Saturday and Sunday 12th and 13th September
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Patrick Holford
By Patrick Bridgeman
Brought to you by the Irish Association of Health Stores, the Rude Health Show is the only combined trade and public natural health show in these islands, where your questions will be answered face to face by experts.
Thousands of people from all over Ireland come to see and sample a huge range of exhibits from home and abroad. The non-stop programme of talks given by well-known speakers from the UK and Ireland over both days is a major draw, as are the food demos and tastings in the centre of the hall.
Last year, crowds of people had to be refused entry to the talk given by Patrick Holford, and to avoid such disappointment again, this time he has agreed to speak on both days.
Patrick Bridgeman met with him on April 30th during a break between Pat Kenny’s radio show and his own talk in the Tara Towers Hotel.
Positive Live: What do you think has been the biggest revelation in health and nutrition in recent years?
Patrick Holford: I think, certainly, where I’m at, the most important understanding is that there’s a cluster of very common diseases and health problems which all hinge around a change in our internal biology. I call it, “Internal Global Warming.” Sometimes it’s called Metabolic Syndrome, and with it you get losing your blood sugar control, higher cholesterol, more resistance to insulin and raised homocysteine levels. So there are all sorts of indicators of a kind of internal global warming shift. And this is linked incredibly strongly to weight gain, Diabetes, heart disease and Stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Cancer, Alzheimer’s, memory loss, depression, Polycystic Ovaries and also under-active thyroid. So, rather than thinking of all of these as separate conditions, I think it’s now become very clear that they have a common cause. The essence of which is that we have moved a very long way away from our evolutionary design. In other words, we do not eat what we are designed to eat.
At one level I could say that we need to eat exactly what we have always been designed to eat – that means whole, fresh, organic, unadulterated foods and fit meat and fish, but there is a difference. The pace of life has definitely sped up and, with that, we have to process more information and change. That’s a drain on our brains and that’s why I think we need more brain-friendly nutrients, which include B vitamins, essential fats and phospholipids found in eggs and fish.
So, a lot of people are saying that Obesity is driving a lot of these diseases, like Diabetes. But actually I think its this change in our biology, which is often shown by a loss of blood sugar control, that’s actually driving Obesity and Cancer and heart disease and so on. Last year, Obesity overtook smoking in America as the number one preventable cause of premature death. So, I think that’s really a big new understanding.
Positive Live: Which leads me on to another question: Where do you think we need to head with our research, our work, our behaviour, our understanding of health?
Patrick Holford: What we need is a more system-based way of thinking and doing science, and it’s only when you step back and look at the whole pattern that you realise what the problem is.
Last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, they’re recommending taxing Sugar, because what’s becoming very clear is that one of the major drivers of these problems is not fat, it’s actually sugar. So, in the same way that alcohol and tobacco are major contributors to disease, and are taxed and cost the Health Service a fortune, I think that ultimately Sugar is going to have to be taxed so that sugary foods become more expensive and less attractive. Because ultimately what you need is to have Healthy Food: less expensive/more attractive, Unhealthy Food: more expensive/less attractive. That’s the bottom line.
And there are a whole lot of fundamental principles relating to how we live. I mean, for example, if you go back to a time when everyone was a hunter/gatherer, that’s 200 generations ago, that’s all. It’s really not that much. And, of course, all food was organic; all food was whole, unrefined and so on. So its kind of crazy that now everyone is talking about fortifying white flour with the B vitamin, Folic Acid. And before that, it’s already fortified with B1, B2, B3… I mean, why not just not take it out in the first place?
Positive Live: Have you ever thought of writing a Children’s Book about Nutrition?
Patrick Holford: Well I have thought about it. I run a charity called Food For The Brain and we do work in schools, so sometimes I do assemblies for school kids. It’s very important early on to start to inform children about how that works. For example, often I say, “What are cars made of?” And they say, “Metal.” And I say, “What is your brain made of?” And they usually say, “Goo” or “Bogies” or something like that. And I say, “It’s actually made out of fat, and the best fats are from Oily Fish and Seeds.” And then I ask them, “What does your car run on?” And they say, “Petrol.” “So what does your brain run on?” And the answer is, “Sugar, but you have to have a steady slow-releasing sugar. So if you have ‘fast sugar’, you become very hyperactive. So you have a short burst of energy, then you crash.”
The most important thing is to give your child a variety or tastes, and prevent them developing a sweet tooth. Have fruit, nuts and seeds available for snacks, offer water when they are thirsty, and only diluted juice on occasion and coo over broccoli as much as you do over desserts. Seeds are so full of nutrients I recommend grinding them and adding to cereal such as porridge oats. Think of non-sweet treats when you want to reward your child. My book Smart Food for Smart Kids has lots of child-friendly recipes that they can help you make. It’s important to get them involved with food at an early age.
There are some fundamental principles that really should be taught in school, and implemented in school. But actually, very often, the obstacle in getting real change in schools is the parents, because most of us are addicted. And sugar is actually addictive. It fulfils all the criteria for an addictive substance. So it’s one thing to tell people not to eat this, but if you’re addicted to caffeine or you’re addicted to sugar or whatever it might be, it’s actually quite hard to break.
Positive Live: Do you have any suggestions for how to do that?
Patrick Holford: I wrote a book last year called, How To Quit Without Feeling S**t, which addresses this issue. And in fact, my current book The Low GL Diet, which is all about how to eat to stabilise your blood sugar, is critical, because if you come off ‘high sugar’, you get blood sugar dips.
There’s another way to look at this, which is: We’re designed to store sugar as fat. So if you were walking through the jungle and you came across a bunch of bananas, you only need a third of a banana to keep going, but you eat the whole lot. And those of us that are genetically able to store the excess sugar, as fat, would survive better, because they can store food for a rainy day. Many of us survivors are actually from the gene pool of people who are very good at storing excess sugar as fat. So these people really struggle with their weight. And what’s now happening is very interesting from an evolutionary point of view, because we’re learning that there’s no rainy day, so we just keep storing and storing and storing. But now what’s happening is that as people store more and more fat and develop this Metabolic Syndrome, it makes them age more quickly, die younger and also become infertile. So its almost like evolution will switch it the other way around. The first group we call ‘Survival of the Fattest’, and now we’ll probably move into a time where it’s ‘Survival of the Thinnest’. So it’s quite an interesting swing.
We need to practice moderation, especially for sweet and refined foods. That means eating a low GL (glycemic load) diet and learning how to combine foods so you feel full. If you follow a low GL diet your desire for sugar decreases. If you need to add a little, perhaps to a dessert, the one I like the most is xylitol – xylose is a natural sugar in berries, cherries and plums that tastes sweet and doesn’t affect your blood sugar so much.
I mean, the other thing, from an evolutionary point of view, that’s obvious but shocking for many people is Milk. And it’s not that there’s anything wrong with milk from an animal, it’s just…The purpose of milk is to make babies grow very fast. That’s its job. Milk has 38 different growth factors in it, and they do two things. One is: they stimulate cells to grow rapidly. And the other is: when a cell grows rapidly, it normally is programmed to commit suicide. It’s called Apoptosis. And what milk does is it switches off the ‘suicide signal’ and it switches on the ‘growth signal’. So if someone has a Breast Cancer cell or a Prostate Cancer cell and drinks a pint of milk a day, they are specifically telling those cells to grow. So, there’s nothing wrong with milk for infants and, possibly, young children, but once you’re forty-something, a high dairy intake may increase your risk. And if you do have any cancer or pre-cancerous cells, there is no question that drinking a lot of milk will speed up the progression of their growth.
I’ll tell you one other story, because I often hear people saying, “Well, can’t you get all the vitamins you need from a well balanced diet?” I was watching a program on Gorillas in London Zoo, and there was this Gorilla and he was picking up these orange tablets. I think there were 4 of them. And the interviewer asked the Zoo Keeper, “What’s that?” And the Zoo Keeper said, “Well, that’s the Gorilla’s Vitamin C.” It looked like it was 2,000mg. And that’s pretty much what a Gorilla will eat in a natural environment, from fruits, leaves, berries and shoots. So my combined food and supplement intake of Vitamin C is about 2,000mg, and that is pretty consistent with evolution. But most people have 100mg. We don’t live in a tropical jungle, we live in a concrete jungle and we just don’t get what we need.
Another example of that is Vitamin D. We’re actually designed to be naked, outdoors, and not living anywhere as cold as this. The south of France, maybe. Vitamin D is made in the skin in the presence of Sunlight, and we probably need about 30 micrograms. If you have half an hour outdoors everyday and you eat oily fish, which are high in Vitamin D, you might achieve 15 micrograms. So I supplement another 15, and that total of 30 micrograms is, again, much more consistent with what we’re designed to get.
The most important thing when choosing a supplement is the dose. For example a good multivitamin should give you at least 10mcg of vitamin D, ideally 15mcg, plus 20mg of B6 and other B vitamins. Ideally you want about 10mg of zinc, 100mg of magnesium plus some chromium and selenium. Vitamin C is less important because you can’t get enough in a multi. I take two vitamin C tablets a day. If combined with zinc or black elderberry this provides extra immune support. For essential fat supplements you want about ten times more omega 3 to omega 6. Ideally you want about 500mg of EPA+DPA+DHA a day.
Positive Live: What can people who come along to the Rude Health Show expect to hear you talking about?
Patrick Holford: I’m going to talk about The Perfect Diet for the 21st Century. And I’m going to talk about how to lose weight, gain energy, slow down the aging process and reverse disease. I once wrote an article a few years ago called, The Primates Guide to 21st Century Living. It had a picture of a Gorilla with a mobile phone.
Other top class speakers will include Jan de Vries, whose appearances on RTE’s Afternoon Show have made him a household name, along with Dr. Marilyn Glenville, Dr. Alex Richardson, Karen Ward, Jane Plant, Bernadette Bohan and many more. As well as plenty of great stands by companies such as Yorktest, Manuka Honey and more.
For more info www.rudehealth.ie