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Plant-based living with Happy Pear’s Dave and Steve Flynn

In 2004, Dave and Steve Flynn started a fruit and veg shop, with the aim to create a happier, healthier world. The Happy Pear now has vegan food products in nearly 1,000 stores in Ireland, 2 cafes and a farm, and their five cookbooks have all been no.1 bestsellers. The Happy Pear online health and lifestyle courses – in which they partnered with plant-based experts from across the globe – have helped over 50,000 people from 120 different countries.

In this episode, Dr Louise Newson chats with Dave and Steve about how they came to realise in their early 20’s that eating plant-based and whole foods would transform their own lives and those in their community. The lads energetically describe the different ways in which they have helped others turn their lives around, reduce risk of heart disease, feel happier and lose weight.

Dave and Steve’s 3 tips to improve your diet and future health:

  1. Try to eat more whole foods, if you don’t like many vegetables, start with fruit
  2. Be more intentional about your food choices
  3. Find your community, create an environment around you that will support you to make healthy choices

For more information about the Happy Pear cookbooks and lifestyle courses, visit The Happy Pear Website.

Episode Transcript:

Dr Louise Newson [00:00:09] Hello. I’m Dr. Louise Newson. And welcome to my podcast. I’m a GP and menopause specialist and I run the Newson Health Menopause and Wellbeing Centre here in Stratford upon Avon. I’m also the founder of The Menopause Charity and the menopause support app called ‘balance’. On the podcast, I will be joined each week by an exciting guest to help provide evidence based information and advice about both the perimenopause and the menopause.

Dr Louise Newson [00:00:45] So today on the podcast, I’ve got two lovely gentlemen in front of me, I’m very excited to introduce to you the quite famous duet called The Happy Pear, and I was actually first aware of them when I went round to one of my friends for dinner. A few years ago now, and she said, I’ve just found this most amazing cookbook. These two are just incredible. So we had this lovely meal, and that was it. And then I was very fortunate to be invited onto your podcast a few months ago, which I really enjoyed. So now you’re doing me a favour by coming onto my podcast. So thanks both for coming.

Dave Flynn [00:01:18]  Ah but we’re honoured. We love your work. And that was genuinely one of both of our favourite conversations.

Steve Flynn [00:01:23] Well it made it into our best of 2021. It was like.

Dave Flynn [00:01:26] I know.

Steve Flynn [00:01:26] It was one of my two picks. So there you go, that’s how much menopause and you had an impact on me. So thank you.

Dr Louise Newson [00:01:31] That’s great. But this time last year, if I had invited you onto a menopause podcast to talk, would you have accepted or what was your thought?

Dave Flynn [00:01:39] Probably wouldn’t have known much. I would have assumed it would have been about vegetables and talking about eating plant based or whatever. So I don’t know.

Steve Flynn [00:01:46] No, like especially we’re from a family of four boys and I went to all boys school, so it really wasn’t a conversation, anything to do with female anatomy beyond the sexual function we knew nothing about. So, you know, highly ignorant, even with our mother, you know, we used to kind of as she struggled through, we didn’t know how to support her. And I think it’s just a reflection on society at large, though for us. I think your work and the sense of society gathering around women more is just so important.

Dr Louise Newson [00:02:13] Mm-Hmm. Absolutely. So for some of you who don’t know this lovely – I was going to say pair of twins but they’re not they’re one set of twins. You might hear that they’ve got an Irish accent, and actually in Ireland, things are neglected even more when it comes to women and the menopause, actually. So some of the stories we hear from Ireland are even more distressing than the stories we hear from England so.

Dave Flynn [00:02:33] Wow.

Dr Louise Newson [00:02:33] But things are changing over across the water. So let’s talk if you don’t mind introducing, you one at a time and just talking about the work that you do, because I think it’s really pivotal in making people think differently about diet and nutrition and being happy actually. It’s not just about eating to get through the day, it’s eating to enjoy and feeling healthier as well as being happy, isn’t it? So. Do you mind just talking a bit about what you do?

Steve Flynn [00:03:00] Of course. So we’re identical twins, and this is Stephen speaking now, and my twin brother is David. And we’re identical twins, we’re men now but we were boys, but now we’re men. We must confess we’re 42. So in terms of our work, we – just to give it a little small backstory. We grew up in Ireland on a standard ‘meat and two veg’ diets, you know, went to university, studied business, did degrees and master’s and that and then finished and were quite confused. We kind of really bought into materialism and it was only through – we decided to go away travelling and experiment with our diet and lifestyle and try to find our place in the world where we found a sense of meaning. And on that journey we found out that we were fascinated with how we ate and how it affected how we felt. So we came back and I remember calling Dave up one day and I had this dream of starting a healthy revolution. Will you join me? Yeah. And Dave, at the time was in Central America, and he thought we were going to be doing revolutionary stuff like storming the parliament or doing something anarchistic. But it was like, Dave do you want to start a vegetable shop? Dave was like ‘wow vegetable shop and revolution – not sure how that lines up’ but lo and behold, 2004 we started a vegetable shop with a dream of using business as a vehicle to create a happier, healthier, more connected world.

Dave Flynn [00:04:17] And it was really that we had changed our own diet from as Stephen said, meat and two veg and pints and burgers and chips and not thinking at all about food. And at the time we were playing semi-pro rugby we’re both playing off scratch in golf. So we were like good athletes. But we never saw the combination between what you ate and how it made you feel and while we were away we changed to a plant based diet when we were 21 and we ended up giving up alcohol, just, I don’t know, we just ended up doing it. And then we came back two years later and we started this vegetable shop and we left as these semi-pro rugby playing jocks with big thick necks and swilling pints. And then two years later, we came back as these two vegans that were into yoga that were starting a vegetable shop. People thought we were weirdos.

Dr Louise Newson [00:04:58] What did people say? Did they take you seriously?

Dave Flynn [00:05:01] I think they thought, like, you’d see them walking in the street and they’d almost cross the road like because we had long hair and plaid pants and Steve used to paint his fingernails. And we were like, we really were kind of trying to physically express that we had changed. And even here, it’s like, I remember what were some of mum’s friends you’d hear them going I bet they’re selling drugs out the back of the vegetable shop? No. And it was that kind of like people thought we’d really lost our way. But like for us, we had found food like changing, adopting a diet based around plants like whole plant foods had changed, had catalysed our life in a direction we never realised in terms of energy, in terms of our own health and wellbeing, our vitality. That it was like, OK, well, let’s see if we can inspire, like if a sugary drink or Coca-Cola can sell worldwide why the heck can’t vegetables, why can’t we make vegetables sexy, why can’t we get people to eat more healthy? This was 17 years ago when we were really -.

Steve Flynn [00:05:52] We started with a little fruit and veg shop 17 years ago, and it’s kind of grown to where there’s many different arms and legs in the business now and it’s such an adventure. But really, at the root of it is the same dream of trying to create health and happiness and build community. And it’s you know, I think, especially more than ever, I think community is more of what we all need because in essence, no wellness if you look even at the etymology of wellness, the first two letters, it’s we and you look at illness and the first letter is I and I think, you know, they’re reflective that we’re inherently exist to belong, to be part of a tribe, to look out for each other. And with that, we tend to breed more help.

Dr Louise Newson [00:06:26] Yeah, it’s so important. And it’s often when we haven’t got our health, we realise how much we take it for granted. But sometimes that can be too late can’t it because some people have gone down a path of self-destruction too quickly or they’ve just done it in complete innocence. I’ve had so many patients when I was a GP who came to me and they had raised blood pressure or diabetes. And you sit down and talk to them about their diet, and you realise the last 30 years they’ve been eating rubbish. But they thought they’ve been eating well because they’ve been having meat and vegetables or ready made food. They’ve often had a takeaway coming home, but they say it’s only once or twice a week and, you know, then they’re drinking and you know, you say about these sugary drinks. But also now there’s the low cal isn’t there, there’s a zero sugar. So everyone thinks they’re really healthy, but it’s just chemicals how can chemicals be healthy in our body? So there’s this massive mis-marketing, isn’t it, that’s going on? So really fuels misunderstanding. So I feel really sorry because I think a lot of people are really trying with their diet. But they’re doing it wrong, aren’t they?

Dave Flynn [00:07:28] Yeah, I think it comes back to be all become the products of our environment. And if you look at the current food environment nowadays, if you walk into the average supermarket, 95% of it will be packaged junk foods made by food companies to make money with, you know, added sugar, salt and fats. And that’s the environment we live in. And even if you have the UK, 55% of all calories consumed are ultra processed foods.

Dr Louise Newson [00:07:49] So saying it once more 55%. So that’s over half.

Dave Flynn [00:07:53] 55%, and that’s over half of calories. And that’s an ultra processed that’s like your cornflakes, your crossiants, your energy bars, your lucozades, your red bulls, your wine, protein shakes, your chocolate bars, all these things. That’s more than half of the calories about 35 to 40% are animal based foods. So you know your meat, your chicken, your fish, your dairy, and then less than 10% are whole plant foods. Whereas if you look at the longest living people in the planet, you know. As for the blue zones, with the most amount of centenarians, their diet is made up -they aren’t vegans, they aren’t vegetarians, well some of them are, but 95% plus their diet is whole plant foods. So we’re kind of, our current culture is kind of inverted like it really is in terms of our food choices, and we wonder why illness is so prevalent, and even just in a story in that. Like, as Stephen said, we kind of started because we wanted to start a health food revolution, which sounds like something out of a Walt Disney movie. Back 10 years ago, he was working in the kitchen cooking, and I was working the veg shop and I remember a lady came in and it was Mary Cahill, and she said, ‘Jeeze lads, you’d never guess I’ve lost two stone on Weight Watchers’ and I was like, ‘Oh brilliant. That’s great’. And Steve happened to be there and he just says to me, says, like ‘people love measuring the improvement in their health’ and it’s like, Okay, great. And at the time I was reading a book by Dr. Dean Ornish. He was a doctor in the U.S. He had showed in the lifestyle heart trial that you could reverse a lot of the indicators for heart disease. And I was reading this book, and Steve says ‘Jeez, I wonder if we could we come up with a course where you could show people, could, you know, put a plant based diet to the test?’ We put it to the test and see if it reversed heart disease , the biggest killer in the world? And would it work in Ireland, in Greystones, above our vegetables shop? Yeah. So that Monday morning we walked into the local Dr. Brennan Putty in Greystones. We knocked on his door and said ‘How are you, Bren? Do you know any nurses? We’re looking for a nurse to measure peoples cholesterol, weight, and blood pressure. And he said ‘Jesus lads if you knock next door Ang is usually there on Monday’. So we call into Ang and we go ‘Hi Ang we’re the lads in Happy Pear. We want to reverse heart disease, will you help us? And she was like ‘Jeeze what an opportunity. Oh, my goodness’. No she didn’t she said ‘How much will you pay us?’ We said 50 euro’s and she said, ‘Right, deal, I’ll be there’. This is 10 years ago, so it’s pre-social media. So we literally put up posters around the town saying reverse heart disease, skinny, sexy, delicious, free and put them all around the town and we had 20 people sign up to our experiment. It was an absolute experiment. And they came along and the first night Ang measured everyone’s cholesterol, weight and blood pressure. They came upstairs to us as chefs we taught them how to cook. So it was just regular Irish people that eat meat and two veg, we were going ‘right, the experiment is’, well we didn’t call it an experiment, we said ‘four weeks on a whole food plant based’ and they said ‘whole food? What’s that?’ And we’re like, ‘OK, it’s pretty much just eating porridge for breakfast, it’s eating vegetable soup or salads or pad thais or chillies, or – ‘I don’t know what that food is’. So we used to pass the food around and they taste and they go, ‘What’s this lentil stuff? I’ve never had, that’s not bad. Well, how do you cook that?’ And then. And literally it was. It was almost like a meeting of tasting food. It was almost like a potluck. And we put on videos of doctors, you know, to give a bit of validity to it. And they came once a week for four weeks and we had been telling them, ‘Oh, it’s going to reverse your cholesterol, your hearts, you’re just going to be it’s going to turn back the clock, yeah’, we’d been promising everything and the last night, Angela came back and measured everyones cholesterol, weight and blood pressure. And we didn’t really know it was going to work, like we honestly were totally taking a punt on it. But amazingly, there was an average drop a cholesterol of more than 20% across the four weeks, people’s blood pressure regulated, and they all lost an average of 3KG. So it was hugely and it was just a total experiment. And I guess on the back of that, we ended up doing more of them, and then the local newspapers and the national newspapers wrote articles. And then we built an online course. This is 10 years ago before people liked to put the credit card into the internet. And now we’ve had more than kind of…

Steve Flynn [00:11:21] We partnered with a lot of kind of medical professionals like gastroenterologist, cardiologists, bariatric GPs.

Dave Flynn [00:11:25] And created all sorts of courses for most body parts like, you know, we’ve got the gut and the heart, the skin and the shape, the mind, and they all come back to the same basic things. Whether you want to heal the gut or the heart or the mind or the skin or the shape, it’s the same principles because that same body, like no matter what system you’re trying to heal, there’s basic – they’re interelated. They’re all, you know, it’s one organism, and what you eat has a massive impact, and that’s a huge component of what we’ve been doing.

Dr Louise Newson [00:11:52] Yeah. And it is so interesting. And I think, what’s great that you guys just make it so easy as well. I was looking at one of your books the other day just for inspiration. I’ve got so many cookery books that I’m always wanting inspiration, but you just make it very easy that you can just layer things up. And you know, for people that are scared of making a salad or something, you know, you can just start with you sort of say the different spices that you can add or the different vegetables, different ingredients. So it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got all the fancy ingredients. You know, I cook a lot of Ottolenghi food and he’s a real hero for me, but sometimes I don’t have all the herbs and spices and all the you know, ingredients that he sometimes has. But you guys are very easy. And I actually I’m not vegan. I do eat dairy and I do sometimes eat fish. But it’s very easy to adapt your recipes very easily. But I think people don’t realise how easy it is because when you’re having very processed foods, very sugar rich foods, then to actually go onto your diet straight over can actually cause some withdrawals almost can’t it, and people can feel really awful initially, I think, changing.

Steve Flynn [00:12:58] Yeah, it’s often as well fibre, like the recommended daily fibre intake, is typically 30 grams, whereas the average one of the UK and Ireland is somewhere between 15 and 17 grams. So we’re getting in. If you suddenly go to healthy plant based diet, your fibre intake would be around 45 to 60 grams. So it’s a huge shift and people can often feel bloated, can feel kind of just not as well as they could ideally, so often what we recommended – and we’ve a happy gut course with a consultant gastroenterologist, that’s a digestion doctor – and we found that a low FODMAP approach which can sound like a big fancy word, but in essence it’s reducing foods that cause gas and cause, you know, simple carbohydrates that are more susceptible to bloating.

Dave Flynn [00:13:38] And even I was going to ask the question another way I was going to say that this could work in another way.

Steve Flynn [00:13:42] Sorry Dave, good work Dave.

Dave Flynn [00:13:42] Ah thanks Steve. [unclear] this doctor he kinda had this concept where he called it the pleasure trap and he said that we’ve evolved over millions of years, but there was no processed foods like that’s for 99% of human existence. And over the last 150 years since the industrial revolution, like, as I said, 55% of the calories we now eat are ultra processed. And if you think about it, our mammal brain has evolved over millions of years looking for fat because it’s got more calories in it. And it’s looking for sugars because you get glucose in your system, your brain functions better. So our hardware is looking for these type of foods. And now, over the last 100 years, we’ve created a food system which is based around these simple sugars and fats, which really don’t do our long term, like previously, we couldn’t find them, like, it’s really hard to get kind of [unclear] in a tree and almond tree, jeez it’d take you all day to get like a handful of almonds, like whereas now you could go down the supermarket, drink a bottle of lucozade, eat a packet of biscuits and have two chocolate bars and you’ve had two and a half thousand calories and you aren’t even full at all, like you haven’t even got going. So it’s almost that we’ve got this concept of a pleasure trap that are hardwired, our brain is still looking for simple sugars and fats, but our whole system is set up to give us so much of it that it makes us feel healthy.

Steve Flynn [00:14:52] So what’s the answer Dave?

Dave Flynn [00:14:53] The answer is raising awareness. I think the first thing is growing awareness. Being aware that the system is set up, like if you look at, you know, we’ve got friends that are they’ve got brothers or sisters that have special needs and these people are like, they’re just products of the environment. They aren’t using their basic day-to-day intelligence to make decisions. So they’re just really getting whatever the environment gives us. And the current food culture is not set up for us to be healthy. So it takes intentionality. So it means going ‘okay. I realise I should change. I should take charge of what I eat’. And unless you are intentional, sorry Stephen’s saying I’m going on a rant here. But I really think intentionality is so important and it could be just starting with your breakfast and going right I’m going to start by optimising my breakfast instead of going jumping right into this thing. I’m going to start eating porridge instead of cornflakes, or I’m going to – for lunch instead of eating the ham and cheese sandwich and a crossiant, I’m going to make vegetable soup this week and it’s going to take forming habits because most people have about four dishes which they rotate, and it’s a spaghetti bolognaise and it’s a pasta carbonara and it’s a chicken curry or whatever it might be. And it’s going, ‘OK, well, you’ve got to learn something new if you want to change it’. So we’ve got more than 500 recipes on our website where they’ve got more than 40 million views and load of them are five minute dinners. So we really have tried to make it simple for people to eat more plant based. And it’s not about vegan or vegetarian because those words are, you know, they’re cultish and people run a mile from them. Some people are attracted to them, but it really is about eating more whole plant foods because most of what we’re eating nowadays is ultra processed foods and animal foods, which is not the best for our short, long or medium term health.

Dr Louise Newson [00:16:26] No, and it is so hard sometimes, people find it all very overwhelming, and then they go back to the basics and think, ‘Oh, this is what I’m used to’, but even adding something different, you know, I do a lot of batch cooking for my children, and my bolognese varies depending on what vegetables I have in the fridge. And I’ll just chop them up really small. And they’ve got no idea that they’re eating celery and courgettes and peppers and all this food that they would never eat if they were just on the side of the plate. So it’s never the same, but it’s just adding in or adding in a handful of lentils actually makes it a cheaper dish, because I’m not using as much meat for them, but actually they would never experiment and have lentils on their own. But it’s having the confidence to do it, actually, because a lot of people think, ‘Oh, lentils, how do I cook them? Do I have to soak them? Do I have to cook them before or whatever?’ But once you see how easy it is to do things, and certainly that’s what you’re doing all the time, then it will give people more confidence. But it is scary. I get really worried about children and younger generations. I was erm, it was my husband’s birthday last week and we were going down to London and we had an hours wait for a train. And so we just went for a walk in the local park beforehand and there were children going to school having their Coca-Cola and their crisps. And that was probably their breakfast. They’re just sitting playing in the park for 20 minutes before they went to school, which is great. They were outside. They were doing some exercise, but I looked and thought, gosh, when I was growing up in the 70s, we didn’t have crisps in the house and if we did, they were very small packets. You know, I thought this is awful because they can get away with it when they’re younger, they physically will look the same and everything else but it, it will creep up on them, won’t it? And their gut microbe is just going to deteriorate with those sorts of diets, but it’s getting messaging out because people will say, ‘Yeah, but those drinks are really nice. They’re really tasty’. And then they become addicted don’t they and so, it’s really hard to change perceptions, isn’t it. Like I’m changing perception that HRT is safe, whereas everyone’s grown up thinking it’s dangerous and you’re doing a similar thing with food, aren’t you? But you’re going in a big circle? Same as me, because in the 70s and 80s, people used to be prescribed HRT all the time because it was so safe and it still is so safe and you’re doing the same, you’re going back to a basic diet really aren’t you? But how do you change perception? Because I think that’s really hard to make a change in people.

Steve Flynn [00:18:45] I think it starts with experiential ones. People experience it for themselves. They go ‘wow this costs me less. I feel healthier and it was actually really easy to do. Wow why didn’t I ever try it?’

Dave Flynn [00:18:56] And it’s better for the planet, and it’s better for all the aspects of your health. I think we’re all selfish creatures, so first and foremost, most of us want to have more energy and feel good and look well and get skinny like, most people want to get skinny rather than get healthy. So it is the most effective way to lose weight and sustain it as well. We’ve had more than 40 thousand people through a happy shape course, and that’s really like it’s a no calorie counting, no portion control, whole food, plant based diet, like it really is. We say eat as much as you want, like just don’t be hungry. And we mean it, and we’ve had so many thousands of people through it and it works every time, like it’s just hugely effective because – sorry Steve wants to say something.

Steve Flynn [00:19:37] No, I was just going to say in terms of solutions, I think it’s first of all, it’s obviously igniting the passion that really works. And then the other thing that sustains it is community that we all – in the blue zone, so for anyone who doesn’t know what the blue zones are, they’re five areas of the planet where it’s the longest living populations. So most amount of centenarians, that’s people who live over the age of 100. And these people typically don’t live long, healthy lives because of super genetics, they do because the environment forces them to make the healthy choice. So the more we can be part of an environment that forces us to exercise, forces to spend time outside, forces to have community around us, forces to eat a predominantly a whole food plant based as much as possible, but not vegan or vegetarian, but just most of what they eat are whole foods, the more you’re going to be naturally healthier and happier. Because many people don’t realise that 70% of your immune system exists in your microbiome and your microbiome, the number one thing you can do, according to the American Gut Project to improve your microbiome is to eat plant based foods. The number two is diversity of plant based foods, and then the magic number is often 30 different types of fruit and veg per week is the optimum, and only one in two hundred and fifty people typically do this.

Dr Louise Newson [00:20:43] That’s very – one in 250, that’s nothing really, is it?

Steve Flynn [00:20:46] No and that was some 11,000 people in the study. So I’d say it could be even worse if you look at the full population at large, you know so.

Dave Flynn [00:20:52] And really, it’s like when Stephen said 30 different plants over the course of a week. Like that means your fruit, your veg, your beans, your whole grains, your nuts, your seeds, your spices and your herbs. So they all count as plants and people go ’30 plants a week/!’.

Steve Flynn [00:21:05] One postive story! You want to talk about the Southwest Plant Based Challenge?

Dave Flynn [00:21:07] That was an interesting one.

Steve Flynn [00:21:09] This is a positive story.

Dave Flynn [00:21:09] This was a couple of years ago. So our friend, Dr. Alan Over, he’s based in Devon, and he wanted to kind of he’d kind of go, ‘Why don’t we try to see if we can get a blue zone going in Devon? And he’d kind of invited us over and said, ‘Lads, why don’t we try and do your happy heart course over here in Devon?’ And he said, ‘OK, I’ll get a bunch of medical professionals’. So we ended up getting one hundred medical professionals, such as doctors and dieticians and nurses and GPs, and they all signed up for this four week experiment. We called it the Southwest Plant Based Challenge. Me and Steve flew over and we kicked it off. Same again: nurses measured people’s cholesterol, weight, blood pressure, blood sugars, all sorts of different measurements. And then once again, it was getting them to eat plant based diet for four weeks and they’d organise.

Steve Flynn [00:21:48] And it was amazing. Even when we were there the first night, I remember there was a doctor.

Dave Flynn [00:21:51] We were both nervous, we were nervous because like these, doctors are going to grill us like we’re just vegetable men. And like, I remember the first question someone stuck up their hand and this is doctors like first question was, ‘can I drink my coke on this course?’ And you’re going, Oh, okay, they may be doctors but they’re just normal people. OK, right? They don’t know how to cook vegetables, either. OK, here we go. So I remember we once again cooked food, passed it around you know, they had potlucks, they had meet ups every week, we had an online community. They did all sorts of stuff. But at the end of it, 98% of them said that they’d recommend it to patients.

Dr Louise Newson [00:22:20] Wow.

Dave Flynn [00:22:20] Average cholesterol of about, I think, was 32% of LDL cholesterol. All of them lost an average about 2.5KG. There was tons of different stats that came out of it. But the big piece of work which came out was now they’ve developed their own programme, which is a plant based programme for four weeks, which is done via the NHS as well for the medical professions or for patients as well. So that’s a positive story of change.

Dr Louise Newson [00:22:42] Which is brilliant because we never prescribe diet. You know, we prescribe all these horrible drugs to people, but we don’t think about diet and most people haven’t had any training. I mean, I’m very interested in food and nutrition, and if I wasn’t dedicating my life to the menopause, I would certainly be doing nutrition because, you know, we have to prevent illness don’t we. We have to keep well and we all have to eat. So it’s so important that we eat properly and we’re all different as well, aren’t we? So I think having variety is great, but also being able to make choices, as long as they’re healthy choices is really key. And sometimes just starting really simply. I look at some of my sort of friends and patients who are overweight, but they’re eating really well, and I often think, ‘Well, why is it?’ And some of them is because they’re drinking alcohol, but a lot of it is because they’re having, you know, low sugar, fizzy drinks. And we know that they change metabolism. We know that people do put on weight even though they’re marketed as absolutely fine. So just making a very small change, you know, replacing a can of those drinks for water each day is a step in the right direction, isn’t it?

Steve Flynn [00:23:52] Absolutely. And even just for people, anyone listening who kind of goes, This all sounds great, but where do I start? It’s baby steps. It’s progress over perfection? You know, like many people think, it’s, you know, they got to eat goji berries or they got to have kale or they got to be doing gratitude journals. But like laughter, joy, time outside nature, these are superfoods. It’s not goji berries. It’s literally, you know, it’s the basics.

Dave Flynn [00:24:16] But aside from those lovely, fuzzy, nice things, Steve. I really think we need to eat more fruit and veg, like I really do. And I think it is back to kind of going if people do want to make a change, you’ve got to actually grab the bull by the horns and go ‘Right, this is what I usually eat’. People buy the same thing, the supermarkets, you go to the same cafes we’re so habitual to our food habits. So I really think it’s someone sitting down and going, ‘right? OK? Those Happy Pear lads, they said, I need to eat more veg, I’m going to look at few recipes on their website, right? OK’. So have a look on the website there’s loads of recipes there and pick one or two, pick one or two of them and try them! And if you like them, brilliant and maybe incorporate them into your week and it might be as simple as you’ve got a chicken curry recipe, put chickpeas in it instead of chicken like.

Steve Flynn [00:24:56] Or even put the chickpeas in with the chicken.

Dave Flynn [00:24:58] Yeah, and put a few more veg like it’s really making little steps because it compounds over time. And these diseases, which are so prevalent, happen over decades. A lot of them happen over decades. So the more that you can do on a daily basis, the more that you’re likely to be healthy into your 70s and 80s and beyond. And that’s what most of us want in life.

Dr Louise Newson [00:25:17] Course they do. So just getting back to the menopause, because I feel a bit out of my comfort zone, we haven’t mentioned the menopause word for a few minutes now because you were saying at the beginning, like this time last year, if I’d met your both, you would probably be thinking, Oh, you could eat your way out of the menopause, so you could eat soy and you could eat various vegetables and yams. And you’d be fine, right? And I’m hoping you realise now that that’s not the same. And it’s not right because you can modify your diet and it might improve some symptoms, so less processed food. Often people find they have less sweats and flushes, they might feel better, so have a bit more energy. But there’s no way unless you tell me differently, and I don’t think you will. There’s no way we can replace our own hormones by our diets, can we? We can’t eat estrogen and we can’t eat testosterone. We have to have fat as hormones. But whether we take HRT or not, we have to 100% have a healthy diet because we need to reduce our risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, diabetes, dementia, and we know that good food will help with that and also HRT. So having the two together is really crucial, isn’t it?

Dave Flynn [00:26:28] Yeah, I think it’s as you said that if you’re not up for taking HRT, like you’re going to be less likely to want to exercise, you’re probably less likely to want to make the healthy choices. So I think they both go hand-in-hand and I really think that because we’re almost saying exactly which we’ve heard from you, really, that it’s like it’s a hormone deficiency. So no amount of yams or chickpeas or broccoli are really going to create more estrogen or progesterone or testosterone within your body. So I really do believe it is such a massive gap in health at large, which affects one in two people.

Steve Flynn [00:27:02] And I feel sad that our society just kind of brushes under the carpet and doesn’t create space for women because it’s so important women are. We need more women in every aspect of our society leading, and when they’re not given HRT and they’re not given appropriate treatment for menopause, it’s just like half our population and I believe the more important part of the population.

Dr Louise Newson [00:27:22] Ah you’ve said the right thing there!

Steve Flynn [00:27:24] Yeah, but totally I think they’re just being not given enough attention.

Dr Louise Newson [00:27:27] Yeah. Someone said to me recently, Oh, I didn’t go for a promotion at work because I’m menopausal now and often menopausal women need different jobs, don’t they? And I just didn’t know whether to cry or scream because of course, we’re not second class citizens, you know, absolutely women have to have different jobs or don’t go for promotions if they’re menopausal with symptoms, because often the brain fog, the memory problems, reduced energy and so forth really affect our ability to work. But actually, you know, we shouldn’t be changing because we’re menopausal, we should be seeking the right treatment. And it’s so important that we get this right and get messages right and so, I think having messages about our health in general are so important. And the more we hear from different people like you guys talking about the menopause is just something that people don’t expect. So they’ll probably listen to you more than they’ll listen to me.

Dave Flynn [00:28:18] The irony!

Dr Louise Newson [00:28:18] Which is great because it’s all about life’s about choice. You know, we’re not here on this podcast saying everyone has to eat vegetables 100% of the time. But we are saying, think about all the advantages and think about how important it is and like you say, it’s very easy to make very small changes. And one of the first things about making a change is having the knowledge and the confidence. So whether you get it through your website for nutrition, get it from my website for menopause information, it’s really crucial that you get good quality information. And I know you guys work really hard to make sure the information is really good because there are so – we haven’t time to talk about them now – but there are so many myths about diet and it’s scary for people, so it’s really important that you get good sound advice. And once you start making choice, changes, then you start to feel better and then it’s downhill. It’s easy then, isn’t it?

Steve Flynn [00:29:14] Well it’s the positive compounding effects as you eat better you desire to exercise more as you exercise more, you spend time outside as you spend more time outside typically, you meet more people, you develop more community and it’s kind of this positive virtuous cycle. And once you have that, suddenly health becomes easy and it just becomes more the wind is at your back.

Dave Flynn [00:29:30] And then your environment changes. The people spend time with changes. Then, you know, a year later, you’re doing handstands and yoga and swimming in the sea. You’ve got a whole circle of friends you never thought you’d be friends with. So I think there’s I think.

Dr Louise Newson [00:29:43] You’ve just got the perfect life. I’ve done yoga for many years. I can do headstands, but I can’t do handstands. So one day I’ll be able to do handstands.

Steve Flynn [00:29:51] Good on you with the headstands, fair play.

Dr Louise Newson [00:29:54] So just, before we end, which I’m very grateful for your time today, both of you. I always ask for three take home tips. So you’re going to have to argue over the third one? Maybe you could do a combined one. So three tips about how people who have listened today can just go forward and improve their diet and their future health?

Steve Flynn [00:30:12] OK, number one, try to eat more Whole Foods. And as we’ve said a few times, it’s not about vegan or vegetarian, it’s just try to add more variety. If you don’t like vegetables, start with fruit, start with things in season. Right now we’re in March. We’re still at the end of the northern European Navel Orange season, and they’re incredible. And even if you think you don’t like oranges, you could sit there and eat 10 of them because they’re just juicy and dripping and incredible. So it’s a starting point.

Dave Flynn [00:30:35] And I’d say be more intentional about your food choices, actually seek out and kind of go, OK, well, maybe you’re going to do a meat free Monday and as I said, we got loads of recipes on our website. You don’t need to go there, but just you want to actually be intentional about it, so go kind of look for a chickpea curry or whatever it might be and try it. We have loads and they take five minutes, they’re all based on whole foods and they’re all designed to improve your gut microbiome.

Steve Flynn [00:30:58] Some of them have millions and millions of views.

Steve Flynn [00:31:00] And point number three, I’d say community, we’ve become the product of our environment. And it’s not about if you have friends that are unhealthy, it’s not about not being friends with them, but even just having one friend that’s interested in helping.

Steve Flynn [00:31:09] Joining a running club, becoming friends with the local vegetarian.

Dave Flynn [00:31:14] Join the choir. It’s like it’s we become the product of environment and the more you can choose an environment intentionally that supports the healthier choice, the easier it is to sustain it. So maybe just find that one healthy friend and still be friends with all your other friends, but just one that has a positive ripple effect on your overall health.

Dr Louise Newson [00:31:30] Love it! I love all your positivity and energy. I just want you in my pocket to keep me happy all day.

Steve Flynn [00:31:36] Lads, I need a dose of positivity! Do a dance for me!

Dr Louise Newson [00:31:40] Absolutely. So thanks so much for your time. It’s brilliant, and I look forward to seeing what happens in the future, so it’s great. Thank you.

Steve Flynn [00:31:47] Likewise. Yeah, thanks.

Dave Flynn [00:31:49] Thanks Louise you’re brilliant.

Dr Louise Newson [00:31:52] For more information about the perimenopause and menopause, please visit my website or you can download the free balance app, which is available to download from the App Store or from Google Play.


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