The story of one man’s battle to change the food paradigm

 

Feed our brains, our head brain and our gut brain and they will look after us.

 

How it started

This is the story of ones mans battle, Colin Austin, against powerful interest to change the food paradigm. How he tries to get acceptance for the new paradigm that simple changes to our food and diet are the most powerful weapon for health and is the most effective way of combating the current health epidemic of what he calls ‘fat in the wrong places’ diseases but we may know as diabetes, obesity and dementia.

It started when Colin’s wife Xiulan (pronounced Shoelan), a qualified surgeon and medical doctor was diagnosed as diabetic. At first Colin thought nothing of it, she would just take a few pills and carry on as normal.

Things suddenly became very serious.

But then she started to loose her eyesight, consequently fell down a flight of stairs breaking multiple bones in her foot. That was bad but what was really bad was when, after a successful operation, her foot started to turn black and the doctors started to talk about amputating her foot.

They were told by their medical advisers that diabetes was a chronic disease, meaning irreversible with no cure, that she would need stronger and stronger pills until she needed insulin injections and would probably die young from a heart attack.

Discovering the facts

And Colin simply couldn’t believe his ears so he had to go home to explore the internet and what he found raised some big questions.

First the shear scale of the diabetes epidemic. While the number of people formally diagnosed with diabetes globally is some double the population of the United Stated the estimated number of undiagnosed and prediabetics exceeds the combined population of India and China – simply staggering yet there was even more staggering event to follow.

There was not one but many doctors and prestige research institute who were saying that diabetes can be reversed by diet, the exact opposite of what they had been told.

The list is long but starts with Professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University, Dr. Jason Fung of the Team Diet Doctor and Toronto University and Dr Alan Goldhamer of the True North Clinic California and many more.

Now this is a story, not a technical debate, but if you want to study the technical side in more detail you can go to our sister site www.gbiota.com

Metabolic syndrome

But anyone looking at diabetes simply could not miss metabolic syndrome (which is fat around the vital organs) and leads to diseases such as diabetes, heart attacks and strokes. There are immense personal costs – diabetes is the most common cause of amputations and blindness and is the single largest drain on our health costs.

But it is a new phenomenon and Colin, as an innovator has that pesky habit of keeping on asking why after why and it comes back to our modern food distribution.

The modern food distribution system

Look at old photographs or film from thirty years ago and people were generally slim. But walk around any shopping centre today and look at the people, some are at the extremes, either obese or emaciated but the majority are carrying excess fat around their stomachs.

In such a short period of time this cannot be genetic but simply the food we are eating. Let us be realistic – the supermarket system with the factory farming and processed food chain provides us with convenient and abundant supply of cheap food.

One reason they taste so good is they are full of sugars, fats and salt which unfortunately make us feel hungrier – in essence they are addictive so we eat more than we need.

Simply recommending a change in diet simply does not work. We need food that people actually want to eat.

There is a world of difference between food we should eat and food we want to eat. This is at the root of why we get fat, we just love processed food high in sugars, fats and salt – they taste so good.

Soils and minerals

Let’s start with a key point. Any good book on horticulture will describe in detail the fertilisers needed to grow healthy plants. But that can be missing the point, the aim is to grow plants which will make us healthy and this is a far more complex issue.

We need a whole range of minerals that the plants simply does not need – for example selenium which is used to the reproduction of our DNA. If there is no selenium our DNA does no reproduce accurately and most likely we will get cancer and die.

We need other mineral in much larger quantities than plants – for example the sex minerals iron and zinc. We won’t die from lack of zinc or iron but without the sex minerals life will not be as much fun and our species would become extinct.

Deficits in our modern diet

The table below shows the minerals that plants need to grow well, the primary and secondary elements and the elements that we as humans needs to be healthy. Some minerals such as iron and zinc are needed by plants but in small quantities. We need these in large amounts.

Others like selenium and iodine are not needed by plants at all but are essential for our health. Over the years of continuous farming these trace elements have become denuded from the soil. Modern intensive farming aided by chemical fertilizers is highly productive but exhaust the soil of biology and minerals.

Bio-essential trace elements are critical to human life. These include iron, cobalt, selenium, copper, zinc, molybdenum, vanadium and cadmium. The elements are linked into the chemical structure of the cells and become a natural nutrient for survival. Cobalt is a central atom in the structure of vitamin B12, whereas zinc is essential for growth, magnesium guards against heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, prostate cancer and osteoporosis.

Elements needed by plants

 

Elements available from the air or water

carbon, oxygen, hydrogen

Primary elements from the soil

N, P, K

Secondary elements

Ca ,Mg, S

Trace elements

Mn, Fe, B, Zn, Cu, Mo, Cl, Co

Widely reported dietary deficits

 

Elements needed by plants but we may need higher doses

Ca, Mg, Zn, Fe ,Cu

Essential extra elements needed for health

Selenium, Iodine, Vanadium, Chromium

Vitamins humans are generally short of

Omega 3, B12, B6, E, K

When we talk about us needing minerals we never mean the basic element, we need the elements as part of complex chemicals. These are produced in a chain starting from soil biology reacting with minerals in the soil to make them available to the plants – then the plant converting them into further chemical which are available to us (or more realistically the bacteria in our guts) – these are converted into hormones which are sent to our brain – which in turn converts them into yet more hormones which control our body.

The core of the problem

Colin’s habit of keeping on asking why may be infuriating but it does eventually uncover the core issue.

Going back in time before modern agriculture we had plenty of these essential minerals in our diet. Primitive man may have had lot’s of problems but lack of selenium and the other minerals was not one of them.

Modern agriculture, with it’s potent fertilisers, is far more productive, and the farmer keeps on adding fertilisers to ensure the plants have all the nutrients that plants need but there is absolutely no incentive for the farmer to apply nutrients that we need but the plant does not. There is simply no way a customer can tell by looking a the produce.

But plants are not selective, they just take out whatever nutrients are in the soil so the level of those nutrients that we need but the plant does not keep on dropping until the soil and hence we become deficient in those nutrients.

We may not be able to tell that our food is nutrient deficient but our brains, our intelligent control system certainly knows that it is short of something so sends our progressively stronger message telling us to eat.

And whether we like it or not eventually most people give in and eat more sugary fatty food that we don’t need and the diet experts rightly say that we need to cut down on our calories, but what they don’t say is that we should be eating food that contains the essential minerals.

It is not a simple question of eating less and cutting calories it is a question of eating more of the right sort of food containing the essential minerals and letting our intelligent control system, our brains, getting on with their job of telling us when we are satisfied.

That is what Gbiota food is all about.

Can diabetes be cured

There is certainly a debate about whether diabetes can be cured or simply reversed by diet.

To Colin the issue is simple, if you go blind and have your leg chopped off that is bad, if you avoid going blind and having your leg chopped off that is good.

But real life is always more complex than theory, the reality is that genetics play a part – there are some people who are prone to being fat and getting diabetes and however careful they are with their diet they will still end up diabetic.

At the other end of the spectrum there are people who just seem immune and can eat whatever they like without harm.

But the question Colin asked himself was how is it, with all this leading edge research on diabetes why weren’t we told about it?

Surely if there is a possibility of avoiding becoming a blind cripple then we should have been give the opportunity to decide for ourselves.

There is something fundamentally wrong here. And indeed there is – Doctors are not trained in nutrition and if they offer formal advice on nutrition they are likely to have their license to practise medicine revoked.

This is not an idle threat, it has happened to doctors here in Australia who have offered nutrition advice. This is a system failure and is simply unethical.

The power of money and manipulation

But it is a much bigger issue than internal friction within the medical industry, there are many mega corporation within the food, pharmaceutical and supplement industries and a multitude of promotions on the web trying to manipulate opinion and actions purely for their financial benefit.

Unfortunately we live in the age of corruption and manipulation of the truth, but this is not a political manifesto, it is the story of what Colin did.

Learning from Colin’s first paradigm shift

So to tell the story we need to flip back to the early 1970’s almost fifty years ago. At that time Colin was lecturing at the RMIT in Melbourne on plastics processing and he asked himself a simple question. “Why are so many plastic products so crappy?”

But simple question are often very difficult to answer.

Now Colin is asking himself another simple question. “Why is that fifty years ago there was no diabetes epidemic but now the epidemic is everywhere?”

Now just to be clear, he fully understands that fifty years ago there were some diabetics and some fat people. But there was no epidemic and the fat people were still pretty healthy.

Health starts in the soil

Two very simple simple questions, with two very similar answers.

The answer to the crappy plastics question is the way they are processed and the answer to the diabetes question is the way we grow our food – health starts in the soil.

Dietitians are always telling us to eat this or that food – Kale is good for us so we should eat lots. If Kale is grown in nutrient rich biologically active soil then that is true. If it is grown in denuded dead soil and sprayed with toxic chemicals it is positively harmful.

But how do you know? The Kale sprayed with chemicals may actually look better. But how does a person buying the Kale know? That was clearly one problem Colin had to solve.

Colin recognised by IEA as one of Australia’s top 100 innovators

Colin’s ideas fifty years ago totally changed the way plastics were processed around the world, it was a total paradigm shift and led to Colin being recognised by the Institute of Engineers as one of the top one hundred innovators in Australia and his company grew from his back bedroom to become Australia’s leading export of technical software.

But it was not a question of writing a smart bit of software which just automated what people had being doing before. He had to make people change the way they thought and that is one of the most difficult things to do. We can learn a lot from how he achieved that paradigm shift.

Challenging the conventional wisdom

There is a lot to learn from the story of battles and success of making the paradigm shift happen.

But to learn the lessons we have to take a quick look at just how controversial the original technology Colin developed actually was.

In plastic moulding a hot plastic flows into a cold mould through pipes (called runners) gradually loosing heat and freezing as it flows. Forcing an almost frozen plastic into the mould creates a lot of inbuilt stresses which result in warping or even fracture – crappy products.

The obvious common sense and universally accepted view was that the way to solve problems was to make the pipes bigger, and the bigger you made it the better.

How could something so simple and obvious be wrong?

But Colin says it was just not the way to go and therein lies a tale.

This is totally analogous to what is happening with the ‘fat in the wrong places’ epidemic.

If people are putting on too much fat the obvious common sense approach is eat less.

And all the diets promote eating less of something, it may be the less fat or less carbohydrates or simply less calories overall so anyone who suggest eating more can only be deranged.

Right, yes or no?

How paradigms change

But before you jump to that conclusion lets look at how Colin’s original concept replaced the old paradigm with a new paradigm which changed an industry across the globe.

We don’t need to get bogged down in the technology but the idea was simple – instead of making the pipes bigger – make them smaller so it takes a lot of pressure to force the plastics through the pipe which generates a lot of frictional heat so the plastic entering the cavity is hot and runny – at least for a few seconds.

Maybe a simple idea but it is no good just making the pipes smaller. To make it work you have to be able to calculate just how much smaller. But no one had solved these complex calculations of heat transfer and fluid flow and even if had they simply could not be done by hand with bits of paper and slide rules.

One technical revolution enables another revolution

But the early seventies were the time when the computer revolution was just starting.

Colin mortgaged his house to about one third of its value to buy only the second mini computer to come into Australia – the equivalent in today’s money of $250,000.

Despite the almost laughable capacity of this early computer Colin was able to develop the software needed for these calculations.

Ridicule and the innovator

Full of enthusiasm Colin set of on world trip to introduce this new thinking and software to the worlds industry.

And what did they think? Great what a fantastic idea?

No! Here was some raving lunatic from a country with Kangaroos hopping down the high street. That went on for a few years when luck came to Colin’s rescue.

The car industry was just introducing the full width dash and fender moulding and were having technical problems in making them while at the other end of the scale the computer industry was just beginning to grow and they were again having their problems making the very small but thin parts.

Rule no 1 someone must have a real problem

This leads to rule number 1 of innovation, it only takes off when there is someone with a real problem that the innovation can solve. If there is no real problem people will just carry on as before.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

Having some third of the worlds population heading to become blind cripples looks like a bit of a problem.

But the real problem is the silo effect. The people who decide how our food is grown and processed live in a different silo to those going blind and having their legs chopped off who in turn live in a different silo to those who have to pay for all the health costs – our Government.

Rule no 2 people must be able to try the new technology for themselves

But the second rule of innovation is that people must be able to try the new technology for themselves and Colin resolved that problem by making his software available on time share.

Soon major companies like General Electric, General Motors, Hitachi, Bosch, Siemens, Apple computer, Ford and more where trialling the system.

Well Colin can’t do time share with food but he can try and recruit cafes and restaurant to his cause so people can just walk in off the street and try Gbiota food. They may have to eat at the restaurant for a period for their guts and brain to change but there is no upfront commitment of time or money.

Rule no 3 forget the theory – does it work and offer real benefits?

This leads to the third rule of innovation – forget all the theoretical arguments – they wont convince anyone – it has to work and offer real benefits and fortunately for Colin that is exactly what happened.

But how to test if food is working? The real test is do the food cravings that lead to overeating go away? But that is subjective so we can use weight and waist dimensions as a more scientific measure but it you want to know what is happening to your guts, just watch what happens in the toilet.

Rule no 4 innovations needs disciples

The forth rule of innovation is that very rarely does the original innovator convince the wider market, the normal process is that the early adopters become disciples and carry the word forward.

And that is exactly what happened. Engineers from these major companies gave lectures at international technical conferences when the word spread like wild fire with eager adopters popping out of the woodwork from everwhere.

And this is exactly what is needed for the food revolution. There is no way that Colin, by himself, can change the worlds food industry. It needs people to try Gbiota food, find out for themselves if they feel better, and if so for them to tell their friends who in turn can try it and tell their friends – this is the way that change happens.

Rule no 5 science advances on funeral at a time

The fifth rule of innovation was popularised by Max Plank. The German physicist Max Plank said that science advances one funeral at a time. Or more precisely: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

And boy oh boy, is that true in the world of medicine.

We get our gut biology in the first place from our mums, before, during and after birth. Doctors were very puzzled why human breast milk contains proteins which were totally indigestible by a baby. Then they worked out it was not for the baby at all but to feed the babies gut biology.

The first ever Gbiota food.

Eat more of the right food

But lets us move on from this story to see how Colin is going with his new idea that we should eat more (of the right food) rather than less. Actually like his idea of making the pipes smaller it is a bit more complicated than that.

Better not less

There is more food available than ever, it looks and taste better then ever so it is natural that this encourages people to eat more than they should so the obvious solution is to simply eat less leading to the ubiquitous reduce calorie promotion.

But, as Colin argues, it is more complicated than simply cutting calories, we need to keeping on asking why until we have go to the bottom of the issue.

Let’s play the ‘why’ game like a seven year old – just keep on asking why and drive everyone mad answering silly questions.

Why do we eat too much?

Because there is plenty of food available and it is cheap and tasty.

But there was plenty of food available in the 1960’s so why did not people overeat then?

Now the answer to that question is absolutely critical. Our bodies have brains in our head and gut which talk to each other and regulate how much food we eat. This self regulating system has been evolving over millions of years and is really effective so we don’t naturally overeat. Our bodies, if our brains are working properly, should simply say “you are full – stop eating”.

Why does that not work now?

Because our food has changed.

Modern food contains a lot of sugar and fats which give us plenty of energy but is deficient in food for our guts and brains, and we use a lot of toxic chemicals so we damage our guts and the self regulating system does not work.

Why can’t we simply forget about our self regulating system and just eat less?

Because our self regulating system knows we are short of essential micro nutrients for our bodies, guts and brain and sends out signals saying we are still hungry.

Why don’t we just ignore these signals?

We can for a while, but the self regulating system sends out stronger and stronger signals which result in food cravings which very few people can resist.

What should we do about it?

We should eat food full of the nutrients that feed our guts and brains so they stop sending out hunger signals. Then we can stop worrying about cutting calories and fad diets,  and let our bodies, or rather brains,  do all the work for us.

Where so we get this gut and brain food from?

We grow our food in nutrient rich biologically active soil free of toxic chemicals?

You mean like in the olden days?

Yes and no. The world’s population has more than doubled since the sixties, there is simply a lot more of us so we have to change the way we grow our food – modernised traditional agriculture using inputs which are sustainable like food waste, manures, sea weeds, volcanic rock dust and use micro- biology to break down these inputs and make them available to the plants.

Is that what Gbiota beds are all about?

Yes

Where can I buy Gbiota food?

In the longer term from farmers who specialise in this sort of growing but in the short term from health food cafes which offer Gbiota food.

Won’t it taste bland and ordinary?

Modern food is full of sugars which make it taste good and Gbiota food avoids most sugars but skilful chefs can use a variety of herbs and spices which, when you get used to the food, actually taste better.

What do you mean by getting used to it and how do I do that?

Generally our guts are full of sugar loving bugs who will send out signal to eat more food and our taste buds have got used to a sweet taste. But if we eat Gbiota food the good bugs will out compete the sugar loving bugs that make us crave sweet food, and then the food will taste even better.

How long will that take?

Gut bugs don’t live for long so the guts bugs should have changed within about three weeks.

But won’t that be horrible?

It won’t be particularly pleasant in the change over, but if you go to a cafe with a good chef they can make the food taste good in the transition.

And if they can have ‘group’ tables where you can make friends with other people going through the same process and can support you through the process it is very doable.

Action plan

Colin may well have known what needed to be achieved but that is very different to making it happen, particularly in today’s age of information. Change only occurs when people believe. There is so much information, so much manipulation of the truth by highly sophisticated technologies that we have reached the point where hardly anyone believes anything.

The Google effect

There is the Google effect which is automatic reinforcement of any idea so avoiding the process of critical evaluation.

Say (for some peculiar reason) you don’t believe in eating greens and want it band by law.

Just Google ‘health hazards of greens’ and you will receive 3.8 million references from respected organisations like the World Health Organisation which you can use to promote that laws should be immediately passed as a matter of urgency to prevent any unsuspecting person putting a piece of lettuce into their mouth.

And it is all based on facts and yes lettuce can contain Ecoli.

Manipulating information is not about lying – it is just selecting only the truth that support your argument

Just wonder around the web searching for food for health and you will be totally inundated with almost anyone and everyone trying to sell you some pill or other, with actors pretending to be doctors and doctors pretending to be actors. You may even find articles Colin has written about using diet to reverse diabetes

There is just such a mass of information that you can find information to support whatever view you want – however weird, biased or just plain wrong.

In the modern world it seems nobody believes anybody or anything.

Learning from the last paradigm shift

Too many people, trying to create the new food paradigm would have seemed impossible, but Colin had been through this before.

He knew that just writing more and more articles about food and health would not change the paradigm – particularly against such powerful interest in maintaining the current paradigm which is worth billions of dollars to the mega corporations.

He knew he had to find people who had serious problems and were adequately motivated to at least consider new ideas.

Going blind and having a leg chopped off should be pretty motivating – and indeed it should be. But Colin remembered Max Planck’s quote about science advancing one funeral at a time and many older people suffering from years of bad diets are the most reluctant to change attitude.

Another much younger group are ‘to be’ and new mums who like all humans are very motivated to safeguard the next generation. Colin, as a grandfather himself fully understood this motivation to protect the next generation.

In the age of information manipulation people must be able to try for themselves

But Colin also knew that a key to successful innovation is to find a way that people who are motivated can try for themselves the knew technology, without too much risk or cost.

He decided that the way to provide this easy access was to collaborate and form cooperative working relationship with health orientated cafe’s.

They tick all the boxes, the already have a customer base of people who are motivated about their health, they have the contacts with their growers who can readily start producing Gbiota foods and they have the skills and knowledge of herbs and spices to make low sugar foods taste really good.

Getting over the hump

They also have another major trick up their sleeve. It may not be a particularly pleasant fact but it nevertheless true that the first couple of weeks, while the healthy bugs out compete the sugar loving bugs, can be a great trial of mental will power.

But cafe’s instead of having separate tables can have a communal table where people going through this transition can eat together, make friends, chat amongst themselves about the changes they are feeling in their body and take advantage of that great characteristics of humans, the willingness to form supportive groups for mutual support, (with of course the cafe proprietor providing some technical leadership).

Easy for anyone to measure the effects

People don’t have to rely on some external expert – they can see for themselves by a drop in weight and waist size and people simply feel better and healthier.

It may seem weird to talk about the advantages of diabetes but there is one. It is immediately obvious when there is an improvement. Diabetics regular check their blood sugar levels which can drop almost immediately.

If you have a favourite heath focused cafe you may like to suggest that the proprietor look into this and recommend that they contact Colin at colinaustin@bigpond.com for a copy of his ‘tips for setting up a Gbiota food cafe’.

Making  change is never easy this read tries to make change easy