WEIGHT LOSS MYTHS: Everything You Have Been Told About Diet & Exercise is WRONG! | Dr. Tim Spector | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "WEIGHT LOSS MYTHS: Everything You Have Been Told About Diet & Exercise is WRONG! | Dr. Tim Spector".
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Tim Spector, welcome to the show. It's great to be here. I'm excited to have you. I think if people want to lose weight, the odds are that they are barking up the wrong tree. I want to ask you a few questions to help people understand what matters and what doesn't.
Understanding Weight Loss And The Role Of Microbiome
How to Lose Weight (00:16)
If somebody is trying to lose weight, do they need to be counting calories? No, it's one of the worst things they can do. I think that's going to surprise people. What about exercise? It's unlikely to help most people lose weight, maybe help you keep it off, but as a starting point, it's a bad way to do. Again, very shocking. In terms of, are there things that have been billed as healthy that people would be surprised to find out or actually moving them backwards? Yeah, there are a number of foods that people regard as healthy. Things like juices, orange juice, things like oatmeal porridge, things like brown, whole meal breads, lots, potentially other fruits in large amounts. A range of foods that are told are low calorie, low fat, low fat dairy, low fat yogurts. The yogurts that children get given are all super unhealthy. Most people will be surprised by that. Yeah, I think people will be very shocked to hear that, especially the calories part. How is it possible, given what we know about thermodynamics, which say that if you take an energy in, it can't be created or destroyed, so something has to happen to it. How is it possible that if I'm trying to lose weight, that calories isn't the place that I start and if exercise is burning calories, how is it that I'm not going to be able to leverage that to get lean? What is it that people are getting wrong? They're treating the body as a simple furnace. Like a tube, we use burn stuff in it and it comes out and you measure everything. Whereas it's a much more complex machine that is adapting to what's going in. Evolution has given us this really fine control mechanism over our bodies that we haven't really reckoned with. Even if the inputs stay the same or change, our outputs, the amount of food we're burning, is altering. It's been very hard to measure, but we do know that our bodies are always trying to get us to stop losing energy, losing weight and they're trying to maintain us in our current state. That's been the big mistake we've made. We've assumed that just by some simple averages or calculations, we can guess how many calories the average person burns a day and then simply work out, "Okay, we just have 500 calories less than that and you'll lose weight." Those calculations are wild guesses because most people are not average. Also, there's a fallacy that your body doesn't change. Once you reduce your calories, your body is fighting to get those calories back. It slows down your metabolism and it ramps up all the signals to your brain, making you hungrier and making you much more likely to overeat at your next meals. This happens without you knowing about it and that's why people struggle with their only reducing calories to make any inroads long-term in health. Everyone will lose some weight the first few weeks with whatever diet you try. But long-term, the vast majority of people return to where they were because hunger levels just build up to a level you cannot sustainably ignore. Your metabolism means that you need less and less food. If you're going to continue losing weight, you've got to keep eating less and less because your body's fighting it. The same thing happens more or less with exercise. We know that it gets harder and harder to lose weight and that people who, the trajectories of weight loss are really quite rapid initially and then maintain exactly the same intake in very strict conditions and you just tails off. Your body's just fighting the whole thing. All the cellular processes, everything's geared to minimizing any energy expenditure and it's all done without you knowing about it. That's pretty universal. There might be some range but as a response to that calorie restriction, that's what happens. It's why you can't just carry on losing weight. Your body is bringing you back up to the level it wants to be and that's evolutionary wise. Our survival is dependent on us going through a few days without eating and then getting our strength back and retaining that. Most of our history. What's controlling that? It's our evolutionary genes driving it and hunger is the primary mechanism we've got as well. You've got two things. You've got the metabolism and you've got the hunger signals to the brain and the metabolism is being slowed right down and it's definitely a brain mechanism primarily but it's probably being fed by signals from the gut, the microbiome signals as well. Definitely a key role in that but we know these appetite signals are crucial and we can see this with the new asempic drugs. They're blocking that hunger drive and as soon as you block that then you can lose weight but if you don't block it, it's virtually impossible for most people to just fight that continually because it just gets ramped up and ramped up and ramped up so you're just thinking about food all the time and your body is designed to get back to where it was. The idea of relying just on calories as a weight loss tool has been shown to be flawed in numerous controlled trials because eventually your body wins. Let me ask if you don't change other aspects of eating and you're just obsessed with the calories. That's if you can count the calories anyway because most of these trials are not real life, they're done in highly controlled scenarios with nurses ringing you up and confirming what you're eating and it's the best possible scenario and even in those scenarios 80% of people have failed at two years. Meaning they put the weight back on. Can you lose fat without being in a caloric deficit? Yes. You can obviously do that by increasing your muscle to fat ratios. I mean, ultimately, calories are still important but I don't think we understand the subtle balance and the fact that food also has other mechanisms triggering hunger that aren't related just to calories. The nature of the food, the quality of the food is something that we're uncovering which we never have in the past talked about. We've been so obsessed with the calorie. There's all kinds of problems with the calorie. It's not very accurate to measure and it ignores the structure of food. The way we've been counting them is wrong. A great example is a study we did in the Zodiac predict studies where we gave, and in these studies we gave everyone a thousand odd people identical meals at the same time muffins. Everyone responded very differently with these muffins but some people responded with a sugar dip at three hours. I don't know if you had any sugar dips but when you were using CGM's but one in four males, one in three females get a marked sugar dip below baseline after they've had a carb meal three hours before. I do not. Much to my dismay. Well, no, it's good. You don't want to dip because those people, they were blinded. They didn't know they were dipping but they reported greater hunger, lower mood, less energy and they over ate by about 15% that day. Identical calories are different response just because the nature of the food and we were giving people the equivalent of ultra processed food which is what the average American diet is in its highly refined form. It had a very different effect and you could give identical calories in a different format, different structure.
Food-Based Research: Whole Foods vs Ultra-Processed Foods (09:24)
You would get a different result. There's another famous study from the NIH where they gave people two weeks of whole foods and two weeks of ultra processed foods and identical calories and macronutrients and the ultra processed food group over at. They were overeating by equivalent 300 calories a day. If you only had calories as your objective and you go back to this, it's the law of physics and all this kind of stuff, you miss the point about food being so much more complex and it's about the structure of the food and we're not actually measuring the calories because you get very different responses to the theoretical identical calories. I don't think people know what you mean by structure. I have a guess but I'm not sure that I'm right. Before we get into the structure of the food, one, I want to plant a flag to say that the people are having a different response to the exact same food. Even if the structure of the food is the same, different people are going to have different responses. I've also heard you say that the genes that we've identified so far that have to do with weight loss are actually in the brain, which I thought was utterly fascinating. I want to make this really human for a second. There are people in my life who I love very much and I know they are good people, they are smart people, but they absolutely cannot lose fat. Do you have people like that in your life and what do you think is the problem? I have a hypothesis as to why they can't lose fat and if they would just do what I tell and they would lose it, but I'm curious, do you have people like that in your life? So you can't lose weight or? Well, I use the word fat on purpose because of course losing muscle is going to be a very different experience than losing fat. For the average person, they just think of it as losing weight, but I am talking about adipose tissue. Well, there are definitely some people who find it harder to lose weight than others. There's no doubt there is. But do you have people in your life that struggle with this? Yes, I've got my fat. Okay, so now imagine those people, you don't have to out them obviously, but what's the problem? Is the problem, do they lack discipline? Are they not smart enough to pull this off? Like, what is the trap that they're caught in? Because they know you. So the odds of this being that they just don't know what to eat is effectively zero, but they're still not doing the things they need to do to lose weight. So what's the trap? For many people, I think it's they have a drive that is making them hungry and they're getting increased hunger signals compared to other people, say like me. So their brain is always telling them to eat more. And although that's not for not mentioned, I think that's one of the big drivers that have got into a state, they are regularly eating more and their brain is saying eat carbs rather than other things, for example. Does it really just come down to there's something it's compelling them to eat more, but this is still a calorie problem? Or is it compelling them to eat carbohydrates? And that's our problem. I think it's the latter. So I think it's they're pointed towards foods that are likely be fatening for them. They could have a regular, but it's not going to fill them up. Therefore, their brain is saying you've got to have something else, have some bread with it or whatever it is. And they're not satiated in the same way that other people would be.
How The Brain's Promptings Can Confuse You (13:19)
They don't get that sensation of fullness. Those hormones are not kicking in. And it's a bit of a vicious circle because these people are, because they're getting this sudden impulses to eat, they're not able to plan all their eating as well as other people that have these huge drives of their body to do this. And we see this all the time in everyday life. If you've ever lost had a really poor night's sleep, for some reason, your brain tells you and we've done this in these Zoey predict studies that it tells you to overeat and we've seen it people eat carbs much more after a poor night's sleep than if I had a good night's sleep. Why? Well, our brain is doing something that we don't understand why, but it's because it's stressed. And I think it's just a hypothesis that the stress related to not sleeping, perhaps your body say, "Oh, you need energy." It's like some evolutionary idea. You might need to run or get quick energy, go for these kind of foods. And it's also comfort food. If you had a really bad night, you lack a bit of comfort. You feel terrible and so it's a way of pleasing your brain. So we're hardwired on all these things that we don't realize are really happening. And no one's really studied these things between exercise and sleep and food and our mood and all these because we've been being subsessed with this blind alley of calories.
Crisp's Stress-Related Carbohydrate Bias Hypothesis (14:53)
Okay, so when you were talking about they've got this drive, they want to eat carbohydrates, you get comfort out of doing it. My question would be from an evolutionary standpoint, nature only has pleasure and pain as sticks to prod you to do what it wants. So it wants you to eat these things. What is the reason just quick energy because you might be in danger or is there something else going because I'm trying to figure out why after a bad night's sleep. So one, after a bad night's sleep, you're you are it's something like you have the insulin sensitivity of a diabetic. So your body's basically saying, I don't want the fat in my cells. I want to leave it in my bloodstream and I want you to go eat. It's the exact metabolic state you would be in if you were about to hibernate. So my question is, do you have a guess? I'm sure there's not a study on this yet, but do you have a guess like why if you get bad sleep or you're stressed or whatever, does your body go, Oh, I'm going to treat this like we're about to hibernate. I'm going to get you to eat the most glucose spiking things I can make you insulin insensitive. So it's not going to go into the fat. Why? That seems so cruel, but obviously there was an evolutionary advantage to this at some point. Well, your guess is good as mine. I just think it's the body's just picking up a stress. It's saying this guy's anxious, stressed, is not slept. Maybe there's some threat. Maybe they're in a war situation. Maybe they have to leave the cave and go walk for three days without eating. And, you know, we weren't programmed to be living in the modern world. We were programmed thousands of years ago, our genes haven't really changed. So it's a fight and flight idea, I guess.
Sleep and Eating (17:00)
It's getting the wrong signal. And that's it. But everyone's experienced it, I think, you know, and similar with perhaps with hangovers and things like this, that, you know, there's some shock to the body and it behaves out then out of character and then this actually makes the whole thing worse. But it wasn't designed perhaps to do that. But I think we're very early stages of working out the links between sleep and eating and mood. We just haven't studied it in detail. And that's why we're getting this amazing data in real time, you know, from wearables and other gadgets that just allow us to collect this incredible stuff. So I think in the future, you know, we're going to, Zoe, we're thinking about, you know, taking the sleep data to warnings about your breakfast and saying, you know, giving you a little warning, say, Hey, your brain's about to tell you this, you should be doing the opposite quickly. Because you know, we'll get inside you, you know, because what triggers that warning? What do you know? What data are you collecting? Well, it'd be say sleep duration or sleep quality. Oh, oh, so you recognize you had a bad night's sleep. Here's what your body's going to give you the impulse to do. Very interesting. Is that part of the Zoey predict? Well, we collected the data as part of the Zoey predict study, but these are just future ideas to go into the Zoey product. It's not there yet, but these are all as we're collecting more and more data. And we've now got over 50,000 people's information, you know, and it's growing rapidly. We'd be able to dissect these things and start to personalize, you know, that information even more, not just based on your diet and your age and hormone level, menopause, et cetera. But you know, on day to day, differences in exercise level or sleep levels so that we can just start to give people those heads up about, hang on, your brain's trying to tell you to do one thing, but you know, we know that's not good. And you know, if you are just carb loading after a bad night's sleep, you tend to, all these people in our study after a bad night's sleep over at. So you can see how people get into these vicious cycles very easily. And they're overeating on carb heavy stuff. So you're getting, as you said, more, more, more sugar spikes, more insulin. And maybe that also means you might eat late and therefore you don't sleep as well. The whole thing keeps going.
What Zoe Predict Is (19:35)
So it's trying little tricks to get people out of these bad habits. It's very interesting. So I want to give people a quick breakdown of what I see as your sort of general thesis because you've brought up Zoe a couple times, which is your company. But the idea of Zoe is that, hey, boys and girls, the reason that you're having such a hard time is the one size fits all notion of eat less calories. One ignores variance in food. But two, maybe more importantly, it ignores variance in your individual metabolic reality. I'm calling it that, but I really mean your genes. I mean your microbiome, probably most importantly, because you've done some fascinating work on twins and even twins have different outcomes and different responses to eating the same thing. There are clones. You wouldn't expect that. But in fact, you do because our microbiomes end up becoming very divergent. And if there's anybody listening to this, it's never heard of a microbiome inside of your guts are just a bazillion bugs, microbes, a whole bunch of different things that help you process food and depending on what you eat and what bacteria you have and fungi and viruses, like all kinds of things will determine metabolites, which then signal your body is a whole cascade of things that happen that's highly individualized. Okay. So setting that stage. I want to go and finish the loop on this idea of what response your body is having to a stressor. So a year ago, I was going through the most stressful period of my life. It was insanity. And I found myself walking across a room, opening a cupboard and grabbing food before I realized that I had gotten up. And I was like, whoa, this is a very powerful impulse. And so I started thinking of that as the metabolic anxiety response. So if anxiety from an evolutionary perspective is valuable, because it makes you take a potential threat seriously that, Oh, I should plan in this way. And the anxiety makes you really do something about it. It keeps you from being lazy in the face of a real existential problem. That's my gut instinct about why you find yourself in what I'll call foraging behavior, that you just sort of click over almost like a zombie and you're just going to go do the things that you would need to do to get that food. Because the body's like, yo, we might have a problem. There's already some sort of stressor in this case from lack of sleep. That makes a lot of sense to me and gets at some of the complexity that I think that you're trying to lay out. You can reboot your life, your health, even your career, anything you want. All you need is discipline. I can teach you the tactics that I learned while growing a billion dollar business that will allow you to see your goals through. Whether you want better health, stronger relationships, a more successful career, any of that is possible with the mindset and business programs and impact theory university. Join the thousands of students who have already accomplished amazing things. Tap now for a free trial and get started today.
Now I want to bring that into this discussion of, okay, we both know these people, amazing people, smart. These are not problems of necessarily even willpower. I look, I will say if they can stop themselves from eating enough calories on a long enough time period, they are going to lose weight. But it is a very different battle than just like, do don't do it. As you said, it ratchets up and ratchets up and ratchets up and it can be very, very difficult. So the punch line, I think to all this is that this becomes so highly individualized that if you don't take control of your situation, if you don't start running N of one experiments on yourself and see what works for you, what doesn't work for you, you're never going to be able to get a hold of it. And I may over index here and I'll be curious to get your feedback. So to the people that I love, I'm talking to you now that are struggling with your weight, this is a microbiome question. And you now have to start thinking about eating to alter your microbiome because your microbiome is going to signal to your brain to say, I got in here because you eat McDonald's french fries. And so you'll crave McDonald's french fries. And so until you force yourself to eat for an extended period of time, the things you quote unquote ought to eat, the things that will give you the body composition that you want, you'll never win the war. Yeah, you're never going to win the war if you've got unhealthy set of gut microbes that are fighting against you. I think that's the key here. And I think it's the other way of thinking about nutrition is rather than just worrying about the inputs, it's just saying, well, you should be nourishing these guys who are these magical pharmacies that can help you pump out all the right chemicals to send you the signals of fullness to dampen down the inflammation, stop the stress messages going around your body. And allow you to deal with all these situations and improve your immune system and those brain commands. And I think that's a really important message. And if you are, you've lost the battle for a few years, you're eating junk food, you are going to have a gut that's really low in diversity of gut microbes. You won't have many of the good guys left that have been wiped out.
How to heal your microbiome. (25:09)
We've taken over by the bad guys who are these microbes that love inflammation, they love actually these stress chemicals. They love the fats and saturated fats that are coming from your fast food. So sorry, before you move on, I need to understand that better. So when you say that they love the stress chemicals, what does it mean? Can they even metabolize the chemicals? Like how is it? Well, we don't know exactly, but when they've done all kinds of experiments, both in mice and humans, where you say give people junk food from, you know, you change dramatically their diet from healthy to unhealthy, you get an increase in these microbes, which are always associated with inflammation. So when you look in the blood levels, you see these markers of blood inflammation, which is this like low level stress in the body, like little mini fires going around throughout the body, and they take over. So it's like we think there's a subtle change in maybe the acidity of the gut in tiny amounts, and it takes a tiny tweak for one group of microbes to out-compete the others. So these guys are the pro-inflammatory microbes and the anti-inflammatory ones who are normally they're dampening down these fires, they've got nothing to eat. Okay, so that hypothesis makes a prediction. Let me see if this is accurate. So if I were to not change the diet at all, but I were to dial up or down the inflammatory response of the body, if I dial it down, would those microbes start dying off without changing the diet, just changing through medication or whatever the inflammation? Probably. I don't think we know absolutely, but we think it's working in both directions. So it's partly a response to the inflammation and partly a cause. So when you look at someone who's got a chronic inflammatory condition, whether it's osteve colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, some autoimmune condition, and all their blood markers of these stress are high, you see more and more of these microbes appearing. And if you transplant them from say one mouse to another, you can make that mouse's gut more inflamed. So it's both a cause and a consequence of it. So it's not as clear cut, but it's a bit of both. But if you give people steroids, you reduce that inflammation, they won't be doing as well because they're thriving in that particular environment. It's a bit like when you do fermented foods and you tweak the environment, you get a bit of acid, lactic acid produced, a yogurt, that tiny change in pH means one group out competes another. And I think we think this is what's happening in the human gut. That there are some stress chemicals in there. We can't yet measure, but these microbes are super sensitive to that means that one group suddenly out meets another. These guys take over. These are the guys that want more McDonald's and are sending the wrong messages to the immune system and the gut and altering your metabolism, make it harder to lose that weight, make you hungrier doing all these things. So going back to your initial idea, yes, in order to start to lose weight properly, you've got to deal with you, you've got microbiome. You've got to redress this good guy, bad guy balance that we see in all 50,000 people, we see this quite clearly there.
How to reduce bad gut bacteria. (28:59)
These good guys, the bad guys, and it's absolutely correlated with not only weight, but also health, all the health outcomes. So if you can get people to eat more healthily, then once you've reestablished the gut microbiome, then you can start to much better control your weight. But you can't just do it just like that with the crummy microbes. How changeable is our microbiome? Studies have shown that if you go for a dramatic change, say from total meat eater, American start of vegan, you can see a change within a week. And other studies have shown you can change it quite, several weeks. If you make a big enough change, things like fermented foods can have quite a big impact within just a couple of weeks on your diet. Has a bigger impact, the worse you are. So the worse your starting point, the easier it is to change. It's quite hard to improve someone who's really good to get them better is quite tough. But if you've got a really sparse set of microbes, they're quite easy to change. We see that with fecal transplants, we put poo transplants in people. They work best and people who've really got hardly any decent microbes. They've got terrible infectious diseases, works really well. It doesn't work very well when it's a high complex situation. But overall, it's an optimistic message. Most people within a few days improve their gut microbes just by feeding them the right things and reduce them, the bad guys very quickly. Okay. So, is from a fecal transplant standpoint, does that last? Because I had heard that maybe it works for a couple of weeks and then you start reverting back to your baseline. And my wife went through a very dramatic microbiome issue and we have found it brutally difficult to rehabilitate her. It took us years. And it got so bad at one point, I was considering a fecal microbial transplant. I'm just a little worried that we don't yet know enough about what you're transferring over so we didn't. But and I am perfectly willing to accept that we just didn't do it well. But our experience was that it's even though, because she got tested and she had like, they were like, whoa, your variety is just atrocious. It's so low. And we just found building back up has been really, really hard. Yeah. Well, it can be. And I've got an example of my son who I got to volunteer to do the McDonald's diet for 10 days. And because he was a student and he liked McDonald's and he was happy for me to pay for him. And he thought it was all quite fine as I did. And he did this at all his meals at McDonald's for 10 days straight. Was any effort to be healthy or literally just give me a number one with a large Coke? Yes, he didn't supersize. And so he just did the regular and he found he couldn't eat more than twice a day. Initially, the idea was to go with all three meals, but he started to feel a bit nauseated. But yeah, it was just the big Mac and the nuggets with the odd McFlurry and Coke. And he didn't feel well at all, but he'd lost 40% of his gut microbes. Whoa, in that time. Amounts? Like by volume or by diversity? By diversity. Okay. So we, this is a while ago, we measured it with a 16S test, which is a fairly crude measure. And it was an end of one study. So there's some give and take on those results, but that was quite shocking. I'd done this to my son and tried to feed him up.
0.12% Success Rate for Antibiotics? (33:21)
And it's proven remarkably difficult in him too. So I'm right at the top 5% of outs for my diversity in my microbiome. He's still in the bottom 10%. And it's been a struggle in it. But I think it was interesting that some people may have susceptible microbes, particularly that going through a time like a student, when you eat terribly, you've got no budget, you just eat whatever you can. May go such a long time without fiber and nutrients for the microbes that many of the good guys just die off and find it hard to get going again. So there are these scenarios. But coming back to the fecal transplant question, it is highly effective for some infectious diseases. So 90% are cured with a single transfusion if you've got something called recurrent gastridium difficile. And it's an official treatment now across the US for that. Has that done orally? Or do they go in rectally and deposit at very specific places in the... It doesn't seem to matter. There's three different ways of giving it. You can have it through an endoscope, in a nasal, you pass down through your nose into your stomach and then put down just below the stomach. You can have it on cold onoscopy. Or you have it by mouth with these dried capsules, which are acid resistant coats. So they go through the stomach, which affectionately known as crapsules. So they don't hardly. But all three of them are eating shit. Yeah, absolutely brutal. Well, if you're that ill and you're going to the toilet 30 times a day, you believe me, you'll do anything. And it's a 90% success rate with a single go. But when they look to other diseases, it's been much more difficult to get an improvement on the initial idea that you could cure things like obesity with these as shown to be a false dawn. Really hasn't happened. And so it's only other. The only other one that works really well is another inflammatory condition of the bowel called ulcerative colitis. And there you do get absolute remission. So it's a cure in about one in five people and can be dramatic. But other conditions, as you said, some people get remission, but others do need multiple top-ups and things like that. So it's proven much more difficult than I think we thought it was going to be maybe 10 years ago when the first results came out. So it could be because we're also different and we're not matching the donor and the recipient to colonize. It's a bit like doing blood transfusions or marrow transfusions. If you've got different immune cells, they might be fighting it off. So that's one reason they probably don't work. So I think it's still an evolving science. It could still be potentially beneficial if you find what the key, say, 10 microbes are, then you could create them in probiotic pills and give them. So a lot of companies still working on it. And it is proven to be very useful in cancer treatment as well. So that's one area that's really big. And so that's a big source of optimism in the cancer successes really underscore how important the microbiome is for your immune system. And all the new successes in cancer are due to us invigorating the immune system. And people with poor gut microbiomes and poor diets do very badly on these immunotherapy drugs. And there are, whereas if you've got good microbes, good healthy diet, good plant-based diet, you're twice as likely to survive. Do you have a quick way to describe what a good microbiome looks like? It's one that has a wide range of different species. So that's what we call diversity. And it's also one that has a high ratio of good healthy bugs compared to unhealthy bugs. And we... Is that a fair breakdown or is it context specific? So this bug is good if you have this much diversity and you're eating apples, but that bug is bad if you have low diversity and you're eating McDonald's fries, but it's the same bug, but in a different setup or no, they're just some if you get them, these are problematic. Well, what you said is true for some bugs. There are some bugs that if you live in Africa are very healthy and they're very unhealthy if you live in America. Because of the food you're in taking or something? We don't know. The environment, the air, animals, the soil, or they're... It's just different, the environment they're living in. So they can't cope with that environment and it's abnormal.
Creating the Ideal Microbiome. (38:25)
So we've known that, but in the Zoe study, we've now got these 50,000 gut microbiomes. It's the biggest study in the world. And we've got their diet data and we've got their health data. And so we've now worked out a whole series of microbes that are associated with healthy foods and healthy health outcomes and a whole series of microbes that are associated with junk foods, bad unhealthy foods and unhealthy outcomes. And we know that these are common in most people. So we're excluding the rare ones that we've all got, the unique ones to us, but these are the common ones. And so using that score, that's by far the best predictor of what we think is a healthy gut microbiome. And it's an evolving science. So we've got bats based on 50,000, but when we get to 500,000 it might change. And it's point different between just Americans and Brits, be a subtle difference in some of these. We are seeing quite big differences in a few species, just even in what you think would be similar dots in different similar countries. All right. So let's go back to what you need to eat in order to alter your microbiome. And one thing I want to say very quickly, reading your book, you said that kids, their microbiome is actually more, you didn't say plastic, but I'll say plastic, more changeable than adults. I'd be very curious as to why. And then I want to get into that. Like what are the specific things that I totally understand there's no one size fits all, but I'd love to get a general sense of eat like this. Okay. So kids, the reason they're flexible is we're not, we're not born with a complete gut microbiome. So we're born pretty much sterile and we acquire our set of microbes, our colony. We sort of put it together like a jigsaw puzzle in different ways after the birth process. So this happens to all mammals. And so the fact that the birth process is so messy and you got blood and vaginal fluid and poo and everything. And the baby's face is actually smeared in it is actually for a reason. It was messy for a reason. And that's the way the microbes get into the, into the infant gut and they start to colonize it. And that's a crucial part of our evolution because you need those bugs in there in order to break down the complex sugars in breast milk. So, and break them down so you can get the nutrients from them. So we've all had to do that as babies. Acquire these microbes from this rather messy process that you think would have been better done by evolution. And that's the first thing that happens. And then once you get the breast milk, then you start to get other microbes coming in from the skin of your mother and the environment. And you slowly build up this more complex set of gut microbes that become your adult one. And you acquire them, but it's, it's bit of a random process and varies a lot depending on your environment. And if you're born by cesarean section, you might have a completely different early set of microbes. They end up being quite similar, but the first year or two, they'll be quite different.
C-Section, autism, and microbiome (41:58)
I've heard there's a link between cesarean births and autism that may be tied to microbiome that something you've heard, something that makes sense. I think that I've heard it. I think the evidence is fairly weak. The evidence is stronger for increased rate of allergies and increased rate of childhood obesity in cesarean birth kids. And that's even when you adjust for breastfeeding. So the worst case scenario if you've got microbiome is to have a cesarean birth and then your bottle fed. You're not getting anything like the natural microbes into your system. You don't have the complexity. That plays an effect on your, your growing immune system and is, I believe, one reason why we have this epidemic of food allergy, et cetera, because very high rates of cesarean section now and over sterilization of the whole birth process so that the baby is not getting the same microbes they would be that are answers to babies got surrounded by animals in dirt and the way that we probably performed a microbiome much quicker than sort of Western babies. So I think it's evolution. We've just become a bit too smart, a bit too clean, a bit too sterile. And of course, other problems, a lot of babies have been given antibiotics and the mother has given antibiotics, mothers generally get antibiotics at the time of cesarean section. Those antibiotics go into the baby. Another reason that they have a bad start to life. So those first few years are really quite flexible. Every time a baby gets a virus or an infection, it can really change totally the microbiome composition, because you remember the first few years the baby is protected by the mother's immune system. So it doesn't need a fully functioning one. So it's got a time to get its own act together. And so by the age of four, then it's more stable and that's more or less what you take into adult life. It doesn't tend to change dramatically. You've got that formative years, but clearly if those years are being pumped with antibiotics, you're having all kinds of sterilization problems. You're kept in a nice urban bubble. It's not going to be good for you because you're not going to have the same range of microbes that a healthy kid might have in a developing country where they're much more exposed to things. So if I had a baby and at day one, I was like, Tim, I got a bounce for just like a year.
Priming The Microbiome And Sanitation Details
How would we prime the microbiome of a baby (44:46)
I'll be right back if you could. What would you do with my kid to make sure that when I got back, they had a nice robust immune system, well, I guess specifically through the microbiome? So you're going to donate your baby to me? I'll let you borrow it for a year just because I needed to be tipped out of shape when I get back. Okay, well, I'd be putting all kinds of things in their mouth. So when kids grab in the dirt in a grocery store, whatever, and then put their little fist in their mouth, that's a good thing. Let them do it. Yeah. So when they've done some studies and when kids drop, what's it called? Pacifier. Pacifier, yes. What do you guys call it? Dummy. We could have done me. We could have done me. We could have spit the dummy, but they're a pacifier. When they drop it on the floor, they did some studies that parents who put it straight back into the mouth of the baby had better gut microbes than those that instantly sterilized under it. Oh, it triggers every like, it's sterilizing design I have. So basically, I would have an approach by, you know, I'd keep things clean. Yeah, you wash it, but you don't sterilize it. Why wash it then? Well, because you don't want to be giving them infections necessarily. You don't mind small amounts of bacteria. So it's just quantity. It's just the quantity. Yes. Got it. I don't want to deliberately give food poisoning to your baby, right? You might be angry. Thank you. They didn't survive. But what I'm trying to figure out is my reaction is, but I wouldn't be putting every single bottle, every single pacifier into a sterile container. I wouldn't be using liquids. I wouldn't be sterilizing. But how do you know which time when the dummy falls on the floor? It didn't hit the bad food poisoning bacteria. That's why I'm just like, like even with myself, I'm just going to sanitize. I don't know. And maybe I would pick up good bacteria, but maybe not.
Sanitizing and letting things be dangerous (46:49)
So I don't understand how a parent is supposed to know that it's okay to pick it up and put it back in their mouth. But at some point, you need to wash it because it could have picked up bad bacteria. Well, I think you don't know for sure. There's no such thing as 100%. But you're just saying, listen, this is how our ancestors, you know, how, or probably, you know, even people born before me were brought up. And we have a more robust immune system than the people who have brought up in this sterile sort of nanny state where, you know, everything swabbed and cleaned and sprayed. Kids often die a lot more. Yes, but not, but they had much more robust immune system. So there wasn't allergy and all these food allergies are completely new in the last 50 years. When I went to school, no kid had a food allergy in my school. Can I run a hypothesis by you that you're probably going to hate? But I think might be true. I think you have to let things be a little dangerous. And I think that for the greater good, you have to let kids be in a situation where some of them are going to die. But the ones that live, they're going to be better off. And that once you try to save every single one of them, you get the problems that we see today. That sounds terrible when I say it out loud, but that seems true to me. In general, I agree. I think doing things to save a one in million chance of something happening because we're going to remember, you know, anyone listening. That is incredibly rare if you drop to pacifier on the floor and you put it back in your kids' mouth, that they're going to die of food poisoning, right? I've never heard of a case. So I don't say it doesn't happen, but it just incredibly rare. And the chances are that by doing that, you're going to actually protect them against many disease when they get older, improve their immune system, build them up, it's far greater. It's like people who have done studies of people who have dogs in the house. Every dogs are coming in, licking the babies and kids. Those kids are healthier. They have better gut microbes. And the family is generally healthier with these other dirty microbes in the house. So it's changing that house's environment from the sterile place to one is more natural to us, where we wanted as many bugs in us so that we can train our immune systems properly to defend itself and know when it's a real threat or a fake threat. So it's not going to get upset about when we eat peanuts, which is a recent phenomenon peanut allergy. It's going to, but it is going to react against cholera or salmonella properly. So I think it's this training of our gut microbes that we need to reinstill. And eating real food is a part of that as well. So yes, there's the environment, but also the idea of weaning kids early onto real foods and playing with food and playing with vegetables, even if there's some dirt on them, it should be part of every kid's repertoire. Is that true even if you bought the food from the grocery store? Because I'm always conflicted. I want to get the microbes and I'm worried about pesticides. For a young kid, if you've got the money, I would buy organic because you will get some pesticides on it, but you get 80% less than you would in a non-organic product. So if you're particularly keen on fresh vegetables, definitely worth doing that for your kid. I think it's just moving away from those sterile cans of pre-treated, processed foods, baby foods and things this to actual real foods and getting them to play with their hands and things so that they are just constantly ingesting foods and playing with the environment and not worrying about them getting dirty. Does this apply for adults as well?
How much should we sanitize? (51:03)
Should I be touching more things, dirty surfaces, licking my fingers and not? I am Captain Paranoia. So I haven't been sick since February of 2020. So I realized that when COVID kicked off, I just elevated my level of paranoia to 11 and I haven't dialed it back down and I still haven't gotten COVID, haven't had a cold, nothing and I used to get at least one cold every year for sure. But now my vigilance is just on another level. I've destroyed the speaker phones on two iPhones because I sanitize them. If I go out and about, as soon as I come home, I sanitize my phone, sanitize my hands, wash my hands like, and it's been effective in terms of me not getting sick, but am I now cruising for a bruising as I get older and it's like my immune system has been allowed to get lazy or like how does this play out in the long run? The honest answer is we don't know. I was like you, I used to get colds all the time. COVID, marvellous, no colds, no sinusitis, nothing. Two weeks ago I got a cold. I said, "Oh no, it's dreadful." But I think I have to look at your gut microbes to tell. If you had really good looking healthy gut microbes, I'd say you don't worry too much. But at the same time, there's a difference between going out and going on the subway in New York or you going for a walk in the park, in the woods, playing with dirt, playing with animals. I think we have to be sensible about what the threats are. You don't want a respiratory virus. Going close to people, breathing on you, you don't know that could be infected, that's a reasonable precaution. But worrying about our natural environment, that's not a natural thing to do. You don't have to be near people, but you should be quite happy with animals and space and dirt. If you are too sterile, I think you will run into problems if you're not exposed to that because your immune system does need a stimulus. I know a lot of medical colleagues who from India, they have to go back every six months to eat street food in order to stop being ill because they once went a few years without going and every time they went back home, they got ill. You use it or lose it. Exactly. They had to go and have some slightly polluted bit of fruit. It kept them, their defenses ready. I remember going there, of course, so horrified as they go, some grubby looking fruit stand in India and picking some bread fruit and eating it. I said, "No, no, I'm fine. I'll be okay now." That's so interesting. But that makes sense. I get it. So we're probably not going to go straight to street vendor food in India, but what should we be eating to get diversity? In the beginning, we talked about the structure of food. This all started with calories. The calorie is not a calorie. There's something far more complicated going on here. We know that it's not as simple as you can devastate your microbiome and then just eat your way back, but eating your way back, not over-sterilizing, those are probably other than fecal microbial transplant. Those are our options. So how do we eat well for our microbiome? Okay. Well, the rule one is eat a diversity of whole plants. If you could snap your fingers and not for ethical reasons, but if you could snap your fingers for people to feel better, live longer, all that, would we all be vegan? I think we'd all be vegetarian.
Eat a diversity of whole plant foods. (55:12)
I don't think the evidence is out that dairy makes such a big difference. In the early citizen science studies, we did the American gut and British gut projects. We found that the sweet spot for gut health measured by diversity was 30 different plants a week. It didn't matter whether you were a meat eater, a pescatarian, a vegan or a vegetarian. As long as you got those on your plate, your gut was happy. So I think that's a really important point, that we don't get too obsessed with these religious categories of eating and realize that what is the really good thing about this and focus on those good things and in many different ways you can achieve that. I think that's really important. It's not as hard as we think because a plant is every different type of nut, every different type of seed, herb. It's a difference between a purple sprouting broccoli and a normal broccoli. Purple carrot and orange carrot have different chemicals. They're all giving nutrients to different microbes. So you get a greater range of microbes feeding off them. That's the important thing. Going back to the question you asked me ages ago, I didn't answer, it was about structure. These are all whole foods, so they are structured completely differently to ultra process food. So you're getting all the structures of that plant, you're getting the fiber, you're getting all the nutrients and all the layers of the plant. The calorie is not going in fast to the body. So it's going to be released slowly. Most of it will get to the lower intestine where the microbes are. If it was refined and in poor structure, same calories would have a different effect because it would be released straight into the bloodstream. So whole structure is important, not stripped away, not the equivalent fake food that you get that is plant extracts and things. So that's rule number one, rule number two. The truth is hitting your career goals is not easy. You have to be willing to go the extra mile to stand out and do hard things better than anybody else. But there are 10 steps I want to take you through that will 100 X your efficiency so you can crush your goals and get back more time into your day. You'll not only get control of your time, you'll learn how to use that momentum to take on your next big goal. To help you do this, I've created a list of the 10 most impactful things that any high achiever needs to dominate. And you can download it for free by clicking the link in today's description. Prime my friend, back to today's episode.
Helpful Chemicals (58:20)
How do you use helpful chemicals in reply? Why bitter? It's saying maybe stopping insects eating it quite possibly, that's protective device. So it's obviously plants were around before humans, so they maybe didn't evolve just to be tasty for humans. But it was other animals. So they wanted some animals to eat them that were perhaps trained to realize that these some of these bitter foods were actually very nutritious. But nature couldn't make anything taste good to me. Like dogs will eat literal shit. So nature obviously said dogs, you know what? This is a delicatessen for you. But for me, I want to vomit when I see a dog do that. It is the most horrifying thing in the universe. So I have to imagine that even though the plants didn't develop the bitterness because of me, evolution left it tasting bitter for a reason. Instead of like bitter could be where we're all like, oh, yo, I love bitter stuff. But for the most part, we're not bitter sucks and we want to add something sweet to said bitter thing. So why is that? Because you go into this a lot in the book of like just a laundry list of bitter things that my palate tells me to avoid, but my belief in your ability to steer me well tells me I need to start eating. Why is there a discrepancy? Well, I think babies are averse to bitter things. But as we get older, we actually start to enjoy them. So you're saying I have a baby's palate? Yeah. So what am I hearing? You know, it's like you're not going to get a baby to drink coffee or tea or whatever. And yes, you start off having sugar in it. And as your palate gets more refined, you drop down the sugar and you can have black tea, black coffee, these bitter tasting things, dark chocolate. But unfortunately in this country, given so much sugar, the contrast is very great. But you go to countries that don't have a lot of sugar or most of Europe, for example, it doesn't have dairy chocolate, it just has dark chocolate, kids love it. So I think a lot of it is our cultural upbringing rather than sort of hardwired in us. And so yes, first few years, most babies will avoid bitter foods because it's unsure whether they're going to be good or bad for them. Okay, so that, but as adults, you start to realize these are nutritious and beneficial. And it's a bit like the whole question of sour foods. We always love hate relationship with them because we know that they have acid in them and but it was an important source that we actually quite liked that taste. So the citrus acid because we get vitamin C that way. So our evolution has told us that, yeah, it's a bit, you know, there's something tangy about sort of vinegary, you know, acidy foods. We do actually quite like. But of course, the context is to survived until that point, we have to love sugar because that's breast milk. So that was the first thing. But all these other tastes have a role, but they're slightly more subtle. So I think, you know, I like bitter foods and many cultures do like bitter foods. And I think average American has lost that appreciation because just being swamped with so much sugar, which doesn't really appear in nature. So I think that's my, that's my view of what I agree with that. So what about fruit? Yes, what you can have fruit, but you wouldn't be having fruit six times a day in the average place. If you go, you know, I spent time with the Hadza tribe, there are ancestors of Medicare acid. How long did you spend with them? I was there for about six days. To help people who their Hadza are is pretty interesting. So they're a hunter-gatherer tribe who live in East Africa on the border between Tanzania and Kenya. And they've been in that same spot for about 15,000 years and essentially haven't really changed their way of life. They're a diminishing number. There's perhaps just a few thousand of them left and they live off the land and they don't have refrigerators, they store food, they just get up every day and get what they need. And they don't really have many possessions and they move camp quite so regularly. And they're super lean, they look super healthy, they never appear to get any Western diseases like diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease. And they are surrounded by little treasures.
Howda tribe (01:03:46)
But the foods they eat, which is what our ancestors eat, are things like Bayabab, which grows on trees and you get these husks which break on the ground. And ten months of the year they've got this Bayabab, which is a slightly bitter citrusy fruit that you mash with water and it's like a, you get a porridge, but it has an acidic taste, lots of vitamin C in it, but it's not sweet. It has some sugar but it's masked by all the acid and they have also eat these little tiny berries which are uncult, you know, nothing like the sort of cultivated berries we see. And they are very tiny and they have a mixture of sowness and sweetness and very, ten times no matter five or you get in modern berries, but they're not sort of luscious sweet. So the only sweet they get is when they eat honey and for a site one or two months a year they just gorge themselves on honey and they love it. Do bees produce honey seasonally? They do seem to there, yes. So, or they, I wasn't quite sure whether they rotate their nests and things, but most of the year they can get some honey, but the different species of bees that they're tracking do seem to work that way. So it wasn't a constant supply of honey and when they got a big one it was quite a big celebration for the whole group and they, and when there's honey they don't bother going for meat which is quite interesting. So, you know, all these ideas that we're all obsessed with meat give humans honey in the stead and they'll, nobody wants to hunt. Yeah, you give them enough sugar. If you give me donuts I wouldn't be worried about meat either. Okay, so that's the, how much variety do they have in their diet? Because like when I think about having to get 30 different plants every week, I'm like, and I can go to the grocery store and get them and that sounds exhausting. So do they have that level of diversity? They have enormous diversity, but a lot of it is through the animals they eat. So they eat that many different variety of animals?
Analyzing Diets And Their Impact On Microbiome
In Tanzania, Hadza's Main Source of Meat Is High in Fiber (01:06:03)
Yes, yes. Whoa. So someone's calculated that they eat hundreds of different animal varieties, everything, apart from snakes and hyenas I think, the sort of, but virtually everything else they... Do they avoid them on purpose? Yes. They don't eat things that eat. I think they've got some rule about... They don't eat carnivores? Yes. Interesting. So ruminants only. They don't eat lion much either. That's right. But they're happy to eat giraffe and when I was there, they ate porcupine and all kinds of lukem. I assume porcupine are also vegetarian? Yes. That's really interesting. Have you looked at that at all? Is that a thing that many cultures have had where we only pursue ruminants? Yes. I think... And there's a few religions that have used that general rule that these things are dirty. You don't know what they've eaten in other words. So they could have it because they might have eaten humans or might have eaten something you like. So it's that... It's like no one eats vultures, for example, as well. That was a... Other fish. Are fish? I know a lot of fish are meat eaters, but I don't know how many eat other fish versus eat plankton. But that's really interesting. So we definitely eat fish, but I guess we don't have to worry that they eat humans. I don't know. I don't know what that means. I'd be very interested to dig into that one. But there's a lot of birds as well. Because there are hundreds of them species of bird and every kid after the age of about six has learned to use a bow and arrow. And their job of young boys is to kill the birds. And they eat them and they stick them on long sticks and they barbecue them. And so they're getting a huge variety. There may be ten different types of berries they have. They're four or five different types of tuber. They dig up. The women dig those up. They instinctively know where they're growing under the ground. And the berries do change seasonally. And there are various other leaves and things they eat. So, the story is about them having masses of different plants. I've already exaggerated. And most of their diversity is coming from eating all these different animals. But with a huge base of massive fiber base, they get 70 grams of fiber as opposed to the average American is about 15. So they're... So why wouldn't you recommend that diet? Why wouldn't... I don't know if that's their one off and you think that there are other ways that our ancestors would have come up. But is there a reason why you wouldn't say, "Hey, get a ton of variety in your meat?" Because that... And this is so anecdotal. But I've tried a few times to go plant forward and eat primarily plants. And I've gone through periods where honestly, just out of laziness, I have been virtually no vegetable matter whatsoever. Just meat. I've been fine. Balmotility, perfect. No constipation. The quality and how that anybody wants to hear this. With the quality of my bowel movements, money, like, yeah, you know the high quality ones. And that's always been a bit mysterious to me. Like I never want to come out and just say, like, "Oh, people should be eating meat." But certainly in my own life, that has been... It's never had any negative consequence in the moment that I can tell. I just don't know if it's killing me slowly. Well, I don't have a problem in meat as long as you're getting enough vegetables and plants. And because there's something in them, is it the fiber or micronutrients? What do I need to make sure that I get from vegetable matter? Well, it's everything. It's the micronutrients. It's the polyphenols we discussed, which are fuel for your gut microbes. It's the fiber, all the different fibers in those whole plants that the microbes are eating. And many other things we still don't understand what's in them. But we just know that all the science points that people who eat lots of plants and have high fiber levels, so both that combination of diversity and high fiber, regardless of whether they eat meat or not, are the healthy ones. So meat, I see it as an option, which some people might feel healthier on or not, but it's not a sort of obligatory. You have to have meat or you don't need vegetables. So I think everyone needs plants. Some people can do well on meat eating and others may not. And we... There's increasing evidence that some microbial composition of your gut might be more tuned to eat meat and not cause harmful side effects. There's a chemical that breaks down in meat, called TMao, that is only produced in some people who have certain microbes. And this TMao, when it builds up, can cause heart disease, atherosclerosis, little clots and things like this that can lead to heart disease. But other people don't have that and they might be fine eating meat.
Is The Carnivore Diet Sustainable; What About The Hadza? (01:11:53)
So is that based on the microbe or based on a genetic predisposition? What's creating the TMao? Well again, why it's broken down in some people is due to an enzyme and that enzyme is produced by microbes, not by our human body. So if you did a fecal study on me, you'd be able to tell if I have the microbe that produces that? I would if we knew all the microbes that do it, it's technically been very difficult to tease that apart. So it's generally done on blood tests. Got it. So it's just present in the blood? Yes. And there seems to be this big personal individual difference between people. And so this could be another reason that we have these people that say I feel super healthy on meat and other people say, well, I feel dreadful on meat. Do you cringe when you see people that are on the lion diet or the carnivore diet? Or you like, no, I get it. I cringe when they try and tell other people that this is the diet for everyone and they're crazy not to have it. Because I think they're real outliers and that if people and also they haven't really studied our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers, what they really eat, they eat a huge amount of plants. And for several months or year, there are no animals. It's the wet season and they can't get near the hunt them. And so they're very happy on their honey and their plants. And all of these people, regardless of whether eating meat, are getting huge amounts of plants and fiber in their diet to stay healthy. So these kind of all diet people, they might temporarily feel better and healthy. But if they're not getting the plants, they get a very shrinking supply of gut microbes, which means they're not getting those chemicals that they need for their immune system to look after them long term. They're not going to be as robust against infections and things like this long term. Short term might be fine. And I think humans are flexible and there also other, we might have genetically modified in certain parts of the world to live in places that are little plants, innuits and in the arctic, et cetera, have very little access to plants, but they're designed to eat fats and things. Doesn't mean they're super healthy, but they have evolved in that way. But for most people, no. So as a generalization, I think it's a bad idea to think that's healthy. And plants need to be the basis, a diverse set of plants for most people. Okay. And so you're, if we don't know exactly what it is about eating plants that works or doesn't work, the studies that you're looking at, are they correlative? Are we looking at meta studies, meta analysis? Like what is the evidence that drives you to feel that way? Well, it depends on what we're talking about, general health, or what we're talking about the microbiome. Can those be teased apart? Yes. So there were lots of epidemiology studies linking amount of plants you eat and your healthy gut. As I explained, the 11,000 people with the American gut project, many other studies, so it's pretty much uniform that if you look at people and say how healthy is your gut, how many plants do you eat, there's a correlation. There's also a correlation in literature between the amount of fiber people eat and their health, whether it's heart disease, cancer, more overall mortality from over 30 studies and meta-analyze. So every serious nutritional epidemiologist recognizes there's a link between eating fiber and health.
Fiber, the Mediterranean diet, gut-friendly. (01:15:53)
And there are also randomized controlled trials where people have gone on, say, a Mediterranean diet, which is high in fiber versus, say, a low fat diet or one other one that was thought to be healthy. And in every case, the Mediterranean diet with a higher fiber has a better result over a few years that they're followed. So I've never seen... Have you heard anybody correlate high-fiber to Mediterranean diet? Is that what you think makes the Mediterranean diet work? Is the fiber content? It's one element to it. It's the plant, it's the variety of it. And it's the fact that it's pretty gut-friendly. So Mediterranean diet, you've got olive oil in there, which is high in polyphenols. You've got lots of nuts and seeds, high in fiber and polyphenols. You've got fermented foods in there, which are good for the gut. So it's a mixture of things. But it's a gut-friendly, generally high-fiber diet. So there are whole grains in there. There are lots of salads and plants and fruits that you don't get in a lot of these other traditional diets. So generally, that seems to be the consensus that is a healthy diet. And that's the way I see it is the basis of... Most people are happy with that concept. Because it doesn't mean Mediterranean diet, you can have a little bit of fish and a little bit of meat. It doesn't mean it makes it unhealthy, as long as you're getting those basics. But I don't want to get obsessed with fiber, and I think we should be... That's, again, reductionism. And you said, "I don't really understand what's good about these plants." I think we do understand... There are also all these nutrients locked into the whole plants. We've got all these different fibers in there, and it's not just one single thing. We don't understand exactly how the fibers all work. We haven't really studied them very well. You've got the polyphenols, you've got the fibers. And we know that when you give them in experiments to people, they will increase the amount of gut microbes they've got. And we know that those gut microbes then produce more chemicals. So there's a lot we do know, and I don't think it's a big leap to say that this is a basis of a healthy gut and a healthy lifestyle. And I think it's a different question to saying, "Well, are there a few people that can survive eating large amounts of meat?" Probably yes. Is that a generalizable good idea for the world's population? No. All right. Let's dive in then to why that might be true.
We're cars for our microbiome. (01:18:51)
So a big part of your thesis as it comes across to me is that the diversity in your microbiome, they are kicking off, you're referring to them as chemicals, is it fair to say metabolite as well? Okay. So the microbes eat what you eat, and then they create these metabolites, which is basically, it's their excrement. I mean, that might be a horrible word, but that helped me at least conceptualize what was going on. Is that accurate or is that not how this is working? Well, byproducts of their chemical reactions. So they break something down and they throw out this other stuff, which might be a short chain fatty acid or something that's a byproduct. So yeah, you can call it excrement if you want, but it's not quite accurate. Okay. And so all of that is then signaling to our body. So how much and I'm going to guess that we just... Because they evolve together to do that. It's not by chance. They know they get fed by us and in return, they're sending out chemicals to keep us healthy because they want us to be healthy. Otherwise, they've got nowhere to live. And let me ask. So I've heard it said, and I find this really interesting, that humans are the vehicle that microbes built to carry them around. Basically that they're driving it. When you look at the amount of DNA that we have in and on our body, the human part is some tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the overall DNA that you have inside your body, on your skin, all that. Yeah. That's right. Yeah. At least 300 times more genes in our microbes than them and we have in our bodies. So genetically, we're much more microbial than we are human. And so yeah, we could be all living in a microbial matrix. We don't realise it, but we're being controlled. But I think these are just evolutionary fantasies. But we evolve from microbes. So if that's a way of saying that microbes created us, it's a bit like saying that primates created humans. Well, it would if the primates were still riding around in our guts. But the interesting thing, so the reason I say that is it becomes a useful framework to think about why I should be eating what I should be eating. So if your framework is correct, actually the marriage of our frameworks is how it ended up here. So the way that I was thinking about it is, okay, I'm being puppeteered by my microbiome. It's giving me cravings. It's telling me what to eat, what to want. I personally can make myself anxious based on drinking diet, monster drinks. And that will give me generalized anxiety. It's surreal. And so seeing how much I can influence my own neurochemistry by the things that I eat, the general way that I feel by what I eat, very profound. And so if those are me responding to signals being the metabolites, the chemicals, however we want to say it, being kicked off by my microbes. And it's like, okay, if I conceptualize myself as this vehicle for my microbes, obviously I have intelligence and all of that. So there is a sense of I that is separate from my microbes. But when I think about myself as really, you can't separate the two, I would be fundamentally different if my microbiome were different. And this actually starts coming in with the AI debate. It's like will computers ever be intelligent in the way that humans are intelligent if they don't have the body, if they aren't influenced by emotions, which are driven largely by the microbes, which influence your neurochemistry on and on and on. So it's like, okay, then that really makes me think about how I eat because when I eat meat, I feel great, but would I be better? Would some of the problems that I have, like for instance, I still, even though I can manage my anxiety tremendously, and I would say that I've taken it from, it used to be 100% where I'm like, I don't know if you get more anxious than this. And then I was able to reduce it dramatically. I would say cut it down by 70% just by removing diet monster. And I have a half a diet coke on Saturday and a half a diet coke on Sunday. But that's it. Other than that, I almost never drink diet coke. So I don't have artificial things in my life. But because I eat very little vegetable matter by your standards, so I probably eat 10 vegetables a week. So I'm way off and it may be lower than seven. I may be way off. So but I don't have a feeling that, oh, I need to change something. I need to do something different. But I may just be ignoring things like I still have 30% of the anxiety. Maybe that would go away if I were to broaden the diversity in my gut. So anyway, that's why I'm conceptualizing it like that because it does make me think, oh, if I am actually being puppeteered by my microbes, then maybe I need to be more thoughtful. Well, I think all of us need to think what can we do to experiment with our own bodies to try and improve it, given that there is this dynamic relationship. And you know, until recently we had no clue that these microbes, if you've fed them differently, could produce substances that can affect your brain.
And numerous studies that show that people with anxiety and depression have abnormal gut microbes. So they lack diversity and they have certain pro-inflammatory ones. And now lots of studies showing that certain probiotics can have an improvement in about a third of people with anxiety and depression. Do you have one that you recommend? Not off the top of my head. All the studies use different ones. That's the annoying thing about this. So there are mixtures and there's a group in Cork, Ireland that have done a lot of work on this. Recommend people to look up their work. And there's a book called Psychobiotics, which is quite fun to look at. And we know they work, we don't know exactly what the best mixture is and whether it might be highly individual as well. But so these probiotics do work. But also, as an Australian study gave for three months people of Mediterranean diet, high-fiber Mediterranean diet had even more dramatic effects on the anxiety and depression. And effect size was actually larger than you'd get with the standard antidepressant. So I'd say to anybody with anxiety or depression issues, it'd be worth doing a three-month experiment with your diet. So forget everything I think. Forget what I've read or whatever. Just do an experiment and see, okay, I'm going to chart. You can use an app or whatever it is to just chart your mood and see how you get on with it. Knowing that you're changing your microbes, you're going to be changing all those brain chemicals. And it could be for the better or for the worse because these studies are always averages and some people might do well on some of these badly. You don't know until you study it. But I think... And what would that look like? The 30 different plant matters per week. I would recommend a gut-friendly diet. So just going, tick off your 30 different plants, go for rainbow colors, fermented foods. I think it's really important. Even if I'm getting the 30 different... Yes. They're really important for inflammation and immune system. And there are a few poor quality studies showing they help anxiety and depression as well. Poor quality studies? Yeah. A lot of this. So you're not putting a lot of weight in them, but early indicators? Yes, exactly. And do other things. I don't know if you're doing on your meal timings as well. I do, yeah. Time restriction eating. We've done a big study in the UK with our Citizen Science Project. And most people who manage to do a 10-hour time window do notice an effect on mood. So can be mood enhancing to not snack and not eat in time when your gut should be recovering. And finally, cut back on, give up your two diet drinks with those artificial sweeteners, which you know are harmful to your gut microbes. How dare you, Tim? Take my one treat away. No, okay. Give yourself another treat. Give a, you know, who knows, replace it with something else that is a natural treat rather than a chemical that your microbes have never encountered that is designed from the, you know, the petrol industry, whether it's sucralose, aspartame or one of these other ones, you know, they're not going to be good for you. And just, well, even do this for a month.
Diet soda (01:28:12)
I'm not saying, you know, don't deprive yourself of your diet monster drinks, but... Oh, no. Those I've had to cut out, unfortunately. But fortunately, you know, if you look at the list of them, it's like a list of your microbes worst nightmare, you know, to be dealing with those sort of chemicals that you certainly don't get in the jungle in Tanzania. So let me, I want to go back to your son because I find this very distressing because this is exactly what I'm going through with my wife and maybe sort of the lingering reasons why I can't get my anxiety to what I would consider a normal level.
Exploring Health Changes, Disease Resistance, And Benefits Of Mushrooms
What makes health resistant to change? (01:28:43)
Have you looked at what makes it resistant? Are we looking at biofilms where the microbes now have defenses against my... Basically, I don't know if you know biofilms well and can explain it to people. That would be amazing. Unless it's not that at all. But what do you think is making it resistant to change? Well biofilms are basically groups of microbes that group together and they produce a sort of slime, so a salivary slime that protects them, walls them off against invaders.
And it's a defense chemical like they produce antibiotics against other foes. They've all got... It's one of their defense mechanisms. And it's what you see in a kombucha mother basically is a giant biofilm. You get 30 different microbes all grouping together with some yeasts and they all live under this little protective shell. It's kind of cute. Why some people are resistant to improvement? I don't think we know yet. To be honest. And we haven't had nearly enough studies of the individual. Always looked at groups. Traditional medical sciences just say, "As long as you get a significant result, you don't care about the individual. That's just an outlier. No one's really looked." And I think that's one of the big things we're going to be doing. Zoe is much more emphasis on the individual's journey and why that person didn't respond. So it could be they have a certain species that are really entrenched in there. And you might... People with some of these gut disorders, they have to have very... Sometimes the only thing you can do is to wipe them out the antibiotics and start again. Oof. Right? Which is like the worst case scenario because it can go wrong. But you do see this in some small intestinal overgrowth and other things that... They've tried everything and you have to sort of clear out the whole process and then start again. Sometimes wash outs and colonoscopies can do that and there are... You can get resets that way. So if you speak to gastroenterologists who do a lot of colonoscopies, they do report just the bowel prep. You know, when you take the stuff and you get evacuated and you're not eating for a couple of days, they say a percentage of people are in brackets cured by the prep process. So sometimes it's some reset like that that needs to be done. Has your son tried fasting? No. He's not very compliant because I'm his dad. He doesn't really believe me. So it's not sufficiently bad that he's worried. He's young, you know, he's... But I'm working on him. We're going to retest him and we're going to give him... There's strictly give him the Zoe method to do and see if we can throw everything at him and get his microbes up because, you know, he hasn't fully committed to this yet. Now, I am hyper compliant.
Protocol for correcting gut dysbiosis for hyper compliant (01:32:19)
So if I wanted to make improvements and I was going to try anything and everything, but let's say I've already done the... I'm doing the 30 a week and I'm like, "Mmm, still, we're testing and it's coming back that I'm also in that resistant class. Would you have me fast? A prolonged fast? Would you have me go do a cleanse? Like what would be that ordered list of things that we would try on me?" Well, I definitely do. I do a 10-hour time-restricted eating definitely. And if you could go maybe to eight hours, you know, do that. So I do daily. My average over an 18-month period when I was tracking just absolutely religiously averaged to 17 and a half hours. That includes weekends, holidays, everything. Okay, so you're already doing that. It's like... But what about like a three-day fast or a five-day fast or a seven-day fast? I would definitely wouldn't advise any long fasting because there is... We didn't, when does it become long? I'd say more than 48 hours. There's some evidence that your microbes start eating your gut lining once you get over a certain period of time because when there's nothing to eat, the repair team come out and normally they nibble away at the sugars on the lining of your gut. And they're quite happy tidying that up until the food comes, you know, 14 or in your case, 17 hours later, they can wait. But if it's not there, they do keep nibbling away and there's some evidence that causes gut leakiness, et cetera. So I'd be... I'm very wary about long fasts, but you know, I think up to 48 hours is probably healthy and may kickstart some activity, but there's no real hard evidence for that. So, you know, we're just trying to experiment with different things to play around with. So far, you know, we've just started doing retesting in the ZOE program of people who've been doing the, you know, increasing their plant intakes and things. And people who aren't an art compliant, you know, high percentage, only a small percentage of people are not seeing an improvement in their gut microbes. And certainly, hardly anyone is getting worse. So... What do you do when somebody has a bad reaction to a food?
Conquering food intolerance with micro dosing and time (01:34:42)
So take my wife. We've built her back. We've made a lot of progress. She used to... I mean, literally, she could just eat beef and lamb and that was it. And if she tried to introduce any plant matter, it was doubled over an egg and just really, really bad. But now we've found the things that she can have. We've added those back into her diet, but there's just a certain subset of things that she can't have. Now, there are two things that if you can teach me how to get her back on those, she would be ecstatic. And they are soy sauce or soy and sesame. For some reason, and of course, it's in every sushi item ever, and as people that love sushi, she is traumatized. Is there a way to selectively go, "Okay, I want to bring this thing back into my diet. I need to do XYZ." Well, you know, I'm not a gastroenterologist. You might want to ask Dr. B afterwards. But the general principle is sort of micro-dosing and build it up. And mistake most people make when they try to reintroduce foods is just too much of it. And so all the immunology work and all the stuff, even on people with really severe peanut allergy is just absolutely tiny amounts. So the homeopathic amounts and then building up really slowly is the way to do this. Last you've also got the protection of all the other good microbiome base. So you've got high plant levels, high fiber levels. You're not doing it just with meat. So you've got the things that you can tolerate built up, and then you start doing this micro-dosing idea and slowly, slowly building it up. And that's worked for a number of other food intolerances. So that's all I can suggest. I'm not done anything particularly about soy sauce and sesame.
Cancer treatment breakthrough with gut microbiome (01:36:50)
But I like Japanese food as well. So it would annoy me. It is very heartbreaking. Okay, let's go. I want to talk about how the microbiome is being implicated in cancer treatments and some of the new things that we're learning about immune-based therapies for cancer and how there seems to be a direct tie to the state of the microbiome. One walk us through what we're learning about immune-based therapies and then how is the microbiome implicated in this? So one of the biggest breakthroughs in the last 10 years in cancer has been immunotherapies and they've revolutionized certain hard tumors, solid tumors such as melanoma, kidney cancer, lung disease, and lesser extent prostate. And this involves giving a drug that allows the body's immune system to attack the tumor, which is its normal purpose. But the tumor usually has a careful cloaking system to stop recognition of it. So the drug is breaking that cloaking system, allowing the immune system to then attack the tumor and effectively destroy it. And these are these immune therapies, also checkpoint inhibitors, and they've revolutionized what were near always fatal conditions in the end stage. So particularly started with melanoma, metastatic melanoma, end stage, malignant melanoma has been transformed. And we actually co-led a big consortium in Europe looking at several hundred people in this condition, followed them for a year when they were having these drugs, because even with the drug, only about 40 or 50 percent respond really well on average and so survive. And the others don't. So that better than zero, but it was a lot, it still could be better. And we looked, we did look to the microbiome, we saw that the state of their gut microbes, the beginning of their treatment, if they had a diverse one with good to bad ratios compared to the people in the lowest quartile who had the poorest one, they had double the chance of survival. And also to another study, and another analysis and link that also to eating a healthy Mediterranean style diet, high in fiber, high in plants, et cetera, gut-friendly diet. So that was the largest study done, but there are now four or five other ones, some small, some large, all showing the same thing. This is a very major breakthrough that's showing the link between having a healthy gut microbes, which then enables your immune system to work really well in conjunction with the drugs to overcome the cancer. And it I think is bigger than just immunotherapy, because it tells you how important a gut microbiome is against all cancers and our natural protection system against all cancers. So we forget they've done these studies of people who die early in accidents and looking at their bodies. And we've got micro tumors all the time. So we've perhaps got five or six little micro tumors in our body, and our immune system is finding that cancer cell very early and destroying it. We've got a brilliant system for doing it. And I think what we're realizing is that our ability to fight off cancer is totally dependent on this immune system, which is in turn driven by the gut microbes and our diet. But now explains that really good link between healthy diet and cancer in ways we hadn't really understood before. I think that's a really important point. It means we're not really talking about toxins and foods and all this. We always talk about the bad things in food. We haven't really focused on all the good things that people should be eating to give us those anti cancer benefits through our own bodies in the natural defense system. That's interesting. So you think given the relationship to the microbiome, this is more a thing of you're not eating enough to get the diversity and the right chemistry being pumped out there that you need in order to supercharge your immune system versus, hey, there are problems in your diet and you need to get them out. Well, it's mixed through both. Yes, the core is having a healthy gut microbiome. And if you've got a healthy gut microbiome, it will help your immune system to fight the cancer and it will help those drugs. I think that's the key bit. And you're not having nasty things in your system like you drinking monster drink three times a day, which you don't. But I did. I'm sure you did would really cripple your microbes and your immune system and also having these good things to make sure that there's diverse and healthiest. All right, speaking of good things, there was something that you go into great length about in the book that I am not phobic, but I'm coming right up to it.
The massive benefits of mushroom consumption (including teas & coffees!). (01:42:12)
And that is mushrooms. Talk to me about mushrooms. Well, I discovered this really in only doing the book. I thought, well, mushrooms, that's sort of interesting. I didn't realize what an amazing health food they are. And of course, they're part of the fungi family, which are more animal than plant. That is the freakiest thing you said in the book. How is it that fungi are more like animals and plants? They've worked this out based on the genetic lineage and the genes that we share with fungi are more closely related. And so evolutionally wise, we are more related to them. So they're definitely not plants and they're not in the plant kingdom. And the way they work, their networks, they work as teams. They talk to each other. They probably cover, I think, a third of the planet, interweaving across our soil. They communicate with each other. They're amazing things. I mean, just when you go out and you wonder how did that mushroom suddenly pop up there and look so beautiful and go down again. And underneath you've got this sort of incredible neural network undermining it all. So there are hundreds of species of these mushrooms. And we know that on the one end, you've got the psychedelic ones, the ones with the psilocybin that are transforming some of the treatments of depression, super powerful drugs that seem to have very little side effects if used in the right way. Do you think that's a psychological breakthrough or a microbiome adjustment? No, I think it's due to the actual chemical. It just, they naturally produce these chemicals. But in a way, it's getting some other, a bit like our microbes could have produced it. And there might be other things inside our gut that are just like psilocybin if we could synthesize them and mine them as treatments. And this is in a way a nice example of we've sort of ignored things that come from nature and only want it synthesized from chemicals and the petrol industry. But all this natural stuff is out there. So I think that's the really cool bit. But of course they do all kinds of other things. And I was amazed to show that a lot of the cancer studies, we've told my cancer that in addition to chemotherapy, if you have a regular supply of mushrooms, you have a much better chance of survival. And so they've done a formal study. Yes, multiple studies. What kind of mushrooms? Well, again, they use lots of different ones, but you know, they've been the shiitake mushrooms, the lion's mane, variety of different ones, Chantrell. They're not quite sure which are the best mushrooms because we still don't really, you know, there's not many people studying them as their main source of interest. It's been a bit peripheral to medicine. And I think because of the psilocybin work, which they're now making artificially, they don't need the mushrooms anymore. Ooh, do you think that's a mistake? I am always super skeptical of supplements because you're isolating it. There's odds are there's a whole bunch of other stuff. It's like juice versus the actual fruit. In general, I totally agree with you. And you know, it's again, reductionism, but they've done the clinical trials to show the way. Whereas when you do the supplements and you do a clinical trial, it never works, right? Whereas, so you're right on the supplements versus whole foods. But in this case, they have actually extracted the chemical, given us a pill form and done randomized trials to show it works very well for depression, et cetera. So let's keep an open mind on that. But there's a treasure trove of other chemicals in these mushrooms like effects on cancer that we don't still understand. And so I think eating mushrooms regularly is a really important point that we should be eating more of. I've made a big thing of doing this. And I've seen now there's mushroom teas and mushroom coffees. It's one of those rare trends that I actually approve of as long as they don't over synthesize it. And it's still got the real bit of the mushroom in it for the point you made that for some of these things, we don't know what the actual active chemical is. So let's not guess. Let's just use the whole plant. What's your personal mushroom protocol? Eat as many different ones that are in season that I can find. I'm not into them. I'm not a micro dosa or that much it. Funny thing is I didn't actually mean that side. I meant the edible side. But now that you bring it up, have you ever dried any psychedelics? I was giving some chocolate once. I love it. But I can't discuss anymore for legal reasons. So going back to the ones that you eat that are non-psychadelic, truly non-discriminating. You go into the grocery store, if they've got seven different kinds, you pick up seven different kinds. You have one that you prefer. There's no study that says this one over that one. Well, there are some things like lion's mane, shiitake, do crop up time after time as if they have some special properties. So generally ones that look more interesting or complex mushrooms, rather than those round field mushrooms, the button ones that are perhaps grown everywhere. If I can get them and they're in season, yes, I'd go for the more interesting ones. How important you keep saying in season? So they could be in the grocery store, but still be problematic if they're out of season. But that's just for more environmental reasons.
Insights Into Cooking Methods, Longevity And Role Of Ai
The science behind extra virgin olive oil (& why you DON'T need to worry about smoke points). (01:48:59)
I wouldn't ship around the world just so I can try that one. I have whatever is local. And I like to think it's getting it fresh as well. Okay, so food preparation. On mushrooms, and I would love to know about extra virgin olive oil. So I cook with extra virgin olive oil all the time, but sometimes it smokes. Like how tense do I need to be about the level to which I heat it up? Not nearly as much as we've been led to believe. So the smoke point of most of the olive oil, the good quality of olive oil is over 200 degrees. And usually it's only when you're walk frying that you get anywhere near that temperature. So for the vast majority of your general frying and cooking, you're not going to get over 200 degrees. So it's not a real problem. And then the actual problems of that smoke point, even if it did smoke, I'm not really worried about it. There's no real hard evidence that you get sufficient of these chemicals that are going to give you cancer or whatever. It's extremely weak data that says they're bad for you. So the benefits of eating and cooking with extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin is important. Not the cheap stuff is refined and doesn't have any of those high levels of polyphenols that are really good for you. It's really important because they've done massive studies in thousands of Spanish people showing that cooking with it, eating with it, people who have given extra two liters a week over six years, they actually less cancers and they're cooking with it all the time. So I think we totally relaxed about olive oil, not worry about smoke points, even if you have the occasional stir-fry with it. If you do occasional stir-fry, well, just on that one occasion, I don't know, use some other oil that is if you're worried about it. It's much more, there's obsession with smoke point is overrated because other oils that because it has saturated fat in it, it's actually more stable and doesn't decompose as you use other vegetable oils that are highly unsaturated. So keep doing what you're doing.
How to cook mushrooms (01:51:25)
What about mushrooms? Do I need to cook them? Raw? Does it matter? They have slightly more nutrients when they're cooked and I don't think anyone's done a formal study on that but lightly fried in olive oil with a bit of garlic. It's got to be the healthy way to go. What if I, because the only way that I could bear to do this would be to put them in, I do like a vegetable and fruit smoothies, probably the right way to think about it, mixed with a little bit of protein powder, be curious to know if you love or hate protein powder. And then I could see blending a few of them up and putting them in that, my hope being that I do not taste them at all. You're not a fan, are you? Dude, I hate mushrooms in ways you can't imagine and I've tried them six ways of Sunday and the number of people that say like they're so good for me and I want to do everything that's good for me. And like I said, I will find ways to be compliant but if you tell me that I can just dice them into little teeny smithereens, I'd be really happy. I'm sure they're still good for you in raw form. There isn't, you get slightly more nutrients when you cook them but not massive, not massively different so that you'll still get plenty of the goodness if you just mash them up if you prefer them that way. I prefer not to taste them. That's my real punchline.
What is surprising about longevity (01:52:52)
Okay, so stepping back out to 30,000 feet, people that are really trying to do their focus on longevity, they want to feel good. What is something surprising that they might not realize? You go into great detail on several different key things in the book. What's one thing that when you were writing it, you were surprised that you think people just are completely oblivious to how important it is? For longevity or? For longevity, what we'll call general health. So it could be something that surprised you about cancer, could be something that surprised you about strong immune system. Just something that the average person, it's not on their radar at all. I guess, well, I learned lots of little things and I think that's the, you know, the book is full of tiny little nuggets that would nudge you towards these things. I think what for me was interesting is how the aging and cancer came together. So people have always sort of separated them out and said, there's some opposites, you know, in some way that. But it looking like with this new idea of the immune system being key to our health, that there is a common model about what we need to sustain our health. And we've talked about the immune system and fighting cancer, but we haven't talked about the immune system and fighting aging. And there's clear links between how immune cells will detect early cancer cells and kill them off if we've got the right apparatus. And as you get older, the ability to do that fades. Your body is too busy repairing other things to get distracted and therefore might miss that cancer cell. That's this common idea of why cancer increases with age. But at the same time, most of the current theories of aging are around this inflam aging. So the aging processes associated with inflammation in the body, so you're getting these stress levels. So we talked earlier about these sugar spikes and these fat spikes hanging around. Why are they bad? Because they cause low level stress in the body, this inflammation. And if that long term means that your whole body is in a slight state of stress so that each cell is not performing at the top level and might get damaged and cause byproducts. And your immune system is constantly going and having to clean that up. So it's something to tidy up the mess and detoxify the cell at a cellular level, get rid of the debris. Because each cell is like a little battery that's always producing all this stuff. And if we just set the level higher so everything's working a bit higher, they've got to work harder. So the current theory of aging is actually that if you can either reduce that inflammation and or you can improve your immune surveillance, you can reduce the sort of ravages of aging. And I think that's a really quite neat system that fits in with the brain and Alzheimer's and mopping up the damage that's caused. And it nicely links in how diet is so important because we've never really understood why is diet so linked to Alzheimer's and they're called dementia, diabetes type 3. Why are they so linked? It sort of makes sense when you start to think, well, okay, food, gut microbes, immune system. The immune system has these multiple roles that we didn't really envisage 10 years ago. But suddenly it's absolutely crucial in not only fighting cancers and cancerous cells, but also getting rid of the damage of normal processes and repairing our body. So aging is the failure to deal at adequate repair cells that are damaged. And if our immune system's tipped up, you'll be able to keep repairing for a much longer. And I think that as a general concept, I don't think many people have got yet. And I think it changes our ideas of aging and how we view it. So we just need to reduce these stresses long term. Some of these things that seem like short term, like your sugar peak or your fat level, it doesn't matter. Well, you just times that by 50 years and you start to see how it does. And you start to put a strain on your immune system that can't quite cope because it's being pulled in all directions when actually it should be focusing on just nailing those cancer cells or dealing with that bit of plaque, build up or whatever it is in the body. So I think as a concept, that's one I think I'd like people to think more about. How far can we push that? How much can we slow aging? I'm going to guess you're not in the we can reverse it camp, but how far can we slow it? Like can we start seeing the average life expectancy 100 to 120 or no? I think so, I mean, we've already got 25 years difference in life expectancy between people on the lowest of our society and the most well often educated. So that's, and if you push those extremes, you realize, well, that's maybe just the effect of diet. You could actually really push it. So I think if we understood much more about these systems, yeah, I mean, we could be living easily another 10 years longer, but I'm not, I don't want to live 10 years longer. I just I just don't want to, I want to have a healthy life for longer. Fair. So health span to me is where we should be aiming, not life span. Now is there a health span though where you'd want to tap out? Like I would live forever if I could do so with health. Would you or is there a point at which you might get bored off for 1000? 1000 years, but do you think it depends if you've got any mates, isn't that really? I mean, if you let's say that you do. Yeah, if you all got our mates. Yeah, I think nobody wants to die for healthy. Oh, no, no, no, no, that this is a raging debate. And when I bring this up, there are some people who are like, a, it's disgusting, Tom, that you would even ask that like you should want to just the natural cycle of life. There are people who are convinced that, yeah, like once I've been around for 80, 100 years, I'm done. I don't want to live longer. I was shocked to find that my frame of reference was not necessarily even the dominant frame of reference. Yeah, well, I might get bored after a couple of hundred years. I think, you know, it depends if you can still surf or do stuff, isn't it? Well, if you can get another 100 years, either we will completely obliterate humanity or I'm sure we will solve for that problem. And the reason I believe that is AI, which I actually want to ask you about, what is the role that AI is playing right now for you?
Role of AI (02:00:26)
Are you using it, Zoe? We've been using it in simple forms. It's mainly machine learning, which is a simple form of AI. But it's definitely part of the plan and we're brainstorming how we're going to be using in the future. So definitely for the complexities of things like the microbiome, it's perfect because You're trying to get it to find patterns? Yes. So that's a big project we've got so we can work out the functions of all the micro microbes, we feed in all the data on 50,000 people, all the health data or the food data, try and work out these myriad patterns that will be not only the species, but also the substrains of the microbes. And is your gut that this is going to be a like a big chunk? Like this type of microbiome leads to these types of outcomes? Or do you think it's going to be this individual species leads to this type of outcome? I think we're going to see that there'll be groups or communities or some people call them guilds where you get say a group of 10 microbes that can all make similar chemicals or work together as teams. So I think the idea of using AI to try and work out what these teams are that will use each other's as you call it an excrement to one person's expert, there's another person's meal. So there's no waste, zero waste. They use these teams to work out what their functions are. I think that's going to be really cool. And then we work out what you need to feed to get that team to be optimal because at the moment we're still in a bit in the dark, we're dealing with these individual species. We have a few chemicals we know they do, but there's so much left to discover and I think now that we've suddenly we've got these 50,000 people at one point in time, we're going to get 50,000 at two points of time, look at changes and what they've changed their diet, that's really going to help this speed this up. So I think the next year or two is going to be super exciting in this field.
Zoes work (02:02:45)
Agreed. Agreed. If people want to follow along in that journey, how do they stay in touch with you? Going in touch with me, I guess on Instagram, where my nutrition stuff is and joins OE.com is where if they want to find out about the company. I love it. All right, everybody, this stuff is real. Pay attention to it. And speaking of things you should pay attention to. If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe and until next time, my friends, be legendary. Take care. Peace. Click here now to learn the top foods you must eat to lose weight and end inflammation.
Sponsor Message (02:03:21)
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