00:02:33 Background of the guest
00:05:41 The five foundations of health
00:11:00 Challenges to stay motivated
00:18:13 Body composition is a better measurement of how you feel
00:21:09 The importance of sleep to our health
00:25:22 Making small changes
00:27:44 What is real slow food?
00:33:17 Cooking and nutrition should go back in our schools
00:36:59 How does movement help us?
00:43:32 Muscle and mobility is important as we age
00:50:20 What is sleep efficiency
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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’s your host, Darren Kirby.
Darren: Welcome back to the podcast, guys. This is the number one podcast for men in their 40s who want to improve their health through nutrition and fitness. This is Episode 98. And on today’s episode, we are speaking with Dr. Sally Bell on the Five Foundations of Health. Dr. Sally is an NHS GP and a practitioner of functional medicine, qualifying as a doctor in 1999 and has trained as a GP. Dr Sally is convinced that your body has a remarkable ability to heal itself, but it can only do that if you learn how to create the right conditions. Her mission is to guide you back to health so you can enjoy your life. But before we dove into today’s episode, guys, I want to take a moment to mention the show sponsors. Athletic Greens, Athletic Greens is formulated with 75 vitamins, minerals carefully selected for high potency and bioavailability athletic grains because it is in a powder format is more bioavailable than pill-based supplements is kind of like a nutrient insurance policy. Now, as many of you know, I’m a big advocate of getting nutrients from real food, but with our hectic lifestyles, this isn’t always possible. I take athletic greens on a daily basis to ensure that I’m getting all of the nutrients I need. And Athletic Greens is offering the listeners of the show a 10 percent discount on their first order. So if you head over to athleticgreens.com/fitterhealthierdad to get 10 percent of your first order. So let’s crack into today’s show. Hi, Dr. Sally, thanks very much for joining me on the podcast today. How are you?
Dr. Sally: It’s a great pleasure to be with you. I’m really enjoying the sunshine. I love our little island. It’s gone from minus four to 15 degrees in a week. So I’m loving it. And it’s really good to be here with you.
Darren: Yeah, no, it’s fantastic for you to come on. I’m very excited about today’s episode. I mean, we’ve just started to talk about off before we started recording the interesting stuff that we’re talking about. But for people that haven’t perhaps come across you before or understand your work would be great to get an insight into you, your background and your career.
Dr. Sally: Yeah. So, yeah. So I’ve got to Sally and I founded my own business, Dr Sally Bell, and I’ve been a medical doctor for 22 years. And I use an approach to health that guides people back to health and it focuses on the root cause of why you’re unwell instead of just symptoms. It looks at the whole of you instead of just part of you. And really, I’ve developed a framework that taps into our innate brilliance to hear a repair and repair and that looks at sleep, movement, rest, connection and nutrition. And part of the reason I’ve ended up practicing like this is I went into medicine to help and heal and and but halfway through my my career, I felt like a pharmaceutical vending machine, getting people into a disease category and then treating them with drugs and and just found it a very ineffective way to get people better. And then I lost my own health, which I just talked about, maybe a touch on that in a bit and didn’t want to stay on medication for life. So, you know, developed and went back to the research to try and understand what did my body need to heal and was amazed at how much the research has changed, you know, compared to the 90s and realized, like, actually when we get the basics right, we set our body up to heal and repair. And I recovered my own health, started guiding people back to health, and over the years have guided hundreds of people back to health. And now I have a small clinic where I practice this style of medicine. I still work for the NHS during acute care. I worked for the British Army doing wellbeing and I’m a campaigner for real food and having access to real food to all people.
Darren: Yeah, that’s amazing. Amazing. I mean, I would love to be in your position. I just think it’s so amazing. It’s almost like a gift that you’ve got where you’ve kind of had this shift. Right. And, you know, it’s the basic stuff. Right. And I don’t want to belittle what the NHS do because the NHS is an amazing, amazing institution. But I just believe that it’s a broken model. We cannot carry on in the way that we have. You know, the NHS is perfect. If you’ve got really you have a serious car accident or anything else. But to do, you know, to be spending 16 billion pounds a year on type two diabetes and obesity is just. Mind-blowing for me, and I just think, you know, as you said, they’re taking it back to basics and I really want to kind of dig into that kind of mindset, because you commented on one of my posts earlier on in the week that I made. And I truly believe it’s a big mindset shift. You know, it’s a generational kind of change that almost needs to happen. So, yes, but you’ve developed this system, the five what do you call it? The five, the health foundations, the health. So why did you come up with those five foundations? What brought you to these five foundations? Because there’s lots of different areas, isn’t there?
Dr. Sally: Yeah. So I think the problem is, as you say, the NHS is brilliant at what it does and it’s borne out of like that acute kind of illness era and infectious disease area where there’s one problem that has one solution. And, you know, and as you say, if you have a road traffic accident, you don’t get me standing over you. You know, talk about broccoli. You want to meet the test surgeon and you want to get at what they do. But the problem that we have as a nation and as Western nations is that a large proportion of what we’re struggling with, our health is called chronic disease. And when you look at chronic diseases, which includes everything you know from your autism to your diabetes to cancer, right through to Alzheimer’s and your mental health issues, when you start unpacking that and looking at what’s causing that, probably 80 to 90 percent is to do with our lifestyle. And about 10 percent is to do with our genetics and say and we have a mindset as a nation where we’re looking to the doctor to medicate. We’re looking to the pharmaceutical industry to come up with the cancer cure, where we’re constantly looking to outsource that.
But the truth of it is, is that a body has innate ability, you know, biological mechanisms that keep us cancer-free, keep our emotions stable, that keep our sugars stable, and that keeps our gut healthy. And we need to create an environment around our body that helps our bodies do what they’re brilliant at. And it isn’t complicated. You know, it’s coming back to actually getting enough sleep. It’s about resting and aggressively, you know, getting rid of stress. It’s about the right nutrition. It’s about connecting with ourselves, others, and that sense of purpose. And it’s about movement. And all of those foundations help create this environment where our body can do what it needs to do, which keeps disease free and lives long. And said, that’s why I’ve come down to those. And the science for each of those foundations is irrefutable and it’s beautiful and it’s accessible to everyone. And so we just can’t keep medicating lifestyle solutions. It is it’s complete lunacy. It doesn’t make sense. And we need to come back to the root cause. So let’s offer, of course, solutions that that’s why it works and why use those foundations?
Darren: Yeah, and I think they’re brilliant foundations as well. And I think, you know, like we talked about before, we started recording, once you really understand this stuff, you can’t go back. You just can’t comprehend the way that it was and then go back there. And I think the other big thing for me, and I think this is a really tough task, and that is as a society, as human beings the responsibility is on us, you know, to take care of our health. And I think for too long what we’ve done is we’ve allowed the development of the first world, if you like, to rely on governments to rely on national health services. And actually it’s us that needs to be responsible for it. And, you know, the biggest thing I find is that when you talk to people about, you know, the five things that you’ve discussed, they kind of look at you as if to say, well, that’s not the magic pill I’m looking for. You know, where’s my magic pill? I can just take it and fix everything. And I think, yeah, is being responsible for life and not kind of just unconsciously going through life and assuming that how we’re behaving, how we’re acting, what we’re consuming is life. And I think, you know, if anything, the last year has taught us, it’s that we need to be responsible for that. So, yeah.
Dr. Sally: And I think it’s important about like, you know, we’re all responsible and somewhat guilty. And I think what we have to be careful with when we talk about responsibility is it’s not about blame, you know, for my kid that’s got cancer. What you’re saying it’s my fault. They have to be really careful how we talk about this, because it’s actually our responsibility as an individual, as communities, as a society. And actually, we’re all responsible. And actually, we have fed messages to our population for decades that say, you know, the doctor has the answer, the pharmaceuticals answer, the school teacher has the answer for education. You know, the government has the answer for, you know, and we have we have you know, we are responsible for buying into that. But also we were not fully to blame like we have. We have grown up with this mindset. And I think there is an awakening, you know, in many of us as medics. And, you know, and I think the population is about, oh, actually, you know, I can have agency back over my house like, you know, and I can take responsibility. And then it’s working out well, what the health message is, I can trust. And then actually, how do I do it? Because change is so hard and very hard to change as an individual. And it’s so much better when you find your tribe and when you do what you’re doing is gathering people around having a different mindset and how to win the support. So, yeah.
Darren: Yeah, it is. And I think one of the biggest challenges that I find and I think it’s men, you know, there’s kind of two camps there. Well, there’s three camps, actually. So the first one is that they’ve realized they’re not where they want to be. And generally it’s esthetics or they’re tired. Right. So they’re like they’re motivated to do something about it. And then you get the guys in the middle with it. Just kind of would like to do something but don’t really think that it’s not really an issue for them. And then this is the large majority. They’ve been to the doctor or they’ve had a medical incident and now they have to do something about it. Right. So they are more than motivated. Why do you think it is that we kind of behave like that? What do you think causes it?
Dr. Sally: I think it’s that thing where we just want the quick fix and we want to be easy because we do not train. We don’t like change. Actually, we wired like a brain. Actually, the whole thing it’s trying to do is reduce risk and keep us safe so it doesn’t want to take us out of that comfort zone. It is a kind of setting up life like that. And so I have the same problem with my patients, people who come who are just looking for it because they want to change that, you know, to live longer. They don’t have to have any particular health problem. They’re really hard to get them to the program or because it’s very difficult to measure it. Whereas, you know, the person that you know for you, whether they’re overweight or they’ve lost their energy or have a health thing, one, they don’t want to feel like that anymore. So it’s worth the risk, isn’t it? It’s that it’s that whole discomfort that we feel. And it is that which is the biggest discount for staying where I am with how I’m feeling or taking a risk of trying some new things. And then the wonderful thing, I think, like with lifestyle changes, if they’re done well, is that you can get people feeling a lot better, a lot, but they never want to go back to that.
It’s like, you know, and you create a new norm and you create a road map and you give people agency so they know how to feel good. But I think in essence, we are wired for comfort and to feel good. And so we will choose the path that gives us that. And if the current situation, however unhealthy it might be, is still present. I feel good about myself. There’s no reason to change. You know, I’m an academic, intellectual thinker, well, it’s not good for you. You might end up with cancer. It’s just not enough that there needs to be something else. And sometimes it’s not our own loss of health. It’s, you know, father or. Yeah. sibling well, that might be enough to just create that. Oh, gosh, I don’t want to be like that. And I’m doing the same as him. And so that’s the wonder of suffering. You know, it gets our attention and it gives us an opportunity to change and befriend, you know, those things and use them for good. It’s a really powerful motivator, isn’t it?
Darren: Yeah, it definitely is. And I think you’re right. I think definitely I speak to a lot of guys where, you know, it’s a guy whose dad has died at a similar age to what he is now. And now he’s decided actually that’s where that passes. So I need to do something about that. All the you know, they say that it’s for their children because they want to be there for the child to walk often find and it be interesting to see what your thoughts are on this is that people won’t actually admit they want to do it for themselves because I feel a bit guilty, particularly men, because I have to be the man of the household. Right. They don’t want to outwardly come out and say, well, I’m going to get fit and healthy because I want to look good, you know, and that’s that. And so they’ll kind of keep it under wraps.
Dr. Sally: Yeah, I think that’s not exclusively a man thing. I think certainly a lot of my followers are female, roughly my age, and I think inherently that we really struggle to radically self love ourselves. I think that can be a massive thing. Like, you know, you think about the way we talk about ourselves when we get things wrong. You never talk to another human being the way that we talk about ourselves. Yeah. And I think Essenes like really valuing ourselves and growing into our own skin is surely the work of life. It’s about maturing, isn’t it, when you get to be really comfortable with who you are and you really like who you are. And I think, you know, and and that takes time and and and challenging mindsets and tuning into what’s going on in us. And I’m not a real deep thing to start unpacking. Isn’t it common? There’s much less self-love and value and often rooted in childhood, you know. Yeah. Those beliefs that are around us. I mean, if you see a little chubby baby on the floor, they have no issues that they plan to know. Exactly and adopt mindsets. So that’s not acceptable. Yeah, yeah. I’m challenging those people. I don’t want to live with my father’s mindset or the world’s mindset. I want to be happy with who I am. And that’s a big old journey. But I think it’s the same for men and women.
Darren: That’s good to hear. That’s good to hear. I think the other thing is as well that you touched on there when you say like a little fat, chubby baby. Oh, that’s cute. You know, but then when you talk about that, that adults, that’s almost like really derogatory. And whenever you talk about weight, when you talk about fat, instantly, people just go towards it. Yes. That side of it and say, well, that’s really, you know, it’s not fair. Maybe they don’t want to be like that. Maybe they don’t want to lose weight. And my take on that is that if you’re eating the right nutrients and you’re moving enough and you sleep. Esthetic side of it becomes irrelevant as far as I’m concerned, because you’re giving the body what it needs, needs you’re doing with the body, what it needs to do. You’re giving it the rest and relaxation that it needs to have. And so I think that when you come away from a Western diet, that becomes irrelevant.
Dr. Sally: Yeah. It’s still a powerful marketing tool, though, isn’t it? Marketed that a certain body shape is beautiful and powerful and that’s going to give you success and then they sell you products in order to get there? I mean, it’s like it’s been becoming aware of it, you know? And yes, I love the idea that actually doing all these things makes us feel good. But if we’re married into this mindset that looking a certain way means success, power, whatever it is that we’re desiring, know love, then I think we still have to come back to challenge that, to realize it’s created, you know, by society. And it doesn’t have to be that and say so. Yes. But I think he still matters even with some of my women where they’re losing their way and they’re doing great things. They do feel good. There’s still that pressure. I know. I say I need to be a size 10, like, really, you know, great glowing. You’ve got your energy back. We reversed your disease, but it’s still a powerful thing, you know. Yeah, we claim to get hold of it and go.
Darren: Yeah, yeah. And I think that’s really valuable to do. And I’m a big advocate of you know, that’s around the size of women. In the ten with men. It’s a similar thing of stepping on the scales right now, way themselves every day or every week. And many things around. That is why it’s just a very high-level measure. You know, body composition and all the rest of it is a better measure of how you feel. And one of the guys said to me last week that I can now pull my belt in by another hole. That’s perfect. To me, that’s a better measurement than white jumping on the scales.
Dr. Sally: Totally. And I think, you know, weight and blood pressure and your blood sugars are very you know, they’re they don’t they tell us the end result of a process that has been going wrong for a while. Yeah. And actually, there are a lot better measures, you know, when you’re trying to assess, you know, whether somebody is unwell and and and, you know, and, you know, flipping the coin, you know, people who don’t struggle with weight can be falsely reassured that they’re healthy. And I think there is an element where you could take two people with exactly the same weight. If they’ve got different lifestyles, they could internally be very different. Weight in itself is a health risk because it turns fat cells to churn out these in-flight inflammation markers, which are one of the mechanisms of disease. And actually, for men, you know, fat cells also take off your testosterone and they make it into estrogen. So, therefore, you’re going to have more issues around estrogen-dependent cancers. And, you know, and also you’d get your man boobs and what have you because of that. And so there is an element where I don’t think it’s fair to say that, you know, you can be completely healthy and have an issue with obesity because in itself it is an issue. But you could have two people the same weight. And actually one could be at a very high risk of diabetes and heart disease and one less at risk because of what they’re eating, how they’re sleeping, how they’re moving. So it is a very crude measure.
Dr. Sally: And there are a lot better ways.
Darren: Yeah, I agree, definitely. But when we’re looking at your foundations, you know, each one of those is pretty big, a pretty big topic in themselves, aren’t they? So now when you start to deal with this with people and implement it, obviously, you know, you just get overwhelmed there. And I think there are a lot of challenges people have. You know, if you take busy careers working from home, home-schooling and then we say, right, he’s this done deal with he said, OK, well, this is too much. So how do you kind of segway that into the day to day life so that it can be implemented in a way which is not adding stress?
Dr. Sally: Totally. So I think the first thing is, I mean, the way I practice, I have an hour with my patients, you know, get and tell the whole story. I get inside their head. Yeah. And often I start with looking at the quick wins because I want them to start feeling better quickly because then they’re more likely to make other changes. And if you’re looking at weight, you know, sleep is the thing. You know, you are set up hormonally against losing weight, you know, using muscle instead of fat. If you are sleep-deprived, your appetite hormones aren’t working properly. Your brain isn’t wired to make good choices like, say, so often the kind of sleep stress thing is often where I would start for that quick win before I even asked them to change what they’re going to eat. And then I think there is getting them to articulate why they’re doing it so we can come back to that. The motivation ebbs and flows. We all know that your day, let’s do it. And then the next day there we are with a big bag of cookies. And so and so I think that’s where motivation is okay. But we need to accept its limitations. And for me, I love the work of B.J. Fogg, who’s a behavioral scientist, and he talks about tiny habits and he talks about the fact that we need to take what we need to change. So it says it is sleep and literally we just make it very, very small. So it’s going to bed ten minutes earlier or maybe identify that caffeine is the issue. So it may be bringing the caffeine back just a couple of hours earlier.
So very, very small because B.J. Fogg talks about the thing that really wires a new hobby is emotion. It’s not necessarily repetition. And so if we feel good that we’ve achieved it and we keep achieving it then it becomes the new norm and then we can increase what we’re expecting of ourselves. So, you know, for you, it might be, you know, when you’re looking at the movement piece initially, it might be just one press up every time you go away, you know, and actually, it’s small, it’s achievable. You feel good about yourself. You’re going to do it again. And so it is around, you know, capturing the why accepting the limitation of motivation. You know, for me, focusing on where I think the big issue is and the majority of people, it’s sleep and stress initially and then making those changes that I’m asking very small, very measurable, and that they’ll feel good, that they’ve achieved X, then they’re more likely to continue. Now, I’m lucky. I’m not quite sure. I get people with very complex medical problems and they feel very well. And actually, I can ask quite a lot of them because they’re better where it’s a lot more difficult to say they feel fine and it’s just a weight issue, you know, it’s more difficult to kind of tap into. Yeah. You know, those motivators where if you feel, you know, crap and you know, and you’ve got pain, you know, you can ask quite a lot of people initially in terms of making changes and then they get hooked, are feeling great. And we all like,
Darren: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it is.
Dr. Sally: And then I do use health coaches, you know, here’s me saying, quite frankly, I see my love for patients. I write to plan and go into the body and work out what’s going on. And then I work through health coaches who will then take my plan and will run with people using that method. But, you know, the accountability and the support family and to help people make changes. And I think that’s the future of the health service. Like we need a coaching service.
Darren: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. I definitely agree because it’s accountability. It’s having somebody to lean on when the going gets tough, because like you say, you know, we’re great with, you know, getting started with great motivation. And then we have about that work or the kids are kicking off or something like that, you know, and then it all just kind of goes out the window. And that’s when you kind of get this yo-yo effect. So, yeah, I think it’s habitual change, that just changing that one thing. I mean, one of my guys this week, fell off of his plan. And he’s like, right. I’m now going to do a water fast and hang on a minute. That’s just not gonna work. Let’s just go back to change one thing and then we’ll just gradually compound it, you know, and
Dr. Sally: It comes back to this mindset. It doesn’t, it doesn’t go where it’s at, it’s all or nothing. It’s another mindset where I talk about. Direction, not perfection, you know, we go over direction, not perfection, and it’s all about shifting direction because when you look at longevity, so how long you live and how well you live, it’s what we’re doing over weeks and months and years and decades. And so it’s saying that you know, it’s seeing that it’s those shifts of the general trend. And actually another phrase we have in our family is that I’ve got three girls and I don’t know about you as a parent, just, you know, the sugar things or the massive lifestyle. And we do 80, 20, you know, 80 percent of the time we make good decisions, 20 percent of the time we do what we want. So for us, you know, every Friday we bake, you know, we’ll watch a movie together, we’ll have snacks. And for them as children, it’s like, you know, I can do that Monday to Friday. I can make good decisions because I know the weekend. We are just going to have fun and really enjoy it. And then it’s some of those mindsets that we need to overcome that it’s not about this perfect plan that we stick to. It’s not that constant shifting. And then we stretch and grow. Don’t we stretch into the new habit and grow into it. And then that feels like the norm. And then we stretch a bit more and we go in and that’s what it’s all about those small changes.
Darren: Yeah, definitely. And it’s funny, I did the same with my kids on a Friday night. We have a movie night, so we will get a takeaway. You know, I’m just. Yeah. Overindulge. But the rest of the week we’re fine and I think yeah. It’s that, you know, we are not like you said earlier, we’re not wired to have this real restrictive kind of way of living. It’s not that you need to have fun. You need to have the fix that you get from the sugar and all that kind of stuff. But you just don’t need it every single day, you know? So, yeah, no, I think I think the mindset side of it is so. So yeah. Yeah. But you’ve got a real food campaign and your advocate of slow food, which I think is fantastic by the way, because I think this whole fast food area and I could get on my soapbox here, but I’m not going to be around the lockdown and everything else. Yeah. So what you cross is real slow food.
Dr. Sally: Yeah. So I think I think first of all, just, you know, 60 percent of our calories at the moment as a nation come from highly processed food. And, you know, here we are pointing the finger at meat and dairy were actually what is killing us is our processed food. And if we were literally just to switch to a whole food diet, it would have the most profound impact on our health as a nation and make us feel amazing. And what I mean by a whole-food, I mean, there’s oh, my goodness, my cats just come. What I mean by whole food is, I mean a few ways and to have definitions. But, you know, I always think if I showed this to my great grandmother, would they recognize it, you know, and it’s and it really is. Does this look like what it looked like in the field as it was grown or the grain or the eater or the animal or the dairy product? I think that’s what we’re talking about. You know, when we’re talking about whole food and some people would use a definition of looking at the label and if there are more than five ingredients, but often it’s more. Do you recognize the ingredients? Yeah. The names of things or are there a lot of chemicals, a lot of additives, partially hydrogenated fats and all sorts that, you know, that really has you know, it’s taken what’s natural and it’s being processed in a way that’s making it highly palatable for us, highly addictive and keeps us boiling it.
And actually, you know, the biggest thing we can do, regardless of whether you choose to be vegan, paleo, wherever you want to stick now, is to eat real food. And so, yes, and the problem with highly processed food is it’s full of very, very inflammatory vegetable oils, which, again, we’ve been sold as being healthy. So, you know, industrialized oils like your sunflower and safflower and your cotton oil, often it’s just vegetable oil in the product. They’re very, very inflammatory. And it’s a process of inflammation that is, again, just an underlying mechanism under the engine of our bodies that when it’s out of whack, just, you know, continues to perpetuate and drive disease. And then the sugar thing, you know, again, just a massive amount of sugar and artificial sweeteners that are again causing an issue with our sugar hormones called insulin resistance. And that is another mechanism when you look under the hood of disease that is driving our cancers and heart disease. And Yeah, and so this is why it’s a problem. And then the other thing is, is that a lot of processed food is just devoid of nutrition, those essential proteins and vitamins and minerals and then all the. Magic of the plant, chemicals that interact with our genes and turn on our detoxification and tell our body to get rid of cancer cells and just totally amazing things that you find in natural food that you just don’t find in highly processed food.
Darren: Yeah, yeah, I agree. And I think the other thing as well is that sometimes people will assume that actually cooking from raw ingredients is difficult. It’s hard, it’s time-consuming, and it’s not you know, I don’t believe it is. I cook from raw ingredients every single night and you can get fit within 15 to 20 minutes. You can get a really nutritionally dense meal. And also, when you’re cooking from real ingredients, you have leftovers and therefore you can freeze it and your food bill goes down. And so there’s a whole other host of economic benefits that we can get around cooking directly from real food. And I like the idea of real slow food because it just emphasizes the fact that we have become accustomed to, you know, we think we’re busy, but we really stopped and analyzed it. We’re not really that busy right now. And we could actually take a step back and just do you think, you know, go back to basics like you say, go back to when it was our parents and grandparents and things like that?
Dr. Sally: Yeah, yeah, I agree. And it’s interesting about the cooking one. Like, you know, it is a challenge. We have whole generations now know I worked and lived in the inner city for a few years, you know, on one of our housing estates here in Nottingham. And you’ve got whole generations that have never cooked. You know, I would go into a home and they wouldn’t have a knife to chop or a chopping board or you wouldn’t know how to chop an onion and say there’s there is in terms of the societal response to our health crisis. And, you know, there is an element of actually equipping our kids at school about how to cook, you know, how to do the basics and the courage and bravery to do it. Because I think sometimes what we cook Xangsane what cook every day and and what kids cook with me and they will have grown up in the kitchen. And so I think if you’ve not done that, it’s quite it’s quite a big thing. It feels quite scary. And that’s another thing where it’s difficult to attribute blame because it’s like, gosh, where does that come from? You know, we’ve coped with the fact that we have created a culture that is dependent on processed pre prepared food. So but there’s a lovely you know, I think the doctor’s kitchen is a guy to repay. He has to how to learn, how to cook. And you can do it online. And there’s loads of stuff online now where we hear these basic things.
Darren: Absolutely. And I think that’s the other thing. We are in a time where we are in a very fortunate time where the information is there if you can find it. Yeah. If you genuinely don’t know how to cook, there are so many YouTube videos that you could find to teach you how to cook. And I agree. I think the other thing is, when you cook from raw ingredients, you then have that connection as to where the foods come from, how it’s got on your plate. And I think that’s so important. I had this really kind of disturbing and quite hilarious situation a few weeks ago where we were having a dinner party. Right. We’re in lockdown. We can’t go out. So we decided we’re going to have a dinner party. And the rules were you have to come dressed to impress and then you have to cook your own food. A starter in the main course. Anyway, my oldest son, Callum, wanted crispy duck, really not my choice. But anyway, I thought let him go with it. But the alarming thing was, he had to cook. He’s thirteen and he got out the packet and it’s obviously half a duck. Right. And he was absolutely horrified that it was what he was like, this is not how it normally comes. And I said, What do you mean? He said, well, it’s normally got the sauce on. And I said, So you’re expecting a shredded duck to come out the packet with the sauce on it? I thought, wow, that’s just not really scary to think that they have no connection. And I think that you know, coming back to the school thing that I believe that we have is as important as math. Nutrition should be up there. You know, cooking and nutrition need to go back into schools. And I don’t know how we’re going to do that. But I generally think that we need to be a real part of it.
Dr. Sally: I don’t mean the shocking thing is doctors don’t get any nutritional training. Yeah, yeah. So, yeah. And I think the other thing like food is so much more than calories. And, you know, those people. Yes. The brain and actually digestion starts before we eat and you know, digestion is an anticipation thing. We anticipate food by smell, by touch, and all our juices. You know, our. Times are getting ready for digestion and, you know, we have a massive problem with digestive issues and the number of times all I’ve done is get people to sit down, stick it on a plate, you know, be part of the preparation process. And just in the act of that, how much pain and indigestion issues and bloating and gut issues are resolved because they’ve tapped into the way that the way their body is wired. And so we are to be connected to our food. And I’m really passionate about the table. You know, we’ve lost the art of sitting at the table again more than what we’re eating. It’s a community, it’s a connection. It’s asking my kids how their day was. Yes. You know, it’s just being present and tasting and enjoying it and loving it. And we do have this thing where we eat and we don’t even taste it. We don’t even realize what we’ve eaten. You know, for me, the whole drive-thru McDonald’s thing is just the definition of hell, Just like,
The millennia that we have evolved over. And so it is tapping into the wonder of what food can do beyond, you know, nourishing our bodies. It nourishes our families, our connections, our communities. And we need to reclaim it, reclaim the table, and learn to connect through it again. And the sacred kind of ritual that we do three times a day. Yeah. We can start to engage with them.
Darren: Yeah, definitely. I know. I completely agree. And, you know, having that conversation at the table, removing any kind of electronic devices and just appreciating the food that you’re eating, taking time to chew it, and then you get satiated and all the rest of it. Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s very, very important. And like you say, again, it’s basic stuff. Right. But we kind of have lost that. So obviously one of your foundations is movement. And one of my principles is movement. And I love that because I think it is so much more than just fitness and exercise. So can you talk a little bit about what your thoughts are around movement and how you see it helping us?
Dr. Sally: Yeah, so I always try to talk about embedding exercise into movement. And what I’m actually, you know, sitting is the new smoking, isn’t it, in terms of risk to our life, risk to health, to early death, that it’s that sedentary, you know, sitting, sitting all the time that’s doing the damage. And actually, there are some really big studies, one in Canada, one in America, where they’ve shown that even if you do your hour at the gym, you know, work out hard if you sit for the rest of the day, it really makes not a significant amount of difference on how long you live and the kind of diseases you get, which is shocking. And because how many of us think, well, I’ve done my run, so now about it. And so it’s really important that I help people understand that it’s just the puttering around and, you know, being more active through the day. And so I will do things like say, right, we just need some rules. You’re only going to use the upstairs toilet. You’re going to park away from the supermarket door. So you have to walk. You know, you’re going to not buy milk for the week. So you have to walk up to the shop a couple of times a week. And so just things like that or sitting on a Swiss ball when you’re at your desk or get a standing desk.
Yeah. And because life is so, so convenient, you know, we don’t even get up to turn the television over anymore. Do you remember those days? Yeah. Yeah, so that’s why I talk about movement and because we could be falsely reassured by exercise. Now without a doubt, you know, movement on its own. Great. But, you know, exercise touches, again, so many aspects of our body turning on our genetics to help our body heal our DNA, heal, you know, improving insulin resistance, improving, you know, muscle strength, including improving our energy production. I mean, it just goes on and on. Yeah, I think I said earlier, like, you know, if you look at cancer, you know, if you exercise for 30 minutes a day within the context of being active and moving, you can reduce your risk by up to 40 percent. Yeah, there isn’t a truck in the world that does. No. And often we stick out many of our prostate cancers on a drug for life. We don’t even tell them that actually you can reduce your risk just by moving thirty and that can be walking and just getting slightly out of breath. It’s not necessarily going to the gym.
Darren: Yeah, and this is the bit that I love. And that is very simple. You don’t need to do a high-intensity interval workout, right. Walking. I’ve found the love for walking over the last couple of years where I. I would prefer to just go and smash and run out or go on the bike or go for a swim. Now, I just love going out and doing at least 10 to 15 thousand steps a day. And it’s just going out there and, you know, coming back to your thing about connection as well. You can connect with nature and particularly for men, it’s like, oh, it’s all a bit wub is nor is being appreciative of your environment, of where you’re at, particularly today. The sun shines out, you know, and all that kind of thing. And then the other thing as well, movement is going to the park with the kids and running around with the kids. You know, that connection, playfulness which adults have lost the ability to play, right? I think that’s the key thing.
Dr. Sally: Yeah, I, I, I need to learn to play. I am way too intense to work hard and try to help other people. Yeah. So and but yes. Totally like play is a wonderful thing. Beautiful stress reliever that is laughter and hugging and touching and, and, and you know, for you know the Dub’s that might be doubtful like this really good science. If we disconnected from ourselves with a socially isolated disconnecting from our sense of purpose like it drives disease. So. So yes, totally. And I fell in love with running two years ago. I hated running all of my life right. And I’ve always fairly liked being in fits and doing various things. And then one day one of my friends said, you just run pretty fast, you do everything too fast. And I started to run really slowly and totally fell in love with it. Like I realized, it’s just, you know, I was trying to be the best mom and I was trying to do the best Minnesota work now and just driving yourself instead of just, you know, slowing down and connecting. And now I run most days. I write very, very. I have people overtaking me, but, you know, I’m connecting with myself. I’m connecting with nature, you know, all that wonderful thing that exercise is doing to my body, too. And yeah. And I think I enjoy it. And so for me, that sets you up for life if you’re enjoying it, aren’t you?
Darren: Yes. Yeah. And that’s another important point. But again, the basic point is like how many people go to the gym and I hate it. I don’t think there are so many things that you can do. You don’t need equipment. You don’t need a gym membership. You can do anything outside, inside. But just moving, you know, doing things. And recently, over the last 18 months, I’ve started to get into functional movement and being able to move in certain ways. And I do it like a bit of a stretch session every morning. And that’s revolutionary. You know, it’s like we end up in such ways where we just move in certain patterns, and then to be able to come away from that and move in a different way, you just realize, you know, how much mobility that you’ve lost. And particularly, as you just said, OK,
Dr. Sally: Yeah, no, totally. And muscle and mobility are just so important as we age. As you probably know, after the age of 30, we lose one percent of our muscle mass. And now I work a lot with the elderly and in my acute care job. And of the reasons that people end up in care homes is they simply don’t have the strength to get out of the chair anymore. That’s it. Like, you know, they’re cognitively fine. They can self-care, but they just haven’t tended to that need for muscle as well as, you know, for men, you know, more muscle strength, better testosterone, better libido. Like, you know, there’s the women there as well. But yes, so I focused far more on it. So my run is about mental health and then just trying to do a lot slower, a lot more mine, full-strength work. So I found that in yoga really because I love the kind of breathing breathwork. And it’s helped me because again, I did this thing where I have my babies. I went to the Great Gym. It was so much fun. And they did all these crazy hits. And actually, it really worked for me in that season of my life. And different things work at different times. They do find something else. And for me, it was a great season, but I just constantly hurt myself because I was always trying to run or do something as quick as the next person. And actually, for me, I was doing calisthenics where I really slowed down. I learned what my body could do, what the capacity of my body was, and knew what my strength was. And it was fun because you don’t have to do handstands on the pole, on the rings. And so, again, like it was just another season where, you know, that was fun and that helped me learn about my body and helped me respect sets and operate according to its own ability. And now at the moment, my season is running and I just use an app for my yoga.
Darren: Well, yeah. Yeah. And I like the analogy you use there about seasons, that’s really key, actually, to get to understand that you do go through seasons, you know, and for me, I thought triathlon and Ironman were going to be that was it. I have actually realized over the last year that I will stop doing that in the next year once I’ve got to where I want to get to. And then I’m going to go on to do something else, I think. Yeah, looking at it like seasons is really, really interesting. Yeah.
Dr. Sally: And it’s looking into your routine as well. So I find it so hard with the kids out of school because I would always drop off my daughter and I would run and I found it so hard. It’s like it’s so ingrained to actually create a new routine. And so you do have to constantly be creative and explore, you know, ways that fit with your current routine. I know your podcast listeners can’t see this, but my cat is driving me
Darren: Crazy when you strike and that
Dr. Sally: Keeps popping up. She’s very persistent.
Darren: So if I so obviously sleep, I want to talk to you about sleep. You know, it’s something which has grown hugely in popularity, which sounds completely mad talking about it like that because we’ve always slept. But just how important it is around sleep. And you get a lot of these young entrepreneurs and just the entrepreneur community in general about how they grindin, how they’re doing their 18 hour days. And actually and actually, it’s complete nonsense because unless you have decent sleep, you’re not going to perform.
Dr. Sally: No, totally. So, again, when I trained in the 90s like we didn’t really understand much about sleep, we knew it’s a really rare disease where people lose the ability to sleep is very, very rare and they die within months. And so we always knew we didn’t get enough sleep, you know, that you would die. And then over the last sort of 21, 15 years, it’s exploded onto the scene, the science. And now we understand the actual science of how sleep touches every single aspect of our body. It’s a very, very active thing. And it’s being repaired. It’s getting rid of those cancer cells. It’s repairing your body structurally. It’s washing your brain and putting your memories into your long-term memory. It’s emotionally resetting you so that you have emotional resilience for the next day. It’s part of your creativity. I mean, it’s just, you know, it helps with blood pressure and sugar control and inflammation and just everywhere. There is nothing like it. And the problem is, that we’re sleeping 25 percent less than we were, you know, compared to our grandparents. So, you know, we are. I think it was saying 89 percent of our 20 year olds aren’t getting enough sleep, which is really catastrophic for our health. And and and so, yes, like sleep is just so essential, essential for weight loss, like talking through all the hormonal things that are going on that set you up not to lose weight.
And I remember having a man in his 50s coming to me very overweight, and I spent two months working on his sleep before we talked about food. And he kept saying, when are we going to change my diet? He was like, no, I want to sleep. And in that time, he lost about ten pounds, which was a good start. He basically said, Oh, so this really is the foundation of all aspects of health. And yes, for a young entrepreneur, you are shooting yourself in the foot if you want to be on it, if you want to be creative, if you want to be coming up with great ideas, if you want to be problem-solving, which we do in our sleep, you need to be sleeping. It’s the best thing that you can do to improve that whole aspect of performance. So, yes, and really, in terms of how much is enough, it’s anything between seven and a half and nine hours asleep. Like not in bed. Yeah. And then and then for those that just, you know, for some people, they just need to switch off Netflix and get to bed late. A lot of people and I’ll be one of them. You know, sleep can be really elusive and then you get stressed when you can’t sleep.
Darren: Yeah. And like you say, you know, it has that snowball effect in some as if you’re sleep-deprived, your cognitive ability is reduced. You know, you then unconsciously are craving sugary and caffeinated-type drinks to get that stimulus package. You’re tired and it’s just so profound. And I think you touched on a really good point there about, you know, people say, well, I mean, I have nine hours sleep a night. You don’t if unless you’re tracking your sleep, there’s no way if you’re in bed for nine hours, you have nine hours of sleep. I mean, I track my sleep with two different devices. So I’ve got an order and then I’ve got a sleep cycle as well. And, you know, I’m in bed for seven and a half to eight hours, but I’ll get six and a half hours of sleep the next day.
Dr. Sally: It’s called sleep efficiency. So it’s people who are very, very, very good at sleeping. Might get 90 percent of their time in bed to sleep. And that’s fantastic. Majority of us, it’s like 60, 70 percent. And it’s quite a shock, you know, it really is. And really, once you get down to that six, six and a half hours, you are really setting yourself up for future issues. And so it is so powerful. It’s one of the best things that you can do is actually prioritize your sleep. And I do a lot of teaching on sleep hygiene. There are loads of things to improve our sleep. And also sleeping tablets. They don’t give you healing stuff that you get prescribed. They don’t give you healing sleep. I never use them. I never prescribe them. And because they make you unconscious to the world. But all that wonderful healing doesn’t go on. And therefore you can accumulate, you know, days and days and days of, you know, all of the stuff that hasn’t healed. And you can’t catch up with sleep. You can’t burn the candle on Monday to Friday and then sleep in at the weekend and undo that damage again is a shocking thing. Yeah, definitely.
Darren: I think yeah. I mean, I talk to a lot of my guys about sleep hygiene. For me, the preparation of my night’s sleep starts in five minutes at 2pm. I won’t have caffeine after 2:00 p.m. and then, you know, I won’t eat three hours before I go to bed. You know, this doesn’t work all the time, so I’m not perfect. But, you know, an hour before I go to bed, I know there are no screens. I mean, the kids have got the blue light blocking glasses. Several wear them when we’ve, you know, yet perfect mom when we’re watching TV and the rest of it. And yeah, I mean, there are so many different things. Temperature isn’t the temperature of the room, making sure that it’s not too hot. It’s completely blacked out. There are so many little things that we can do in order to get a good night’s sleep. So, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Dr. Sally: And then if you are one of these people that have never slept for years and years and years and maybe have some real issues, the thing you can get on the NHS now is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. And that’s the research that is phenomenal. And so I think when sleep hygiene doesn’t work and I’m the same with you, sometimes I have to do all the things and sometimes I just stick to two or three things, keep the, you know, keep me sleeping well. But for those that do that and they struggle, then, you know, looking for a referral for cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is a really helpful training tool. And then for those men who are very overweight on women as well and snore heavily and, you know, wake up exhausted and fall asleep, you know, in the afternoon, they may have something or sleep apnea, which is where they’re never getting into a deep sleep because their airways and their wife will often say things like, oh, sounds like it’s a train. And then he kind of builds up. Then he stops to think for 40 seconds and then he takes a huge breath and he starts again. And that’s the classic story. And that’s really important that you go and see your GP and it can describe what’s going on because that’s treatable and it’s not something to be missed, you know, and you can do all the sleep hygiene you like. If that’s an issue, I’m not going to help you there.
Darren: Yeah, and that just kind of reminds me and brings me onto another topic, which is a big area that I’ve looked at, and that’s breathwork that can really, really help. And I do a lot of breathwork in the morning, lightbox breathing and things like that too kind of because we end up becoming mouth-breathing and stuff that I’ve learned about if your mouth breathing, not breathing efficiently and the rest of it. So that’s a whole other podcast we could probably talk about. But yeah, it’s yeah, it’s super, super fascinating. So before we wrap it up then, can you give me five things that guys that are listening or even mums are listening to today, the takeaway to kind of improve their health and wellbeing from your five foundations?
Dr. Sally: Yeah, I think for them to believe that they can have agency over their health, like not out of reach, I think, you know, that principle around direction or perfection. It’s just starting to grapple with a few things. I would prioritize sleep and I would also prioritize aggressively eliminating stress. And then the big thing about food is just a whole food diet, which is where you can eat real food. And I think that would just set you on that path towards recovering health and longevity and avoiding all these diseases that are crippling us as a nation at the moment.
Darren: Yeah, awesome. Well, thank you very much for your time today. I really, really appreciate you coming on to the podcast. It’s fascinating to talk to you. I love the work that you’re doing. And like I said, I wish I could go back twenty years and start training to be able to do anything.
Dr. Sally: But also if people want to connect with me Darren Kirby I and my main social media platform that I talk to people on Instagram about how they can just DM me if they want more information. I run some online courses. I think I’ll give your listeners a code for each of my courses and they just can’t stop me and connect with me there and I can always send information if they want.
Darren: Yeah. Awesome. So your website is www.drsallybell.com
Dr. Sally: Yeah, that’s right. It’s not on most platforms.
Darren: Yeah. Yeah, I know. I don’t encourage guys to check out your Instagram yet. You put some great stuff out. So thank you very much for coming on this podcast today and I will speak to you soon.
Dr. Sally: Yeah. Great. Thank you.
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 other things mentioned in the episode will be in the show notes and a full transcription is over at fitterhealthierdad.com