Natalie West: Mental Health, the Gut, and Self Image

What do people eat on a carnivore diet? Is it really all meat and zero carb? Tune in as this is just one of the many interesting topics we will cover today.

My guest for this week’s Unstress is Natalie West. Natalie is a Clinical Psychotherapist with over 16 years of experience. She specialises in Self-Image conflict and Nutritional Psychology for treating the mental and physical Root Causes Health problems. Natalie's focus is on nutrition and its connection to mental health.

In this fascinating conversation, we explore how food affects mental health, the carnivore diet, self-image, gut, and so much more.

Natalie West: Mental Health, the Gut, and Self Image Introduction

Well, today we’re going to be touching on mental health it is a huge and growing problem in the last two years of the pandemic and has only added to those issues – depression and anxiety are things that have been affecting an increasing number of the population. I mean, young and old, I’ve heard some estimates that one in five children under the age of 20 have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression. I think that figure is higher as we grow older, and it’s an alarming figure.

I think the other thing that has come out of this pandemic, I was reading an article recently from the American Psychology Society’s review of the impact of social isolation and found that it would have the equivalent health effect of smoking 15 cigarettes a day. So, as though mental health wasn’t a big problem before this pandemic became an even bigger problem. And so, looking at solutions other than what is often offered via the prescription pad is something that we feel pretty passionate about on this podcast. And so that is the subject of today’s podcast.

My guest is Natalie West. Now, Natalie is a Clinical Psychotherapist with over 16 years of experience. She specialises in Self-Image conflict and Nutritional Psychology for treating the mental and physical Root Causes Health problems.

Natalie provides a proven long-term strategy to help her clients to supercharge their mental and metabolic health. Very closely related, as we discussed today. Natalie’s focus on nutrition has been challenging the current delivery system; delivery methods of treating mental and physical health, which are for the profits of pharmaceutical companies, are anything to go by. It is often a prescription medication to deal with chronic disease, and mental health is no exception. The number of people on anti-depressants is quite surprising. With qualifications in Clinical Behavioural Science, Applied Clinical Hypnotherapy and Nutritional Psychology, she is also currently completing qualification in Nutritional Psychiatry.

Look, this dovetails into so many other episodes that we have had and that brings together the power of nutrition in mental health. And we particularly focus on the carnivore diet, which Natalie is a great proponent of personally and professionally. I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Natalie West.

Podcast Transcript

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:00:01] I’d like to acknowledge two traditional custodians of the land on which I am recording this podcast, the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation and pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging. 

Hello and welcome to Unstress. My name is Dr Ron Ehrlich. Well, today we’re going to be touching on mental health it is a huge and growing problem in the last two years of the pandemic and has only added to those issues – depression and anxiety are things that have been affecting an increasing number of the population. I mean, young and old, I’ve heard some estimates that one in five children under the age of 20 have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression. I think that figure is higher as we grow older, and it’s an alarming figure. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:00:21] I think the other thing that has come out of this pandemic, I was reading an article recently from the American Psychology Society’s review of the impact of social isolation and found that it would have the equivalent health effect of smoking 15 cigarettes a day. 

So, as though mental health wasn’t a big problem before this pandemic became an even bigger problem. And so, looking at solutions other than what is often offered via the prescription pad is something that we feel pretty passionate about on this podcast. And so that is the subject of today’s podcast.

My guest is Natalie West. Now, Natalie is a Clinical Psychotherapist with over 16 years of experience. She specialises in Self-Image conflict and Nutritional Psychology for treating the mental and physical Root Causes Health problems.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:02:01] Natalie provides a proven long-term strategy to help her clients to supercharge their mental and metabolic health. Very closely related, as we discussed today. Natalie’s focus on nutrition has been challenging the current delivery system; delivery methods of treating mental and physical health, which are for the profits of pharmaceutical companies, are anything to go by. 

It is often a prescription medication to deal with chronic disease, and mental health is no exception. The number of people on anti-depressants is quite surprising. With qualifications in Clinical Behavioural Science, Applied Clinical Hypnotherapy and Nutritional Psychology, she is also currently completing qualification in Nutritional Psychiatry.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:02:49] Look, this dovetails into so many other episodes that we have had and that brings together the power of nutrition in mental health. And we particularly focus on the carnivore diet, which Natalie is a great proponent of personally and professionally. I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Natalie West. Welcome to the show, Natalie.

Natalie West: [00:03:18] Thank you very much, Ron. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:03:19] Natalie, your background is obviously psychology, but you have an interest that goes way beyond the talking therapies. And we’re going to be discussing that. And we also want to I know you’re very focussed on self-image, and I think that’s something we all need to engage with, obviously. But I’m just interested to know your own journey that’s brought you to this point in your professional career. 

Natalie West: [00:03:41] Yeah, absolutely. So many moons ago, I started working at the age of 17, and I had a 20-year corporate career. So I was in operational management and sales for many, many years, and I was always very fascinated by the sales process and why people said yes and why people said no. And you know, from my point of view, it was like, “What was going on in their brain that made them take on the deal or not?” So human behaviour I’ve always been really interested in. 

Natalie West: [00:04:10] And then after my first child at 33, I realised that, you know, I wanted a career change, and I started down the road of doing the normal psychology model for about a year, and then something just didn’t align with me in relation to understanding. Also, I have a bodybuilding background about how powerful food is and what we need both mentally and physically. 

So sitting through, I guess, the psychology model, it just didn’t meld with me. So I stepped back from that, and then I ended up going to a seminar where I actually met a gentleman who was an orthomolecular specialist and also a psychotherapist. And I was like, “Wow, how does my mind work? How do my gut and my mind work together?” And I was always just hooked from that point in time.

Natalie West: [00:04:59] So 16 years later, Ron, here I am, doing all different types of training in relation to, you know, deep state clinical hypnosis, performance training, psychotherapy and all different models. So Jung therapy, Erikson techniques and also nutritional psychology, because I think we’re so disconnected from, you know, psychology generally. 

We talk to this part of our head, right? But I always say we have two brains, and our first brain is our gut. And if we don’t understand that, the signalling and the messaging just don’t get through to the brain for it to work properly. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:05:39] You mentioned orthomolecular and psychiatry. And I’m very privileged to be on the Orthomolecular News Service editorial ward, and I’ve spoken to many of those wonderful people on that board. It’s a whole area of using supplements and diet to improve general health. Do you remember who was that? The orthomolecular doctor that was, you know…

Natalie West: [00:06:02] That was, you know, Pfeiffer and Hoffer that started back, you know, many, many moons ago. Doctor Andrew Saul in the US, who has been using high dose niacin for depression and schizophrenia for a very long time, but also too, I am also completing a qualification in Nutritional Psychiatry, just really back on the fact that I love Dr George Eids’ work and Dr Chris Palmer, who are psychiatrists but also realise the power of low carb to zero carbs in getting the brain injury ketosis. We have to get to the root cause. We just can’t talk about the symptomatic process. 

So I’ve, you know, 16 years ago I run when I was asking people when they were coming to me, and you know, two main questions I asked them is: (1) Do you understand how your mind works? (2) And please tell me what you eat. So 16 years ago, I was looked at like, “What?” So I was kind of a bit of a lonely ship floating in that kind of arena because it was very, very unusual to be asked that. Right. And people still don’t get asked that. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:07:06] Hmm. Hmm. No, no. When mental health problems are occurring, and we’ve done quite a few programmes on this about the prescription, the first port of call is often, “Hmm. You’re depressed. I wonder what kind of anti-depressant I need to give you. Oh, you’re anxious too? An anti-anxiety tablet.” Yes, this is the model. But there is obviously so much more we can do. So okay, well, tell us how you approach it with the patient now. What’s your modus operandi?

Natalie West: [00:07:39] Yeah. So I get a lot of referrals just basically from people that I work with who have really been in therapy for a long time and really, really struggling. So a lot of people will come to me with external symptoms. So what I call things like anxiety and depression, you know, really lethargic, metabolic illness, relationship issues are really not liking who they are.

So what I do is when I hear those things, they literally are a symptom of a deep root cause issue, which is linked back to two things: (1) Self-Image Conflict, coming from a very poor programming in relation to how we view ourselves both consciously and unconsciously, and also that (2) Root Cause of Metabolic Health, which goes back to the gut.

Natalie West: [00:08:28] It’s really empowering people, Ron, to understand, like, do you actually think about what your body needs from you? Every single day, you know, what amino acids do you understand you know, if you talk about serotonin for a second, most people believe that you know, all the serotonin production is done in your brain. 

It actually isn’t, it’s 97% of it is actually in your gut. So, you know, this whole process in chemical structures that our bodies need from food to convert those neurotransmitters because your brain needs the amino acids to work. But where do we get them from?

Natalie West: [00:09:05] So a lot of people aren’t allowed the empowerment to understand, well, tell me what you eat every day. And we can go through and understand that you’re literally living on sugar and hyper-processed foods. So how do you think your body is going to pull nutrients from that?

So for me, I’ve always come from a space of education and really allowing people to understand two things. You’re not broken, there’s nothing wrong with you, but you’ve just not allowed yourself the permission to go ‘You know what? I need to understand those two root causes.’ Because from an unconscious point in our precognitive commitment, which is between 0 to 7, as a child, we don’t have the analytical ability to filter out anything. So everything auditory, visual, physical, taste, smell, everything we learn as subset programmes directed by our self-image, which we learn from other people in authority to us. 

Now let’s hope that sometimes that’s a bit positive, but a lot of the time, it’s quite poor and very conflicted around external validation, how people think about us, and what we feel about ourselves. But again, you cannot talk to a starving brain. You cannot. It’s impossible to actually get the full piece of the puzzle unless you’re treating your body in a calm state with calm food, understanding that you are a human being that needs fat and protein to actually survive and thrive.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:10:44] Hmm. Well, we’re going to come back and talk about self-image because I think, you know, it’s obviously important. But what do we mean by it? How do how does it get influenced by all that? But let’s focus on the gut things and just to speak about what goes wrong, you know, I mean, I think it’s reasonably obvious in this modern world, but, you know, where do we draw the line and where do we start rebuilding? How do you do that with your clients?

Natalie West: [00:11:12] So again, it’s really understanding what their belief structures are and where they’ve learnt them around food. And a lot of the time, unfortunately, you know, given the authority that doctors have, and we all know that doctors aren’t trained in nutrition. They maybe have 6 hours over four or five years. So again, it’s about retraining and unlearning. 

Okay. So, where did I learn that it was okay to eat cereal that literally has 50 grams of sugar in the morning? You know, what is a rainbow diet? What is everything in moderation? That does not work experience. So it’s a matter of understanding we are a human species. Okay? So as a species, we should be eating a species-appropriate diet.

Natalie West: [00:11:56] Now, if you’re shopping in the middle of a supermarket, you’re undernourished and overfed. So every single thing that you put in your trolley generally has 5000 ingredients and they’re not great. And we need to understand that the primal source of a human being is we are protein; that’s what we are and fat because our brains are made of fat. 

So if we think about the whole dogma, you know, in the 1970s when we basically said, oh, everything’s low fat, and we need to remove meat, and we, you know, all that saturated fat propaganda. Type two diabetes went through the roof. Mental illness is going through the roof. Everything is just getting worse and worse and worse and worse. 

So for me, it’s about just tapping into each individual person’s belief structure and the attachment to food and the attachment to comfort through food. So again, that comes back to connected to the self-image. Why we’re eating our emotions and literally understanding that cereal is not food. So most people start their day with cereal, which is just shocking.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:13:05] Well, it’s interesting to say people have faith in their doctor, and where would their doctor get their information from? And I think it’s fair to say most doctors, many schools, and many institutions get their information from the Australian Healthy Eating Guidelines.

Natalie West: [00:13:20] Correct. Which is absolute disastrous because again, you know, if you look at the star rating on foods, you know, if you look at something like coconut oil or unrefined coconut oil, you know, that’ll have a one-star rating. But, you know, something like Weet-Bix will have five and it’s like, ‘Yeah.’

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:13:40] Yeah. Well, Weet-Bix is made by Sanitarium, so they help make the star rating. So it’s interesting. I mean, you know, you and I are aware of that. But it’s a story that is very easy to miss as a health professional, as an institution, you would just assume. But if it’s an Australian government, NHMRC, Australian Healthy Eating Guideline, then it would be exactly what it says it is. So… 

Natalie West: [00:14:06] Correct.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:14:07] This is part of the problem, isn’t it?

Natalie West: [00:14:09] It is part of the problem. So we’ve also got to go back to, you know, we always say follow the money, right? Especially when it comes to vilifying, you know, meat. And meat has been around for four million years. You know, it’s a part of many, many cultures and tribes. And, you know, if you look at the tribal nature of the most heavy-based animal protein, they didn’t have type two diabetes. 

They don’t have all the, you know, 70% of cancers that come from, you know, lifestyle choices and, you know, type two diabetes. But this is also about making sure that people are scratching the surface and not just taking on board the propaganda, especially the plant-based propaganda around, you know, even if we go back, it is deeply rooted to religious ideology through the Seven Day Adventist Church. And then also we have Sanitarium on top of that. And Kellogg’s literally owned 86% of Beyond Meat. 

Natalie West: [00:14:59] So you try to start to put the pictures of the puzzle together, and you know, it doesn’t take a rocket science really to understand, okay, so we’ve been told to take out the meat, but we’re getting sicker and sicker, and we’re told to eat, you know, what I call The SAD Diet, which is a standard Australian diet, which is literally full of inflammation-driven foods and depression, and anxiety are getting worse. And it’s not just a physiological thing, it’s not just a thinking thing, right? It’s gut-brain access. We must feed our gut to get that serotonin and all those other dopamine and gabber and tyrosine and all that, even tryptophan.

So what I do for people is I get them to learn about their bodies. I get them to understand what they need. So like, I did a post yesterday talking about most people know how their cars work and how their cars function better and what they need to do in their own bodies. So it is a belief structure wrong where we’ve really got to look at it going well. Is that serving you both mentally and physically? And let’s look at that, and let’s kind of, you know, really unravel that so that people can serve themselves in the best way.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:16:14] Hmm. You mentioned there are essential proteins. There are essential fats. There aren’t essential carbohydrates, which I think in and of itself is an important one. And we often hear about, you know, carbohydrates being too high or too low. What is your view on that?

Natalie West: [00:16:35] 100%. So humans don’t need carbohydrates. It’s not an essential requirement, which is funny, you know, like the event that we met at last week with Dr James Muecke and talking about diabetes, and I did say to him, like, it’s so bizarre to me that carbohydrates aren’t essential, we can operate in a fat-adapted state from ketones because ketones are basically the best option for your brain versus glucose.

Natalie West: [00:17:01] Why is a messaging around the fact that if you’ve got type two diabetes, you’ve got to have carbohydrates? It’s just so bizarre to me. But I do also understand people’s connection to food, and it is a comfort. So we’ve got to treat that really gently. But secondly, fat and protein are what humans need to thrive. 

You know, so I always say to people, especially coming off a SAD Diet and looking at their mental health protocol and, you know, a lot of people have also used diets and foods as punishment to lose weight and wrong end of the stick. We’ve got to turn it around and focus on let’s get your mental and physical health right and nourishing ourselves with good proteins. And the most powerful eating that you can choose is an animal-based way of life. 

Now, some people can have a small amount of carbs, but again, Ron, it’s uniquely propositioned to each person. So we’ve got to really take that into consideration. But again, the fear of actually saying to people, no, no, no, you don’t need carbs. Like I haven’t eaten carbs for over two years, and I’m not dead, and I haven’t eaten a plant for over two years, and I’m not dead. Sorry.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:18:16] Well, now that you’ve put your you’ve actually introduced another approach to diet, which is a carnivore diet, which is obviously where you are at the moment. 

Natalie West: [00:18:27] Correct. Correct. So, yes. So over two years now, and literally it was a choice from, you know, getting myself into insulin resistance from a bodybuilding background. Right. So having protein and carbs, but carbs and fat and not the right ones. Right. 

So I also had to unlearn, and that’s a part of being, you know, an open human, where my training, you know, 16 years ago was always, yes-protein but carbs. And you’ve got to kind of unlearn and understand. And especially going through nutritional psychiatry training, we don’t need carbs; we need fat and protein.

Natalie West: [00:19:03] So for me, I looked at my own situation and went right, I’m just going to go full animal-based protein and reverse my insulin resistance. And I was going to do it for a couple of months, and that was two and a half years ago. So again, it’s looking at people in the state to go, you know what? Where are you on your threshold? 

So a lot of people will say to me, “I’m done. I have I need to control my anxiety or my depression and also get my self-image back into self-respect for myself.” So good eating and understanding eating is a level of self-value and self-love which most human beings don’t have. They have to learn that. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:19:42] Your carnivore diet wouldn’t be where you would I mean, I think it’s an interesting one because it’s an extreme. I think it’s fair to say it’s an extreme of the spectrum when the healthy eating…

Natalie West: [00:19:57] Sorry, go on.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:19:57] So I was going to say consider the healthy eating guidelines or the food pyramid as one extreme, and I do think that is extreme, you know, and I think, as you’ve mentioned, if the evidence is anything to go by, which we’ve always told it is. You’d have to say that was a complete disaster. And then we move into, okay, where do we go? 

Well, we eat healthy fats and proteins, and we have a low carb. And that means different things to different people, doesn’t it? I mean, you’re a carnivore in a carnivore diet, so I’m asking you, what do low carbs mean to you? Well, what does it, I mean, you incorporate some fruit into that, don’t you?

Natalie West: [00:20:40] I haven’t eaten fruit for over five years. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:20:42] Okay. Okay. So for you, it’s zero carb?

Natalie West: [00:20:46] Zero. So I’ve been zero carbs. Yeah. Yeah. For the whole that time. And obviously, there’s a transition, right. So again, yeah. Any long-term carnivore, you know, you speak to them, and they’ll tell you the same thing. It’s like, I’m fine, my blood is fine. I operate at a really high level because I operate on ketones, right? 

So again, the flexibility is for me if I was to add. So I haven’t also eaten gluten or wheat for many, many years. Right, because I understand the power of that on your God, and it’s not good.

Natalie West: [00:21:18] But secondly, for me, it’s like, what am I eating to fuel myself, to make myself feel both mentally and physically? And this is the most powerful way of eating for me. And also working with clients who have had disordered eating and even some vegans who are very, very ill have we’ve transitioned back slowly into a low carb, which for them, you know, I don’t get people to measure things. 

We don’t weigh things because, you know, if you look at a tribal, for example, Eskimos or the Inuits, they just eat when they’re hungry. They eat when they’re not. You eat till you’re satiated. But again, fat is fuel, right? So we’re so disconnected between what do we actually need to thrive? This is going, well, if I don’t have a piece of bread, am I going to feel discomfort in that?

Natalie West: [00:22:09] So there are a lot of areas around that self-image connection, but clients who do low carb for me, we kind of work out if there’s a gut reaction. So we go protein fat first as a priority. Okay. 

So protein is a very calming, relaxed response because if you think about a piece of meat, and this is amazing to me, and nature never makes mistakes, right? So red meat holds nine essential amino acids in the perfect form right that humans need from their diet. So we have 20 that we need to get, but the nine our bodies can’t make, so we actually need them from our food.

Natalie West: [00:22:52] Now, we look at bioavailability and with protein because you also don’t have a glucose reaction or an insulin reaction. It keeps people very stable. We’re not hunting or seeking for, “My gosh, I need sugar, I need sugar, I need sugars.” So for me, it’s getting them to a level of calmness so they can be very clear. We can do that self-image work with them, so the body and the mind are in alignment. We’re not separating just this bit over here and then the gut over here. Right. We’re aligning them.

Natalie West: [00:23:25] So some people will have, you know, prioritise protein, they’ll have some lettuce, cucumber, whatever feels good for them. So I also get them to check in. Food is a messenger response. So if you eat a piece of bread and you want to go to sleep in 45 minutes or you feel depressed for a couple of days, that’s an issue. 

Food is meant to give you energy, not meant to send you to sleep. So for me, I always will prioritise the fact that I know what nutrients I get from the animal-based way of eating. And for plants for me, you know, if we think back culturally, Ron, with our grandparents’ generation, you know, vegetables were very, very different, you know, they were grown in soil that has the right zinc, all the right magnesium, all the things that, you know, vegetables should be grown in. 

That’s not the case these days. You know, by the time they cut and they get to the supermarket, like I, I rarely go to the obviously the fruit or vegetable oil. But I’ll come sometimes touch things, and they’re soft, and they’re unlocked. There’s nothing in that that is going to actually help you because they are depleted. They’re not the same.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:24:37] They’re not nutrient-dense. They look good. They look okay. But they… Yes. Now, we’ve talked about that before, and I think that’s an important one. And just to remind our listeners, we’re talking about fuel. Glucose is what everyone tells you you need. You need glucose for your fuel. But there’s another fuel form which is ketones. Which you must be in ketosis all the time. Are you?

Natalie West: [00:25:00] Petty much all the time. Yes. I’ve been fat-adapted for a long time. And I will say, though, that coming from a bodybuilding background and using carbohydrates as that glucose fuel, it took me about four months for my body to adjust. 

But one of the biggest things is when you are in a ketosis state, and you do train, you can train really, really hard, and you do not get sore. You literally feel like you haven’t trained. So it’s actually the, you know, the fat versus the glucose, which, again, glucose is causing inflammation. Right. So it’s also about the choice of fuel. 

Natalie West: [00:25:37] Every client that I’ve worked with that has been on diets all their life, or they’ve had really anxiety issues. So starting to reduce the glucose reaction in the carbohydrates. So I’m talking, you know, things like rice, white, refined flour, sugars, and even some vegetables. Right. Potatoes are very high in carb reaction. 

So it’s literally about that insulin response. The minute they start to get that down, the first thing they say to me is, “Oh, I cannot believe how clear I am. And I actually have so much energy. I actually don’t know what to do.”

Natalie West: [00:26:14] So I know that they’re feeling that ketosis shifts, so their brain is starting to run on ketones, which is so, so powerful. And that’s why, you know, I’m such an advocate for people really learning what am I doing to myself, what am I feeling myself with, but also do we do have a negative self-image there as well that we have to align with. And yeah, I think it’s one of the most powerful forms of eating that a human can gift themselves. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:26:44] Hmm. And I think it bears me also mentioning that not all meat is the same, is it?

Natalie West: [00:26:50] No.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:26:51] The type of meat that we choose is quite important. How do you make that decision?

Natalie West: [00:26:56] So I’m very much aware of where my meat comes from. So it’s regenerative farming and grass-fed versus grain-fed. Now, obviously, it also depends on people’s budgets, but for me, coming from a mental health space, I will always say to someone, if all you can get is grain-fed, you need to get that because it’s still got the amino in it, right? But the ratio of omega three to omega six will be quite different. 

Okay, so red meat is grass-fed; got your mega threes in there and also vitamin C. This is the other thing, too, when people kind of go, “Oh, if you don’t eat vegetables, you’re going to get scurvy.” I’m like, man, we’re all good.” You know, I know people who’ve been carnivores for 20, 30 years. No scurvy. We’re all good. So, again, it’s busting those myths, right?

Natalie West: [00:27:42] So what we’ve got to do is go, “Well, where did that come from?” So let’s just scratch the surface and see where that kind of myth came from. And normally, we feed it back to either Mr Kelloggs, Sanitarium or the plant-based propaganda. Right? Now, it is also around the fact that we’ve been told that fat is going to make you fat and that it’s going to contribute to heart disease and all these things. And as we know, back in the 1950s and early sixties, there were three Harvard professors that were paid off to basically say that saturated fat was bad and sugar was okay. So this is why we’re in the mess we’re in, right?

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:28:18] Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s the way “health care” (in inverted commas) works globally. So that is again another one of those stories that is easy to miss, but once you hear it, difficult to ignore. But yeah. Absolutely.

Natalie West: [00:28:33] Correct. Yeah. And also just going back to what you were talking about with, you know, making sure that, you know, where your meat comes from and being very aware. So any kind of voice speech or even a low carb person that prioritises protein, they’re very welfare driven, right? So they do look for where their meat comes in. 

They understand the practises, whereas the other side of it too, you know, there’s no such thing as a bloodless diet. So if you’re eating a high plant-based diet, death is still involved. And again, I think we’ve really got to understand the reality of, you know, where does that come from again?

Natalie West: [00:29:08] But lots of animals lose their life regardless of which way you eat. But it’s all about going, well, where do I choose, and what else can I do to actually help the planet? So for again, you know, cows have been vilified for climate change, and it’s just again, scratch the surface because that’s actually not correct. 

But let’s talk about the amount of plastics we can produce that have pamphlets in them, you know, that cause endocrine disruption with your body. Tap water. Please don’t drink tap water. Everyone, please stay away from that.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:29:40] That’s a thing we’ve explored on the programme before as well, and I think we, you know, we’ve accepted that getting clean water to our house is a good thing. But what we do with it once we turn the tap on is up to us. And in my own home, I’m doing reverse osmosis. You know, water filter. 

But yeah, no, no. I think the other thing is when you look at plant-based, this whole push to plant-based, I actually think that vegans are unwittingly becoming foot soldiers for the processed food industry. Holding a banner of environmental degradation in their hand to make them feel good. I was looking at the plant-based labels on the plant-based foods in the supermarkets. Oh, my God. 

Natalie West: [00:30:29] Pretty horrific, isn’t it?

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:30:30] Talk about ultra-processed foods.

Natalie West: [00:30:32] Oh. Absolutely. You know, we wonder why when we eat them, you know, people say to me, “Oh, I had that, and I was bloated, and I felt really bad.” I’m like, Yeah, because it’s actually not food. It’s a food-like substance, right? But again, it is about money. It all comes back to the agenda of vilifying meat and removing one of the most powerful nutritional sources that humans need.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:30:57] But if I was playing the devil’s advocate, Natalie, and I said to you, is the carnivore diet the first-world option? I mean, how sustainable globally is a carnival diet? 

Natalie West: [00:31:10] When it comes back to your own? So for me personally, my first reaction will be, yes, 100%, right? Because again, we didn’t have… So if you go back even back to the tribal point, right. We are hunters. You know, the first thing that we would need is meat. And if you even look at a lion, I use this kind of analogy quite often. Right? 

So we’re a species alliance of species. So you don’t see a sick, fat lion because they don’t go off what they intuitively know they need to eat, whereas humans and most species in the world don’t make their own food. Hmm. This is where we’ve run into problems. Humans make so much food that actually is not fit for human consumption.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:31:50] That’s right. Yeah. 

Natalie West: [00:31:52] Hence… 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:31:53] But we are omnivores. And that’s part of our strength, isn’t it, that we species are omnivores, not carnivores.

Natalie West: [00:32:01] No, actually apex predators back here. We actually are carnivores because also, too, if you look at the physiological part of our brain size, you know, there were berries and things like that, but there were not a plethora of vegetables like we have today. Right. So again, meat first, fat priority than anything else in that. But what we’ve done, we’ve swung the other way. 

And if you look at Eskimos, what do you grow there? You can’t grow anything there because it’s so cold, and they survive on penguins and blubber and meat. Right. And I think they do have some berries that are naturally for that region. But it’s one of those things, Ron, where we get sowing cognitive dissonance of understanding, like, how can you survive like that? But again, it’s like, well, “I feel this way. My mental health is reversed. My metabolic health is reversed.” You know, people reverse their type two diabetes, removing carbs and eating high protein. 

Natalie West: [00:33:03] But again, the sustainability comes from the fact when I get people into how they can actually produce how they feel, it’s very rare that they’ll jump out of it because if they do, they get the reaction. So I always teach people to listen to the feedback, but when you’re eating a high processed sugar-based diet, you don’t get feedback. 

All you get is chaotic thoughts, chaotic reactions in your body, inflammation and pain. So we’ve really stripped back to getting back to primal ancestral eating, then adding things back in that work for that person. But it’s also about getting that food freedom back.

And again, humans aren’t meant to eat eight times a day. Like, it just drives me mad when I see influence going, “Oh, you gotta have breakfast. Got to have a snack, and then you’ve got to have that to keep your metabolism up.” That’s just rubbish. It’s not true.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:34:06] Yeah. So you and your carnivore approach, how does the day look for you? Well, give us a typical day. You know, yesterday. What did you eat yesterday? 

Natalie West: [00:34:17] So. Well, this morning, it’s pretty much the same pretty much every day. So I’ll have about six eggs, scrambled eggs in the morning with butter. Sometimes I might throw some Danish feta on it. It really just depends on how I feel. I’ll have one coffee, and I put Myo-inositol in that which is an amino acid powder because coffee deletes in acetone out of your body. Then I will not eat now. Probably until I don’t know, two, three, four. It just depends on when I get that signal.

So the difference between eating, say, a carnivore-based or a high heavy-based protein diet, you really understand the signals of true hunger and when your body’s going ‘I need fuel now’ and so I’ll have maybe two chops of some ox heart, some steak. So I eat quite a lot. So I’ll eat between maybe 500 grams to a kilo of meat a day. 

But, you know, I’ll eat until I’m satiated, and then my brain just turns off. So if we look at those two few switch sources, so sugar turns on the brain to seek and hunt and keep you in that state of I need that to kind of function. Whereas fat turns it off, so it’ll turn it on to give you fuel to eat. Once you eat, you’re satiated, you just stop, and you can’t actually force any more food in. So with carbohydrates, you just keep going in. The signal doesn’t register. So then you allow a lady. 

You want to have a kind of siesta at 2:00 in the afternoon, and you kind of wonder why. So that’s pretty much it for me. And you know, I still weight train. Sometimes if I get back home after training and unlock, I’ll really listen to my intuition of what I want, and maybe I’ll have some sardines, and that’s about it. So it’s pretty much that every day same when I travel. No different. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:36:03] And you mentioned you have a child… One or two?

Natalie West: [00:36:09] Two.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:36:09] And how old are they?

Natalie West: [00:36:11] So my son is 16 and my daughter is 12.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:36:14] Right. And what would you say to them? I mean, you know, this is how your this our mum’s eating. Surely they rebel against that.

Natalie West: [00:36:23] Well, you know what? They’ve seen me for many, many years. I make sure that I don’t eat junk food, you know, and they have learnt by watching me. My daughter is probably more heavy protein-centric than my son. But, you know, I’ll sneak some liver into his meatballs when he doesn’t know just to make sure he gets the vitamins and minerals that he needs. 

But again, it’s just about them understanding their signals, and I’m happy for them. You know, my son’s 16, so when he goes out with his mates, he may have some KFC that’s full of seed oils, which, again, are very toxic. You know, he’ll come home and, you know, he’ll be in gut pain, and you’ll be in the toilet. And I’m like, “Well, mate, that’s your option, right?” 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:37:05] “Told you.”

Natalie West: [00:37:06] “Sorry. Mom told you.” Yeah. Yeah. So again, for him, it’s just going, yeah, okay, I get it. But my daughter is, is pretty much she’ll always choose protein first, and she’ll have, you know, some lettuce with some Tzatziki and cucumber and cheese and. Yeah, so, and it’s also good for her, you know, especially girls coming into puberty. Right. 

So also, again, you know, PMS symptoms, bloating, all of those things that we are told are normal. They’re not normal. Also, cravings aren’t normal either. They’re a sign that your body is nutritionally deficient.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:37:42] So yeah, well, I think we’ve also done some programmes where we’ve outlined some of the dangers of vegetables, you know like there oxalates, phytates, salicylates, fodmaps, lectins. I mean, vegetables are pretty darn dangerous things to be eating.

Natalie West: [00:37:59] They are. Well, it’s funny. I’ll take a little statement from an amazing colleague of mine, Dr Chaffee, like plants are trying to kill you.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:38:06] Well, they’re trying to protect themselves. 

Natalie West: [00:38:08] That’s correct. They’re not meant to be eaten, right?

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:38:10] Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Yeah. Self-Image is obviously a big part of your approach, and I think it should be a big part of everyone’s approach in life. Talk to us about Self-Image. I mean, there’s this saying about show me the, let’s say the person, not boy, but show me the person at seven and I’ll show you the adult. Tell us about self-image. You touched on it earlier. What influences it? How can we change it?

Natalie West: [00:38:37] Yeah. So basically, it’s about understanding that precognitive phase between the age of 0 to 7 and if I get to everyone to think about their head is a video camera. So you are recording everything through your emotional context at that age, which literally is guided by those people in authority. 

So the first people that you see also are your parents. That’s the first relationship that you view. So between 0 to 7, we cognitively absorb all of that and from an unconscious point, which is where we operate in a waking state of hypnosis 90% of the day.

Natalie West: [00:39:17] So if I use the analogy of your breathing is unconscious, thank goodness, because if we had to think to breathe, we’d all be dead. So it operates in an unconscious phase. However, also do your belief structures, your value systems and your unconscious self-image, which is developed and pretty much set by the time you are seven. 

So your view and your lens to the world about yourself have been given to you by your caregivers and your parents, which are also programmed in the same way from your grandparents. So that’s when you also hear family cycles of behaviours. Which again I 100% believe and have actually worked in this space for a long time to understand that can be disrupted. That does not have to continue.

Natalie West: [00:40:06] Now, again, being in a waking state of hypnosis literally means that you are unconscious and running generally on that self-important, conflicted self-image state. So what that means is if you get yourself and you look at yourself in the mirror, most people don’t do that because they don’t like what they see on the outside. However, consciously, what your mind is also designed to do is to protect you at all costs whether or not it serves you or not. So if you think about emotional content, that’s what you learn in a reactive state to either being a fight or flight response or not. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:40:48] Mm-hmm. 

Natalie West: [00:40:49] So when I get people to understand what their self-image is, I take them through a process that actually allows them to go back to the root cause, which actually shows them what is running their behaviour every day. Now, consciously, what you think your self-image looks like is not what your unconscious is running on. 

Okay. Again, values systems. Most people don’t even understand unconsciously what’s driving their behaviour. But what you hear is, “I’m really intelligent, but I keep doing the same things over and over and over again that I know aren’t good for me. Why do I keep doing it?” Well, the reason why you keep doing that is because you can talk about those things forever. 

But unless you bypass the analytical judgement part of your conscious and get into the unconscious programming of that 0 to 7, understand the value and the emotional content that that has been anchored with, nothing will ever change.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:41:52] Mm-hmm.

Natalie West: [00:41:54] So, again, relationship back to self. So self-image comes back to we are taught to validate externally through love, relationships, food, and exercise. You know, if I look a certain way, then I’ll be loved. So for, you know, all of the work that I do around teaching people what their self-image is and how it’s operating for them every single day is to get them back to a relationship with themselves, because that is one of the most important things that we need in our lives. 

Then that will also show up in a very different way externally. So I always say to people, you know, if you’ve had a series of relationships and they’re pretty much all the same, but they’re not good for you, why is that? It’s because the anchor of the relationship that you learnt between 0 to 7 is based on your parents.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:42:49] Hmm. So it’s interesting. You know, this naught to 7 periods is so important. And hey, listen, I got to tell you, you know, I’ve now got five grandchildren from the age of two days. Two days old…

Natalie West: [00:43:03] Wow. Congratulations!

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:43:04] Yes. Thank you. Two days old. Seven months old. Two years old. Three years old. Six years old. So here we are, a snapshot of the first seven years in one room sometimes. And it’s so interesting because, I mean, I guess we are in a state at that age, particularly the before four years old, of just total absorption of what is going on. And yet it’s so important how do we re-engage and observe a period in our lives where we may not have had very strong memory or any memory at all?

Natalie West: [00:43:42] Well, yeah, this is the thing, right? So when we talk about CBT Therapy, you know, that’s a story mode that we can continue. And, you know, that’s why we say to people, the work that I do will be like, we’re not going to go talk about the stories.

I’m not going to ask you what happened at two because he’s going to remember that. Right. Or I’m not even going to ask you what happened at 17 because it’s actually irrelevant. What is relevant is bypassing the story, getting to the programme that drives the value of the behaviour and that self-image.

Natalie West: [00:44:12] So, most people will have two neural pathways. Right. Between positive self-image, which rarely shows up. It’ll kind of try to creep its head out. Like when you go to do something new, and you’re like, “I can do this.” And you’re like, Yeah, and one part of you is going, Yep, yep, yep. But then the other neural pathway that you’ve developed in a very negative emotional content will always override it. So it’s about understanding how we conditioned ourselves. Every single day thoughts become things which then become energy. 

Natalie West: [00:44:44] So again, negative energy has a high emotional content. Now you would normally think, well, I know that’s not good for me, but why do I keep going down that path? Because your mind loves familiarity. It doesn’t want you out of unfamiliarity. It’s designed to protect you. Even in that familiarity, it may be harming you. But that’s the neural pathway that you developed based on a negative self-image because it feels comfortable. 

Consciously, you know, you want to change it. So again, if we use a baby analogy, right, the baby goes to walk, gets up, and falls down. The baby doesn’t go on the stop anymore. It just keeps developing the neural pathway. As an adult, it’s no different. But to shift from a very strong, negative and poor and conflicted self-image about oneself, which is generally always based on other people’s thoughts, feelings and reactions, and then that also runs your life. And that’s also true. 

It’s a cultural tribe thing, especially around food. You know, if you’re kind of training, wanting to heal yourself, and then all of a sudden someone says, “Oh, I have a piece of cake, it’s not going to kill you.” It’s about making sure that your self-image is really powerful, that, you know. “No, no, no. This is what works for me.”. 

Natalie West: [00:46:03] So when you start to shift from that, the energy that comes with building that new positive neural pathways is really small. So people are going to go, “Oh, that didn’t work.” Because you don’t have enough emotional content that you’ve built, so it’s about creating a gap in the space between conscious and unconscious and also getting people into consciousness because most people will operate in the past or the future. 

They’re never, ever conscious. And I always say to people, You will never, ever build anything in the future unless you learn to be conscious and be centred and be still and understand how this thing works. And how you can feel it.

Natalie West: [00:46:48] So with children, it’s literally about making sure. So you could have like siblings all in one house. Now it could be a series of events, right? But every single person is going to process that differently. They’re going to hear it differently, and they’re going to feel it differently. So that’s why there’s a lot of arguments sometimes in families where they’re like, that didn’t happen that way. Yes, it was. I was there. And it’s like, well, no one’s right or wrong. It’s just also the level of emotional content that that child has developed in the reaction. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:47:19] Hmm hmm hmm.

Natalie West: [00:47:21] So with kids, it’s just all about making sure. Like, I’m always an advocate of “Don’t have the TV on. Have some really beautiful music on in the background. Don’t have commercial radio.” Because they’re absorbing everything, and also too, you know, if there’s a little bit of a disagreement that you’re having, it’s always good to kind of remove yourself from, you know, kids that can see that because they can’t analytically filter out that what’s going on. Like they look angry. So they feel the energy.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:47:54] I guess the other big challenge in terms of dealing with self-image, particularly in our modern world, is the bombardment of alternate images or aspirational images. This is what you should or could be like. That must be a huge factor that you’re dealing with. What advice do you give to clients who are being… we’re all bombarded by that.

Natalie West: [00:48:21] We are. We are. And it comes back to also again, where does that come from in relation to external validation? So, you know, Instagram is probably one of the worst, but also to it’s educating the person on understanding what dopamine reaction that’s having. So, you know, most of our children and even adults, we’re living in a very dopamine, externally dominant life. 

So then also internally with hyper-processed foods and sugars are also living an internally dopamine dominant life. So our dopamine is just firing all day. And that’s why a lot of people then can’t have the ability to actually just sit and do nothing because their brain is like next, next, next, next. 

And in relation to visualisation, especially with women, when we’re looking at, you know, Instagram and what you should look like, this also just comes back to understanding where the root cause of that comes from. Why do you want to change yourself? And the client comes into my head. Yesterday I spoke to like, you know, her mum has a big diet or and had said to her, you know, “If you eat that, no boy is ever going to date you.” Wow.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:49:27] Right. So, yeah. Talk about external validation.

Natalie West: [00:49:32] Correct. So that simple statement has literally run her unconscious for most of her life. So, again, it’s about putting in spaces and gaps to get people into consciousness. So we’re calming down that dopamine filter effectively and really allowing people to choose. Right. So I’m like, well, if you choose that, be aware of what the outcome will be for you. 

But when you are operating either on a very high fight or flight response or a very negative self-image, we’ve got to kind of lower that first, shift that, get their self-respect up, their self-value. And also too, Ron, as a child we’re not taught how to love ourselves unconditionally. 

You know, we are conditionally loved most of the time. It’s like you if you do that, you’ll get this. If you be a good boy or a good girl, you’ll get this. So again, food is also used very early on as traits, you know, like a reward system. Bad. Don’t use food or treats or chocolate as a reward because that’s a very, very slippery slope for people.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:50:40] Mm hmm. So, listen, if we were going to leave our listener with, you know, to hear are some ideas, okay? We’ve established self-image is important. We’ve established it’s challenging and being challenged all the time. What are three or four hints or steps, or tips that you would give a person to improve their self-image?

Natalie West: [00:51:00] So what I’d love people to kind of think about is really the power of their mind in their brain and how we condition it without being really aware. So one thing I’d love people to kind of start tuning into is when you go into bed, when you lie down, I want you to think about what thoughts, feelings and reactions are going on in your mind and your body. Pay really good attention to the fact where you are. 

Now, most of the time people will go to sleep in the past, which is literally from the day early or the day before or the week before and then negative. And they’ve had a bad argument or something happened with a customer. You’re actually not conscious. You’re actually programming yourself to stay in the past, okay, because hey, guess what? It’s familiar, even though it’s not great. 

Natalie West: [00:51:52] So you’ll go to bed with a cortisol-raised response because you’ll be stressed, and you won’t sleep well. Then you wake up in the morning and I want people to think about the first thought that they have. Where are they? Is it still attached to the thing that they were looking at the night before?

Or again, are they then anxious about what’s going to happen today? What I’d love people to do in between those gaps is say the words: “End now.” What that does do? It brings you back into direct consciousness. 

Natalie West: [00:52:25] So when people start mind starts wandering away, and they start negative talking, and they start building themselves up. You are either in the past or the future, okay? You oscillate between the two. What I’d love people to do is to be able to redirect themselves back to consciousness and say, “End now.” Now, even when you say that, you can’t go anywhere. It’s literally like a blank slate. 

So what we’re doing is creating a gap in a space in between where you’ve been to where you need to be. So clients will use it all day, every day, because it’s retraining that neural pathway instead of staying on the same track and the same data that we’re so used to, that even though it’s not good for us, it allows us to redirect back to consciousness. It’s very powerful. It sounds very simple. 

Natalie West: [00:53:17] But again, the other amazing little tool that people can do is use that also in stillness. So if you’re sitting still for a minute or two, it’s going to sound quite easy, but it’s actually not when you do it because people automatically will go, oh, I can’t sit still because we can’t sit with ourselves, right? Because we’re so consumed by what’s going on. 

So if you sit in stillness, just breathe. It’s just concentrating on your breath in consciousness. Until then, your brain or your body kicks in and tries to either move you or you start to get attached to the thoughts. It’s about disconnecting from the thoughts and pushing them outside your head. It’s like you’re watching them. It’s like waves. You’re just watching them. We don’t need to grab on to them. We just need to watch them. Now, if we get lost in that, we then again say and now bring back to direction, breathe and do that process until you get to the point where you can sit there for ten or 15 minutes. Blank.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:54:21] Hmm.

Natalie West: [00:54:23] So that’s a really good process for people to start becoming very conscious and being present because you cannot build anything or change anything unless you understand the consciousness.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:54:36] Hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm. Yes. Well, the power of the brain and being present. It’s interesting because what we’ve covered here today is, you know, the two brains, and we’ve dealt with the first brain first, which I think is a really powerful and strong message and alerting us to the importance still the importance of the second brain, and it needs attention.

Natalie, thank you so much for joining us today and sharing that with us. And it’s raised so many issues there that we’ve covered in various forms on this podcast. But this is tied together really nicely with mental health and so many of the challenges. So thank you so much. 

Natalie West: [00:55:19] Thank you. And I just really want to just leave one more thing with people is to understand, you know, mental health and physical health are all contributed to our first brain. So don’t discount the fact that if you are unaware of what you’ve not been told. Start exploring it for yourself because it’s very, very powerful. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:55:41] That is such an important message to end on. Thank you so much. 

Natalie West: [00:55:45] No worries. Thank you.


Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:55:48] Obviously, self-image is an important part of all of our lives. And interesting that those nought to seven years so critical in forming that self-image. And yet those years are often years that we have very little memory of. And, you know, the impact of our early years on our lives is not an easy thing to reflect on, but it’s obviously an important one. But also having the resilience to do that kind of critical reflection with some strength. 

And that’s why how well you sleep is obviously a very big part of that. If you do not have the physical or mental energy to reflect in an objective way and feel strongly about what you may find, it’s very difficult if you’re not sleeping well. But, you know, it’s often said you are what you eat, and the impact of nutrition on our mental health is profound. 

I mean, as Natalie correctly said, the gut is the first brain. And this was the observation that Dr Pran Yoganathan made, who’s an integrative gastroenterologist, who we interviewed some time ago, a few months ago last year. And when I asked him if the gut was the second brain, he begged to differ and said, “No, it’s actually the first brain.” And he went on to explain why that is so. And I agreed with him, and I agree with Natalie in her assessment of this.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:57:23] And, you know, when we were looking at other episodes, like with Professor Julia Rucklidge, about The Better Brain and the importance of nutrients, in that it seems like we again are coming back to a very holistic view of how to take control of our health and be the best we can be. And things don’t have to be complicated. They don’t have to even be expensive. 

I mean, sleep is one of the cheapest things you do, and yet it has the most profound impact on you. Well, what you put in your mouth is also critically important and a worthwhile investment. If we are as it’s true what we eat, then it makes sense to take care about what that is. So we will have links, of course, to Natalie’s site, and to might even have links to Paul Saladino’s book on The Carnivore Diet because I think it’s a really excellent book. 

And I’m going to try and get Dr Paul Saladino onto the programme to discuss The Carnivore Diet in much more detail. Anyway, 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. 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.