Dr Peter Dingle tours the country to promote gut health

by Brendan Torazzi

Oct 04, 2018

Brendan: I’m here today with Peter Dingle. He’s based in Perth. Can you tell me what you're currently doing in relation to health and safety? Tell us a little bit about your career.

Peter: Brendan, I started out as an academic many decades ago. In fact I think it was about three decades ago and I’ve always had this passion for looking at more of a total picture of health not just a treatment or a symptom or a drug or even a nutrient. I love the idea of looking at the whole picture. It's my philosophy that it came back when I was teaching at literally hundreds of students and so on but you've got to look at all of the picture.

Brendan: are you saying the picture in relation to personal health?

Peter: absolutely. What I used to call The DEAL, Diet, Environment, Attitude and Lifestyle. There’s not one area that dominates. You’ve got to look at them all. Some people can head into that stress is the only thing. For example some of the work that we're doing now on gut health shows that a lot of it is coming down from the stress shutting down the gut. Literally shutting down digestion, shutting down the enzymes, shutting down the micro bio. A great way when it comes to taking supplements with these. Unless you're going to get that side fixed it's not going to work. You can be the biggest meditator in the world but if you're eating the wrong foods then it's a balance that we've got to get in every aspect of our lives. We’re constantly pushing that.

I supposed what we've been doing rightly over the last couple of years is working on gut health. Of course everyone knows what that is now Brendan. Oh gut health, I know all about that. What surprised me is how little people know. In fact after researching this for quite a few years I’m surprised how little I know.

Brendan: do you think there is a trend happening at the moment to people being more proactive towards their health or do you think that the majority of the population is still reactive?

Peter: the majority is still reactive. I think we've probably got a 5%, a 5% really a concern of doing something. These figures are made up obviously. It’s 5% and then we've got another 10% who are sick as hell and want to do something about it. The other 75% to 80% of whatever it is sits back and thinks I’m okay. I’m not showing any signs as they are. Basically they wait until they get sick or start going on the pharmaceutical treadmill and get sicker as a result of it.

Brendan: are you seeing the government doing anything about the nation's health in general, I mean to support as more of a preventative approach?

Peter: not really. It’s a token gesture. At the end of the day they've got one hand which is telling people not to eat their junk foods and on the other hand they've got all the breakfast food to the sugary gluten rich, gluten enriched breakfast foods that have no nutrient value whatsoever and they're telling people this is the food for breakfast. An absolute contradiction. The Heart Foundation on the one hand telling people to look after their heart and giving people the absolute wrong message. There’s too much vested interest in health. There’s too much money and the big players out there, the food industry, the pharmaceutical companies, the medical systems, it's billions and trillions of dollars. When it comes to the final message getting through the public it's usually being filtered through so many different lobby groups along the way that there is really no value in that information. Something like 50% of the lobby groups in Canberra are things like the big pharmaceutical companies.

Brendan: it's almost like whoever has the most money wins.

Peter: Brendan, I joke at my talks. The pharmaceutical companies and the fast-food companies and the breakfast food companies with all the junk food have lobby groups and budgets in the billions of dollars and I have $200 but I’ll win.

Brendan: I’m thinking that obviously it's an education piece and an education piece that needs to start quite early in life. Are there any other countries around the world that are doing a particularly good job in relation to this sort of thing?

Peter: one of the beacons around the world in a lot of areas tend to some of the Scandinavian countries. You know what? One of the things that they've done is they got rid of the things like Heart Foundation tick. They got rid of the government rating system. They got rid of the food pyramid and they've gone back and said hold on. This is what you're supposed to be doing. Eating more fruit, more veggies, more nuts, more beans, more all the best and get out in the sun of course over in Scandinavia when there is sun. They’ve just taken this proactive approach.

If we look back at the creation of the food pyramid which was the beacon of healthy eating for 25 to 30 years. Some of it is still taught which is unbelievable. The scientific panel for actually came back and said what you do is have two serves of grain, two serves of duh, duh, duh and they made it. It came back as three times more grain through the lobby groups and that was the food pyramid. That shows up and it's constantly so what we’ve got to do is understand that the politicians are not going to do anything because whether or not they get in although we vote them in is determined by the lobby group.

This reminds me so much of tobacco smoke. I was involved with that for kind of the good 15 years. My research group, I led the paper that we just published was the seminal paper that got all tobacco smoking banned in clubs and pubs in Western Australia.

Brendan: that is huge. What year was that?

Peter: that one started it and then it happened around the country. Finally the last one was New South Wales was about 10 years later. The sole reason New South Wales after WA was because a certain politician took on a very lucrative directorship with Phillip Morris.

Brendan: it's funny actually. I’ve just been over at Europe and we really noticed how much smoking is just Italy and all those other countries. You just smoke at the restaurants everywhere basically.

Peter: they've got these smoke free chairs.

Brendan: that is right. A smoking corner and just waft over everybody else there. We’re quite lucky in many ways in Australia particularly if you're a non-smoker.

Peter: the smokers appreciate it too. They really understand it too. It’s taken a bit of time but kind of 15, 20 years on people understand it. That’s a huge move. We need to do the same for the foods and the healthy eating and healthy lifestyle in Australia. We need to do something significant. A couple of ads on television we know doesn’t make a difference.

Brendan: with your background with the banning the smoking or helping to contribute towards that. Tell me a little bit about the work that you're doing at the moment around the country because I know you are travelling and you are putting on education sessions. Tell us a little bit about what is happening with that.

Peter: one of the things that my research drew me to about 20 years ago was literally gut health. We started looking at toxins in the home and allergies. Then we started looking at these toxins and their effect on the gut. Then we started looking at so for 20 years I’ve been on and off kind of researching. For the last five years we're just focused on gut health but understanding it and the problem for these is most people think when it comes to gut health probiotics. It’s a marketing machine. No, it's not. It’s not probiotics. That is a small part of the solution but the real part is understanding the gut. It’s a really simple concept. We’ve been touring around Australia. We’ve been done I think it's 59 talks this year. We’ve got another probably 41 to go. We’ll get to a hundred or more.

Brendan: that is amazing. Have you done that all off your own bat?

Peter: yes, absolutely.

Brendan: amazing and tell us a bit about that. Do people pay to come and hear you talk?

Peter: I’ve been doing this in Western Australia over in Perth and Fremantle for the last two or three years. We decided well, a lot of people are saying come over east. We did our Queensland tour and with the exception of one town we had booked out venues. Then we had a couple of weeks break back home and then went back to Victoria for three weeks. With no exception we had booked out venues. 80, 100, whatever the room took on, 150 in a place called Bulleen, Victoria. We had a Thursday night talk and it was so successful. We booked out the following Friday night. It’s been immensely successful. People are walking away and most of our marketing is literally word of mouth. We thought it would be Facebook advertising and we'll come to that a bit. People are looking for solutions and the problem is if you go to anyone whether it's the alternative medical solution or the pharmaceutical medical solution because all of that has the appeal.

My message is simple. That may help deal with the symptoms but you've got to get back with some real simple basics. If you understand the gut then I described it where your mouth is alkaline. Your stomach has to be extremely acid. Your small intestine is alkaline again and your large intestine has to be acid again. If any of that gets upset then you've got gut problems. People think oh hold on, it must be the microbios, the probiotics. It really comes back to some really simple basic chemistry and how you can set up in your whole digestive system and it looks after itself.

Brendan: what are some of the basic things that is probably fairly hard to condense it down from a two hour talk but what are some of the basic things that the listeners could be doing to help improve their gut health?

Peter: I reckon I supposed I was just getting to saying we arrived at the first part of the Victorian talk and we spent $25 in a health food store just getting ingredients that are going to last us for the next month and a half. That is how cost effective it is. That isn’t going to solve all of the problems but it’s getting some of the basics done and then you move on to the more complex ones. There are some people with serious gut issues that needs a lot more. The reason I deal with people with inflammatory valve conditions that they are about to have operation. It’s not all going to be simple. One of the simplest things I tell people is sodium bicarbonate. McKenzie's brand sodium bicarbonate.

Brendan: I’ve got some of that in the kitchen. I regularly use it.

Peter: but basically just suggesting to people use the particular thing. First of all it alkalizes the mouth. It alkalizes the blood. It’s anti-inflammatory which is a win. It’s good for physical performance too. That is why they use it to pepper horses in horse races with some sodium bicarb. On top of that it helps alkalize the small intestine.

Brendan: you take that every day? Without giving advice I guess.

Peter: it depends on who you are. I come from the research and the research shows a way here, first thing in the morning is probably the best time. It’s a small amount. Half a teaspoon, mixed in with some water and some of it. That is the type of stuff that comes through. We need to do that. It means that you're alkalizing your small intestine. There is this gut condition called SIBO. A very few people have heard of SIBO but many people know it when I describe it. It’s that bloating you get, 45 minutes of pain, that hard stomach. It feels like absolutely everything is rock hard and blocked around 30 to 45 minutes, 45 minutes to an hour, an hour and a half stuff like that. When I describe it people look at each other and go uh-oh, that is what I’ve got or that is what I started with.

The whole principle there is they've got the wrong type of, well a good bacteria in the wrong spot. The reason that it's there going back to basic chemistry it's the pH. It’s the acid level. In fact that is why I’m getting back to sodium bicarb, one of the simplest solutions not to resolve this totally but a part. Everyone that I talked to I emphasized that everyone is an individual. Everyone has a unique program that they need to test themselves with whether they keep a food diary, a food symptom diary. People can walk away okay, here are 10 things I can start off today and I’ll see how I go, see how I feel and then take the next step. It’s about empowering people. When you consider that we know that that inflammation, not information but inflammation is the cornerstone of every illness out there. Heart attacks, strokes, cancers, you name it, gout right through your arthritis are all linked with inflammation. We picked something as simple as sodium bicarb. You’re getting anti-inflammatory product in at an incredibly low price. No, it's not going to get rid of rheumatoid arthritis overnight and all those things but the point is it's a little thing to do for a long time to get a real benefit.

Brendan: we're going to have to work towards wrapping up now. I’ve just got a few sort of outro questions that I’d like to ask everybody. Can I ask how old you are now?

Peter: going on 62.

Brendan: what do you do apart from your gut health to keep fit?

Peter: I walk. I do really simple strategies when it comes to keeping fit and healthy with myself. If we're on the road you could understand that we're on the road probably this year half of the year. We just walk everywhere. When we can we go to a gym for a 15 to 20 minutes but with some weights. I always get some weight bearing exercise and on top of that I always do my daily squats because they’re the biggest muscles in the body and they're going to keep you the healthiest.

Brendan: how many hours sleep do you get on each night on average?

Peter: pretty well seven, maybe eight. Sometimes it's a bit disrupted and the good thing about my life is if I need to sleep in I do and if I dont I wake up. I can tell you though when it comes to sleep when I left academic life at university about seven years old my sleep improved straightaway. It shows the world of stress of there.

Brendan: do you have any personal goals that you're looking to achieve over the next 12 months?

Peter: I dont have numbers. When I talk about goals I like having a number at the end but our passion, our mission in life is just to change, to improve the health of Australians. This year we'll get to 10,000. Next year I hope we'll get to 100,000 people. When we get to those numbers we know that we're going to make a difference. Then the system will change but when it comes to another new goal I’m writing my next book on mental health. The working title is called Mental Health: The Gut and Nutrition. That will be next year because I just love condensing all the information I have in the books and then talking to people about it.

Brendan: Peter, people want to find out a little bit more about what you're doing. Do you have a website or somewhere where people can get some more information?

Peter: our website is just www.DRDingle.com. In there we've got our events, we’ve got our free newsletter and blogs and things. We’ve also got a little heading there. I think it's called Events and Tour Dates. Anyone can log in there and see when our next round is coming up. We’ve got a couple here in Perth over the next three weeks and we're back to Victoria. We’re going across to Adelaide and then we're already planning November and it's going to be through Victoria, New South Wales again.

Brendan: all right Peter. Thanks very much for your time. It’s been great speaking to you. It’s been very informative on gut health.

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