This week we sat down with our founder Ben to ask him some burning questions. From how he started Planet Paleo and our collagen protein powders to why he thinks you should always listen to your body...
What got you interested in natural health?
I used to have an appalling diet and lifestyle, which eventually made me quite unwell in my late teens. My girlfriend at the time was into natural remedies and introduced me to the joys of peppermint tea. My kung fu instructor showed me that you could use manuka honey as an antiseptic for cuts and scrapes which got me seeking out new natural remedies for things. I think the most profound change was in the airport before I went travelling for a year in Asia, we were rushing for a plane but I saw a book shop and ducked in to try and buy a book on nutrition, I remember vividly my girlfriend screaming at me while I frantically searched for something before grabbing the last book on the shelf ‘The Optimum Nutrition Bible’ by Patrick Holford. For the next 8 months, I literally read the book over and over until I could almost recite it.
What’s the best piece of dietary advice you would give to someone?
It's a cliche but I think people should listen to their body and appreciate that it may have different requirements at different stages of your life. There was one time when red meat saved me from a totally messed up gut and low energy levels, however more recently I’ve found the opposite. Don’t blame the food, just acknowledge it’s maybe not right for you at that moment. I always found it fascinating to see how identical foods affected people so differently. Wheatgrass powder can make a person on a typical western diet feel reborn, but the same powder could be severely weakening to a raw food vegan who is freezing cold all the time.
Why did you start Planet Paleo?
I’ve worked in the natural health industry many years and have always wanted to make my own products. I had amazing results taking collagen for my digestive health and felt there was a gap in the UK market for high-quality collagen powders sourced from grass-fed cows.
What makes a good supplement?
It’s a good question, I think the key thing to ask is 'do the noticeable effects and benefits justify the price?' As supplements become more naturalised (and often with an increase in price) I question whether they necessarily justify the price tags. Could nutrition be attained from food at a cheaper cost? I think they need to provide something that is difficult to get from the diet, convenient to use and you have to see results!
What got you interested in collagen?
I used to follow the paleo diet very strictly and this is where my interest in bone broths and gelatin-rich foods came from. I found it quite difficult to get these things into my diet whilst living a busy London lifestyle so I started taking collagen to supplement my diet. I had such incredible results that I started researching and went down a bit of a rabbit hole. Most of the research was on skin and joint health, however, I was finding more and more areas that collagen supplementation could be beneficial for.
What’s your favourite way to use the products?
I put pure collagen in my coffee every morning and have been experimenting with it in other functional food recipes. I certainly wouldn’t recommend putting the peppermint digestive collagen in your morning orange juice.
What are the biggest myths or misconceptions you hear about collagen powders?
I think there are quite a few claims about how the molecular weight of a brand’s collagen means it is far more superior for absorption, or it being marine, bovine etc... I’ve read so many collagen papers and from an absorption perspective it’s actually porcine (pig) tends to be the best absorbed! Much more difficult to market though.
What is your favourite product and why?
Digestive collagen, a lot of love & research went into its formulation. It’s a product close to my heart (or bowel lol) and when I hear people’s positive testimonials it reminds me why I’m doing what I do.
What is your favourite new discovery in the health world (food/product/research)?
I’m not sure about new discovery, but I’m always keen on when the science catches up with the folklore. I choose my words carefully as often modern scientific approaches are considered new discoveries when really we’re just understanding the mechanisms of in many cases ancient practices. I have a fascination in the reductionism of modern medicine as well as the more holistic approach, they both tickle 2 different areas, the geeky science and reason and the esoteric magical side. I wish more people would acknowledge the benefits of each side although we are thankfully moving further into a more integrative model. The east is leading the way on this
Tell us about your approach to the Paleo diet
I very loosely follow the paleo diet. I can't tolerate cows milk or wheat so it tends to be easier to go for gluten and dairy-free. I think the low carb side of the Paleo diet is where I take issue. I love potatoes and starchy carbs, but I don’t find grains so good. I try to avoid excessive meat consumption but my body really doesn’t do well on a 100% vegetarian diet as my digestive system could never rely on pulses and seeds for protein. I’ve found the paleo diet to be quite healing in the past and it’s my go-to when my gut is feeling sensitive (usually at stressful times) however the more dogmatic side of it I don’t find particularly healthy, some people do fine on foods considered to be bad for you by strict paleo advocates.
What does your average day look like in terms of food and supplements?
It varies…. lately, my diet has been terrible due to working too hard and eating out too much. But when things are good I try to eat around 3000 calories per day ( I would eat more if I was exercising more often!) Breakfast: Is usually loads of Fruit or a smoothie and then something more filling like Potatoes and eggs with avocado or a buckwheat pancake with a savoury filling plus a few espressos for sure Snacks: Whatever weird and wonderful things I pick up from the health store plus fruit of course. Lunch: I try to keep it low in starchy carbs (to avoid the afternoon crash) so it's usually chicken or fish and lots of salad or veg. Dinner: Is when I go all out, Meat or fish and tonnes of root veg. The only grain that really agrees with me is rice, I eat that a few times a week and can’t get enough! White or brown depending on my mood, they both have their benefits! I love goats butter too. Every day I take magnesium (topically), Vitamin C powder (Standard ascorbic acid) and our Pure Collagen Powder. Other regulars include Cordyceps, Reishi and Rhodiola and in winter echinacea and elderberry. I like experimenting with herbs and you can learn a lot about them just by taking them. Find out more about Ben, Planet Paleo and all of our collagen supplements here.