HEALTHY BITE | A “Brave New World” of Medical Knowledge

Welcome to another Healthy Bite. This week on the podcast, we released a very informative episode with Dr Jim Parker, an obstetrician-gynaecology, and we talked about women's health. Dr Jim covered some important health issues that women experience, like PCOS and endometriosis. What is empowering and relevant to this week's discussion with Jim was the powerful impact of a nutrient-dense diet.

Join me as we talk about the idea of an integrative approach to specialities within medicine, is now becoming built-in to practice. I have also included a couple of practitioners that asre specialists who are doing just that.

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A “Brave New World” of Medical Knowledge

Well, this week’s episode was with Dr Jim Parker. Jim is an obstetrician gynaecologist now a lecturer at the University of Wollongong in the School of Medicine. Now, Jim and I had the pleasure of meeting through my association over many years with the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (ACNEM), and he has lectured extensively to thousands of health practitioners, medical practitioners, and allied health practitioners. He is a wealth of knowledge, and it was so great to have him on.

An integrative approach to medicine

I’m trying to introduce you to the idea that an integrative approach to medicine to specialities within medicine is now becoming built-in, if you like, to practise and if you haven’t experienced that yourself. Well, I need to let you know that there are practitioners out there that are specialists who are doing just that.

On the show over the last couple of years, we’ve had my good friend and my cardiologist, integrative cardiologist Dr Ross Walker. We’ve also had Dr Jason Kaplan. He’s an integrative gave cardiologist as well. I’ve introduced you more recently to an integrative gastroenterologist, Dr Pran Yoganathan, and that was an excellent interview we did just recently. 

But here we have Jim Parker, obstetrician gynaecologist, talking about women’s health, which may not be something that you think is relevant to you if you’re a bloke. Well, hey, guess what? It most definitely is because I’m assuming there are women in your life in some capacity, either as family, friends, or partners, and it behoves us to be more in tune with some of the problems that are faced. 

Some critical health issues are common and often go undiagnosed for many years, which isn’t comforting.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome. PCOS is a common condition, present somewhere between 12 and 21%. So up to a fifth of women of reproductive age, depending on the criteria used, cause significant distress to women and account for an effective health cost. Up to $400 million a year is spent on PCOS. 

As you will hear, there are four types: there are (1) insulin-resistant PCOS; (2) Adrenal PCOS, which occurs during massive periods of stress, are we in any of those, I wonder; (3) Inflammatory PCOS, which occurs as a result of chronic inflammation, and we’ve talked about chronic inflammation as the driver for many health conditions. Almost every health condition; and (4) Post Pill PCOS is another.


Now, another condition that we touched on is endometriosis. When I hear about endometriosis, I feel for those that have or do suffer from it. 830000 women in Australia have endometriosis; typically, it can take seven years to get a diagnosis. 

Another programme we did on endometriosis was drawing a broader period of diagnosis between 7 and 14 years. Can you imagine? Well, you don’t have to imagine a lot of women’s painful or uncomfortable periods are dismissed as, “Oh, this is just women’s problems.” Well, it could be more significant than that and needs to be taken seriously.

It costs each person with endometriosis an average of $30000 a year. It costs Australia in lost productivity about $9.7 billion annually, and that doesn’t include the cost to the Australian health care system. 

What’s so interesting about talking to Jim is that he also focuses on a nutritional and environmental approach. It’s so interesting to compare that or to correlate it with the recent symposium I had the honour of hosting emceeing. 

That was a national conference on Enhancing Mental Wellbeing: Navigating Modern Day Life. It was about mental health, and I had the privilege of hosting the general panel discussion on mental health.

But women’s mental health in particular, and I was introduced to the concept of the missing middle, which is women but could quickly just as easily be men. But people who have underlying health care have mental health issues. When this pandemic has come along, the stresses and strains associated with that have pushed them over the edge, and the resources available to deal with those mental health issues are not significant in terms of everybody getting ten sessions of therapy with a psychologist or psychotherapist. 


What was empowering and relevant to this week’s discussion on women’s health with Jim Parker was the powerful impact of getting micronutrients. We’ve discussed it many times on this podcast. We’ve been calling it a nutrient-dense diet, but a diet that focuses on nutrients and micronutrients. I mean that micronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. They are macronutrients. 

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that we need to drive the trillions of biochemical processes that go on every moment of our life from conception to death. 

These micronutrients were shown in this conference on enhancing mental wellbeing to significantly impact people’s mental health, even when they couldn’t access the therapy they may or may not need. This is about taking a holistic approach to health conditions. 

It was so interesting to have this discussion with Jim, an integrative gynaecologist and obstetrician, come along in the same week that I was hosting this conference on enhancing mental well-being and realising that there are common themes that run through all of these health conditions.

This is why the metaphor we use in our podcast, my book, and our wellness programme is to see our life as a balancing beam. If you like, on the one hand, identifying and minimising those stressors that can compromise our immune function and promote chronic inflammation. 

Stress drives chronic inflammation.

Remember, I said inflammatory PCOS is one of the four types of PCOS, but what drives chronic inflammation? Well, stress does. But the pressure that causes chronic inflammation needs to be considered more holistic and involves emotional stress, which is essential: environmental stresses, postural strains, nutritional stressors, and dental stresses. 

To any regular podcast listener, you’ll know what I’m talking about is relevant to anybody with the mouth who is interested in their health and is never fully connected to it.

The other side of the balancing beam is to focus on building resilience by concentrating on the five pillars of health: Sleep, breathe, nourish, move and think. The whole balancing beam pivots on your genes and how they express themselves. The fabulous new science of epigenetics. 

Suppose your genes express themselves as PCOS or endometriosis or mental health conditions or diabetes or cardiovascular disease, or cancer. In that case, that is the pivot, the fulcrum on which our lives pivot. 

But you do have control by identifying and minimising stresses and building resilience. I was reminded of that in my discussion this week with Jim Parker and, in my position there, listening to three days of beautiful presentations. I will have many of those, hopefully, many of those speakers, on as guests moving forward.

Look, it’s so interesting to consider why more practitioners aren’t focused on nutritional and environmental medicine. I will quote an article that Dr Jim Parker wrote for the Journal of the Australasian College of Nutritional Environmental Medicine because I thought it was so relevant. “You may have a will, no doubt, have your medical practitioners and wonder how switched on or not they are. It’s a huge challenge.” These are Jim’s words. 

We now have a brave new world of medical knowledge that has expanded far beyond the old paradigms used in evidence-based medicine. We are still quoting Jim. “Processing this information requires developing a system to link new ideas and discoveries to our existing framework of core concepts. Clinicians are encouraged to develop personal strategies to help them deal with the avalanche of new medical knowledge and feelings of self-doubt and insecurity that may arise.”. 

As health practitioners, we love certainty.

Now I’ve said this many times before. That’s the end of the quote. I’ve said this many times before. As health practitioners, we love certainty. When people put their lives, their health in our hands, and often their lives. Less so, perhaps in the dental world. But that’s okay. Many health practitioners have that. It’s we need certainty. 

It’s straightforward for so-called experts; maybe you’ve heard them on the media, listened to them on the news, or read them. Perhaps your doctor has said it. There’s no evidence to support this.

Well, I’ve heard that to stay up to date with the evidence that Jim talks about in his brave new world of medical knowledge, a practitioner needs to spend 600 hours a week keeping up with all the latest medical research. Just absorb that moment as we reflect that there are only 168 hours a week, and a third of those we spend sleeping. 

At best, we might have 100 hours to keep up with the brave new world of medical knowledge. When someone, a so-called expert, says there is no evidence to support this, by that statement, they imply that they have read all the evidence, and clearly, that is just impossible. Bear that in mind. 

It is, of course, more accurate for that person to say, I am not aware of any evidence to support that statement, and that is quite a different statement to making the broad statement, which is very good for your ego, both for your ego and the impression that you give those less suspecting listening to you that you know everything and what you don’t know isn’t worth knowing. That’s not the case.

I have often said that I think, well, the more you learn in health, the more you realise you don’t know. That is exciting. I guess ignorance is a beautiful thing. I practise it regularly, with respect and humility, and learn from it constantly. But when ignorance is displayed with arrogance, hubris, and ego, people’s lives suffer because of it, and we see much of that happening in our modern world. But I digress for a moment. 

Anyway, it was an excellent opportunity to connect with an outstanding practitioner and continue on our journey of introducing you to how modern medicine is practised in 2021. I hope this finds you well. Until next time.


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 a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, they should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests in this podcast express their opinions, experiences, and conclusions.