Exploring the role of genetics and gut flora in active longevity represents a new frontier in health ‘cellular nutrition’. Scientists are discovering the interdependent relationship of our inner ecosystem with nature to understand the underlying catalysts of disease—and age-related decline—placing fresh emphasis on conservation as a component of our health and survival.
An example of this would be ocean nutrients: minerals, calcium, and essential fats harvested from the sea, all have clear value to our cellular health but contaminated waters polluting harvests with toxins we then consume, can damage our DNA (telomeres) and encourage inflammation—hallmarks of decline and disease. Thus ocean conservation becomes an act of human preservation.
Diving into this topic with a pioneer in plant-based nutrition, our interview with Udo Erasmus (founder of Udoschoice.com) focuses on active longevity and ocean conservation, ‘nature-nutrient correlations’, lessons on human nature from Tony Robbins, and a SEXY new book creating global health for people and the planet.
How has your vision for health and the role of nutrition developed?
What I’ve done in nutrition began from being poisoned by pesticide in 1980, for which there is no effective medical intervention. This pushed me to find and figure out how to get my health back. Light, oxygen, water, and food make our bodies, so that is where physical cures most likely come from.
I began with oils, the most neglected, confused and difficult area of nutrition. Oils are the most sensitive food molecules. Light, oxygen and heat damage the essential fatty acids, and especially the omega-3, that oils contain. We should therefore treat oils with more care than any other nutrient, but we treat them with less care than any other nutrients in our industrial processing and food preparation. Fried oils fry health. Fried foods fry health. More health problems come from damaged oils than any other part of nutrition. More health benefits accrue from oils made with health in mind than any other part of nutrition.
Then I moved on to the second most neglected area of physical health, which is digestion. I work to optimize digestion by using probiotics, digestive enzymes, and plant-based whole foods with prebiotic fiber.
Finally on to greens, our most nutritious and most neglected foods, and I have several other natural products still under wraps.
But times have changed. Physical health is not enough. My interest in health has expanded and become broader and more inclusive. Everything affects health. To be healthy, we have to give everything its due. We have many problems that food cannot fix, because we are not just physical in our nature.
Have the sourcing and ingredients changed with increased environmental issues such as pollution, depletion of natural resources and climate change?
The more we pollution in our nest, the more we nest in our pollution. All our problems are symptoms. Behind them are common denominators. If we work them all the way back, we discover that human beings are the only problem here. This is bad news and good news. It’s bad news, because we have to take ourselves, individually, to task. It’s good news, because we CAN do that.
We can practice becoming more fully present in our world. Our state of mind creates our personal reality, and the state of the world is the collective, pooled sum of all 8 billion people’s states of mind.
Although our world is deteriorating, we can each, by making deliberate choices, earn or create a better quality of life. Fresh, organic, whole food, raw as much as possible, mostly plant-based nutrition seems to be the direction to pursue in physical health.
Could ocean exploration offer similar promise as the Amazon in untapped nutrients?
Our oceans are a place still to explore, but they are rapidly becoming the dirtiest ecosystems on earth. There’s evidence that fish are now the dirtiest meat on the planet. Everything goes downhill, and all persistent pollutants eventually end up in our oceans. The solution to our self-created dilemmas is not to exploit yet another part of nature. It is to embrace the internal wholeness that’s deeper than our reactive minds and moods. Most reliably, people change through in-sight. We need not do more. We need to do less. Slowdown, breathe, and enjoy our presence more. With life, we already have more than everything we need.
Can you expand on the potential of plants to support cellular health?
Everything related to physical health, performance, and aging happens within our cells. More precisely, energy runs through them. It drives interactions between molecules under genetic possibilities and limitations. These translate into cell, tissue, organ, system, body, and ecosystem behavior/functions. Natural molecules interact naturally to bring about the natural state of health. Life did not make a genetic program to manage molecules that never existed in nature. That is why unnatural molecules cause problems, including: inflammation, pain, and symptoms that, prolonged, doctors diagnose as diseases with specific names.
Living aligned with nature is the cure. Research is now clear that fresh, whole, raw when possible, organic, mostly plant-based nutrition is the ticket to best health and longest life.
It makes sense that herbs and spices with 4 billion years of natural development can provide more remedies and fewer side effects than a pharmaceutical industry that’s been around only a few hundred years. Living aligned with nature is the reason, at 78 (as of 2020), I have no pains in my body except briefly when I bang into something.
What is the premise of your playfully titled book?
‘TOTAL SEXY HEALTH: The 8 Key Parts Designed By Nature’ began as a concept when I was 6 years old. It’s about health, nature and human nature, and how we can all live lit up from with in on this drop-dead gorgeous planet, in harmony with others, with everyone’s basic needs met. That possibility is part of our nature.
My working title was ‘total global health’. A co-worker suggested calling it ‘total sexy health’, and I protested. “I can’t write a book on total sexy health! I know nothing about sexy.” Then I started thinking and concluded that I know a lot about sexy. We all do. In common use, sexy is anything that touches our heart and/or makes us take notice positively. Sexy is whatever lights us up, energizes us, or makes us show up vibrant, full on, present, sparkling, confident, radiant, and attractive.
Everybody wants to be sexy. But few know that health is the foundation of sexy. And health is more than just food and fitness. Total health involves 8 different parts of nature and human nature, each of which carries part of our sexy. Each part needs attention.
Aligned with all we are healthy and sexy, which is our natural state. When we get out of line with a part, we lose its contribution to health and to sexy. We get that part of our health and our sexy back when we realign that part with its nature.
One more thought: Everybody uses ‘sexy’ to sell us stuff that is not sexy at all. It’s about time that someone uses sexy to sell us on the built-in, natural magnificence we already own! I get to do that. It’s an honor and a privilege. Watch Udo’s video introduction of the book and the meaning behind its title.
How did your role as a presenter for Tony Robbins come about?
My son Tai, a fitness trainer who designs targeted nutrition programs for A-list actors, elite athletes and other highly motivated individuals, set up the meeting. Tony had heard about my work on the benefits of using oils made with health in mind and invited me to speak to his Platinum Partners group in 2002. He taped the talk, uses it in his Life Mastery program, and invited me in to update the information several years ago. I also provide live Q/A via Skype with his Life Mastery participants after they’ve watched the video. It’s a ton of fun.
What are some key points you teach at his events?
I teach on oils and health at these events. Frankly, I’ve learned a lot more from him than he’s learned from me. I took all his courses between 2002 and 2006 and they helped me substantially, especially in the mental area of human nature, to set the stage for my present focus on how to enjoy TOTAL SEXY HEALTH, and also how to get it back when we’ve lost it.
What nutritional values do you share with the master coach?
This is not a conversation I’ve had with Tony. He takes and recommends Udo’s Oil. In fact, since 2002, Tony has been my most effective promoter of Udo’s Choice. I have heard, but cannot confirm, that he eats mostly plant-based whole foods, as do I. The research is clear that this is the way to have the best health and longest life. I eat a lot of my food raw or soaked and sometimes sprouted. The older I get, more I like fresh whole raw organic plant-based foods. I take a vitamin B12 supplement. I also use a lot of different herbs and spices.
Tony has incredible energy and unbelievable schedule, has he shared any of his longevity philosophies or practices with you (are Udo’s products part of this routine)?
He has not, but I can share with you, from my experience, several factors that contribute to a high energy level. Essential fatty acids, especially omega-3, increase energy levels. Fresh, charged and electrolyzed alkaline water can raise energy. Iodine may help. Eating a diet rich in plant-based whole foods and Magnesium. Detoxing can also help to restore vitality.
Equally important, having a passion for or being inspired by what we do increases energy, because we’re not wasting energy doubting what we’re here for and what we’re doing. Being in touch with the energy that is our life (usually by doing some kind of stillness/awareness practice) raises energy levels. Loving and positive intent also raises energy level. Getting the sleep we need and exercising to improve the efficiency of our cellular energy-freeing mechanisms also increase our energy and the lightness with which we live our lives. I describe some of these in more detail in my book.