Interview: Dr Roderick Mulgan talks about The Internal Flame
Dr Roderick Mulgan MB, ChB, MPP, LLB (Hons), has witnessed the impacts of the western lifestyle on the aging process through his practice as a GP. A significant part of Dr Mulgan’s practice sees him providing care to residents in retirement homes.
He talks to NZ Booklovers about his book, The Internal Flame, which offers new insights into silent inflammation, longevity and the science of functional food.
Tell us a little about The Internal Flame. What inspired you to write this book?
I have always had an interest in nutrition and health, but it is not well covered by traditional medical education. In the last ten years I have worked mainly with frail elderly people, which has caused me to focus on how the big diseases like heart attacks and cancer develop, and what lifestyle interventions might forestall them.
What research was involved?
As anyone will see looking at the bibilography at the end of each chapter, many hours were involved trawling through a lot of dense scientific journals. This information is all out there, but not in a form that is easily digestible, even for doctors. I realised at one stage that I was often taking an hour to write a sentence, there was so much that had to be sifted.
What was your routine or process when writing this book?
I have two days a week when I am not going around my rest home facilities, and these became my writing days...except they were also my law office days, so it was all pretty busy. And some midnight oil sessions too.
What are three key things you hope readers will take away from The Internal Flame?
1. The big diseases of life - cancer, strokes, dementia - all come from the same thing - a dysregulated immune system;
2. Well known lifestyle advice, like eating vegetables is important, but the key insight is that the vital parts of good food exist in novel sources, like the seeds of grapes. This is what is meant by nutraceuticals and functional foods, and there is a place for them;
3. Don't wait for mainstream health advisers to catch up with new insights before implementing them; if the evidence is convincing, go for it.
What did you enjoy the most about writing The Internal Flame?
The brand new insights about the world of nutraceuticals. I educated myself along the way. 90% of it was not stuff I knew before I started the research.
What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?
Collapsed. Then some radio interviews.
What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?
Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall's book on cooking fish. It is always fun to learn new things, and I like food books that discuss their topic, and do not just offer recipes. Food literature has too many recipes and not enough discussion.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
Catching some fish to cook. We are building a beach house, part of my wife's strategy to get me to slow down.
The Internal Flame by Dr Roderick Mulgan