I think from a nutrition perspective. Well, what we’ve got diversity, yeah, and that covers kind of the rainbow in the weekly target of 30 plus different foods, I’ll put it as natural living. So respect circadian rhythms, which could be everything from being mindful of your bedtime, wake up time, try and limit blue light exposure in the evenings, maybe get some blue light blocking type glasses for these things. And I’m going to say, based on what you brought up, Breve, just come back to the breath. Whenever you’re feeling anxious or stressed, the breath is the most powerful tool we have. And we know through the research the impact it can have on things like the vagus nerve, the parasympathetic nervous systems that kind of rest and digest. So whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, return to the breath, take a deep breath in through the nose, sign it out and just try and let go of that tension. I think that can be such a simple but powerful tool for us. I guess we’ve spoken quite a bit around kind of the stress and the emotional side, so.

I know it’s so easy to say and sometimes so hard to do, but certainly the concept of reaching out and asking for help, so. I kind of want to say start practicing, if it’s something that you are strong, you know, you struggle with, start practicing, it’s going to be a journey in its own right of getting comfortable asking for help, essentially. And I think I’ve got one left. Holds everything lately, something I’ve been so guilty of over the years is taking health very seriously, not just my own health, but helping others try and get healthy again as well. And again, I guess, you know, we know the power of humor in medicine. There’s an amazing research out there on the importance of humor in the healing therapeutic process. So, yes, it’s kind of serious, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun along the way, which kind of then comes back to this idea of balance with all of this as well. You know, it can be very serious but you’ve got to be able to kind of laugh about it at the same time sometimes. So don’t take yourself too seriously for me is a nice one.

Darren: I think that’s a pretty one that often because I think I’ve been reading a lot of stuff about play about the fact that as adults, we lose the ability to play. Yeah, like you say, don’t take yourself too seriously. So, yeah, I think that’s a fantastic point to end on. I can say. Thank you very much for coming on to the podcast today. Thank you. So people want to connect with you. What’s your sociality with your website and what kind of good.

Alex: Yeah. So people can learn I guess, more about me or what I’m involved in either www.healthpath.com, www.exhalecoffee.co.uk Or www.alexmanos.co.uk, I’m primarily on Instagram, so people are on social and want to kind of follow or check me out there. My handle is @alexandermanos. I think that’s everything ready?

Darren: Yeah, that’s great, and like I said at the beginning of the podcast, definitely check out your Instagram because it’s so good. I learned so much from it. So I keep doing what you’re doing. And thank you very much again. And I look forward to speaking to you again in the future.

Alex: Likewise. Thanks, Darren. Yes.

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