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

by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee   /  November 11, 2020

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.

Disclaimer: The content in the podcast and on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.*

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'The first thing is to realise is that everyone's unique' Share on X

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*DISCLAIMER: Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on the podcast or on my website.

†Disclosure: All books marked with a † are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We take part in Amazon’s affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon’s website. You are not charged any extra by using these links to purchase books.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee MbChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP, MRCGP