Cavemen Didn’t Eat Cornflakes

Do we actually need science to tell us how we got here or what we should eat today? My view is that the evidence is embedded within our history and it doesn’t need to be proved. WE ARE HERE! That said, everything I write here is backed by science and is referenced. The trouble with this sort of research is that it won’t make anyone rich, so it remains buried for the most part.

P1140137We are uniquely equipped for life in our world. Evolution has ensured that we are a finely honed animal species – capable of evaluating and responding to a multitude of stimuli.  There are numerous mechanisms in place, within and beyond our control, to ensure survival. Here are a few:

  1. Insulin production in the pancreas.  This preserved our lives thousands of years ago by storing a surplus of available carbohydrates (fruit or honey maybe) as fat reserves. Today however, the very same hormone is killing us. We now store far too much glucose which results from carbohydrate digestion – and we store it (in part) as fat, which never has a chance to be used up. Obesity and diabetes can result with all the health issues that accompany these illnesses.
  2. The Omega fatty acids – the balance of these ensures that we can deal with a microbial attack by providing inflammation and anti-inflammation.
  3. Cholesterol – the balance of hdl (“good” cholesterol) and ldl (“bad” cholesterol) ensures that we can form hormones (including the “new” pre-steroid hormone Vitamin D), line our cells, repair damage to our bodies and more. Cholesterol is so important that we not only manufacture it, but we also recycle it.
  4. The starvation sequence – every stage of this is designed to preserve life. Low calorie diets fire up this reaction.
  5. Thirst, to ensure we stay hydrated.
  6. Hunger, to ensure that we obtain the necessary nutrients.
  7. Sensing heat and cold, to ensure that we take measures to control our temperatures.
  8. Sensing pain, to tell us that the woolly mammoth is standing on our foot!

We take them as a given – no one would argue this. They are, by and large, proven and accepted by all -  health professionals,  scientists and the general public So why do we choose to either ignore these instincts or fight them? For example, we only think that we have done enough if we have endured some discomfort or even pain when we exercise. Evolution tells us to STOP when this happens.

Why must we employ our brains when their use is unnecessary? We think we’re so clever, outdoing nature but in reality we are creating problems for ourselves or even making ourselves ill. Instincts are ignored at our peril – we must listen to our bodies.

001_3Genetically, we are still programmed for the diet we ate 10,000 years ago. People living at that time did not have dieticians, the internet or governments to tell them what they should eat, when they should eat it or how much they should eat. Consider this; wild animals don’t need this help; they just get on with it, responding to their instinctive needs – and, interestingly, neither do they generally suffer chronic illness, but domestic animals do. I’ll leave that one for another time but of course, it involves us!

The diet we are programmed for is the hunter-gatherer diet. What was good for us then is good for us now. Taste buds were the only guide to the foods that contained the necessary nutrients in a form that would be easy to absorb.

Imagine that you knew nothing of nutrition. You are stranded in the wilderness and there is an abundance of plants and animals. You have fire to cook with, so how will you decide what to eat? You can try a few leaves and some grass but your taste buds will tell you in no uncertain terms that you do not have the correct digestive system to deal with these “foods”. There may be a few roots that you could dig up, but whilst they may be sweeter than the leaves, you still are unlikely to make a feast of them. Are you going to look for seeds or grain? You could starve by the time you have enough to make a meal for the family especially if it is spring time!  In any case, grain is indigestible without lengthy preparation and really only became a part of everyday food when we settled into a life of farming 10,000 years ago. Corn did not exist as it does today – it is “man-made” – so don’t waste your time looking for it! (Dairy foods were introduced soon after this time, but that’s another story too.)

Now you see a duck swimming on a river. If you accurately throw a hefty stone at it (my apologies to the vegetarians but I am trying to create a realistic scene), you have a meal. After removing the feathers and roasting it, even your sense of smell will tell you that this is the real deal. Your digestive juices and enzymes prepare you for digestion even before you have even tasted it. This is nature working the way it should. The fat and skin are the most delicious (and nutritious) part of a duck and there is no way you are going to remove them before eating – as we are advised now.

IMG_2645If you had lobbed a rock at a wild pig for your meal, I think we might see the same dining-room scene as we see now – the whole family arguing over the last piece of crackling! In those times of course, they would have eaten the lot. Everything that was chewable and tasted good would have been eaten as waste was just not an option and organ meats are the most nutrient-dense part of the animal.

It is doubtful that our ancient ancestors had the sense of squeamishness that we do, because they ate what was available and did not have the preconceived ideas of what was not “nice”. This just means that they would have eaten lungs, kidneys, liver, gonads, eyes (great source of vitamin A), ears, brain and every other morsel possible.  They would all have tasted good but we are now conditioned, for many reasons, to consider these parts at best unhealthy (due to the BSE problem years ago) and at worst, disgusting!  It is a sad fact that we, in the Western World, now choose muscle meats over offal. Offal, historically and amongst primitive people today, was and is, highly prized as a magnificent source of nutrients. Now, we take frequent trips to the supermarket which means that we can have our choice of foods available all the time – in our fridges, or in cans and packets in our cupboards. Offal – even organic offal, is cheap.

Our conditioning is, at least in part, to blame for our confused taste buds. Children of the Inuit are used to the taste and texture of raw seal liver and relish it – because they have always had it. Our children gain the taste for baby rice – and just where does that lead? To a lifetime of seeking out simple, nutrient-poor carbohydrate foods at the expense of proper nutrient-dense food! How on earth did babies born 10,000 years ago manage without it?! Breast feeding would have been offered for longer than present day. I suspect that as teeth began to form, mothers would have partially chewed their baby’s food to make weaning easier – and that food would have been the full hunter-gatherer diet.

“When we eat cake, we unconsciously detect that some of the right nutrients are there. Mixing food groups together like this, our taste-buds are fooled.”

Nutritionists and dieticians are fond of blaming “processed foods” for the devastating effects on our health, but just what does that mean? Much processed food is made from poor quality ingredients combined and flavoured to make cheap food appealing to our confused, modern palates. Breakfast cereals and bread are highly processed foods – even if they do claim to be free of added chemicals. Remember too, that it is perfectly possible to use the best quality organic butter, flour, eggs and sugar to make a cake or biscuits. Does this make them better for us?  They taste good because we naturally like sweet things and fats (probably due stored information about breast milk). The fats that taste the best are the ones that have the most nutrients – animal fats, butter in this case, but when we eat cake, we unconsciously detect that some of the right nutrients are there. Mixing food groups together like this, fools our taste-buds. Even if margarine has been used, the less-than-pleasant taste is disguised with sugar and we happily have a second helping.

So, what’s on the menu for you in the wilderness? Exactly what we should be eating now 00067– meat, offal, fat, fish, shellfish, eggs, nuts, seeds (if they are a reasonable size and taste good), some leaves and a few roots, fruits when in season and honey once in a while. Fortunately we have evolved as omnivores which meant that during the times when our genetic diet was scarce, we could live for a while, on foods that were less nutrient-dense.This means that today, on the odd occasion, we can still enjoy an ice-cream or piece of cake without any lasting damage. And just what would life be without these treats?

 

Email me

 

This article was originally published in Positive Health PH Online Issue 186 – Sept 2011 – the present.

Is Breakfast the Most Important Meal?

Well this is a turnaround isn’t it? Breakfast is now not the most important meal according to this study! For so many years we have been told that we must have breakfast before starting our day and we have even been told that studies show how breakfast can help us lose weight, concentrate and stabilize our blood sugar. I am as guilty as many other professionals – I haven’t actually read these studies, just accepted the evidence for the most part.

In my defence, although I do read research reports, I make up my own mind about what is right for us and this is founded upon both my observations as a nurse and nutritionist and my usual way of looking at our diet and lifestyle against the back-drop of our evolutionary diet and lifestyle. There has been much research and speculation into what is right and wrong, but the bottom line is – we should do as our ancestors did. The only problem with this is that everyone has a different view of what they actually did! I have written a bit about this before so I won’t go into detail here. Suffice to say that we ate primarily meat and some vegetation when it was available. This study shows precisely this point.

What on Earth is breakfast – or lunch, tea or dinner for that matter? These are labels we have given to eating times, for our convenience. These meal times are fitted in file6401342550312before, during and after we go to work/school/college, but they are actually convenient times when we must top up our nutrients. We need vast amounts of quality nutrients for every single bodily function you can think of – blinking your eyes and producing tears; making the enzymes needed for the digestion of food; maintaining the electrical activity needed to allow your heart to beat and your muscles to contract and so on. Everything your body does, it does not do by chance. You make it happen by eating foods that supply these minerals, vitamins, fats and more.

A while ago, I wrote a blog about hunger which you can find here. It is important that we stay in touch with our bodies and really hear the message. The first thing you should be reaching for in the morning is liquid, preferably water, tea or a herbal infusion. The body detoxifies itself over night and the toxins need washing away. This could be why some people are never hungry first thing – and some even feel queasy. Hunger kicks in when the detoxing has finished. Always drink about half an hour, before you eat “breakfast”. In fact staying hydrated is one way to prevent over-eating or eating for no good reason. Drink sufficient liquid to keep your urine pale yellow – not clear which means you are drinking too much, or amber which means you are not drinking enough.

What is breakfast for you? I can hear your thought processes –
cereal, toast, eggs, file1281259008488porridge..! But what I’m getting at is what is the meaning of the word? Its literal meaning is of course, breaking one’s fast and I believe that this is the point. Why should this meal be taken before going out if you are not hungry? This study suggests that breakfast could be skipped, but it too is assuming that “breakfast” is the meal you have before your day starts.

Breakfast is the meal that breaks your fast – whenever that is. Your body very cleverly prepares itself for a meal. Once you are adequately hydrated and your body has finished its clear-up, signalling can get underway and you consciously think about food. This prepares your digestive tract – you salivate and your stomach rumbles, both of which mean that the enzymes and other chemicals needed to digest food, are ready and waiting. Absolutely the worst time to eat is whilst stressed, because this preparation stage will be omitted and indigestion ensues.

file000374824743There will be some people who wake feeling hungry. These are the people who eat very early evening, stay hydrated and don’t drink alcohol in the evening. In other words, there is less detoxifying to do so hunger is felt earlier. I know an aerobics teacher who is ravenous in the mornings and this is undoubtedly due to rapid usage of nutrients as well as early nights.

Remember that whenever you are ready to break your fast, you should provides what your body needs – essential vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats.

Some would argue carbohydrates in addition but since there are no essential carbohydrates, I don’t agree. However, the first nutrients in the list are the ones that your body is asking for and is prepared for, so make sure you provide these.

Many people will argue the time factors involved. No time in the morning for more than a piece of toast or no time to eat at ten o’clock when hunger hits. I’ve heard all the excuses and my answer is always the same – be prepared! If you cannot eat a good breakfast file0002090572764before leaving home, be prepared, as you will get hungry and you will eat something – as surely as day follows night. I am constantly amazed that work-places are completely geared for this – the coffee and doughnuts trolley materialises! There are also bakeries, sweet-shops and burger bars within close proximity. If you have a canteen at work, go and get yourself bacon and eggs!

There should be no hard and fast rules about what you eat or when as long as nutrients are supplied. If you had roasted meat for dinner the previous evening – take cold leftovers with salad or even cold vegetables with a nice creamy dressing. If you fancy an avocado to break your fast, accompany it with a few cherry tomatoes and a lump of Brie. Eggs from hens on pasture are possibly the best nutrition and the most convenient. Why not boil half a dozen and take two or three with you? Great with avocado, salad or cold asparagus. Try making a big frittata and taking a slice with you or make banana bread and take some of that. All of these suggestions will supply the necessary nutrients.

There is quite a bit of evidence that lengthening the time between your last meal of the day and the meal that breaks your fast the following morning helps with weight control and insulin sensitivity. I think it is a good idea anyway as it must emulate the eating patterns of our ancestors. Food would not have been available for “breakfast”, “lunch” and “dinner”. There may have been only one or two meals of meat or fish, with gaps occasionally filled by a few berries or nuts (in the autumn anyway) or roots, eggs, leaves and seeds. There were undoubtedly times of hunger but generally there would have been plenty of food to go around. The beauty of eating foods that we are genetically programmed for is that when properly nourished, we are less hungry.

Stop thinking of breakfast as such and instead, think of your first meal of the day as the time to supply all those nutrients that your body has told you it needs.

Email me

Type 2 Diabetes – Could it Spell Doom For Us?

I doubt that there is a person in the Western World who doesn’t know at least one diabetic. Worldwide, there are around 250 million known cases and millions more undiagnosed.  Could it be the end of us?

file00054507431

The circulatory system is the first to part of the body to be adversely affected by diabetes. If blood sugar is left unchecked or is not stable, the health of all organs in the body are at risk. Most commonly, the eyes, kidneys, heart and peripheral nerves are affected. If we can’t radically alter the pattern of this growing phenomenon – soon – I believe that the human species will fall into two subtypes – one that lives and reproduces and one that struggles with both of these. Let me explain.

Firstly, how does someone become a type 2 diabetic? There is a lot of science involved, some of which I don’t understand and no-one has all the answers – believe me I’ve looked. Remember too that just like me, all these people who expound on the topic are voicing an opinion or voicing their interpretation of research results. I am not a scientist but just try to see what is logical from our evolution. This offers us some reliable clues – some still open to interpretation of course, but generally history doesn’t change its mind as often as science does!

In Europe our ancestors existed through seasons, taking what food we could find from each one – and due to varying weather conditions, this would have been hit and miss. Spring: very little vegetation early in the year, but roots and shoots plus fish, birds and their eggs and animals. Summer: more vegetation, young birds, animals, fish, eggs and a few early fruits. Autumn: still some vegetation, roots, animals, birds and fish, more fruits (but remember these would have only been berries and a few small cherries), seeds and nuts. Winter: animals, birds and fish, nuts and seeds that had been stored from autumn, roots,  probably, probably insects and very few fresh leaves or other vegetation. Much of the year, they would have been living on their fat reserves – and the ketones produced from the breakdown of fat. This is the body’s preferred fuel and today this diet is called ketogenic.

In the views of many authorities, we have not changed much genetically in the last 10,000 years. In terms of nutrition, this diet would have sustained us – providing all nutrients necessary for existence and procreation. Therefore, I have no reason to believe that a diet far removed from this would be beneficial to us now. We got to this point in time because we became omnivorous, which to my way of thinking is nature’s way of protecting the species. (I should say here that when nature sees an advantage which aids the progression of a species, it can switch genes on and off to make use of this advantage. This is why we will continue to evolve – but very slowly.)

Our ancestral diet is relatively high fat (think duck, wild boar and organ meat which have a high fat content), medium protein and low carbohydrate. Diabetes was unheard of as we know it. People ate what they had to – not what they fancied!

IMG_2645Now to diabetes; during our evolution we developed the ability to digest all the above macro-nutrients. The relatively low carbohydrate content supplied by vegetation, roots, nuts, seeds, fruit and an occasional (rather painful I expect!) foray into wild honey, needs the hormone insulin for metabolism.  All these foods contain sugars that must be broken down into their simplest form for absorption – glucose. This was undoubtedly a life-saver all those years ago, because insulin is the fat-storing hormone. It can change glucose to fat for storage. During summer and autumn, when there would be a reasonable amount of carbohydrate containing foods around, fat could be stored for winter energy when times were lean. Brilliant! The human body is so amazing!

Now think about what happens today. We eat what we want, not what we need. We eat bread, cereals, fruit, potatoes (a recent addition to our vegetables – around 400 years ago) and rice every day and most often three or more times a day – because the government says we should! Insulin will be in our bloodstreams almost constantly and if you are not expending energy then your muscles don’t require a glucose diversion and all glucose in the blood will be stored as fat. After a of time eating this way, the body becomes “insulin resistant” – more and more insulin is needed to provide the same function and it is this state that can contribute to, or maybe even cause, type 2 diabetes.

There are some other possible predisposing factors for type 2 diabetes too:
Low vitamin D levels
Poor gut health
High intake of polyunsaturated fats
Diabetes in your family
Heart disease in your family
Obesity (indicative not causative)
Inactivity
Corticosteroid drugs

So why do I think we’ll split into two sub-groups? Well, my theory is to do with the main effect of glucose imbalance – damage in the circulatory system. Unchecked glucose in the bloodstream leads to inflammation – and this is disease provoking. Due to roughening of the blood vessel walls, the body sends out the rescue team which tries to repair the damage. This ultimately compromises arterial blood flow by narrowing the lumen, thus reducing the flow to all organs. Now, younger and younger people are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes – even as young as teenagers. Diabetes can affect the artery supplying the groin. In men this can cause erectile dysfunction and production of sperm. In women it can cause poor blood flow via the umbilical cord to a growing foetus, making spontaneous miscarriage likely or the baby could be born with serious health problems.  These scenarios will lead to fewer viable pregnancies and therefore population decline. People who obtain all the nutrients – in the right proportions – for human existence will continue to thrive and produce healthy offspring. Please remember that this is my view and I have only my own observations to back me up. Something needs to be done about this situation but I suspect it will get far worse before it gets better. Sorry to be the harbinger of doom!

The advice I would give if you believe you are at risk is to go for a low-carbohydrate, natural, organic food diet. (Here are my health guidelines) Some nutritionists think it is a good idea to have your daily carb “fix” (if you need one) just once in the day, maybe breakfast or lunch time in order that you raise your insulin levels substantially, only once during the day. I think it is better to spread them over the day and get most of the carbohydrates from the most nutritious sources – nuts, seeds, root vegetables, fruits occasionally (and try to stick to berries and cherries). Leave cereals alone if you can or make them special occasions only.

file0001103320696By the way, animal fat is a definite must for diabetics and those with the risk factors, so go ahead with creamy (but not floury) sauces, pastured eggs, butter on your veg and the delicious fat and crackling from the organic roast pork!

This is a doctor’s view of the standard recommendations for diet, given to diabetics.

Email me

Alzheimer’s – the Disease That Wrecks Lives

file000691888818Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia which is characterised by poor short term memory, irritability, confusion and sometimes aggression. The condition wrecks families and care homes are now bursting at the seams with residents suffering this condirion. Something must be done and whilst the news tells us that a drug maybe on the way, it is prevention that will ultimately have the most impact.

 

In AD the brain shrinks and it is unable to utilize the glucose it needs to function. Plaques of amyloid, a protein, are evident in the brain and this may be associated with a poor diet as AD is more often diagnosed in people who are obese.

There has been much speculation on the origins of the disease, but that aside, as it is becoming more prevalent – even in middle age, it would be safe to assume that our modern lives have something to do with this. So what in particular could be driving this increase?

1) There is conflicting evidence regarding aluminium. Our bodies do not require aluminium so it would seem a good idea to avoid it wherever possible.
2) Look at these facts:
- There is evidence that the brain makes its own insulin
- Obese people are more likely to be diagnosed with AD
- An anti-diabetic drug has been shown to help dementia

It would seem that this brain change has, at least to some degree, a dependence on sugar. Sugar promotes insulin in the blood and if an excess is taken in the diet (that is, all carbohydrates not just the white stuff) over a lifetime, insulin sensitivity results and obesity and diabetes follow. Maybe AD too.
3) Continuing on from the previous point, since the other fuels that our bodies can use are fat and ketones (a fat bi-product and one that can be used by the brain), it is essential that if we cut one fuel source then we must give our bodies another. Animal fats and coconut oil should be included in the diet.
4) The B vitamins have much to do with nerve function and the most important of these (due to its complex metabolism in the body) is vitamin B12.
5) Vitamin D deficiency is at epidemic proportions in the Western World. This study shows that it may contribute to AD.
6) Insufficient exercise maybe a causative factor, but it is unclear whether it is due to its balancing effect on blood sugar or the exercise itself that helps.

The above are the most plausible possible causes of AD but this is not an exhaustive list.

To me there is only one way to tackle Alzheimer’s Disease and that is to prevent it in the first place. Here are my recommendations:

  1. To avoid an excess of aluminium, use steel or glass cooking pots and opt for a deodorant rather than an antiperspirant – or just use soap and water.
  2. To keep blood sugar down and balanced, cut carbohydrate consumption. Foods to limit are sweet foods, bread, cereals and other foods made from grains.
  3. Including plenty of animal fats in the diet will provide a good source of fuel, fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins. Yellow butter, cream, egg yolks, fatty cuts of meat and oily fish (for Omega 3) will provide this. Coconut oil is also helpful in not just warding off AD but as a treatment for it.
  4. Shellfish and offal are good sources of vitamin B12 but many people nowadaysfile0001122917150 do not consume these foods on a regular basis. Experiment with pates, adding a little chopped liver to casseroles and Bolognese sauce or just frying with onions in plenty of butter. Folate and B12 work together so serve that liver with kale, sprouts or cabbage! Organic, pastured egg yolks are good for B12 too.
  5. Getting out in the sun and eating animal fats will supply your vitamin D.
  6. Even just frequent brisk walking will do for exercise, but find something you enjoy doing and you are more likely to stick with it.

I think it is possible to reverse AD to some degree with the measures above, but by employing them now, you dramatically lower your chances of developing it in the first place.

Email me

Breast Cancer and Diet

It is a sad fact that we are less healthy today than we were fifty years ago. Cancer, including of the breast, are diseases of ageing and waning immunity so why is it that it is being diagnosed in mid-life or even earlier now? The answer almost certainly lies in our modern diets and lifestyle.

Every day we all make cells that are less than perfect. This is not a problem for a healthy body – the immune system does not allow these cells to flourish. They will be dismantled and removed to ensure the body stays healthy. This protective action is seen time after time within the body. Think of the liver – it is probably the busiest organ in the body and is an expert at multi-tasking. It works tirelessly to make the nutrients we require and detoxify us of the substances we don’t need or could be dangerous. We constantly bombard our bodies with toxic chemicals – shampoos, shower gels, cosmetics and importantly in the case of breast cancer, antiperspirants. We also receive noxious substances in our food – antibiotics, hormones, chemical preservatives, colourants and flavourings. The liver has a hard time removing all this and if it can’t get rid of it, the liver will store some “out of the way”. This is not a good idea at all.

In order that these mechanisms work efficiently, the right diet in addition to avoiding the wrong one is of paramount importance. Why would you want to aim for anything else? Cancer is a horrible disease wherever it is, but for women breast cancer can change everything that is held dear and ruin confidence and self-esteem as well as health.

One of the most important aspects of the diet, are the choices we make choosing fats. Yes – we need fats and we need the ones that are loaded with the fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins that are essential for the correct functioning of cells, hormones and Salmonthe rebuilding of tissues. These must be the traditional fats including butter – the best ones are from organic and preferably pastured beef, pork, lamb, duck and goose fats. Also, two excellent vegetable oils are (again organic) coconut and olive oils. These are in addition to, not instead of the animal fats. Oily fish such as wild salmon, mackerel and sardines provide essential fats which are anti-inflammatory. We definitely do not want highly processed seed oils – either for frying or as margarine. These are very harmful to us and compromise our immunity.

A diet high in sugars and other carbohydrate foods will increase blood glucose and therefore insulin levels. There is a good deal of research to show that constantly high levels of insulin encourage the growth of at least some cancers – including breast. It is beneficial for your all-round health to adopt a low carbohydrate, organic diet.

It is also a good idea to forgo soya. Not only is it usually genetically modified, but it messes with hormones due to its phytoestrogen content. Our hormones are best left to their own devices.

Stress is a very significant factor. Any stress, be it physical or mental sets up the release of stress hormones from the glands. They are there for our protection – should we need it for instant energy to allow us to get out of danger. This is fine for a short period of short duration but long term, this is harmful for health. As the stress hormones release glucose into the blood, over time the blood vessels become inflamed. Our bodies hate inflammation and this is the cause or at least a factor in many diseases.

I couldn’t possibly write a blog without the mention of vitamin D! Whilst we are carefully staying out of the mid-day sun in order to avoid skin-cancer, we are inviting a whole host of other disastrous illnesses – including some types of breast cancer.

Email me

Sugar and Insulin – What They Do to Our Health

Insulin is the hormone released from the pancreas into the blood to metabolise blood sugar – in the form of glucose. Since ALL carbohydrates (grain products and vegetables – especially the starchy ones) are glucose to the body, insulin has a busy time!

Constantly raised glucose and insulin levels cause inflammation in the arteries and this is a health danger. The amount of carbohydrates that we consume is more than our bodies can handle safely.

There has been a good deal of research regarding sugar and ill-health recently. Most of us go through our day not realising that we are consuming hidden sugars or not being aware of just how much is being added to our food and drinks. This recent report illustrates very well, what you maybe downing in just a few gulps on a regular basis. (Photographs and research courtesy of DrEd)

                             

The two photographs above depict commonplace drinks which contain the same amount of sugar as the doughnuts and chocolate beside them.
Shocked?

A high intake of sugar has many detrimental effects on the body. Type 2 diabetes and obesity are the most obvious but there are other less well-known chronic illnesses that have sugar as a contributing factor; recurrent skin and other infections  (due to less active white cells – our defence against invading organisms ), acne, rosacea, psoriasis, candida overgrowth, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and many more.

In this report, it is cancer that is being highlighted. It is important to remember that it is not just the white granulated substance that is implicated. It is also starchy foods, including grains.

So will you cut the sugar? Lower your carbohydrate intake? Can you afford not to?

Email me

The Price of Health – part 1

Success is always measured by money isn’t it? We all need money to live and I’m not knocking it, but cheap food is not a good investment in our health. Apart from anything else, if you haven’t got your health, you will have nothing – maybe not even the ability to work.

file0001911591111Many diseases are on the increase. Auto-immune diseases such as Crohn’s disease,  multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis; gut disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and food sensitivities; allergies such as asthma and to peanuts; even rickets (due to vitamin D deficiency) has returned and the list goes on and on.

What has happened? Why, when we “know” so much, are we seeing more chronic illness? The answers are simple but they are interpreted wrongly (accidentally or intentionally).  In so many instances, the information released to the public becomes very complicated.  It is usually given in sound-bites (eg. in newspaper articles) and the research on which information is given is often flawed. This of course means that the advice will change in a few years, by which time much damage is already done. (Remember how we were told to eat polyunsaturated fats instead of butter? Not now!)

Before I explore why good health has become complex and elusive and why you have to spend more money on food, I will itemise the reasons why I believe chronic illness is now a way of life:

1)    Our food has been tampered with

2)    Medications

3)    We have been told to stay out of the sun

4)    We have been advised to eat a diet which is largely unsuitable for human beings

5)    We over-exercise or not at all

6)    Famous people are putting their names to big brands

7)    Greed for money and power, has overtaken our population

8)    Smoking

9)    Overuse of germ killing household and personal products

There are many other factors involved but as I want to keep this reasonably brief, I will not be expanding on them. They include vaccinations which have been written about extensively – some articles are here.

DSC02821-C

It may be interesting for you to see the pattern in the illnesses frequently suffered:

Wrong diet as children +
Lack of the sun +
Persuasion to eat wrong foods (No.4 as above) +
Too little exercise
Equals -
Insulin sensitivity – obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, poor circulation
and could equal
Loss of vision, infections, loss of sensation in feet, gangrene, strokes, heart disease etc.

Whilst treatment for chronic symptoms may prolong life, they will not cure. They will almost certainly produce side effects which range from unpleasant to downright dangerous.

Is this what we want? Or how about this one? – another frequently seen scenario:

Bottle-fed as a baby +
Carbohydrate (nutrient-poor) based diet +
Antibiotics for repeated ear/throat/other infections +
Lack of sunshine +
(possibly the contraceptive pill later in life)
Could equal
Asthma, food sensitivities, more infections/antibiotics, intermittent diarrhoea/constipation, thrush
Could equal
IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), further sensitivities and allergies
c
ould equal
Autoimmune diseases – Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease
could equal
Dependence on steroid drugs and/or invasive surgery to remove part of the bowel and create a colostomy.

Part two next time, in which I will expand on those factors that have lead to chronic illness and why it is folly to buy cheap food.

Email me

Health Research – The Effect of Insulin

Since it has been known for a long time that insulin is the fat-storing hormone this study is a “reinventing the wheel” one. When we have found something that is likely to be unpopular amongst conventional health proponents, we ignore it until we have explored it a thousand times. (Even then, sometimes it will be buried if it means we will have to do a U-turn – perish the thought!)

Breakfast Cereal

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to metabolise glucose – which the body creates from sugar and carbohydrate foods for easy absorption. If you have just eaten fried eggs, bacon and mushrooms there will be virtually no insulin response because these comprise proteins and fats. If you have just eaten cereal and toast, your insulin levels will rise rapidly. Insulin can store glucose as fat if it is not being used to fuel your work-out at the gym – hence the term “fat-storing hormone”.

This study shows that the right food intake keeps insulin levels low and therefore the mice remain lean no matter how much they eat. The study stops before recommending a low-carbohydrate diet (which I firmly believe is the right diet for humans) and sadly it tries to make it fit with conventional wisdom and treatment. Never mind, everything starts somewhere and more is to be investigated.

Interestingly, a colleague (where I used to work as a nurse) had just been to a weight management conference. To my amazement, she returned with a bagful of Atkins’ bars. (Dr Atkins was responsible for the resurgence of low carbohydrate diets in the Western world during the 90s.) When I questioned my colleague on this “taboo”, she said that the emphasis was being placed on losing weight in any way that provides an effective solution for an individual. This saddens me – but only a little. Our natural diet belongs to us, not to anyone putting their name to it and Atkins is just one of these. We should eat proper food and not be swayed by hype and advertisements. (I would like to say however, that the Atkins book provided the springboard for me into studying human diets worldwide and even this diet is better than the conventional one recommended by professionals in the U.K.)

The sadness for me is that yet again, we’re missing the point. Losing weight is important for some health issues such as high blood pressure, self-image, skin infections and skeletal damage, but the underlying cause is being ignored. No – you’re wrong if you thought I meant overeating is the cause – it usually isn’t. It is a shift in metabolic processes usually caused by constantly elevated insulin levels and this same shift, causes type 2 diabetes and heart disease too. The problem is one and the same.

Email me

 

The REAL Reason We Feel Hunger

Nature has ensured that when something is required for life, our bodies send messages to our brains without us having to employ conscious thought. Clever eh?

We only think about breathing occasionally – just as well we don’t have to breathe consciously or we would do nothing else! When our bodies become overheated, our superficial blood vessels dilate and blood will radiate heat and therefore cool us. We might also consciously, remove clothing or open a window. Conversely, if we are cold, our blood vessels constrict, we get goose pimples which will make the fine hairs covering our bodies stand up and the end result is that we conserve heat. Again this message might spur us to wilfully put on a jumper or close a door. As you can see from these examples, there is a two-way process going on – the body senses something and it acts accordingly by ensuring measures are taken that are both controlled and uncontrolled by us.

file1711288976835

So what of hunger? What does it mean to you? Eat something quickly to stop the hunger pangs? This is a message – it’s the body’s way of informing us that it is running low on essential nutrients and it is demanding a conscious action from us – just as goose-pimples will make us close the door.


To keep our bodies doing what they do and when they need to do it, we have to supply around fifty nutrients (ones that we currently know anyway) on a regular basis – and they must be supplied or problems develop. 

The time when our bodies need the most nutrients, is during the morning. Overnight, many processes are at work – cell destruction, cell renewal, detoxification, growing (in the case of children), manufacture of body fluids, hormones and so on. Due to the detoxification process, many people will not be hungry upon waking. This is a fairly natural phenomenon, but what is important is what you eat when you do get hungry.

Here’s a test: Try a bowl of breakfast cereal with or without toast to follow, when you break your fast. Loosely, the science of what happens to it, is this. The digestive process will break the starch and sugar down to glucose for absorption. Fuel levels rise and you feel satisfied. Insulin is released from the pancreas to metabolise the glucose which is then sent to the muscle and or fat cells – and then – your blood glucose drops! Your stomach rumbles two – three hours after you ate and you are definitely going to have biscuits with your coffee – and the scenario repeats itself! Think about this – if you have some subcutaneous fat (fuel) stores, why do you ever feel hungry? It’s because your body is needing nutrients, not just energy!

The reason that you are hungry (and remember what this means) again so soon is that the cereal and toast did not supply what your body requires, it has only supplied a source of energy. Cells, hormones and other bodily substances are not made from glucose they are made from water, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. The science is almost irrelevant except that it is interesting to correlate the cause and effect. We need to understand what our bodies tell us because we have brains. A squirrel or rabbit doesn’t need to know because they just act on instinct – which guides them to exactly the right food for them.

B&E967750_48126480

The rest of the test: Try a fry-up – eggs, bacon, mushrooms, black pudding, kidneys, tomatoes, sausages (doesn’t have to be everything!). Or a cheese omelette cooked in butter, a kipper served with butter, smoked salmon and cream cheese roll-ups. Now see how long before your stomach rumbles again!

These are the foods that supply protein, fat with the fat soluble vitamins and all the other good stuff a human body needs. And it tastes good! Don’t skimp when it comes to breaking your fast – your body won’t thank you for it.


Email me

 

Wellbeing for the Mind – part 3

Stress -  “when life changes from normal to something abnormal to us”

Coping with life seems to cause us many problems. At the end of the day, this is what often causes our moods to change – when life changes from the normal to something abnormal to us – the life experiences. Here are some examples; illness, moving house, separation and divorce, the death of someone close and then life without that person, redundancy, retirement and so on. On an even more serious level, there is abuse, violence, deprivation, disability (although the impact of this will vary between individuals), homelessness etc.

All of these situations fit into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (see part one) so in my view, the best way to tackle treatment is at this grass roots level. I am not a therapist with experience in this area and I believe that in some of these situations, help is going to be needed in one form or another and often from another person/people. Sadly, the usual sequence of events is that you feel out of control, you have time off work, you feel guilty about this so you see a doctor. You are given medication. This gives you hope and you return to work – who may be pressurising you to do so, but the very basic issues have not been addressed. It is highly likely that your problems will resurface at some time. The drugs have side effects which are at best unpleasant and at worst, detrimental to overall health. This report shows that drugs may not be necessary.

LotusWhen times are tough, be good to yourself. These measures do not have to be expensive. They don’t sound powerful in the way that drugs do, but their effects are far-reaching if you approach them in the right way. If you are given medication, you expect it to work don’t you? You must approach other measures in the same way – they will work and you will benefit but for the long-term, not just for the course of tablets. Time is a great healer and whether you are on a course of tablets or doing something less risky – putting space between you now and an adverse event holds the most benefit. You may as well do something positive for your overall health.

This is a passage taken from the link above, about the Key Factors to Overcoming Depression:
(“Me” and “my” refer to Dr. Joseph Mercola – not me personally)

 

Exercise – If you have depression, or even if you just feel down from time to time, exercise is a MUST. The research is overwhelmingly positive in this area, with studies confirming that physical exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping people who are depressed. One of the primary ways it does this is by increasing the level of endorphins, the “feel good” hormones, in your brain.

Address your stress — Constant stress can lead to depression which is a very serious condition. However it is not a “disease.” Rather, it’s a sign that your body and your life are out of balance.

This is so important to remember, because as soon as you start to view depression as a “mental illness,” you think you need to take a drug to fix it (and so do doctors). In reality, all you need to do is return balance to your life, and one of the key ways to doing this is addressing stress.

Meditation or yoga can help. Sometimes all you need to do is get outside for a walk. But in addition to that, I also recommend using a system that can help you address emotional issues that you may not even be consciously aware of. For this, my favorite is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). However, if you have depression or serious stress, I believe it would be best to consult with a mental health professional who is also an EFT practitioner to guide you.

Eat a healthy diet — Another factor that cannot be overlooked is your diet. Foods have an immense impact on your mood and ability to cope and be happy, and eating whole foods as described in my nutrition plan will best support your mental health. Avoiding sugar and grains will help normalize your insulin and leptin levels, which is another powerful tool in addressing depression. An important observation has been made regarding people suffering schizophrenia and their gut health. The same has been observed in people diagnosed with a condition on the autistic spectrum.

Support optimal brain functioning with essential fats — I also strongly recommend supplementing your diet with a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat, like krill oil. This may be a very important factor in helping depression.

Get plenty of sunshine – Making sure you’re getting enough sunlight exposure to have healthy vitamin D levels is also a crucial factor in treating depression or keeping it at bay. One previous study found that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who had normal levels. Vitamin D deficiency is actually more the norm than the exception, and has previously been implicated in both psychiatric and neurological disorders.”

I couldn’t have put it better so I have just cut and pasted it. I would add a couple of things too. Use your friends and talk to them – just as you have done for them and will do in the future. Revisit hobbies or maybe even go to an evening class. Not only will you make friends, but you will learn all the time – this is positive. Use distractions.To the diet recommendations, I would add fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kefir. These can help normalise the gut microbes. Dysbiosis (“difficult life”) in the gut is associated with many health issues, including the health of the mind.

For exercise why not just walk? It’s free and always interesting – whether it’s country or town. Observe all the while – don’t just look around you, really see the birds, gardens, people and so on. These give you connection and belonging. Don’t forget to greet the people you meet – this connection can make an enormous difference, not just to you but to them as well. Walking barefoot has huge health benefits too – a physical as well as spiritual connection to the earth.

There will be times when professional help is needed. It is of course, your choice where this comes from but do consider this – here is a link to the Human Givens Institute. Their help is very much based on problem solving and does not usually require more than a couple of appointments.

Email me