20 Nov Real Foodie Interview – Jamie Scott Ancestral Health NZ
Jamie Scott is one of the people behind NZ Ancestral Health Society and helping get the real food movement out to NZ. The Ancestral Health Society of New Zealand is a community of scientists, healthcare professionals, and laypersons who collaborate to understand health challenges from the evolutionary perspective of our ancestors. The next event is in Wanaka on October 25th, you can find out more about it here
Who is Jamie Scott?
A wearer of far too hats. Nutritionist and Exercise Scientist by qualification, health researcher and presenter working in corporate health by day, the less better looking half of the healthy lifestyle coaching team, Whole9 South Pacific, and the current president of the Ancestral Health Society of New Zealand. When I’m not doing something related to all that, I can be found either drinking espresso, riding a bike, or out in nature. Utopia is when I combine all three.
What was your turning point that made you search for real health?
I would say there were multiple points which, collectively, drove the evolution of where I am today. Those points continue to occur; evolution of thinking continues. Curiosity and critical thinking, with the latter in particular really established during a journal discourse component in my nutrition training. A lack of fear when it comes to burning down a failing/failed belief/relationship/strategy and starting again. Over my 20 year career, I have watched people take approaches with themselves or their clients, which have worked brilliantly, whilst I stuttered and stammered with the conventional by-the-book approach. I was a health professional advising others on how to get healthy, or how to perform, whilst my own health (gut, skin, respiratory, mental) continued to deteriorate. I didn’t want to become the middle-aged guy (I used to PT many such guys), who had cashed in their health over their 20’s & 30’s, only to arrive at aged 40-something, overweight, under-muscled, and largely burned out, but hoping a couple of PT sessions a week would fix it all. I trained a few female cyclists, found undiagnosed coeliac disease, found that they performed better when eating less carbohydrate and more fat, and began reading a book called The Paleo Diet. The sum total of all this sent me tumbling down a rabbit hole that I would never want to get out of even if I could.
Would you say you are a “live to eat,” or “eat to live” kind of person??
I’m predominantly a eat to live kind of person, but I also know how important food, meals, and everything which goes with that – the socialisation, the sharing of food with loved ones, the celebrations – is to being human. Food is fuel. But food is also culture.
How do you like to move your body?
Historically, my ‘thing’ has always been bikes and cycling. I got sucked into the vortex that was road cycling and racing, only to realise that for my entire life, having a bike meant being able to explore, independently. I could bike anywhere and everywhere. So I love riding my town bike and I am about to get back into mountain biking, all for those very same reasons of exploration and access to new areas. I love the feeling of being strong, so I pick up heavy stuff and put it back down again on a regular basis. I sprint, hike, climb trees, and loosely engage in what you might consider Parkour/MovNat-style movement. But to me, it is all just movement. We have so much of our brains dedicated to movement, all whilst we are progressively engineering more of it out of our environment. So I just like to move, period.
How would you describe your philosophy around food?
I guess by classification (because everyone likes to be able to put these things into a box), I follow a Palaeolithic paradigm. However, with Paleo 3.0 and a massive influx of people coming direct to paleo cupcakes, paleo brownies, paleo supplements, and so forth, I’m less inclined to be directly aligned with the most modern variants of this philosophy. Instead I use this:
I eat real food – fresh, natural food like meat, vegetables and fruit. I choose foods that are nutrient-dense, with lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, over foods that have more calories but less nutrition. And food quality is important – I’m careful about where my meat, seafood and eggs come from, and buy organic local produce as often as possible.
How would you describe your philosophy around exercise?
I believe it is critically important for people to get strong. I recently presented a literature review of the underappreciated role of muscle in health and disease at the Ancestral Health Symposium in San Francisco. Between dieting, sitting all day, too much focus on cardiovascular fitness (often at the expense of everything else; and I’d add a fixation with bendiness to this too), lack of sleep, a lack of sunlight, a huge lack of protein, and a highly inflammatory Western diet, we humans are getting weaker and weaker. I want people to move and exercise in such ways that promote strength and muscle. I want people to exercise in order to increase the capacity of their body, not, primarily (as most currently do), as a means to reduce body fat. If you want health, then you want strength. I can assure you that cosmetically low body fat levels have little, if anything, to do with long term health and wellbeing.
What does your typical days food look like?
Following a largely real food approach, it is largely 3 meals per day consisting of high-quality proteins from eggs, meats, or fish, with more than enough vegetables and fruits to embarrass your average vegetarian (i.e. a lot of vegetables). And to dispel the popular myth that Paleo is just LCHF in drag, I eat a boatload of starches, such as yams, kumara, and taro, daily. I love coconut cream smoothies made with berries and bananas. Of course, espresso goes without saying. 80-90% dark chocolate is my indulgence (without putting a paleo prefix on it!). So I just largely eat good whole foods, with a focus on meals and good meal construction, rather than aggregations of ingredients, healthy or otherwise.
What was your last workout?
At the time of writing, 10x single rep squats + 5×5 deadlifts
What’s your go to meal to cook?
During the week, when we weight train after work, and typically with AHSNZ. We want something nourishing that doesn’t require a lot of hands on cooking (read as – we want something that largely cooks itself while we catch up on other things). So it is usually meat & vegetables cooked via the oven.
Name your top 3 people you admire the most?
Dallas and Melissa Hartwig from Whole9 (I’ll count them as one) for the amazing work they do, but in particular, for writing one of the best nutrition books ever written – It Starts With Food.
Michael Pollen for starting a broad, global conversation about our food, what we feed ourselves, and where it all comes from.
Peter Gluckman, an evolutionary biologist from here in New Zealand, who wrote a fantastic book “Mismatch – Why our World No Longer Fits Our Body”. It entirely sums up why we are in the state we are.
What’s one of the biggest health myths you would love the world to really understand?
Only one?! I’d love the world to understand that to improve sleep, you need to go to bed early (far harder to get people to ‘power down’ early in the evening than it is to change diets); that nutrition and nourishment is not predicated on rearranging a few ingredients in cupcakes – low-fat cupcakes, low-sugar cupcakes, gluten-free cupcakes, Paleo cupcakes – are ALL cupcakes and not real food (a point missed by so many); I’d love the world to know the difference between cellular and acellular carbohydrates, of any kind; and that eggs are not out to kill you if you eat more than one a day!
What does being foreverfit mean to you?
Never having to doubt or second guess the capabilities of my body and my health in any situation.
What is so great about this recipe you are sharing?
Fish curry with bananas
This is such a quick, easy, and flavoursome dish to make. We find alternating between the starchier plantains and the sweeter bananas changes the nature of the dish entirely.
- 5 fillets of any white fish;
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk;
- 1 tbsp red curry paste;
- 1 lemon;
- 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 2 medium sized bananas or plantains cut into chunks;
- 2 tbsp slivered almonds;
- ½ cup fresh corriander chopped;
- 1 lemon, sliced, for serving;
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;
- Scrape the zest off of one lemon. Then, cut that lemon in half.
- Cut the fish into BIG slices and sprinkle the lemon zest on top.
- Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the fish. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- In a skillet placed over a medium-high heat, combine the coconut milk and the red curry paste and bring to a simmer.
- Add the fish and the spring onions. Cover up the skillet and let it simmer for 3 to 5 min.
- Add the bananas, 1 tbsp of the almonds and sprinkle half of the corriander on top.
- Cover up and cook until the fish is just cooked through and easily forms flakes. Check every 3 to 5 minutes.
- When the fish looks ready, squeeze the other half of the lemon over the fish, 1 tbsp of the almonds and the remaining corriander.
- Serve on a plate with slices of lemon.
Where can people find you?