Ep. 56: Julia Murray – Managing Inflammation and Healing With Diet

It’s really hard to go wrong by eating more plants.

No matter what kind of nutrition research you look into, there’s one thing that most if not all researchers agree on: the more your diet includes whole foods and plants, the better it is for your health and healing.

I can agree that my own recovery was definitely a lot better because of the food I was eating. And truth be told, my doctor and physiotherapist couldn’t believe how little swelling I had, and my diet definitely played a big role in this. But even if you’re not injured, plants can provide the kind of nutrition that’s hard to get from other sources.

In this talk with Olympic skier and registered holistic nutritionist, Julia Murray, we focused heavily on the hows and whys of plant-based food for healing. While Julia herself discovered this only after ending her professional career due to injuries, what she accomplished afterwards probably wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for her knowledge of proper nutrition.

In this interview, you’ll discover:

  • What kind of role diet and nutrition play in your recovery.
  • How gut microbiome affects inflammation and what you can do to minimize its effects.
  • Which supplements can be beneficial to take while you are recovering from an injury.
  • What is the downside of rushing the recovery and what to do instead.

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Show notes & links

The show notes are written in chronological order.

00:00 – excerpt from the episode
00:41 – intro (listen to discover a little more about your host. Martin will tell you a new lesser-known fact about Dr. Maya)

01:18
Dr. Maya Novak:
No matter what kind of nutrition research you look into, there’s one thing that most if not all researchers agree on: the more your diet includes whole foods and plants, the better it is for your health and healing. I can agree that my own recovery was definitely a lot better because of the food I was eating. And truth be told, my doctor and physiotherapist couldn’t believe how little swelling I had, and my diet definitely played a big role in this. But even if you’re not injured, plants can provide the kind of nutrition that’s hard to get from other sources. So when I was introduced to Julia Murray back in 2019 I was curious to hear her thoughts on this. Not just because she’s a holistic nutritionist, but also because – and those listeners who are fans of skiing might know this - she is a former Olympic skier for Canada. So we did an interview in 2020 when she was one of the guests on my summit, and this talk is the result of it. Enjoy.

02:18
Dr. Maya Novak:
In this interview, I’m joined by Julia Murray, who is an Olympian and Registered Holistic Nutritionist. She competed on the Canadian Ski Team in the 2020 Winter Olympics, placed second in the 2011 World Championships, but after two major knee surgeries, as you will hear, she moved onto other challenges. Julia was named one of Canada’s top vegan athletes. She’s a certified plant-based chef and a spokesperson and coach for the 80/20 Plants Program. Julia, thank you so much for joining me.

02:50
Julia Murray:
Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m excited for this.

02:52
Dr. Maya Novak:
Oh, I’m super excited about this because we’re going to talk about something really, really important, and a mixture of everything. So, before we dive in, can you share a bit about yourself, your story, your previous career, your Olympics, injuries, and so on.

03:11
Julia Murray:
Yes, okay. So, I grew up in Whistler, BC, which a ski town. So, ski racing was sort of in my blood because my dad was actually a Canadian ski racer too, part of the Crazy Canucks. I don’t know if anyone listening has heard of them, but a big Canadian ski team back in the 70s. Four guys were beating the Europeans, finally, from Canada. That never would happen, so they kind of blew up. So, I grew up in Whistler with Dave Murray as my dad, and Stephanie Sloan, my mom, as a freestyle skier back in the day too. So, it was very much going to be what I was going to do for the majority of my young life. And so I ski raced until about 17-18 years old and I was on the BC ski team. And then I switched over to the sport of ski cross, which is a sport still going downhill, so it’s not cross country skiing, it’s downhill with four people at the same time going down a course with the jumps and rollers and bank corners, head to head racing, and actually, at X Games, it’s six people. So, super exciting, a really fun sport and we actually – it was good timing for me because the Olympics had just named it as an Olympic sport, and it was going to be debuting at the 2010 winter games in Vancouver, which is just down the road for me, so my hometown Olympics. So, I got named to the Canadian national ski team after a few trial runs. And then I did the next five years on the world cup circuit and I actually didn’t injure myself badly for the first three-ish years, only small ones like my chin to knee. I broke my chin a few times, but nothing too serious. And then one month before the Olympics, I was a medal contender because I had just podiumed the last three races, and so a medal contender for my hometown Olympics, it was like my dream was coming true. And I blew my knee at the last race before the Olympics. I blew my ACL and MCL. I got a tibia bone bruise and really bad cartilage damage. And this was my first major injury ever, and it was just the worst timing in the world. So, I ended up – we’ll kind of talk about the emotional ups and stuff later, I think – but I ended up making it to the Olympics, the one month after, after a little mini surgery on my meniscus so I could actually bend my knee, and I competed. I had all this draining and I got cortisone shots and like all of these things that we had to do to get me to the gate. But I did it, and I came 12th. I ended up moving on a couple of rounds. I bent my knee further than I had since before the injury, so it was painful. But I’m so happy that I did do that. And then the next week, I went in and got reconstruction surgery on my ACL, and then I had to get right back into the racing mentality. So, I took a little bit longer, obviously, compared to the month condensed thing that I had to do for the Olympics, but I came back the next year, and went off to jump at X Games, and landed on the finish line – so a 150-foot jump – I wasn’t supposed to do that, way too far. I landed on the finish line and blew my knee again and then I either had to compete the next week at World Championships or just say no, I wasn’t going to complete. And it’s just such tunnel vision at that point, right. I’m like okay, I didn’t even realize that it was a complete tear again in my ACL. They just saw some cartilage. So, we decided as the team that I would compete at the World Championships. I ended up coming second. And then I got reconstruction surgery afterwards, plus micro-fracture surgery because I had a lot of cartilage damage. It was two centimeters of bone on bone. So, they drilled like 40 little holes in my bare bone area, and the marrow was supposed to create new cartilage by seeping through those holes. I had to sleep with a continuous passive motion machine for three weeks. So, my leg was getting straightened and bent very slowly all night long. So, that was interesting – a little bionic woman! And yeah, so that’s pretty much injury story. Lots of ups and downs throughout all of that with mentality and all of it, but.

07:43
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yes. Well, you have a lot of experience. Especially that tunnel vision, like yes, I’m injured but I’m actually – I have to go back.

07:56
Julia Murray:
Yeah.

07:56
Dr. Maya Novak:
So, it’s everything is back. So, I’m so glad that you are here, that you are going to be talking about this because so many times people are like oh, I want to get back as fast as possible, nothing can stop me, so I’m just going to push it and it’s going to be everything is going to be okay. Now, before we go into depth, can you share a bit - because being an Olympian, being such an athlete, a professional athlete, how was that for you with injuries? What kind of challenges did you have emotional and mental? Was it really hard or was it just tunnel vision and let me just do it and that’s it and you’re actually not thinking about it?

08:41
Julia Murray:
Well, it’s funny because ski cross there are a lot of injuries. So, we were going through it as team members. You’d kind of see people recovering and then coming back. And so we were kind of in it and that’s why it seemed a little bit more normal for me during the time. Because the doctors were actually telling me, like the first injury, to not compete because I could potentially dislocate my knee and make it worse because I had this bucket handle tear that had to get taken out, plus my knee was just not tight, right. My ACL was gone. So, if I’m going off major jumps and landing, there could just be a lot of bad things that could have happened. So, yeah, there was definitely a lot of ups and downs emotionally and trying to figure out whether or not it’s worth doing the condensed version of trying to get to the start gate and making everything happen possible to do that, versus longevity and probably the best thing to do at that point. Like, if you’re not going to the Olympics, definitely don’t do what I did, and focus on rest and recovery and what your body actually needs. So, yeah, like for me, it was pretty much just the physio every single day, and icing every single day, and then also the cortisone shots I was talking about. My surgeon would give me – I think I had two doses of cortisone leading up to the Olympics, and then he would drain all the inflammation that was around my knee. So, just condensing all that is not great for the body.

10:17
Dr. Maya Novak:
So, what would you then say to someone who is – because with social media it’s so often – especially with Instagram and Facebook – there are so many photos or videos of people still doing all the workouts in their cast and so on, and nothing can stop me. I still can do what I did before. So, what would you say to someone like that? Is this just to be active and continue being active? Or, in your experience, are there any downsides to that type of approach, just pushing?

10:55
Julia Murray:
Yeah. Definitely just take your time and don’t be hard on yourself for not getting back after it right away. Of course, with social media and with probably people that you know around you pushing, pushing, pushing, that’s kind of the mentality that’s accepted, but really you need your body to just rest and recuperate and let those cells rejuvenate and actually heal your body from what you just put it through. So, take your time.

11:22
Dr. Maya Novak:
So, if you could go back in time, would you change anything or would it still be one month condensed and then everything that you did in regards to your recovery. So, now with this knowledge that you have, with this experience that you have, would you change something if you could go back in the past?

11:42
Julia Murray:
So, I think that instead of – yeah, I think that I would have done the same thing. I would have competed at the Olympics and made the most out of that time as possible because that was my entire life. And from that, I learned so much about who I am as a person. I know that I am a typical positive person and it takes a lot for me to not be that way. So, I think that really did help. But it’s also really difficult to be really positive when people are telling you no, you should do this and all of this stuff is coming down on you. So, I would say just keep it baby steps and that’s what I did, and that’s what I wouldn’t have changed. Like, one little day at a time and working towards that goal. But I still wouldn’t change it because, obviously, I think that I did injure myself probably more for the long-term, but now with the plant-based diet and like all the other things that I’m doing, I really do feel like I learned a lot from that whole experience.

12:45
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yes. This is really good because even when we are in such difficult challenging times, and even though we would love to get away as fast as possible, looking back sometimes these are the best times because we are growing through those experiences. Would you say that?

13:10
Julia Murray:
Yes, exactly. I think that growth comes from adversity. And I think that it’s so important to – in those times of troublesome and adversity and stressful times, you have to kind of look deeper within and say okay, what’s going to make me feel good in this moment and the moment really matters a lot more. And then also, like what I was saying, growth is what comes from adversity, if you look at it that way. But if you don’t see it that way, you can get really bogged down by the negativity and all the things happening around you. So, if you have a different mindset about it, you can really learn from those moments in your life.

13:47
Dr. Maya Novak:
So, what would you say, for example, since you mentioned the mindset, what would you advise to someone who is perhaps not in that positive, I can do it, everything is going to be okay? Because many times I hear from people after an injury, after a serious injury, one to two weeks it’s pretty much okay, but then it goes down usually because it’s not like a type of flu. So, do you have any advice on how to practice this positive mindset or something that people can start doing perhaps?

14:25
Julia Murray:
Mhm. Well, I think it goes for any day, right. It’s a similar thing to do when you’re practicing gratitude every day. I think it’s so important just to do when you’re not injured too, but especially when you’re injured and you’re going through adversity. Definitely write things down that make you grateful in the moment. So, three things a day is what I like to do. If you’re not writing them down, then at least like wake up in the morning and before you get out of bed just say three things that you’re grateful for, the tiniest little things. It could just be my warm bed and my dog, that kind of thing. But just focusing on that kind of stuff more so than the negative. It’s going to trump all of that negative thinking and the emotional downfall that you might be feeling otherwise. And also, in my case, during the whole injury thing, I did have a team around me helping me out. I had my boyfriend, I had my teammates, I had my physiotherapist, I had my doctors, and sports psychologists, and all of these people around me – which isn’t common but as a team, being on the national team, we did have that. And so if you’re going through something like this on your own, just make sure you have people around you to help support you and make sure that you don’t feel alone in it because people do love to help out too, right. So, just talk to people and then, yeah, baby steps, take it one step at a time.

15:48
Dr. Maya Novak:
This is great advice. Julia, how did you then go into diet and nutrition? Was your injury or injuries the reason that you went down that route? Or how did that happen?

16:03
Julia Murray:
In a way, I think it is because it was a little bit more like that, but because I injured myself twice in two years, like bad injuries, I decided that I didn’t want to have a really bad knee injury again. So, I decided it was time for me to move on to other parts of my life and say goodbye to competition. It was bittersweet because I love that lifestyle of traveling and competing, and it’s super exciting. It was my life for six years there, so it was a bit of a tough transition but, again, I was just focusing on those little things and what made me excited, what made me feel like I was doing something fun. And I really didn’t know where to start. So, I retired because of my injuries, and then I went to school for communications because it was generic, I didn’t know what to do. And then through that, there was a business course and they wanted us to do a business plan. So, I started working on a breakfast cereal company idea. And then I started this breakfast cereal company after my communications and had that for about seven years. But because of that, I decided to get into nutrition because I needed something to my name if I’m selling this healthy breakfast cereal. And so then I became a holistic nutritionist, and then that’s where I was introduced to the plant-based lifestyle and how anti-inflammatory it is how amazing it is for injuries, especially, because my knee was always inflamed, and also the fact that I can eat more because of the high volume nutrient intense plant foods are the best! Low calorie, high volume, nutrient-dense – I thought that was the perfect combination. So, anti-inflammatory and I could eat more. Those are the two things that got me into plant-based eating and holistic nutrition.

17:51
Dr. Maya Novak:
So, especially since you mentioned I can eat more…

17:56
Julia Murray:
Yeah.

17:56
Dr. Maya Novak:
… because it’s volume, I can imagine that especially transitioning from top athlete to – I’m not going to say sedentary because you probably didn’t become like a couch potato, but still there was less activity in your life. So, did you notice that right after this was happening that you also had to be more careful with food until you transitioned to plant-based?

18:27
Julia Murray:
Yes, we didn’t have much in the nutrition realm when I was on the national team because the budget was low, we were the first Canadian national team for ski cross, and we didn’t have a nutritionist. So, we didn’t really talk about it all. And yes, it blows me away because like now I just realize how much we are what we eat and how much it affects injury prevention, and recovery, and even just recovery from your daily gym workout and training. So, yes, I was pretty amazed that the connection is so there and we weren’t talking about it quite enough.

19:06
Dr. Maya Novak:
So, can we talk a bit more about diet and nutrition and how this actually affects recovery. So, either if a person is injured or if we talking just about regular workouts. Because here I know that, a lot of people who are tuning are injured, but also those who are not and would like to possibly prevent any injuries. Can you talk a bit about this?

19:31
Julia Murray:
Yes. So, nutrient-dense plant foods are so incredible for recovery and preventing injury and just living a healthy, happy, energizing life and like the more whole plant foods you have in your diet, the more anti-inflammatory benefits you’re going to get. The less refined processed foods the better, just avoid them at all costs if you can. And also, animal foods are inflammatory too. So, we can kind of break down all of those things if you want.

20:02
Dr. Maya Novak:
Please, yes.

20:03
Julia Murray:
Okay. So, we have whole plant-foods, they’re just packed with fiber and micronutrients and phytonutrients, and all of these things that are going to help with anti-inflammation in your body, especially antioxidants are in all of the rainbow foods, right. So, that’s what makes food so colorful is all these antioxidants in them. So, the more you eat the rainbow the better, and the more minimally processed whole plant-foods in your diet, the better. And with antioxidants, I like to talk about them as like a game of hot potato. So, what they do is combat free radicals in your body. Free radicals can come from anywhere in life – stress, pollutants, toxins, all of these things that you can’t really avoid, so the least amount of free radicals in your body, the better. And so think of the antioxidants as a group of antioxidants hanging, and then a free radical, an unstable molecule comes along and then all these antioxidants are playing hot potato with it. So, they bounce it around to each other and each antioxidant this free radical hits, it cools down slightly and then as it goes around the block it finally is cool enough for your body to excrete. And so if you don’t have enough antioxidants in your diet, then this process isn’t possible, and then you’re going to have way too many unstable crazy molecules or free-radicals in your body causing inflammation because they’re super inflammatory to your body. So, making sure you’re getting a ton of plant foods in to get all those antioxidants is so important, especially for injury recovery. And there’s, of course, some foods that are super high in antioxidants, but in general, it’s like the whole plant food realm is amazing. I also love taking medicinal mushrooms because chaga, for example, is one of the highest antioxidant natural food on the ORAC scale. So, get in your chaga. And also, turkey tail is really amazing for your gut microbiome. So, that’s like a whole other fun topic that I get to talk about, I think, in a little bit. Actually, let’s just get into microbiomes, shall we?

22:16
Dr. Maya Novak:
Sure. Now, can I just ask in regards to inflammation and anti-inflammatory foods –and, yes, I love how you described it and what kind of role it plays. But just one question in regards to inflammation, when we are injured there is inflammation happening because it’s a part of the healing process. So, it’s impossible not to have any inflammation.

22:39
Julia Murray:
Agreed, yes.

22:41
Dr. Maya Novak:
Now, in your experience, how important is actually diet in controlling inflammation when it comes to healing a swollen ankle or a swollen knee or pain in the back, and so on? What is your experience, perhaps personal or you working with clients?

23:04
Julia Murray:
Yes, that’s a good point because when you are injured you definitely get acute inflammation and that’s your body’s response to immediately what’s going on. So, that’s an important thing. You don’t want to immediately decrease that acute inflammation, but it’s the chronic inflammation we want to be worried about. So, the acute inflammation is fine right after an injury, but then to make sure that you don’t have that inflammation carrying on so that your body can’t combat and heal that injury, you want to make sure that you’re getting all these plant-foods in and getting the anti-oxidants in. And making sure your gut microbiome is super healthy because a lot of inflammation comes from bad bacteria in your gut as well. So, I can talk about the gut microbiome a bit.

23:52
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yes. Yes, let’s dive into the gut microbiome and inflammation because very often when we think about inflammation, it’s about that part of the body that’s inflamed, that is swollen, that is painful, that is red. But, yes, can we talk a bit about the gut microbiome and how inflammation is coming from that part as well.

24:17
Julia Murray:
Yes. I love the microbiome. It’s so cool. So, first of all, I’ll say I’m not a gastroenterologist, but I do follow a lot of people. Like the Gut Health MD on Instagram is a great resource – or Angie Sadeghi. So, check out those doctors. But pretty much our gut microbiome resides mostly in our large intestine, so it’s the intestinal walls where all these microbes live. There’s good bacteria, there’s bad bacteria, but there’s trillions of bacteria – about 100 trillion, they say. It’s a crazy number. In comparison to human cells, there’s 90 percent bacterial cells in our body and 10 percent human cells. So, we’re more bacteria than we are human, which is mind-blowing! I think that’s really amazing to think about because you’re not only – that’s the whole you are what you eat, right. So, everything that you put into your body, your gut microbiome digests and assimilates and puts into the rest of your body and creates you as you are. So, it can affect your cravings. It can affect your mood and anxiety and depression because 90 percent of serotonin levels are made in your microbiome. It also affects your immune system too. So, about 60 to 70 percent of your immunity resides in your gut microbiome, in the walls of the large intestine. So, it just affects everything to do with health. Everything that you are depends on your bacterial microflora in your gut microbiome. And so you want to make sure it’s super diverse and strong all within there, and the number one precursor to a healthy diverse microbiome is the diversity of plants that you eat because plant foods have that plant fiber, which is prebiotics for your gut microbiome. Prebiotics are pretty much food for the probiotics, which is the bacteria in your gut. So, you want to make sure you’re getting so many prebiotics to just fuel those really good bacterial cells in your microbiome. And stress, for example, doesn’t work well with digestion. Digestion is in your microbiome and everything. So, if you’re stressed, your adrenals and your fight and flight response happens, and your digestive system cannot work at the same time. It just doesn’t work physically in your body. So, anytime that you’re stressed, your microbiome is not flourishing and being diverse. So, you want to minimize stress as much as possible too for a good gut microbiome. You want to make sure you’re getting a ton of water so that helps assimilate and transport all those nutrients and sleep is also really important for your gut microbiome as well. And then avoiding antibiotics as much as possible, sometimes it’s life-threatening so you have to, but it – any antibiotic that you take actually destroys 35 percent of your gut flora and it can take like up to five years or more for that gut flora to come back if you’re working on it. But I just really hate the idea of destroying the good cells and the bad cells. So, antibiotics you just have to avoid as much as possible. Yes, so that’s sort of the gut microbiome in a nutshell, and I think it’s just such a cool area of study, and so much is coming out of that whole realm.

27:44
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yes, and everything that you mentioned here – sleep, hydration, stress, diet, these are the things super important and everything that is happening when you are injured. Because when you are injured, you are stressed out not potentially so much just physically, but also mentally and emotionally because it’s a true emotional roller coaster. If you have a caste, for example, your sleep is disturbed, especially at the beginning because you just cannot be comfortable.

28:17
Julia Murray:
Mhm.

28:17
Dr. Maya Novak:
Then we have hydration. Yes, we can definitely talk about that. So, basically, the diet here is also one of the really important things that we can actually control…

28:32
Julia Murray:
Mhm.

28:32
Dr. Maya Novak:
… how our body then responds, right.

28:37
Julia Murray:
Yes, exactly. And also, another point on the microbiome is animal products that are rich in choline, you actually have bad bacteria that when they eat this choline, and your gut, they produce something called TMAO, and that’s super inflammatory to your entire body. So, that’s going to increase that chronic inflammation too. So, you want to avoid animal products as well when it comes to the microbiome. Yes, just get that plant fiber in.

29:08
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yes. So, here are two questions. One question, because someone right now is thinking, well, do I have to be like 100 percent? That is one question. The other question, since you said, well avoid animal products as much as possible, but how do you then get in, for example, protein and everything that we need, especially when we are injured. There is a bigger necessity to get protein in for healing.

29:42
Julia Murray:
Yes.

29:43
Dr. Maya Novak:
So, what are your thoughts in regards to that?

29:45
Julia Murray:
Yes, that’s a great question and I think it’s the most common question when people are looking into this whole plant-based way of living, is where do I get my protein? Don’t I have to have a slab on flesh on the plate? And the answer is no because protein is actually built from amino acids. That’s the building blocks of protein, and there are nine essential amino acids that we need to actually get from our diet, and then the rest, our body creates naturally.

30:13
Dr. Maya Novak:
We'll continue in just a moment. I wanted to quickly jump in for two things. First, thank you for tuning in. And second, I’m sure you have at least one friend, colleague, or family member who would very much appreciate this episode. So share it with them and help us spread the word. Now let’s continue…

30:34
Julia Murray:
So, it’s those nine essential amino acids that you have to actually consume. And as a plant-based eater, it’s super easy to get all of these amino acids. You barely even have to think about it, as long as you’re eating a variety of plant foods. So, one thing that I tell people if they’re really just confused about this, is to go onto cronometer.com. You can punch in a typical day and you can see exactly all of your amino acids, all of your vitamins, your minerals, and everything, and how much you’re getting in that day. So, I recommend that just to show how much protein is in a plant-based diet. And, of course, there’s also higher protein plant foods like tempeh and soy – always buy organic – and beans and legumes and seeds. But you honestly don’t really have to worry about protein when it comes to eating plant-based.

31:25
Dr. Maya Novak:
But as you mentioned, if someone is concerned or perhaps doesn’t believe it right now, not yet…

31:32
Julia Murray:
Yes.

31:32
Dr. Maya Novak:
… cronometer.com is a great resource because you actually can track what you’re eating, and then also you have, in numbers, what you’re actually getting out – approximately, of course.

31:42
Julia Murray:
Yes, exactly. The only time that you want to make sure you’re getting a little more protein is, of course, when you’re going through an injury and you’re recovering and your cells are rejuvenating and you need all those amino acids, and you have to make sure that you’re hitting them for sure. But again, it’s really easy to do it with plants. And then also if you’re over 65 or you’re under 15. So, if you’re a growing teenager or an elderly person, you need a little bit more. But I recommend around 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight is great for someone like me who is average active, and my weight, but then of course if you’re a bigger person then a little bit more. But you don’t need that, whatever, 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight or whatever people are recommending in the weight-lifting realm because it’s just too much. Too much protein is actually hard on your kidneys and can lead to unwanted weight gain in other areas. So, you just want to make sure you’re getting all of the amino acids. So, keep eating a variety of plant foods, and you’ll be good.

32:50
Dr. Maya Novak:
So, someone – does that also mean that the more plants we eat, the better it is? And does that mean that we don’t have to be 100 percent? Or who is it? One hundred percent or not a 100 percent, three times per week.

33:06
Julia Murray:
Yes.

33:06
Dr. Maya Novak:
What are your thoughts about that?

33:08
Julia Murray:
Well, it’s a funny question because we’re actually – we have a program called 80/20 Plants, and 80 percent, it’s the main focus of just eating 80 percent whole food plant-based, so no refined foods, no animal products, no anything – 80 percent wholefood plant-based. And if you get that, then you’re going to benefit so much just from that 80 percent. I think that that’s such a good goal for people, and we’re just making sure that we can meet them where they are because people come from all different places and beliefs and just growing up with meat on the plate – meat and potatoes and going straight to whole food plant-based 100 percent is kind of crazy, right. Also, it takes your microbiome to switch over a little bit when you’re switching over from a meat and potatoes kind of diet or a standard American diet – the SAD diet – which is lots of fast food and just lots of fried foods and animal products and dairy. To switch over from that right away the next day eating whole food plant-based is going to be bit of a shock to your system. So, if you take your time with it, I think that’s when people have a lot more success with sticking with it sustainably. And so, 80 percent wholefood plant-based and then I just – I recommend that if you can get close to 100 percent vegan. Like I am 100 percent vegan and I have been for six years, and I feel better than ever and my knee doesn’t get inflamed and I run every single day. I really do think that – well, I know from all the science that I’ve read and the studies that it’s really helping with my inflammation. So, if you can get to that 100 percent, great, but totally no judgment if you do not, and you’re getting that 80 percent wholefood plant-based.

34:54
Dr. Maya Novak:
Well, I would love to get back to the microbiome and diet, since it brought up that you are running and that your knee is doing well because often with the type of injury that you had, usually down the road there is a disability or it’s impossible to be as active as before. So, now that you’re saying that your knee is doing completely okay, can you share a bit about this experience because I’m sure that people are interested in hearing, so what does that mean, so after a major knee injury you are like you were before?

35:37
Julia Murray:
So, I would say the only time that my knee hurts is when I’m skiing and like hit something funny. So, it’s like an acute kind of feeling of injury on that two centimeters of bone on bone area that I have. I only have about 30 to 40 percent of my meniscus left, which is that cushion between your knee, but my ACL feels fine. And I would say that just keeping your body moving is a really good tip, just because your body does get stagnant, and the more stagnancy in your body the less flow you have throughout, and the less nutrients and vitamins are going through your body and actually repairing any kind of tears or injury that you might have. So, that’s a really important thing to do, is just move your body and lower impact things, even though – like I trail run. I don’t really run on pavement because I feel like that’s not very good for the knees and not good for the body. So, I do trail run every single day, and yes, like I said, my knee doesn’t get inflamed. And right after the injury, it was always inflamed – right after surgery, I should say, my second surgery. It was always inflamed. There was always – I could move my kneecap over the top of my knee because there was fluid in there, constantly. So, I really do think that a combination of getting in whole plant-foods, minimizing processed refined things – and when I say processed and refined, I’m talking about white sugar and white flour and baked goods like that. So, minimize that as much as possible. Minimize animal products as much as possible. And hopefully, that’ll help everybody out.

37:13
Dr. Maya Novak:
So, do you have any tips on how to start? Because what you were explaining before is do it step by step by step, not overnight because people are different. Sometimes you can do it overnight, and you stick with it, but sometimes if you jump over so fast, you can bounce back really fast as well. So, it’s like yes, I tried it, not I’m not going to do that. So, do you have any tips on how to actually slowly transition and be successful with it?

37:48
Julia Murray:
Great question because, yes, I am not really an extreme person so I took my time, but I do know some people that are like I’m going to try this, and I’m going to go all in, and then overnight they go and then they’re done a month later. They’re back to normal. So, I do recommend taking it a step at a time. With 80/20 Plants we do phases. So, we’ll start with breakfast for this week, and then breakfast and then snacks. Breakfast, snacks, and lunch. And then breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner, and personalize the 20 percent with one on one coaching and all of that. So, I think that it’s really important to have, first of all, a community around you. I personally went vegan on my own. Nobody else was doing it around me. I just had the support of online communities, and that really helped. And just constant education and realizing why I was doing it. So, that’s another good tip, is to figure out your personal ‘why’. Because it’s different for everybody, but it has to be a personal change for you. So, maybe listening to this, and you have an injury, and you have tons of information, maybe that’s your ‘why’ to go plant-based for your injury. Yes, so baby steps. Figure out your why. Have that community around you. And then also play around in the kitchen, it just so much fun. There’s so many new recipes that you can create that you probably have never even heard of, and you can just veganize your old favs. So, say you’re a macaroni and cheese lover, there’s tons of macaroni and cheese wholefood plant-based styles made with potatoes and carrots and all these delicious ingredients. So, veganize your old favorites in the kitchen. And yeah, just have fun with it and don’t be hard on yourself if you slip. Just keep on moving onto the next day. And also don’t think about like the wedding coming up in six months and there’s not going to be any options for you and I’m not going to try because of that. So, don’t think of that. Think about the moment that you’re in right now and what you can do about that.

39:50
Dr. Maya Novak:
I have a question in regards to this playing in the kitchen and trying out new recipes. What about when a person is freshly injured, and right now they are listening and they understand that or they are they thinking, well, maybe I could try it but I have this injury and I actually cannot be in the kitchen right now for more than five minutes. Or I am on crutches and I cannot move around freely, even though I love cooking.

40:23
Julia Murray:
Mhm.

40:23
Dr. Maya Novak:
So, do you have any advice in regards to some fast food – not fast food in the traditional way – but what to eat and how to start then eating more plants if you are limited in regards to being in a kitchen and cooking.

40:45
Julia Murray:
Yeah, great question. It’s funny, I just got a flashback of myself two months non-weight bearing with crutches, and I was just hopping around on my right leg the entire time!

40:56
Dr. Maya Novak:
Exactly!

40:58
Julia Murray:
So, my answer for that is smoothies are an amazing quick thing that you can do that have just ample nutrients. So, I always fill my smoothie up with greens first because greens are super high in protein, actually. They’re super high in calcium and magnesium. All really good things for injury recovery. And, of course, phytonutrients and antioxidants too. I have a ton of berries in there – lots of antioxidants. And then some bananas for some good sweetness and some potassium and all that good stuff. I also put in mushrooms, like I was talking about. I put reishi, chaga, cordyceps, lions mane, and turkey tail all in my smoothie because they’re super high in antioxidants and really good for your gut because they act as prebiotics. I also put protein powder in there, like plant-based protein. I actually use Complement, and it’s packed with all whole food ingredients, only six ingredients that are good for plant-protein and making sure you’re getting all of your amino acids in. Then also if you have any Vitamin C powder, you can add extra to that. I like Pranin. They have wholefood powders that I use. So, just like pack in your smoothie all of this good stuff, and make a huge smoothie in the morning and then you can have that throughout the day. I usually make about three big cups and then my husband and I share those three throughout the day. So, that’s an easy thing for you to do when you’re injured because you just blend it and you’re good. And then when you said fast food, I immediately thought about fruit because that’s nature’s fast food, right.

42:41
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yes.

42:41
Julia Murray:
All you have to do is have a huge bowl of fruit at all times, it’s easy for you to just grab a piece of fruit and eat it because fruit is so good for you. It’s nature’s way of saying like thank you or something. It’s just wrapped in a perfect package. It’s got antioxidants, phytonutrients, micronutrients. It tastes delicious. It’s super juicy. Just get all that fruit in you and that’s going to help with your recovery too.

43:07
Dr. Maya Novak:
But here’s the question, what about sugar? Because fruit, yes, even though I hear it’s packed with antioxidants and vitamins and some minerals and so on, but fruit is also full of sugar. How is that going hand in hand?

43:25
Julia Murray:
Good question. So, yes, there is sugar in it but it’s actually fructose, so it’s good sugar with fiber. So, it’s the entire package. Sugar, when we’re talking about sugar and refined sugar and baked goods and cookies and all that, that is a completely different territory in comparison to the fruit sugar that you’re consuming with the whole fruit. I just recommend to not be afraid of fruit. Just eat as much fruit as you desire because in its full package, it’s exactly how it’s intended for your body, and your body knows how to assimilate those nutrients and actually get them to work for your body. So, don’t be afraid of fruit.

44:06
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yes, and it’s also a really great way of hydrating. So, hydration is very important for recovery. So, eating a lot of fruit, and especially juicy fruits like oranges and watermelon and so on, is good for hydration and lowering inflammation – could we say that or not?

44:25
Julia Murray:
Yes. Yes, I think hydration is underrated. You have to make sure you’re getting enough water in your system. First of all to keep your body at the right temperature, and then also to help transport all of the nutrients and vitamins and everything that you’re fueling yourself with. So, not only is water going to help with that but also fat-soluble vitamins are going to help with that too. So, like Vitamin D, for example, is a good supplement to take, especially when you’re recovering from an injury. It’s going to really help with that calcium absorption as well. So, calcium is really good for your bones and if you have a broken bone, this is amazing for you to know because taking enough of that Vitamin D or getting outside in the sunshine if you can, if it’s sunny where you are, for 15 minutes a day without …

45:11
Dr. Maya Novak:
Sunscreen?

45:12
Julia Murray:
… a shirt and shorts and no sunscreen, yeah. 15 minutes, you need that Vitamin D to synthesize on your skin and then it absorbs into your body. But, for example, right now I’m looking outside and it’s just like snowing and not sunny at all! And so if you live somewhere like me, in a ski town, and half the year you don’t get that sunshine, then definitely get Vitamin D3 in your system so you can help metabolize that calcium. K2 is also really important for calcium metabolism to make sure that it all is absorbed into your body correctly and it’s actually helping with your joints and your bones and all of that. And then Omega 3 fatty acids too are really important. So, I like taking microalgae, EPA DHA, because it goes straight to source, it skips the fish which usually has lots of toxins and pollutants and mercury, and goes straight to where the fish get, the microalgae. Omega 3 fatty acids, it’s really important to make sure you’re getting enough of those because typically the standard American diet or just someone that eats a lot of oily foods and animal products, they’ll have more Omega 6s in their diet than Omega 3s. You don’t want the ratio to be higher Omega 6s to Omega 3s. So, you want to make sure you’re getting all those Omega 3s in your diet as much as possible through seeds like flaxseeds and chia and all that. But also it’s really important to be able to make sure you can do the transition from the ALA fatty acids in those seeds to EPA DHA, and a lot of people typically can’t do that very well in their body. So, that’s why you go straight to source, microalgae EPA DHA. That’s going to help you transport all of those nutrients and vitamins in your body as well.

46:59
Dr. Maya Novak:
Fabulous. So, we covered a lot, but what is your number one advice that you would give someone who is right now injured and recovering? Perhaps something that we already covered, or perhaps something completely different. What is your number one advice?

47:22
Julia Murray:
My number one I think would be eat whole plant foods and lots of water, and also stay positive. Like, think about other things that you can maybe do while you’re laid up and you can’t move. Think about different hobbies or different passions that you might have had that you didn’t have time for before. Just focus on other things and stay positive as much as you can, and take that stress level down as much as possible so that your microbiome is healthy and flourishing and helping you heal as well.

47:56
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yes. When you were talking, I was like will you mention gut microbiome and inflammation? And you went straight into that, so yes, great! Well, Julia, you have a lot of experience, personal experience with injuries and recovery and the whole mental and emotional roller coaster process. I don’t know if you had an experience when sometimes you felt a bit down or perhaps you did not see the light at the end of the tunnel. So, what I wanted to ask here is what would you say to someone who is losing hope about their recovery?

48:36
Julia Murray:
Yes, it’s a lot for your body. It’s a lot of energy for your body to take while you’re recovering from something. Your body, you have to realize, is working whether you know it or not. That does take a lot of energy out of your emotional and mental side of your body as well. So, don’t feel bad for being down. Sometimes you just have to accept those days that you don’t feel like you’re sparky and energized. And there’s nothing wrong with you if you feel like you’re just kind of down in the dumps for a couple of days. That’s just life sometimes, especially when you’re going through a really tough injury. So, just really be nice to yourself during this time and like I said before, focus on gratitude, and think about the things that really make you feel happy and that’ll just combat that anxiety and stress whenever you’re grateful for things. Pick up the phone and call somebody that you haven’t talked to in a long time. Call a family member or a friend and just catch up. Like with no other agenda, just chat and laugh, and just bring kind of light into your life in that way. I think just don’t get too pulled down in the dumps. Just let yourself be there, be okay with, and then move forward to the next day with baby steps.

49:59
Dr. Maya Novak:
I love what you mentioned, just call someone just to chat. Because very often when we get sucked into negative thinking, many times it’s because we are alone in our heads. So, we are going through that story over and over and over again. So, when we reach out to someone or just to chat or just to connect, this can really bring us back and we can actually then move forward easier than if we are just alone and thinking that we alone.

50:33
Julia Murray:
In your own head. Yes, exactly. Eat plants and laugh!

50:40
Dr. Maya Novak:
And fast food – nature’s fast food, fruits!

45:42
Julia Murray:
Yes!

50:45
Dr. Maya Novak:
Julia, I do have one last question, which is out of the box and a bit of a fun question. That is if you imagine that you are being injured right now and you know that it’s going to take you a while to get back on your feet so to say, and it’s not going to be always easy. But in this moment, you can choose one of two options or one of two gifts. Number one is that you go through the recovery process. You do everything that you can to recover in the best possible way, and then at the end, you are gifted with the gift of not being injured in your life anymore. Or option number two is that you go back in time, prevent the injury, prevent the accident, but then you’re also taking your chances, so you don’t know what’s going to happen, perhaps tomorrow. My question here is what do you choose, and why?

51:44
Julia Murray:
Ooh, that’s good. I like it. From all that I have learned through my injuries personally, I think that it’s taught me a lot about myself as a person and how to deal with hardships and adversity, and going through something like that I think I’m really grateful for it. So, I don’t think that I would change it, and I also don’t think that I would change the way I dealt with it. So, of course, rushing to the Olympic start gate definitely wasn’t good for the long-term of my knee health, but it was what – it was my dream, so I had to do it. So, I don’t think that I would have changed that either. But yeah, I think that I would go through it all and come out as is, and really have – I think that those things that you learn when you’re going through stuff like that is so valuable and it really helps you grow as a person, even though it hurts at times!

52:46
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yes, but this is great insight because especially if someone right now is listening and this is their first serious injury, it’s I want to be back as I was as fast as possible, but getting this type of insight that it’s a growth, it’s a journey. And I actually, like you said, I wouldn’t change it.

53:10
Julia Murray:
Yes.

53:11
Dr. Maya Novak:
Even with all the challenging times and everything, go great insight.

53:17
Julia Murray:
Yes. It’s hard to think that when you’re in it, but then, later on, you realize, yes.

53:23
Dr. Maya Novak:
Yes. Julia, where can people find more about you and your work?

53:28
Julia Murray:
You can go to hookedonplants.ca for recipes that I put out, a couple a month. And then 8020plants.com. We have a code for anyone that wants to try that out too. I think “mindful20” will make it. Yes, Hooked on Plants and 80/20 Plants. Stay Wyld Organics is a new mushroom company I’m co-founding too, so you can check those out. You can use Julia 10 if you want a code for that. And yeah, that’s about it. See you on the ‘Gram! I do cooking shows over there.

54:01
Dr. Maya Novak:
Fabulous. Julia, thank you so much for being here, and sharing this positive energy and educating about whole foods and something that can help our bodies heal in the best possible way. So, thank you so much for being here.

54:16
Julia Murray:
Thank you for having me, and thank you for doing this. I know that you’re going to help a lot of people through what they’re going through. You’re awesome.

54:24
Dr. Maya Novak:
This wraps up today’s episode with Julia Murray. If you haven’t done it yet, subscribe to the podcast on whatever platform you’re using to tune in. Of course, also remember to share this episode with your loved ones and help them out. To access show notes, links, and transcript of today’s talk go to mayanovak.com/podcast. To learn more about The Mindful Injury Recovery Method visit my website mayanovak.com and find my book Heal Beyond Expectations on Amazon. Until next time – keep evolving, blooming, and healing.

Love and gratitude xx
Dr. Maya

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