- Improve your personal and professional communication with Dr Ro
- September/October, 2020
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Episode 043 – Understanding Covid better, protecting your mental health, building a more resilient immune system, recommended daily allowances, three R’s for a nutritional overhaul and more with Robert Verkerk & Meleni Aldridge
Episode 043 – Understanding Covid better, protecting your mental health, building a more resilient immune system, recommended daily allowances, three R’s for a nutritional overhaul and more with Robert Verkerk & Meleni Aldridge
At the time of recording this special episode, the UK (and parts of the world) re-enter ‘lockdown’ for the second time. In addition to that, we are nearing the winter months, which in its own right brings challenges, namely around mental & physical health.
In order to help our listeners navigate this time (by popular demand), we are re-joined by Robert Verkerk & Meleni Aldridge. For those who have not listened to Episode 020 when they joined us to talk COVID-19, avoidance, prevention, treatment and more.
You can listen to that episode here >>
Our guests who dedicate their time to operating the non-for-profit Alliance For Natural Health International:
Robert Verkerk BSc MSc DIC PhD FACN – Founder, executive & scientific director of Alliance for Natural Health International
Meleni Aldridge BSc Nut Med Dip CPNI Cert LTFHE mIFM mBANT CNHC Registered – Executive Coordinator of Alliance for Natural Health International
Have both taken time out to help inform, educate & share their wisdom with us on the topical areas of health, science & nutrition.
On this wide-ranging conversation Rob & Mel discuss:
- The power of the collective consciousness to make change happen
- Protecting your mental health during lockdown (and beyond)
- How to create a resilient immune system
- The three R’s to overhaul your nutrition and in turn create a resilient gut & immune response
- Import supplements to include in your diet to encourage a healthy immune system
- What daily health symptoms are not normal and should be addressed asap
- Understanding Covid better overall
- Important questions to ask yourself about Covid
- Covid testing, masks and other common questions people have
- Understanding personal risk assessment
- What can you personally do going forward to manage risk on a personal level
And so much more.
We hope you find this wide-ranging conversation helpful as we as a society, begin to change our behaviour from reactive to pre-emptive.
To get access to any of the referenced material from the show, simply follow the relevant links below:
Affiliate disclaimer: NO links on this page or products discussed during the episode have an affiliate or advertising association with the Seekardo Show. Please support us via the supporter programme if you wish to help.
Harms: Hi it’s Harms here and welcome to another episode of the Seekardo Show.
Today, we are re joined by two of our most popular guests on the show so far and that is Robert Verkerk and Mel Aldridge. We wanted to dive straight into our burning questions that we have had and get some questions answered immediately because, the reality is the feedback and the amazing thing was the feedback we got from the last episode they appeared on episode number 20, was fantastically positive.
I personally made changes to my own diet in order to approach immunity in a better way. We did also have a feeling that we will unlock a whole host of new questions and to add to that the very fact that we are going to a second lockdown and we are in a second lockdown as we’re recording of this and we are entering the winter months when typically we are greater risk of common health challenges.
We just had to have them back talking on this subject, so Ro over to you introduce Rob and Mel.
Dr Ro: We are at a massive, massive turning point in history and who better to have on than Rob and Mel.
I want to thank you both for coming on, because I know we had to sort of squeeze your time. The subject is dealing with how people come through this next phase of we are talking about lockdown but the reality is that’s an enforced lockdown.
We’re really talking about just the natural evolution of this virus, but unfortunately there have been so many labels attached that people are bloody confused. What are some of the first things we can do from an immunity building perspective to start making our bodies resilient? Because even with the stress that is going on around us that can lower our immune system.
Rob: Ro and Harms amazing to be back on.
Mel: Yes fantastic, hi to you both and the listeners it’s great to be back.
Rob: Let’s just kick with stress and there is absolutely no doubt that the very first thing before you think about what you put in your mouth or whether you’re going to exercise or not.
Just think about how that stress is affecting you and the reality is chronic stress, we are not adapted to deal with chronic stress day in day out. If you’ve completely and utterly hooked your wagon to BBC news daily it can be scary, you’re faced with all of this stuff.
The other challenge for so many people is so much conflict, there is so much polarisation. When a human being has difficulty making sense of something, it will put them into the stressful situation and we probably touched on last time how this can manifest in the body and how the central nervous system is linked directly to the immune system, which is linked directly to the neurological system and the hormonal system is all interconnected in this big super system. If we keep playing to our sympathetic nervous system, which is the fight and flight side of our autonomic subconscious part of our nervous system, it is pushing you consistently into this place where our immunity is upregulated.
This is the fight and flight response which is meant to exist for that brief period of time when you’re trying to escape from a saber tooth tiger, but if we’re in that all the time our stress hormones, are cortisol level gets upregulated, we end up not being able to break down or assimilate food when we’re in a very stressed environment. We cannot remove the nutrients properly from our food.
We need to be actually in a parasympathetic state in the rest and digest state, not the fight and fight state if we are to assimilate nutrients properly. If we can’t take the nutrients out of our food properly we cannot have the resources that our immune system needs. Also our fat metabolism, energy metabolism goes out of kilter.
We start developing spare tyres around the middle as we build more fat around our middle we start getting talking fat. This is where your adipose tissue, your fat around the middle starts sending out messages that dysregulates the way in which we deal with energy. The whole thing begins a vicious spiral before you even consider the food that you put into your mind.
Dr Ro: What you’re really saying is that we have evolved to be able to deal with that level of stress for short periods, whereas now it’s continuous.
The body is completely confused. It’s not functioning because it closes certain things down under the stress situations, but if it’s constantly under stress those things are closed down fully for long periods of time.
Harms: We are looking at a 365 days stress situation.
Dr Ro: And social media from all angles.
Rob: We’re 11 months into it now, so it’s really starting to pay the toll on our physiology, our emotional health and that is the thing that we need to address. The way in which we perceive stress is what causes the problem.
You’ve got two different people who listen to the same news channels and the same information who handle that stress in a very different way. You can see it in an office situation where you’ve got certain individuals that thrive off a really stressful situation causes other people to completely cave.
We must remember that it’s down to our perception of stress and if you can understand it’s the way that you receive that information that actually turns it either into negative stress or positive stress, positive stress is the kind of adaptive transformative stress that we can address and a lot of it starts with the way in which you perceive those signals from the outside world.
Mel: One of the most important things I want to say at the start of this about stress is that no matter what is happening in the external world we remain sovereign beings.
Nobody can tell you how to think.
We remain free in terms of our thoughts and our ability to create our world around us. One of the great teachers of this was Nelson Mandela. He was incarcerated for decades, and he used to talk about this a lot, how it took him some time to realise that he was still free being.
We are being incarcerated and in some countries incarceration is heavier than in other places. I know this is a subject of probably another podcast I’d like to just introduce the idea of how powerful we are as a collective consciousness and how much this transforms our stress in really understanding that because of what’s being thrown at you externally, you don’t have to take that on board and make it your reality.
I love the term observe but don’t absorb.
If the news is on, if everything is happening around you, if your friends and family are all stressed and talking about one particular reality, you still have the freedom, we all have the freedom to actually think another thought, and to just observe what’s happening but we don’t have to take it on board.
This is a huge part of my mindfulness practice in the fact that I do genuinely believe that by observing and by choosing something different, you actually take the power out of it, it no longer has the power. Imagine if we all did that as a collective. We are so powerful we can shift worlds. We really can.
So even if you are shifting your own individual world just some breathing techniques, some mindfulness just a basic does this resonate with me? Do I actually want to feel this way? And if the answer is no, then change it.
Let it go.
Dr Ro: Years ago there was a great phrase as well from Deepak Chopra to be a silent witness to the moment which is very much about what you’re saying. If someone is listening to this saying Mel, I get that I really understand that sometimes I just feel like, how can I do that?
How can I disassociate? How can I observe but not absorb it feels like it’s just penetrating into every part of me? Are there any little subtle tricks that they can do? techniques that you have found yourself or with people you’ve worked with that helps a quick instant disassociation?
Mel: The other thing that I learned a number of years back and I use for myself and for clients is to just accept what is.
We create so much pressure and discomfort for ourselves by fighting against what is. We don’t surrender enough and if you just surrender to what is, it doesn’t mean that you have to own it, become it, take it on board. You are just seeing it and accepting and then you’re no longer fighting against it.
Then you take all the pressure out and it allows you to turn your attention, you might not like it, and you know what the other thing is if you do get triggered by something. If you do end up having a reaction we are all human and actually that energy and emotion has to come out of the body somewhere.
So let it out, breathe it out and then go and do something in nature, walk on the grass with your bare feet, do some breathing technique. Just look at a tree, anything to just shift your attention, but I think surrendering to what is also very powerful.
Rob: Don’t underestimate how extraordinary nature is and human beings are one species of probably around about 6 million that inhabit this ball of rock that is flying around the star called the sun.
We sometimes get so lost in the human world that we forget to marvel at the extraordinary elements of the nonhuman world that continue in glee and we also can start to completely lose the sense of context about pieces of information that come in usually from radio waves or TV screens or computer screens, that allow us to distance ourselves from the present moment, and the extraordinary interaction that we can have with our loved ones with our families, with our friends.
Whether that’s direct or through a digital connection of some sort, but we somehow seem to lose perspective very easily because of the state of fear that this limited stream of information has caused.
One of the greatest starting points for anyone who’s engaging in mindfulness practice or meditation is understanding the value of the present moment and when you do that, it’s really the starting point.
If you can couple being in the present moment with being in nature, you actually get a double whammy effect. It is quite extraordinary. Everyone I know who says I hadn’t realised how much value I got from just going to the park and just studying the bark or the falling leaves in autumn.
Or, the way in which the squirrel was moving and looking for its food and realising that nature is a total marvel.
We are part of it. Have to get in touch with that and learn the whole, even viruses are part of it.
We cannot be here without viruses. Viruses are not some evil construct.
They are part of a system that is allowing genetic material to be able to move from one organism to another. There are non-living entities, they don’t have brains of central nervous systems.
They go about their business and they are part of a system that natural living systems whether your plants, animals and microbes used to move genetic information around.
As we said last time it’s all a bit messy when there’s a new introduction of a new virus to a given species, but it’s already calming down and if you just do look at the statistics that are going on around Covid you will see that the net harms that this virus is causing in society are a fraction of where they were in March or April.
Mel: Nature not only helps us to deal with our stress but also getting up and walking in nature populates our microbiome as well, which has a huge effect on mental health because when you’re out and you’re walking in the forest you’re actually breathing in micro.
Microbes land on your skin and help us to repopulate your gut and our entire bodies microbiome. Forest bathing the Japanese were the first to coin the term and they’ve been doing studies and being using forest bathing for really quite some time and I was studying it over 10 years ago and it’s now just starting to become a thing over here in the West, where they’re using it as a lifestyle prescription for people, for mental health.
There is a body of science that actually shows how breathing in these microbes when you’re out in nature, and particularly in the autumn when the rotting leaves and nature is breaking everything down before the spring has a huge effect on mental health.
Absolutely get out and populate your microbiome, deal with your stress and support your immunity.
Harms: That’s incredible.
Often what we’re seeing is almost out of context as you pick up your phone, you log into your social media application all you’re seeing is a headline and a headline is taken out of context or simply there to grab your attention. It almost manufactured versus nature you spoke about the leaves dropping from the trees.
That is just nature taking its course as you mention, the virus has entered into our ecosystem and is now taking the course. I wanted to frame that for listeners who maybe misunderstand the difference between both those elements, but would that be fair to say that there’s almost a manufactured piece of context and information that’s being sent out to us and almost just a small glimpse of that versus nature taking its course.
Is that one of the reasons why we feel so connected as one and are almost in flight or fight mode when being fed the other side of the information?
It is absolutely the case.
The way in which the media is a construct of a capitalistic system that originated from the idea of selling newspapers.
Rob: It realised that people first of all respond more when there’s a bad news story. That’s why newspapers for decades have been filled with bad news not good news, and they signal a reaction.
The route they were at the original reaction was one of actually spending the money I want to find out what risk there could be to me, or I want to make myself feel better because there’s an axe murderer somewhere else that is creating drama.
Where now we’re seeing a world in which the bad news is impacting people you can’t hide away from it. Back in March or April in much of the northern hemisphere the sun was shining and it was a perfect time for people to attempt this disconnect from their working lives to see if they can work from home, they could still catch some sun and feel like they’re on holiday. We saw drinking rates increase, people were still kind of socialising.
Lockdown mark two for much of the world is a different kettle of fish, we’re having to deal with the fact that for 10 months or so people have been more disconnected from the life they knew. They are going into a winter there is a sense of bleakness about it, but they’re still feeding off the same information.
The same signals that are coming through the social media channels, and everything else. And yes, it is massively out of context. I think the thing that people really struggle with and what is helpful to be able to do is to start to delineate in your rational mind, the frontal cortex of our brain is where we process reasoning and information to be able to create a logical construct of what we should do.
When we are in a state of fear, we move back to our monkey brain, our midbrain, which is the side that evolved into this life frontal cortex that can deal with reason and complex information. When we’re in that midbrain monkey brain area we are locked into this place of fear the whole time.
When you come back out of that you’ve done your connection with nature, you’ve got into the present moment think for a minute how much of the stress or distress that you’re engaged in is linked to the virus and what the virus does and think how much of it is linked to the decisions that human beings have made ostensibly because of the virus.
Most of the real economic, financial, social and health harms that we see are actually linked to the human response to the virus and not the virus itself.
That is a really important decision that we all need to make in our own minds, it starts to impart a greater sense of control of your own life and to realise that if we can within the present moment within the decision, within the context of our individual lives still have high quality relationships with our friends and our family to be able to if you like turn some of this information coming through various channels a little bit like water off a duck’s back.
This is what they’re saying. I now understand that all these job losses and all the problems, the mental health problems are largely a result of people having been forced and seeing no alternative but to do what the government is asking them to do.
It re-empowers us in our own lives and it’s a really important differentiation we all need to make.
Dr Ro: I think there’s another factor that I’ve observed just generally across the board and funnily enough, I was picking up a coffee from a local café near us. It is like on an organic farm and a gentleman was saying he’s got to a point now, even with some of his friendships, where the stress levels increase because of people’s different opinion about the information they’re being presented with.
Even with families connecting, some agree with masks, disagree, agree with the stats, tests, there’s even that happening under the surface. Because people are distanced there isn’t that ability to bridge that gap in a more relaxed way so you have remote digital conversations where there are people falling out, disagreeing, and that can create more stress as well.
Mel: It’s true Ro and I think that we all need to know those of us who have the ability to understand intention and energy and how we can actually create our own reality. It’s down to us to create this division and this comes back to this concept of observe but don’t absorb.
I think that we need to find it within us to accept that people have got very different parts of the story depending on where their information portal is coming and it may differ from yours and your feelings. I think that we’ve really all got to rise above and find it within ourselves to be in compassion and empathy and just be less divided.
Dr Ro: The challenge of course is that if you have a view which I have, which is I’m questioning a test result that somebody may have.
How do I then articulate that because me being me will say don’t take that as literal, because you do know that some of the stats you could be tested three times, the third one comes back different results. You’re finding yourself navigating a conversation about your own set of beliefs about a set circumstance in which people have been so brainwashed with what they believe.
Mel: I listened to a podcast last night with an American doctor and he told of a case where there’s a woman in America and she was tested in one nostril and she was positive and swabbed in the other nostril, and she was negative.
Rob: I think a lot of it is down to receptivity.
Nature works in that way, you’ve got a particular chemical messenger molecule floating around your body trying to look for receptor sites that it recognises to lock onto and when it does, that connection is made that particular biochemical reaction goes on. It’s a little bit similar when dealing with people so you meet someone who says right I’ve got a PCR test result it was positive.
There are some very, very clear facts around this and this comes to this question of trusted information.
One of the things that we’ve seen very clear evidence of is that the so-called fact checker sites are not reliable. They are always locked in a kind of time warp that is designed to maintain the status quo and they don’t necessarily fit with the pattern of merging sometimes still uncertain science.
If you go to authoritative information which certainly on our website we are always using primary source data, there is a very clear view on what the level of accuracy of the CPR test is going to be. Even people like the UK health minister like Matt Hancock seem to misunderstand what the sensitivity of the test is when there is, when they hear that a particular test that they’ve just spent millions or billions on has a 96% sensitivity they assume that 96 out of 100 tests are going to be accurate.
When the reality is that’s not what sensitivity means at all.
Dr Ro: I also jump in and want to help somebody but if they don’t want to accept it I just stop and accept it.
Rob: They’re on an earlier part of their journey and often it’s very useful to give them some information and then let them digest it in their own time not because we live in such a polarised society. We have a level of divisiveness and so to keep pushing on that polarisation actually sometimes entrenches your opinions and even more, opposite manners.
Dr Ro: It really has magnified those differences of values and beliefs within families and close-knit groups, which again is another level of stress on what was previously maybe a structure that people were used to is now being questioned.
Harms: One of the challenges occurs is the opposite, which is that we don’t want it, then nobody talks about it as they’re scared of triggering this conversation.
It means we’re muted knowing that we’re going to face resistance.
Dr Ro: We are running into this storm and the first thing you said is pause, reflect, breathe, get centred, allow everything around you to slow down and become more conscious of your moment and then now is the time to reflect on what we put into our body.
Because Rob and Mel stepped in to say before we get to what we put in our bodies let’s just go back to ourselves in our mind, slow things down, be mindful of the moment. Don’t allow the pressure to affect your actual reality.
What will be the next step in that calmness that we can talk about in terms of nutrition and what we put into our bodies?
Rob: The bottom line is we need to put in food into our bodies and we need to do that in a fairly considered way. If we are to have an immune system that is primed the fascinating thing is that we have to deal with multiple systems.
I talked about the way that our central nervous system, immune system and our hormonal system are absolutely intimately connected. The bottom line is that all of us benefit. There are multiple benefits in trying to improve your immune system that does not mean just saying, hey, if I take a little bit of vitamin C is that going to sort my immune system out?
Vitamin C is a great thing to take, but actually the total resources and information that these three super systems, immune, endocrine, central nervous system require actually require a gamut of information.
Our starting point is to say right food isn’t fuel, actually food contains energy carriers rather than the fuel itself and we call them energy carriers because a bunch of biochemical reactions need to occur in order to get the energy out of the system.
Our bodies use a thing called ATP adenosine triphosphate that is the fuel and glucose carbohydrate is not the fuel. It is purely an energy carrier and our body can work on different fuels. It can use carbohydrates, proteins, fats and it can use ketos.
What we really emphasise and it is fascinating when you look at the groups of people, the subpopulations in society that are most impacted by severe Covid disease that all people who have problems with basically the physiology and metabolism. People that are prone to metabolic disease, as well as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and there are also older people who often have a much higher chance of having those kinds of underlying conditions but on top of that they are facing an age-related decay of the function of these systems, particularly on their immune system.
They become what we call immunocompromised or immune deficient and that’s not to say that they can’t also do things that, in effect, turn them into a younger version of themselves by putting the resources that these systems require. From a stress point of view, it’s definitely observe and don’t absorb.
When it comes to food it’s actually all about what you observe, then you digest because so many people are not absorbing their food. One of the things that I mentioned at the start is the relationship between the assimilation of that food and your state of stress.
You cannot do it, so this idea for eons we’ve understood that if we sit in social groups around the fire, and of course we have proxies for that in this modern world. Things like candles or lower light or pleasant music and if we are in that kind of environment rather than aldesko eating, rather than alfresco eating.
If we are eating our food and the news is on and we’re hearing about mortality rates or hospitalisation rates of Covid, my God, you are not going to be able to assimilate those nutrients.
Think about food, not as a source of calories, but as basically a source of information.
Dr Ro: Can you talk about when people have computers, phones and iPads at the dinner table.
From what you’ve just said there is an immediate thought in my head surely if that’s the case then what you’re saying is that could affect their eating, but they’re actually looking at the phone reading bad news.
Rob: You have got to put the thing down.
You have to have digital free space, digital detox time. The two really crucial times for your state of health, physiological and emotional health are at mealtimes and the other critical time is an hour or two before bed.
Our overuse of those technologies and as we move into a world looking at the fourth Industrial Revolution digital technologies, the Internet of things is becoming more part of our lives, not less part of our lives.
Really important to look at the work of people like Triston Harris, the guy who put together the social dilemma film on Netflix because we need now to really understand how we can use digital technologies safely.
Do not have them running at mealtime, do not have them running within an hour or two before bed.
Mel: It pulls you straight out of the present moment.
You cannot be in the present moment when you eat your meal if you’re focused on a digital device or even a television.
Rob: The next thing to really understand once you’ve taken the digital tech out of your mealtimes and you’ve understood that food is information the next thing is to understand where does that food come from?
It’s really important to recognise that it is essentially the most intimate way in which we experience the external environment we have this tube that runs from our mouth through to our backsides.
That is really part of the external world and it is interfaced by this extraordinary community of commensal microorganisms that Mels talk to, that we repopulate when we eat fermented foods.
We repopulate pretty much when we eat all foods other than when we eat really heavily sterilised ready-made meals which are sterilised so that they can increase the shelf life. If we take antibiotics on top of that we sterilise our entire digestive tract. This is the interface between the external world and the interior world and it has a phenomenal amount of intelligence to it, we should also understand that our interaction with the atmosphere that we live in is through our lungs.
We’ve got this amazing mucosal layer through our nasopharyngeal system, the PCR test whether we have or haven’t got SARS Covid two and that also has its whole immune system in its own intelligence that responds to the external environment.
One of the reasons say coming back to Covid kids have much less problems with SARS Covid two than adults is because they come into this world with a pretty bristling innate immune system because they haven’t developed in time their adaptive or cell-mediated immune system with all B cells and T cells that requires time and exposure.
That’s why it’s really important that kids run around and spend time outdoors exposing themselves to all sorts of bugs. That’s how historically we’ve built up the cell mediated immune system and, of course, nowadays, people say, well, it’s okay to live in a really hermetically antiseptic treated environment we will just vaccinate the kids.
This is just a surrogate for what happens naturally and within those vaccines there may or may not be other things that people respond to.
Dr Ro: You are right I think there is a fear within parents. The kids go out, they get dirty, get their hands muddy, which is challenging because the reality is that they need to be doing it.
We grew up as you know, in an area where everybody’s hands on, very organic, mud everywhere. The kids love it and we encourage them to do that, but there is a different school of thought which is keep them clean, everything has to be sterilised.
Mel: It’s so important to not sterilise and to also not use the anti back products on your surfaces. You want to have pets around, you want to have real life, these are friends not foes these microbes, they have seen us through the whole of evolution we absolutely need them.
The other side obviously that Rob is talking to terms of assimilation is that you really need your gut to be functioning in a very optimal state and I think that people have got so used to living with gut discomfort that they think it’s normal.
So any bloating or wind or pain or discomfort or heartburn, these are all red flags from your body telling you that your digestive tract is not functioning optimally. It’s not something that should be lived with and certainly if you get a lot of heartburn then the worst thing you can do for yourself is pop lots of antacids or PPI inhibited.
This is such a common thing today and as a practitioner this is the first thing that we do is we make sure that we get that back into order again, the information that you are taking in from your food you will be able to assimilate and absorb again.
You’ll also be sealing your gut because you know, as Rob mentioned, that tube that goes from mouth to exit needs to be sealed, it shouldn’t be like a teabag. If you’ve got a teabag gut you’re going to be leaking out those microbes into your body cavity and that’s going to be triggering the big guns in your immune system because they’re not meant to be there, which then starts off low-grade inflammation and that is the basis for chronic disease.
Dr Ro: Would this be the next step in terms of people staging through this stage and what could they be looking at, starting to take or change in terms of their diet?
Harms: If you add to that the whole gut explanation if we add to that the other things that we’ve got used to, which is lack of sleep walking around like zombies and that must be the norm. Just feeling fatigued all the time.
That must be the norm.
It’s going back to the warnings that they give us, people continue to brush their teeth with bleeding gums and they don’t take that seriously. That must be the norm.
All of these things stacked on top of each other, which we just sort of take for granted and we just live with, and that’s something that’s just jumping out of me based on what Mel has just described there.
Mel: All of those things you’ve described are a move away from resilience. You get a fresh rubber band that will always spring back into shape.
You can stretch it, you can flex it and it will come back again when that rubber band loses resilience it snaps and that’s exactly what happens to our health at every level, not just your immune system but physically, mentally and emotionally.
At every level, and the work that we do we are really concentrated on using food as information, particularly as a first step to restore and reset your resilience.
Rob: On the gut it’s useful to think of what we call the three R’s.
Remove, replace and repair you’ve got to take the stuff out of the diet that is causing problems. That may be anything from junk food and very heavily damaged foods from excess heat and frying where you’re creating a whole bunch of carcinogens in them, but also maybe allergens the fact that there are only 14 legal allergens.
Two those are the mainstay of the Western diet that includes gluten and dairy, if you do suffer from any kind of bloating reaction from eating that isn’t normal.
If you’re doing that repeatedly it’s going to turn into systemic inflammation. So take the stuff out that that’s harmful.
Dr Ro: A message for listeners it’s not the norm.
Rob: If you’re feeling any kind of discomfort post eating that is not normal.
Then you want to look at what you replace it with.
There are a few golden rules around replacement, one of the ones that really hasn’t captured the imagination of people yet is and it’s because it hasn’t been published sufficiently, but your plants have to be grown in the soil. Most people think they are.
So they go to the supermarket they see these bags of salad and vegetables not realising that the majority of these pre-packaged, pre prepared vegetables and even fruits are grown in hydroponic solutions.
They’re grown in basically a water medium with something that’s a little bit similar to a Centrum vitamin and mineral tablet running around that gives it the nutrients that allows it to barely survive, but just like a child comes into this world with quite a lot of intrinsic vigour, a seed one of the reasons you can sprout seeds with no nutrient is because there is nutrition in there. Same as a chicken egg, there’s all that nutrition in there and there’s this vigour that occurs in all young organisms that we lose in life if we don’t have the right resources around us, we really need to have soil grown food.
Obviously, organic certification is a simple way of doing that but there’s a lot of other foods out there that are not organically certified and we’re beginning to see in agriculture this move towards an understanding what regenerative agriculture is and it doesn’t necessarily mean that any regenerative agriculture system is built around the soil.
The soil is precisely the same kind of environment for a plant as our gut is for a human and the microbial component of that is essential for growing healthy plants that contain everything we need in them.
It is one of the reasons that so many of those salad bags have just got baby leaves if you tried to grow them through to maturity they would start to become yellow and flimsy and floppy. If you eat salad that comes out of the soil you will find it has a very different texture and taste.
Dr Ro: I’m not necessarily getting access to organic food all the time and we are very privileged to be in that position, but how can they identify whether foods have soil grown outside of seeing the bag with mud all over the carrots?
Rob: The bottom line is we all need to be putting pressure on suppliers to tell us if it’s soil grown, and I should say at this point it is only next year in Europe that I phoned the International Federation of organic agriculture movements that controls association all the national associations is going to put their foot down and reverse the decision that has allowed hydroponic to be organically certified.
So as of 2021 that will revert, and that is because the science around the importance of the soil microbiome, also the rhizosphere is now so overwhelming that the big producers who jumped on the organic bandwagon were seen pretty much like a free from agriculture system.
We will just meet the limited requirements and we won’t put synthetic fertilisers or pesticides into it. Fortunately, organics are going back to their roots.
Excuse the pun, and say you need to grow the soil inside because we cannot have a proper nutrient cycling people. We can’t either grow healthy plants nor can we grow healthy people unless the stuff is in the soil and let’s remember that plants there’s a whole movement in science developing looking at plants and slow animals.
We have many, many more similarities to plants than we thought as animals and one of the most overt differences is the way in which our intelligence is actually delineated with a plant.
Plants don’t have a central nervous system, but boy, they are fully sentient. They feel, they communicate those are among some of the really obvious things that they do and their communication system both occurs from the release of highly volatile compounds into the atmosphere that allows them to signal to other plants if they’re in a very good space or bad space, if they need to up regulate their immune defences or not, but they also communicate through their root systems via fungal mycelium.
These are fungi that exist. So when we grow plants in a really intensive agricultural system and we use a bunch of fungicides that typically are less toxic to humans and animals because they are designed to hit fungi we actually wipe out all those microbes that the plants need to communicate with each other so that they can build their own immune resilience.
Not only that one of the reasons that there is a big movement globally to really shine a spotlight on the world’s number one herbicide glyphosate, is because glyphosate does the same thing it wipes out the microbial communities in the soil.
We have a real crisis in agriculture. Because it’s the most intimate way that we experience the external environment it is really important, not only from where you derive your food it’s really also important to understand what you do with that food once it comes in your home and recognising that the broccoli that you buy in a cellophane bag, is not going to be the same broccoli that it was when it was first harvested, nor is it going to be the same broccoli if you consume it a week after you put it in the bottom drawer of your refrigerator.
It is a continuous state of flux and the concept of remove and replace and repair for the gut. Some of the basic concepts that we really need to be aware of in our food is that soil growth is one of them.
Colour is another to get a diverse range of colours into your diet because each one of those colours contains with it a whole array of phytochemicals, fibre nutrients that are the information that our bodies need and the third thing is what kind of damage do we do to food when we cook it?
Sometimes by applying heat we actually enhance the ability to assimilate nutrients, a great example is the carotenoids in brightly orange and yellow coloured vegetables and tomatoes etcetera that we actually absorb better when heat has been applied. But in other cases, particularly if we apply too much heat we start breaking some of these nutrients down and that applies to proteins as well.
One of the reasons that there is so much negativity around red meat seems to be not because red meat is intrinsically harmful, what is harmful is the industrial farming production systems that produce red meat that is already damaged when it comes out of the highly stressed animal that has provided that.
But then on top of that cheap red meats are often treated and cooked in ways that actually create a whole bunch of additional carcinogens and because of the application of heat, it produces vast numbers of heterocyclic amines and poly aromatic hydrocarbons.
All big words but basically are not very good for us and we’re having to adapt to eating large quantities of damaged food out of these come industrial production systems.
Harms: This is fascinating, is it fair to say, and I am one of the lucky ones who have received this e-book extremely early, which is for those that don’t know Rob and Mel have amongst other creators have put together a mega e-book which is a guide for health.
Is it fair to say what you’re talking about here is also included in there with some more depth and some pointers, because I’m yet to open the book and explore it.
Mel: It’s all in there.
You can obviously hear we are so passionate about the body and health and food as well, we’re real foodies here and so we could see that people’s health is literally running into a brick wall because of the public health messaging and the government messaging on foods.
Every government plate that we looked at their guidelines in the UK it’s the eat well guide, in America it’s my plate and I think, pretty much the southern hemisphere runs a lot of the US plate.
As far as we’re concerned, we call them diabetes plates because the people who have a tendency towards metabolic distress and dysfunction it’s going to get you into their place quicker than anything else.
Back in 2015 we actually released our own guidelines and we call them food for health and you can go onto our website and you can click on the food for health campaign and you can have a look at tons of articles you can look at the plates. There is an adult plate, an adult guide. There is a vegan guide and there are also guidelines for children.
We’ve done it with real food, so that you can look at what your plate really represents your days eating and what it should look like, and the first thing that you will see when you click on one of those is that it is heavily plant based.
I’d really like to say that you can still have a heavily plant-based diet, but be a flexitarian or be an omnivore and you can be a vegan or vegetarian as well, so all the information is there.
We’ve done some refinements as the years have gone on and it’s been based on a huge body of very up-to-date nutrition research as well as clinical experience, as well as experience from individuals as well.
The benefit is that you can do what you want with those guidelines so you can keep a flexitarian and more standard way of eating with three meals a day, but you can also tweak it so that you can move into a more keto adapted place.
Rob talked about the three R’s. I’d like to add the last one is some re-inoculate so in removing the foods that are doing you harm you will know what those are, because you will have a response like bloating or discomfort, or burping or heartburn after you’ve eaten them.
I’d like to just mention here a little bit more about gluten because this is such a big one for people because it’s in everything and it’s also been labelled to be one of the biggest fad diets out there, but in removing gluten most people well in fact I had a client who said that they have been worse off by removing gluten.
The reason for that is that gluten has got a series of proteins within it that one of them is called zonulin, it is what we have in our tight junctions inside our gut mucosa.
So this sealed tube from mouth to exit is not meant to be like a teabag, but it has to have the ability of becoming a teabag. If you were to eat a pathogen that the immune system within your gut couldn’t deal with, though our body has a protein that releases, which opens the doors basically, so the immune system can come in from the body and can help deal with it.
When you’ve got food poisoning it’s one of the reasons why you have a whole body experience and you ache and you feel that your bones are hurting because your entire immune system is now responding to that pathogen.
What gluten does is it mimics that action and opens the tight junctions, if you end up eating gluten, three meals a day and two snacks you basically are keeping your gut artificially open constantly, which is going to drive low-grade inflammation and this is the reason why gluten is indicated in so many autoimmune conditions. Because you’re basically driving inflammation because you have contents of the gut with microbes travelling out into the body cavity which is going to make the immune system respond, because that’s a survival mechanism it’s what it’s meant to do.
By removing gluten you already enable your gut to be a lot more protected. We’ve only had grains in our diet for about 10,000 years and the old grains like spelt had a different gluten content to some of the new grains in today’s foods, which is why you have a way bigger response negative response to some of the breads that you can buy, particularly the white bread.
That’s hardly been through any fermentation process at all but you take a properly fermented sourdough made with spelt and you’ve started off with less gluten but the bugs have eaten basically what’s left of it and a proper ferment for a fresh sourdough should be 24 hours.
Whereas most breads on the main production process are fermented for eight hours so there are ways around this if you’re really passionate and you don’t have an autoimmune condition and you don’t have raised antibodies to gluten, then by all means source a sourdough and enjoy your bread in that way.
We’ve removed the foods that are a problem and replaced them with loads of great stuff you can see that all of on our food for health guides and then we have repaired the gut, you’ve reinoculated with microbes, through fermented foods, through walking in nature and you can already see that you’re going to start to create way more resilience in the body.
And yes, it’s a kind of a long way around to say that we have finally managed to produce an ebook that expands on all of this and tells you all of this and gives you the basis for how we live our lives, the way we eat and it’s the way I practice as a practitioner and you can also use these guidelines to go keto as well.
Dr Ro: The whole conversation about the gut again warrants a podcast on its own, but I know people often look for supplements, et cetera, are there any guidelines on yay or nay there, anything specific they should be looking for?
Rob: The first thing is to understand that when you consume whole foods, whole plant foods they don’t come with a nutritional information label and one of the things that we do encourage people to do from time to time probably a minimum of a month a year is a good starting point, is to try going barcode free for a month.
Because people can become so obsessed with nutritional labels that they forget that every time they buy a product the nutritional label is likely to have been produced in a factory.
It may be more processed and you’ll see in our food for health guide that we really recommend that the majority of food that people are eating is actually unprocessed or minimally processed. So again, another really important take home is maximise the amount of home prepared food that you consume and this is a good side of what’s been happening with lockdown.
There’s a lot more people doing a lot more food preparation.
And enjoying being in the kitchen.
If you look at international days in Britain it has one of the highest eating out rates of any country in the world and the US is higher, but certainly in Europe one of the highest rates in Europe. You compare it with Eastern Europe or southern Europe where you see and the less metabolic disease, higher levels of health.
There seems to be some very tight correlation going on with the degree of home cooking and cooking from scratch, that’s a really, really important thing to do. Coming back to what the body needs.
Remember its information within that information.
One of the useful ideas is to remember that you can divide your food between what we call macronutrients, things that we need a lot of carbohydrates, fats, protein and water and micronutrients.
Things that we need a little bit of and when you look at the macronutrients understand that only three of those we’ll include water as one of them only the protein and the fats are essential. In terms of nutrition at the moment the government guidelines typically recommend that half of all the energy that we consume from our food comes from carbohydrates, when in fact scientifically we know that actually people do absolutely fine on zero carbohydrate.
We still know there’s plenty of pathways we’ve got glucose transporters in our system that are really important in terms of how we deal with energy metabolism, but learn and behold, our liver can produce the amount of glucose that we need through a process called gluconeogenesis.
So when we look at essentiality of nutrients by definition what essentiality means an essential nutrient is something that we need to get in from the outside world that our bodies can’t produce. Because we can produce glucose carbohydrate isn’t one of those.
What we live in in terms of macronutrients is a world in which we have been told we’ve got to reduce the amount of fat that we’re consuming.
Over the last five years in particular, that evidence has been systematically deconstructed and it turns out that the problem we’ve had with fat is to do with the nature of the quality of the fats that we’re eating were often damaged fats, a lot of highly processed so-called vegetable oils that are not really taken from vegetables at all they’re taken from seeds and then they’re highly processed and exposed to very, very high temperatures.
Obviously that is viewed as good for cooking when you take sunflower oil because it has a high smoke point.
Dr Ro: On that note that just for somebody listening who doesn’t understand the contrast, what would be a good fat they could introduce?
Rob: Those bad fats are damaged fats that are very rich in omega six fatty acids.
We do need some omega six fatty acids but what’s happened is that the balance between omega six and omega three essential fatty acids has become completely distorted because of the overconsumption of these highly refined seed oils.
This includes things like margarine. No great surprise that the company that invented margarine through the Lever Brothers back in the 1920s, 1930s that then developed all these margarine products has a couple of years ago, ditched its entire margarine business because it sees no future in that whole industry.
We know that from an evolutionary point of view, many nomadic peoples actually existed with a very close to a one-to-one ratio between omega six and omega three and we also know from research that a ratio of four to one omega six to omega three is about the as far as we should go.
We also know that in most Western industrial societies the ratio is somewhere between 16 and 22 times the amount of omega six to omega three, we’ve got this way out of balance. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you just ramp up the amount of omega three that you get; that’s actually very difficult to get balanced omega three if you’re not taking fish oils. You can take flaxseed oil to get some of that, but you still need to go through a conversion process and some people don’t do very efficiently if you want to particularly produce the amounts of EPA and DHA.
When we’re young we particularly need the essential fatty acid DHA for brain development as we get older, particularly to reduce the risk of heart disease we need more EPA’s. so trying to get balanced omega three is as good but a simple way of doing it is reducing the amount of these cheap vegetable oils.
As far as I’m concerned they don’t exist in my kitchen. What I have in place is plenty of mono unsaturated fats. I use a cold pressed unfiltered olive oil as my go to olive oil that I don’t apply heat to, I use as the basis for salad dressings and I’ve got a slightly less expensive, still extra virgin olive oil that is my olive oil that I use that I can apply heat to.
It’s a bit of a misconception that you can’t apply heat to olive oil, the people in the Mediterranean have been doing that for centuries and what you shouldn’t do to any food is fry the hell out of it. Deep frying idea of all your foods is really not a good idea.
The other thing you do is start to introduce a diversity of other fats and the ones I think are very useful to have in your kitchen are avocado oil it’s also got a better smoke point than olive oil and then if you use a slightly higher temperature particularly when you’re cooking more in the Asian curry dishes and I will always have plentiful supply of a saturated fat that comes in the form of coconut oil.
That is a saturated fat that is very rich in what we call medium-chain triglycerides, so these are really important fats that don’t behave in the same way that heavily damaged saturated fats you get in processed foods behave, they are able to be used directly in your energy factories, your mitochondria, your muscle cells that actually produce the ATP, the body runs on. They can use it directly from this fat.
About 50% of your virgin coconut oil and you can now buy organic form that I strongly recommend because the non-organic forms have got residues of hexane, which is a carcinogen in them. So go for the organic if you can basically 50% of that will be lauric acid C12 fatty acid, not the CHC 10 the MCT one the medium-chain triglycerides that provide fuel to the body.
The lauric acid is really important for inflammation. Once you start to reduce those seed oils and you increase these healthy fats and remember that in terms of the energy content of fats you get 9 calories of gram for fats, as opposed to only four from protein and carbs, you start to see the change in energy balance. In the end it’s all about quality. So even when you look at your proteins what is the quality of the proteins?
If you’re using animal proteins where do they come from? How are the animals treated? What stress have the animals been on? What diets have they been on? This idea of feeding animals foods that are alien to them.
Most of the food that goes into animal feed for non-organic production systems for industrial farming systems actually comes from soya and maize that isn’t the indigenous food for these animals and are also often highly stressed.
Some of the research that points to even the greenhouse impacts of animal farming systems often just looks at those intensive animal production systems and people don’t necessarily realise that the Welsh lamb farming system and the Scottish Aberdeen Angus beef farming systems are already today carbon neutral.
Because you’ve got to take into account the entire system in which those animals are living so you’re looking at all the oxygen being produced from the pasture that’s in rotation, you’re looking at the nutrient cycling that is occurring because the animals are pooping over that land and all those.
You actually need animals within a system in order to allow complete nutrient cycling, so that’s just your macronutrients before you then move onto your micronutrients.
Harms: That’s amazing.
Dr Ro: Even the practical side of going into your kitchen and you talked about the cold pressed unfiltered olive oil, if I walk into our kitchen we’ve got these all stacked up.
Even the kids now are aware of how and when to use them. It’s re-educating ourselves about these things. It might seem like a lot of information as people are listening but if you filter down it becomes a set of go to things that you just learn to cook differently.
Mel: You change your kitchen and there is a section in the book about you shopping trolley. I wanted to say two things.
The first thing is we told you about this one e-book which has got everything in it but if we’ve got any vegans listening thinking you’ve talked a lot about meat and flexitarian and everything we have looked after you in this book.
We are pretty much through our second ebook which is all about how to be a really healthy vegan and it’s all about that because again, and maybe you have been thinking, if you’re vegan some of the things we’ve talked about in terms of all the processed foods and obviously the amount of like meat and very processed food coming onto the vegan market.
The body does not know what to do with these, our bodies cannot recognise them as food. They’re technological things and it’s very hard to assimilate the information that that is bringing into the system some people are just not absorbing and dealing with that very well. We’re going to deal with these things in the vegan book and just help you can’t get back on track and maintain your health.
Harms going back to your question you asked about supplements and dietary supplements if you’re in the states or food supplements if you’re in Europe. They are concentrated sources of nutrients and they are a category still of food.
As a practitioner there are definitely instances when I will use supplements to enhance somebody’s diet it’s always food first get the kitchen sorted, get your relationship to cooking and handling and finding that love again for food because of what can it do for you, because when you love the process from the shopping to the choosing, to the storage to the putting in your kitchen to taking it out and cooking, all of that love energy is imbued in the food and you eat it.
Again you change the type of energy that you’re taking into your body there are times when you do need to increase certain nutrients and so definitely supplements are very necessary.
Harms: Does winter play a factor into this?
Mel: Winter plays a factor and one of the things I’d say is that RDA stands for recommended daily allowance and I think it was 2016 that we made a shift in Europe to changing that terminology and calling them nutrient reference values.
You’ll have seen two things on packages.
If it’s a food you’ll see RI, which is a reference intake and if it’s a food or dietary supplement, you will see NRV, they mean the same thing. Basically, the RDAs or the NRV’s are the lowest amount of that nutrient that you need to keep you out of serious deficiency pathology, but it’s not enough health.
Dr Ro: What are they based on? Who has made that decision?
Mel: The committees, the public health committees.
Rob: This comes back to the discussion of NRV’s around essential nutrients. You don’t have so-called conditionally essential or non-essential nutrients, and essential nutrients are those that the body doesn’t produce.
The reason that we know that we need them is that in some populations that don’t consume them they get really, really sick, so they get rickets, scurvy. We know the threshold at which that deficiency disease occurs and there’s been a lot of science and if we look at zinc that is really important of the immune system it was Dr Anand Prasad it was 1966.
It wasn’t until 1966 that it was realised and he was a scientist that persuaded the scientific community that these 300 different enzymes, many of which are involved with the immune system are directly required that zinc is there.
They got the zinc ion that’s one of the reasons that hydroxyproline seems to get better outcomes for Covid because it helps to shunt zinc into cells so it’s just been a process of discovery learning what happens when we have certain things missing.
The irony of it all is that most of the heart disease and metabolic disease and even cancer that we see in our society today that’s crippling healthcare systems, is not a result of deficiencies in essential nutrients it’s actually a deficiency in a category of nutrients that are loosely referred to as non-essential nutrients.
All that means is things that don’t create these over deficiency diseases when we’re short of it, but actually contribute to loads of disease later on in life when we all start getting sick and that includes every single fighter nutrient.
All these phytochemicals, polyphenols and other things gut microbiota and that we need to talk to all these different metabolic processes, energy use all of them require information from these plant nutrients. Which is why human beings don’t do so well if you completely remove plant foods from the diet.
There is a very consistent body of evidence that says plant-based diets are what we really need for good health, because that’s essential for long-term health but in a very narrow context of the way we think about essentiality. That really is the reason why these NRV’s have come out of years of research for the levels required to stop deficiency diseases we’re still on a journey in nutritional science, understanding the levels that we need to stop long-term disease happening and more than that.
What we need to really have loads of vitality and loads of energy. Because of the way that research works we actually spend way too much time thinking about and studying disease processes and we don’t spend enough time thinking about studying really healthy people.
It’s only when we start to really study healthy people and understand more about the physiology and metabolism around the function that actually really allows all these multiple systems to work optimally, that we realise that actually there are additional levels of nutritional intake that we need to allow really good function to happen.
A good example would be vitamin D and regardless it’s an essential nutrient, but it’s really a hormone or a prohormone that is essential for a sterile pathway it’s essential as a communicating agent within the immune system.
It has a whole range of functions and also if we look at some of the base functions it is essential for managing calcium metabolism and therefore bone health and it needs a bunch of cofactors around, including magnesium, boron, zinc.
The level that governments are talking about that you need for vitamin D are actually based around bone health.
So when they talk about the fact that you only need 10 µg a day or 400 international units of vitamin D a day that is the bone health threshold, if you take less than that your bones don’t do very well and it starts moving you in the rickets direction and of course it’s kids that get rickets as the bones are developing.
But what we know is we need about double that amount to actually allow our immune system to develop and some of that process is actually to do with our evolutionary journey. Vitamin D naturally is primarily produced in the skin as a result of exposure to sunlight.
We evolved in hot parts of the world around the equator, where there was loads of sunlight. We didn’t wear a lot of clothes, our skin produced a lot of it. We were primarily dark skin, so we needed to have even more of it.
And as human beings have moved into ever more temperate latitudes, and have got colder and colder places and wear more clothes and we produce less and less vitamin D and of course we get a small amount of vitamin D from eggs and seafood, but some people are not consuming very much.
We really don’t get enough for this more evolved part of the process which is really how vitamin D is used for the immune system. Even through evolution, the basic structure and functional skeletal system has one threshold, which is if your skeletal system falls apart you can’t survive at all.
But the immune system doesn’t have the same selection pressure because you can survive even with a relatively dodgy immune system, but you can’t thrive.
As it is evolved and the immune system is really a continuous development and because it is tied up in so many pathways, we actually know now for optimal health you need much more. Pretty much that same principle applies to every single nutrient that is out there.
Dr Ro: If someone is looking to put a number against it, are you talking about 800 to 1,000?
Rob: For adults the science to get to the appropriate circulating level of vitamin D most adults would need to take about 5,000 units of vitamin D a day.
Dr Ro: Skin tone makes a difference.
Mel: We just launched about two weeks ago a vitamin D campaign. It’s on the home page in the campaign section. There is a huge amount of information for the listeners. to go through with dosing.
Rob: It’s really individual even people existing in the same family because we are asking this vitamin that we’re taking orally to go through our gastrointestinal tract depending on how well we absorb it and depending on our genetics and genetic variations from one individual to another. We absorb it in different ways.
If we have darker skin there is absolutely clear evidence that we need more and that’s just because of the absorption and reflection aspect. One of the reasons we have a vitamin D campaign we’ve called it the test and take campaign because testing your vitamin D level is now comparatively cheap.
You can do it between a tenner and £40 to have a home test kit and the cheap kits for under £10 tell you if you are insufficient or sufficient. They don’t tell you your exact level of circulating hydroxy vitamin D so you can’t really tell if you’re just okay or whether you’re well okay.
Whether you’re in the optimal range and it also can’t tell you if you are taking too much because the interesting thing is if you take far too much of it you can start to disturb calcium metabolism as well.
Dr Ro: It’s becoming more aware I think in the public’s eye, but you’ve been talking about this for years.
Mel: For vegans vitamin D is one of those supplements that is not in the main is not vegan because it comes from sheep’s wool.
A lot of vegan sources of vitamin D are always listed as mushrooms, which is D2, not D3, it’s not vitamin D3 it’s vitamin D2, which is less easily metabolised. You need quite a lot more of it.
The point I just wanted to make here is that you only find vitamin D2 in mushrooms that have been grown in sunlight and as most commercial mushrooms are all grown in the dark you need to put a line through that and I just want to make sure that the vegan listeners go and source themselves actual vitamin D supplements because it is highly likely that they’re going to be deficient.
Dr Ro: Great tip.
These are the subtleties that people can’t navigate through themselves, which I think what you’re doing with all work, the great campaigning but also the information you’re presenting, it’s almost gone geometrical the curve of information you’ve started producing over the last few years, but I think it’s based on demand and ignorance in the public space.
Mel: Just a desire for us to show people how easy it is to self-care, we just want people to feel empowered. Your healthcare does not start and finish an end in the doctor’s office or the hospital.
Dr Ro: Exactly and in somebody else’s hand it goes back to this whole thing about feeling out of control and that’s why people are feeling uncertain which is where the stress comes in pulling that control back into their own hands.
Rob: I think that one of the realities that’s occurred over the last few decades is that a lot of the information that people are provided with now is being fed through a commercial entity that has a vested interest in it.
One of the reasons that we are so passionate about what we do and why we do it within the framework of the non-profit is because we can remain objective in looking at the things that are really important for people without saying, look, we’re going to push this because we’re selling it.
We’ve sold relatively little.
There is so much information on our website.
We produced the book because of extreme demand and we are producing an awful lot of information all the time but yes, we’ve now got to a situation where people need the information so badly.
Dr Ro: They also need people like me who will unabashedly promote you, whereas often when you’re in the space of Mel and Rob, they’re just so giving that it’s not in their nature to necessarily promote themselves as that’s not what they do, they just serve in in a way that’s information and value.
If we can talk about the stats, masks and tests.
Just to recap we’re talking here about looking after the gut, sorting out just getting ahead, reset, go back into nature slowdown, in terms of supplements Zinc, D.
What could be three, four, go to’s at this stage they need to be considering coming off this podcast?
Mel: Zinc, vitamin D and vitamins C and omega-3 fatty acids.
Dr Ro: These have to be a base in their household correct?
Mel: They should be like first-aid really so that you can take more when you need it, but I just wanted to say that there is an article on a website that goes into nutrients for the immune system, particularly for Covid preparedness and for just immune resilience.
A lot of people talk about boosting the immune system, but we prefer to talk about modulating it because you don’t always want to boost it, but you do want to modulate it.
You want an immune system that is resilient enough to leap out and deal with an invader and a pathogen and then back down in its box again you don’t want to keep it on all the time.
It’s the hyper response that tends to be the real problem.
People might have heard of the term cytokine storm and that’s when you start to really suffer with the part of Covid where people are talking about not being able to breathe and having a lot of lung symptoms, that is actually hyper response from your immune system in the terms of a cytokine storm and there are ways of being able to make sure that your immune system is properly modulated so that it will respond appropriately.
It’s worth taking an evening or two, or whatever your time frame is available to sit and go through a process. It is one of the most informative central, unbiased, objective data sources that I’ve seen out there because there’s a lot of people talking in different voices out there and there’s conspiratorial conversations, but you’ve managed to navigate in such a way that’s objective and factual.
Make your space at home a bit of a sanctuary as well, have some proper me time and put some self-love into it and if you’re someone who does suffer with seasonal affective disorder sad syndrome then think about getting yourself a lightbox.
Alongside vitamin D light boxes can be helpful. Because our bodies need a certain amount of daylight some people are much more susceptible to going into what’s called seasonal affective disorder when the days get shorter and the quality of the light is not as bright.
These light boxes that are over three or 5,000 lumens actually mimic the full event of daylight. You can spend 20 minutes just sitting, working in front of your lightbox every day which will give your body what it needs, as if it was in the summer months and it really does help to take people out of that slide into the seasonal depression. We can’t see it but daylight has a spectrum of colour in it and these light boxes mimic that so that they allow you to absorb all of that as well.
Dr Ro: It’s a hot topic at the moment masks and also testing and I think it’s causing disputes and conversations and arguments in the public space and families, talk to us objectively and factually you’ve been in and out this space.
Let’s hear both your opinions about masks and testing at the moment in space.
Rob: Let’s start with stats.
The starting point is you have to have a mechanism of understanding what risk this poses and that the bottom line is right now, the stats around the world for Covid are completely mixed with influenza and pneumonia stats.
What you’ve possibly heard and what’s very clear is that during the southern hemisphere winter that went through June, July, august there was virtually no influenza around and now what we’re seeing in the northern hemisphere is that influenza is not hitting us at the rate at which it normally hits us and it’s all mixed up.
Now there are two really important reasons that are likely happening, one is because there is a competitive interaction between the influenza virus and the Covid virus and we don’t know how much of that is going on.
What we do know applies to the second reason is that there is a real mixing up clinically between these various respiratory diseases.
So when we classify in terms of healthcare stats we generally look at some upper respiratory conditions, lower respiratory conditions and pneumonia, and then they are grouped together because the respiratory conditions that lead to the pneumonia, remember that Covid when it creates severe disease creates a unique form of pneumonia, but still a pneumonia.
There are many, many forms of ammonia; it’s just another form of pneumonia that can kill people who are weak.
Now we’ve got this additional organism in the mix that’s adding to that and not a lot of influenza. When we go to measure risk. What we really have to do is keep an eye on two main groups of stats.
One is what is happening to mortality rates, how many people are actually dying and what we’re really interested in is excess mortality. Which is typically the number of additional people that are dying in a given week or month as compared with a historic five-year average.
Right now in many countries of the world, in most countries in the world there is no excess mortality at all. The amount of additional deaths that we are seeing are completely in line with what normally happens.
Despite the fact that we see large numbers of cases even then, we see case rates starting to plateau there is not a lot of excess mortality. There is excess mortality as we speak, currently in Spain, Italy one of the most interesting things is to see there is no excess mortality in Sweden, for example.
When Sweden had a fairly higher rate early on in a lot of that is to do with the number of if you like initiation cases that came into busy metropolitan areas like Stockholm and then they had a number of errors as we did in the UK that resulted in significant losses in care homes.
But what they didn’t do is lockdown the kids or businesses and in fact that economically weathered the whole of Covid 19 better than almost any other industrialised country.
Now what we see is to use a term that they’re trying to de-popularise herd immunity, herd immunity is a fairly complicated process that occurs because our immune systems have become adapted to the existence of a pathogen. We’re seeing this pretty resilient herd immunity mediated through memory T cells, we’ve got both B cells and T cells that are a part of the adaptive immune system.
That’s the immune system that takes days to build up immunity, the innate immune system is the starting point we’re born with. That is your first response team, but the T cell immunity has really been building in Sweden and we see absolutely no generation of the second wave at all.
Dr Ro: There is something called the reticular activating system, which is when you become aware of something it’s like you learn a new word and suddenly you hear that word everywhere, or you think about buying a new car and then you see that car everywhere.
I’m just adding that concept to this conversation that you’re having with us, we became aware of everybody testing, and the results were presented to us about Covid and the death rates, but these death rates have been around, year on year on year. We’ve just not as a populace monitored and looked at them.
What you’re saying is, if you look at overall for most countries there isn’t an excess and had we been watching it, year on year on year, we might have been much more aware of it.
It is just this year, suddenly it’s been magnified.
The numbers in our head seem bigger, but the reality is, it may not be any more in certain countries.
Rob: Precisely, and many, many countries have had even through the peak of March, April and May never had any excess mortality anyway so this idea that this is a global problem it has never been a global problem.
What we’ve seen is a small number of countries: the UK, the USA, Brazil and Peru, and Iran being among those that have had significant problems. There is no relationship between the extent of problems in Covid associated mortality and the degree of lockdown.
Dr Ro: The same way someone can develop an ache in the body, but not really notice it over years and then they are limping after four years, as opposed to somebody that in the fourth year suddenly develops a limp.
We’ve got the same thing going on here.
We’ve got a virus that has become very apparent to people, and everybody’s panicking, which I understand there’s been a lot going on in the background, but if it crept in over several years, we wouldn’t have had the same reaction to it.
Rob: What we’ve got is a PCR test that identifies one organism amongst hundreds of thousands, and we put all our attention to this one. If we didn’t have a PCR test right now, throughout the world we would just be living life as normal.
This is an artefact of the fact that we are looking at the case rates associated, you say that .09% of the world population had died as a result of Covid, which is what the statistics tend to say. That sounds quite bad. But what we don’t take into account is the fact that that’s not deaths caused by Covid they are deaths associated with Covid.
What this PCR test does is it amplifies an existing sequence of heart of the SARS Covid two virus, so it tells us nothing about whether that particular sequence that has been identified in someone is infectious is active.
In science there is no reader cross because what we would need for a test that was being used as a diagnostic test historically, we’ve always said that the case of the disease involves a particular pathology and a range of delineated symptoms.
Now we say for the first time in history that the disease is associated with the presence of the virus. Even if we know that these are just fragments. One of the interesting things to do is to go to, say, Google scholar and type in SARS Covid two and then put in wastewater and sewage into your search terms and what you’ll see is the sewerage system, the wastewater systems of our planet are all testing positive.
It doesn’t mean that they actually contain the active virus, it just means they contain bits and fragments of this virus that you can amplify. There’s a paper that has just been published that shows if you amplify more than 33 cycles you absolutely cannot tell if that sequence is part of an active infective virus and the lowest number of cycles of any commercial PCR test is 37, almost deliberately selected to be above this 33 threshold number of cycles and many of them are upwards of 40 or 45, they’re just amplifying fragments.
They tell you nothing about whether it’s infectious.
Dr Ro: What would their counterargument to that be to say yes that is okay Dr VerKerk, however, what is this counterargument?
The counterargument is not a very strong one. It’s because we don’t have another way of looking at the virus, that’s the only technology available to test.
It’s worth just saying that Prof Kerry who actually developed the PCR test and sadly passed away last year would be turning in his grave because, he has said from the time he developed it that you cannot use it to diagnose infective disease.
Rob: The fact checkers have picked that up and said no wasn’t right, that is not what he said. I’ve had the pleasure of actually finding a particular interview when he was being interviewed after he got the Nobel Prize for developing a PCR test and I think it was 52 minutes into the interview he said exactly what Mel said.
The guy was a dude, he was a surfer, just a genius. He developed the idea for PCR amplifying genetic sequences when he was driving up the hills in Orange County it came to him in a daydream, he was not part of the mainstream establishment, and I think he was one of the most brilliant scientists ever.
What he did was really fight a battle on this very subject around HIV so he was saying you cannot use the PCR test around HIV for much the same reasons and we all discovered later on that that there was a real shenanigans of the company doing the HIV test making huge amounts of money and then of course we found that there were plenty of people who had the virus.
Particularly when you start to move into sub-Saharan Africa and you start looking for example at Nairobi prostitutes and I should say I spent some time in that, not that I’ve had a lot of experience with narrowly prostitutes but I was working in Kenya at the time that scientific colleagues were doing that research, and said this totally changes our view.
These women are all full of virus, certainly in terms of what their PCR tests were and then completely healthy and isn’t it really interesting that the difference between them and the people in the shanty towns who are dropping like flies with supposedly the same virus, have massively different diets because the prostitutes are being wined and dined and have much more money.
That was the first time for me this was back in the early 90s that I started to realise the quality of nutrition can have a great impact and it is precisely the same when we look at some SARS Covid two.
The people who developed serious Covid are people who one way or another, either immune deficient as a result of age because their immune systems are winding down because they’re older, or their immune systems are compromised because of their underlying conditions. What can we do to make people’s immune systems healthier and it’s been a long old road for many of us who were saying right from the outset, taking a vitamin D, C, taking a zinc just for starters combined with a healthy approach to your diet, minimising processed foods and consuming as much soil grown foods as possible, managing and transforming your stress.
We know from decades of science that it is really important and staying active. We now have emerging science, specifically in relation to Covid 19, saying that these are good things to do, it which is why so many governments around the world have done a U-turn and yes on vitamin D what they’ve done is a U-turn to trying to focus our minds on the lower level intake required for bone health.
It’s very clever when you look at the small print around it they’re saying because people have been in lockdown for a long time and they’re not as mobile it is really important to think about bone health. If you provide the amount of vitamin D required for immune health you also provide enough vitamin D for bone health.
So why not try the two together?
So excess mortality is really important to realise that right now through most of the world there isn’t a problem in terms of excess mortality.
Let’s go onto masks briefly.
Harms: What we are seeing almost on a global scale with this form of testing is just a classic hammer and nail scenario where somebody in power has a hammer, so everything becomes a nail, rather than look at it as the complex situation it is.
Rob: Harms that is exactly the way it is.
That’s before we even throw in the curve the ball on bases theorem, which basically some of the greatest medical statisticians that have ever lived and have been reminding us about the use of any diagnostic technique when you have low prevalence, so the long and short of it is quite simply, when there’s not a lot of Covid around and you use a diagnostic test your false positive rate is likely to become very high.
When I say very high this is where people like Matt Hancock still fail to get their heads around it properly, so it is what is known technically in terms of PCR test sensitivity that tells you what the risk of false positives is.
A lot of these tests are sitting around about 96, 98% claimed sensitivity. What you’ve got to understand is when you move the thing out into the real world, you lose a few percentage points so it takes it around in many cases to say 90% sensitivity, that does not mean that 90 out of every 100 tests is going to be accurate.
What it means is that in cases of low prevalence once you apply the theoretical concept of the base theorem to it, is almost the exact opposite to that around 90% of your test will be false positives and only 10% will be true positives.
There is some complex science that goes behind that but that is the reason why using a PCR test if you carry on using it because prevalence as the infection starts to wane declines means in actual fact, you can never get rid of the problem if you’re only measuring as cases by PCR. The translation of what was a health problem that was originally going to risk overrunning the hospitals and then now has been moved to studying case rates and then looking at hospitalisations, were hospitalisations and even mortality is completely intermingled with other respiratory conditions means that the one thing we can be sure on is when someone is living or whether they’ve died.
Which is why I keep coming back to excess mortality is a real means of looking at this.
Frankly, if you live in Europe, the most useful site to keep a look on is a site that is a result of the European commission and collaboration call your Euro Momo, and if you look to the bottom of the graphs and maps section of that you’ll get to a thing called Zen score, which is an interpretation, statistical view of excess mortality that tells you where you are.
You can see in terms of the age groups affected, but you can also see it by country and see it over time in relation to five year mean excess mortality and essentially where the curve passes the red line that means you are moving into excess mortality that is greater than normally expected excess mortality for a given period of the year.
Dr Ro: Think of the emotional and psychological impact of someone who has had a test that they believe is now positive but she could have been a false positive.
Now they carry that forward and maybe believe they’ve developed a natural immunity, and then they have to then self-isolate which if they’re running a business, self-employed has an impact there. There is a knock-on effect if they’ve got kids in the school. It doesn’t bear thinking about, we’re living in that situation.
Mel: The knock-on effects this is the true cost.
The true cost of what’s going on at the moment and if I remind people how we started this by saying that you can rise above this and you can choose to look at it through a different lens. Just accept it, let it go and turn your focus into a different direction so that it doesn’t reach you as much.
Dr Ro: Taking control.
Masks, let’s touch on that before we wrap up.
Rob: The only way really of looking at masks is by using what we would call a balance of evidence approach, you have to assimilate all of the science prior to February March last year there was no science specifically on transmission either, for you know terms of your risk of passing on infection via aerial droplets or having it yourself.
We have to look at historic data so the historic data goes to other respiratory conditions and when you look at other viral pathogens, respiratory diseases, the evidence was crystal clear prior to SARS Covid two coming along that there was no advantage for anyone wearing a mask in community settings.
That is very clear, the only situation where there was a marginal advantage was in conditions of very high viral load exposure in hospital settings when you’re dealing with people who are full of virus and shedding everywhere and in an operating theatre environment dealing with tracheostomy et cetera.
What’s happened now is we’re 11 months in and there are individual studies that come up. When you use a balance of evidence approach and there’s just been a brand-new study coming out of Denmark again, it’s confirmed, pretty much, that there is no big difference with other respiratory viruses that there is no net advantage for mask wearers versus non-mask wearers.
We’ve seen a consistent pattern of the evidence in that direction. What we’re beginning to see is also some negative evidence for people who wear masks a lot.
The biggest problem seems to be for the individual obviously it is associated with the fact that the nose and mouth breathing is pretty much through evolution has been designed to not be interfered with, with putting something in the way of it.
When you start to obstruct breathing you maintain a high level moisture around it, so your potential risk of either having skin infections or even respiratory or infections of the mouth area are higher if you wear a mask, particularly if you don’t change it and you allow the reservoir to build.
But of course, the logic of mask wearing that is being communicated to the public is that you’re not doing it for yourself so hell to it if you are worse off. What about your risk of passing infection to other people?
Where the science seems to be moving here is that there is a very clear pattern of behaviour associated with regular mask wearing, which means that people touch their masks a lot and if they’re touching their masks a lot they’re actually also touching infected then touching other surfaces and potentially increasing the amount of transmission that might occur. In a nutshell, using a balance of evidence approach we have seen no consistent overall evidence that supports mask wearing in the community.
However, in the hospital setting under conditions of viral load it’s very important. My eldest son is an ENT surgeon and he has been involved in dealing with tracheostomy with Covid patients and it makes total sense that people like him are wearing masks but in the community it makes no sense whatsoever.
Mel: It’s worth reminding people that when they’re used in surgery and everything the surgical environment is under pressure, they’re pumping more oxygen and they’re making sure that the surgeons can still breathe.
That’s why it’s a very rarefied atmosphere. They change their masks really frequently.
The reason why there are so many papers out there about this is because they’ve spent so long studying the adverse effects on surgeons operating from headaches to all that side of it, fatigue, headaches because it does impede your flow of oxygen and it does increased the amount of carbon dioxide that you’re rebreathing as well.
Dr Ro: You add to that psychology, the pressure, the short days all these things are like a cocktail for somebody’s emotional state.
Mel: I’ve seen data coming out of New York now from the dentists there where they’ve coined a new term for the syndrome.
They call it mask mouth where they’re saying that the mask is causing such an imbalance in the microbiome of the mouth. It’s causing dysbiosis, you’re getting all these cavities and infections, and gum disease and they’re finding that people are struggling. The ones that have been wearing them long-term.
Harms: I love this because it is an objective conversation around what people are having as an extreme discussion and they may use that argument flippantly, which is if it’s okay for and I hold my hands up to this at the start I was saying if it’s okay for surgeons, they must wear it must be okay for us.
But like any kind of instruction it’s way more complex than just this simple statement.
I’m so glad that’s been discussed there in an objective way.
Mel: It’s such an emotive thing and it shows that at the heart how human beings are deeply compassionate and you want to do the right thing but you know, let’s bear in mind that virus particles are beyond nano.
There’s a great video that someone did right near the start, where he is wearing a mask on the video and he actually breathes out vape smoke from there and it’s a good way of seeing what happens. It’s going to be like using a chain-link fence as well to deal with these virus particles. It just changes the direction of flow and I think all along, I’d say that the most important thing that you can do for yourself and for others is to make sure that you are in resilient health with an immune system that is properly modulated.
If you can then share that information with others. If everybody is robust, we have evolved next to all of these pathogens and you can already see I think Rob will confirm for me that there’s been a couple of hundred mutations already of the SARS Covid two virus and so you’re also seeing a lot less virulence and this goes completely in line with what we know from an evolutionary basis that, when a new pathogen arrives, it’s much more virulent and it passes through a whole load of people’s bodies and our immune system.
The magic of our immune system gets to work.
The whole thing changes and then it becomes way less so you look at the common cold, you look at the type of flu that we have now it’s all the same thing, we just need to not be frightened.
Rob: The idea of sneezing into your elbow and hand washing on the other hand, is actually very well supported by science.
When you go into potentially unknown, potentially high viral load environments like the supermarket it’s a great idea come back and wash your hands thoroughly, and you don’t need anti-bacterial you just need soap and water. There is very clear evidence on that as well. Sneezing into your sleeve, binning your tissues. All of that. That’s always been in.
Catch it, bin it, kill it.
Those mechanisms of basic sanitation have always been the most important mechanisms for managing respiratory pathogens and they remain exactly the same for Covid 19.
Dr Ro: What would be something that you could leave the listeners with?
Whether it’s to do with questions for them to reflect on something for them to steer away from this, there is a lot to absorb.
Rob: What I think that people need to be doing to maintain sanity through all of this with this extraordinary array of information and diversity of views being put forward is that you have to at some level run in your mind, your own risk benefit decision process.
You can’t go into this without trying to get some handle on what the actual risk is and when you look at risk you’ve got to discern between what is the risk of the virus and what can I do to reduce that risk?
We talked about hand washing but what is the risk of the government mandated policy decisions to my life? Which might be what impact will it have on my business and do I have to accept that? What can I do to resist? Am I making the smartest decisions in terms of where I think this is all going? Have I managed the risk well? Y
ou’ve got to look at the whole risk side from those two perspectives, but then you’ve got to look at the benefit side as well, so the benefit is about how you can stretch benefit? You might say, I’m a reasonably healthy person. But have I moved myself from maybe borderline risk of metabolic disease? Am I carrying some kind of spare tire around my middle that I would do well to get rid of that? Have I got my sleep under control? Am I managing my stress properly and am I doing all I can in terms of looking at the quality of the foods that I’m putting into me? Have I looked at the possibility of becoming keto adapted?
We now put you into the most immune resilient state that you can allow you to bounce back from stresses, whether that’s contracting an infection, whether it’s having stress at work or at home.
We live in a stressful environment so we would look at what ways can you change your behaviour so that you increase your overall resilience. Then the other side benefit is with this changing world that we now exist in. Is it only downsides or are there some plus sides? The plus sides that some people are able to focus on is I now spend more quality time with my family than I did before.
We’re forced to not go out so often we’ve got to cook more at home. I’m having more quality time in the kitchen and in the dining room without the digital devices close by with my family, and I’m making the most of my ability to interact with close friends.
I’m actually spending more time building friendships and relationships within my local community that I was before because I was jet setting all over the world. I’m not contributing to such a big carbon footprint because I’m not spending as much time on an aircraft 35,000 feet in the air.
Look at risk from two perspectives, look at benefit from two perspectives, realise that we are moving to whatever way we look at this peculiar time in our history life won’t be the same from 2021 onwards, as it was before.
Coming back to the point that Mel was talking to is that we do have a lot of control over our destiny. Try and think of the positive side. That risk benefit analysis I keep on doing it. I know that the virus doesn’t pose a major risk to me because I’m in resilient health. It doesn’t to my family, and I know there’s a lot of unnecessary stress going around because people haven’t checked out what the euro mom states are looking like.
Dr Ro: Mel over to you.
Mel: I would just like to say that self-care starts at home with N equals one and if we can make sure that we are in resilient health and happy and feeling as well as possible and happy and well people are people who are able to open their hearts and be compassionate.
People who can open their hearts and feel compassion are less likely to be contributing to divisive behaviours and increasing the divide that we’re seeing from the terrible polarities, everywhere you look there’s polarities and just remember, United we stand, divided we fall.
Also, this notion of the fact that we have the power to change the collective consciousness I’d really like to leave everyone with that thought. Imagine if we all held the intention and the vision of the world that we would like to live and that we would like to pass on to our children, that we would like the earth to experience and every being and resource on the earth, imagine if we all held that vision and we just allowed what we saw in our daily reality to just observe but not absorb it.
The power of that is what shifts the whole collective consciousness.
It changes the world.
We really are all powerful sovereign beings and we do not have to think the way the mainstream media is telling us to think, we could hold a different thought and if we hold a different thought we immediately create a different reality and we change our experience.
Through doing this we will change the experience of those closest to us and it’s the ripple effect as the ripple goes out, but it all starts at home and a little bit of self-love, me time and getting yourself into the best possible resilient place that you can on every level.
Dr Ro: You gave us an amazing process during this podcast.
Thank you and namaste to both of you for coming on. I think there’s definitely a subject to pick up again so we would love to have you back on again.
Mel: We love talking to you guys.
Thank you so much for having us on.
Harms: Once again thank you to Rob and Mel for joining us.
The wisdom and the words come out from this, Mel described it well, we have this polarity and we’ve experienced a conversation which talks in this space, which doesn’t divide its rational, objective. It empowers you to think for yourself.
Once again thank you to Mel and Rob for joining us, that’s myself and RO signing off.
We shall see you in the next episode.
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