The Simplicity of Movement, Carnivore Diet, and Postural Stress
This week we covered movement again, and I had back Aaron McKenzie, one of Australia’s leading health coaches. Aaron, I’ve known him for almost 20 years, and I’ve had the pleasure of working out with him on and off over that period of time. He has informed all of the workouts that I do.
He introduced me to the idea of functional movements. That is building movements that we do every day, like twisting and turning, bending and stretching, pushing and pulling into our workouts and not just focussing on a repetitive exercise that will build up certain muscles, but taking a very holistic global view of how we move our body and building flexibility, strength, and stability into our workouts and doing it in a sustainable way.
Aaron was the person who I found liberating because he made the point that you actually don’t need to flog yourself in a 45-minute or one-hour aerobics class or on a bike or on a running machine or all of that to be taking a far more holistic view of the movement. And so it was always good to catch up with Aaron.
We also touched on nutrition because the way we met initially was through our interest in and our passion for nutrition through the Weston A. Price Foundation, which focuses on nutrient-dense foods and natural pasture-fed and finished animal products as being an important part of that journey. And it’s always an interesting journey for anybody interested in nutrition to explore what works and what doesn’t. And I know that Aaron, in the last few years, has been exploring the Carnivore diet, and we talk about that as well in this week’s episode, the whole idea of vegetables as being the base for a nutritional program for what you eat.
I mean, I’ve written that in my book. Vegetables should be the foundation of a healthy eating plan and eat the colors of a rainbow. I’ve said that as well, but I also have written, and I also now am more aware of the fact that we need to, even with vegetables, approach this carefully and with an open mind.
I have many, many patients who have autoimmune conditions who come in and tell me they’re on a great diet. They’re vegetarian, they’re on a great diet, and they’re eating soy products. And I have to make the point that for some people, particularly those with autoimmune conditions, vegetables have the potential to be highly reactive.
Vegetables need to protect themselves from predators like insects and animals, and we humans put out certain things which are designed to protect them from those predators. And those things may be things like phytates, oxalate, salicylates, fodmaps, lectins, and gluten. All of these things can be very inflammatory. And even though you may be on or similarly lactate in dairy, I mean, I think a lot of people are aware that gluten and dairy are potentially reactive foods that they should eliminate if they’re trying to downscale the inflammation.
But many people are not aware that vegetables also may be a problem. And identifying those and eliminating those from your diet can be a real breakthrough moment for people with autoimmune conditions. Now there are over 100 autoimmune conditions. That is the body attacking itself. If your genetic predisposition is nerves, then you might end up with multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s.
If your predisposition is gut, you may end up with coeliac or Crohn’s, or ulcerative colitis. If your predisposition is the pancreas, you may end up with type one diabetes. If your predisposition is genetically joints, you may end up with rheumatoid arthritis, and so on. Whatever your genetic predisposition is, your autoimmune condition will manifest itself in that way.
But what triggers the autoimmune condition? There’s a certain commonality about that. And one of the things that one needs to explore in autoimmune conditions is intestinal permeability. That means a leaky gut, where undigested irritants come into the bloodstream and cause the body to mount an autoimmune reaction.
And in many instances, vegetables may be that trigger, which you may not even be aware of. So it was an opportunity to talk with Aaron about the Carnivore Diet. Now, the Carnivore Diet, obviously, as the name implies, focuses on meat as the main source of nutrients. And we’ve said this many times that all meat and all animal products are not equal, that those animal products that live a healthy and full life and have only one bad day in their lives are what is good for the animal is generally good for us and it’s good for the planet.
So this is where we cut right across animal welfare, environmental toxins, and environmental degradation. And also what is good for human health, because those animals that are pasture fed and finished, meaning they end their life on pasture, not in a feedlot. They are generally animal protein and fat that is good for us.
So it was an opportunity to discuss with Aaron not just what functional movements and progressive movements are all about, progression within our work that is all about but also to talk about an animal, well, food, diet, and in particular, carnivore diet and his journey from being a pure carnivore to the variations that he had to make to make that more balanced, more sustainable from an electrolyte perspective by introducing certain fruits that were seasonal and even the consumption of white rice, which is a very low irritant for people who have autoimmune conditions.
Slip, Slop, and Slap
So it was a great opportunity to talk to him about that and also to remind us about the power of sunlight and to get out in nature and literally putting your bare feet on the ground. Now, sunlight is something that has been demonized in our public health messages of Slip, Slop, Slap. And interesting to note that while that has been hugely successful in terms of convincing people to do just that, to slip on a cover, to protect your skin from sunlight to slip on… Slip, Slop, Slap.
Anyway, it’s about putting on sunscreen, wearing a hat, and covering your skin, which I have to say I ignore because what that has created is a pandemic, or is that an epidemic? But in any way, it’s widespread vitamin D deficiency right across the population. I mean, vitamin D deficiency is a deficiency; is it global proportions? It’s right across the globe and particularly in the Western world.
And yes, doing the Slip, Slop, Slap may well have reduced the incidence marginally of skin cancers. But it’s sobering to know that vitamin D is critical as an anti-cancer nutrient and hormone for almost every other cancer that you can think of, which has been on the increase in thyroid cancers, colon cancers, and neurological and haematological cancers, all affected by vitamin D deficiency. So yes, we have reduced the incidence of skin cancers marginally, but we have increased a whole range of other problems for which vitamin D is an essential nutrient. And also, during the pandemic, vitamin D is very important as well.
So this is an example of a public health message that perhaps is very reductionist in a view like skin cancer is a problem. So let’s get the people out of the sun. But the sun is so critically important to not just our vitamin D levels but our ability to sleep well. We talked in this podcast with Aaron about the importance of getting out in the light, and it reminded me of how important balancing out sunlight is with our exposure to blue light. And we are constantly we are bathed in blue light.
I’m sitting right in front of my monitor, which is emitting blue light. I have a mobile phone which emits blue light at an intensity equal to the blue light emitted from the sun. The good thing about the sun is that it balances that out with red light and UV light, which we need to produce melatonin and vitamin D. And apart from the vitamin D’s influence on our general health, melatonin is an influence on our general health is a huge, as well as its influence on our ability to sleep, which in turn has flow on effects to an entire range of mental, physical and emotional health issues.
So yes, Slip, Slop, and Slap may seem like a good idea if you’re trying to reduce skin cancer, but the flow on effects for that, particularly as we bathe ourselves in LED that is light, which is in almost every light source now cool light down the blue end of the spectrum. Devices like laptops, tablets, iPads, and phones. We bathe in blue light constantly. We need to have a much healthier relationship with our technology and get out in the sun, particularly the early morning sun. Don’t go out there with your sunglasses on. Expose as much of your skin to it as you can. Allow the sun to get into your eyes. And obviously, don’t look directly at the sunlight, but don’t wear sunglasses and don’t wear covers.
So this week’s discussion was a great discussion with Aaron to remind me of why I find him to be so totally inspiring when it comes to movement and nutrition and our relationship with the natural world. I mean, it’s great to touch base with Aaron on a regular basis to remind me of all of those things. And this week’s episode certainly did that. Now, it was also an opportunity to remind you that when we talk about the move, we’re also talking about what not to do in movement.
And that touches on the issue of understanding what postural stress is all about. So this is just an opportunity to quickly remind you of some of the things we touch on in our Move Pillars, which is on our Unstress Health Platform. There’s so much on that platform that we’re really excited to be sharing with you, and invite you to come and join the community. But we talk about postural stress as being a whole range of things.
Look, walking, for example. A great exercise, a sustainable exercise, getting out in the natural world, getting out in the sunshine. It’s a social thing that you can do. It’s a sustainable thing you can do for your whole life. And it’s interesting that out of the UK, there are even studies showing that walking speed is a great predictor of your longevity over the next five years.
So if you’re looking to predict whether you’re going to die prematurely in the next five years, well, walking speed apparently is a good indicator of whether that’s going to happen or not. And walking is a really important thing to do. But postural stress is how your feet touch the ground. And we have on our Advisory Panel in the Unstress Health Platform podiatrist Mark Ninio. And that episode we did on our Unstress podcast talked about foot structure, which is something that people don’t often consider.
Many people have lower back problems, hip problems, knee or ankle problems, and they will go to an osteo, a chiro, or physio on a regular basis, maybe once a week, maybe once a month, without even being aware that the foot structure is a common predisposing factor that can and should be assessed and addressed. So that’s a major postural stress that I want to make you aware of.
Another postural stress is sleep position. Now we talk about good sleep hygiene, lights and temperature and food and getting out in the sunlight and doing exercise and getting your melatonin levels right, addressing your relationship with your technology, and getting technology out of your bedroom. But another postural issue is sleep position.
And sleeping on your back is a problem for anybody over the age of 30 or 40 because as we get older, our lower jaw has a tendency to drop back and block the airway. The tongue is attached to the lower jaw, and that will result in snoring, which is a restricted airway called a hypopnoea or even a complete blockage of the airway called an apnoea. So this is what sleeping on your back is all about.
Sleeping on your stomach, on the other hand, is a problem because it twists up your head and neck, and jaw muscles, as well as your lower back muscles and your airway. So sleeping on your stomach is structurally not the best position to sleep in either. It turns out that sleeping on your side is a better position for sleep. So here is postural stress creeping into the bedroom and how you sleep. Sleeping on your side is a good way of going in. In our platform, we talk about how to retrain yourself to do just that.
Now, another postural stress that you may never have considered is how you actually sit on the toilet. And we have evolved over millions of years to squat when we empty our bowels, and our large intestine has evolved to effectively empty when we are in the squatting position. Now, I love western toilets, and you know, I’m not about to suggest that we should be squatting over our toilet, although I do have at home a little what’s called a squatty potty that fits around the base of the toilet.
And it allows me to place my feet on that and form a more squatted position, improving… There is literature to support this scientific evidence to show that you get easier and more complete bowel movements from being in a more squat Position. So here we are again talking about postural stress, not just when you’re walking and foot structure, not just when you’re sleeping in bed, but also when you’re going to the toilet. And that’s important as well.
So we’ve talked on many podcasts about what does your poo say about you? And it’s worth looking there and consulting Bristol’s Stool Chart to remind you of what that lab report in the toilet bowl tells you every day about your digestive system. And I believe it should be every day. Then posturally that’s something to consider as well. And then, of course, when we breathe.
The difference between mouth breathing and nasal breathing and the effect on your head posture is something we’ve covered on many podcasts. But basically, if you are predominantly a mouth breather, that will predispose you to a more head-forward posture because you need to open your airway more. And that is how breathing connects with posture and that is covered in great detail on our Unstress Health Platform.
So this week’s podcast with Aaron McKenzie, is always great to touch base with Aaron and alerted us to a whole range of issues and I thought I would just also remind you of some of the postural stresses that go with our Move Pillar on our Unstress Health Platform. I hope this finds you well. Until next time. This is Dr Ron Ehrlich. Be well.
This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. This 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.