April 20, 2021 26 min read

On the very first episode of The Power Is Within Us, Sunna speaks with Dr Gemma Newman, the plant power doctor. Dr Gemma has over 17 years of clinical experience as a family doctor and is passionate about the healing power of plant-based nutrition; earlier this year, Dr Gemma released her first book 'The Plant Power Doctor, A Simple Prescription for a Healthier You' which received fantastic feedback. 

In this episode, Sunna and Dr Gemma talk about the importance of plant-based nutrition and how to make sure that what you're eating is really going to nourish your body and your health. In particular, they look at the importance of vitamin D and C-reactive protein, as well as discussing some of the psychology behind why it can be hard to make big changes to our diet and lifestyle - but why it's absolutely worth it in the long run. 

You can listen to the full episode on SpotifyGoogle and Apple, or you can read the full transcript below, though as it is computer-generated there may be some errors; if you want the best experience we recommend listening to the podcast!

 

Sunna:[00:00:02] Good morning, Gemma. Good to have you on the podcast. Gemma has been a practitioner and a family doctor for over 17 years. She's a member of the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine and on the board of plant based health professionals. And above all, we are passionate about mind, body and holistic health. Thanks for joining us, Gemma.

Dr Gemma:[00:00:25] Thanks. And that was a lovely introduction.

Sunna:[00:00:28] You're welcome. So, Gemma, what got you into holistic health and made you kind of move beyond just the pure realms of medicine?

Dr Gemma:[00:01:17] Well, there were so many things that that led me on this path, but I remember being a young and enthusiastic doctor and thinking that I was going to save lots of lives. And although I knew lots of protocols and guidelines and Western medicine is absolutely fantastic when you're in a car accident where you need intensive care treatments, I realize that in the community, which was my passion, I felt like I was really managing chronic disease most of the time. And what I really wanted it to be was saving lives in slow motion. So I began to research how can we start to prevent people from getting these diseases that we all are familiar with that we're all potentially facing in our lives? One and two of us potentially may have a cancer diagnosis. The vast majority of us will die of either heart disease or cancer at some stage. I wanted to be able to help people prevent a premature death from these causes. And so that started me on my journey. And there's a quote from Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which I heard. And it just it got me to the core. And he said that sooner or later you're going to have to stop pulling people out of the river and instead you're going to have to walk upstream and figure out why it is they keep falling in. And for me, that was so powerful. He was talking about people's spiritual health and obviously psychological health, the things that make them tick. But for me, that's very much linked with our physical health as well. And in fact, all three of those things are really intimately linked. So that really began me on my journey. And I'd been interested in fitness. I'd been interested in psychology and learning about all these things. But, you know, when I when I looked into plant-based nutrition, I found that to be particularly interesting just because of the benefits of plants for our health potential longevity benefits as well.

Sunna:[00:03:12] Absolutely. That's a great story from Desmond Tutu. I mean, it is such a powerful thing to just go to the calls. And if you fix the cause, then you fix the problem. And I think too often we get stuck at the symptom. So that's incredible. So you mentioned plants. You're also known as the plant power doctor. So got you focused on the energy and the power and the capability of plants.

Dr Gemma:[00:03:40] It's a catchy, catchy phrase, right? So, I mean, it started, I suppose, when my husband was training for the London Marathon. He was getting a lot of inflammation and injury. And so he began to research ways in which he could improve his performance. And he looked into runners who were running two or three times a marathon distance. And he was trying to think, well, what are they doing that I'm not? And he looked into his training techniques, his footwear. But he also started to look at what he was eating and he realized that they were eating a very rich diet filled with fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, herbs and spices, nuts and seeds. And he realized that they were getting results partly because of the amount of these foods that they were consuming. So he decided to give it a go. I was sceptical. I thought, well, you know, could it really be just what your eating is going to make a difference? But I was really surprised that he did tremendously well. He managed to massively improve his marathon running time. And I thought, well, could it be to do with the plants? And I began to do some research. And we know that plants are incredibly anti-inflammatory. They have a high antioxidant content phytonutrient, you know, insoluble soluble fibre protein at the lot. Sorry, sorry about my dog. Now that I've got the full package. And so that's what got me started into researching other things like could they be helpful for preventing disease? Because my passion is my patients, my passion is preventing disease rather than athleticism. So for me, I want to know, how does this affect cancer? How does this affect heart disease? How does this affect hormonal health, skin health, longevity? And I began to realise that all these things are intimately linked in the literature and in real life. So it was it was a really exciting revelation.

Sunna:[00:05:34] Yeah, no, amazing. I mean, I think that’s the bit we've almost forgotten, isn't it, is that we are a system. We are some of our parts. You know, we regenerate ourselves fully every seven years. So we're almost like a new collection of cells every seven years. And what are those cells going to be made up of? Well, the field we put in your body and the quality of that feel. So if you put in. Processed food, all these kinds of things and the quality of those cells at the end of that regeneration cycle is really going to be quite, quite poor. So that's fascinating to health to hear. And so you've just launched your new book, The Plant Doctor, A Simple Prescription for a Healthier You back in January. How's that been for you launch in your first book? And how did it go?

Dr Gemma:[00:06:22] Yeah, it's been absolutely fantastic. You know, I didn't know what to expect. I think the journey for me has been probably different from new authors that didn't release a book at the height of a pandemic. But it was also really exciting and really timely because, you know, we have to consider my health now more than ever. And this is really kind of brought us into a stark realisation of our own health vulnerabilities. And so, yeah, it was the perfect timing. It's done really well so far. And I've got to number one on Amazon, best seller in popular medicine. Number one, I'm a seller in free living. Number two, Amazon best seller and cooking veggie cooking. I think at one point it was number fifty-one and all of that nonfiction books in the U.K. So it was amazing.

Sunna:[00:07:14] You mentioned it was like number one in popular medicine. And that interests me a lot because you obviously in the title, you call it a simple prescription, which is a kind of medicinal term. And yet in my world, where I deal with the regulators and what we're allowed to say, that the first line of the regulation from the European Food Standards Agency is food is not medicine. But you say food is medicine and it's a simple prescription for better health. So what's your what's your opinion on that? Have you had any experience or backlash on your messaging around food is medicine and can heal?

Dr Gemma:[00:07:55] I think it's a really interesting discussion point. And so far I haven't had a backlash since the book's been released. But there is time. I never, never say never. So it's a very contentious issue. And, you know, putting it simply food is not technically medicine because it doesn't have the same kind of regulation, the same ability to do trials like you would in a pharmaceutical setting. So, yes, that you know, on a practical level, if you're talking about regulations, then no, it's not technically medicine. If you're talking about its ability to help prevent and potentially reverse diseases, then maybe. Yes, I think the problem is we have a lot of other associations with food. We need food to survive. We have emotional attachment to food. We have memories attached to food. We have traditions. And food can also be something that drives illness. So in that sense, it wouldn't be a medicine. It would be the absolute opposite of a medicine. So it's a really interesting and nuanced discussion point for somebody with an eating disorder that could potentially threaten their life, such as anorexia nervosa, that you could actually describe food as medicine because it's the thing that is helping to prevent them from losing their life.

Dr Gemma:[00:09:16] But we have to look at the underlying psychology around why we eat, what we eat. And I think that's an important part of the puzzle. I think I understand people's frustrations when they see someone talk about food as medicine because they think, what does that mean? That people are going to reject actual medicines in favour of food and lifestyle. You know, you hear stories of people who have cancer diagnosis and they go off to private clinics and they have no I.V. drips and they and they avoid chemotherapy. And these kinds of stories make people very wary about discussing food as medicine. But I think if we really try to just take a step back and look at the full picture view, we can see that clearly food, as you've described, is is really the building block of our body is what we use to build our body. And so, yes, of course, it's important. It's health giving as well as its health taking away. And so what we choose to eat and what we choose to put on our plate can have really important ramifications for our health. So, yeah, I'd say loosely, it probably is medicine if you're still using it as such.

Sunna:[00:10:28] But consequences. I love your balanced approach and being able to see it from both sides because, you know, I think in today's kind of social media world, everything seems to be binary, right? It either is or isn't or you have vegan or your carnivore or you know, there's this whole kind of argument all the time about who's right and who's wrong in the reality of life is far too nuanced for it to be that binary. And we should have a greater understanding. And pay greater attention to where it can be helpful as medicine and how it can help, and then, you know, as you say in some instances is absolutely not. And we shouldn't just throw the baby out with the bathwater and say medicine is bad because medicine is phenomenal. It's incredibly powerful stuff and it's saved so many lives. You know, there are just some instances where you'd be better off addressing the root cause than you would be the symptom. So I absolutely agree with what you say. So the reason why we wanted to get you on today's podcast, JAMA, is because we are launching a partnership with thriver. And the purpose of the partnership is to create a program around helping people take control of their health, where they measure their biomarkers at the start of an eight-week journey where they make lifestyle, diet, food and movement and sleep interventions to improve their health over eight weeks and then measure their biomarkers again at the end. And so the first point we're measuring and talking to people about is a fundamental pillar of health that they should understand. That level is their vitamin D status and their blood. So could you explain a little bit more about why vitamin D is important overall health and immune health specifically?

Dr Gemma:[00:12:18] Yeah, vitamin D, which technically is actually a hormone, is produced primarily by our skin to sunlight exposure. And incredibly, many of us are deficient in vitamin D, I think partly because of the Northern Institute in which we live, but also partly because of our indoor lifestyles. We spend far less time outside and of course, we're encouraged to wear sunscreen when we do see sunshine, which inhibits our ability to synthesize vitamin D. So interestingly, there are some studies to suggest that when you have normal vitamin D levels and sort of long term healthy sun exposure and actually overall reduces your premature mortality risk, which I think is pretty fascinating, it also has an impact on improving your ability to modulate your immune system. There was a recent analysis of, I think, 16 studies and people who had vitamin D supplementation were at lower risk of developing respiratory infections. And that was especially important when they already had a deficiency. Their risk, I think, reduced by up to a third in terms of developing things like pneumonia, influenza and other respiratory infections. So there are a multitude of ways in which vitamin D can be helpful. We can get some from food. But honestly, most of it is not really from our food. Only a maximum of 10 percent can we get from our food and things like oily fish, sunbathed mushrooms, actually. So if you have mushrooms that are brown from having been exposed to sunlight, they contain vitamin D as well. But 90 percent of our vitamin D comes to our skin. And when most of us are deficient, especially if we have anything even slightly darker than a porcelain white skin tone, we may also find living in the UK. So we would struggle to get the right amount of vitamin D for our skin. And so I would recommend supplementation to ensure that you're getting the right amount. And it is really important, I think, to have your levels checked because you won't know exactly how much to supplement unless you know what your starting point is.

Sunna:[00:14:27] Absolutely. I wanted to touch on the food point because I find this fascinating. So obviously is quite hard to get a lot of vitamin D from food, but little tips like you mentioned. So the urine and the brown and mushroom, the more vitamin D, so the Chestnut kind of mushrooms because you've always got the white and the Chestnut. So we should always go for the chestnut, which is a good

Dr Gemma:[00:14:48] Time of the mushroom. The higher the vitamin D content.

Sunna:[00:14:51] Easy. That is a great tip. And yeah I mean obviously oily fish like you mentioned. One thing I would add which I thought was it blew my mind and this is where the quality of food is of crucial importance. I saw a study which showed the difference in vitamin D content in your egg can range between one point five micrograms and 2.5 micrograms, depending on whether you're buying a battery, egg, free range egg or a free range organic egg. And so the quality of that animal's life directly impacts the amount of nutrition that's in that food by a huge, huge amount. And I think that's something we often forget. We think everything is the same and we'll buy the cheapest on the shelf. But actually the quality is super important and I'm sure it's similar with the mushrooms buying local, seasonal, organic, if possible, would make a big difference. Right.

Dr Gemma:[00:15:53] I don't know about the nutrient content of vegetables and the difference with regard to organic or nonorganic, but I do agree that quality does matter. I think, you know, with regard to things like grass fed beef, I know that has a higher omega three content compared to conventionally reared cows. But yeah, I think you're right, there is there is an argument to say, let's buy local, let's buy seasonal, if if only the bare minimum to support your local farmers. Because, you know, we have a very fractured food system. And I think it's really great to be able to support local farmers, local businesses. But in terms of I suppose I would give a slight tangent in terms of environmental health, I think it's definitely worth looking at more plant-based foods in order to be able to maintain, you know, a high likelihood of ensuring we have good environmental health. But, yeah, you're right. I think it is really important to think about quality and certainly with regard to plant proteins, variety. So you're going to be looking at all different colors of the rainbow and what you eating. So that would be really important to look at to-

Sunna:[00:17:08] -Also to bringing it back to vitamin D. What does a good vitamin D level look like? You know, what should people be aiming for? I mean, we've got some stats here where it says 74 percent of people have below optimum levels of vitamin D for well being in the UK, which is a stat provided by Fourth Life, and they do biomarker testing. What do you look for? Do you ever test your patients and their levels?

Dr Gemma:[00:17:35] I do, actually, perhaps more than most. And what I find is that many people have a low vitamin D, many people, and I think that anything less than seventy five nanomoles per litre is suboptimal. I'd probably give them up to about 200 as being normal or optimal. And so yeah, most people fall well below seventy five and it's surprising I've see people who have very light skin, extremely tan, and they can be coming in at sort of 35, 40 at times. And people who have slightly darker skin tones, who have jobs where they're not outside or daylight, then most people aren't gardeners or people that are working outside. I see people with levels less than 20 very frequently, which is which is really suboptimal indeed, and it requires immediate treatment. So I think it definitely is worth looking at because you wouldn't know unless you tested.

Sunna:[00:18:37] And what are some of the kind of symptoms that come out of that, what sort of issues do patients come in with?

Dr Gemma:[00:18:44] Mainly tiredness and bone pain. I get a lot of patients that have just all over aches and pains and they find that they’re relieved when they have sort of a high dose vitamin D supplement, which to me is an anecdotal example. But I believe that the reason why they've improved is because they were able to get their vitamin D normalized. So the main thing would be aches and pains. There is some link as well between low vitamin D status and autoimmune conditions, although that that isn't completely well defined. I find that really interesting. I wonder if there's any kind of link there and things like they've noticed that multiple sclerosis, for example, is more common at northern latitudes and is a question I do wonder whether there might be a link. But ultimately, I think it is important to get your vitamin D looked at. You can decide on a high dose supplement if you're very low, if you're borderline low, you can take a lower dose supplement. And even if your levels are normal, you could consider taking a regular low dose supplement just to get you a little bit higher so that when you're in the winter months, you are able to feel confident that you've got.

Sunna:[00:19:56] Yeah, and I think that's an important point around the different doses for different needs. Right. Because public health, England blanket recommendation, 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day. But actually studies have shown that if you're taking that 10 micrograms and you really have a deficiency-

Dr Gemma:[00:20:14] It's a drop in the ocean. It really doesn't make a difference if you've already got a deficiency.

Sunna:[00:20:20] Exactly. And when 74 percent of the UK has suboptimal, we should potentially be looking at kind of higher, more corrective restorative doses that will help make that impact quicker. And that's what we do with tonic. We try and make high dose supplements for high impact and fast action. So you're really going to feel that benefit quickly, which is why it's part of the program, obviously, because we have 30 micrograms of vitamin D and then all the benefits of the zinc. The plants and the vitamin C as well, which should hopefully, you know, help improve those levels quite quickly, I've tested it on myself. It does work. I've definitely corrected my vitamin D levels several times and made them go in the right direction, which is good.

Dr Gemma:[00:21:07] Oh, that's wonderful. I would just give you a slight caveat for anybody who's really excited about vitamin D supplementation levels of more than four thousand a day unless you have a deficiency may not be a good idea because it's a fat soluble vitamin so it can build up in the system. So if you have a very low level, that would be absolutely fine. But if you're regularly taking more than four thousand units a day and you have normal levels, then just be cautious because that would be potentially lead toxicity.

Sunna:[00:21:39] Absolutely. And just to clarify, four thousand IU is how many micrograms I'm going to test your maths.

Dr Gemma:[00:21:48] So I can tell you that on the spot I can tell you that 25 micrograms is a thousand IU.

Sunna:[00:21:56] I know we've got 30 micrograms in each Tonic, because vitamin D is vital. It's crucially important to so many things. And like you say, even just energy and mood. Right. And how you feel in your body on a day to day basis and then not even mentioning immune health and auto immune and all the other things that it could potentially help. And, you know, I won't we won't go into it. But there are now 54 studies showing that there can be some improvement in patient outcomes with covid as well, which have shown it there. But the scientific community still haven't defined those concrete enough evidence. So at some point, hopefully they will. And so the next part of our biomarker test is the C reactive protein C-RP. So for those that don't know what is C, reactive protein-

Dr Gemma:[00:22:59] -Is really commonly tested thing in the blood panel and is a protein is produced in your liver when your body's experiencing inflammation. So it's not specific to any particular thing. You just know that if it's raised, there is some form of inflammation occurring within the body. So, for example, if somebody has had recent surgery or they've had a heart attack or they've had a severe infection, you'll see the CERP levels rising, very high levels rising with the sort of inflammatory arthritis, that sort of thing. And it's slightly different from the high sensitivity S.O.P. So I'm not sure which one that you're providing for people, but with COPD, it's a more general look at inflammation in the body and high sensitivity is slightly different measure. And that's used for patients with a five to 10 percent chance of heart disease. And it's a way of looking at the heart attack risk. So it's a slightly different thing to test for.

Sunna:[00:24:02] Yeah, what we're using it for is very much to measure baseline level of inflammation in the body to understand where your overall health is, because I guess inflammation, I guess chronic inflammation, high levels of inflammation over a long period can have poor health outcomes, can increase increased risk of heart attacks and heart disease and other things. And I feel like it's quite a good general kind of baseline to understand what's going on in your body. 

Dr Gemma:[00:24:36] If it's raised and you start to think about why that could be and it might lead you in that sort of different direction.

Sunna:[00:24:42] Yeah, and like you said, it's about understanding where it's coming from. Is it the food? I mean, is it you know, I know athletes, if they overtrain, can also have high COPD. It's important to make sure you take the test, you know, maybe on a day you an exercised to not impact the levels. And so, I mean, inflammation can be good as well. Right.

Dr Gemma:[00:25:05] And so, yes, I think your body. Yes, exactly. Your body. And sometimes you have to say what is inflammation is a process where your body is actually trying to help you out. So there's some sort of assault on the body and then your inflammatory proteins and your immune system. I mean, markers come along and they try to dampen down inflammation. But so where something goes red and goes hot west, where you start to have seepage of serious fluid, these are all your body's ways of actually minimising the effect of an insult to the body. So the stress fluid is there to dilute any kind of toxins and the redness is there to improve the blood flow so you can get more immune cells there. So it is your body's defense mechanism, but clearly you don't want your body to have. To be on defense mode 24/7, so, yes, I'd say overall it is good to bring inflammation down where you can.

Sunna:[00:25:59] Yeah, exactly. And that's like we were talking about earlier. The context is everything. A short burst of inflammation to fight an infection or a cough that you've had on your thumb, you know, super useful. And it's a fundamental process to our survival. But chronic inflammation and having those levels raised for a long time is where it can cause kind of systemic problems. So what are some of the kind of natural ways you can reduce inflammation in the body?

Dr Gemma:[00:26:30] Oh, there's so many. I think probably the top way is to eat more plants, because there was a study I read recently around having a higher plant, which Whole Foods diet was able to sort of reduce sea levels, actually, and in a recent study I read. So that's a great way of doing it, making sure that you sleep well, making sure that you move your body. You mentioned athletes and training and how it can increase you up. Yes, it can in the short term. But in the long term, it's really great for modulating the ability of the blood vessels to work properly and overall reducing inflammation. So definitely moving your body is a good thing because it helps to engage the democratic system as well, which is how your immune cells tend to get from A to B, and reducing stress is important because when we have increased stress, we've got the sympathetic nervous system in overdrive, increased levels of courses of an adrenaline, and that can cause chronic inflammation as well. And so it's important to look at how can you reduce stress, the power of the breath, the power of moving the body, the power of mindfulness or meditation or journaling or laughter. You know, any of the things that make you feel good healthily are always that you can reduce inflammation.

Sunna:[00:27:54] And you mentioned plant. Are there specific plants, incredibly powerful, reducing inflammation or just all? In general,

Dr Gemma:[00:28:03] Different plants have different properties. And the beauty of it is when you have a variety that they can work in synergy. I have recently discovered some of the benefits of broccoli sprouts and that that's not Brussels sprouts and that's not broccoli that's sprouting seeds that you grow. And they have the highest concentration of soil for a farm, which is a fantastic anticancer compound. Reducing inflammation antioxidant is it's 80 percent bioavailable. Most people have never really even heard of broccoli sprouts, but they are super easy, super cheap. You don't need to spend a lot of money. You can go to them at home without a garden, without soil. I'm actually starting my sprouting journey, so I'm really excited about it. But yeah, I think the main thing is to think colour and variety.

Sunna:[00:28:50] Colour and variety. Absolutely. And I can attest to being a Sprouter myself. You just Google broccoli sprouts and kit and you get these little plastic things where you can water the sprouts and you get the seeds with it and it's amazing. And they grow in about three or four days and then you have them and then you put them in your salads, you put them in smoothies, whatever you do, they're incredibly good and as you say, very rich and so perfect. It's a great, great tip, that one. So in a week challenge, what we're trying to get people to do is make eight changes and simple changes each week across key pillars of nutrition, exercise, sleep, mood. But you've obviously had a lot of patients come to you with varying issues and conditions. What are some of the go to tips or advice you've been able to give your patients to lead a healthier life and ones that are simple to prescribe adjectival your book?

Dr Gemma:[00:29:52] Yeah, I think what is the simplest thing is eat more plants. So wherever you can, if you're making a dish, how could I have more plants to this? How could I add more veggies to this? How could I add more to go into this? Is there a way for me to maximize the nutrient content whilst minimizing the amount processed foods that will probably be the simplest thing and find a simple swaps? I find things that you love and then make some, you know, plant focused swaps that you can enjoy. Finding your way is really important as well. Having a positive reason for making changes and making that part of your value system. What helps you get up in the morning? What helps you live? What is important to you? What do you want to be healthy for? And I think once you've thought of those things and you've made them really clear in your mind, it makes it much easier to make choices that will make you feel good. Body, mind and soul.

Sunna:[00:30:49] Absolutely. I think that's a fascinating point. We have. Melissa Cohen, who's a nutritionist, a functional medicine practitioner and a neurolinguistic programmer, coming up in the podcast in a few weeks’ time, and she talks about the importance of goal setting and understanding really why you do something if there's an unhealthy behaviour or you're trying to create a new, healthier behaviour. You've got to understand that why and create frameworks around that so that you really implement that change. Because I imagine, you know, you get a patient coming into your surgery going "I've got this issue, can you fix it? And you tell them to eat more plants. You probably get a bit of pushback sometimes.

Dr Gemma:[00:31:31] People will want to do the things that they find easiest to start with and everybody's going to have different priorities. So it's about finding out your why, finding out what you think you can do and sticking with it because some people love massive overhauls. And what I think is great about this eight week program is that it's going to be a real way of shaking up your routine and making you feel good quickly. Other people find that they slip into old habits unless they've been able to really cement those changes in and feel that they haven't failed if they haven't done the specific thing. So I think human psychology has lots of different nuances to it. But if you can find one thing that you can do that you enjoy, that you can actually feel really confident you can stick with. And that's a great start. 

Sunna:[00:32:27] Yeah, absolutely. And I think so. My dad is sixty five now and he's been a wine and crisp lover for most of his life and I really have had to work with him over the years to go, just change that one thing. That's what you've got to do. Keep it very simple, very basic. And he can deal with that one change and he'll take it on board. Like I make him drink a glass of water, slightly warm water with fresh lemon first thing in the morning, because he used to do first thing was eat a slice of toast. And I was like, it's not really getting your body going and started in the right way. And then once you've made that one change, which is the benefit, then it moves on to the next thing. And over a few days I've made some progress, which is good and I've made him cut out his crisps and reduce his wine intake. 

Dr Gemma:[00:33:20] Well, done Sunna!

Speaker3:[00:33:23] Is, you know, like you say, the understanding, the listening to the person and what's going to work for them and what their objectives are is fundamental to making this work. Yeah.

Dr Gemma:[00:33:35] So that's I think that's a really interesting personal story that you've told us, that because sometimes the people closest to us are the people the hardest to help.

Sunna:[00:33:44] No, absolutely. It's a very good point. He's quite resistant. And I said that it's just taken me is trying to first get him to swap these crisps for peanuts, but they weren't good enough because obviously nuts have a bit more protein and a bit more fat rather than just crisps. He didn't do that. Then I got him on some kind of air-dried pork scratchings because I thought, OK, at least there's more protein and fat. Again, it's not just pure carbohydrate. So that would potentially help. He didn't like that either. And then the one thing I found which actually got him off crisps was these air dried cheese bites. So they're literally just popped dried cheese. And he loves them, they're a brand called Cheesies. And I bought him for his birthday subscription for those delivered every month. And that's what he eats now instead of Christianised with cheese. Right. So it's still an animal product. It's still a snack or whatever, but it's high fat, high protein, not fried. And I think he's seen the benefits of it.

Dr Gemma:[00:34:56] I'm glad I'm glad to hear that it's these baby steps. Maybe next time you could get to some kale chips.

Sunna:[00:35:03] That's why I have tried months after the tip. There is. And it wasn't too into the cat. Unfortunately, I don't think about the crunch in the Fried's that you just on a weekend. He just needs it in his life. And he does always say to me, you know, he still needs some food for the soul. It can't just all be about.

Dr Gemma:[00:35:24] Oh, absolutely. And this is it. We I suppose this is this is the curious thing. We need food to the soul. So many reasons why we eat. My hope is that many people find over time that the food for the soul starts to shift a little bit.

Sunna:[00:35:40] Honestly, it does. I eat chocolate every single night after dinner, like religiously after my meal in the evening. I need chocolate. But over the years I've trained my. So that chocolate is 90 percent,

Dr Gemma:[00:35:55] So it's so much better for you, isn't it?

Sunna:[00:35:58] You know, I can have 100 gram bar of chocolate and I won't eat the whole thing, but in a hundred gram bar, there's like between four and seven grams of sugar, depending on the brand. So it's nothing. Whereas if you were eating a hundred gram bar of milk chocolate, you know, that could be 60 percent sugar. Yeah. And yeah. And that took time. At first I was like dark chocolate. I know about this, but, you know, little steps and you go from 60 percent to 70 percent to 75 to 80 and you get there,

Dr Gemma:[00:36:31] You get there, you get there. And it's a journey, this journey for everybody. And part of the fun.

Sunna:[00:36:35] Yeah, exactly. And enjoy the process. Right. But so then one last question as we come to the end of this podcast, Gemma, what is the one thing you do to maximize your health that you swear by?

Dr Gemma:[00:36:49] Well, we've covered the plant thing quite well, and hopefully we have to be specific specifically. Specifically, I do a positive affirmation thing, which is I think of my top three values and I say to them, to myself every morning as I wake up. Everybody will have a different version of what that means to them, what that looks like to them. I also do a mantra, which is a Japanese saying which I learned through my jacket and Reiki practice, but that's very specific to me and it's quite hard for people to memorize. But you can find something that that suits you. That just reminds you of who you are and what's important to you and what you want to bring to the world today.

Sunna:[00:37:50] You know, whilst that positive affirmation sounds all great and lovely, but, you know, the truth of the science, is that right? We know in every single scientific study in the world, we have to control the placebo effect. You know, that is the power of your mind. And it can have about a 20 to 30 percent swing on your performance, your outcomes. You know, you can literally take a sugar pill and it can make you better because you think it's doing something. So that very practice of just sitting there in the morning and going, this is what I think I want to achieve today, and I can do this, would actually probably increase your chances of being able to do it.

Dr Gemma:[00:38:32] I think so, too. And I'm interested to see if that's something that people who are participating on your eight-week program might want to incorporate and see if it helps them to make changes. Not in that eight weeks.

Sunna:[00:38:45] Absolutely. Well, we'll find out. But thanks for joining us today. That was amazing. Where can our listeners find you or find your book or find out more about you?

Dr Gemma:[00:38:55] Well, my website is gemmanewman.com. There's loads of free resources on there, on all sorts of diseases. And my book is available at all retailers in the UK. You can get it online and Amazon, Foyles Bookshop dog if you want to support independent bookshops, Blackwells, SMIs, Waterstones and if you are international, then you can get it from the Book Depository website at the moment with free international delivery. And my Instagram probably is the best place. Plant power doctor.

Sunna:[00:39:30] Awesome. Amazing. Thank you so much for joining us today. It was a great conversation.

Dr Gemma:[00:39:35] Thank you, I really enjoyed it, too.