Bio: Dr Penny Figtree

Dr Penny Figtree graduated with high class honours from the University of Sydney in 1993 and after providing comprehensive general healthcare for 20 years, she is now focussed on supporting her patients to lose weight, reverse diabetes and cease medications by the implementation of a low carbohydrate, real food diet. Dr Figtree's journey is one fueled by compassion and a tireless commitment to her patients. Over the years, she observed the worsening health of her patients, with increased weight and medication prescriptions a seemingly inevitable consequence of hitting middle age. She valiantly attempted various lifestyle modifications, exploring popular diets like Michael Mosley's 5:2 and Valter Longo's 5-day fast. But despite her earnest efforts, the results remained disheartening - until the day she stumbled upon the carbohydrate insulin model of obesity. The intricate connection between the nutrients we consume and our hunger became crystal clear allowing Dr Figtree to implement a lifestyle prescription that supported individuals to eat the right nutrients, experience satiety, and heal. The results were nothing short of miraculous. Her very first patient, a stranger in need, embarked on an extraordinary transformation, experiencing newfound vitality within a week and ultimately losing 31 kgs. The emotional weight of witnessing these transformations led to shared tears of joy as patient after patient experienced unprecedented success.

Driven by her unwavering commitment to patient well being, Dr Figtree has become a passionate advocate for the transformative power of a low carbohydrate, real food diet. The impact of Dr Figtree's work ripples beyond the confines of her practice with former patients stopping her out in the real world, thanking her for how she has forever changed their lives. Fellow health practitioners have acknowledged her incredible influence, with patients attributing their life altering improvements to her advice to abstain from grains, potatoes, and sugars, and to focus on nature’s original superfoods - meat and vegetables. Dr Figtree has become a tireless force as every success story, every patient liberated from medication dependence, has propelled her forward with unbridled enthusiasm and immeasurable joy. Dr Figtree fearlessly challenges conventions and tirelessly champions the low carb lifestyle, calling out junk science and educating fellow medical professionals about the truly transformative power of a low carbohydrate diet.

Episode 159:

Show Notes 

Dr Figtree is a veteran general practitioner who became a low carb zealot after witnessing her patients' declining health despite numerous attempts to help them through lifestyle changes and medication. After many interventions with no success, she stumbled upon the carbohydrate insulin model of obesity. Dr Figtree discovered that the right nutrients could control hunger, and when she shared this approach with a new patient who achieved remarkable results, she became obsessed with it. Each patient she treated experienced incredible success, leading her to the firm belief that this low carb approach is life changing. She is now passionate about helping people improve their health, reduce medication dependency, and embrace vitality and joy. For this doctor, it is incredibly rewarding to see patients reduce or even stop their medications and regain their health.

GP’s often unwittingly serve as sales representatives for the pharmaceutical industry, with much of their ongoing education frequently sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. PediaSure is the latest offering being spruiked to GP’s as a product to promote to parents of children with ADHD if their reduced appetite is a concern for the parents. PediaSure is made up of cornstarch, sugar, vegetable oil and a smattering of vitamins and minerals. A factory concoction completely inappropriate for children with behaviour and concentration issues. And it is being marketed by exploiting busy GP’s and distressed parents. 

Like its parent product, Ensure, PediaSure is best replaced with a simple protein shake with eggs in it. Real food. Nature’s own nutritional supplement. 
Embrace a diet centred around real food. You have permission to consume cheese, eggs, and meat without fear. Dr Figtree addresses concerns about protein and muscle preservation by explaining that humans have been eating meat for millions of years without detrimental effects and highlights how our ancestors thrived on a hunter gatherer lifestyle. Junk science is promoting the fallacy that meat is harmful to our health, while promoting manufactured food like products that are the true cause of our chronic ill health, corrupting our minds and bodies with their emulsifiers, sugars, starches and grains.

Episode 159:



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 Mary Barson: (0:23) Hello, lovely listeners, Dr Mary here and I am thrilled today to be joined by a very special guest. Our fabulous low carb friend, Dr Penny Figtree. Dr Penny is a fantastic low carb GP. She gave our inaugural speech at the Sydney Low Carb Road Show and it just set the scene so fabulously. Dr Penny Figtree is a wonderful resource and expert on all things low carb. How are you today, lovely one?

Dr Penny Figtree: (0:56) I'm very well, thank you lovely Dr Mary, and I'm very happy to be here and to be chatting to you. The stars. The Low Carb Road Show starts taking on the world. You'll have to do a tour of the world soon.

Dr Mary Barson: (1:12) Thank you. Yeah, that's it. That's right. Yeah. First step, Australia. Second step world domination. Yeah, we're on our way.

Dr Penny Figtree: (1:19) You're amazing.

Dr Mary Barson: (1:20) You'll have to come with us. So you told me earlier just as we were chatting that you are, you're feeling a bit angry. Oh, no, no, no. Before we talk about how you're angry, could you tell our beautiful listeners a little bit about yourself and how you got into low carb and what you do?

Dr Penny Figtree: (1:38) Okay, I'd love to. Yeah, well, I'm sort of a zealot. I'm your low carb zealot. Because I've been in general practice a long time, and I've been trying to help my patients. I've been watching them get sicker and sicker. They hit 40 and we start prescribing drugs. And I've tried to help them by changing their lifestyle. But, but nothing ever worked. And we’d just end up with more pills. And I really did try everything. So I used to try the 5:2, Michael Moseley’s 5:2. I even tried to get them to do Valter Longo’s 5 day fast. I was all into this stuff. But nothing ever worked. And in the end, I said, Look, just try not to put on weight and let's try and keep your weight the same. And that was where I'd got to, sort of acceptance. And then one day I stumbled across the carbohydrate insulin model of obesity. And it made so much sense to me all of a sudden, that the nutrients that you eat are affecting your hunger. And if you just pick the right nutrients, you'll be full. So I figured out how to do it. And one day I met a new patient, she was in our emergency Bay, she'd come in with palpitations. And I was told to assess her and I said to her, Would you like to try and lose some weight? I've got this diet that I think might help. And so that's the first time I ever did this, someone I'd never met before. And she did amazingly. So she went from 110 kilos down to 79 kilos. And within a week, she felt fantastic. And I kept crying, she'd come back and put it on the scales, we’d burst into tears. And she just got better and better. And each patient, it just worked. Like nothing had ever worked. It was like, this is incredible. And there's no other diet where you get stopped at the basketball stadium by an ex-patient saying, I love that diet you gave me, it's changed my life. Or you get your eyes checked and the optometrist says, I lot of my patients tell me you know that you've changed their life. And this is by telling them not to eat grains, potatoes and sugars. Like it's so easy. So then you become a psychopath. And you start, you know, driving everyone crazy. And so now that's all I do. Because I just think, oh, gosh, it's so fun, it’s so exciting. And of course, not everyone can do it. But a lot of people can and it's just so exciting to do it and to stop drugs. I love it. Like when someone's really sick and they're on so many pills, I think, yay. And when they tell me they’re sort of a savoury person, not a sweet person, then I know that they are going to be fine. With the sweet people, that can be a bit trickier. But yes, so that's me. I'm your low carb, crazy person.

Dr Mary Barson: (4:25) Yes, I love that you're a low carb crazy person. I was getting like little chills then as you were telling me about how fun it makes medicine when you can get people off their medication and you can really see them change. Burnout in general practice in Australia and I'm sure worldwide is a really big issue. And I think part of it is that kind of helplessness that I used to feel. Not being able to help people. Like there was just this inevitable progression towards this sort of chronic disease. And you know, medications didn't really help very much. But yes, I'm there with you. I've got the crazy eyes. This really can turn around people's lives. It makes being a doctor fun again. In your presentation in Sydney, you talked about you having the crazy eyes. The low carb, enthusiastic, crazy eyes.

Dr Penny Figtree: (5:22) I know I stole that from Rod Taylor's wife who's, you know, Roddy runs Low Carb Down Under and he'll often have a gathering for doctors at his house. And his wife said to me, the doctors turn up and they've all got the crazy eyes. And I'm sure it's, it is because you go, Oh, I can fix everything practically. I can't fix broken legs. I can't fix appendicitis. But 90% of the general practice waiting room, we can fix it with just this really easy fix. And why has no one told me this? You know, for years, like you'd look at high triglycerides on a blood test. Okay, I used to look at that and go, what do I do with the high triglycerides. I'd google it. Oh, alcohol, exercise, but it never said don't eat carbohydrates and you'll fix it in three months.

Dr Mary Barson: (6:13) Cut out saturated fats, maybe prescribe fenofibrate, which is not very good. How quickly do you see triglycerides improve? So how quickly do you see triglycerides improve on a low carb diet?

Dr Penny Figtree: (6:25) I'd repeat it at three months. So I would expect it to be better by three months. If it's not better, you’re usually not following the diet. Not always. But you can tell compliance usually by just checking that number there. Yeah. So very fast, very fast.

Dr Mary Barson: (6:41) Yes, your patients are very, very lucky to have you in their corner, and you're a wonderful asset to the Australian medical profession. Thank you for the good work you do. So you were angry, yeah? You were angry off camera before when we weren't recording. I'd love to dive into this a little bit more. What was making you angry?

Dr Penny Figtree: (7:04) Well as gp’s, sometimes I think we are cheap sales representatives for the pharmaceutical industry. And we don't recognise this fact. Because the only tool we have in our toolbox is usually medications. And so a lot of our education is sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. There's a company called HealthEd that sends an email out with some education for us, you know, monthly. And yesterday was just a little vignette of a well meaning general practitioner, giving a talk about using nutritional supplements for your child with ADHD who isn't eating. So kids on ADHD medications often don't feel hungry, and so their parents worry about that. So he was suggesting using a product that we could give them called PediaSure. And the main ingredient is cornstarch. The second ingredient is sucrose, which is sugar. And then you've got some vegetable oils mixed in there too. And then they just hurl in some vitamins and minerals. So you're giving your child with a behavioural, and often a concentration problem, sugar and refined carbohydrate. And it's marketed as something healthy to GPs who are busy, who go, Oh great, so the next time someone comes in and their kid isn't eating, I'll recommend this PediaSure. Which is like Ensure. From the chemist, not an egg flip. What about an egg flip, you know? Like a protein shake with some eggs in it? It made me very upset and I did actually email the GP. I found out where he works and emailed him because I thought, Maybe you’re just innocent to this, what you're doing is just silly. But it's the same as Ensure. A friend of mine is an anaesthetist and she gives Ensure to the patients for three days prior to their orthopaedic surgery because she believes it's got, well you’re meant to have high protein. So I've sent her a million emails, poor thing. She's blocked me I think. Saying, Just tell them to eat a rissole. And I actually wrote to Stuart Phillips on Twitter. He's a professor of protein in Canada, and I linked in with him. And he wrote back, What's wrong with meat? You know, that's just water and starch. You know, he was completely with me. Just eat a rissole for three days before you need surgery. You don't need corn starch, sucrose and some vitamins just take a vitamin pill. So anyway, so it makes me, I go, can't people see? Like can't people see? So yeah, and I have another Ensure story. Do you want to get into that?

Dr Mary Barson: (9:50) Oh, go for it. Yes, do please. Yeah.

Dr Penny Figtree: (9:52) So Ensure is targeted to the elderly in particular. You’ll see it at your chemist as like a healthy protein drink or supplement you can take. So one of my patients was told she had pre diabetes. So she came to see me and I put a continuous glucose monitor on her arm to see what was going on. Because she seemed like she was pretty healthy with what she was eating. And in the mornings, when she had her smoothie with some Ensure powder in it, her blood sugar was going to above 11. And so I just said to stop that, and then her blood test was perfect after that. So again, it's marketed as protein. But really, it's a concoction of stuff that isn't food. Like, what's wrong with food?

Dr Mary Barson: (10:41) Yeah, real food. And there are so many better and easier ways to get protein into you than needing to buy a heavily processed, you know, chemical concoction that's made in a factory. Woah, 11. For someone who's not diabetic and pre diabetic, that's quite telling. I love the information you can get from those continuous glucose monitors.

Dr Penny Figtree: (11:06) Yes, they are amazing. They're absolutely amazing. Have you worn one?

Dr Mary Barson: (11:11) Yes, I wore one when I was pregnant with little Maxy, who's just turned one. I had gestational diabetes. Diet controlled, almost completely diet controlled. And I had an interesting relationship with my diabetes management team. They were respectful. And also I was pretty strong at advocating for myself that this is just, I'm just eating keto. That's just what's happening. But they didn't like it. And the continuous glucose monitor, the main use for it was I could just show them and prove to them that this was working. So that was really useful. But I did eat some sweet potato one day. I think, typical mum story, I had made dinner for my family, and they're not low carb, but they are real food. And so I'd made some meat and veggies and sweet potato for them. And they didn't eat their sweet potato and it was just on the plate. And I didn't really think about, I just sort of ate it. And then my blood sugar went up to 12. Just with sweet potato, in that state of having gestational diabetes, because you know, Max’s little placenta was making me very insulin resistant. Thank you Max. They are, they are fascinating.

Dr Penny Figtree: (12:28) Yes, they're quite popular at the moment in Port Macquarie because they're on sale. Did you know like the Libre is $15. And the Dexcom’s $35, normally $700. So I've text all my friends. One of whom has pre diabetes. And you know, he isn't too interested in diet, but he wore it and ate watermelon and his blood sugar went really high. And he said I'm never eating watermelon ever again. So it teaches you, Oh, okay, what I eat really does make a difference, particularly if you've got type two diabetes, it's enormous as an educational tool. Yeah. And actually, it was fun for him because his best friend was wearing one. And the best friends trace is flat as a tack. So he can go okay, there is something strange with me. I won't eat so many carbohydrates.

Dr Mary Barson: (13:19) Yes you get that immediate feedback. I love it. So let’s get back to the PediaSure and the kids. I mean, that made me angry too. That there's a doctor, and let's just assume that they are coming at it from, you know, the best possible angle. I honestly have not met many doctors who don't genuinely care for their patients and genuinely want what's best for them. But you know, education is and misinformation is rife out there. I've got a daughter who can be quite fussy with her food. And it can be tricky to make sure that she gets enough protein. I thought I’d just share what I do. And you know, people can get worked up about the feeding and watering of kids. So I'm not suggesting other people need to do this. This is just what I find is really helpful. It’s to make her a smoothie with you know, fruit and cream and yoghurt and milk. And I just crack an egg in it. Like literally just a raw egg or sometimes two raw eggs and whizz it up in my little blender. And that's like an egg flip. Like that’s a protein rich smoothie that is full of real very easily to digest protein. I also sometimes use like a good quality whey protein or pea protein powder as well. But the egg man, it just works so well. It's not useful for me. Smoothies are not useful for me, but they can be so useful for kids. And I think if we were just marketing eggs to kids, instead of Ensure I think that their brains would be working a lot better.

Dr Penny Figtree: (14:54) Yes, I know think how tired they'll be at school because there'll be on this sugar hit from their powdery mixture from the chemist versus some eggs. That's right. My mum used to give me egg flips.

Dr Mary Barson: (15:07) Yeah. Oh they’re great.

Dr Penny Figtree: (15:11) So it is, it teaches you I think when you do low carb, it teaches you just to be more critical in the world around you. To understand, you're just a little pawn, you know, you're getting used. And don't be used.

Dr Mary Barson: (15:29) We are. Yeah, that's right. That's right. We're part of this giant experiment of processed foods. And the food industry isn’t really particularly interested in our health. They're interested in the health of their bottom line. And they treat us like consumerism units.

Dr Penny Figtree: (15:43) Yes, absolutely. They’re probably on a yacht, you know, in the Caribbean, thrilled that we're buying their stuff. And so try not to buy it. And actually whole grains, like when I was a whole grain person, I knew whole grains were good. And I'd be trying to eat whole grains. Where are these whole grains I’m meant to be eating? And why are they all just in boxes? They're all in cereals. That's where you get your whole grains. From some sort of industry. Where else do you get them? I don't know. So yeah, so I'm very suspicious now of everything.

Dr Mary Barson: (16:19) I think that's good. I think a bit of healthy suspicion and how passionate you were at the start. I loved it. You've had this conversion, you know, your conversion moment, you can't unsee what you have seen. And you just want the best for all of your beautiful people. And the elderly. This is an interesting one too, because they are at risk of sarcopenia. That is, you know, muscle wastage is something. Muscle loss can be a really significant problem for elderly population. And they need to eat more protein. How would you go about helping your patients avoid sarcopenia?

Dr Penny Figtree: (16:57) Yes, well, interestingly, most of my patients are, I think they'd be elderly. Most of my people that I see, gosh, well, I guess you know, it's easy, isn't it? Really. I mean, people say oh I don't like eggs, that's always a bit of a worry. Because they are fabulous. And giving people permission to eat eggs. So often, they're worried about cholesterol, so they're worried about eggs. So saying you can have as many eggs as you like, please eat eggs. And also even ham, you know, because they're worried ham might kill them. And I do say go to the delicatessen and just go wild because it's full of nutrients. And at your age, you know, what are you worrying about? Just enjoy those foods. So getting permission to eat meat and eggs is often all they need. And maybe they used to eat lamb chops for breakfast.

Dr Mary Barson: (17:46) Such a good breakfast.

Dr Penny Figtree: (17:47) My dad used to have lamb chops for breakfast, and then he had to eat bird seed. I remember him going, Why do I have to eat bird seed for breakfast? Yeah, so I think that's how you, you go Yes, eat cheese, eat eggs, as much meat as you like. If you're like lamb, eat lamb rissoles, sausages. Just that's how you get it. It's just giving permission. Where we've been told it will kill you and saying actually, no, it will save you. And get away from the cereal and orange juice.

Dr Mary Barson: (18:18) I'd love to unpack how you help people with that a bit more. So people are worried about ham, they're worried about meat. What do you say to people who have these fears? That yeah, I need the protein. I know this. You know, I don't want to lose my muscles. I don't want to be old and frail. I want to be old and not frail. How do you help them get over that?

Dr Penny Figtree: (18:37) Well, I tell them, Look, we've been eating meat for millions of years. And it's highly unlikely that meat’s the problem of what's going on at the moment. And it's very odd that anyone could blame meat for what's happening in our population, given that we've been eating meat for millions of years. So if you just use your common sense. Just think back, we used to be wandering the fields, killing an animal and eating a bit of a vegetable. Get back to meat and veg. And I sometimes explain about how once we became an agricultural society, we didn't get healthier, we got shorter, our teeth began to rot, you know, bone disease. Whereas the hunter gatherers were taller. And if they didn't get stabbed, you know, they lived a long life. So unless you go oh, yeah, that makes sense, doesn't it? That's what we evolved. That's what our DNA evolved doing, eating meat. So nutritious, it's beautifully absorbed. And the science telling us not to eat meat is just junk science. And many scientists who do not agree with that. It's just they're not in the you know, you don't hear from them. But there's so many studies out there saying that science is junkIt just doesn't reach the newspaper.

Dr Mary Barson: (19:50) No. And I dare say that the food industry has a role to play in what science we do hear. Because they make money by value adding to food and they can highly process something like Up&Go or PediaSure, Ensure. They make way more money if we buy that than if we just buy eggs. I was listening to you then, you know, talk about the hunter gatherer lifestyle. It's like, if we go back to eating meat and veg, we can have like all the benefits of that hunter gatherer lifestyle. But for most of us without the risk of potentially being stabbed as quite as high. So it's like a win win.

Dr Penny Figtree: (20:29) Exactly, exactly. There's actually this company, have you heard of the people in Hungary that I don't know, it's called Paleo medicino, they've got a very strange name. They're in Hungary, and they get people who are really really sick, so serious autoimmune diseases and put them on this diet. That is a diet they've based on what we used to eat. And they report great results. So it's carnivore, there's absolutely no plants. And they're quite interesting. I'm fascinated, watching, you know, they post on social media, their results. But I think we need more meat and we'd all be a lot healthier. But if you just frame it, meat and veg, meat and salad, then people go, Yeah, what's what's wrong with that? Nothing. Not PediaSure, Ensure. Why would that be better? It just makes sense.

Dr Mary Barson: (21:18) For the busy stressed out parents with children with ADHD, that could be an easy sell to feed your kids PediaSure. They might be feeling guilty that they've got their kids on stimulant medication, they might just have really stressful mornings because of their children having ADHD getting, you know, difficult to get them out the door. And they're vulnerable. And this messaging is quite targeted to this, you know, potentially really vulnerable populations. I'm, I'm sharing your anger. I really am. And yeah, smoothies are good for these kids. Just chuck an egg in it. My daughter doesn't even know that I do that.

Dr Penny Figtree: (21:55) I think a chocolate milkshake would be better.

Dr Mary Barson: (21:59) Absolutely. It would be. Ice cream would be better. I'm not saying have ice cream for breakfast. That is not what I'm saying.

Dr Penny Figtree: (22:08) But yeah, and it's got emulsifiers in it as well, which upset that mucus layer in the gut that protects the lining of the gut. That loss of that is associated with autoimmune diseases. So why would you want to be having an emulsifier with sugar and vegetable oil for breakfast? It's stunning, stunning that it's seen as it's marketed to doctors. It's terrible. Anyway, waiting for their lawyer to write me a letter.

Dr Mary Barson: (22:37) Yeah, how dare you say that we should eat real food and that perhaps eating real food is good for our metabolic health. I'm inclined to agree with you. Also, I'd like to pick your brain a bit about processed meats. So ham and you said go mad at the delicatessen which I love. I love that you said that that's a very, I think a very useful command for people. Do you get people concerned about processed meats? And how do you unpack that for them?

Dr Penny Figtree: (23:03) That's a really good question. Because I don't know if you knew that they wrote a letter to all the parents in the primary schools that ham was a carcinogen. And not to put ham on the sandwiches. Now again, that made me upset. Okay, so is it better to have Nutella and a little packet of chips and some Tiny Teddy's in that little lunchbox? The ham’s probably the only nutritious thing in the lunch box. You know, some people call them party boxes. They're not lunch boxes anymore. You need a little bit of chocolate and a juice every day. So sugar, take out the ham. So I think when you weigh it up, ham is nutritious. We're eating a lot worse things. The science shows that the risk to an individual eating these processed meats is tiny. And the benefits in this society with the junk that we eat, the ham’s the least of your problems. So eat ham and be metabolically healthy. Go to Spain. Everyone loves the Mediterranean diet. What are they eating? They're eating ham, processed meats. It's all they’re eating all the time. And we love the Mediterranean diet. And the science, there's that great series of papers in the annals of medicine about meat. If you go to the Nutrition Coalition website, they have it there. There were these scientists and they discussed the evidence around meat and the conclusion is for an individual there is nothing wrong with eating processed meat. The increased risk is so tiny. So I mean, if someone wants me to I'll give them that paper or refer them to the Nutrition Coalition website, which is fantastic. But you’ve just got to stand back again and go, We're giving kids PediaSure. Corn starch, sucrose, emulsifiers, vegetable oil, and we're worrying about processed meats? I think they're the least of your worries.

Dr Mary Barson: (24:58) I completely agree and I know more than once I've you know, looked in people’s shopping trolleys because I can't help it and I’ll see you know, all the processed food in there. And I'll look at the, you know the meat in there and I'll be like, the processed meat is by far the most nutrient dense thing in that trolley. And if we’re targeting that and not the chips, and not the chocolates and not the, you know, highly processed crackers filled with seed oils, then I think we are missing the point.

Dr Penny Figtree: (25:31) We so are. Yes, that’s right. Don't eat meat, be a vegan and eat Oreos biscuits. It’s just nonsense. It really drives me bananas. But I have to try and remain calm because it's exhausting.

Dr Mary Barson: (25:42) Yeah, and being calm is good for your health.

Dr Penny Figtree: (25:45) I get sort of crazy. And my blood pressure goes through the roof. So I have to practice deep breathing. Actually, I want I want to mention, I've discovered this amazing app. It's called Resonant Breathing. Have you heard of resonant breathing?

Dr Mary Barson: (26:02) Tell me more about resonant breathing.

Dr Penny Figtree: (26:05) Because this is another thing that I get really excited about at work. So if you do 10 breaths per minute, it activates your parasympathetic nervous system. So it's an app that just gives you, you do four breaths in six breaths out, you just follow the app. You can be tense, angry, whatever, you just follow the app. Do that breathing in, and it activates your parasympathetic nervous system by whatever the lungs are telling the heart. Because you know, they work together. And I have had so many patients, I'll take their blood pressure, it's like 170 on 90. So get out my phone and put the app on. And I get them to do the breathing for five minutes. And a guy the other day it was it went from 170 to 110.

Dr Mary Barson: (26:46) Wow. Imagine if we had a pill that did that.

Dr Penny Figtree: (26:50) I know. So yes, if any of your listeners have got high blood pressure or just want to learn how to relax without turning off your mind, because you just follow this little app, it naturally makes you relax. So I do it on the way to work. I play it on the way to work. But anyway, that's another one of my latest things.

Dr Mary Barson: (27:08) Oh it’s so good for you. Our breath is our natural tranquilliser because it's the only part of our fight or flight response, or rest and digest response, that we have conscious override of. You can't consciously change your blood pressure. You can't consciously change your heart rate. You can't consciously change, you know, your pupils dilating. But you can consciously change your breath. So that's beautiful.

Dr Penny Figtree: (27:35) Okay, well, there you go. The reason I discovered resonant breathing is because there was a paper in Nature that came out last month, studying this resonant breathing. And they got people of different ages to do it. And they measured biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease. And then they got them to do the breathing. And a month later, they repeated the bloods. And they had a placebo group that was doing another sort of breathing, that was not fancy breathing. And the people doing the fancy breathing had significantly lower of these marker of these Alzheimer's biomarkers. So that's what made me look at this breathing. And since then, I've just found it amazing for dropping people's blood pressure. So yeah, a big plug for Resonant Breathing.

Dr Mary Barson: (28:21) Absolutely. And it's that breathing longer out than you breathe in, that's really quite key to activating the parasympathetic nervous system. And having an app can be great, because it can help you just get out of your head.

Dr Penny Figtree: (28:35) Yes, you can be tense, and you don't have to be thinking, I have to relax, you just follow the app and it'll happen. Do you do that in your course? You probably teach breathing.

Dr Mary Barson: (28:45) Yeah, definitely. We love doing breath work and different types of meditation techniques or simple relaxation techniques. Box breathing, I was taught box breathing by my daughter. She did mindfulness at school, and you breathe in, it's actually rectangle breathing. So you breathe in for four, breathe out for seven. Breathe in for four. Breathe out for seven. And you sort of breathe around the oblong. Yes, so good, same thing, but I can see how having an app would be useful because you would just keep you focused.

Dr Penny Figtree: (29:13) Yes, you watch the lungs going up with the lungs going down in this person.

Dr Mary Barson: (29:18) Yeah I love it. That's good. See? All of these simple, simple, powerful tweaks we can do.

Dr Penny Figtree: (29:26) I know, yes.

Dr Mary Barson: (29:27) Gorgeous, beautiful Dr Penny Figtree. If people want to find you and find out more about you, where can they get this information?

Dr Penny Figtree: (29:39) Well, the best way would be my website, which because I live in Port Macquarie is called lowcarbpmq. So you can find me at I'm on Twitter as @PenelopeFigtree getting outraged.

Dr Mary Barson: (29:52) So good on Twitter. Just follow her Twitter account man. It's the best.

Dr Penny Figtree: (29:56) Twitter is fantastic. That's actually where I learned about resonant breathing somewhere when someone posted that paper.

Dr Mary Barson: (30:01) I love that you do Twitter. I'm not doing Twitter but I love that you, I leave that to you. you're doing it very well.

Dr Penny Figtree: (30:06) Yeah Lucy doesn't like it either. She says she gets upset. I just mute people if they upset me. I mute them. So that's me.

Dr Mary Barson: (30:13) Excellent. Low carb P M Q.

Dr Penny Figtree: (30:17) Yeah I’ve got a page on Facebook. But anyway, Twitter's the best place really.

Dr Mary Barson: (30:22) Ok, so we'll put your Twitter handle and low carb p m q will be in the show notes, the links below. And you guys can find this fabulous human. Thank you so much, Dr Penny Figtree. I’ve loved chatting to you today. Thank you for coming on the show, and continue the great work, you fabulous low carb soldier.

Dr Penny Figtree: (30:41) You too. Bye Dr Mary.

Dr Lucy Burns: (30:50) So my lovely listeners, that ends this episode of Real Health and Weight Loss. I'm Dr Lucy Burns…

Dr Mary Barson: (30:57) and I'm Dr Mary Barson. We’re from Real Life Medicine. To contact us, please visit

Dr Lucy Burns: (31:09) And until next time…

Both: (31:11) Thanks for listening!

Dr Lucy Burns: (31:13) 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.

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