What is health? The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. We love this definition as it emphasises the holistic nature of health, acknowledging that we are individuals living within families, societies, and the larger world, and it also makes no mention of weight.
Strange times: As we face this epidemic of metabolic diseases, with weight gain being a common symptom, society has simultaneously embraced a cultural obsession with thinness. This has led to a significant focus on weight as the primary determinant of health when the reality of determining health is far more intricate. Complicating matters further are the politics surrounding food and fat. The food industry, with its vested interests, influences the evidence used to shape our dietary guidelines and as a result, we receive conflicting messages about what is truly healthy. Sugar laden cereals and products like ‘Up and Go’ are marketed as nutritious which highlights the disconnect between the food industry's profit driven motives and genuine concern for our health. We also have to navigate the bewildering “health star rating” system which, as an example, has rated ‘Up and Go’ as 4.5 out of 5 for nutritional value!
Meat and the environment: While it may sound plausible and convincing that cows and their methane emissions are solely responsible for rising sea levels, the reality is far more nuanced. The processed food industry has jumped on the environmental responsibility bandwagon to promote processed, soy based plant products, when the extensive processing and transportation involved in getting these products into our shopping baskets is actually really environmentally destructive. The push for processed plant based foods also lies in the industry’s desire to profit from people wanting to eat less red meat because eating only whole plants and white meat does not turn profits. If we only eat whole plants, the intrinsic step of making food products hyper palatable during the manufacturing process is removed, thus reducing the cycle of cravings and consumption that the food industry relies on. It's crucial not to fall victim to health or greenwashing, where essential information is brushed aside for the sake of a simplistic story. In countries like Australia, where farming practices are well managed, meat production can actually be carbon neutral and play a vital role in a healthy and nutritious food system.
Supersizing: Processed food isn't just about convenience; it's a cunning art that involves engineering products to make them outrageously delicious. Sugar, salt, and fat blended into a magical combination to hit our "bliss spot." It's like a secret code that unlocks our cravings. In America, the industry has managed to include the dastardly step of adding sugar into their bread. Yes, you read that right - sugar in bread! It's not just about the carbs from wheat flour; they add sugar because they know that taste buds become addicted to the sweet sensation. Once we taste that sugar, we want more and more and spiral into a never ending cycle of temptation, much like the concept of supersizing.
Supercheap: These food giants make a killing by minimising their costs on ingredients and maximising their profits through their manufacturing and marketing strategies. The real cost lies in the labour, not the super duper cheap ingredients they use. So they can lure us in with bigger portions, making us believe we're getting a bargain but in reality, we're falling into a tangled web of addiction. Have you ever wondered why fast food joints like Maccas offer larger portions for less money? It's not because they're feeling generous or have a sudden surge of benevolence. No, it's a simple but devious strategy. The more we eat, the more we crave their food. It's a sly manipulation that hooks us, and we all fall victim to it. Why settle for a measly 300ml of Coke when you can double your pleasure with 600ml for the same price or even less? It's the power of marketing and it plays tricks on our minds.
Simple solutions: Imagine removing the barriers that hinder our bodies from naturally attaining a state of balance and health - the very same balance that has gracefully persisted for billions of years. It's simple. Really! Not necessarily easy, mind you, but simple. We need to turn to nature, to the foods that our species has evolved to thrive on. Think of vibrant plants, luscious fruits, nourishing nuts, wholesome veggies, the goodness of meat, fish, seafood, and the humble egg. These are the natural foods that haven't been tampered with in a factory, designed to line the pockets of processed food giants. Keep it simple, keep it real.
The fundamentals: Sleep is a vital ingredient in our well being. It's the time when our bodies restore and rejuvenate. And relaxation, oh, how essential it is! Spending quality time with friends, laughing, connecting, really is medicine for the soul. And water, the elixir of life, should never be underestimated. Stay hydrated, gorgeous people!
Movement: And here's a revelation: humans weren't born to sit as much as we do. The forgotten art of stretching is a great place to start. Look at our furry friends, the dogs, the cats, even the noble horses - they stretch their bodies when they rise from their slumber. We, on the other hand, jump up and march forward, disconnected from our own physicality. We need to reconnect with our bodies, rediscover the joy of stretching. Movement, lovely ones, is one of the keys to health. It's not just about burning calories or fitting into a certain dress size, it's about fighting inflammation, powering our cells, fortifying our bones and muscles, and nurturing our precious mental well being. So get up and wiggle, go for a walk, dance in your bedroom, give yourself permission to access the symphony of benefits that movement brings.
Be a hoti, as well as a hottie: Dr James Muecke, 2020 Australian of the Year, coined the term "hoti" as an acronym for being healthy on the inside. Hoti's live life to the fullest, unencumbered by ill health or exhaustion. They don't need to rely on external energy boosts or afternoon naps, and don’t feel the need to hide their bodies. Hoti bodies go on amazing adventures and hoti’s celebrate their bodies' capabilities rather than dwelling on limitations or a societal expectation of acceptable shape and size.Nourish, accept and celebrate your body, it really is so much hotter to be a hoti than just a hottie!Click here to join our program - become a HOTI!
Dr Mary Barson: (0:11) Hello, my lovely listeners. I'm Dr Mary Barson.
Dr Lucy Burns: (0:15) And I'm Dr Lucy Burns. Welcome to this episode of
Both: (0:20) Real Health and Weight Loss!
Dr Lucy Burns: (0:23) Good morning, gorgeous listeners. It's Dr Lucy here and I am joined as ever, by my beautiful compassionate crusader, Dr Mary Barson. Good morning Mary, how are you darling?
Dr Mary Barson: (0:36) I'm feeling very crusade-y today. Thank you very much. I really am. We're doing this Low Carb Road Show at the moment. And my talk that I'm presenting is about your body's real health. And I have a bit of a vulnerability moment where I share my story, and share how important self compassion has been for my health journey. And how breaking free from shame with courage, connection, community has helped me in my health journey. But more than that, I even just talk about what actually is health? What is it? What is healthy?
Dr Lucy Burns: (1:21) Absolutely. And I think that's really important, because, you know, the word healthy gets bandied about by all sorts of people. And all sorts of vested interest groups who are selling you things in the aid of, you know, health or whatever. So, yeah, I'd love to know, what the definition of health is. And I know you've done research on this Mares, so let's share it.
Dr Mary Barson: (1:43) Yeah, absolutely. I mean, health means different things to different people. You know, the WHO, in their infinite wisdom has certainly attempted to define health. And they define health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. And I like this statement for many reasons. It sort of talks about health being this holistic thing, as we are people that live within our families, within our society, within the world. And also that it doesn't mention weight, which I like, because, for many, in recent decades, health and weight have become intricately linked, and that we humans are in this strange, strange position, where there is a cultural obsession with thinness, there is an epidemic of metabolic disease of which weight gain is a common symptom, and there is an enormous amount of fat politics and emphasis on weight as the main determinant for health. And at the same time, there are so many moving parts to this. We are victim to this ludicrous food politics, where we've got invested interests from the food industry, you know, directing the evidence that we use for our dietary guidelines. And we're being told that, you know, we should eat grains and certain processed foods and that ‘Up and Go’ sugar, seed oils, it can have five star health rating. Industry just sees us as consumerism units, they're not particularly interested in our health, and yet they are being able to dictate what is healthy. So we've got food politics, we've got fat politics, we've got thin is beautiful, thin is healthy, going on in the middle of what we are calling this, you know, obesity epidemic. We're in a strange place.
Dr Lucy Burns: (4:04) Absolutely. And do you know what I would also just throw in there as a little side is the environment politics. So you've got processed food companies hijacking that storyline by saying don't eat particularly meat because it's so damaging to the environment. And instead, they're saying eat plant based, basically eat my fake meat, vegan food, which is just complete, complete trash for our body. And it's so interesting, you know, the idea that processed food companies again, largely, their job is to make money.
Dr Mary Barson: (4:42) They're not interested in our health or the environment, particularly, but they'll hijack a narrative to help them make money.
Dr Lucy Burns: (4:49) Absolutely. And they will use what is essentially waste products from other things and work out how can I incorporate this into some food? And it's astounding that we've all fallen for it.
Dr Mary Barson: (5:02) Yeah, I mean, they're not necessarily saying, you know, it's a simple story. It sounds good, doesn't it? Meat is bad for the environment. It sounds good. It sounds simple. You know, that cows make methane and therefore, they're the reason why we've got rising sea lines. It sounds very good. But the processed food industry isn't telling us to cook, make, grow our own veggies in the backyard and to you know, be shelling our own broad beans, and eating those. They're telling us that we should eat, you know, soy based fake plant products that, you know, they strip the Amazon to farm and that are multiply processed with seed oils and other chemicals, and that are shipped across the world with countless air miles. That somehow is better for the environment? Now it is, I mean, it's a simple line, meat is bad, plant based is good, but like so many things, it's in the details, it’s in the nuances where the truth actually lies. And to just you know, health wash or greenwash the truth away, happens quite frequently. And in fact, you know, in a proper food system, which actually exists in many parts of the world, perhaps not the American food system. That's, you know, got some significant challenges with regards to its environment. But certainly, like here in Australia, we grow cattle and lamb on land that is not particularly arable for other reasons, that they are, in fact, carbon neutral in the way that they are farmed. Even if we're not talking about ultra boutique, organic, regenerative farming, and we're just talking about normal farming, then meat is a very healthy part of our food system. And also very nutritious. So yes, things aren't as simple as we might like to believe, just as the simple story of just eat less and move more and you'll be thin, isn't true, either. That health washes away the details to a point where it is just plain wrong. So the health story, the environmental story is more complex. And to be honest, I think that many of us are being lied to.
Dr Lucy Burns: (7:19) Yes, absolutely. And on top of that environmental story is the idea, and nobody is actually talking about this particularly, is that illness is very harsh on the environment. If you go to a hospital, and, you know, please, if you do need to go to hospital, go, go to hospital. But sick care, which is really what hospitals are, they’re about looking after sick people. It's, you know, there's a lot of environmental waste that comes with that. And that's, it's part of how we do, I guess, you know, health business these days with infection control, and those sorts of things. But if you're worried about the environment, the very, very best thing you can do for yourself is focus on your own health by eating whole real food, and not getting stuck into this narrative, or trapped in this narrative, that if you eat beef, you're somehow going to be destroying the Amazon and giving yourself bowel cancer.
Dr Mary Barson: (8:20) Yeah. Fascinating. So, you know, if you were just you know, choosing to be vegetarian and eating, you know, your broad beans and your whole foods, that would be a very different story. But that doesn't make much money for industry, because they can't really value add whole foods. This is the problem from their point of view. If we are individual consumerism units, and not actually human beings, which is what we are to the industry, even though they are morally bound to make money and legally bound to make money for their shareholders, they are not morally or legally bound to look after our health. So I'm not saying that they're made up of evil individuals, but collectively, what they do is exceedingly unhelpful for the human race. That you can't value add whole foods. So there's not much money in, you know, getting people to eat some beans or a piece of fish. But there is money in getting people to eat ultra processed soy based, plant based mince something and fish fingers. That's where the money is for them, but not where the health is for us.
Dr Lucy Burns: (9:25) Absolutely. And processed food means that you can also add things into it that will make it hyper palatable. So in particular, we know that sugar, salt and fat, there's a sweet spot, a combination spot called the bliss spot. And this is why in particular, you know, America has sugar in their bread. So not only do they have the carbohydrates from all the wheat flour, they add sugar because our palate adapts to the sweetness, and we want more and more. And it's a bit like that concept of supersizing things, you know. Maccas aren't being generous with giving you bigger portions for less money, they do it because the more you eat, the more you want. It's so insidious and so sneaky, and we all fall for it. Because why would you buy 300 mls of coke when you can buy 600 mls for way less than double the price? We fall into marketing. Just, you know, it's just cleverness, isn't it as far as marketing goes
Dr Mary Barson: (10:33) It is, it is. They can make more money from that because their main costs are with the labour and not with the super, duper, cheap ingredients that they put in their foods so they can sell us bigger portions for a bit more money. We think we're getting a bargain. But in actual fact, we're not. Yes, food politics, fat politics, we are in a strange place indeed. And it becomes quite difficult to navigate. I think health, and the concept of being healthy has become exceedingly complicated to the point where many people believe that it has to be complicated and perhaps even unattainable. But I think that if we strip it back to some pretty straightforward principles, health can be simple. It really can be simple.
Dr Lucy Burns: (11:25) Excellent. I'd love to hear this simplicity.
Dr Mary Barson: (11:29) Yeah. We are complicated, as I like to say, having been a biochemist in my past, I've never fully given that up, that I just love the fact, that life like the cells, even the world's most simple bacterium, is the most complicated structure in the known universe. A single cell is the most complex structure that we know of in the entire universe. All of those smart people out there, studying astrophysics, there is nothing more complex than life. We are incredibly, biochemically complex. And it's a beautiful, thermodynamically improbable, I just love it. So we're complex. But we are also simple. We really are also simple. If you can remove the blocks that are stopping us from our bodies naturally being in a normal and healthy balance, like the normal biochemistry that would just tick over as it has for you know, three and a half billion years, because that is how old life is on earth. If you sort of remove the things that are preventing us from being in a nice balance, we will naturally and normally get back into a healthy balance. And this stuff is simple. It's not necessarily easy to implement. But it is simple. And it's real food, think nature. Think about what is the natural food that we as a species evolved to eat. And its natural plants, fruits, nuts, veggies, meat, fish, seafood, eggs, these natural foods that have not been value added in a factory making money for a processed food company. Simple natural food. Sleep, we're meant to sleep. Relax. We're meant to spend time with our friends. Drink water. You do these things, and you can get into a much healthier balance.
Dr Lucy Burns: (13:21) Absolutely. And interestingly, I mean, humans are not meant to sit as much as we all sit.
Dr Mary Barson: (13:26) She says, sitting down doing a podcast, feeling a need to stand up right now.
Dr Lucy Burns: (13:32) But again, if you think about it, and also and I'm going to add in stretching, so if you're a dog or a cat, even a horse, if you've been lying down, when you get up, you stretch. Humans just get up and walk. Like we're so disconnected from our bodies that we hardly ever stretch now.
Dr Mary Barson: (13:54) I can feel at the moment, because I spend so much time carrying a baby. In my front, I've really noticed that there's like a little hunching to my shoulders that I'm becoming aware of, and I'm trying to do something about it. But yes, certainly I do spend a bit of time leaning over. Movement. Absolutely. Movement is natural and normal and lack of movement, in a really literal sense, adversely affects our biochemistry. And it's not just about burning calories. I think being still is literally, for a long period of time, is inflammatory to our bodies and getting up and moving, is anti inflammatory and helps our cells tick over, helps our energy generation, helps our cellular health, helps our bone health, our muscle health, our mental health, all of these things are improved by movement.
Dr Lucy Burns: (14:46) Absolutely. So I think you know, it's that tricky thing that again, you know, going back to what we were talking about last week is that for many of us, and in particular women of my generation and beyond, we never looked at any of this as part of health. It was always just part of getting thin, part of getting the perfect body. And moving away from that narrative and back into health. And recognising also, health doesn't have a picture. In fact, we use that phrase, a picture of health, whatever that means. But you know, you can be in a bigger body and be extremely healthy.
Dr Mary Barson: (15:33) Yes, you can, and you could be in a smaller body and not be extremely healthy. Yet weight is not the single determinant for health. And yet, unfortunately, weight is often a major focus for the health industry, a sort of part of the fat politics, that you know, that being overweight is the danger. That being overweight is you know, threatening every single organ system in your body, being overweight is an emergency and that weight loss at any cost, very low energy diets, you know, weight loss medications and pharmacotherapy, bariatric surgery, all of these things are justified because you need to get thin, quickly, thin, soon, thin is the priority because if you're overweight, you're unhealthy. But that really misses a very, it actually misses the point entirely. Weight loss at any cost misses the point entirely. I'm going to insert another little point here, if you are on weight loss medications or you have had or are contemplating weight loss surgery, I'm not saying that that's necessarily a wrong thing to do. However, I will say that weight loss at any cost, when you're focused on the number on the scales, or you know, potentially even more unhealthily, focused on a particular aesthetic, that is psychologically dangerous, and almost always physiologically dangerous, as it results in decreased metabolic rate, yo yo dieting, which is not at all a trivial consequence. That's quite significant for our health. Weight loss at any cost totally misses the point. Because as we said before, you can be heavier and be healthier, you can be lighter and be unhealthier. It's not the weight as such, as it is your metabolic health.
Dr Lucy Burns: (17:27) Exactly. And weight. If your body is storing some more fat again, there's a threshold in which storing excess fat becomes unhealthy because it affects the way your cells function. But it's really interesting to me, I was talking to again, another one of our beautiful members who has migraines. She has recently changed her health, she's improved her metabolic rate, she had type two diabetes, which is currently in remission. So her, you know, haemoglobin A1C, which is our way we measure diabetes, is now normal. She has lost a significant amount of weight, around 12 to 15 kilos, however, she's still in, in what would be considered a bigger body. And she still has migraines. So the solution, her neurologist just tried a number of things. And the only thing he's come back to her and said, Well, we've tried everything you need to lose more weight. And it's like, No, I don't actually think the migraines have anything to do with her weight. So the medical profession can also blame weight on all sorts of conditions that have got actually nothing to do with it. Now that is, there's a slight little, I'm just going to do a slight little sidestep there and to say that there is a condition called intracranial hypertension, benign intracranial hypertension, which does give headaches, they are not migraines. And there is some evidence to suggest that weight loss in its own right will help those headaches. But general, just, you know, dare I call them run of the mill, because for anybody that has migraines know they're far from run of the mill, but run of the mill migraines have got nothing to do with your weight.
Dr Mary Barson: (19:18) Yeah, and she's got all this amazing internal health and metabolic healing, which is being missed and glossed over because some particular number on a scale or a particular aesthetic has not yet been reached. This is potentially physically and psychologically dangerous. I don't look like a fitness model. I don't. And for much of my life, I thought that because I didn't look like a fitness model, I was therefore unacceptable. And getting up on the stage at the Road Show and you know, sharing my story, sharing my expertise, sharing what I have to say about health, weight management, is actually, is confronting. I do it, I do it. But there is that little voice in my head saying, you know, Sit down and shut up, you've got no right to talk about this, because you don't have ripped abs. So, you know, even for me many years later, even though I'm healing from shame around my body, healing from feeling that I have to have this perfect aesthetic to be worthy, it's still there, the voice is still in my head. But what I have apart from my story and my expertise, what I have, which makes me feel like I can, you know, get up there and have a right to talk, is that I am healthy on the inside. Okay, I actually think I look fine as well. So I’m just gonna put that out there. But also, I'm healthy on the inside.
Dr Lucy Burns: (20:46) Absolutely. And we love that phrase that Dr James Muecke, who was Australian of the Year in 2020 so aptly coined, the acronym for healthy on the inside is a hoti.
Dr Mary Barson: (21:01) I'm a total hoti, as are you Dr Lucy.
Dr Lucy Burns: (21:05) Absolutely. And that's what we all want to be, just want to be hoti’s. Hoti’s live their life. They're not hampered by ill health. They're not tired, they're not exhausted. They're not having to have a little nap in the afternoon. They're not relying on external, you know, energy drinks to give them the energy to get through the day. Hoti’s are not just existing, they're thriving,
Dr Mary Barson: (21:31) Living. That's right. I take my beautiful, hoti body out there and just live my life. Celebrate all the cool things it can do. And all the cool places it takes me and all the wonderful adventures I can do with it. You know, rather than being hung up on how it looks, feeling that I need to hide it away, or lamenting all of the things that it can't do.
Dr Lucy Burns: (21:53) Ah, absolutely. And for those of you lovely listeners who have seen me in the flesh, you will know I have a significant disability. I actually can't walk very far. So there's, you know, there's some functions in my body that I go, Hmm, you know, be nice to be able to walk. That would be nice, but it's actually you know, there are things that I can do. There are aids that I use to enable me to still live my life.
Dr Mary Barson: (22:20) And you do cool stuff, Lucy.
Dr Lucy Burns: (22:23) Yeah, yeah, I do do cool stuff. I mean, and look, to be honest, it took me some while to get over the idea that, you know, there was an identity as being a person with a disability, you know, this idea of like, oh, I don't want to, I don't want to look like a disabled person. Which is interesting, because that narrative is all about, well, what's going on there? And it's about that acceptability, disabled people aren't unacceptable. Disabled people are different, disabled people, you know, stand out, disabled people that aren't as good. So having to challenge that, and I didn't even realise I had that narrative. It really wasn't, again, but yeah, now I recognise it and go actually, that's just a bit of bullshit. Disabled people are acceptable. They have a lot to offer the community, a lot of value. And so, you know what, part of my discomfort is actually getting up on stage at the Low Carb Road Show on my scooter, and normalising mobility aids.
Dr Mary Barson: (23:29) And you are legit absolute rockstar, quite apart from getting out there and normalising your mobility and doing stuff, but just what you do, Lucy. You are brave, you are strong. You get out there. You share your expertise. You share your story, you share what you have to help people and it’s wonderful.
Dr Lucy Burns: (23:50) As do you gorgeous woman, as do you.
Dr Mary Barson: (23:53) If I'm normalising a slightly rounded belly and jiggly thighs, you're normalising mobility aids.
Dr Lucy Burns: (24:01) You know what? They are normal. We don't and can't all look like supermodels.
Dr Mary Barson: (24:11) It would be boring if we did.
Dr Lucy Burns: (24:14) Yeah. And you know what? Here's to the normal hoti’s.
Dr Mary Barson: (24:20) Yes, absolutely. Go us.
Dr Lucy Burns: (24:25) Yeah, go us. And go all of you, all of our beautiful listeners go you, go out, be normal. Be a hoti and just look after your beautiful selves and live the best life that you can.
Dr Mary Barson: (24:39) Could not agree more.
Dr Lucy Burns: (24:42) Gorgeous ones. As you all know, the 12 Week Mind Body Rebalance closed last week but we have a little bonus. Again for people that either weren't able to purchase, or missed out, we have something called the Bonus Bundle. It is all the bonuses that we offered with the 12 Week Mind Body Rebalance and includes the Doctors Complete Guide to Low Carb Living, along with our master classes, the How to Stop After Dinner Snacking, meditation and hypnotherapy, it's an absolute steal at $297 Australian dollars. It's worth well and truly over $750 . So lovelies, this bundle is available just for a couple of weeks in June, as celebration of our third year. Real Life Medicine has just turned three. And we are very proud of what we've done. And we, you know, as part of blowing our own trumpet, because that's what we encourage everyone to do, toot your trumpet. We're tooting ours.
Dr Mary Barson: (25:43) Yeah, yep. So this bundle has got, you know, pretty much everything you need to transform yourself into a hoti.
Dr Lucy Burns: (25:51) Indeed, indeed. All right, hoti’s, we'll see you next week.
Dr Lucy Burns: (26:00) So my lovely listeners, that ends this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss. I'm Dr Lucy Burns…
Dr Mary Barson: (26:08) and I'm Dr Mary Barson. We’re from Real Life Medicine. To contact us, please visit rlmedicine.com
Dr Lucy Burns: (26:19) And until next time…
Both: (26:20) Thanks for listening!
Dr Lucy Burns: (26:22) The information shared on the Real Health and Weight Loss podcast, including show notes and links, provides general information only. It is not a substitute, nor is it intended to provide, individualised medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor can it be construed as such. Please consult your doctor for any medical concerns.