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Optimising Health and Nutrition Through Diet and Lifestyle with Dr Mikki Williden

Our idea of a healthy lifestyle consists of farm-fresh produce, vegetable-rich diets, and regular exercise.  But good nutrition goes beyond the diet and workout programs influencers show on social media.

As people we all struggle with different ailments and have different genetic makeups, it is essential to practice critical thinking before jumping onto the latest diet trends. Attractive as their promises may appear, what might be right for one person may not be right for you. 

In this episode, Dr Mikki Williden shares the importance of having the right balance with regard to nutrition and delves into common misconceptions about diet and lifestyle. Dr Mikki details the strategies to optimise your health, especially during these trying times.  Nutrition isn’t just about limiting calories  but more about eating the right foods. 

If you are looking to start your journey to a healthier you or if you want to learn more about the science of nutrition, this episode is for you!

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Learn more about nutrition and the importance of proteins in your diet.
  2. Learn to think critically  rather than just jumping on the next popular bandwagon
  3. Discover strategies for optimising your health, especially during the pandemic.


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Episode Highlights

[04:48] Nutrition in the Academe 

Anyone in the nutrition space can call themselves a nutritionist even without experience. Mikki noticed that most people with a high comprehension of nutrition do not necessarily have degrees in nutrition. 

Critical thinkers tend to have a high capacity for understanding how nutrition works.

There are limitations for those studying nutrition through university programs. Universities tend to teach students an established way of analysing problems.

[07:08] Nutrition in the Field of Medicine

Most general practitioners do not have in-depth knowledge about nutrition, which has given them a bad reputation at times.

The study of nutrition can range from diet to nutrient medication and even to gene interactions. General Practitioners may not know more specialized information about nutrition.

According to Mikki, we may have grown up thinking that our doctor’s decisions are absolute. You are always free to take ownership of your health. Mikki recommends Lara Briden’s book, Hormone Repair Manual. Learn more about this by tuning in to the full episode.

[13:57] Proteins: A Double-Edged Sword

Amino acids, which build up proteins, act as signalling molecules to turn on the mTOR pathway. The mTOR pathway regulates growth, particularly cell proliferation, in animals and humans. The mTOR pathway is vital to human growth and metabolism, but too little or too much activity can be detrimental.

Long-term continuous activity in the mTOR pathway drives cancer cell proliferation and metabolism.

[20:05] The Scary Thing About Cancer

The terrifying fact about cancer is that it can affect anyone. Cancers can target different areas of the body, which require specific treatments and protocols.

Early detection and diagnosis of cancer will give us the chance to fight back. However, different cancer tests also vary in sensitivity levels. Some are more sensitive than others.

[23:06] Why Proteins?

Keeping your blood sugar in check is a priority, especially for individuals with metabolic dysregulation. If you practice a low protein diet, your body will naturally crave more carbohydrates.

To prevent unnecessary intake of carbohydrates, keeping a balanced high-protein diet will be a good step. 

[25:56] Should You Fast?

For individuals at the heavier side of the weight spectrum, fasting can help with their therapy. People on the leaner side of the spectrum, on the other hand, should refrain from prolonged fasting. It may result in loss of muscle mass.

Exercise and fasting provide ‘good stress,’ which can upregulate the body's antioxidant system, anti-inflammatory systems, and NPK signalling pathways. However, too much stress can break down the body. Always remember to do both in moderation.

The body needs a period of recovery and feeding to reap the benefits of exercise and fasting.

[32:32] Considerations for Fasting

According to Prof Layman and Dr Phillips, two solid inputs of proteins help stimulate muscle protein synthesis a day.  

Teenagers and young adults require around 15-20 grams to maximize muscle protein synthesis. Meanwhile, middle-aged to older individuals need 40 grams of protein for optimal muscle protein synthesis.

Extreme fasting can pose a high risk of accelerating muscle breakdown. Getting the right amount of protein for muscle synthesis is important because our bone health also gradually degenerates as we age. 

Falls and trips are one of the top causes of mortality in older adults. Our foot and ankle muscles should be strong enough in and around to prevent such accidents. 

[36:30] Checking Your Bone-Building Markers 

Fasting or insufficient food intake after exercise is also detrimental to bone health. The body’s bone-building markers are low during the period after exercise. Factoring in your day’s program for your carbohydrate intake can be beneficial.

Bone marker retention improves with high omega-three intake.

[39:57] The Truth About Oils

Vegetable oils are usually dubbed as “bad” oils since they upregulate inflammation in the body. Processing may heat these oils and destabilize them, which leads to oxidation of the oils. Oxidized oils are atherogenic. This means that they promote the thickening or hardening of arteries due to fatty plaque build-up.

Placing oils in plastic containers, such as in commercially available oils, can also cause plasticizers to seep into the oil. A high seed oil diet also means a lot of processed or refined carbohydrate content from the preservatives.

[44:42] Strategies for a Healthy Nutrition

Going organic is a privilege. Depending on a person’s access and budget, there will be times when commercial, processed food will be the only way to go. In cases like this, keeping things in moderation will be key.

Personality has an impact on becoming successful. Success follows if you live a balanced lifestyle. Becoming self-aware is a good step towards a more balanced, healthy life. 

[55:12] Optimising Health During the Pandemic

Mikki laments the lack of discussion about health in the context of COVID-19. Advocacy plays a heavy role in policymaking during this pandemic. 

Resiliency and protection from the virus still depend on how fundamentally healthy you are.

COVID-19 is seen from an epidemiological or immunological point of view. However, the pandemic also has influenced social and cognitive aspects of life. People should exercise critical thinking instead of blindly following mandates.

About Dr Mikki

Dr Mikki Williden, PhD, is a registered nutritionist, who has been helping individuals achieve peak health and performance since 2006. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition. She also has a Bachelor of Physical Education from the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.

In 2003, Mikki donned First Class Honors in her Master in Science degree, where she focused on the development of childhood obesity prevention. By 2011, she obtained a PhD degree with her thesis in health and productivity.

Mikki has a regular column in Bite Magazine, which is part of the New Zealand Herald. She also co-hosts a weekly endurance sports podcast called “Fitter Radio.” Through her podcast, she works together with notable figures in New Zealand and helps them achieve their nutrition-related goals. To learn more about Mikki, drop a visit to her website or connect with her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Powerful Quotes

[06:30] (On nutrition in the academy) ‘It's like having done study to work out that you have a super good brain. You are able and capable of doing it, but it has taught you to think in one particular way.’

[20:20] ‘It feels like you get ahead in terms of different treatments, different protocols sort of coming out. But then, every cancer is so different, like a completely different disease.’

[24:15] ‘This is what the research tells us: that you don't have to use research, you just sort of intuitively know if you're propping up your energy because you're trying to rescue your blood sugars on an hour by hour basis. The thing that your body wants is carbs. And it's actually the last thing that it needs.’

[27:24] On repeated and heavy stress on the body: ‘Coming from an ultramarathon background — for health, for toughness, for the sporting endeavor, for the goals and the bloody adventure — yes. For health? No.’

[30:01] ‘If you think about energy expenditure and energy input, if you've got a high energy expenditure, it likes a high energy input to keep those those metabolic pathways nourished, if you like. But then, you move into a phase of low energy output and low energy intake, and again, your body quite likes it, too. It’s good to give your body a bit of a rest.’

[41:15] Whenever you put fat in plastic, it just means that the plasticizers from the container can seep into that food source. That's why I recommend that anyone with any sort of leftovers or whatever, if it's a steamer that they're using a plastic container, put down some baking paper, put something down so there’s a barrier between the plastic [and food].’

[48:33] ‘Mum would not be here if I hadn't, and we as a family, hadn't sacrificed one hell of a lot to get back and on a day to day basis, ongoing. That's what you do for your loved one. For me, it's important to get the people to understand this is a journey.’

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Have any questions about the different approaches to cancer? You can contact me through email (support@lisatamati.com) or find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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To pushing the limits,


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