Food is critical to life. Just like oxygen and water, it sustains us, gives us energy, and keeps our bodies moving. But how do you choose the right food for a healthy diet ? Over the years, we've discovered that there are many factors to consider.
In this episode, Simon Hill shares his knowledge on the importance of having a healthy diet. He goes into the science of the microbiome, which keeps the body systems healthy. In particular, he shares his research on plants and their importance in food for a healthy diet. Simon shows how plants can help a person stay healthy: from reducing the risk for developing diseases to slowing down aging.
Your health is in your control. If you want to know how to eat healthier, listen to Simon's discussion on microbiomes and plants as food for a healthy diet.
Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:
- Find out how you can introduce fiber-rich plants to your food for a healthy diet.
- Discover the mechanisms of the gut and how keeping it healthy is beneficial to you.
- Learn about how eating plants can be the key to reducing diseases and p health.
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About Simon Hill
- Simon lives near the beach in Bondi, Sydney.
- Australia may seem scary and dangerous. But most of the dangers are overhyped.
- Simon's partner, Tanya, also fears shark attacks despite their low probability of appearance.
The Beginnings of Simon’s Journey
- Simon’s father was a professor. So, Simon grew up with a passion for science and scientific research.
- At 15 years old, he almost lost his father to a severe heart attack. It turns out that Simon’s family has a history of cardiovascular disease.
- This experience and a lack of knowledge made him feel disempowered. He felt like cardiovascular disease is determined solely by genetics.
- Later on, Simon learned that lifestyle and environment play a more significant factor than genetics when looking at chronic diseases.
How Food Environments Affect Nutrition
- Most people’s food choices are dictated by their food environment.
- Malnutrition and food scarcity are a burden for many developing countries. As these countries develop, you can see a noticeable increase in obesity and diabetes.
- Transnational food companies prioritize profits over health. They market ultra-processed foods towards the impressionable parts of society.
- The government, then, must regulate the food market for a healthier society.
- Convenience, cost, taste, and education also affect how people manage their diets. Education is most important in learning how to eat healthily.
Food for a Healthy Diet
- The labels on commercially-available foods do not define food for a healthy diet.
- Different studies show that healthy diets follow a consistent theme regarding how much fat, fiber, and protein a person should consume.
- Various diets can reach this consistent theme and deliver optimal health.
- Plants can replace animal products and processed food for a healthy diet.
- Tune in to the full episode to hear about the health benefits of swapping calories from animal protein to plant protein!
The Gut Microbiome
- There are trillions of microbes that live within the body.
- A diversity in microbes is a sign of a healthy microbiome. It promotes a higher number of healthy bacteria and a more resilient ecosystem.
- A diet rich in fiber can promote a healthy microbiome, because the soluble component of fiber is a prebiotic and serves as food for good bacteria.
- In turn, these good bacteria produce different types of metabolites that affect the body. For example, short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate keep your gut lining intact.
- Alternatively, you’re at risk for a leaky gut if your microbiome is not diverse.
On Prebiotics vs. Probiotics
- Probiotics are live bacteria that have beneficial effects on their host. However, the bacteria and their effects are transient.
- It’s much better to focus on having a diverse fiber-rich diet first before looking into consuming probiotic supplements.
- Prebiotic substances are already in your gut. Having a good amount of them ensures that your digestive system is producing metabolites.
- Increasing your fiber intake isn’t automatically beneficial. If your gut microbiome is on the weaker side, suddenly increasing your fiber intake may cause inflammation.
- Simon recommends introducing fermented foods first to increase your microbiome diversity. Then, look at gradually increasing your fiber intake.
Dairy vs. Non-Dairy Products
- Debates surrounding dairy consumption are far more nuanced than what we think.
- The media often chooses engagement and popularity over a detailed, contextual discussion.
- Dairy isn’t an essential food group. However, there’s no problem with having a little dairy in your diet.
- Typical Western diets consume dairy products that are very high in saturated fats. In this case, it’s best to cut back on consumption.
- If you’re able to, consider the ecological footprint that comes with dairy consumption. Simon believes that this is the strongest argument to reduce or avoid dairy products.
Low-Fat vs. Full Fat
- Simon recommends low-fat when you have high levels of saturated fats.
- It’s also best to ensure that the low-fat option you’re choosing is not processed, flavored, or sweetened.
On Planetary Health
- The world as we know it is on the verge of the sixth mass extinction.
- Currently, the species extinction rate is 165 times faster than during the end of dinosaurs.
- This rapid extinction rate is a result of humanity's choices and living our lives.
How Simon Feels Radically Loved
- Simon feels radically loved by the relationships and connections he has cultivated throughout his life.
- Nature is also something that he greatly values. It deserves respect and love.
- The environmental problems we see around us are reflective of our relationships with each other. If we can learn to be loving and compassionate, we can solve climate change.
5 Powerful Quotes from This Episode
[19:40] “Most people’s food choices are dictated by the food environment… The system’s broken in many ways.”
[25:44] “We see pretty consistently across the board when you are swapping calories from animal protein for plant protein, you're getting better health outcomes: lower risk of heart attack, stroke, lower risk of certain types of cancer, etcetera.”
[29:14] “The problem is, today, we're seeing a lot of people with various conditions lose the diversity in their microbiome. And in many ways, it's a micro sort of mirror of what's happening on a macro level; we're losing biodiversity on the outside world as well at the same time.”
[41:58] “You really need to listen to your body. If you're increasing the plant diversity in your diet, and you're noticing that perhaps you are feeling bloated or feeling like you have less energy, then it might be that you're dialing it up too quickly.”
[51:28] “Compared to the mass extinction that wiped out dinosaurs 65 million years ago, we are seeing species extinction at a rate of 165 times faster. And that is absolutely a result of the way that we’re living our lives.”
Simon Hill is a physiotherapist and nutritionist. He aims to make nutritional education understandable and available to the public. Having realized the importance of lifestyle in health, he encourages everyone to make informed decisions about picking food for a healthy diet.
Initially a physiotherapist, Simon developed an interest in nutrition as he delved into research on its impact on health. Now, he is the host of the podcast Plant Proof. Here, he gives a platform for world-renowned doctors, nutritionists, and experts to share their knowledge and advice with the public.
His rich experience and knowledge have also led him to write his new book, The Proof is in the Plants.
Curious about Simon and his passion for nutrition? You can learn more on his website.