Being healthy in this crazy, busy, modern world is not easy. The Whole Health Life Podcast is for anyone who wants to take control of their health and find real-world, simple, evidence-based solutions to improve their health from every aspect, adding years to their lives and saving thousands of dollars. Each episode, Shannon Harvey, talks to a world leading scientist about the most important aspects of our health. From dealing with work stress, the food we eat, to improving our relationships at home, or making healthy habits stick, understand how your mind, body, and the world around you influences your health more than you think. Whether you are struggling to get well, or simply want to know what you can do today to stay healthy, this podcast will help you get healthy, find balance, and live better.
For host, Shannon Harvey, finding a solution to this problem became personal when she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that had no known cause and no known cure. After being told by her doctor that she could end up in a wheelchair, she realised she had to take action. This inspired a ten-year journey, where she spent more than $30,000 on conventional and alternative treatments, searched through thousands of scientific papers, and traveled the world to interview dozens of pioneering health researchers from leading institutions such as Harvard and Stanford. On her road to getting better she met people with remarkable stories of recovery, discovered the truth amidst conflicting medical advice and sorted the quacks from the experts. She made a successful feature documentary, The Connection, about the link between our mind, body and health. She has also written a book, The Whole Health Life, about her personal journey and the latest science that had the most impact on her life.
EP09: Happiness And Its Causes Talk 2016 | The Whole Health Life
In 2007 a 27-year old man known as ‘Mr A’ collapsed on the floor of a hospital emergency department after taking a drug overdose. His blood pressure was crashing, he was hyperventilating and shaking, and nurses sprang into action to insert an intravenous line into his arm to try and flush his system and save his life.
The man had been taking part in an antidepressant drug trail, and although he had reported that his mood had improved significantly in the first month, in the second month he had an argument with his ex-girlfriend and became suicidal. He took the remaining 29 pills he had all at once, but immediately regretted his actions and was rushed to the hospital by his neighbour.
The case was written up in the medical journal General Hospital Psychiatry because four hours after the man had collapsed, it was revealed that had been in the placebo arm of the clinical trial. He had taken an overdose of sugar pills. When Mr A discovered the news, he was surprised and tearful with relief. Within 15 minutes, he had recovered.
I used this story at the beginning of my talk at the 2016 Happiness and Its Causes Conference as a demonstration of the profound influence that the thoughts in our mind can have on our body. My talk was about what I’ve learned from travelling the world to interview scientists at the cutting-edge of mind-body medicine, and how I use their wisdom in my efforts to get healthy after being diagnosed with a chronic disease.
EP08: Fabrizio Benedetti PhD And The Role Of Our Beliefs, Expectations, And The Placebo Effect
As a journalist who investigates the connection between our mind, body and health, I often come across phenomenal stories where healers produce miracle cures and witch doctors put curses on people. Now, if you’re scientifically minded like I am, you might be inclined to dismiss these stories as fantasy, or the result of a person’s gullibility rather than acknowledging them as a genuine healing phenomenon. But before you do, you might like to consider the remarkable research being done around the world suggesting that the effects of our expectations and beliefs may account for good-to-excellent health improvement for almost 70 percent of us.
In this episode I’m sharing my interview with Fabrizio Benedetti, a leading neurophysiologist from the University of Turin in Italy who spends his working hours trying to determined exactly when, where, and how your beliefs and expectations can induce a physiological response in your body. This is what we call the placebo effect – but, as you’ll hear Benedetti’s research shows that there exists not one single placebo effect, but rather, many placebo effects which work in different ways.
EP07: Peter Gollwitzer PhD And Easy Techniques To Make Healthy Changes Last
So, I have a confession to make. Lately, I have not been exercising consistently.
And as you know, I’m a health journalist and I extensively research and write about the latest science proving there’s a connection between our mind, body and health, I’ve even written an entire chapter in my book about the importance of sitting less and moving more… so I should know better. I have heaps of good intentions… but I don’t get to it.
I know I’m not alone in my battle to follow through on my good intentions. If you’ve read my blog, or my book, or listened to previous episodes of this podcast then you’ll know that while many of us have the best of intentions to do healthy things like loose weight, eat better, exercise more, or even do something like stop smoking, unfortunately, depending on the degree of difficulty in what it is we’re trying to achieve, somewhere between 35 percent and 89 percent of us will fail, often within the first week.
On this podcast episode you’ll hear my conversation with Peter Gollwitzer. He is a leading health behaviour researcher who is a professor of psychology at New York University. He has dedicated his career to working out how we can build a bridge to get over what is know as the intention-behaviour gap – which means even if you’re like me and you really really intend to change your behaviour it doesn’t mean you’ll succeed.
Fortunately, he can not only outline four of the common reasons we fail to reach our health goals, but he can also offer simple, easy and proven techniques to help is achieve them.
So, I hope you enjoy my conversation with Peter Gollwitzer and this one, I’m sorry to say does come with an upfront apology. The audio quality isn’t the usual standard I aim for on this podcast, but I hope you’ll bear with it none the less.
EP06 Stuart Biddle PhD and Why We Need To Sit Less and Move More
I record all the audio for The Whole Health Life podcast from a desk that allows me to work standing up as well as sitting down. I do this because when I was writing my book last year, I learned that even doing the recommended amount of exercise each day may not be enough to counter-act the harmful effects of sitting down too much – in fact I spoke with researchers who so worried about the effects of too much sitting, they’re actually calling sitting the new smoking.
In this podcast you’ll hear my chat with Stuart Biddle – a Professor at Victoria University’s Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living.
He dedicates his time to understanding the fundamentals of the mind-exercise connection – which means he’s studying everything from why it’s so hard to get motivated to move more, to why it’s so hard to stick to stick to exercising once we’ve started.
He’s also recently been turning his mind to the science of sitting too much and he’s full of simple, great ideas that can really make a difference.
I strongly suspect that as you’re listening to this podcast you’re gong to feel a rush of motivation to sit less and move more.
EP05 Andrew Holmes PhD and the Microbiome
If you’re a regular listener to The Whole Health Life you’ll know that I dive with gusto into the scientific evidence showing links between our health and our emotions, stress levels, relationships, beliefs, diet, sleep, exercise and daily habits. But of all the topics in health science that I closely follow, there is one that stands out as having the greatest potential to revolutionise the way we approach wellness and the treatment of chronic disease – the microbiome.
It’s thought that up to 100 trillion microbes call your gut home. Disruptions to the balance of your gut “wildlife” are associated with a range of chronic diseases. I also find it enthralling that our gut bacteria have even been shown to influence our behaviour.
Recently, I spoke with Associate Professor Andrew Holmes from The Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney, a scientist at the forefront of studying the link between our health and our microbes. One of the stand out messages that came from my conversation with him was that we are in a two-way relationship with the bacteria in our gut. We can influence them, and they can influence us. In fact, he explained that we have co-evolved with them and that we can no longer think of ourselves as an individual, but rather, as part of a dynamic ecosystem. In essence, we can no linger think of ourselves as an I, but rather as a “we.” We also chat about why the microbiome is so powerful, why our diet affects our gut bugs, the often controversial topics of antibiotics and probiotics and the future applications of this amazing research.
I hope you enjoy my conversation with Andrew Holmes.
EP04 Till Roenneberg PhD and Sleeping Better
If you’re anything like me, you’re familiar with Monday-itis. A terrible affliction, with symptoms that usually present at the start of the week. You feel tired and flat and you have to drag yourself out of bed. While you might think that this is simply because you don’t want your weekend to be over, my guest on this podcast episode offers an alternative explanation. You might, in fact, be suffering from something called “Social Jetlag” And it has a lot to do with your sleeping behaviour.
Till Roenneberg from Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich is a leader in the field of chronobiology – the study of our biological rhythms. His research demonstrates that each of us has a different chronotype, or timing of our biological clock. You may be a “lark” who likes to go to bed early and get up early, you may be an “owl” who struggles to get out of bed in the morning, or you may be like the majority of people and perch somewhere in the middle.1
You’ll learn why being forced to operate on a social clock that is counterproductive to your natural rhythms might be harming your health. You’re also about to learn why you always want to go to bed earlier when you’re camping and, if you listen to the end, you’ll learn why the bulbs in the lamps in my home now have an orange filter.