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Phil Dowling ND, MA

The Carb-Appropriate Podcast Ep.6

Phil Dowling is a legit OG of nutrition and naturopathy in New Zealand. He has been in practice for 3 decades, is a lecturer in various aspects of physiology, pathophysiology, and clinical nutrition and is, to top it all off, one of Australasia’s leading nutrition practitioners for gut-health.

In this cast I riff with Phil about gut-health, fermented foods, probiotics, prebiotics, and what many people get wrong about how to optimally improve gut-health.

Find Phil at

This episode was supported by my favourite ‘synbiotic’ supplement, Vita Biosa.

Vita Biosa is more than just prebiotics and probiotics! It’s a complete, living, active ecosystem of health-promoting herbs, cellular fuels, organic acids,  and a range of the most beneficial bacteria for the gut and overall health.

Carb-Appropriate Podcast listeners can get 20% off Vita Biosa by going to:

or by using the code CABIOSA at

Vita Biosa is also available at Health 2000 stores and most other fine health retailers around NZ.

Find stockists at

$5 and over patrons can access the full podcast transcript below

[ppp_patron_only level=”5″]

Cliff Harvey: [00:00:01] Hey team. Welcome back to the Carb-Appropriate podcast. This episode is brought to you by Vita Biosa, one of my favourite pro-, pre-, and post-biotic products. When it first came out it was interesting because it didn’t really look like a lot of the other probiotics out there and probiotics were getting a lot of play at the time and this was a little bit different in that it’s not just an isolated probiotic, it’s not just bacteria put into a capsule. It’s a living complex of pre-, pro-, and post-biotics. In other words, it’s basically like a living ecosystem of beneficial bacteria and beneficial compounds, beneficial nutrients for your gut. It was really interesting when it came out because I hadn’t really used a product like that before. I started using it, my partner Bella nutritionist started using it, and we noticed some pretty big results for our gut-health. So, I went on and did a little bit of research and it started to appear that a lot of the old school probiotics just weren’t as effective as these newer synbiotic products. I say newer but these types of fermented drinks and fermented foods have been around for a long time. But we’re starting to see now in the research some really interesting things where they’re outperforming standard probiotics even where those probiotics have much higher doses. And we’ve had really great feedback from our clients and patients. So, I definitely recommend giving it a crack. You can find Vita Biosa throughout the country. You can find a full stockist list at the Vita Biosa website which is . Vita Biosa is now available at Health 2000 stores as well. Now we have a special deal for you as a result of the Carb-Appropriate podcast. If you go to and use the discount code CABIOSA you’ll get 20 percent off any Vita Biosa product. My guest on this episode was Phil Dowling. Phil is THE gut-health expert in this part of the world. He is a naturopath, a registered clinical nutritionist, he holds a master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition and really, he is one of those guys that has been around for decades. He’s been in practice for about three decades and is a legitimate holistic, yet evidence-based practitioner. So, sit back and enjoy this little discussion on all things gut-health.

Cliff Harvey: [00:04:00] And today I am very pleased to be speaking with my good buddy Phil Dowling. Phil is a clinical nutritionist and educator and naturopath. Phil really is one of the OGs of Clinical Nutrition and naturopathy in New Zealand. I met Phil, I think around eight years ago. Phil was nice enough to employ me as a sports nutrition and to develop the sports nutrition curriculum at a college that we were both employed at. And since then we’ve gone on and had many interesting discussions. And so, I thought it would be of real value to you guys out there to hear some of these gems that Phil has. Now in my opinion Phil is the best when it comes to gut-health in this part of the world. And so, I think given that this is such a massive topic in health nowadays, I think there’s a lot that people can get out of this. So welcome along.

Phil Dowling: [00:05:08] Thank you so much.

Cliff Harvey: [00:05:10] First off, I know that you’re probably relatively well known in this space now but some of the people that are listening to this who are not practitioners might not know exactly where you come from and what you’re about. So how did you get into Naturopathy and Clinical Nutrition?

Phil Dowling: [00:05:28] Well it goes way back to the early 90s and it goes back to the 80s. I got very sick back in the 80s. I was extremely fit in those days but extremely unhealthy. And I suffered a lot of chronic fatigue. I think a lot of people have actually come to the business because of that. So that chronic fatigue lasted over four or five years. I had exhaustive medical investigations both in the U.K. And again here, basically telling me there’s nothing wrong with me. So, I saw a Naturopath and he was able to help me out hugely over the course of two or three months. And basically, during that time I made a lot of changes and he told me the basic principles of natural healing from the inside out. And that’s exactly what I did. And he told me that I’d go through a lot of the previous symptoms in reverse order which is one of the basic laws naturally. And that’s exactly what I did.

Phil Dowling: [00:06:29] It took me three months to get better. And during that time, I did a lot of work with a lot of lymphatic work and a bit of acupuncture in that time as well, and changed my diet, took some Herbs, and made some massive changes in my life… and also worked on ‘upstairs’ quite a bit as well because that was a big part of it. One of the big things was actually drinking a lot of water, Cliff. Something that I find an awful lot with clients is they just don’t drink enough water. So, I turned my health around in 1990. So, I turn my health around and I decided to start studying and finished [naturopathic studies in] ’93 and went out practicing in ’94. So, I’ve been practicing since 1994. Back in the 90s I studied a lot of the work of Dr. Bernard Jensen and his whole philosophy, and this goes back quite a way because Jensen died probably about the year 2000.

Cliff Harvey: [00:07:53]  He was a chiropractor?

Phil Dowling: [00:07:57] Yes, he was a chiropractor from the states but his whole life was dedicated to gut-health and overall health of people, and he knew that if you cleanse the gut people get well. And that’s been my whole philosophy my whole working life if you like, since 94 anyway. And that’s what we did back in the 90s, we started talking about leaky gut for example. We got pooh-poohed for that. Excuse the pun. We got pooh-poohed for that because, back in those days people used to say, ‘look it doesn’t exist’, although Jensen talked a lot about leaky-gut. There was very little research or scientific evidence that it actually did exist. But we sort of knew it existed because people came in with these signs and symptoms that indicated something was wrong in the gut and there was something wrong elsewhere in the body. Quite often you could tie the two together and call it the gut. Yeah that’s what Ben Jensen sort of talked about and that’s what a lot of us began to see back in the 90s.

Phil Dowling: [00:08:53] And then from about the year 2000 onwards, I started doing more studies into other aspects of gut and looking at the research into it. And that’s when I started to become a lot more interested in what’s the actual scientific evidence that leaky-gut actually does exist, and it was probably about 2004-2005 we started to get a lot of evidence that leaky-gut did exist and that was a real phenomenon. And yet even then it really wasn’t accepted by the scientific community until probably about the year 2014 in some areas still not. But there’s been copious studies now on leaky-gut showing the health effects and also showing how can heal it. So, these days I use a lot of research to back up what I talk about in clinical practice and what I do in clinical practice and still the gut is my main interest. But all my thoughts and feelings around the gut have changed year-to-year since getting into it in ’94 to the state where it is today.

Cliff Harvey: [00:09:51] It’s interesting you say that because I think from my point of view, I think I know this space and I think I know a fair amount about nutrition and naturopathy, but I’m not a gut guy. And so almost from the outside looking in it almost seems like there is these two extremes and you’re somewhere in the middle because I think from my point of view there are a lot of wacky people out there who would be inclined to, similar to adrenal fatigue or any of those things, think everything is leaky-gut, you know, any sort of symptom profile you’re showing, it’s leaky-gut. On the other hand, we have the very orthodox supposedly scientifically-minded people who would basically say ‘well of course there’s intestinal permeability but that leaky-gut syndrome thing is rubbish’. And from where I’m sitting it looks like you’re kind of in the middle, knowing that there is strong evidence for it and there’s a lot of things that are happening mechanistically and functionally and we probably do have some idea at least about how to work with that clinically. Would you say that’s fair?

Phil Dowling: [00:10:57] That’s absolutely fair. We absolutely know how to work with it clinically because there’s been quite a bit of research to show what actually helps leaky-gut and. there’s been a lot of research to show how leaky-gut actually evolves in the person and how it sets up, how literally the gates open in the gastrointestinal tract to cause a leaky-gut, and then how if you come across the right therapeutics whether being nutritional supplementation or whatever, those gates can close. Now the research in terms of closing leaky-gut is very limited but it’s certainly out there. The actual research in terms of actually ‘does it exist’ now, there’s no doubt about it. Yes, it does exist, and that research is very clear. Looking at cause and effect is much more challenging, in other words, if you have a leaky gut. Does it cause a foggy brain? Does it contribute to autoimmune disease? The evidence seems to be that it does. But it’s not appearing yet in the Pathophysiology texts, which of course I teach at South Pacific College. So, it’s not appearing in texts. When it starts to appear in the text is when it becomes official. It is appearing in the texts in terms of autism. That started about four or five years ago. That’s the only disease in which it’s actually acknowledged in the textbooks on pathophysiology. OK. So, it’s still not appearing in the real scientific books, if you like, which have to have at least 10 to 20 years of fully established research behind it – when it starts to become authentic. But the research is out there. It’s a real thing and it can be measured and that’s the that’s the key thing.

Cliff Harvey: [00:12:32] I guess in some respects as well tangentially, it’s beginning to appear because we know, for example, that you know the endotoxins like lipopolysaccharides and things absolutely have an effect on inflammation in the body, you know, systemically they absolutely have an effect on cognition and on depressive scores and things like that. So, is that part of the whole complex or am I sort of misreading it?

Phil Dowling: [00:12:57] It is absolutely part of the complex; endotoxins are actually built up in the gut. That’s where they’re actually released by gut bacteria and somehow, they find their way out of the gut and into the systemic circuit. Which means in the bloodstream? If you have antibodies to lipopolysaccharides (LPS), that basically means you’ve got those LPS in the blood. If you’ve got them in the blood where did, they come from? They come from the gut. Should they be in the blood? No, they shouldn’t. How did they get there? They got there through a leaky gut. Although there are potentially other ways which I won’t go into. But the major way they’ll get into the bloodstream is actually through a leaky-gut. OK so we know that it exists. There are tests overseas that you can get where you can actually test for the antibodies to the LPS. Whereas in New Zealand, we have slightly different leaky-gut tests. Although those tests I’m talking about will be here very shortly, in fact I believe that may be coming very soon.

Cliff Harvey: [00:13:53] Yep. I want to talk about tests in just a second, because I think that’s something that’s really misunderstood. But initially, is our understanding of leaky gut a little bit ‘off’ because from the readings that I’ve done recently, it seems like it’s far more fluid than a lot of practitioners give it credit for. They almost sit in this position of “you have leaky-gut”, which means you’ve got these degraded cells and you’re passing things through and it’s almost like a fixed thing that can then be healed. My understanding is that intestinal permeability changes and can change quite rapidly.

Phil Dowling: [00:14:30] Absolutely.

Cliff Harvey: [00:14:31] A lot of it’s not just structural but a big part’s functional as well.

Phil Dowling: [00:14:35] It does. It’s changing all the time. It’s dependent on what you eat, on the supplements that you have or don’t have. It’s dependent on an awful lot of things but largely it’s dependent on what we call ‘dysbiosis’. So, if there is any sort of imbalance and gut bacteria or potentially other pathogens like parasites or fungus, if there’s any imbalance. And so, there’s an overwhelm of these unhealthy, these sort of unhealthy microbes. That’s when you’re more likely to get a leaky gut. So, the major things that are causing leaky got tend to be any sort of inflammation that can be caused by dysbiosis, that can be caused by foods that you’re overly sensitive to. Particularly that can be caused by, you know fragments of foods, like for instance gluten. OK. And there are certain other lectins that can contribute to a leaky-gut. So, there are many potential ways that you can actually cause leaky-gut. The key thing is when you deal with these particular ways when you help take the right nutrients that can actually heal up a leaky-gut, it’s healed for a time. But if you go back on that old diet and if you got back into old habits leaky-gut will come back. So, it’s very fluid.

Cliff Harvey: [00:15:44] And when you talk about things like gluten, would you say the major shift for the leaky-gut is structural, sort of destruction of tissue, or is it a functional effect of say, you know changing zonulin levels and things like that?

Phil Dowling: [00:16:02] Well I mean from the research that’s been done by Dr Fassano, I think it was about eight years ago. He seemed to basically discover this new protein which you mentioned which is called zonulin. What seems to happen is when you have foods that are high in gluten, the gluten triggers the actual release of this particular chemical which is a protein and this protein then goes across and uncouples what’s called the tight junctions which is basically the sort of things that join the epithelial cells in the gut. When those are uncoupled and loose enough, it creates leaky gut. So, you get macro-molecules basically flowing through. Now, according to his research he thinks this is effective in everyone. In other words, everyone to some degree is sensitive to excess gluten. It’s all dependent on degrees. So, if you have large amounts and you’re sensitive to gluten you will have a leaky gut. If you have small amounts and you’re less sensitive to gluten you might not. But the evidence seems to be these days, that up to 30 to 40 percent of the population may be affected by gluten to some degree. And I guess there could be other factors that are playing into it.

Cliff Harvey: [00:17:17] I remember, I think I mentioned this to you one time. I was going through and there was some interesting research on foods that help to close the tight junctions and others that helped to loosen them. And it became really confusing really quickly because it was even down to subtypes of different foods; different types of capsicums and things like that were either increasing intestinal permeability or reducing it. There was no way I could put that together in some sort of clinical format for translation.

Phil Dowling: [00:17:50] It is it is extremely confusing and it’s going to be different for different people and that’s the key thing. Yes. So, I mean for instance; glyphosate, there’s been quite a bit research recently that this particular toxin which comes from Roundup may well effect and may well be the actual factor that affects wheat and causes its effects. So, whether how much of it is due to the gluten itself and how much of it is due to the toxic influence of glyphosate the chemical. No one really knows yet as far as I can see.

Cliff Harvey: [00:18:18] Interesting.

Phil Dowling: [00:18:20] A lot of people think it’s just the fact that gluten has actually changed over the years and the actual chemical structure is different to what it was 30 to 40 years ago, and that’s why it’s beginning to affect us more. Other people say well no it’s more to do with the glyphosate. I don’t really know but what I do know is the gluten does affect a lot of people because I’m seeing it more and more and I like that when people go off gluten, they’re beginning to get healthier.

Cliff Harvey: [00:18:44] One thing that I’ve seen quite a lot clinically is there’s a subset of people who are affected in a very similar way to gluten responders but to gluten like proteins, like avenin from oats and the ‘corn glutens’.

Phil Dowling: [00:19:04] Yeah. That seems to happen more and more. Now if you’ve read Dr Perlmutter’s book [Grain Brain], he talks a lot about gluten and a lot about brains in general. He doesn’t point the finger at any specific grains other than wheat, but he implies in the book quite well that there are several other grains that have that effect. I haven’t seen that evidence myself in terms of people using other grains other than gluten to this point yet, but I have heard anecdotally other people talk about it, particularly in the States. There are a lot people saying there are quite a few other grains that are causing this. And of course, these Palaeolithic diets are based very much on the fact that grains are partially the enemy and we should try and avoid or minimize them as well. I’m not convinced of that argument. Yes, I think gluten has a lot to answer for. The things like avenin that you find in oats, I haven’t found that to be such a major issue for the people. People like myself for example, who tend to be sensitive to say wheat and gluten, but not to oats. I found a lot of other people who do quite well on oats and do pretty badly on gluten.

Cliff Harvey: [00:20:17] Interesting. I did a lot of research reviews for my Clinical Nutrition course I teach and basically, I run through every major condition. So, I think there’s a list of about 20 conditions. We basically put together evidence-based treatment protocols. So, I start from an inductive basis because I don’t really want to bias myself too much with what I’ve previously done with clients, and I go into the research and just start from the ground up and look at all the strongest evidence. And interestingly, with things like Crohn’s Disease, which I obviously have, it seems to pop up time and time again in the research that a diet that is restricted in dairy gluten and corn, along with some other things like carrageenan, you know the additive, seem to provide the best results. Now most people are fine with corn, but I certainly found my Crohn’s patients and ulcerative colitis patients benefit from not necessarily getting rid of corn but certainly corn flour because it’s probably just so concentrated and so much of that proteins and it’s pretty interesting here because it’s so individual, right?

Phil Dowling: [00:21:26] It’s extremely individual Crohn’s, I’ve got a few clients with Crohn’s and I can go back actually 20 years to a client I had with Crohn’s who basically went off wheat and dairy and it completely cured, well as much as you can completely cure it… He has no signs and symptoms at all. I found the major offender again tends to be gluten. That’s what I’ve found, the second major offender tends to be Casein. The third major offender tends to be other grains, so, I do have to agree with you. The other major thing that I see, when you have a stool analysis of people with Crohn’s, they’re often lacking in a particular bacterium which I have mentioned to you before which you should have in relatively high doses and should be a relatively common one in most people.

Cliff Harvey: [00:22:16] I sent you my sample…

Phil Dowling: [00:22:17] And yours was great, but in an awful lot of people with Crohn’s, it’s absent. Yeah just see those very low completely absent in that. But it should take up in most people about 5 to 10 percent of the gut bacteria. Something like that.

Cliff Harvey: [00:22:31] Any idea why it’s lacking? [in people with Crohn’s Disease]

Phil Dowling: [00:22:31] I’ve actually no idea at all. And from the research I couldn’t really find that out. I’m not really sure. It’s quite interesting that a lot of people pick up these unhealthy bacteria very early in life and often from the mother. So, that’s really, if you like, where it all begins. It begins usually depending on what you’ve been seeded by your mother. And then by age 3 you’ve built up a certain amount of your own bacteria as well. And from age 3 onwards, you’re set for life in terms of an actual signature of the gut bacteria. However, that can be significantly changed in my opinion by diet and by supplements and by lifestyle. And obviously that’s where I’m looking; if someone’s got an unhealthy bacterium in the gut or fungus or something else like that. You can make changes and can change very significantly even within days. This guy I think in the UK who did some research on his son–he made him a McDonald’s for 10 days consecutively, nothing but McDonald’s. He measured his gut bacteria at the outset at the end at the end of it. It changed hugely. So basically, his diversity went down significantly, and he picked up a lot of unhealthier bacteria. And he had more in terms of quantity of those unhealthy bacteria in his gut at the end of that 10-day period.

Cliff Harvey: [00:24:36] Wow.

Phil Dowling: [00:24:37] So it can change very significantly very quickly.

Cliff Harvey: [00:24:39] Yeah. I remember seeing some research on kids who were born by caesarean who were then supplemented with Inulin, a probiotic fibre. And their gut bacteria basically corrected within nine to twelve months. So, it’s a fairly long time but it was very different obviously to those who were non-supplemented because they retained that microbiome signature that was more akin to the skin, like a skin microbiome versus the internal microbiome…

Phil Dowling: [00:25:12] The thing is if you supplement with inulin that’s like a prebiotic which is going to help your existing healthy bacteria and may to some degree, and it’s a little bit unclear on this, but may diminish unhealthy bacteria. What it won’t do is actually repopulate new bacteria. That’s got to come from some external source. So that’s going to be the challenge with that. Presumably if you, if they did that supplementation, they may have also changed diet at the same time. So, eating more fermented foods or taking probiotics or something else because there has to be something that’s going to trigger the actual addition of new bacteria to the existing ecology.

Cliff Harvey: [00:25:50] So clinically how do you work with that? What sorts of things do you do to repopulate gut bacteria?

Phil Dowling: [00:25:55] Again it’s a really, it’s a major challenge because apart from taking probiotics which is going to help the existing bacteria. There are very few ways that are going to really successfully and easily repopulate the gut. But I find the best ways, I think eating ferments to some degree will start to do that. I think taking some probiotics will also help to do that. Most probiotics are not that effective at actually bringing around a long-term colonization. In other words, they come in they do a job. They leave, unless you continue taking them. So, if we actually colonize, really the best way to actually find new colonies would be fermented foods taken at the right time which would be either during eating or after eating. So that Ph isn’t going to destroy them in the stomach. That would be the best single way. The second-best way would be to take appropriate probiotics. And by that probably means ‘spore’ containing probiotics. So, things like ‘mega-spore’ which is a product from the States, is quite a good one to actually help with this repopulation. There’s some evidence that they’ve done through their own research that they actually do form colonies and can form colonies on an ongoing basis. But very few but very few products have to have that special ability to actually do that. Okay. Aside from that it’s really just not being over-hygienic. In other words, there is bacteria in the environment–allow some of it to come in through whatever sources you need. If you’ve got a strong immune system you can remain healthy and you still get colonized. Anything that comes in that may be foreign. So even going to… if you go to a foreign country. You’re gonna pick up some maybe some healthy bacteria from the environment. Okay. Gonna pick up bacteria from the people you live with. You’re gonna pick up bacteria from your dogs and cats okay. Some of that might be quite good. And if you’ve got a strong immune system, you’ll kill off anything it’s unhealthy.

Cliff Harvey: [00:27:55] There’s pretty good there’s good research for that for ear, nose and throat, for later infections or for later serious infection or the later development of asthma. Kids who have low grade infections when the younger have a far lower proclivity towards asthma when they get older because if they’ve developed that immune tolerance and probably also cultured their microbiome to some degree.

Phil Dowling: [00:28:24] Well that’s the other side of it. If you get things like asthma or other atopic disorders they often relate, not always but often, relate to having an unhealthy microbiome at birth and often relate to caesarean section births and that’s not all the time but quite a lot of the time it relates back to either picking up unhealthy bacteria from your mother or having a caesarean birth. And of course, what’s happening now an awful lot in the States is they’re beginning to swab people with vaginal bacteria if they’re having caesarean births. The fact that actually happens in the last year or two to a guy who’s a researcher over there, Rob Knight, he’s a Kiwi actually. He’s one of the top researchers in the world. When his wife recently gave birth. They had a caesarean. I believe I’m right in saying that, and they’re going through this particular process of actually swabbing with vaginal bacteria. Now I could be wrong in that story because I heard that about 18 months ago but I’m fairly certain that’s exactly what happened.

Cliff Harvey: [00:29:29] Now I think it’s fascinating…this is a little bit tangential, but I think it’s fascinating that we think about. Because we’re so into gut-health now, and you’ve been into it for a long time, but now everyone’s into it right? And everyone therefore has some understanding of the microbiome. I think that people’s understanding of the microbiome in a broader sense is quite limited because people only think about the gut. Whereas, you know, people forget that the microbiome… we have a microbiome that is the state for our mucous membranes of the nose and the oral cavity and our skin microbiome…

Phil Dowling: [00:30:05] Whatever is on every epithelial tissue in the body… So, your skin, your digestive system, respiratory tract and to a lesser inside the mouth. There’s a huge microbiome in the mouth.

Cliff Harvey: [00:30:16] And that’s why for years I’ve been telling my clients to not use these antibacterial mouth washes why not to use antibacterial soap and not to even use too much soap anyway.

Phil Dowling: [00:30:27] Agreed one hundred percent…

Cliff Harvey: [00:30:27] And see massive improvements in skin conditions because of it.

Phil Dowling: [00:30:33] Absolutely. I mean time and time again that’s what you see and that’s advice you have to give. So, anything you’re putting on your skin. You’ve got to make sure that that’s going to feed your microbiome. If it’s not it’s probably not doing, you a service.

Cliff Harvey: [00:30:42] So you agree with the old adage that if it’s going on your skin, you should be able to eat it?

Phil Dowling: [00:30:46] Yeah. So, think about soap… Not very tasty! Something best avoided inside the mouth.

Cliff Harvey: [00:30:55] So I haven’t washed my hair in about twenty years…so… So, overall, I want to come back to the ferments and things. I had an epiphany a few years back because I never really thought that chronic, either chronic use of probiotics or chronic use of ferments was really… I thought it was obviously beneficial, but I didn’t really think too much about it until I was looking at some of the research and it appeared to be when you looked at the anthropology of human eating, there was basically never a time that we haven’t eaten ferments of some type. We’ve eaten fermented fruit and we’ve basically been fermenting for almost our entire existence. We probably need the chronic low dose stuff.

Phil Dowling: [00:31:46] Yeah there’s a bit of a challenge here in the fact that a lot of people don’t like sour and of course fermented foods are very sour. Yeah. Now that’s not a bad thing. That’s a really good thing. In fact, Ayurvedic medicine really thinks there are six tastes, and we need to get all six tastes–inside our body, inside our mouths, inside our guts, wherever, on a regular basis because each taste has medicine to it. So, the sour taste is medicine, the bitter taste, the astringent taste is medicine. Now providing you’re getting enough sour, bitter and astringent. They are three that are very good for the gut in different ways. OK. So, I like to make sure my clients get a really broad balanced diet including ferments as much as possible and people are resistant to ferments but they’re really good for you. They taste okay once you get used to them, once you get the sour taste back.

Cliff Harvey: [00:32:33] Do you think that’s a conditioning thing where people have just become so attenuated to sweet and to those ‘modern flavours’?

[00:32:42] Well people like sweets and people like salt. So, if you have something really sweet, you crave something salty [and vice versa]. So, we’re flipping between yin and yang the whole time. If you look at Chinese medicine or if you look at macrobiotics or something like that, they’re looking at trying to get away from extreme yin and yang and try and get a narrower range of foods. You get them by eating the other four tastes which is; pungent, sour, astringent, and bitter. So, by getting those other four tastes in your diet, you get balance. When you get that balance, people don’t complain about hypoglycaemia anymore because everything’s back in balance. They don’t complain about a lot of health issues because they’re getting the balance from the taste and the diet. And this also applies in the western world. If we have liver problems, we take bitter herbs. And bitter helps the digestive system, it helps the liver. OK. So why do you take herbs if we just get the bitter from the diet, you don’t need herbs if you get it from diet.

[00:33:46] And I know that there are people listening who are saying “what are these guys talking about, they’re talking about taste and flavours and things that have no scientific justification” but they’re missing the connection here. And I think that what’s fascinating about what you say is that, you know you talk about the bitter herbs for example, the bitter foods, the bitter greens and things like that, and that’s been proven.

Phil Dowling: [00:34:10] But it’s actually scientific justification. So, for instance, if you take a bitter food, at the back of your mouth there are bitter receptors. As soon as those receptors are actually triggered by stimuli, hydrochloric acid is produced because your brain thinks you’re getting something poisonous coming down because most poisons are bitter. So, when your system thinks you might have eaten something poisonous you produce hydrochloric acid. So, you know you take better herbs to help with hydrochloric acid? It’s protective. So, your bitter herbs are protective in your gut.

Cliff Harvey: [00:34:41] Many of those chemicals are also. I mean the ones that provide bitterness, they’re also antioxidants and aid phase 1 or 2 liver detox.

Phil Dowling: [00:34:53] Well like milk thistle, dandelion

Cliff Harvey: [00:35:00] Puha!

Phil Dowling: [00:35:00] Yeah puha, you know a lot of these herbs are really good. Kawa kawa is another good one. A lot of these herbs, I’m recommending to my clients for a number of reasons with digestive health.

Cliff Harvey: [00:35:12] So you also tried a little drink that we gave you before.

Phil Dowling: [00:35:16] I had never had that before.

Cliff Harvey: [00:35:21] I’m not going to go on about it, but we were given some of that product, and I can put a link in the show notes, but we were given of that product a little while back. And I kind of thought; ‘OK is it really going to do the job of a high dose probiotic?’. And so, I went back and looked at the research, and interestingly these products that are called ‘synbiotics’, they are like a living complex of pre-, pro-, and post-biotics. Not adding those things as ingredients within a formula. But that’s just the way it is. Because you’ve basically got a living fermented drink. They were showing better results at lower doses for Crohn’s and colitis and a range of other things than the traditional probiotic treatments and that sort of flipped again my thinking around things because it started with the ferments and that ‘hey these are things that we have eaten for our entire development’ and I love fermented foods but it also shows that living complexes are probably more resilient, they probably get through the gap more effectively and there’s just more to them.

Phil Dowling: [00:36:36] Well they do seem to get through. In my opinion I think as I mentioned earlier, you’d probably do a lot better not having them on an empty stomach when you have a Ph of about 1.0, you could do better having them once you’ve eaten or during food when Ph might go down to about three to four. You got much more chance of that bacteria surviving if you haven’t eaten immediately after food than before food. So, I tend to eat it with food. I get a feeling it gets through but even if it doesn’t get through, the advantage of ferments is they partly digest the food that’s been fermented. So, if it’s yogurt they’re partly digesting that milk yogurt for example. So, you’re getting pretty digested proteins coming through. Which is great. In terms of protein digestion for instance that’s going to help in that process. Supplements are really good for just beginning the whole digestive process and helping us by helping things on its way. Yeah. So, I’m a great fan of ferments and so I believe that’s something that a lot more people should be having on a regular basis.

Cliff Harvey: [00:37:47] Are there micronutrients as well that you typically prescribe or use, or do you go for a sort of broader approach.

Phil Dowling: [00:37:55] I’ve got a much broader approach. I mean there are some supplements coming out which will have some Zinc some vitamin A. Vitamin A is good mucous membranes of the gut and Zinc is very healing for the gut. It actually helps to bind up those tight junctions which is great, but taking them in isolation, I don’t generally encourage too much. I believe you need to get it as much from Whole Foods as you can. So, the sorts of things I’m recommending tend to be not so much supplemental in the way of having a whole range of different nutrients contained in the supplement. And there are some leaky-gut problems out there based on that. I prefer something based more on whole foods or herbs. So, in terms of leaky-gut, sorts of things I like are things like Aloe Vera, which from an Ayurvedic perspective; it’s a stringent, it binds tissues and a little bit sweet, so it actually helps to nourish tissues. OK. So, it’s actually healing in that way. Same as Slippery Elm Bark has a very nourishing effect on the tissues but a slightly binding, astringent effect as well. So, I’d like anything based on Aloe Vera, Slipper Elm — probably two of my favourites. But there are many other ways. The key thing is whole foods. So, things tend to get a bad rap are things like lentils for example because they contain lectins. But those lectins are usually destroyed by heat and by the time you eat them they’re astringent and anything astringent is going to help to bind up the gut. So, we’re not eating a lot of beans these days and legumes and people have been put off by the Paleo diet for example. I don’t think that’s a good thing. I think in small doses, they’re really good for you. They’ve been eating them in Ayurveda for millennia.

Cliff Harvey: [00:39:40] So are there people for whom lentils wouldn’t be appropriate or legumes wouldn’t be appropriate?

Phil Dowling: [00:39:45] I think there are some people who are very sensitive to them and they may not be appropriate, but I haven’t found too many of those people. What will happen is, if you not used them, they will often in some people start producing flatulence. But it’s OK, that will happen to some people but that’s not a bad thing and what the studies show is over the course of two or three weeks that will start easing off as you get used to it. So, it’s a question of adapting to something new and so provided they’re relatively well cooked they provide a good source of protein, a good source of carbohydrates and I think most people are a perfectly good food.

Cliff Harvey: [00:40:21] So what are your thoughts on the Autoimmune Protocol or the Autoimmune Palaeolithic Diet, do you think it’s too restrictive?

Phil Dowling: [00:40:30] Yeah, I think it is. I think it might be good in the short term. Yeah. But I’m not a great fan of taking people off food for long periods of time. I think that’s a major issue. I have clients come to me and say, “well I’ve been told I can only eat these foods”. Who told you that? Well they’ve been to see someone, and they say, “you need to limit to just these foods”. I think that’s probably OK for a very short period of time particularly if you have a blood test and you have high IgGs for a whole range of different foods. So, what you need to do then is maybe go off those foods for a short time, and slowly start introducing them. But if they’re are whole foods, there’s no reason why people should be become overly sensitive to them in the longer term. It’s just a question of, there’s been something that’s triggered it in the first instance. You need to get through that trigger point and then back into normality again.

Cliff Harvey: [00:41:23] Yeah that reminds me of the FODMAP craze over the last few years and obviously the low FODMAP diet is clinically effective, it’s proven, the Monash University research shows that it’s very effective for reducing the symptoms of IBS. My concern was that when I looked at the restrictions, it eliminated so many of those great prebiotic fibres and resistance starch and things like that, and later research showed that people who followed it for too long they would get negative effects on microbiome.

Phil Dowling: [00:41:56] And that’s what’s showing, and that’s showing from about one month onwards.

Cliff Harvey: [00:42:00] Wow.

Phil Dowling: [00:42:00] So it’s as quickly as that. So, my concern’s always been for FODMAP diet in terms of cutting back really important things like inulin which you mentioned earlier, and there’s a whole variety of other prebiotics in the foods that are recommended you come off for the FODMAP diet. Now the reason it works is because it’s feeding a lot of bacteria in the small intestine, so, the small intestine’s then bloating up and people are getting SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) as a result of that. People are saying ‘well these foods are very bad for me’. But the foods aren’t bad for you, it’s the position of the bacteria that’s bad for you. Too much bacteria in the small intestine is not good. Why is it in the small intestine? Well for some reason, it’s found its way from the large intestine into the small intestine. You should have large amounts of bacteria in the large intestine. You should have very small amounts in the small intestine. So, when you get overgrowth, it maybe overgrowth of both good and bad bacteria. So, the key problem with SIBO, and the way not to treat it is by going on FODPMAP in my opinion. It may be okay for about a month but no longer than that. The key thing in SIBO is to get motility going and a lot of people have very weak motility which means that the foods are backing up from large to small intestine because they are literally going in there to have a look and see what’s happening. Bacteria are translocating from the large intestine to the small intestine and building up home there where they shouldn’t really be.

Cliff Harvey: [00:43:27] So I have my theory, based on the research, as to what, in my opinion, is the biggest factor in reducing motility in people nowadays, and I’d be interested if you think it’s the same one…

Phil Dowling: [00:43:39] I think it’s the Vagus Nerve…

Cliff Harvey: [00:43:39] So, stress!?

Phil Dowling: [00:43:43] Yeah. Yeah. Stress. Well yeah partly stress. Yeah. Okay so that’s the biggest thing. So, if you look at the vagus nerve that runs the parasympathetic nervous system or rest and digest. Well when you rest, you digest, and things move through properly. When you’re stressed it tends to shut down the vagus nerve which is the connection between our brain and our gut.

Cliff Harvey: [00:44:03] You become sympathetic nervous system dominant.

Phil Dowling: [00:44:07] You do, and then when that shuts down the peristalsis weakens and so things don’t move through quickly. So that’s the number one cause of SIBO, it is basically stress and sympathetic dominance, so the stress is affecting action of the vagus nerve but there are other things that also affect this vagus nerve. This is where we get into more controversial territory.

Cliff Harvey: [00:44:28] Yeah okay. I like controversial territory.

Phil Dowling: [00:44:31] The evidence these days seems to be that people are actually snacking too much. Actually, that’s been the case for a long time. In the past we’d say, you can control hypoglycaemia by snacking. Nowadays I never encourage people to snack. You need to have an empty stomach to bring about the cleansing wave that begins in the stomach with a wave that’s initiated through the vagus nerve into the stomach and it shoots out stuff from the stomach when the stomach is empty and sets up peristalsis in the small intestine. Now provided your vagus nerve is working well, and provided you allow your stomach to empty properly, which means four to five hours to allow it to empty, that peristaltic action can work properly. If you’re constantly feeding, that wave goes down. So, it’s only really been in the last year or so that I’ve been encouraging clients not to snack.

Cliff Harvey: [00:45:20] Interesting. You probably don’t know this, but that’s my number one rule for nutrition, before anything else, I tell my clients don’t snack. Eat meals, don’t snack. Now, I wasn’t really thinking about that clearance per se, for me it was more about all the research, and there’s lots of it that shows that when people have greater frequency of eating and they’re ingrained into snacking behaviours, they overeat. They obviously have much greater problems with glycaemic issues, they typically aren’t able to exercise their proper satiety response.

Phil Dowling: [00:46:03] That’s correct.

Cliff Harvey: [00:46:03] Because they’re never eating a proper meal, they’re only eating these small moderate meals, they forget what it feels like to be hungry and they forget what it feels like to be full. But it’s interesting about the vagus nerve stuff as it adds a whole different layer to it as well.

Phil Dowling: [00:46:16] It’s extremely important that the vagus nerve is working well and pushing everything through, and for a lot of people maybe their total transit time through the gut is two or three days and it’s really far too slow. I’m not talking about not going to the bathroom for a few days, I’m talking about the actual transit time from mouth to rectum. You really have to get that down, and part of the way you get that down is to get moving through the small intestine a little bit quicker, and when you have SIBO it feels like things aren’t moving. So, I feel bloated and I start pushing out here after meal and I feel uncomfortable, I feel gaseous, I have some pain sometimes. These are classic SIBO things and often these people will snap on a regular basis and will be under a lot of stress and they’re the two key things for treating SIBO in my opinion, more so than anything else, say, working on FODMAPS or even killing off unhealthy bacteria.

Cliff Harvey: [00:47:07] So if someone’s eating a diet that’s really high in processed and refined food. Maybe it’s too high in sugar and they’re snacking a lot. Is part of the complex of SIBO also resulting from low stomach acid? Particularly if they’re stressed as well?

Phil Dowling: [00:47:22] It comes from both ends really. So, if you have low stomach acid which you might have with the sympathetic dominance with stress — If you have lower stomach acid, which means strangely enough that you have a pH of 2.0 or 3.0 or moving upwards, then you’re less able to kill off some of the bacteria that may be coming in through your mouth so you’re more likely to set up bacteria through that source, at the proximal end of the small intestine.

Cliff Harvey: [00:47:50] Are some of the bacteria in the small intestine also degraded by that high-acid chyme that’s squinted through?

Phil Dowling: [00:47:58] I suspect so, [but] I don’t know the answer, but I suspect so. The high-acid chyme isn’t that that over acid. It’s about 6.5 to 6.9.

Cliff Harvey: [00:48:06] It’s already been alkalised?

Phil Dowling: [00:48:07] Usually in the small intestine, as it moves into the small intestine. Then it moves down to about 7.5. Yeah something like that. So, in the initial stages there may be some culling off at 6.5 to 6.9, but I doubt much at that sort of pH. Less likely anyway.

Cliff Harvey: [00:48:24] SIBO is a huge topic clinically now, and there’s a lot of people, well there’s a few people at least, making a lot of money off treating SIBO?!

Phil Dowling: [00:48:30] There are huge summits in the States on SIBO. I think some of the people that are on the right track but the ones who are talking about FODMAPS are probably on the wrong track. That’s actually my opinion. Some of them are focussed on the Vagus Nerve, and that’s exactly on the wrong track.

Cliff Harvey: [00:48:49] As you know I don’t really work a lot with gut-health clients anymore. If I do, I take a very simple approach of just getting people taking care of their food environment, eating a good, natural, unprocessed diet, eating some fermented foods, sleeping enough and doing some meditation, doing some weight training… If you take care of the big things, oftentimes the little things fall into place. Yeah, maybe, that’s just me being too simplistic I’m not sure.

Phil Dowling: [00:49:27] It’s not that complicated. At the end of the day, there’s a few very simple rules. If you eat a good quality, healthy diet… one of the things which we haven’t talked about is basically diversity. So, to have a healthy microbiome you’ve got to have a really diverse set of bacteria in the gut. The more diverse, the healthier you will be. The ways to get a diverse microbiome are basically twofold. Firstly, you have to have diversity in your diet. So, if you’re eating a very narrow range of foods yet you will not have a broad-based microbiome. The wider the base, in other words you should be using 30 to 50 different foods every week at least. You know something like that. And if you do that and they’re whole foods you will probably have a healthy microbiome.

Cliff Harvey: [00:50:08] I would recommend that anyone listening to this jots down over a couple of days what they are eating and look at how much diversity is actually there, and I think they would be blown away by the lack of diversity we have in the diet.

Phil Dowling: [00:50:20] It makes all the difference because diversity score dictates the health of the microbiome and health of the individual almost yet more diverse the health of the individual to the less diverse. In other words, if someone’s got to diversity about 30 different bacteria got that’s very small. Okay. They’re much more likely to have all sorts of health issues and that might even include things like obesity; that may come into the picture as well. Obviously, there’s lots of theories around and nothing’s been actually proven. What they have shown is if you take the bacteria out of the slim mice and put it into overweight mice, they become slim Yeah that has been shown and that’s been shown to some degree in humans as well. Yet it hasn’t been so clearly proven in humans but it’s likely to be the same scenario. So, it’s getting the right ‘culture’ into your gut and that’s why faecal transplants which are being tested now in the States will become the ‘go to’ in 5 years’ time.

Cliff Harvey: [00:51:19] And to me that’s fascinating because, you know we’ve discussed this before — you can go to a mind-body health conference and it’s all about mind-body connection. You can go to a gut-health conference and it’s all about the gut. You can go to a metabolic conference and it’s all about your metabolism of carbs vs fats. In reality there is so much more going on and it’s all of those things and a whole bunch more as well.

Phil Dowling: [00:51:44] Well I mean now they’re actually doing a lot of research into the brain-gut-connection, and now they’re finding connections that go in both directions, so the brain connects with the gut, the gut connects with the brain. Lots of gut bacteria that produce toxins that end up affecting your brain and they travel they often travel either through the bloodstream or through the vagus nerve.

Cliff Harvey: [00:52:01] And did you know?! A study just came out in the last couple of days… There’s a study just published and they’re starting to really get down to a better understanding of all the non-synaptic, non-axon, non-pathways that exist. And they don’t know exactly how they work. They just know that they DO work. Even when for example neurons are severed, there is still connection taking place and there are still signals being sent. And so, this speaks to that whole sort of quantum side of things where there is amorphous connection not just in the brain but throughout the various neurons in the body, whether that being the heart of the enteric nervous system, the connection between those…

Phil Dowling: [00:52:45] Everything is connected and we’re beginning to discover where those connections are taking place. But particularly with gut-brain a lot of research has been done on that in the last five to 10 years. And I’ve read the research and it’s really interesting to show the connections. So, when you’re treating something like Alzheimer’s. Well the ideal thing is to treat it years and years earlier. Then there’s lots of things you can do for your gut, particularly around fungus and around things like yeast, that that may well help with conditions like Alzheimer’s, potentially at least. But again, you’ve got to catch it early. But the main other brain things like anxiety and depression again they’re finding gut connections there as well. So, the more they find out, the more interesting it becomes.

Cliff Harvey: [00:53:28] So when people, particularly practitioners, when they’re working with gut-health, what do you think are some of the biggest mistakes people are making?

Phil Dowling: [00:53:38] Well…mistakes. There’s actually quite a lot of mistakes people are making, in terms of their lives. A lot of people are eating unrefined foods, sorry, eating REFINED foods. Ok, over-processed. I think that’s one of the major things and eating sugar. Sugar’s going to feed particularly yeast but it’s also going to feed some unhealthy bacteria.

Cliff Harvey: [00:53:58] And no amount of probiotics is going to fix that!

Phil Dowling: [00:53:58] So a lot of it is around two things; stress is one thing, and the food people eat is basically the second thing. And also, when people eat okay. Snacking is certainly not going to help, but eating intermittently, if you like. In other words, eating from time-to-time, not on a regular basis, is not a good thing. It’s good if your body is expecting food a certain time, it’s good to feed the body of that time. If you’re hungry then you eat, if you’re not hungry then you don’t eat. I mean one of the benefits that people are finding these days, certainly in the last two or three years is that fasting also has a very positive effect on microbiome. Okay, and intermittent fasting has had a very positive effect. Clients should stop to think about doing some intermittent fasting or some time restricted eating. Because a lot of the research overseas is showing that time-restricted eating is extremely good for your health at all levels, not just at the gut but at every level you can talk about. Including possibly even things like things like regeneration of stem cells. So, there’s some research in that area now. So, it’s really encouraging.

Cliff Harvey: [00:55:08] Yeah, and I think as well, something that people often miss when they talk about gut-health, but I notice this for myself and my clients, is movement and exercise. You know, even to the point of strenuous activity like resistance training, weight-lifting, things like that have a massive positive effect on the gut for a number of reasons. You know you’re basically stretching the viscera when you’re moving through different planes. There’s an effect there on the enteric nervous system. You’re properly exercising stress, which helps you to modulate proper stress responses. There is just so much you know modulating immune responses and, you know the greatest effect on autophagy?! A study just came out recently, where people talk about fasting for autophagy, the biggest effect is exercise. On modulating or increasing autophagy, then fasting, then fasting-mimicking diets like the keto-diet. So, it’s basically in that spectrum, so I kind of figure if you’re doing all three of them, you’re probably getting a pretty good whack! But if you’re intermittent fasting and also exercising, those are the two biggest factors.

Phil Dowling: [00:56:14] Absolutely, I mean there’s a basic rule of gut health that if you’ve got weak motility in the gut, you’ve probably got weak motility elsewhere. In other words, you aren’t moving. You’re sitting in a chair for hours on end, like we are…and not moving, so I think you need to…But

Cliff Harvey: [00:56:28]  But you’re a squash champ, so…

Phil Dowling: [00:56:28] Ha ha, I’m not a squash champ, but I play squash. You don’t have to play squash, but you need to do an hour’s exercise every day of some sort that involves movements. Yeah, I mean one interesting thing that came up, which I feel a bit guilty about these days, is that when I saw my naturopath back in 1990, he noted that I did a lot of distance work, as in marathon running. So, a lot of work on my legs, a little bit on the lungs. But he said, ‘you look very weak in the upper body’. So, he got me onto this exercise regime which was basically working on my upper body every day. And I’ve let that go over the years and I wish I hadn’t to be honest because I felt really good when I was doing a lot of upper body work. So, in other words you don’t just focus on one aspect of exercise, you focus and the whole body, and that’s the best form of exercise you can get.

Cliff Harvey: [00:57:15] And I think too with intermittent activity, you know too often — and I’ve lectured about this a lot over the last couple of years… Too often people think “well I need to get my exercise in”. So, they set themselves a bit of a regimen and let’s say they’re going to get into the gym two or three times a week. They sit on their butts all day, so they’re in a very sedentary state as their natural state of being, and then they go into the gym and hammer themselves and the body think ‘holy fuck!’. I’m running away from a tiger, I’ve got this massive stress-response…and then I stop for a couple of days and the go back and do it. You know, they’re not building up their resilience or the threshold of moving more constantly, and that might just mean getting up from the desk or going for a quick walk or doing a push-up or something.

Phil Dowling: [00:58:00] You’ve got to be moving or doing something on a consistent basis throughout the day. All the evidence in the research shows that so. Yeah absolutely. Keep the gut moving too.

Cliff Harvey: [00:58:08] So Phil, what sorts of things do you do to keep yourself healthy that aren’t really in this clinical area? You obviously play some squash and things like that.

Phil Dowling: [00:58:25] Well I’m actually injured at the moment, I’ve got a slight tendon strain. which is not ideal. And of course, tendons are slow to heal, so I’m hoping to get back into it in the next few days anyway. So, what I do is, from an exercise perspective, I do a lot of walking. Luckily where I live, I can walk in lots of interesting directions and get lots of nice views, so I do about an hour to an hour and a half a day walking. I do a little bit of upper-body work, mainly press-ups but not as often as I should. But just in terms of keeping fit, I don’t stress myself so much as I used to. So, I used to work very hard, now I work a lot less hard than I used to. I try to avoid stressful environments. My home environments very unstressful and in fact, my working environment, because I enjoy what I do, is also unstressful. Yeah, so, I had some health issues four or five years ago. I’m over that now completely. I attribute that to a much better mind and less stress of work. So, I think what I do on a day-to-day basis is just live a very simple life, compared to what I was doing five years ago. And that works for me. Now, I have to consider that some people who come and see me have got very busy  jobs and they can’t manage an ‘easy life’ but I had an email yesterday from someone who’s got chronic health problems and I asked them to keep a stress diary. And she didn’t. She said, ‘sorry I haven’t kept it’ and it turns out her stress levels have been very bad over the last week. I saw a client yesterday as well; exactly the same story. She had a very stressful week. She’s extremely underweight, and again that seemed to be affecting her gut, affecting her appetite, affecting everything. So, you see, time and time again, the more stressed you are, the more your gut’s affected. So, one of the key things is find a way to manage your life so your stress is diminished at least a little bit.

Cliff Harvey: [01:00:16] Absolutely. So, who are some of the people that are some of your ‘go tos’ in the health space, you know any names that pop out as people that you really go to for advice or information?

Phil Dowling: [01:00:30] Well I go for information to YouTube or do health summits through the US. On a regular basis, and they’re free. So, I do these summits on a regular basis just to keep in touch because they tend to be about three or four years ahead of us. So, I like to see what’s coming. So, I was doing these microbiome summits in the States four or five years ago when it was big news then, and now it’s big news here. At the moment the big news in the States is fasting and extended fasting. In other words, fasting from three days onwards, and beyond. So that’s becoming a lot more popular over there now. Intermittent fasting is almost yesterday’s news. So, I go to people like David Perlmutter, who you’ll be familiar with. He’s hugely into ketosis and fasting and gut-health and other stuff, so he would be one of my main, if you like ‘gurus’. He’s a neurologist who’s been practicing for 45 years. He soon saw the error of his ways and started moving from traditional neurology into holistic neurology. He’s written several books including ‘Grain Brain’ and ‘Brain Maker’. I don’t believe 100 percent of what he says but I’m behind 99 percent of it. My number one guru if you like from the States will be Dr. Kharrazian. He is a chiropractor but he’s also a Harvard researcher. He’s very easy to listen to. He talks a lot of common sense. He knows his Biochemistry from the inside out but can talk very easily on it on a whole range of topics. But he’s very much into thyroid health, into brain health and gut health. So, he’s well worth looking at and finding out more about it. And more recently David Jockers. He’s a guy who I mentioned to earlier he’s into ketosis, he’s into fasting. He’s practicing in the States for about 20 years I think now.

Cliff Harvey: [01:02:26] Is he a nutritionist or is he a chiropractor?

Phil Dowling: [01:02:30] Well actually in the States they have a lot of chiropractors who move into holistic health and some of them become holistic naturopaths obviously other types they just still call chiropractors. But a lot of these holistic doctors and holistic naturopathic doctors in the States really know the research really well and can quote the research on a regular basis and very easily. And a lot of these naturopathic doctors in the States as a whole room realm of them like Dr. Hyman is quite a well-known guy in the States. There’s a whole raft of them who I’ve watched and listened to on a regular basis. And you know you can find these people on podcasts, you can find them on YouTube. But of good information to share. So, in New Zealand there’s no specific person who I would go to. But if you’re overseas it certainly would be. I’ve love for people like Joe Pizzorno who is affiliated to the college which I teach at. So, he comes over here once every two years and he’s got a lot of very interesting information.

Cliff Harvey: [01:03:28] He’s a naturopath, isn’t he?

Phil Dowling: [01:03:29] He is. He set up Bastyr College. So, he comes over here every couple of years, so I get to meet him every couple of years. But he also practices from the States and from Bastyr and from Seattle. I mean he’s written several books. His books of detail.

Cliff Harvey: [01:03:42] Yeah, I hear he’s a wealth of knowledge. I have never met him.

Phil Dowling: [01:03:45] He’s main area will be detoxification particularly in heavy metals. So, I read all his stuff. There’s a lot of good people who I follow. That’s my main interest in life. I spend the weekends doing research and following people trying to find out what’s happening, and I never quite turn off now, but I enjoy it. And that’s why I continue to do it.

Cliff Harvey: [01:04:07] What’s new for you this year? What’s your big project? You’ve been in clinical practice.

Phil Dowling: [01:04:17] I mean I am doing some time-restricted eating at the moment myself. It’s working very well for me. I’m happy with that. I’m going to encourage more of my clients into that. I have been encouraging people for the last four years to do a 12-hour fast every day. It basically means from finishing eating at night to breakfast time you get a full twelve hours where you don’t eat. That’s a good start but what I’m doing for myself is what’s called time-restricted eating. So, I’m choosing to basically not have breakfast and basically start at lunchtime. You have a reasonable sized meal at lunchtime, a reasonable sized meal at dinnertime and you do what’s called a 16 night which means you have 16, well in my case probably 18 hours of not eating and it’s six to eight hours of actual eating time. Now you can do that if you’re a person who really needs breakfast. You could do it you have a big breakfast or big lunch and not have dinner. So, clients could do one of those too. I don’t miss breakfast particularly- I’m not that hungry at breakfast so I can do well without, but lunchtime I’m hungry so I have a good breakfast, I’ll have a good lunch and I’ll compensate what I’m not having at breakfast at lunch time. So, I’ll have the same amount of calories throughout the day I just have it twice a day. Lunch and dinner. That works well for me. It may not work for everyone. But again, that’s something that’s becoming popular in the States. I’ve seen the evidence that it works. So, I’m quite behind that now. I’ve begun to encourage clients into that. But it’s something that people quite resist because it’s a big change.

Cliff Harvey: [01:05:47] I’ve found clients that embrace it. Because I find with less frequency of eating there’s less preparation- you know you’re dealing with busy people that I need to worry so much about all these meals, snack, meal, snack only all sort of paradigm stuff. And a lot of people don’t really want to fast for breakfast in the morning. So, it makes it pretty easy. But I understand that some people as well are very resistant to change.

Phil Dowling: [01:06:15] Well people like breakfast, so it’s that type of thinking you’ve got to work through, and your client’s have got to decide is this something I want to continue, or do I want to try this? The good thing about time-restricted eating is it’s quite safe. It’s not a problem. Once you move into extended fasting which would be really from anything from one day onwards you really need some supervision because I have supervised fasts quite a few years ago. I used to supervise fasts for the college and also where I used to live. I haven’t supervised fasts recently but once a fast gets beyond one day you need supervision because things can go wrong as you go through the process of basically breaking up fast. You can release toxins into the bloodstream. Some people get nausea. Some people feel uncomfortable. Other people just fly through it. And some people are very surprised how easy it is. But you need some supervision once you go beyond one day.

Cliff Harvey: [01:07:11] I think that the top of the fasting is relatively misunderstood, and I think while there are so many benefits to fasting and more so than fasting, I think what you’re saying with time-restricted feeding I think we’re seeing so many benefits in the research but also just benefits behaviourally for people. But I do sometimes wonder that something that’s effective, people think, ‘well if it’s good, more must be better’. And so, I mean a lot of people are doing really long fasts and doing them frequently and they just end up getting burnt out.

Phil Dowling: [01:07:44] We know it’s not a good idea. You have to build up what’s called a ‘fasting muscle’ and it sounds very funny, but it’s literally that. It’s like you when you train you’ve got to build up slowly. With fasting you start off by eating for 12 hours every night. And then you start moving into time-restricted eating. And then you might end up getting a whole day, 24 hours without food. Then if you’re comfortable with that you can extend that. I mean these days I haven’t done extended fasting for quite a while. I might experiment with that later in the year, I’m not sure. But I can see for a lot of my clients that maybe some benefits from that. And the key thing that you mentioned earlier, ‘autophagy’, is a term that’s very commonly used in the States. I very rarely hear it used here.

Cliff Harvey: [01:08:25] It’s become a lot more common particularly in that sort of keto realm, you know, an area that I am heavily entrenched in. A lot of people know about it. And again, it’s misunderstood.

Phil Dowling: [01:08:35] Well if people want to heal, they’ve got to go through autophagy from an awful lot of health diseases. Autophagy is a bit of a new buzz word. It will become very popular here, I think. But really, you’ve either got to do it through exercise or you’ve got to do it through fasting. That’s the only way it’s going to happen, really.

Cliff Harvey: [01:08:53] Or all 3…

Phil Dowling: [01:08:56] Or all 3… what’s the third one?

Cliff Harvey: [01:08:57] Keto.

Phil Dowling: [01:09:01] I need to look into that in more detail, possibly through keto or fasting mimicking diets which I think you’re familiar with but possibly I’ll look into that, but I looked into it through exercise and through fasting so I’m now looking into it through keto. But there are specific benefits for the gut on keto which we haven’t mentioned- so some of the research does actually show that eating a ketogenic diet can be good for certain health disorders through its effect on the gut. So that would be for things like autism, multiple sclerosis as well, and of course, epilepsy. You know, how traditionally the ketogenic diet’s been used particularly with childhood epilepsy. What they’re finding out now is it may well be to do with some aspects to do with gut bacteria triggering the changes.

Cliff Harvey: [01:09:47] Yeah, that’s interesting, because obviously we… you know, I’m actually teaching a class on this tonight about neurodegenerative disorders and the ketogenic diet. And obviously we focus very much on the mechanistic and functional stuff that we know about ketogenic diets… in other words, the fuelling of neurons with beta-hydroxybutyrate, and the changing GABA to glutamate ratio, and increased adenosine in the brain… all these various things. Seldom are people talking about the gut, but we do know that all of those things don’t actually always explain the raft of effects that are happening keto diet. So, it could well be, you know I’d obviously defer to you on that, that there is a lot more going on in the gut as well.

Phil Dowling: [01:10:31] Well there is. I forget the research… I had a look at it some time ago… but there is some research showing this and showing that keto diet may also help repopulating certain quantities of certain types of healthy bacteria like for instance, Akkermansia muciniphila, which is a common bacteria which generally can often be interpreted as a sign of good health if you have abundant amounts of that particular bacteria. So, there is some evidence that show that keto might help with that. In terms of gut bacteria, a lot may depend on the type of fats that they have within the keto diet as well.

Cliff Harvey: [01:11:06] And also how the keto diet’s structured. Because a keto diet could be anything from meat, lots of vegetables, and good healthy fats through to just scarfing down lots of cheese.

Phil Dowling: [01:11:19] Yeah. So, it’s about quality rather than quantity.

Cliff Harvey: [01:11:23] Yeah exactly.

Phil Dowling: [01:11:24] That’s the keto diet. So, there is some evidence at least showing the keto diet does help with the gut.

Cliff Harvey: [01:11:26] That’s probably the key with everything, right?

Phil Dowling: [01:11:26] Yeah?

Cliff Harvey: [01:11:26] Quality comes first!

Phil Dowling: [01:11:31] Quality comes first with everything, yeah? So, you know, if you eat too much fat and it’s the wrong type, it’s not going to help. In fact, they actually did a study I think comparing how defective the gut between lard and fish oil. And lard… I don’t know what dosages they used but they used but lard had quite a negative effect on gut bacteria whereas the fish oil had quite a beneficial effect on gut bacteria. And so, it really does depend on the type of fat. I’m not saying necessarily saturated fat because that saturated fat can come from lots of different sources. In this case it came from lard, and that did seem to have a quite negative effect in this particular study on gut bacteria. But the real key for fresh-working gut bacteria is probably carbohydrates, dare I say. Fibre. Fibre and carbohydrates. You have to get a small amount of carbohydrates… and it has to be the right type. Fibre is the most important aspect in terms of treating gut bacteria. So, in New Zealand typically we may have 20-25 grams of fibre at day. It’s not enough. In my opinion, we should be having at least twice that amount. And certainly, if you look at the healthy cultures throughout the world, they’re having 100 grams plus of fibre a day.

Cliff Harvey: [01:12:49] They’re pretty consistent, right? That’s a consistent finding and that’s one of the things that… it does worry me a little bit about the movement towards the carnivore diet, you know, people just eating meat alone. I’ve had my perspective shifted on it a little bit recently because I understand that it does work really well for some people because they just so intolerant to vegetables, plant-based foods, that they are having real issues with that, and they basically don’t get any symptomology when they’re eating just meat. My concern is that you couldn’t claim that vegetables are bad for people because they’re full of antioxidants and all those various phytochemicals, and they’re full of fibre and resistant starch. And I think most of us would say that 99.9 percent of people would benefit from it.

Phil Dowling: [01:13:40] Yeah. Well, if you’re on a carnivore diet there are some things which should be clearly lacking. One is polyphenols which we haven’t touched on yet. One of the best thing’s gut bacteria, things they love, in particular the healthy gut bacteria, is the polyphenols. So, they will travel right through the small intestine to the large intestine and feed the gut bacteria. Now, for years and years people will say, ‘well, polyphenols are useless because we hardly absorb them- we absorb 10 percent of them, so they don’t do much’, but now they find we feed the gut bacteria and then the gut bacteria look after  us. So, polyphenols are really important in terms of gut health and overall health as well. So that’s extremely important. That’s going to lead on to something else, but it’s come at a tangent there. But that related to what you said before anyway.

Cliff Harvey: [01:14:33] A lot of carnivore devotees say that, you know, that you simply don’t need as much vitamin C if you’re not eating carbohydrate and you’re told the heck of a lot more. And there is actually some vitamin C in meats, particularly in organ meats. But I still think it’s too big a risk to take because–

Phil Dowling: [01:14:54] Vitamin C is one of my favourite nutrients and most people aren’t getting enough Vitamin C even if you eat vegetables and fruit. So, if you’re on a carnivore diet the vitamin C is only going to come from organs, particularly the adrenal gland. It may come from the liver, but you’re going to get very small amounts and we don’t make our own Vitamin C. Vitamin C’s needed for immunity, it’s needed for connective tissue. So, I suspect that people on a carnivore diet on the longer term- and that maybe one year plus, I don’t know- they may start to show Vitamin C deficiencies.

Cliff Harvey: [01:15:26] And that may, without throwing myself under the carnivore bus, that may be appearing in the research now is a few case studies of people but they’re eating poor diets but that’s the risk, right? Is that if someone is eating a carnivore diet and it’s not absolutely exemplary- in other words eating lots of organ meats and things like that- the risk is massive. I don’t know if you saw that study last week I think where… I think it was 500 milligrams of Vitamin C taken before meals had a really beneficial effect on post-meal glycaemia. There were blood sugar responses were a heck of a lot better and more consistent after meals when they had ample Vitamin C.

Phil Dowling: [01:16:09] Well I guess that sort of makes sense in a way because if you look at Vitamin C, it’s almost identical to sugar, you know, in terms of its biochemistry it is very similar. So, when you get it into your gut, your gut-brain connection will be saying ‘oh, that’s sugar’. Yeah, I mean I’m not a huge fan of actually taking too much Vitamin C as a supplement. I possibly think in the long term it’s not good for you. But I think in the short term it’s almost certainly fine. The Vitamin C from food- there’s no better thing because Vitamin C from food will also contain the flavanols and polyphenols to help your gut. So, taking a naked ascorbic acid or a naked sodium ascorbate is never as good.

Cliff Harvey: [01:16:52] Yeah. Because everything works in complex and it’s so much better to take in the complex.

Phil Dowling: [01:16:54] Yeah. And because our brains understand food, they don’t understand supplements in the same way or don’t understand things that have been stripped of something.

Cliff Harvey: [01:17:04] Yes. Very interesting. Well, we could talk for hours I’m sure.

Phil Dowling: [01:17:09] I know, we’ve covered a lot of ground.

Cliff Harvey: [01:17:11] We have covered a lot of ground but there’s also a lot of things that we haven’t covered, so I’ll have to get you back at some point.

Phil Dowling: [01:17:14] I’d love to come back.

Cliff Harvey: [01:17:17] Where can people find you, Phil?

Phil Dowling: [01:17:20] Okay, well you can find on my website which is That’s really where you can find me and if you look me up.

Cliff Harvey: [01:17:33] Are you on Facebook?

Phil Dowling: [01:17:34] Yeah. I’m on Facebook but I hardly ever use it. I’m not a great Facebook fan. I use it occasionally. I use my Web site from time to time, but it’s got some information on it. But if you got any queries you can just e-mail me, or you can phone me. All my contact details are on the website. Yes. So, it’s easy to find.

Cliff Harvey: [01:18:01] Yeah. Good stuff. So, if anyone has questions about gut health or wants to get in for a consultation, there’s no better person than Phil. And so, we’ll put up your web address on Show Notes.

Phil Dowling: [01:18:13] I’m also open to actually doing some face-to-face type seminar at some stage. But there’s an awful lot of information online and I can certainly help people out face-to-face just on some one-to-one basis as well.

Cliff Harvey: [01:18:33] Well we’ll certainly poll all of our listeners and see if anyone’s interested in getting together for a workshop. Thank you, Phil.

Phil Dowling: [01:18:40] Pleasure. Thanks, Cliff!

Cliff Harvey: [01:18:40] And thank you all for listening in. We’re going to close it off now. Get ready for the audio podcast coming up in a couple of weeks.

Cliff Harvey: [01:18:49] That was the Carb Appropriate podcast with me, Cliff Harvey. If you’d like to watch the live recording of the podcast, go to a Find out about me and what I do at and make sure you subscribe to this podcast on all popular podcast channels and to our YouTube channel at HolisticPerformance.TV


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