#131 Tim Spector: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About Food Is Wrong


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By Dr Rangan Chatterjee: GP. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

It’s a bold claim: that (almost) everything you’ve been told about food is wrong. But by the end of today’s conversation, I think you’ll be questioning what you previously thought was true and embarking on a new way of eating that’s right for you.

My guest, Tim Spector, is a Professor of Genetic Epidemiology and Head of the Department of Twin Research at King’s College London. He’s a leading expert on the gut microbiome whose work has transformed what we know about nutrition and health.

Tim’s latest work highlights how much we really don’t know about food. Aside from the consensus that plant foods are good for us, ultra-processed junk foods are not, there’s very little evidence or expert agreement on anything else. So there’s most definitely not a one-size-fits-all ‘correct’ way to eat.

During our chat we cover calorie counting, artificial sweeteners, the dangers of ultra-processed foods and how poor science lets the food industry maintain that its products are healthy, simply because they’ve not been proven to be harmful. We discuss the benefits of fasting, and the perception that you need to graze all day. The diet industry perpetuates the myth that if we don’t have a snack to hand at all times, we’ll have an energy dip, lack focus and we might even faint! For most of us, it’s actually the reverse that’s true.

With this in mind, we agree that nutrition should be at the heart of the curriculum in schools. Our children can cope at school without mid-morning and afternoon snacks. I share Tim’s passion that we should be teaching our children how to recognise real versus fake food with the same enthusiasm that we teach them to read and write.

I find the concept of personalised nutrition hugely empowering. As Tim states in his most recent book, ‘You are very unlikely to be average’. I’ve seen it first-hand with my patients, many of whom respond completely differently to the same ways of eating. It’s why I describe my approach as ‘diet agnostic’ and, like Tim, I’d actively encourage you to start experimenting with what, how and when you eat. I hope this conversation inspires you to explore what makes you thrive.

Show notes available at drchatterjee.com/131

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