Dr Ron Ehrlich – Unstress: The Year in Review (2018)

As we come to the last episode of the year I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on 2018 and the wonderful guests we have had on Unstress. This year on Unstress we've covered topics such as sleep, nutrition, environmental issues, regenerative agriculture, functional movement, disease and mental health. In this episode, I review my highlights from the year and give you clear takeaways to be able to focus on your health moving into 2019

Dr Ron Ehrlich – Unstress: The Year in Review (2018)

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Hello and welcome to “Unstress”. I’m dr. Ron Ehrlich. Well, this is the last episode of the year and it’s been quite a year, we’ve covered some amazing territory, I’ve had some fabulous guests as I’ve often said the podcast is how I just love doing it because I get to ask all these experts, all these wonderful people questions every week and they answer them and I learned so much and I hope you do too.

I just wanted to recap on some of the themes we covered this year because it’s a great opportunity to just take stock of what we’ve done. We kicked off of course, early in the year with a whole section on sleeping and breathing and there’s no accident about that. I’ve often said if it’s the most important part of the day. We talked to the sleep physician that I work with here in Sydney, Dr. Hanna and we went into some basics. I then spoke to the sleep whisperer, Dr. Chris Winter who’s written that fabulous book “The Sleep Solution”.

Of course, sleep is all about consistently good night’s sleep, is a question of quantity getting enough sleep and for 90% of us that is seven to nine hours of sleep per night. And quality breathing well while you’re asleep and that led us onto a whole range of podcasts that I’ve done sprinkled throughout the year on breathing because breathing is something we get very little thought to and yet the more I learn about it the more I realise it is just so important.

It actually does balance out our body chemistry, it can affect our mood, we can use our breath so effectively to calm down. We can use our breath when we exercise to increase our breathing rate and our energy flow, we can use our breath to control our autonomic nervous system which is what we spoke about with extreme wellness with Professor Marc Cohen.

And I had two fabulous guests Rosalba Courtney who is an osteopath but after 30 years of Osteopathy decided that the best thing she could do for her patients and her knowledge was to do a PhD in breathing after 30 years of practice. And she is an absolute legend what she doesn’t know about breath well, I wouldn’t say isn’t worth knowing but anyway she knows a lot. And then, of course, we spoke to Patrick McKeown who is one of the senior people in the Buteyko breathing technique.

So, breathing and sleeping were a very important part of it. I just think it is worth reflecting on what it and what happens when you’re not breathing well because hormonally growth hormone goes down and we need that for repair, that part of our nervous system the sympathetic or flight-or-fight part becomes far more active and our cortisol levels go up.

The parasympathetic which is the rest and digest goes down. Testosterone fertility libido and even testicular size get that goes down when you do not get a consistently good night’s sleep. Our DNA is affected and that part of our DNA that is involved with our immune system is down-regulated and that part of our DNA our genetic makeup which promotes chronic inflammation is up-regulated. That is a serious problem because chronic inflammation is the common denominator in all disease.

We hear a lot about insulin resistance and of course, when you’re not sleeping well insulin resistance is increased and that increases your likelihood of contracting diabetes or being obese. And there are two other hormones one called leptin which controls fat metabolism, that goes down so you’re not metabolising your fat as well. And ghrelin a hormone in the stomach goes up and that makes you feel more hungry. So, if you’re wondering why when you’re tired you make some silly decisions it’s not just you are being silly it’s your hormones playing havoc with you.

Our memory is also affected. That part of our brain called the hippocampus which is involved in short-term memory that goes down. And another part of our brain the amygdala which is involved in empathy and a very important part of mental health well, that starts to go out of balance as well. So, a consistently good night’s sleep very important.

We also are covered topics around health and disease and nutrition. And of course, the overriding principal there didn’t matter who we talk to be the lower the insulin, the better. That’s just given. It affects heart health you are much healthier for your heartless likely to contract cancer, less likely to have autoimmune diseases and certainly would recover much better from them with a lower insulin level.

Early on in the year, we had Gary Fettke an orthopaedic surgeon from Tasmania and I loved his description of him being a vegetarian who supplements his diet with meat and eggs and cheese and dairy but primarily a vegetarian. And that’s the message of course vegetables no one argues about that. We need lots of above ground green vegetables and we need to keep our carbohydrate level down.

We spoke to Robert Rountree and he gave us a great tour through the body of gut health. Jason Hawrelak spoke to us about the microbiome probiotics and prebiotics. Respected Professor Grant Schofield“What the fast?”, he’s written a great book about fasting and that was a topic we explored. Cliff Harvey coined the word appropriate low carb diet, appropriate ketogenic diet. Appropriate, appropriate, appropriate. A really important concept more recently Stephen Cabral was terrific when we spoke about nutrition and detoxifying an Ayurvedic medicine. The whole issue of fasting is one that we are going to explore more of.

I certainly I’m going to explore more in the coming year for myself personally. And Megan Ramos more recently spoke to us a lot about fasting. Of course, that legend Nora Gedgaudas who’s written some fabulous books on the paleo-primal body primal mind and the Paleo away, they were fantastic, a fantastic podcast. And again, more recently Nirala Jacobi was talking to us about small intestinal bacterial overgrowth – SIBO.

Another interesting topic that we covered that I found really empowering was that of cancer as a metabolic disease. And how cancer is traditionally been thought of as a genetic mutation. And the problem with that, of course, is that if you’re targeting the genes of cancer you would like to think that there was some consistency in that genetic makeup it. Would make it easy to target, wouldn’t it? The problem is not only is one person says a prostate cancer different from the next person but even if in within the same person, the genetic makeup of the prostate cancer is somewhat random and chaotic.

So, cancer is a metabolic disease and we spoke to Professor Thomas Seyfried and Dom D’Agostino and we touched on it with Cliff Harvey and Grant Schofield is all about saying that this is about energy and we use the example that when you have cancer it’s very well-known that cancer cells love glucose and that’s why they inject radioactive glucose into your veins and they ask you to lie still so it doesn’t go to your muscles because they know that it will preferentially be taken up by cancer cells.

So, they are called PET scans but that somehow hasn’t translated into treatment. And you would think logically it should because if cancer cells thrive on glucose then perhaps, we should be eating less glucose or cut certainly sugars but carbohydrates that quickly get broken down to sugars. So, that was a really important and empowering group of podcasts that we did.

Of course, I couldn’t ignore oral health you know people I include that in my five-stress model which talks about the five stresses in life that break us down emotional, environmental, postural, nutritional and dental. And of course, people think the only reason I include dental stress is because my background is dentistry and while it is true, I am a dentist than therefore I feel qualified certainly to talk about that I also included as I’ve often said for anybody with a mouth who is interested in their health but has never fully connected the two. And we had some great conversations with my partner and my nephew Dr. Lewis Ehrlich who incidentally has his own podcast called “Mouthing off” that’s worth a listen to.

I spoke to Steven Lin who’s written that great book called “The Dental Diet” and we touched on the reason why people have crowded teeth and narrow jaws. And a lot of people think are my mother had it, I inherited small chores for my mother or my father. And what Steven and what we’ve covered on in several podcasts have established is that a nutrient-dense diet referencing the work of Western a price, a dentist in the 1930s when you eat a nutrient-dense diet from even before conception but certainly from conception for both mother and father and then particularly during pregnancy, during infancy, during the younger years of the in fact through your whole life.

If you’re eating a nutrient-dense diet not only will you have enough room for all 32 of the teeth we have evolved to have but you will probably also be free of any of the chronic degenerative diseases that we see in our modern world. Now a narrow jaw and crowded teeth predispose us to a narrow upper airway because the shape of the upper jaw and the size of the mouth, the amount of space available for the tunnel determines the size of the upper airway and that predisposes you to breathing problems and in turn predisposes to sleeping problems. So, that was really important.

We also spoke to Dr. Jacques Imbeau who spoke about functional dental medicine and I thought that was as a dentist who’s been in practice for almost 40 years, I found that really inspiring and definitely worth listening to. And we also spoke to cardiologists now, spoken to three cardiologists this year, but Dr. Thomas Levy is a cardiologist who is a world authority on vitamin C and not only did we talk about vitamin C but Thomas Levy a cardiologist has written three books on dental health and the importance of identifying chronic infections and inflammation within the mouth. So, that was certainly worthwhile listening to.

Now women’s health is obviously a big topic and we covered that, and I was shocked when I spoke to naturopath Dr. Kate Powe about endometriosis. Now endometriosis affects women from puberty right through to menopause and it affects 700,000 women in Australia alone and the cost is estimated to be somewhere around seven and a half billion dollars.

Now to put that in perspective. We all know diabetes is a big problem, but it costs Australia 1.5 to 2 billion dollars a year. So, that puts it into perspective and the other thing is diabetes affects young and old male and female. Here we are talking about just women being affected by this condition endometriosis which takes get this somewhere between ten and fourteen years to be diagnosed accurately. So, that was very sobering. We spoke a lot about fertility and that was with Elizabeth Mucci a real expert on fertility as well as Dr. Natasha Andreadis.

And of course, we spoke about the fourth trimester now of course when you’re pregnant there are three trimesters, and this was alluding to what happens when you have the baby and that is the fourth trimester. And of course, one could say when does that fourth-trimester ends and you know whether you’ve got teenage children or older you could argue that the fourth trimester goes on for quite a while. I know I certainly did.

And of course, we touched on children’s health. And our children’s health whether you’ve got children or not this is really important because kids are the Canaries in the coal mine. If kids are getting sick this is not a good reflection on our society. And when we hear statistics like 1 in 3 children have allergies, 1 in 4 have asthma, 1 in 10 have ADHD. And in Australia, one in a hundred are now being diagnosed with autism and parts of America that number is approaching one in 40, one in 50. Now to put that into perspective 20-30 years ago the number was something like 1 in 5,000. So, what is going on?

We spoke to three fantastic paediatricians, Dr. Elisa Song, talk about a holistic approach to health care. Same with Deb Levy and of course Leila Masson also fantastic and we just had I just came away from all those podcasts to those discussions. I’m as bad as I just thought I just learned so much. And then we spoke to psychologist Dr. Jodie and she gave a statistic that one in four kids under the age of 18 are being diagnosed with anxiety. That’s being diagnosed with anxiety and we spoke at length about the challenges and dangers of the online world, bullying, grooming, mental health in a way that affects mental health anxiety and depression.

Now you can’t just talk about women’s health and you can’t just talk about children’s health we touched on men’s health and Dr. Rob King special Sydney physician specialising in men’s and health and sexual health was fantastic discussion reminding us about the importance of visceral fat because visceral fat affects hormone production and it affects the production of testosterone.

And he gave some really disturbing statistics about young men with testosterone levels. These are men in their 20s and 30s with testosterone levels which would be considered low if you were in your 40s in your 50s. And this is a reflection of not just stress not just poor sleep but nutrition and this accumulation of visceral fat as well affecting fertility libido and of course, leading to sexual dysfunction.

Then the mind of course, and my friend Dr. Shankardev Saraswati, we spoke about the mind-body connection. Dr. Shankardev Saraswati has a terrific website Big Shakti and has some great resources and courses there as does Dr. Suzy Green the positive psychology Institute. And we spoke about positive psychology and the PERMA model – PERMA. This is something I reference in my own book “A Life Less Stressed – The five pillars of health and wellness”.

Now, PERMA, in case you forgot P stands for positive, E stands for engagement, R stands for relationship and we’ve often referenced the Harvard studies which have said that the best predictor of health wellness and longevity. This is a 75-year study. The best predictor of health wellness and longevity was relationships. It was far more important than blood pressure, cholesterol or any other predictor. Relationships. So, we need to value that. That’s the R. M meaning is there meaning in what you are doing. And the A references are you being acknowledged for it. Are you accomplishing something in what you’re doing? And more recently that the PERMA model has interestingly had another letter added to it which is H – Health. Because the recognition is that if you are not healthy then perhaps the PERMA is a little more challenging to achieve. Look, none of this is linear. Each affects the other.

And then, of course, we spoke to one of my all-time favourites is Bruce Lipton. I mean my goodness just turn it on and off Bruce goes, and he was talking about showing me the child at seven and I’ll show you the adult and he was really getting into tapping into the subconscious mind and taking control of how those years have affected our genes and express themselves in epigenetics.

Movement. Of course, that’s important always worth talking about it’s always worth talking to Aaron Mckenzie one of Australia’s and I would suggest one of the world’s most knowledgeable personal trainers. And his site of the origin of energy is really worth looking at. I think what Aaron doesn’t know about movement and where we should be at in terms of incorporating functional movement, flexibility, core strength into our routine and being sustainable in playing the long game. Seeing the long game as being life and incorporating movement throughout your life.

We again spoke to they as I said we’ve spoken to three cardiologists this year Thomas Levy was one the world expert on vitamin C. My old friend I went to school with Dr. Ross Walker and his five keys to good health. You must go back and listen to that it was one of the first episodes. And Dr. Jason Kaplan. Both of these guys are an integrative holistic cardiologist. What a novel idea.

And of course, I spoke to podiatrist Mark Donohoe. Now if you have any chronic lower back pain if you have any hip or knee problems, if you are not looking at foot structure, if you are not looking at your gate at leg length differences and consulting with a podiatrist who understands these conditions, well, then you are missing out on a lot. The environmental issues were also something that we covered at length and of course, that’s critically important.

Nicole Bijlsma spoke about well she’s an expert on home biology. So, that’s a whole big topic on its own what is going on in your own home is the environment you have control over and by making good decisions you can reduce your environmental load, your toxic load by 80 or 90 percent. The question is no longer are you exposed, have you been exposed to environmental toxins? We all have been. The question is are those environmental toxins manifesting in your health? And they most certainly would be whether that’s become obvious and it’s a diagnosable disease or not. So, it’s in everybody’s interest to reduce our environmental stress.

Nicole Bijlsma episode talked about mould and dust mites. I then spoke to Lyn McLean over two episodes talking about Wi-Fi radiation. The phone’s, the laptops, the personal devices that we have. That Wi-Fi radiation is now being classified by the World Health Authority as a class 2b carcinogen. That means it has the possibility of causing new cancer. So, putting these things to our head, putting these things in our laps, surrounding our homes and our offices with Wi-Fi radiation, most certainly may is not the best thing for our health. So, that was important.

I also spoke to again a legend in environmental and holistic health care professor Marc Cohen from RMIT. And we discussed not only the ten toxic truths and you’ll have to go back and listen to those or read them in my book. But his main messages we are all connected so we are all affected. We do not live in isolation. And this whole idea that dose makes the poison, not anymore. With these endocrine disruptors with these persistent organic chloride’s compounds, the dose does no longer make the poison.

And the other thing is the synergistic effect of these toxins. If something has a toxic value of one let’s say mercury and lead has a toxic value of one when you put them together one plus one does not necessarily equal two. The growth that the change can be exponential. So, when you combine one toxic element with another toxic element one plus one could equal ten and we are never exposed to just one chemical at a time. So, they were terrific.

Alexx Stuart of course, low-tops life. Alex has written a great book, has a great podcast she is just awesome. And if you’re looking for some practical tips and guides and courses then you couldn’t do much better than then going to listen to her. Kate Harris from GECA, CEO of GECA – Good Environmental Choices Australia was really inspiring. And then I spoke to Professor Jules Pretty who is a professor of environment and the deputy vice-chancellor of Essex University in the UK and we were talking about the power of engaging with nature and its effect on our health.

I couldn’t resist talking to Professor Paul Ehrlich. Now when he wrote a book called “Jaws – The Story of a Hidden Epidemic” and he co-authored that with Dr. Sandra Kahn who I spoke to also. And I spoke to Sandra really about “Jaws – The Story of a Hidden Epidemic”. Now this book came out four months after my own book was published by Stanford University and when I saw it, I thought well, there’s the dental stress chapter in my book in more detail and here it is written by wait for its Professor Paul Ehrlich and Sandra.

So, I spoke to Sandra about the dental aspect of it but I had to speak to Professor Paul Ehrlich. For those of you who are old enough to know professor Paul Ehrlich has been around for at least 60 years. He’s 86 I think years old still working away, still researching. And he wrote a very landmark book in the late 60s with his wife Anna Ehrlich called “The Population Bomb”. So, I wanted to talk to him because I wanted to hear well, how’s it going, how does he reflect back on what he had written.

And he made some really interesting points and the two main ones I thought were interesting was back then the issue was going to be where we going to have enough food to feed the population. And he at that point felt we weren’t going to and the reason for that was because in the 70s and 80s the Green Revolution which went into mass production, industrialised farming, industrialised animal production so that turned things around.

So, I asked him well how do you reflect on that? And he says well you know what we didn’t see coming was obesity was going to be a problem. We thought the world was going to be suffering from undernutrition. And it turns out that there are 700 million people who are still underfed which I think at the time there was probably about four billion people in the world in there at that time.

Now there are 700 million people who are underfed but what he didn’t see coming was the 1.6 billion people who are overfed. And you only have to look at the epidemic of chronic preventable, preventable chronic degenerative diseases like heart disease, cancer, one in two men, one in three women will contract cancer by the age of 60. Our children are contracting cancer in an ever-increasing number.

This whole idea of an overfed population and the effect environmentally of this Green Revolution on not just the environment and the environmental degradation that we’re facing in climate change but the way we are degrading the soils, the way we are treating animals, our own health, the effect that that has on the climate. So, he said well, on the one hand, I’ve been criticised because I got it so wrong, but I just got certain elements of it wrong. The result of what I was talking about we are still feeling, and we will continue to feel for some time.

So, I thought that was a really, really interesting discussion. And that led us on to another favourite topic of mine and that is regenerative agriculture and sustainability. And I really feel that this is an important topic that I’m going to be bringing a lot more attention to. I think we in the city need to connect with what is going on, on the farms because we are relying on farmers to provide us with not only the nutrient-dense food we need to be healthy but to maintain the soil and the environment so that that nutrient-dense food can continue to be produced for our children, for our grandchildren and for future generations.

And that’s unfortunately not what is happening in the mainstream. But there is this wonderful movement of regenerative agriculture. And so, very early on in the year I spoke to another hero of mine and arguably the world’s most famous farmer Joel Salatin in that episode which I called, “Folks, this ain’t normal” which is a book that he wrote but I added but it could be and I was referring to the way he approached his farming and that regenerative agricultural model which he goes around the world and lectures on.

I spoke to organic cattle farmer Glenn Morris about the importance of soil and then had a terrific conversation with Charles Massy a 5th generation farmer who did his PhD on regenerative agriculture and wrote this fabulous book called “The Call of the Reed Warbler”. And Charles speaks about five cycles which are fundamental to this regenerative agricultural model. And that is the photosynthesis cycle, the sun cycle if you like.

So, putting plants down which take the sun’s energy and convert it into nutrients within the soil. The water cycle, when you have more organic matter in the soil, soil absorbs water. And this is really important aspect about when it rains how quickly does water go into the soil or does it wash away the soil and it’s a double whammy for the for the farmer as he watches it watches his greatest asset the soil being washed away in the first rain after a prolonged drought.

So, the water cycle very important. The soil mineral cycle and that is by nurturing the microbes within the soil. And this was a theme that we picked up in the gut microbiome as well but in the soil, the microbiome is really important because it breaks down nutrients and makes them available to the plants. When we just put in superphosphate, we’re just putting in nitrogen phosphate and potassium and that’s three, minerals. Well, we actually need about thirty or forty or fifty minerals to be healthy.

So, yes, we can produce good-looking plants but are they healthy for us? And when the animals that eat those plants, we want them to be healthy as well. A good diverse microbiome in the soil ensures the soil mineral cycle is important. The diversity of the vegetation. I mean when you think about it what is more resilient? A corn field that has one crop in it or a rain forest?

Now obviously we can’t necessarily grow crops in a rain forest, but it makes the point about the more diverse the vegetation, the more the much stronger and more resilient the land is. And these mono-crops or even if we plant in two crops a year makes that land very vulnerable not just to pests but also to erosion and degrading of the soil. So, we had the photosynthesis cycle, the water cycles the soil mineral cycle, diversity and the last cycle was the human social cycle which you and I are both part of and the decisions we make and the decisions that farmers make is a really important part of regenerative agriculture and sustainability.

I then had a great discussion with my friend Grahame Rees who goes around Australia and has taught so many farmers, thousands of farmers around Australia about low-stress stock management. And hey, guess what? It turns out that if the animals are treated in a low-stress manner, they’re more relaxed, they eat their food and absorb their nutrients much better just like we as humans do. And so, low-stress management when we spoke about a whole range of other things.

Look, I spoke to Allan Savory as well. And Allan Savory’s another hero of mine and he said, “If we are expecting the change to come from above, we may be waiting a long time”. And by that, he wasn’t talking about from God he was talking about from governments and from authorities. They are very slow to take on new information, they lack common sense and they often lack humanity. The change has to come from the ground up and he said that to me five years ago and it resonated so strongly with me it’s why I do this pod because the change has to come from you and me.

And the other really important message that Allan gave us this time was this whole thing about a holistic context. I mean “Unstress” the podcast is about exploring the stresses in our modern world that has the potential to break us down. Emotional environmental postural nutritional and dental and building resilience by focusing on the five pillars of health sleep, breathe, nourish, move and think. But Allan made the point that every decision that is made by governments, by organisations, by corporations needs to have an overarching holistic context before you get into the detail. What impact will my decision have on the future of all those around me and all those that will come in the future? So, I found that really inspiring.

So, it’s been a great year. The importance of sleeping and breathing, low carb vegetables of the big one, reduce your toxic load, Wi-Fi. Look, we’ve got an exciting year coming up in 2019. I’m going to be taking a break now for a couple of weeks as I hope you will too and we’re going to be back towards the end of January and we’ve got some exciting things planned. There’ll be more podcasts of course and if you’ve got a suggestion to drop us a line. I’m really open to getting on people who you’re interested or you’d like to hear as well. There’re webinars, there are online courses and we are developing an app which is going to make it a whole lot easier to access the podcasts and all those other things.

I came away from this year with one overriding message. When we spoke about the soil microbiome it turned out that the more diverse, the more resilient and the healthier it was when we talked about vegetation on land. Again, the more diverse, the more resilient, the healthier the land was.

When we talked about the gut microbiome the same applied. When we talked about the oral microbiome the same applied. So, this message which I considered to be a kind of a metaphor if you like and that celebrates and encourage and nurtured diversity. And I think it’s a metaphor for how we can live in our world, in our globalised world. We’ve seemed to become more polarised.

It’s a shame but I think the change has to come from the ground up from you and me to celebrate that diversity, to respect other people’s opinions even if they don’t agree with you. And build resilience into our society and make it a healthy society as well. So, I hope you have a lovely holiday. I hope you have a lovely, healthy and happy 2019. So, until next year, this is Dr. Ron Ehrlich. Be well.


This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.