KC Craichy’s SuperHealth Podcast: Exercise Medicine – Meet Dr. Greg Wells

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Posted on 16th May 2012 by admin in Super Health |SuperHealth Podcasts

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What do a 21-year-old Olympic athlete and an 11-year-old leukemia patient have in common? Both benefit greatly from the research and wisdom of renowned physiologist Dr. Greg Wells. Dr. Wells is an associate professor at the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto. He is a leading researcher in the growing field of “exercise medicine” and author of the forthcoming book Superbodies: Peak Performance Secrets From the World’s Best Athletes. There’s much for us to learn and apply from Dr. Wells on how the body heals, recovers, performs, and adapts. Click on the button below to listen to the Podcast.

Audio Transcript

KC: Welcome to LivingFuel TV. I’m KC Craichy with special guest, Dr. Greg Wells. Greg, awesome having you, brother.

Greg: Thanks for having me on the show.

KC: I’ve known Greg for quite some time. Greg, you endorsed my book, my recent book and I have the honor of endorsing your current book, “SuperBodies,” we’re going to talk about today.

Greg: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. I loved reading your book, and I obviously try to build off a lot of things that you’ve taught me and some things I’ve learned in my own life, and I think they go great together. So hopefully we’ll have a good chat.

KC: Well, you have a great set of experiences. It’s really helpful to me and everybody out here is that you work at All Children’s Hospital in Toronto, but the thing that you do that is so cool, I mean that’s cool obviously, but the thing that really fits here is that you work with the Olympic athletes and elite athletes in Canada and other places also. I think you were just in Florida doing it.

Greg: Yes. I’m really, really lucky to have the career that I have. I spent a lot of time with children with chronic diseases at the hospital, and then I also get a chance to go and work with some of Canada’s best Olympians. I call it extreme human physiology. I look at how the body works when it’s failing and when it’s really challenged by chronic disease, but then also I’ll explore how the human body works when it’s almost as perfect as you could ever expect it to be with the Olympians. I think that that informs things that you and I, us mere mortals, can do in our daily lives. So I’m really, really lucky to have the career that I do.

KC: That’s a very unique perspective. I used to find, even still, a lot to this day that you’ll hear a lot of things in athletics, here’s what you ought to do in athletics and you’ll hear things from the medical side that are so vastly different. It’s like how often do you hear that the athletes are taking tons of protein and the doctors are saying, “No that’s going to destroy your kidneys.” But when you work with both sides of that and you can meld the literature together, you’ll find that it really goes together beautifully. If you start looking on both sides, you come out with the theories like you come out with in your book.

Greg: And you can validate it because the human body works the way that it does no matter what conditions you’re under. You bought up things that athletes do that affect chronic disease. So one of the things that we’re exploring is how we do fuel the body in high performance sport, but then how do we use those same fuels with children with cancer to get them through chemo and radiation? Or how do we help athletes to recover faster? Okay. Well, then how do we take that back and help a child recover from surgery faster? It goes back and forth, and the information that we get is so fascinating, so interesting. But there are also ways that we can use that information to help us in daily life. For example, we use different nutritional approaches to try to help athletes concentrate for longer and to perform better mentally and physically, but then that can impact how business people get through the course of a day or how someone can prepare themselves for a key presentation during the day and to get psyched up, but then also have the ability to have the mental concentration, the mental energy that they need. We learn all that from high performance sport.

KC: It’s really interesting in that we know that, like in recovery, antioxidants can speed recovery up to 50%, but yet then you have the cancer doctors telling their patients not to take antioxidants during treatment. I did a literature search last week alone on antioxidants in cancer research, and it’s dramatic the lifespan if you take antioxidants during treatment is
dramatically longer and the therapy more effective than if you don’t. So, how is it that doctors get into this mode of “I don’t understand this, I don’t do it”?

Greg: Well, we’re learning so much, and it’s very, very challenging because especially in my world you have to approach things, in the hospital world you have to approach things conservatively, and
doctors will talk about something when there’s a wide body of research available. When we’re working with the high performance sport community, the athletes are always on the cutting edge. So what we’re working with, with the athletes right now around antioxidants and inflammation and recovery is trying to speed the body as quickly as possible through its natural recovery process. We don’t want to cut it off completely. We want to allow the body to get impacted by the stress of training and then help it through the recovery process. We don’t need research to do that. We just get out there and do it. Whereas in the medical community, we really need to, especially because in my world we’re dealing with kids, we have to be careful, we have to approach things a little bit more conservatively, and it just takes time to filter down. But it’s great to be on the cutting edge of that and to be able to read the research, pull together amazing opportunities, and try to impact people. We’re definitely making progress, but it’s going to take some time.

KC: To me it’s sad because, you know, anybody, any doctor who wanted to could go to the same Internet that we go to and do a search regarding antioxidants and whatever the treatment that they’re doing and find that wait, maybe we shouldn’t tell our patients to stay off it because it’s the direct opposite of what the literature would tell them.

Greg: Yeah. I mean, a good example of the some of the progress we’re making in that area right now, especially in cancer, is the use of different combinations of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in order to fuel children’s metabolism when they’re going through radiation and chemo, specifically in leukemia, and allowing those different combinations of nutrients including all the antioxidants to be used with children in such a way that’s palatable for them because they go through such tremendous changes in the way that they perceive the sensation of food and how they perceive being hungry or full or nauseous. We’re learning a lot about changing different combinations of foods, different combinations of flavors, different combinations of antioxidants and other vitamins, minerals to try to help these kids fuel their recovery during that incredibly challenging time in their physiology. So we’re making progress. Hopefully we can speed it up and go even faster.

KC: You mention fuel, LivingFuel SuperBerry. We have one cancer center telling us that they’re actually making popsicles out of LivingFuel SuperBerry for the patients like you’re talking about because of the mouth sores and they can’t eat. A lot of these guys they die of malnutrition, not necessarily of the therapy
itself. So if they can have the popsicle to cool the mouth sores and get the nutrition, it’s pretty . . .

Greg: I hadn’t heard that yet, but that’s an interesting advance. The more I’m involved in the products and the more that I use them myself and the more that I speak to people that are using them, the more creative ways people are coming up with using them and integrating them into their life. It’s made a tremendous difference for me personally and my ability to maintain a crazy high energy level during my days, specifically my ability to manage stress. I find that when I’m on LivingFuel SuperBerry, which is the product that I use probably the most, I get through my days at a much higher level. I’m able to concentrate at a higher level and not get those afternoon crashes. I believe it’s because of the combination that’s available in that product – protein, high quality fats, high quality carbohydrates, all supported with enzymes and the nutrients that you need in order to be able to function. I think that it’s sort of a distilled version of what your diet should be overall, and it’s an excellent supplement. It’s an excellent super food source for people like myself that live these crazy lives, and when we try to help people understand that overall principle of nutrition and fueling the body across the spectrum of what the human body needs, we can achieve some pretty incredible things.

KC: Absolutely. Well, we covered a lot of ground here and a lot of different areas. We’re going to get into some more detail in future segments, but God bless you man. Thanks for coming.

Greg: Thanks so much for having me on the show, and thanks so much for having me as part of the product.

KC: Terrific. Well, God bless you and have a great day.

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