Busting nutrition myths with Zoe Harcombe PhD
Transcript transcribed using AI transcription services; errors may occur. Contact Mikki for clarification.
Welcome, hi, I'm Mikki and this is Mikkipedia, where I sit down and chat to doctors, professors, athletes, practitioners and experts in their fields related to health, nutrition, fitness and wellbeing and I'm delighted that you're here.
Hey everyone, it's Mikki here. You're listening to Mikkipedia, and this week on the podcast, I speak to renowned nutritionist Zoe Harcombe, PhD, about navigating nutrition advice when up against the dietary guidelines. Zoe and I had a really great chat about how Zoe got into nutrition after beginning her career in the corporate world, and then taking on a PhD when she realized how far removed the dietary guidelines were from actual.
evidence base that was supposed to inform them. And this has led to Zoe's role now over the last two decades as a science communicator, helping people understand the clickbait nutrition headlines to get a better handle on what is true and known. And Zoe and I then discuss how important it is to evaluate what we are told in a range of areas related to public health, including, unsurprisingly, the pandemic.
Zoe describes her take on that situation. Ultimately, whether you agree with Zoe or not, Zoe is an advocate for helping people think for themselves, and that comes across strong in this podcast with her. It was such a great conversation, I really enjoyed it. Dr Zoe Harcom is a Cambridge University graduate with a BA and MA in Economics and Maths and
enjoyed a successful career in blue chip organizations before leaving corporate life in 2008 to pursue her passion. Her early career involved international roles in management consultancy, manufacturing and marketing global organizations from FMCG to telecoms before specializing in personnel and organization. Having written three books between 2004 and 2007 while being Head of People, Zoe left employment to research obesity full time.
This culminated in the publication in 2010 of the obesity epidemic. What caused it? How can we stop it? Zoe returned to full-time education in 2012 to complete a PhD in public health nutrition, which was awarded in March 2016, and her thesis was entitled An examination of the randomized controlled trial and epidemiological evidence for the introduction of dietary fat recommendations.
in 1977 and 1983, a systematic review and meta-analysis, and a number of peer-reviewed articles and a lot of media headlines have emanated from Zoe's work. This is such kudos to it. The first paper was actually one of the most impactful papers in any discipline in 2015 when it was published. So
Zoe is a wealth of information when it comes to nutrition. She has an incredibly informative website that you can subscribe to, which dives into the details in studies that are often ignored by media headlines. It's actually super reasonable to sign up, I'm a member of it. And it just helps us sort between what is actually a headline and what is hype. Which I think in today's sort of access of information, this is such a valuable resource.
I'll put a link to where you can find Zoe, which is her website, www.zoeharcombe.com that'll be in the show notes. And just before we crack on into the interview I'd just like to remind you that the best way to support the podcast is to hit the subscribe button on your favourite podcast listening platform. This increases the visibility of the podcast out there in amongst literally thousands of other podcasts, so more people get the opportunity to learn.
from guests that I have on the show like Zoe. All right, team, hope you enjoy this one. Zoe, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me this afternoon, your afternoon. You're one of my favorite Mythbusters in the nutrition space and I just love your newsletter every single week that sort of offers up one of these sort of truisms and we're like, and then you go on and dismantle it.
for us all, which I, you know, as a nutritionist and as someone who likes to communicate information to people, I just find it so helpful. How did you get into nutrition? Because this wasn't the start of your career, was it? Can you sort of chat us through your background with that? Yeah, sure. I mean, I could do a long version or I'll try to do a short version. First interest in anything nutritional was my brother being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
When he was a teenager, I was a couple of years younger, and the family diet, as you can imagine, changed overnight. Back then, the advice was not too bad. It was, you're gonna need to drop the carbohydrates and the starchy teas, and it's sort of more meat and too veg for you. But he was right on the cusp being diagnosed of the guidelines changing in the UK in sort of 83. So...
It was almost his next diabetes appointment was, no, no, no, we got it all wrong. You're all going to get heart disease if that happens. So we need to make sure you're avoiding fat. And of course, if you avoid fat, you automatically eat more carbohydrates. So that was the first interest. And then when I went up to Cambridge University, when I grew up, it was kind of, everyone only knew one overweight person in their class at school. And if you say to my peer group,
who was the overweight person in your class at school, you can name the person. I won't name my person, but I could name my person. It was that rare. And I was up at Cambridge in the late 80s and obesity was really starting to take off. I mean, obesity rates in the UK had been about 2.7% in 1972. By the end of last century, there were 22.6% for men, 25.8% for women. So that was almost a tenfold increase.
in a period of 25 to 30 years. So it was extraordinary. And it was kind of just there and it was really interesting. But I then left Cambridge, did a normal career, worked in management consultancy, I was really fortunate my career took me all over the world, many different disciplines, marketing, sales, finance, manufacturing, different industries, blue chip organizations, brilliant training, and then ended up in human resources. So that's sort of where my career settled down.
and I ended up as vice president, human resources, sort of Europe, Middle East and Africa, really sort of big jobs, loads of traveling, really interesting, really rewarding. But about 2008, you probably remember there was this massive financial crash and the organization that I was in at the time, as with many other organizations, it was much easier to get rid of some senior paid people than it was lesser paid people kind of thing. So our management team, there were a number of people who left the organization.
with a nice little starter fund basically and I decided to do the same. So we gave it a couple of years, Hubby and I said if we can turn what we really are interested in into a business model then we'll keep it going and that was 2009 start of and here we are 2023. I don't earn what I did when I was in global HR but I'm a lot happier.
I work for me, I don't have to worry about anyone else. I didn't have to go through all that COVID nonsense working for someone in an organization, because goodness knows how that would have been. Work at home, don't work at home, wear a mask, don't wear a mask, get jibby-jabbed, all the rest of it. I mean, it didn't happen with us. We were our own people. So, started off, I mean, I'd written a diet book while I was still an HR director. Oh, so they told you? And that was called...
Yeah, 2004 was my first diet book, actually. It was called, Why Do You Ever Eat When All You Want Is To Be Slim? And from this early interest in obesity, I've become fascinated by that question, basically. Why do people find themselves eating muffins or cakes or biscuits or whatever when they don't want to be? They want to be slim, but they just, you know, if it's as easy as eat less, do more, then we would all do it. There's something going wrong here.
So that became a sort of fascination and in one of my earliest jobs, post Cambridge, I was posted over in the US and I was working about a hundred, I was putting in time sheets of a hundred hours a week. It was insane. But when I did get any time off, I didn't know anyone over there. Everyone who was getting time off would go back and see their family and try to remember what they looked like. And I would end up in a bookshop and the bookshops over there then were just sensational. They had this Starbucks in them.
and they encouraged you to get a coffee, settle in for the evening, and just read some of the books. And then it was like a library, and then buy them or put them back on the shelf. Yeah, yeah. So I would pick up these books, things like hyperglycemia, yeast syndrome, Candida orbicans, that was the first foray into sort of gut flora, which is huge now, and food intolerance. And then looking at passages within these books about food cravings, overeating.
And just sort of piecing stuff together then, physical reasons why we overeat, because it's not all emotional, and emotional reasons as well. So that was my first book. So were you yourself slim at the time? Like have you ever sort of gone down that trajectory of sort of gaining too much weight and came from some sort of personal interest in your own behaviour? Or was it really just observing the people around you?
Yeah, no, no, no. I mean, very much interesting. You know, I say there's a long version and there's a short version. No, no, I love it. It's great. I'm trying to give you the skeleton version. Yeah, soon after my brother was diagnosed, when I was a teenager, I think it often happens to teenagers, particularly girls, you get one comment. I was really sporty. So, I mean, you can see I'm pretty muscly. So I was really sporty at the time. I was doing rounders and tennis and athletics and this.
sort of 16 and a couple of comments and you think, oh, you know, I need to knock that on the head. So I remember going down to a bookshop, you know, how do you do this? And finding a book about calorie counting and I read it and I believed it. You know, now it's the kind of thing that I tear apart. But at the time it said, create a deficit of three and a half thousand calories and you will lose one pound of fat. I mean, it was as black and white as that.
you look very much like your mother, and my mother was slightly overweight. And then mum and I went on diets. And in fact, Rosemary Connolly, I imagine you're familiar with Rosemary Connolly's hip and thigh diet. Bloody love that book. It was my savior in my teenage years. So no, I appreciate what you're talking about there. Yeah, so yeah, I mean, it doesn't work. And you know, I say at conferences, I'm a hundred and...
I mean, I'm not now, I'm probably about, I don't know, 106 pounds or something. I mean, you know, make the maths easy. So I'm quite sure 100 pounds. Um, if I were to go on a calorie controlled diet now and cut back by a thousand calories a day, I'm supposed to lose 104 pounds over the next year. So I'm, you know, I'm, I'm nothing. And people laugh when you say that at conferences, but it's like, don't laugh. Understand the fallacy of this myth that is being.
Every Monday, today's a Monday, every Monday people start a diet thinking if I can cut back by that amount I'm going to lose two pounds over the next week and it's the cruelest lie we've ever told people. Yes. And is this what your diet book, your initial diet book talked about? Was it much more, I mean suppose as an HR sort of expert, were you, like did you delve more into sort of the why, I mean why people overeat? Like yeah, yeah. How did that?
How, from a business model, how did that first book go? It went surprisingly well. I had a small publisher that I'd found. I'd even put my email address in the first book because I thought, oh, you know, not too many people are gonna get in touch. And then people did start getting in touch. And then I was able to use those sort of anecdotes for future books or whatever. But no, it was very personally inspired. I couldn't understand why.
really intelligent person, got willpower, got discipline, sports person, just could not understand why I was craving certain things. I wasn't craving salmon and green beans. And as I say, these conditions that I researched when I was over in the US really opened me up to the idea that there are physical reasons for us overeating. And I still absolutely truly believe this today. So when I see people trying to stick to health eating and failing, I just want to say to them, read up on some of the stuff.
that I've looked into, because I've kind of done it so that you don't have to. And go through the questionnaires, and I guarantee you will have at least one of those conditions, if not all three. And if you've gone on a calorie controlled diet at any point in your life, you have basically laid the groundwork to get those three conditions. So go on a calorie controlled diet, and get those three conditions, turn into a food addict, and then you're in this vicious circle of trying to exercise willpower to just overcome the overeating. But until you...
can address the physical and emotional reasons for overeating. You won't get anywhere, and particularly the physical reasons. Yes, it's so interesting. I was listening to someone on a podcast the other day and they were talking about the National Weight Registry. I believe that's what it is in the US. And their statistics show the difference between over the sort of 20 years span of the weight of people who have gone on a diet almost every year versus those people who haven't.
And the outcome is that the people who have gone on a diet every year are actually heavier at the end of that 20 year period than the people who just naturally gain one to two pounds every year, which to me is remarkable. And I'm not suggesting that gaining 20 pounds is a good thing over a 20 year period for most people, but the fact that those people who really tried to dial that in and failed really does say something. Yeah, because every time you go on a calorie controlled diet, you're going to lose lean
So you're actually losing your body's natural metabolism and ability to burn fat on an ongoing basis. So when I used to talk to people about their weight problems, because it would help with my research, the most common thing that people ever said was, I wasn't too overweight, but I went on a calorie reduced diet, lost some, regained it and a bit more. And then went on another one, lost some, regained it and a bit more. And they are just getting heavier and heavier with successive diets. They're laying the groundwork for these conditions.
developing food cravings, they're restricting what they eat so they start eating the same things every day. Dieters have such a typical eating pattern because the whole time you're trying to get the biggest bang for the buck and there is a right answer to the biggest bang for the buck. So you don't have the salmon steak because for the equivalent of the salmon steak you can have four rice cakes, two Granny Smith apples, a packet of fruit gums and four of something else that's 25 calories or something.
So you don't do that. You're always, and it's always then carbohydrates, low fat, high carb. Um, and it's not even that high in protein because when you say, Oh, you're a skinless chicken breast, that would be better than four rice cakes. It's like, yeah, but I fancy the four rice cakes and they last longer. And, um, you're just drawn to carbs as a diet. Yeah. And do you know, it's, it's, this is. Tendent, but related, you know, here in New Zealand.
and I'm not sure what it's like in the UK, but there is like, our last nutrition survey was conducted 2008, 2009, right? So, I mean, clearly no one here really cares about what we eat or really that knowledge, although you get a lot of people sort of suggesting that we eat far too much dietary protein, you know, and it's not, and it's not that we, and often what people say is that, you know, oh no, we get adequate protein. It's just the way that we eat it is skewed, which one, I agree,
people definitely, with that last point that, you know, people often eat too little in the dietary protein after breakfast and lunch, and then the majority of their protein is at night. But they certainly don't eat too much dietary protein. And often what, and how I've sort of thought about it is that people continue to compare this out-of-date information, because we don't know what people are eating these days, really, if that's the sort of landscape of nutrition, knowledge into that.
nationwide or sort of national knowledge, but the guidelines that they're comparing against are just woefully low. And it just surprises me every single time when you hear authorities in the field say, oh, no, we eat enough protein, you know, which is I know you haven't discussed it, but obviously this comes into that high fat carb sort of equation a bit as well. It's interesting. Anyway, sorry, Zoe, continue, continue with your story. I'm interested.
Yeah, first book, 2004. I was still an HR director and then my publisher wanted me to write another book because the first one had gone better than she'd hoped for. Recipe book because everybody always wants recipes. It's like how many recipes can you have sat on your shelf that you never actually make but whatever. Recipe book and then got this opportunity to leave. And the first business model was people started calling it the Harkham Diet which is my married name.
So the first book was just called Why Do You Over-Eat? And then the second book was actually called Stop Counting Calories and Start Losing Weight. And I think it had the Harcum Diet on the cover somewhere trying to recognise that that's what people were calling it. So we kind of set up a Harcum Diet Club online because we realised there were a lot of people over on Facebook and I hate Facebook. And you can't follow any threads and I could never find my way around to help them. Andy was saying, oh, there's someone asking for a bit of help. And of course you go back into Facebook and...
you've got no chance of finding who it was and what help did they want. So we set up a forum and we were one of the earliest into the subscription model. And we had various levels of subscription, including we started off with a free level and then we realized you just get inundated with spammers that can get into the club and you're forever trying to moderate, hey, buy my diet pills here kind of thing. So we had to go for a sort of minimum of a pound a month just to get people to
put a credit card in and then you know it's not just sort of a bot trying to spam sites on the internet. And then when I did my PhD, which was 2012 to 2016, I'd been writing a newsletter since 2009 and it sort of became known as the Monday Note and it's this thing that you said where I take an article and dissect it and I look back at some of the early ones and they sort of tend to be shorter, less referenced.
than they are now. So it was the start of a critique, but not sort of at the level I do now. And then of course, going through with the rigor of the PhD and as you know, having done one, the references and not cherry picking, going for systematic review the whole time, not, oh, here's a study and here's a study, but let's look at a topic and then let's look at every single study and let's say if we're looking at trials and let's say if we're looking at epidemiological studies and let's be really clear what we're.
putting together and make sure we leave nothing out, and then use techniques like meta-analysis to look at the totality of the evidence. It just became a lot more rigorous. And the Monday note became sort of a lot more rigorous, a lot more technical. And we found that we had IBEAT conferences and we'd have doctors and less so dieticians, because as you know, they follow the standard advice, but nutritionists, holistic therapists, academics.
who liked what I was doing, but were not gonna join a diet club. So I had my Zoe Harkham site that was going on in parallel to the club. So we put a subscription model on that one as well. That's now bigger than the diet club. So there are more people interested in just getting the newsletter and the members can email me saying, "'Can you look at this study?' Which is great, because I don't even have to go looking for studies anymore. All I have to do is just...
make sure that they're not too samey. So if I get one in on, I don't know, the Biobank study diet and dementia and then next week Biobank study diet and cancer, it's like no, I'm going to get bored doing those back to back. So we're either only doing one or we're doing them six months apart or something. So I'll really try to mix up the health condition, whether it's a trial, epidemiological study, just to make sure that I'm interested as much as anyone else. Yeah, for sure.
And that's kind of where we are now. That's what I do. Yeah. So Zoe, and your PhD looked particularly at saturated fat and the epidemiological evidence for it. And I think even though a lot of people are now aware of sort of the issues in and around the dietary guidelines around that, and I certainly don't expect you to give me your entire thesis, but can you give us the cliff notes?
on that in that particular topic. And also how was it received? I think that's really interesting. Okay. It was, I mean, it didn't just look at epidemiological evidence, it looked at randomized control trial evidence. So the research question was essentially to say the dietary guidelines that were introduced, there were two very particular ones. One was thou shalt have no more than 30% of thou's calories in the form of total fat.
and then thou shall have no more than 10% of your calories in the form of saturated fat. So those were the two guidelines that were introduced, first in the US around 1977, then embedded in the 1980 dietary guidelines for Americans and then they came to the UK in 1983. I don't know exactly when they came to New Zealand and Australia, but it would have been sometime in the 80s, probably before the mid 80s, because everybody just followed the US and they were all done in the name of heart disease. So the...
was if you ate fat, you were going to die from heart disease. And because I'd seen the obesity epidemic take off at about the time we changed our dietary guidelines, that's why I became interested in the dietary guidelines because my sort of secondary hypothesis was changing the dietary guidelines has caused this sort of tenfold increase in obesity. It's a hypothesis anyway that's worth
step back question was, why did we change the dietary guidelines and was it the case that we changed them for very good reason and perhaps we might have saved X lives from heart disease, but actually there's been a side effect of increase in obesity. So I just kind of wanted to look at the whole thing. So I did this systematic review and I guess there are a couple of really novel things about the PhD. One was asking the question in the first place because everyone had just accepted.
these dietary guidelines were introduced and nobody seemed to have gone back and said yes, but were they evidence-based? I went back to the original American publications, the British publications, really dry documents, hundreds of pages long, looking at the actual trials that they relied upon, all the studies that they referenced. That was quite interesting. That was all in the background literature to the PhD. Then I did this technique of systematic review.
And I did it in two ways, which was the second novel part of the PhD. So I said, right, let's imagine we're the committee, you and me, at the time of the dietary guidelines coming in, and we could look at all the RCT evidence, randomized control trial, and we can separately look at all the epidemiological evidence, would we have come to the conclusion that we need to introduce those two dietary guidelines? And then the second part was, okay, but we're not in 1977 and 1983.
We're now in 2016, that was coming towards the end of my PhD. What does the evidence say now? Because maybe the evidence was there then, and it's not now, or maybe it wasn't there then, and it is now. And all four parts of the PhD, so RCT evidence then, epidemiological evidence then, RCT now, epidemiological now, all came to the same conclusion, which was there was no evidence whatsoever for the introduction of either guideline. There has never, ever, ever, ever,
been any evidence against total fat. None of those trials, and certainly not pulled together in meta-analysis, total fat was never an issue. Saturated fat, and the final part of my PhD, you've gotta put your own research in context. So the final part says don't take my word for it, I've just spent four years doing nothing other than looking at this. But look at all the other research teams that have looked at this, and there are, I don't know, seven or eight research teams, and
Let's say one of my papers would have two findings. So it would look at coronary heart disease and total fat or saturated fat and coronary heart disease or all cause mortality. So one study can have four findings, eight findings. You can have a number of different findings. So across all the research teams, there were 40 findings and only two of them claimed anything against saturated fat. So we're all in agreement pretty much.
and the two that claimed something for saturated fat were the same team, so it was basically they found something and then just updated the same result, and they said, oh, we found an association between CVD events and saturated fat. It's like they found nothing for mortality, for CHD, events, for, just nothing. There were like eight things they didn't find anything for, and then they found this one thing.
And then if you looked on about page 87 of this massive report, they did a sensitivity test on their own finding and found it ceased to hold for the studies that did actually change saturated fat as opposed to the studies that said they were going to do that and Trudy Deakin, a fellow researcher of mine, was the one who spotted that one so I always make sure to credit her. So there's just nothing. There's just nothing. And the average person has no idea of that fact. They are utterly convinced that...
there is overwhelming evidence that we should limit our fat intake and particularly limit our saturated fat intake and there is no evidence whatsoever. Zoe, your advisors, your PhD supervisors, were they, did you bring that topic to them? I'm just sort of interested, were they already in this space of, hey, something's amiss here and I'm so pleased that you're, you know, wanting to study it? Like, were they, obviously you had support of them, but are they in the same camp as you?
Don't assume that. Don't assume that at all. No. My, I mean, I don't know how many viewers you've got of this, but my biggest battle for my PhD was my PhD team. Oh, bloody hell. Yeah. They weren't interested in this. My PhD came about by a really interesting route. A professor at a local university had written an article about, he was an exercise physiologist and a cardiologist.
And he'd written an article saying obesity is basically the fact that we're just not moving as much as we used to. Childhood obesity, babies, children just not exercising in the way that they should. And if only they would exercise, we wouldn't have an obesity problem. And he had his name and he had his university. And I don't do this now. I mean, I just haven't got time. But back then, I quite like to sort of write into people and say, hey, have you thought about this kind of thing?
And this guy wrote back and said, come meet me for coffee. So I met this guy in Cardiff. He was kind of approaching retirement, but what I didn't realize was he absolutely loved the debate that he'd had throughout his whole career with his students. So he liked nothing better than what you and I would call a good old fashioned row. And I'm not a rower at all. I'm a...
I don't go picking fights in any circumstances for the sake of it, but I just thought this is an interesting debate. We would sit in a coffee shop in Cardiff and chew the fat lolls over everything. He was in a completely different place than I was. I'm like, no, I think obesity is about what you put in your mouth. He moved a lot, and I moved a lot as well. We really learned from each other. Then he kept saying, oh, you've got to do a PhD, you've got to do a PhD. It's like, yeah, but...
you know, time and all the rest of it. And then we started, I was massively interested in the Seven Countries study, which was one of the epidemiological studies that seemed to suggest some kind of association between fat and heart disease. But even at the end of it, Keyes could not find anything on total fat. He thought there was something with saturated fat, but then his idea of saturated fat was ice cream and cake. So it's like you're mixing up your, everyone can, nobody has a clue what saturated fat is. So, you know, we can do that in a minute.
I'll just finish the Bruce story. So Bruce became a really good friend. And then he was saying, I really want you to do a PhD. A lot of my team have gone up to a different university, but I can get you enrolled there. I can be your local supervisor. You know, so I was enrolled somewhere in Scotland. I think I went up there half a dozen times in three years kind of thing. Most of it was done remotely. And, but for Bruce, I wouldn't have a PhD.
And I won't name names, but one particular person up at Scotland as well, thank you, you know, got me through the, got me to the finishing line. But particularly, so the first paper went nuts. So if you look at my very first paper around February 2015, it just went nuts. For some reason, it captured the attention. It was in the New Zealand Herald. It was in the Sydney Morning Whatever.
I was on TV that day, radio, it was in Time magazine, I mean it just went nuts. And I think it was because a lot of columnists latched onto it. There was one really well-known columnist in the UK called Janet Street Porter and she did this column saying, do you mean to tell me that I've been avoiding butter and bacon for the last 30 years and I shouldn't have been? There was no evidence whatsoever. And it just really kind of annoyed people that
that there was no evidence for this mandate that we'd had for so long. So it went nuts. And from that point on, life became quite difficult for me. And I remember saying to a colleague of mine who thinks very similarly to how I do and you do and Karen and so on, what's going on here? And he just said, they've been got to. Someone has got in contact with the university and said, what the heck are you churning out up here?
This is government dietary guidelines. You can't go having some individual challenge in all of this on some kind of global scale. You know, this has to be stopped kind of thing. And from that point on, the biggest challenge I faced was trying to get the next paper out with, you know, you'll see that names change on my papers over the course of the PhD. And the very final one, I just, I wrote and everyone was like, oh, you know, you should put everyone's name on it in the department. And it's like,
I won't say a rude word, but it was kind of like, I'm sorry. If you'd have helped, yeah, but you haven't even been neutral. So no, you can swing for it. This is going in my name. Yeah, Zoe, as you know, when I think, I mean, I find that fascinating and unsurprising. I had obviously an idea of some of the challenges that you've faced sort of in your journey, but when people hear that, like,
someone's got to them. Like that's a um, people are often not, I'm surprised isn't the right word, like almost disbelieving, like disbelieving that there is that ability or people have um, people don't believe stuff like that. People feel like it's a conspiracy, almost that conspiracy theory mindset, oh you're no longer supporting me because someone's got to you. Um, however,
If you look at not just you, but other people in your position where you are challenging that narrative, this is often the story that people hear, but we almost don't want to believe that these voices of authority would take that approach, I think. I don't know. Do you know there was another study that I heard had come up against the same thing, and it was actually one that I did, a sort of quite academic book on obesity in 2009.
And one of the studies that I really loved was called the early bird study and it was being run out of Plymouth in the UK and it was looking at various different things, childhood obesity, diabetes, but it was also looking at activity and one of its early findings was that it didn't really seem to matter what activity you scheduled for children, they all ended up doing a similar amount of activity. So they'd looked at sort of three schools.
One school, let's say, not very affluent at all, doesn't have nice rugby pitches and playing fields. So there's not much scheduled sport, but those children would go home in the evening and then they'd just spend the evening kicking around on the street corner, not really doing homework, but just knocking around with their friends and they'd knock up quite a lot of activity doing that. And then at the other extreme, you've got the really posh schools where they're doing rugby and lacrosse and everything's nicely scheduled. And then they come home and they basically sit in their room and do their homework.
they were doing very similar activity. And it kind of led to this conclusion that they'll just kind of do what they do. We have a sort of natural level of activity and trying to push that is not gonna make any difference. And I did pick up somewhere reading an article that funding had kind of dried up after some of the early conclusions from this study because it kind of wasn't what the...
what the study funders wanted to find kind of thing. And that's how it happens. And academia has been so corrupt for so long, it all relies on funding. So your head of department is basically a fundraiser. They might as well go and work for a charity, they're just trying to get funding in because the more funding they can get, the more PhDs they can offer, the more masters, the more students. And the more students, the more papers you churn out, and then the more papers you've got more.
academic points which gives you a higher weighting, which attracts more funding. So you get into this virtuous spiral as opposed to this sort of vicious spiral. If you start turning down pharmaceutical and food industry funding, you start spiraling down the other way. You have fewer students, fewer papers, fewer points, less funds, and it just keeps going on in that spiral. So they are constantly looking for funding.
And of course, if you go to the sugar industry and say, I want to do a study, you better conclude that sugar is not harmful or ideally, you know, sugar is really quite wonderful. It's just as good as any other carbohydrate. You know, carbohydrates are all the same as and you'll get more funding. What's funny you say that. So in my masters, I post my masters actually in between, I started my PhD and quit my first PhD, which
At the time I was told no one ever quits your PhD. Subsequently I find out that 50% of people do anyway. And so I was just working in the research unit there and we got funding from Chelsea Sugar to look at the obesity, the relationship, the association between obesity and sugar consumption. No, there was no association in what we found in the data that we found, which looking back now, and at the time I'm like, ah, okay, cool. So no worries, Sugar, you're good.
But it's funded by the Chelsea Sugar Company. And at the time, like no one really blinked an eye in terms of the fund, we were just happy to have money. And as a student sort of working on the project, really didn't, obviously I wasn't mature enough, didn't have any, you know, I was a bit, you know, just a bit not very smart, didn't even consider that anything would have been, anything other than that.
probably not have gone down well with our funding source. It's interesting. Yep. Nothing to say there. So Zoe, were you surprised by, when you set out with your PhD, obviously I imagine you thought you would ruffle a few feathers. Were you surprised by the vitriol that probably then occurred?
in and around the whole topic, like with your PhD funding team. I mean, I kind of imagine that would have been expected, but just in that sort of public space as well, like how was it received generally? Okay, so I wasn't funded. So there was no, you know, sort of meat industry funding or fat industry funding or sugar. And I am not, in personality types, I am not a plan ahead type.
So the fact that this actually went in the diary more than a day ago is extraordinary for me. It just doesn't happen I am a last-minute comm so I don't actually think ahead so I Didn't think going in I went in and I knew I was fascinated by the seven countries study and I'd been doing a load Of reading on that and then it just kind of evolved and I suddenly realized that's not gonna be my PhD That's gonna be a big part of the background literature and then it
kind of became clear that it was gonna look at all the evidence, so I had to look at RCTs and everything. So it kind of evolved as it was going on. If you'd have stopped me at the time and said, look, I know you don't think ahead, but try to think ahead, what do you think you're gonna find? I would have sat back and said, well, I'm gonna find some evidence. You know, we've got these two guidelines. I am gonna find some evidence. I don't know how strong it's gonna be. That's gonna be quite interesting. So when the first
I mean, the findings from the first paper, again, why did it resonate so strongly? The first paper was about all the RCT evidence. And some of the conclusions, they were really conducive to putting out in the media. They were stuff that everybody could understand and everybody could relate to. So there were only six trials that could have been relied upon. And then when you look at actually what the Darkshire guidelines did rely upon, British or America,
they took maybe one or two of them into a can and mostly they were just ignored. So there was evidence there that was ignored. The six trials only included men, not a single woman had been studied. So we can immediately say it's not generalizable to women. You haven't even studied women. There were only two and a half thousand men combined in all of these trials and the men were all sick. So they all had preexisting heart disease.
So we changed archery guidelines in the UK and the US alone for 300 million people on the back of half a dozen trials of fewer than two and a half thousand sick men. So when you can put stuff like that out into the general domain, people get it because they think, oh crikey, you'd think it had been studied on a million Americans or something and then rolled out, it made such a difference and nobody had heart disease, it would then be rolled out.
to so many people. So that first set of findings for me was astonishing, let alone for everyone else. It's, what do you mean you only studied men and you only studied sick men and you didn't study that many of them. And then individually, when you looked at the trials, you say, well, did the trials recommend change? No, not one single trial, quite the opposite. They were saying, oh, well, we switched out saturated fat and we switched in.
unsaturated fat which would be some kind of vegetable oil or something and they actually made statements in the final passages of the paper saying we're a little bit worried about toxicity because there were more events in the intervention group than there were in the control group. One said a low-fat diet has no place in the treatment of myocardial infarction which is heart disease. So they were coming out with pretty strong comments. You know the Woodhill study that was done down in Sydney Australia.
saying again found more incidents in the intervention and expressed concerns about how did they phrase it something like the safety or the appropriateness of their intervention or so they were all issuing warnings but when you go to look at the literature in America at the time Senator McGovern was a I think he was a failed presidential candidate so he wanted to make his
on something else. He'd been tasked with looking at a diet to alleviate poverty in the US and he'd done that and then obviously thought, oh I'm quite enjoying being Mr. Food Advice so I won't now look at poverty, I'll start looking at what everyone should eat and then just started saying right, let's have dietary guidelines for everyone. I mean why? You know, leave us alone, let us, let us, we're all individuals, let us work out.
we're all gonna eat and then the rest, as they say, is history. We've got these pyramids and plates coming out of our ears for the next 40 years. Yeah. Zoe, did you expect that your findings would have made any sort of difference or were you a bit smarter than that? No, because one of the things I then looked into was the conflict and I defended my PhD in March 2016.
Also in March 2016 there was an update of the UK eating advice. It was called the Eatwell Plate. I used to call it the Eat Badly Plate and they updated it to the Eatwell Guide. I mean it wasn't super big change or novelty or anything. It still looked like a plate. They just called it a guide. And I ended up writing an article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine because I uncovered the conflicts behind that and was the first to discover that
Public Health England, the body tasked with looking after the health of England and then Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland just tend to follow what Public Health England does. They put together this panel to design this role model, healthy eating for England and the panel was basically made up of representatives from fake food organisations. So it was the Food and Drink Federation, the Institute of Grocery Distribution.
Association for Convenience stores, which is your small stores where you just buy crisps at 11 o'clock at night and ice cream at two o'clock in the morning. There are a couple of people on the panel who were okay, but they either didn't attend very often or they were so overwhelmed by the eight panel members from the fake food industry. It was only ever gonna be a fake food industry plate. So of course it tells us to have cereal for breakfast and not eggs.
because they make money on cereal and have a sandwich for lunch, don't have leftovers from your meat and vegetables the night before because they can make money on sandwiches or ready meals or there's even a junk segment down the bottom left of the plate. Make sure you're still having your sweets and chocolate and crisps and soft drinks, you know, because heaven forbid you should actually not have any junk in your diet. You know, wouldn't that be just terrible? Whoever would want to eat like that kind of thing. Yeah.
Yeah, so no, I'm not. I've got no romantic, disillusioned mind or whatever that says they're ever going to change this. It's not going to happen. The corruption is just too great. Money is too great. Too many people employed in the fake food industry. They cannot afford for it to be decimated in any way. Yeah. Yeah, no, I agree. That's not going anywhere. There's no way that's going anywhere.
So subsequent to your PhD, that's 2016, we're now in 2023, has anything come out that has shifted any of your opinions in that saturated fat space? I mean, there's been a number of things. There was some stuff that came out from Ronald Krauss and some teams, even Moza Farian has come out with some stuff.
You get people who are kind of in our space but have conflicts with the dairy industry who try to come out and say, oh, actually, yeah, saturated fat isn't great, but dairy is fine. So I mean, just a couple of facts about fat that are just not well enough known. And this is why I think, you know, somebody sent me something yesterday and said, can you comment on this? And it was a Wall Street Journal article quoting...
saying something about saturated fat, saying, oh, you know, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying there's any need for us to eat it at all. And if you just stop there and hold that thought, because it is just quite the most stupid thing that anyone who purports to work in the field of nutrition could ever say. So what people don't realize about fat is there is barely any food on the planet that doesn't contain at least a trace of fat. So the only food
that contains no fat whatsoever is sucrose. Because sucrose is just 100% pure carbohydrate, it's got no protein and no fat. Everything else tends to have at least a trace of fat. So if you put into a nutrition calculator a kilo of lettuce, so you're pumping up the amounts, you'll see a trace of fat. Now, I'm not saying that those are foods that contain fat, but I'm just making the point that nature tends to put fat in everything. And if you think nature is
trying to put fat in everything to kill you, then you've got a separate issue that you need to go and talk to your psychiatrist about, or whatever. Second fact about fat that people don't realise is that every single food that contains fat contains all three fats, there are no exceptions. So people talk as if, and they say this, dieticians say this, and I just want to slap them with a wet fish or something, say meat is full of saturated fat. No, meat is 70 plus percent water.
then it's about 20 plus percent protein, then it's probably about seven percent fat, the majority of which is unsaturated fat. You've got mono-unsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat, and actually in the steak that I hold up in conferences and I put it all into colors so they can see what's in it, two percent is saturated fat. So yes, you've got foods that are more fat proteins and they're the things that vegans don't eat, so that's your meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, but every single one of those contains all three fats.
just in different proportions. So then the next fact about fat that people don't know is the only food group, remember there are nine food groups, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. So the only food group that contains more saturated than unsaturated fat is dairy products. So when people are going after saturated fat, you're potentially going after every single, even strawberries contain saturated fat.
To say, I can't see why we need saturated fat is the most ignorant statement you can ever make because there is nothing you can eat other than sucrose that doesn't contain at least a trace of saturated fat. So people saying, oh, saturated fat is really bad for you. When you look at the sources of saturated fat in the American diet, and I did this in my closing paper for my PhD, they list the main sources of saturated fat as pizza, desserts, ribs, ready meals,
um toffee, it's junk food. Now if you want to condemn junk food fine I'm right with you but hey by the way all of those foods also contain monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat so don't damn them for the saturated fat that they contain damn them because they're bad foods because they're processed foods. If we can just have a conversation about real food and you want to talk about saturated fat again you've got to talk about everything from strawberries to mackerel
Mackerel has got more fat and saturated fat than red meat, but they like you eating fish, they don't like you eating red meat. You know, there's so many things that they get wrong because they're so ignorant when it comes to what fat actually is. So what you wanna say to them is, so what's your issue with dairy? Because that appears to be where your issue must be, because that is the one food group, still got monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, it's still got protein, still got water. Fluid dairy has a trace of carbohydrate.
But what's your issue with dairy basically? And then because a lot of these guys, Mbazifarian included, and I think Kraus as well, I've had, don't quote me on that one, I think they've had dairy industry funding. They're like, oh no, no, no, dairy seems to be an exception. Dairy seems to be protective. Dairy seems to be really quite good for you. Well, no kidding, because the nutrients in dairy are quite phenomenal. Your vitamin D, your calcium, your phosphorus, B vitamins, you know, dairy's such a useful food for us to be consuming.
So then you wanna say, well, if it's not dairy, then what is your issue? Will we be back to pizzas and desserts? In which case, you know, I just, I wanna find a wall and just sort of bang my head against it because the ignorance around what food actually is and where fat is found, it's just immense. It's what's holding us back from actually realising that the issue here is fake food and not real food and let's just crack on with any real food. Just don't limit any of it. It's all fine.
Yeah, it's so interesting, isn't it? I think about my training nutrition. I studied at Otago and I don't believe that the curriculum has probably changed that much in the last 20 years. I might be wrong though, because I haven't been there, but from what I hear, but of course, when we are taught, you know, what are the predominant sort of fat sources in food, of course, meat, the predominant fat is saturated fat, which it clearly isn't. And then if you look in avocado,
Avocado is a great source of monounsaturated fat and it's got a lot of saturated fat in it. You know, it's not that different, but it is this sort of myopic sort of isolating one nutrient in a particular food or looking at just one food and the impact that that has on overall diet. If I think about the narrative around red meat, for example, like it seems it's...
favorable in those sort of spaces to focus on just one thing and sort of isolate all dietary problems or all health problems to this one particular aspect of nutrition. Yeah, it's just the way that things have been done and I can't see that changing anytime particularly soon to be honest. I agree. Yeah. And then Zoe, and this is, you know, how I find it just fascinating as well is that we've got all of this.
narrative around these particular food groups that we should be reducing because not much has changed in that fat space. We're now a little bit more like, oh, you don't necessarily need a low fat diet as such, although of course the recommendation is still quite low fat, but definitely focus on that saturated fat. That hasn't changed. All of us should be reducing our meat consumption. I mean, that's just sort of gaining traction rather than sort of losing traction, that narrative. Yet,
nothing has changed with our health statistics. If anything, everything's gotten a whole lot worse. Can you see a way out of that? It's, I mean, I talk about it in conferences, it's kind of like a pyramid. And if you could get things changed at the top, it would change everything below it so quickly. So all it would need would be for governments to come out and say, hey, do you know what, I'm sorry, we were wrong. And then just quickly to explain that the consequences of that.
dietary fat thing, because you mentioned protein earlier on. If you can imagine a sort of little circle like a pie, protein tends to be about 15% of any natural diet, maybe 15, maybe 20%, but it really doesn't go much over that. And I can give you empirical references for that or theoretical references for that. The Pure Study was a really, really strong one. It just tends to be around 15%. So think of that circle. You've got a little 15% segment.
Then you put in a 30% segment, which is what they want you to have in the form of fat. And there's only three things that we eat. And the final one, of course, is carbohydrates. So by setting that fat guideline, and because of what just happens with protein, they immediately set a 55% intake of carbohydrate. And then, of course, they reinforced it by saying have at least 55% of your diet in the form of carbohydrate, because if you can have even more.
it just squeezes the fat content out. So the higher you go in carbohydrate, your fruits, your vegetables, your rice cakes, your cereals and all the rest of it, the lower you just naturally end up going in fat. So they could change it at the top and cascade it all the way down and just say, we got it wrong, they won't. For the reasons that we've said, the conflict, the jobs that would be lost in the fake food industry, and quite likely the lawsuits of people saying,
Well, I followed your advice for the last 40 years and I've got fatter and I've got sicker and I now think that you've done this to me. So here's a lawsuit coming. That's not gonna happen. What we're sort of seeing and taking part in is what I would call the bottom-up revolution. So it's the people at the bottom of the pyramid who work it out for themselves and then they tell friends and family. So we all know someone who's reversed their, or put their type two diabetes into remission. I don't think you reverse it. You put it into remission.
by changing the way that they eat or they've done something long-term about their weight problem, not because they've gone calorie counting, but because they've made a lifestyle change. They no longer eat processed food. They no longer graze all day long. They eat two or three meals a day. They do an overnight fast. They've made some real sustainable lifestyle changes. That's the bottom of the pyramid. That's what's happening at the moment, but of course it's by far the slowest.
way to do anything because we've got three million people in Wales, you've got three million people in New Zealand, you've got to get to three million people instead of just getting to the one director of health who could make the changes for everyone. The exciting level is the one that we've got the hope in at the moment which is somewhere up the pyramid. You've got a level where I would put doctors.
And dietitians, if you can convert one away from the standard advice, you know, they'll probably get fired from their dietetic organization, but you can get a rogue dietitian, you can get far more rogue nutritionists, you can get doctors, you can get osteopaths, you can get medics, all sorts of people. And they are really, really important because they can then influence about a thousand people. So if you've got a doctor who gets it,
every patient that then goes into the clinic with type 2 diabetes, obesity, indicators of metabolic disease, they can start talking to them about the fact you really need to be cutting back on the carbohydrate, particularly processed foods, but actually really all carbohydrate. And fruit is just sugar and cereal is not your friend. And to be having that kind of conversation with patients, so that's the level where we...
we really need to try to make a difference. For every doctor you can convert, it's worth a thousand at that bottom lower level of just friends and family. And people you meet at dinner parties, I mean, I go to quite a few black tie events. You're sat next to two people that you've never met. And of course, you know, the first thing you tend to say is, hi, how are you? And who are you? And what do you do? And why are you here? And how do you know the organization or whatever?
And as soon as people know that you work in the field of nutrition, they tend to want to make that the talk for the evening because it's usually more interesting to them than what they do. I mean, to me it's not. It's like, I want an evening off. You know, talk to me about being a nuclear scientist or something. But everyone's got a view on food, haven't they? But if you can sit next to a doctor and convert a doctor, then it's been a worthwhile evening.
Yeah, yeah. So you're so right about that. These little people of influence. Zoe, and I really want to be mindful of your time because you probably need to go and have dinner. So obviously, in this space, I mean, this is such a massive area. Where, and you've focused on a number of different topics, obviously, for your Monday note and your PhD is in saturated fat. Is there any...
other particular area where you feel people need to know that we've got it wrong? Like is there any one thing that sort of comes to mind that you think, well, this is quite a common nutrition myth that actually if more people knew about this, then maybe that would make a sort of more shift in the right direction. I might get into controversial territory here. Do it. Because I don't know your view on this, but my world has turned upside down in the last three years.
And I never thought I lived in a country where my government could, let alone would, try to lock healthy people in their homes and try to mass children for eight hours a day and all the other crazy things that have happened over the last three years. So my interest in nutrition has waned massively because in terms of what is really important to me and I think to the human population,
nutrition is now, it's like that, it's practically irrelevant. We, the stuff going on at the World Health Organization level where they're trying to, it's going on right now, they're trying to establish some international health regulations when they will have the say on what happens in these circumstances again. Now not many people might know this but they at the time of the breakout of Covid or whatever they changed the definition of a pandemic so
it used to be that it had to have quite catastrophic case numbers. It wasn't just that it would affect a lot of countries, but it needed to be kind of like the Spanish flu and bodies piling up in the hallway. And that wasn't the case by any means. Some countries didn't even see any excess mortality, despite having over 50% of their population testing positive for this. They then changed the definition and you can see the before and after on
archive websites, they changed the definition of natural immunity. So they were specifically discouraging people from thinking natural immunity was going to be of any help to them whatsoever. So the idea, if you've had COVID, you might start feeling a little bit more relaxed because you're not going to get it again kind of thing. They didn't like any of that. I mean, various things happened over the last three years. And I was looking at evidence at the time. So I was looking at evidence for social distancing, for example.
and discovered that all the evidence that we have is saying we need to stay two meters away from other people came from SARS-CoV-1. And what they'd done was they'd looked at people who actually had SARS-CoV-1 and they looked to see who then got it from that host person. And basically the conclusion that they came to was that the person who then got it, so you got let's say the host is A, the people who got it from A were basically the
people sharing a room with a. So it was the partner, it was the spouse, it was the carer, the daughter, the child, whatever. It wasn't even very often the people in the same household. So you could actually all be at the same dinner table, but if mum and dad were sleeping together and mum had it, then dad was gonna get it kind of thing. And that's where this two meter thing came from. It's like, hang on, there's a massive difference between me being within two meters of someone in a supermarket.
for a nanosecond and me spending the entire night with my husband and cleaning our teeth together and showering together and kissing and all the rest of it. I mean, it was just, and it was that kind of sort of investigation that I was looking at. I was looking at excess deaths in the UK and post spring 2020, there was a spike, it fell away and then it followed the natural Gompertz curve.
of any any sort of natural fires but then because we didn't react to it naturally. In my view we then created the waves that then follow because instead of letting it get through the population as a natural forest would and then it subsides and then you will crack on and go back to business we try to interrupt that. I'm so we didn't let it run its course we didn't let it do its thing. We.
started putting interventions in its way, so it then started mutating. So then they say, we've got this variant, we've got that variant. A virus just wants to get in people, it doesn't wanna kill people, it wants to just live inside us, which is why they tend to weaken over time. So you will get that initial spike. If there's a novel virus, the people who are closest to it at the beginning are the ones who are most at risk, but very, very quickly, it starts to subside and become.
more virulent but less dangerous, which is exactly what we observe with this. But then we just tried to throw everything in its path. And I was looking at, at the time all of this was looking a bit imminent. I mean, I looked at China and I can remember looking at the newspapers in January 2020 in the UK thinking, thank goodness, I live in a country that would never do that. And then two months later, I was, and I know New Zealand had it.
quite good to start with and then really not very good. But I was looking at the World Health Organization guidelines for what do we do with pandemics and they had a document and it said, don't close borders, don't lock down, don't close public transport, don't close schools. Everything that we did was against everything that had been set in stone as this is what we should do. And every day now, I mean, something came out in the UK saying,
maybe at best, and I don't know who was saved by lockdowns because I just cannot conceive of the circumstances that it saved anyone, but they say 1700 people were saved. That's basically the death rate for one day in the UK and it probably cost about 235 million per person saved if you believe that number saved. Now what we're now far more aware of is the suicides, the undiagnosed cancers, the undiagnosed heart disease.
The generation of children which includes my two nieces who've lost all motivation and think school is now optional because they didn't have to go to school for two years. So how come you're now telling me I have to go and I can't bunk off and go on holiday? People who are still scared of Covid, still wearing masks, still afraid to leave the house, who have lived with the trauma of fear now for three years. And what has that done to their health?
People who were put on ventilators and shouldn't been and that almost certainly killed them. People who were given medazolam, remdesivir, drugs that we now know probably didn't help with what they eventually died of which might be a cytokine storm or kidney failure or whatever. We're looking back with hindsight but at the time I was watching it in real time I didn't need hindsight to say there is something horrifically wrong here. I was not one of those people that kind of went with it to start with and then
Oh yeah, no, this doesn't feel right. From the moment Boris Johnson went on national television and said, right, first of all, 16th of March 2020, he said distance. And then 23rd of March, it was our first major lockdown. And I went into, I can't physically describe the state that I was in at the time. Horror is not the world. My entire psyche was under assault that I knew how wrong.
this was from the start and I was just utterly terrified that the powers that be could do this and get it so wrong and do no cost benefit analysis and give no consideration to the harm that they were doing and just crack on and do it anyway and then do it again and then do it again and they will do it again. I would put money on the fact they're introducing these international health regulations so that it's not down to Jacinda Ardern or Boris Johnson or anyone else.
It will be declared by Tedros at the World Health Organization and by all accounts he is not a good man and he's massively conflicted and he will be cold by people who have funding in the pharmaceutical industry. This has now arrived, lockdown and wait until we get the next injection that will release people from their homes and we are now in this model. We've done it once, we will do it again and that terrifies me.
Nutrition at the moment, I do my Monday note, but honestly, there is such bigger stuff going on in the world. And that's before we've even got into 15 minute cities, climate lockdowns, trying to stop people flying, trying to just generally restrict how we live in the name of things that they have presented to us as crises, every crisis.
is being presented to us by people who benefit from those crises and not enough people are sitting back saying, this doesn't make sense. Life would just be great if they just stopped all of this nonsense, stopped creating wars, stopped giving us fake food, stopped putting fluoride in water, stopped creating viruses in my view and then locking people down on the back of them. Just stop all of this that makes you a shedload of money and makes more billionaires and
pushes wealth upwards, stop all of that, just leave us alone to connect with nature, eat good food, connect with people, live our lives, have some purpose, and just get on with being a human being. But that's not what their gender is. I don't know nearly enough, nearly as much as what you do in that space, Zoe, but I agree with everything that...
I am aware of is not too dissimilar to what you've just described and it's not a popular opinion I guess. But what you've just said I've definitely heard other people say the same thing and have read things which I would tend to agree which is troubling to say the least actually.
Yeah, thanks for your thoughts there. I've really also enjoyed your Twitter feed over the last couple of years in and around that as well. But it is, it's actually, but that's also stuff that people don't wanna hear because people don't wanna think that the powers that be would ever put us in that position, I think. You know, like, because that realization that, because where do you go from there, actually?
And that is really well put, that's part of the raw terror. Because when you realise that the people who are in control... I mean we should put it the other way around, politicians are supposed to serve us. We elect them, they are supposed to serve us. So this has also been a massive turnaround in, hang on a sec, you're supposed to work for me. You're not supposed to lock me in my home when I'm a healthy person. So that was really quite traumatic as well.
But it is, it's this realization that they don't have your best interests at heart, but then go back to the nutrition field. The minute you look at our plates and pyramids and you work in the field of nutrition, you know they don't have our best interests at heart, which is why so many people in the nutrition world did rumble a concern really quite early on because we weren't in that trust in space.
Within the public health arena, it's like, so hang on, I don't trust them when it comes to what we should eat. I know that five a day is a fairy story. I know that eight glasses of water a day is a fairy story. I know alcohol units are just plucked out of the air. I know all of these are nutritional myths. I know the saturated fat has no evidence. I know dietary fat has no evidence. And now you're expecting me to believe that my health and the health of my fellow human beings is best served by me.
being locked in my house. When I actually think it's the opposite, because aside from the fact I'd already had COVID by then, I was really quite happy to say, we need to blast this through the population. We need to keep the vulnerable safe, keep them inside. Everyone else, it's on your own head, be it. You sign a disclaimer, you get out there, you mix like crazy, you get this thing, you get it through you, and then it's...
gone through that complex carbon it's dying is gone through the population then the vulnerable people can come out and there's nothing around to harm them. That was the role that we should have played and i never trusted them because of being in the nutrition field and most people in nutrition a couple of exceptions and i won't name them. Most people in the nutrition field what in that headspace of i don't trust these guys when it comes to face so why am i gonna trust them on.
social distancing or lockdowns or masks or closing schools. Or, you know, when did we ever tell people there's a virus so deadly that this is like the Spanish flu, we've got to stay in our houses, but don't do anything. Don't go to any doctors, don't leave the home until you think you're gonna die and then call the emergency room. Yeah. And you go straight from there to the emergency room and there's no kind of care in between.
Yeah, yeah, I know. It's... How do you come back from that? You know, you just can't. Like, there's no way that the next recommendations in and around a pandemic are going to be any different from what we have previously, what we have just gone through. If not, actually, maybe just a little bit stricter. I'm not sure. They will be. They'll be sooner, harder, longer, stronger, faster. Everything will be more than what we had last time. And my personal hope
is that people realise the harm that it did last time. And they actually say, they step up and say, I'm not doing that again. I cannot have my child isolated in her bedroom in the way that she was. Starting a new school, not able to make friends because actually you don't even turn up at school, you're on Zoom and you've all got your videos switched off because it's some safeguarding issue because if not the teacher can see into the child's bedroom or whatever. I mean, it's like, for goodness sake.
I just really hope they say, no, we're not doing that again. It did so much harm, but it is, you're right. It's very difficult for people to, for some people it's been the first wake up that the powers that be are not doing their best by you. They're just not. And you have to realize that. And then you have to start saying, I'm responsible for my health, not them, and make sure that is the case. And I guess the other thing is that people have to realize
They have to stand up to what they see as totalitarianism or tyranny. And for a number of people, and I think more and more people are starting to look back and think, oh yeah, that was a bit crazy, wasn't it? We kind of all got a bit caught up in it. Now they've got the benefit of hindsight. But what we need is for those people to be really bold and brave. And it takes a big thing to be able to say, do you know what? I don't think that was right. I did it and I embraced it.
I went along with it and all the rest of it, but I look back now and I don't think it was right. But it's almost like it's too difficult for people to admit that, because to admit that is to basically admit that you wasted two years of your life. Or worse, you missed your wife's cancer diagnosis, or your child didn't make any friends and completely derailed on what was looking like a very successful school career.
or gained a lot of weight and lost a lot of fitness because of the stress of working from home and a lot of people lost their businesses, lost their livelihoods, committed suicide, lost everything they had ever worked for, lost homes, lost mortgages. My brother-in-law works down in New Zealand and he just said there's something like a million person nights that would be in accommodation.
around the area that he lived and worked in and people would come and help harvest the grapes and all the rest of it and it was just dead for two years. And what that did to local businesses and hotels and restaurants and all of that needs to be factored in. And you can't stop a virus. I mean, that's the other thing. It was unbelievably arrogant to think that you just stick a thing over your face and that's it. A virus can't get around it. Like who do we think we are? You know, we've got to show a lot more respect for
um, for natural phenomena around us and stop thinking you just lock yourself at home and watch Netflix, then nothing, nothing can possibly happen. Yeah. Um. I know. And yeah.
The people who might like me for nutrition might not like me anymore. But all I say is please think and if it, and it's not if it happens again, when it happens again, please think even more. And please do your own research and please look at the cost benefit analysis that were not done at the time that are now being done and look at the harm that we did. Even if you think we did some good, please look at the harm that that counterbalances that and get the facts for what you think was the good that we did.
because I can't find any. No, now you're not writing about this in Monday Notes, but you are tweeting about it on Twitter. Am I right about the channel there? Yeah, no, I did. I mean, I did Monday Notes. I did a Monday Note back in March 2020, COVID, some facts and figures. So what are coronaviruses? How many have we had? What are they? I then did one on social distancing. I did one, I've done a couple on vitamin D.
I did one as soon as we started to realise risk factors, so April 2020. And it's really nice being able to look back at these and actually see the lines in the sand. April 2020, we knew the risk factors. We knew that major risk factor was metabolic problems, metabolic syndrome. If you were male, older, ethnic minority and
had signs of metabolic illness, so that would be pre-diabetes, diabetes, obesity, overweight. You were such a prime candidate for getting and having a bad outcome with COVID. So I looked at what ended up giving you a bad outcome, which was either a hospitalisation, ending up in the ICU or death. And then you look at the early doctors that died in the National Health Service on the front line and they were male, elderly, ethnic minority.
clearly with metabolic syndrome. Why did we put them on the front line? We knew then that my stepson's wife, to be daughter-in-law or whatever, is the one who should have been on the front line, who is young, slim, no ethnicity, no metabolic conditions, had already had COVID, and she did, she worked in A&E at the time with all of that, but don't put the people on.
We knew who was going to be at risk here. We almost sent them to their death by putting those people in that situation. I then did one, which again, I'm really glad that I did, December 2020, because I started looking at, in summer 2020, when I realized they were trying to keep us locked in until they had a vaccine, I started looking at, have they ever had a vaccine for a coronavirus? And the answer was no.
And I started looking at why they'd never had a vaccine for coronavirus. And that is very, very interesting. Um, and then when I look at the injections that were approved and started being put into arms, the UK started December the 8th, 2020, um, I don't think they meet the definition of a vaccine. The definition of a vaccine was also changed by the World Health Organization. So I'm not being anti-vaxxer in any way, shape or form, because I don't think these were vaccines.
And I actually think one of the biggest harms of the last few years has been that faith in vaccines has been seriously affected. And they don't realize this yet. It has been seriously compromised by calling these things vaccines when I knew, and I have written it in a blog, December 2020, that the trials had not tested whether or not it would stop transmission. They had not tested severity of outcome, which is the absolute...
essence of what you want to know if you are trying to vaccinate people. We also knew it didn't stop people getting it. They tried to claim that there was this extraordinary efficacy. I looked at the absolute risk. I looked at the numbers needed to treat. Even back in December 20, you were looking at needing to inject 300 people for one person to avoid what wasn't even going to be a, you know, it's basically a positive PCR. You might not even know.
that you had something and of course the PCR test was massively inaccurate. So I mean, there were just so many issues with this thing. And then suddenly you're not allowed to work in certain jobs. You're not allowed to travel. You're not allowed to get back into your country, leave your country. I wasn't allowed in a rugby stadium. I wasn't allowed in restaurants. I wasn't allowed in cinemas because I didn't want to risk something. The
medium short-term consequences of which I had no idea about. I didn't know what this would do in three months, let alone three years, let alone 30 years. I didn't know what was in it. I knew that it wasn't a vaccine and I've had loads of those, not an issue. I mean, I've seen the CEO of Bayer say it's gene therapy and there's an incredible little clip of him online at a conference saying
But if we'd have told people this was gene therapy, you'd have had a 97% refusal rate. You know, as it is, we had pretty much the opposite as an acceptance rate and the bullying and the shaming of the people who were in doubt was really quite extraordinary. Yeah, yeah. And that's in my blog as well, that's another line in the sand of knowing what the NNT was then. And of course we've had a whistleblower from the Pfizer trial since then.
I think it's Jackson, is it her surname? And she showed that the trials were unblinded, you knew who to test, you knew. It goes back to if you work for the sugar industry, you wanna find that there's not a problem with sugar. The units that were being paid by the drug companies to test these injections knew that if they wanted future business, if they could return a result that said, oh, we found 100 positive PCR tests and they were all in the placebo group.
none whatsoever in the actual Pfizer thing group, the BioNTech, they would be thrilled and they would be likely to be asked to participate in future trials, which of course is incredibly lucrative. So you know, there's parallels again of conflicts and problems and we know now it didn't stop anyone getting it, it didn't stop anyone passing it on, it never even tested if it would stop transmission, it didn't test the verative outcome, they're all people saying now, oh you know, if you hadn't have had it...
You'd have had it imagine how bad it would have been for you. I know. And that's what everyone says. And anecdotally, I mean, the people I know who've had the worst outcome have been the one who've had four jabs. So that doesn't hold up. And you could go through the statistics of how they've played. You know, they count the first 14 days after the jab as unjabbed. And that is actually the time when you're most likely to get COVID. Of course, they say, you know, the unjabbed are most likely to get COVID. They're most likely to have a bad outcome.
because apparently if you do in this period, 14 days following the jab, not only is it your period at most at risk, getting it just after the jab is actually not very good at all. It doesn't bode for a good outcome, just as they found out about halfway through, if you've actually got COVID or recently had COVID and then go and have a jab, why you would want to go and have a job that won't stop you getting something you've just had, I don't know.
But if you've still possibly got any of it in your system and then you go and put a jab on top of that in your system. There was a woman who died in Australia from exactly that because the body is still trying to fight one thing and then you're telling it to start producing the thing that it's trying to fight. And it just, it can go into meltdown and it can be quite serious. So I think you're really brave to, to continue to talk about it now and to have talked about it over the last three years. And there are.
other people, Asim Mhultra, I listened to an interview of his on Joe Rogan actually, a couple of weeks ago that sort of, you know, shared his story and much like you, you know, he started out cardiologist in the nutrition space. All of this went down and he couldn't believe sort of, you know, what happened next. And I just think it takes a lot of courage to go against this very strong narrative of
what we are told versus actually what we actually know, you know, what you've just sort of talked to us about on the podcast. A lot of people won't know that. And a lot of people will think it's conspiracy theory and think that there is, I'll probably get emails from people saying, Miki, I cannot believe that you let Zoe talk about this. This is completely, you know, it's dangerous. I've had emails of people telling me that, you know, information that guests have shared has been dangerous over this last.
sort of three years, not that I've really had a focus on it, but I've had really knowledgeable people on and the conversation has gone that way. So thank you for writing your blogs and for sharing what you know about this, because you're right, this stuff is really important for people to know. And it's really difficult for people to consider that this could be the truth, but the more that people like you talk about it.
the more exposure they get and you know, awareness is the first step right in anything. It is no, I mean, it really is and be open to the fact that things that you're told, do your own research, do you got to look after your own health, do your own research, if you do your own research and you're utterly convinced that wearing a piece of paper that you know, the best analogy I heard is it's kind of like trying to put sand in a supermarket trolley.
If you think of the size of the virus and the size of what the mask is going to keep out, you've got as much chance of filling up a supermarket trolley with sand. But if you want to do your own research and you can convince yourself, as long as you've got that thing across your face going down to the supermarket, you're going to be absolutely fine, then that's fine. But just don't take other people's word for it. Don't take my word for it. Do your own research because this is going to happen again and you need to decide what you're going to do next time. And we've seen increases in...
bronchial diseases, lung diseases, bronchial pneumonia, bacterial pneumonia. I was with a doctor the other day, Strepococcal A or something, he said he'd seen an explosion of in the winter after they introduced the masks. Because if you remember at the beginning they had all these adverts on television and they show you how to take it off and then never use that one again. Well about five minutes later everyone's sticking it in their pocket and then going in one shop and then sticking it back in their pocket or in some handbag that's
got dirt from the last 10 years and then sticking it back on their face and any germs that are being collected on the outside, you're just continually putting back on your face all day long. Again, you know, bit of common sense, think. Go to a yoga class, what's the first thing they do? They get you to focus on your breathing because breathing is one of the most important things that we do. And then some people will work in venues that require them to not breathe properly for 10 hours at a time.
Now how can that be okay? And then they'll say, oh, but surgeons do it. If they can do it, it must be okay for them. No, but do you know why surgeons do it? They do it for two reasons. Because when they're doing open heart surgery, they don't want the patient's blood jumping up into their mouth and nose because that would be completely disgusting and they don't know that the patient hasn't got some nasty disease. And then conversely, when they're concentrating massively over open heart surgery, they don't want some of their saliva or a hair.
or a nose drip or whatever to drip into the patient. So it's just a physical barrier to protect the patient from them and them from the patient. They never conceived that this was gonna be something that would protect them going into a supermarket or something that they should be wearing 10 hours a day, walking around the waiting room in the hospital, looking for the next patient or in a shop behind a plastic screen which traps the virus behind the plastic screen.
We just did some really, really, really crazy things and we need to make sure we don't do them again. Yeah, so Zoe, to finish off then, your, with regards to obviously your nutrition knowledge, Monday Notes, and it's a great place to sort of get your insights into the world of nutrition. Who in your opinion would be quite good resources for people other than yourself, of course?
to actually up school in this? If someone's listening to this and they're going, okay, this is all actually new information and I'm really interested to find out more, where would they actually go? Yeah, there are people who kind of do, I don't think anyone does what I do in terms of this regular dissection of academic papers, but other people that I trust in this field, Nina Tichols, obviously, and we're very much in a similar field in the, if I had to go into a sort of an Olympics,
on fat. People that I would want on my team would be Nina Tichols and Trudy Deakin. And I do think that we know more about fat than anyone else that I've come across, particularly dietary fat. You know, other good guys, David Gillespie from Australia is brilliant on vegetable oils.
So sort of us in those areas, you've got more and more people now. If you're interested in certain ways of eating, I'm not keto by any means, I'm real food. Managed carbohydrate, I mean I don't have to manage it that much now because I'm slim and I don't crave food anymore. I eat really well, eat a lot, really happy with how I eat. I present at conferences, low carb conferences, so I meet a lot of the low carb guys and I meet a lot of keto guys.
and I meet a lot of people who are really into fasting. I'm not massively into fasting either, particularly if people have had bad relationships with food in the past. I just think it's too likely to put them back into that sort of binge-starve cycle. Keto's too extreme for me, but then for some people it works really well.
if you want to go carnivore obviously it's Sean Baker he's the role model in that field. He's a massive man I saw him at low carb Denver and I just met him there and I'm like whoa you are a beast and completely lovely. Yeah yeah no he's a really really nice guy actually and then Chris Cressa is another one that I am I am in comms with him sometimes he was on Joe Rogan doing something on red me and he was in comms with.
me and Nina beforehand, but I mean, he knows all his stuff. He doesn't, he just involves people because he's that kind of guy. He's generous and he's inclusive and he's very good at sharing credit and that kind of stuff, but he really knows his stuff. And if people ask me things about, oh, you know, what about nitrates in bacon? It's like Chris Cresser has done that one. Yeah, yeah, yeah. What's the complete bibliography on red meat? Every study I should be looking at in that field, he's done that one.
So, he's really good. I really trust him on so many things. Yeah. And Zoe, what about in this COVID space? Who do you trust there? That's an interesting one. That is an interesting one, actually. I mean, some of the doctors that have come out worldwide, Robert Malone, Peter McCullough, Paul Marrick. I went to the Better Way Conference a couple of weeks ago. I had the honor of speaking there.
Paul Marrick, Pierre Corry, Jessica Rose, Kevin McKenna wasn't there but he's done some brilliant work as well. There have been some people doing original research, there have been people dissecting academic papers, there have been, I mean Peter McCullough is one of the most published cardiologists in the world, his paper count is like prof notes or whatever and he realised that he could see the biochemical pathways by which...
this gene therapy could cause problems with heart myocarditis. And the drug companies have now admitted it, but not at the level that they should admit it. It will be sort of, oh yeah, you know, it could affect one in a thousand. In some batches, it seems to be affecting 15%. And if you happen to be one of those, or if you're the one whose son did develop myocarditis at the age of 16 and now can no longer be an athlete.
Um, it doesn't matter what the odds are, you know, your child's, your child's life is, is never going to be the same again. Um, Assim is doing great stuff now. I mean, really is. Um, I mean, it's interesting Robert Malone and Assim both had a couple of jobs, both, um, classic medics didn't think to question it. The minute they put the label vaccine on it, people don't think to question it because we all have such a positive view of vaccines.
That was really clever on their behalf, but I think it's gonna backfire. I mean, I've been at dinner parties where I've been shocked that mums who would be on any website normally and somebody would say something even slightly anti-vax, they'd be right in there. How dare you, best drugs we've ever had, da-da-da-da-da. And I've been at dinner parties where those kind of mums are now saying, oh, it's just making me rethink other vaccines. And you're trying to say to them, don't think of this as a vaccine.
Yeah. Think of this as some really novel technology, that even the logic of how it works kind of troubles me. The idea that you get the body to make the part of the virus that we believe to be the most toxic, and then we don't know if there's an off switch for making it. It's like, how is that going to be a good idea? Because the idea is the body makes it, and then the body makes antibodies to it, so that if it sees it again,
it's kind of like how a vaccine would work, but it doesn't, first of all, it doesn't expose you to the whole virus, it exposes you to a part of the virus, and that's the part that most mutates. But there's no off button, so the body keeps making this thing, and it keeps building antibodies to it, and it keeps making it, and it keeps building antibodies. And this is why I think some people are getting this autoimmune response, because at some point the body says, so hang on, I'm building antibodies, but you keep making, you keep telling me to make it.
and I'm building, but you keep telling me to make it again. So is this an enemy or is this not an enemy? Are the antibodies the enemy? Is this thing the enemy? And then three weeks later or three months later, you go and do it all again. And then six months later, you go and do it all again. And the body's like, I thought this was a bad thing. Is it not now a bad thing? And I think in the people with the autoimmune conditions, the body's got to the point where it says, okay, so this is the good thing because you keep telling me to make it. So this must be the good thing. So everything trying to fight it must be the bad thing.
So I'm gonna start fighting that, which is your own immune response. Yeah, yeah. Your own production of antibodies, your own autoimmune disease. And that's the only reason I can think of why people are developing autoimmune diseases and responsible to this repeat vaccination, sorry, non-vaccination, repeat injection of gene therapy. Yeah, yeah. That's, I've never heard anyone sort of lay it out like that actually, but I certainly know of people who have autoimmune conditions.
had one injection and it just went belly up really for them and there was no way that they were able to get another one. Thankfully. So Zoe, where best can we find you? Thank you so much for your time this morning.
this evening. I'm on ZoeHarkham.com, nice and easy, just my name with.com at the end. I think I put almost all the COVID stuff, if not all of it, on OpenView because I don't want anyone saying you're trying to make money out of COVID. So there's some fascinating stuff on vitamin D. I mean, there were some incredible randomized trials where people turned up at the hospital. So they're having a bad outcome with COVID. They've arrived at the hospital.
And there were some trials where even if it's only 50 people, they said, right, 25 of you do nothing. 25 of you go on to mental mega dose vitamin D. You're talking 50,000 IU. That's right. By drips or whatever. And the people who were given vitamin D didn't end up in ICU and didn't die. And the people who weren't given vitamin D, some of them ended up in ICU and some of them died. I mean, it was that start.
I sent an email actually to Professor Robert Scrag quite early on when we realised that, when we realised, when I was chatting to, I don't know, some of my people and we were like, look at this vitamin D thing. You know, why isn't the government saying anything about, so simple, why aren't they administering vitamin D to all the vulnerable, well actually to everyone? And I sent an email to, of course, the vitamin D researcher in New Zealand.
Cricket's got nothing. I don't know, maybe he had received numerous emails and he just, you know, maybe doesn't respond to email or whatever, but that's certainly something which really blew my mind that the really simple public health measures that could have gone to protect people against the severity. And doesn't that tell you, doesn't that example just tell you everything? Doesn't that tell you they did not have our best interests at heart? Because why didn't they do that? Because they were holding out for the vaccine because the vaccine would make a hell of a lot more money.
than giving everybody vitamin D. And the people who are behind how we respond to pandemics are the Bill Gates Foundation, the pharmaceutical industries, people. I mean, people have made billions upon billions upon billions in the last three years, while ordinary people have lost their businesses and some family members. You gotta wise up, guys. This is not motherhood and apple pie anymore.
Literally my nervous system just got one of those responses that exactly how I felt during that time as well. Like it's not a good thing. It's visceral but you have to you have to recognise it and process it. Yeah, totally. And then realise that you are responsible for your own health. Yeah, yeah, completely. If there's one message that let it be that today, you, your own health, get on it. Yeah, yeah. Don't rely on anyone else to save you.
Thank you Zoe. Brilliant. Go have your breakfast, or go and have dinner. Try to cool the house down. You don't have that problem right now. No, not right now, but bloody hell it gets like that doesn't it? Particularly here in New Zealand as well. You have a great rest of your evening. Thank you very much Anu.
So Zoe brings up so much great information and as she says, don't take her word on anything, if you're interested or have an opinion on these topics, it's so important to be able to do your own due diligence on them. So yeah, I was really stoked to be able to have that conversation with Zoe. Next week on the podcast, I am talking about exogenous ketones with Dr. Chiel Poffay.
Until then though, you can catch me over on Facebook @mikkiwillidennutrition, over on Instagram and Twitter and threads @mikkiwilliden.com, or head to my website mikkiwilliden.com, book a one-on-one call with me, send an inquiry, sign up to my recipe portal access. It is that easy. Alright guys, you have a great day.