Thu, 12 September 2019
This week I'm excited to welcome Dr Sarah Ballantyne. She (a.k.a. The Paleo Mom) is the creator of the award-winning blog www.ThePaleoMom.com, cohost of the top-rated and syndicated The Paleo View podcast, and New York Times Bestselling author of four books: the most comprehensive Paleo guidebook to date, Paleo Principles; the definitive Autoimmune Protocol guidebook, The Paleo Approach; and two AIP cookbooks, The Paleo Approach Cookbook and The Healing Kitchen.
Questions we ask in this episode:
This week, I'm excited to welcome Dr. Sarah Ballantyne. Dr. Ballantyne is the creator of the award winning online resource, thepaleomom.Com. She's co-hosted the top-rated the Paleo View podcast and is a New York Times bestselling author of multiple titles. She's a medical biophysicist with a deep interest in understanding how the foods we eat interact with our gut barriers, immune systems and hormones to ultimately influence our health. In this episode, we talk about the common foods that most negatively impact our health, the difference between the paleo diet and the autoimmune protocol and so much more, over to Dr. Ballantyne.
01:26 Hey guys, this is Stu from 180 Nutrition and I am delighted to welcome Dr. Sarah Ballantyne to the podcast. Dr Ballantyne, how are you?
01:35 I am wonderful. It's my evening and your morning.
01:38 It is.
01:38 So I don't know ... it's already disorienting, but I'm lovely. Thank you so much for having me on the podcast.
01:43 Well, thank you so much for sharing some of your time. So I'm guessing it's around 8:00 PM on a Friday night, and I said before like, you know, this is your time. So we're going to ... we're not going to take up too much of it. You are super busy, no doubt. So really, really interested to just to tap into some of your knowledge today. But before I do, and for all of our listeners that may not be familiar with you or your work, could you just tell us a little bit about yourself please?
02:13 Yeah, so I've come to this space where I sort of consider myself a health educator maybe or a science translator, but where I've come is from this sort of combination of my training. So I have a PhD in medical biophysics, I was a medical researcher and I had to leave that career behind because of my health struggles. So I had over a dozen different diagnosed health conditions, four of them were autoimmune diseases. I was over 300 pounds, morbidly obese and really struggling. In pain all the time, migraines and gastrointestinal symptoms and it really took taking a break from my career. At the time, I told myself I was doing it to focus on my child, but really I was doing it because I couldn't have so many things going on in my life. I couldn't be sick and be a mother and be a university professor, it was too many different things.
03:14 Like it was, it just was not compatible, given that my health was this, you know, extra seasoning in life that colored everything. And giving myself that space, allowed me to start applying my scientific background to the problem of my own health. And that brought me to the paleo diet. I had the stereotypical reaction when I first heard about it. I thought it sounded completely crazy and said something like, "There's no way I'm doing that." Which is, again, a pretty normal reaction. But I found some scientific articles that evaluated aspects of the paleo diet and because I have this medical research background, that was my hook. And it really, like it really lured me in and I became obsessed, I think is a fair term, with reading the science behind the ancestral templates and the paleolithic diet and that the studies that had already been done at the time. And over about three months of sort of dabble level of research, I decided I really needed to try this thing and I decided I would dedicate three months to it.
04:21 Within two weeks, I was able to go off all six prescription medications that I was on at the time. And which is not necessarily the most typical experience, it makes me one of the jerks. But it was so miraculous, like it just, it was eye opening to me to have these health conditions that I had struggled with for some of them 15 years at that point of my life, disappear within two weeks. Like just go away. I mean, and other things, obviously, it's more like a remission, you know, some things were controlled rather than completely reversed, but that's the nature of chronic illness. But that turned me into a zealot and I became even more obsessed with reading everything I could get my hands on and really digging into that science. And I love cooking, so I got really creative in the kitchen and it just became ... it went from a healthy obsession to unhealthy obsession because I needed an outlet and I started finding myself having conversations with complete strangers.
05:29 I would be getting my hair cut and be telling the hairdresser that the bagel that she was eating was going to kill her, which is not appropriate in any circumstance. And so, after about two months, I just, I needed a place to share that enthusiasm that was productive. And so on a Thursday evening, you know, 1st of November, 2011, I turned to my husband and I said, "What do you think of the idea of me starting a blog?" And since he had been receiving the brunt of my enthusiasm for a couple of months, he was like, "Great idea. Go for it. Do it." And so by that Sunday I had researched domain names and figured out that this was what I wanted to write about. And at the time, because I had sort of left my scientific research career on the back burner anyways, I didn't really anticipate that I would be writing so much about the science behind diet and lifestyle. But it turns out that I am such a science nerd through and through, that I can't actually turn that off. And so after I had been blogging for a while, anticipating that I would ... it would be more of a mommy blog and I'd talk about the experience, that's why my website's called The Paleo Mom. I realized that that's not what I'm here for. I'm here to take this amazing science background that I have and this ability that I think is fairly unique among scientists to actually communicate effectively with people without science backgrounds. And take that skill and apply it and start making the science behind this diet accessible. Because I feel like when you see this list of foods to avoid, which is how the paleo diet was typically described way back in 2011. If you don't have a reason behind, why would you cut out all grains or why would you cut out all legumes if you don't really ...
07:27 It seems arbitrary. And I think that even the, the sound bite definitions of paleo, where people say, "Eat the way we were, you know, we evolved to eat." Right? We eat like our paleolithic ancestors, I eat like a cave man, all these like memes of what paleo is. I feel like that actually undermines the message even more, because it simplifies it to the point where it seems arbitrary. And I think, my approach is very much understanding the contemporary biology, biochemistry, physiology. What are the compounds in foods that are vital to health and what are the compounds in foods that undermine it? And what foods have what proportions of those? So how can we rate foods, right? Based on how they nourish our bodies versus potentially undermine our health in some way. And that's what's really interesting to me to take this really contemporary approach to it.
08:23 And I think that when you talk about whether it's paleo or any of the related dietary templates, because I'm not particularly dogmatic on diet, I think that you need to expand it into more of a education around food, rather than the simplification and this list of yeses and nos. Because, first of all, it makes it more accessible, if you can really understand why you would eat this food, and not that food. But I think it also empowers people with knowledge to make more informed choices for them, so it powers people to really understand their own individual tolerance to food, their own bodies. And it also I think, leads into a conversation on troubleshooting that is much more productive.
09:13 I think one of the problems we're seeing right now in sort of health conscious communities as a whole is four 50-ish years, we have defined healthy diets based on what you don't eat. You cut out this, it's low this, right? And there's a whole pile of different versions of diets that are all about what you don't eat. And what makes you healthy is not what you don't eat, it's what you actually put into your body-
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