Today on the podcast:
Tim Spector is a Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London.
He has won several academic awards and published over 700 academic papers, a large proportion of which relate directly to nutrition and the causes of obesity. Since 2011 he has been leading the largest microbiome project in the UK, using genetic sequencing to study the bacteria in the guts of 5,000 twins. He is the lead investigator for BRITISH GUT, the UK’s largest open-source science project to understand the microbial diversity of the human gut.
He is a prolific writer with several popular science and diet books, the most recent of which will be the focus of today’s conversation. That book is called Spoon-Fed: Why Almost Everything We’ve Been Told about Food is Wrong.
If you’ve never questioned the conventional “wisdom” when it comes to the food choices you make, or you just geek out on nutrition and anything to do with the gut (like me), then this is a must-listen.
- 03:58 Tim’s backstory and how he gut interested in the human microbiome
- 06:39 Why personalized nutrition is the way forward and the problem with “one-size-fits-all” diets
- 16:21 Why Tim wrote Spoon-Fed
- 19:59 The most unsupportive myth for people with fat or weight loss goals
- 22:45 Why meat and fish aren’t as healthy as most people believe
- 27:00 Tim’s thoughts on probiotics
- 29:54 Four keys to improving your gut health
- 33:44 Studying identical twins and what that shows us about weight loss and genetics
- 38:22 Something that Tim has recently changed his mind about in his field
- 43:14 The one Instagram post Tim would put out to anyone looking to better their health
- 44:20 What Tim is most excited about
- Personalized nutrition is the way to go. As Tim explains, mainstream consensus on proper caloric intake, macro ratio, and the like are basing numbers off of a mythical ideal human being. Women needing 2000 calories per day and men needing 2500 per day is based on very crude averages that ignore all the latest science about how our body uses different foods differently even if they have the same calories.
- If you want to improve your gut health, the main focus should be on increasing the diversity of species. There is no one probiotic that will optimize gut health. You need more strains to produce a wider range of chemicals. People who, every week, avoid ultra-processed foods and eat 30 different types of plants, nuts, seeds, and herbs that are high in polyphenols have the most diversity in their microbiome. They also don’t snack to rest their microbes.
- We’re all unique in how we process different kinds of foods. There is no one-size-fits-all nutrition plan. You need to experiment with different foods and portion sizes to see what your body and brain best respond to. All the while, always look after your gut microbes. Gut health is an incredibly underrated factor in human wellness. If you make it a point to maintain a diverse microbiome, your overall health will skyrocket.
Powerful Quotes by Tim
- We’ve been hiding behind the calorie as a unifying number that the public assigns the quality of food to. It’s not that calories don’t exist; but the idea that you can measure it precisely and that calorie counting is an effective way to lose weight is simply wrong.
- Nutrition is far from simple. It’s actually an incredibly complex science that has been dumbed down for too long. Humans love a simple answer and we’re suckers for someone who offers that magic solution—this instant supplement or that perfect protein snack.
- We’re all unique. You need to experiment to work out what foods are best for you. At the same time, always look after your gut microbes. If you feed them right, they will look after you for the rest of your life.
Book: The Diet Myth
The Real Science Behind What We Eat