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  • There’s a dark symmetry to what’s happening in this time of COVID when it comes to life expectancy.

    The global numbers are, no surprise, falling after several years of stall and splutter.

    The last time they fell so much was 100 years ago, after the Spanish flu killed 20 to 50 million people.

    The extent of decline this time isn't knowable yet but the consensus is COVID will significantly cut into the current global average of 72 years, 8 months. The numbers now are much higher in the rich global north - an average 79 in the US, 82 in the UK.

    For all but the life extension radicals, the focus has shifted to healthspan - how long we live in good health - without the chronic diseases of lifestyle, genetic bad luck, and general physiological wear and tear.

    On this episode of The Big Middle, what’s happening with healthspan?

    This is the terrain of my learned guest Dr Rupert Dunbar-Rees, the founder and CEO of Outcomes Based Healthcare, which he’ll tell us all about.

    Links

    Dr Rupert's bioOutcomes Based HealthcareHumanHealthSpan.comPiece in The Times about OBH's findings: "Fifth of people in UK [sic England] will suffer from poor health before age 30" - August 2018The APPG for Longevity's key reports "Levelling up Health" (April 2021) and "The Health of the Nation" (February 2020) - see page 57 for Dr Rupert's paperEpidemiologist Veena Raleigh writing for The King's Fund - "What is happening to life expectancy in England" - April 2021Dr Rupert on Twitter

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  • We know the global population is rapidly ageing.

    We know longevity scientists are busy developing restorative treatments as they redefine ageing as a disease.

    It’s that medical model of steady decline that gallops to mind when we think of design for older people. It’s all panic alarms, stairlifts and mobility scooters.

    Designers shoot past The Big Middle years, 40s through 70s, to dependency and frailty before death.

    The shiny new version of the UK's Design Age Institute is tasked with moving the design of products and services beyond the cliches and the stigma of growing old.

    Colum Lowe is its director. Georgie Lee is responsible for building community. We spoke in London.

    Links

    Design Age InstituteThis Age ThingScooter for LifeColum on TwitterGeorgie on Twitter

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  • The COVID pandemic has thrust many of us into a state of acute stress and anxiety - manageable for some but a cliff edge to a full-blown mental health crisis for others.

    The loss of a loved one takes the trauma next-level.

    How we cope is highly personal.

    I, no surprise, have nothing to add to the explosion of advice out there about stress management and self-care and making it to the other side of The Awfulness intact, as unscathed as possible.

    But I’ve taken great care to find someone who does - someone with professional credentials with plenty to say that goes beyond the profusion of platitudes.

    Andy Cope calls himself the UK’s first ever Doctor of Happiness with good, scientific reason. I guarantee you will feel happier just listening to him. He sparkles.

    And if you act on his invaluable advice, you'll be on your way to shifting your attitude to achieve the happiness we all seek and deserve.

    Links

    Andy's training and development consultancy The Art of Brilliance

    Five minutes that might change your life

    Warning, tears may form when you watch Andy telling The Story of Jimmy's Diary

    Pre-order Andy's new book The Happiness Revolution

    Buy Andy's 'greatest hits' pick of all his books The Little Book of Being Brilliant

    Andy on Twitter

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    Hosted + created by Susan Flory

    Music: “Beautiful Day” by Sahin Koc

  • I’ve spent the past few days devouring Ravenous, a cracker of a science thriller written by my guest Sam Apple, who teaches science and creative writing to Masters of Arts students at Johns Hopkins.

    We learn about the life and work of biochemist Otto Warburg, the German-Jewish Nobel taureate who first proposed cancer as a metabolic disease.

    And we learn how the diet-cancer connection is now at the forefront of cancer research.

    This book has blockbuster movie written all over it - a gripping weave of history and science centred around an eccentric genius.

    Enjoy learning why!

    Links

    Sam's Johns Hopkins bioBuy Sam's book RavenousSam's piece in Wired on podcast alum Nir Barzilai's groundbreaking work on metformin: Forget the blood of teens, This pill promises to extend life for a nickel a popSam on Twitter

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  • In the second skin cancer special with skin cancer specialist Dr Fayne Frey, why you need to protect yourself by inspecting yourself and not just once a year.

    She implores us to do it every month. Pick a day and put it in your calendar. Scrutinise every nook, fold and cranny of our skin. If you notice any changes to freckles, moles or random spots, get in front of your family doctor or dermatologist without delay.

    I'm only feeling confident about the outcome of the surgery to remove the melanoma that suddenly appeared on my calf because I wasted no time telling my GP about it. An excision biopsy is being done in a couple of days.

    Dr Frey's prevention essentials are a timely reminder to all to pay more attention to this part of our healthy living routines. Never, she says, scrimp on sunscreen. Go for a trusted, big brand with a four or five star rating and slather it on liberally for a safer summer in the sun.

    Cover photo: MBatty via Pixabay

    Links

    How do I know if I have skin cancer? - Dr Frey writing for thedoctorweighsin.comMelanoma: What you need to know about diagnosis and treatment - Dr Frey's article on thedoctorweighsin.comDr Frey’s skincare education website FryFace.com – check out the Product Selector toolFayne on Twitter


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  • One in two of us will get cancer - it’s only a matter of what kind and when. I wouldn’t say I’ve morbidly dwelled on that unsettling fact in recent weeks, but I have had cause to consider it anew.

    Long story short, a skin cancer specialist has declared a flat brown blob that suddenly appeared on my lower leg is likely a malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. How likely? 80% likely. Excision biopsy surgery is booked for the end of the month. I still can’t quite believe it.

    I’m that whiter-shade-of-pale, green-eyed Irish prone to sunburn. I’ve been careful in the sun as an adult, slathering on sunscreen, but that wasn’t the case in my teens.

    Every summer day was spent swimming, slathering on baby oil, baking to a golden crisp on the various sandy beaches of my hometown, Sarnia, Ontario.

    It’s at the southern tip of Lake Huron on the American border, roughly the same latitude and climate as New York City. Eggs are fast-fried on summer sidewalks.

    On this episode of The Big Middle, the why and what of melanoma - diagnosis, treatment, prognosis.

    Back on the podcast with her skin-cancer-specialist cloak on, dermatologist Dr Fayne Frey, the founder of fryface.com.. that brilliant skincare education hub we explored in episode 49.

    Links

    How do I know if I have skin cancer? - Dr Frey writing for thedoctorweighsin.comMelanoma: What you need to know about diagnosis and treatment - Dr Frey's article on thedoctorweighsin.comDr Frey’s skincare education website FryFace.com – check out the Product Selector toolFayne on Twitter


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  • Many thanks for your emails, reviews and tweets of appreciation of my latest run of episodes on maximising your metabolic health with Prof Tim Noakes, Graham Philliips and Tucker Goodrich.

    I’m delighted to spoil you now with none other than Ben Bikman, bioenergetics PhD, superstar scientist.

    He is it when it comes to researching the role of insulin and fat cells in what he calls the Plagues of Prosperity - "The human race is eating itself into metabolic disarray".

    He has his own obesity and metabolism research lab at Brigham Young University.

    We get into all of it - the Prof Ben Bikman motherlode:

    How insulin resistance is the root cause of modern chronic diseases"The key to metabolic flexibility is getting insulin sensitive and allowing the body to shift between [sugar-burning and fat-burning] fuels"Why we all need to care about our insulin levels, even in our 20s and 30sHow insulin fertilizes fat cells and those secrete problematic hormonesWhy "hunger always wins" if your get-healthier strategy is eating lots of carbs and counting caloriesGlucagon and why protein doesn't mean trouble if you keep your blood sugar lowWhat fat and leptin have to do with infertility - "Fat is essential to human fertility"We also talk puberty, pregnancy, menopause, estrogen, metabolic rates, vegan ideology - "A purely vegan diet is incompatible with human survival" - and the "absolutely laughable and harmful" push to manufacture protein alternatives from plants and from animal cells - "I grow muscle cells in my lab.. that is a shockingly intensive process that involves a myriad of chemicals, hormones included"

    What a guy. So much knowledge shared with so much clarity, charisma and humility. You'll understand why his students adore him and why you'll want to listen to this one more than twice. Enjoy!

    LinksBen's new book Why We Get SickBen on "Insulin v Glucagon: The relevance of dietary protein" - from 2018's Low Carb Down UnderPCOS in young women + mild insulin resistanceFasting respiratory exchange ratio and resting metabolic rate as predictors of weight gain: the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on AgingThat "moment of weakness" Cold Cereal Lesson videoInsulinIQThe Clean Label ProjectBen on Twitter

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  • You're going to love this one, the second in a new strand of The Big Middle I'm calling Taking Your Shot.

    This is a story of professional ethics, motivation and agility that will inspire no end in this age of job insecurity. Pandemic unemployment is surging. More of us doing it for ourselves, setting up our own companies by default or design. We're repackaging and repurposing our skills and learning new ones to get off the soul-sucking treadmill of long commutes to jobs that no longer thrill or fulfil.

    Lucas Chambers is a dear friend and former colleague who took his shot at being his own boss seven years ago. He started a video production agency in Lausanne that he's grown into a tight team of 10.

    There have been many lessons along the way, some that run counter to the accepted wisdom of startup gurus. A pragmatist to the core, Lucas doesn't believe everyone can and should set up on their own. Critical to success, he says, is making sure there's a hot market for your wares. And surrounding yourself with the right people.

    "We grew together as a team. They were motivated. They realised what they had - here's an opportunity not to have a job we don't like. And here's a guy who can perhaps make it happen for us. They made a lot of effort to learn, to get better."

    I've worked with Lucas so I know a large measure of his success is down to his work ethic and personality; he's confident, charismatic and resourceful. If he doesn't know how to do something, he'll figure it out and deliver.

    It was heartwarming - and not surprising - to hear how he protects himself against entrepreneurial burnout by giving his home life equal weight. Weekends are always for family and friends. Balance achieved.

    Links

    SmartcutsShowreelHow big is that big green screen?Lucas on Linkedin

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  • What a thrill and privilege to have another peak health masterclass from legendary sports scientist Prof Tim Noakes.

    This eager student got it while hosting the first podcast for Pro Longevity - the award-winning, precision nutrition service of Graham Phillips.

    The retired University of Cape Town professor is one of the world’s most influential and energetic advocates of eating low-carb high-fat to halt the raging, parallel pandemic of cardio-metabolic disease. He’s reversed his Type 2 diabetes by restricting carbs and adding healthy fats after decades of adhering to standard dietary advice, heavy on grains, spare the fat. An ultra-endurance athlete, he'd been carb-loading to run marathons and teaching students to do the same.

    Prof Tim Noakes is transforming the lives of countless unhealthy people the world over through his writing, talks and education and research bodies The Noakes Foundation and the Nutrition Network.

    We agree with those who call Prof Noakes a "world resource". And he's as courageous as he is humble, having won a protracted legal challenge from organised nutrition in South Africa with unassailable scientific evidence.

    “I got it all wrong for 33 years”

    "Hunger makes you fat. Obesity is a disease of hunger."

    "Sugar [addiction] and the industrial food diet is such a driver of obesity. You can control your cravings by getting rid of the sugar and carbohydrates"

    "You cannot control your weight if you are eating four or five times a day. You have to be eating once or twice a day."

    "If we can educate one doctor, it will have a massive influence on their patients and public health."

    On my frustrating battle with menopausal weight gain: "I think a lot of people put on weight on this [#LCHF] diet.. Eating high fat is the problem. They need to up their protein [references the P:E regimen of Ted Naiman]... That's the only thing I understand at the moment...Makes sense to me that some people will benefit by eating a much higher protein diet and less fat but they must be satiated, that's the key.."

    On one insulin-dependent woman's experience of glucose turbulence in pregnancy: "Her insulin resistance was very bad during her pregnancy - she had to inject insulin. The moment the placenta was free her blood glucose dropped out of the sky and she had to be put on a glucose drip for three days. So, what's going on?..There is so much we don't understand. We've kind of scraped the surface with what we can measure."

    On large South African study of risk predictors of fatal COVID outcomes that"showed age and Type 2 diabetes - not tuberculosis and HIV Aids - were the only two factors that increased COVID risk by 8% to 12%.

    On an imaginary, blow-out day of carb feasting? Prof Noakes has "reprogrammed my brain" and won't eat the pizza. It "tastes so disgusting." But Graham would binge on a family pizza for two, a sackful of corn chips, a family bucket of battered chicken fried in "carcinogenic seed oils", then feel wretched for days.

    Links

    Prof Noakes writing for Crossfit: It's the Insulin Resistance, StupidLore of NutritionThe Real Meal RevolutionThe New Atkins for a New YouTim on TwitterGraham’s websiteGraham’s coaching videos – Beating Coronavirus, Live Healthier for Longer, Avoid a Health Crash, Veganism, Type 2 Diabetes, Sleep + StressGraham on Twitter

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  • I’m calling this episode Taking Your Shot. It’s what my guest Tina Woods said about her motivation and determination when we first met nearly two years ago, right after she'd helped launch The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity.

    She’s a serial social entrepreneur - founder and CEO of Longevity International, Collider Health and Collider Science.

    Writing a book wasn’t an ambition. But a publisher sought her out and, 30 interviews and 18 months later, 'Live Longer with AI' was off to the printers. And, imagine this, it was instantly picked up by the UK’s National Health Service, judged a must read for all staff. Every NHS worker is entitled to a free copy.

    We talk about the role of data, government, business and academia in a post-COVID world we hope pays more attention to reducing health and social inequality, get a progress report on the work of the APPG for Longevity, and hear how Tina's gone from taking her shot to taking her place as a leading figure in the healthy longevity arena.

    Links

    Tina's consultancy Collider HealthTina's other consultancy Collider ScienceLatest project Science Question TimeAPPG for Longevity's Open Life secures funding for longer, healthier lives - Feb 2021 article in Longevity TechnologyAPPG for Longevity's Business for HealthOur unhealthy nation - Dec 2020 piece in The Lancet by APPG for Longevity's chair Damian Green MP, co-founders Lord Filkin and TinaBuy Tina's book Live Longer with AI: How artificial intelligence is helping us extend our healthspan and live better tooOkay, if you must, here tooTina Woods on Twitter

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  • On this episode of The Big Middle, the compelling case against seed and vegetable oils still being touted as 'heart-healthy'. Those bottles of chemically-extracted fat that take up entire aisles of grocery stores are increasingly seen as hazardous to our health - key drivers of autoimmunity, macular degeneration and the modern plague of lifestyle diseases known as metabolic syndrome.

    Even the major makers of soybean, sunflower, corn and other seed and vegetable oils are quietly backing away from them, well aware of the biological damage they can do.

    Tucker Goodrich has been sounding the alarm over the health risks of seed oils for more than a decade. He suffered 20 years of gastrointestinal torment and much - scary - more that mystified his doctors. So he dug into the medical science himself, eventually pinpointing industrial seed oils as a villain in his sickness puzzle.

    Tucker's become a recognised world authority on the subject and I guarantee his Patient Heal Thyself story will blow your mind.

    Quotes

    "The problem with seed oils is they ultimately break down to some highly toxic substances [oxidative stress process] - both when you're cooking with them - and in the body."

    On debunking of key studies promoting the 'heart healthy' aspect of seed oils:"Is there another explanation for why we get heart disease other than this pathway that starts with seed oils and leads to oxidation of Omega 6 fats and consequent damage? There isn't. This is the predominant hypothesis in cardiovascular disease for why this is happening. But they don't say it. They just say take this statin and you'll have less LDL [cholesterol]."

    On how ditching gluten and seed oils, decades after he quit sugar to prevent more cavities, caused him to "forget" to eat carbs: "All my extra weight just fell off...my pants fell to the floor...What happened when I stopped eating seed oils is that I lost my desire to eat carbohydrates. I forgot to eat carbs for a week...Subsequently, I discovered I can bring back the stroke-like symptoms if I eat whole wheat."

    On how he'd been prone to breaking bones doing "stupid things" mountain biking and skiing, but broke none after ditching seed oils and gluten: "I'm like a rubber ball now...My healing capacity is up enormously...slipped and fell down the stairs of my ski condo.. later, I noticed a huge bruise ..but I just never felt it. It got weird enough that I was starting to look into whether I had leprosy. One of the symptoms of leprosy is that you can't feel your periphery."

    "It turns out there's literature on this. These metabolic products of seed oils break down into things that can induce pain. There's actually a fellow by the name of Christopher Ramsden who did a study into reducing the use of seed oils to reduce headaches."

    On taking over-the-counter Omega 3, 6, 9 supplements:"It's roughly equivalent to giving a drowning man a glass of water...We eat too much Omega 6 fats. Nobody needs to have more. Just as with age-related macular degeneration, cutting Omega 6 fats will make it easier for your body to access the more beneficial Omega 3 fats."

    You'll also hear

    How his Wall Street systems expertise, combined with his speed reading ability, helped him troubleshoot his many health problemsHow neuroscience + obesity researcher Stephan Guyenet's work made the link between diet and dental problemsYears of chronic diarrhea forced him to pack toilet paper wherever he wentAt 40, after 16 years with IBS, he had surgery for diverticulitisDust, hay fever and other allergies disappeared when he quit seed oils and glutenWomen in China who never smoked are getting lung cancer from inhaling carcinogenic fumes from cooking with seed oilsThe industry is reformulating seed oils to deal with the Omega 6 oxidation problem. Rapeseed and olive oil have fewer omega 6 fats, which are so unstable that they burst into flames when heatedThe surprising link to sunburn - you don't burn when you quit ingesting industrial seed oilsSkincare products made of seed oils don't pose problems, as far as he knows, but "you want to eat your skin care, you don't want to slather it on your skin"How Tucker's fiancé stopped using seed oils, added animal protein to her vegetarian diet, and recovered from FibromyalgiaWhat fats are healthy to eat and cook with? Butter or ghee for him. And beware olive oils are frequently adulterated with seed oils. A jar of olive oil lasts him about a year.His unbreakable rules to optimise his health

    Please consider the information in this episode as only that; it should not be construed as medical advice. Go to your GP or family doctor for that.

    Links

    Tucker's blog 'Yelling Stop' - loads of interesting articles about seed oils, healthy living and barefoot runningTucker on Twitter Neuroscientist Stephan Guyenet's websiteWant even deeper science on toxic seed oils? Here's Tucker with Dr Cate Shanahan on the Peak Human podcast

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  • "You can't join the dots unless you know what those dots are. There is a problem though in that once you've been bitten by this bug and once you understand that there is more to medicine than just prescribing a pill for every ill, it's really quite addictive because it works."

    The wise words of my wonderful guest Dr Sarah Davies - a functional medicine practitioner who keeps one foot in the mainstream medical camp in the UK, also working within the National Health Service as a General Practitioner.

    We hear why she felt compelled to turn to functional medicine to find the knowledge and space to dig deeper - holistically - to treat patients. Why her clients thrive on whole food diets, breaking lifelong addictions to refined sugar and fast food. We learn why and how she treats autoimmune disorders and a host of others ills that defy easy diagnosis. And why inflammation and insulin resistance are the root causes of the scourge of modern, chronic lifestyle diseases.

    We share a history of underperforming thyroid glands and of beating back serious bouts of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) by modifying our diets, eliminating gluten and other problematic foods. I was living in Geneva at the time of my RA diagnosis and followed the advice of my Swiss rheumatologist. I ended up taking progressively more toxic drugs over two years to slow the rogue attack on the cells that line the joints, making them stiff, swollen and painful.

    That standard protocol always suppresses - wrecks more like - the immune system.

    Dr Sarah, of course, knew better than to follow this treatment path. She investigated her diet as the probable cause of her RA. It took me longer to finally discover that, like her, I'm gluten-intolerant. Hers "vanished and never came back" when she changed her diet. It took me longer to reach the same, happy conclusion and suppress my symptoms.

    We close out this episode with Dr Sarah's advice on how to manage the extraordinary levels of stress we're all feeling. A good first step? Quit "doom-scrolling the news".

    I hope you find Dr Sarah's insights helpful to you or someone you know. Enjoy and [encouraging tone] hope you'll share liberally!

    Please view the information in this episode as only that; it should not be construed as medical advice. Go to your GP or family doctor for that.

    Links

    Dr Sarah's websiteDr Sarah's article on how to improve your gut healthDr Sarah's talk on Functional Medicine and the NHS at the Evolution of Functional Medicine Forum (2017)f.lux software to filter blue light3-4-5 breathing to lower stress: breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 4, breathe out slowly for 5Dr Jeffrey Bland (USA) known as the Father of Functional MedicineDr Dale Bredeson (USA) recognised expert in the mechanisms of Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseasesHypothyroid MomTwinsUK – Kings College London Prof Tim Spector’s landmark nutritional PREDICT study on twins

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  • It’s often said ageism is the last socially-sanctioned prejudice. Our failure to recognise it, confront it and make it as unacceptable as racism, sexism and ableism sets us up for our own future irrelevance.

    Thankfully, a global movement to expose it and end it has become an unstoppable force. As more of us live longer and age differently - rejecting the dominant 'old is awful' narrative - more of us are embracing the cause. We find like-minded people and a vast store of inspiration and resources at online education hub Old School, the brainchild of anti-ageism activist Ashton Applewhite. Hear her 2018 turn on The Big Middle here.

    This time, we meet Old School's co-founders, therapist Kyrié Carpenter and gerontologist Ryan Backer. We hear how the anti-ageism movement is taking off, about Old School's exciting collaboration with the World Health Organisation, why members of the ‘successful ageing' brigade don’t feature on the site, and how they, in their 30s, swap age shame and denial for acceptance and pride. Kyrié calls herself a Crone in Training; Ryan an Older Person in Training.

    Oh and we briefly talk hair. Will I ever join others in seeing hair dye use as a badge of dishonour in the battle against ageism and sexism? I doubt it but you never know, ask me again in 10 years.

    Links

    OldSchool.infoOld School on TwitterAshton Applewhite's websiteKyrié's websiteKyrie writes for and is Managing Editor of ChangingAging.org - the online platform of influential geriatrician-cum-thespian Dr Bill ThomasKyrié on TwitterRyan's websiteRyan on InstagramChristina Peoples' gerontology blog Gero What?!Ashton's Age Against the Machine interview with Kimberlé Crenshaw

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  • How to survive COVID by optimising your metabolic health.

    Eat real food. Ditch sugar. Avoid ultra-processed rubbish 'food'; it's addictive and keeps you hungry. Manage your stress with sleep and exercise.

    That's the topline advice of Graham Phillips, The Big Middle's resident metabolic science guy.

    He laments what he sees as a systemic failure to focus on the root cause of many COVID19 deaths - metabolic syndrome, the lifestyle cardio-metablic diseases already killing millions every year.

    "You would assume only the adaptive immune system is the bit that works against COVID19, that unless we've either been infected or had a jab, there's nothing we can do. But that's not true.

    The immune system is multilayered and your first line of defence in your immune system is the mucosal lining of your gut and your nasal cavities. And guess what looks after your immune system? Your microbiota, your bugs. So if you eat healthy food...you'll be far more resistant to the infection."

    Links

    Graham’s websiteGraham’s coaching videos – Beating Coronavirus, Live Healthier for Longer, Avoid a Health Crash, Veganism, Type 2 Diabetes, Sleep + StressGraham’s blog: What is ultra-processed food? His article The Personal Touch in Pharmacy Magazine – Oct 2019TwinsUK – Kings College London Prof Tim Spector’s landmark nutritional PREDICT study on twinsPublic Health Collaboration UKDietDoctor.comGraham on Twitter

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  • How to survive COVID by taking care of your gut.

    Graham Phillips is back on The Big Middle in his coveted new role as resident Metabolic Science Brainbox. His knowledge runs deep and he's also a seriously nice guy. Isn't it fabulous he's coming on as a regular now, two months after his first outing as a guest? Listen to episode 64 to catch his debut.

    This pandemic has shown that lifestyle diseases that set us up for the worst COVID outcomes are within our power to avoid. If we know how.

    Prepare to learn all you need know about strengthening your immune system to survive an encounter with The Virus.

    Here's a sampler from our conversation:

    "80% of your immune system is in your gut"

    "Your microbiome is your second brain"

    "95% of your supply of serotonin - your happy hormone - is in your gut, not your brain"

    "The state of your microbiome is your destiny, not your genes"

    "We have 100 trillion bugs in our gut but only a few more genes than a banana"

    "Just two nights of bad sleep will cut the efficacy of the winter flu shot by half"

    "Before you get your COVID jab, make sure you get a couple of nights of good sleep"

    "Look after your gut bugs and they'll look after you"

    You'll also hear more about the lifestyle changes I made to all but win my battle with autoimmune attacks Rheumatoid Arthritis and Thyroiditis that struck at menopause. The heavy drugs I took for the RA certainly did a number on my immune system.

    Next week with Graham, how to survive COVID by optimising your metabolic health.

    Enjoy and go well...

    Links

    Graham's websiteGraham's coaching videos - Beating Coronavirus, Live Healthier for Longer, Avoid a Health Crash, Veganism, Type 2 Diabetes, Sleep + StressTwinsUK - Kings College London Prof Tim Spector's landmark nutritional PREDICT study on twinsGraham's blog: What is ultra-processed food? His article The Personal Touch in Pharmacy Magazine - Oct 2019Graham on Twitter

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  • With pandemic unemployment surging and businesses collapsing thanks to frozen funding and trade in the time of COVID, we explore The Big Middle big issue of starting a business. Crazy idea or go for it in the spirit of it's now or never? If you're over 50, it might be your best shot at financing your future. But as you know already, there's a heckuva lot more to it than just having a brilliant idea.

    Canadian entrepreneur Wendy Mayhew wrote a How To book to help you weigh up the risks and rewards. And we meet three over 50s who went for it and wish they'd done it sooner, all featured on her Wise 50 over 50 awards list in Canada. She joins me from my old student stomping grounds in Ottawa.

    Links

    Wendy's website,, where you can buy her bookWendy's article in The Globe & Mail newspaper Older entrepreneurs are worthy of support, tooWendy on TwitterLisa Hallsworth, founder of Rillea TechnologiesLisa on TwitterLinda Peers, founder of The Cultured CoconutLinda on InstagramJacques Cantin on Linkedin, founder of D Givre (no website, in R&D phase

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  • Mining the minds of elite American men in their 80s and 90s for answers to life's big questions isn't really the done thing these days. This is a time when global culture, rightly so, is calling male privilege into question.

    But as he coped with challenging physical reminders of his ageing self in his late 60s - hips replaced, back surgeries - gerontologist Thomas R. Cole wanted to know more about the road ahead. He sought answers from a dozen men of immense privilege, exemplars of the 1930s through 1950s American model of masculinity and achievement.

    His hand-picked group - many now gone - included Denton Cooley, the first surgeon to implant an artificial heart into a human; George Vaillant, the former research director of the famed Harvard Study of Adult Development; Paul Volcker, the former head of the Federal Reserve; philosopher Dan Callahan, co-founder of The Hastings Center, the world’s first bioethics research institute; Hugh Downs, veteran TV broadcaster and creator of The Today Show; and Ram Dass, his generation’s foremost American teacher of Eastern spirituality.

    We talk about their guidance, which features in Old Man Country, Cole's book of rare intimacy and insights into what it’s like to live so long having prospered due to privilege as well as effort. What happens to high-profile men when they step out of the limelight into "the province of retirement — a barren place often marked by an absence of wealth, prestige and personal meaning."

    Old Man Country is Cole's "autobiographical field report" too - a poignant account of his own search for what eluded his father, who ended his life when Cole was just four.


    Links

    Tom's profile - Director, McGovern Center For Humanities & Ethic, McGovern Chair In Medical Humanities at the University of TexasBuy Old Man CountryTom's piece about his book for Next AvenueBuy The Journey of Life: A Cultural History of Aging in America, which was nominated in 1992 for a Pulitzer Prize

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  • What happens when your kids, all grown up, don’t call, don’t visit, don’t care.

    Had things gone to plan, you’d be hearing an answer from a friend I’ll call Beth, 52, mother of three and desperately sad. Her eldest, now 32 and flying high as an oncologist, never calls, never visits and openly tells her father, sister and brother she has no interest in having a relationship with her mother.

    Was there a cataclysmic rupture in their relationship - an event Beth can identify? She says no. Has she tried every which way to get her daughter to open up, tell her why she’s being shunned? Yes, says Beth. She’s also suggested they see a therapist. Not even a no to that one. No response.

    Coming on The Big Middle, anonymously, was too hard for Beth. Her life is cloaked by heartache and confusion.

    This is a little-reported flaw in the fantasy 'Happy Families' social script we’re all fed. The advent of The Big Middle years doesn’t mean there’s less drama and more love and respect in both directions.

    My interest in this is born of comments from Beth and two other mothers of grownups. In the past year, all surprised me with “Susan, I wish I’d never had them. They couldn't care less about me. I only hear from them when they want something.”

    I know why they felt they could share that with me without judgement. I love kids but never felt in a hurry to make my own. That ambivalence held through a succession of international jobs, miscarriages and the cancer death of my beloved in my mid-40s. It’s harder to share the dark reality that your kids have abandoned you with friends living that Happy Families fantasy of enduring mutual love and support and so much fun had by all whenever you’re all together.

    That’s my springboard to take a wider look at the flaws in that social script. Our guide is Rachel Melville-Thomas, a child-psychotherapist of 30yrs experience in the US, UK, France and Switzerland.

    Links

    Rachel's websiteRachel's profileRachel's advice in The Guardian's Ask Annalisa Barbieri -
    Our relationship with our 32-year-old daughter has broken downRachel's input in BBC report on estrangement from perspecitve of adult children - Why it's OK I'm not seeing my family this Christmas - Rachel's advice in The Irish News - Ask the Expert: How is our divorce likely to affect our children?Rachel's article for Huff Post - Parents and Teaches Must Do More for Children's Mental Health That piece in Bustle - 7 Things You Don't Owe Your ParentsRachel on Twitter
  • This pandemic has swiftly concentrated minds on the fact health is the truest measure of wealth.

    For decades, thanks to the corporate capture of the food sector by vested interests, we've been popping pills to treat but not cure chronic diseases - many rooted in our subsistence on ultra-processed fakery marketed as food. Many of those diseases strike in The Big Middle years, mid-40s - mid-70s.

    Like a growing number of the world's leading scientists and medical professionals, my guest is working tirelessly to wean us off the received wisdom that fat makes us fat, a calorie is a calorie, and when you eat doesn't matter.

    The UK's Graham Phillips is known as The Pharmacist Who Gave Up Drugs. He's getting spectacular results with a new coaching service for people in metabolic distress: personalised nutrition and lifestyle tweaks based on biometric data and blood sugar monitoring.

    He also sees a bigger role in disease prevention for community pharmacists, the unsung heroes of the COVID crisis.

    Links

    Graham's websiteGraham's coaching videos - Beating Coronavirus, Live Healthier for Longer, Avoid a Health Crash, Veganism, Type 2 Diabetes, Sleep + StressGraham's blog: What is ultra-processed food? Graham's opinion piece Abandoned on the NHS Front Line in Pharmacy Network News - Apr 2020Graham's article The Personal Touch in Pharmacy Magazine - Oct 2019Graham on Twitter

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  • We are talking work this time - the now, how, why and even the what-to-wear of it through the murky lens of COVID.

    "None of us know where it's headed; it's an uncertain pattern we're facing, an uncertain future and I think there''s a lot of fear out there but there's also quite a bit of opportunity. I'm seeing some glimmers of hope out there and ways that we're going to shift our workplace and the way we approach our work. But there are all kinds of opportunities coming up through this with this new world we're facing and I think of it as work transformed."

    Our guide Kerry Hannon, author, speaker, work, money and personal finance expert. She taps into the zeitgeist of our rapidly ageing, rollercoaster coronavirus world for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, PBS Next Avenue, Money, US News & World Report and many more.

    She’s called on for comment by major and minor broadcast media, delivers keynotes, and writes books - 13 so far (a 14th was custom for a private client so not available to us).

    Last year, she gave us Never Too Old to Get Rich: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting a Business Mid-Life and, just out, Great Pajama Jobs: How to Land a Job Without the Commute.

    Links

    Kerry's website Kerry writing in The New York Times - Aug 2020 - With Virtual Reality, Caregivers Can Become PatientsKerry's opinion piece for MarketWatch - July 2020 - As Trump and Biden trade age insults, older workers sufferKerry for PBS Next Avenue - Dec 2019 - Social Media Tips for Midlife EntrepreneursKery writing in The New York Times - Aug 2020 - Keeping a Dream Alive During the PandemicKerry and The Big Middle alum Marci Alboher, VP Encore.org - Apr 2020 - on Andy Levine's podcast Second Act StoriesKerry on Twitter

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