Archive for September 2013

NHS: Ever Been Let Down?

My mission is to inform, enlighten and empower people to take control of their health and I would hope after people read this they would question everything they are told for every medical condition. The scope of this article deals primarily with my past and recent experience of the NHS in their handling of a ten year lower back problem.

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Exercise: Which Type and How Much?

If I had a pound for every time I have seen people at the gym slogging away on a treadmill, I would be a millionaire!

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Ever wondered why the distance runner is usually built like a stick insect and the sprinter is mostly defined muscle. This is because chronic cardio over stresses the adrenal glands, which secrete excess cortisol in turn leading to muscle breakdown in contrast to high intensity training which builds muscle mass, provided you don’t train too much.

For overweight people who are also dealing with insulin resistance, will have to deal with excess glucose that is released from the liver due to the presence of excess cortisol, in turn making it harder to lose fat and even cause fat storage when doing the wrong training like cardio.

High intensity training forces the muscles to adapt by becoming bigger and stronger and more efficient at using glucose for fuel.

Burning calories through cardio is not the best way to burn fat because the actual caloric burn of aerobic exercise is minimal, coupled with the fact that there is no growth hormone, fat burning and muscle building effect that you get with high intensity training.

How exactly should people be training?
Short bursts of intense exercise like sprints and lifting heavy things like weights otherwise known as resistance training.

Why is less is more when it comes to high intensity?
Exercise is not about pushing your body to the limit; it’s more about achieving hormonal and metabolic changes within the body that maximise fat burning and muscle toning with the minimum amount of stress on the body as possible.

Once you’re fit, you really don’t need frequent spurts of growth hormone production at least not from exercise; rather recovery takes precedence as being more important and your recovery period; it is more beneficial not exercising too frequently once you are in fit condition and here’s why; your adrenal gland sits right above your kidneys and it’s arranged in layers. On the outermost layers, you have mineral corticoids that control your sodium and your electrolyte levels. In the middle layer, you have your corticosteroids that control sugar and generate stress hormones (e.g. cortisol) and the inner most layer is where you generate growth hormones and the sex steroids.

If through too much high intensity exercise you’re hammering that adrenal gland, then instead of growth hormone spurt, you’re going to get in a cortisol spurt and you will defeat the purpose of the exercise as this will cause muscle breakdown and potential fat storage depending on whether you are overweight or not.  

As we have previously alluded to, exercise can provide a valuable adjunct to accelerating fat loss as well as a multitude of other physical and mental benefits. However as we strive for the right balance we can overdo it and therefore it is important to listen to your body and readjust if need be.

It’s important to listen to your body with exercise and recovery. What are the parameters of how to know if you are recovered from your exercise?

You would have restless energy and feel like you have to engage in some type of physical activity. You will spontaneously just want to work out. This obviously applies to really intense interval type training that we have been discussing including resistance training with weights and also if you are doing the exercises properly.

How does diet relate to exercise?
Exercise provides a valuable adjunct to diet in achieving your optimum weight loss and health goals. However remember diet is the most important part of the puzzle. Remember the old adage, “six packs are made in the kitchen, not the gym”. If your diet is off, the weight will catch up with you regardless of how much you exercise and your health will not be optimal.

Also you should not use exercise to justify eating junk foods; this is called moral licensing and will eventually thwart your long term goals and aspirations. Of course we can have treats, but moderation is key.

Certain types of exercise like chronic cardio leads to increased appetite and overeating. Recent studies show that high intensity exercise actually curbs appetite and post exercise binges.


The 5:2 Diet: Why All The Hype?

The following post is an excerpt from a 10,000 word critique I have written on the 5:2 diet, which was offered to all the mainstream media with a view to them printing a contrasting opinion. However to date, I have had no takers.

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I have been gobsmacked that this diet has not only received a “hero’s welcome” in media circles, but has not been discredited by now; I suspect it will be once all the hype and euphoria have subsided and people realise that calorie restrictive diets don’t work.

The Michael Mosley August 2012 Horizon programme started a significant interest in intermittent fasting and was used as a publicity platform for his up and coming book. The BBC should not be a showcase for presenter’s commercial exploits in my opinion, especially when they are based on a poorly conceived diet.

The option that Mosley found the most tolerable was eating ‘normally’ for five days and eating one quarter of ‘normal’ calorie intake for two days. Thus the 5:2 concept was launched on the British population and a number of copycat books appeared even before Mosley’s own 5:2 book was published, as “The Fast Diet” in January 2013.

Another 5:2 diet was being researched before the Horizon programme. Michelle Harvie was the lead author on a paper published in the International Journal of Obesity in May 2011.

The study concluded after 6 months, that the intermittent energy restriction group had reduced on average from 81.5kg to 75kg. The continuous energy restriction group had reduced on average from 84.4kg to 78.7kg. Both groups lost approximately 6kg on average, equating to approximately a 7% to 8% reduction from starting weight.

That’s 1kg or 2lb a month, which is not a lot for the sacrifice of starving yourself two days a week and subjecting your body to a 25% reduction in calories on a weekly basis.

Despite the poor results in this clinical trial, the diet has been published in a book called “The 2 Day Diet”.

The claims on the front cover of the book boast the words “clinically proven”. The “clinically proven” refers to the article in the International Journal of Obesity. Despite the fact that weight loss overall was low and there was no difference between the intermittent diet and the continuous calorie deficit diet, because this was done as a study the authors are able to make the “clinically proven” claim.

To be more accurate, the claims should have read more like, “Clinically proven to lose an average of a couple of pounds a month over 6 months” or “Clinically proven to do no better than normal dieting.”

Stopping at 6 months is also interesting as all the evidence from Garner & Wooley (1991) to Keys (1945) to Franz (2007) to WeightWatchers (2010) shows regain starting at approximately 6 months after starting a calorie deficit diet; The 5:2 diet has not been clinically proven to achieve sustained weight loss, far from it in fact.

Professor Traci Mann who appeared recently on the BBC’s “The men that made us thin” programme concluded as she did with her landmark research in 2007, that calorie restriction simply does not work; Her research was the most comprehensive study of weight loss ever undertaken, looking at over 100 clinical studies of diets stretching back over 30 years.

The programme’s investigative journalist (Jacques Peretti) witnessed what could turn out to be a defining moment in the diet industry when he asked the former head of finance (Richard Samber) from WeightWatchers, how can an industry that is so big be based on patent failure? and Samber replied by saying that the industry relies on failure for repeat business; a damning indictment don’t you think?

In conclusion, calorie restriction does not work for most people and the 5:2 diet along with other fad diets in the media this year have been driven by a marketing and PR engine fuelled by false promises, bull**** and the disingenuous make believe-science that impresses the lay man, pleases the crowds, and disgusts the one who sees right through it.

The researchers of the clinical study that was the foundation for the 5:2 diet, either did not know a six month study would produce inferior results or they did know and the study was created by design to legitimize their profit motive.

We will probably never know the real story!

Clark Russell is the author of the new e-book, The Fat Loss Puzzle.

Statins: A $14 Billion Sweetheart

I came across an article in a newspaper which sang the praises about a new study that showed statins can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by two thirds.

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Let’s be clear on this: That’s just nonsense! These findings are based on one single study, while the opposite has been proven time and again by numerous studies in the past.

In 2012 the American FDA changed the safety information on statin labels to warn patients that these drugs can cause memory loss and cognitive decline. For this organisation who are in the pockets of Big Pharma, to take these measures is a damning indictment.

Back in 2009, two well-designed studies, which involved over 26,000 people, were conducted; treatment with statins was not found to benefit brain function and that lowering cholesterol levels may actually impair brain functioning, because of the important role that it plays in the functioning of synapses, tiny gaps between cells which allow nerves to communicate with each other.

Cholesterol is very concentrated in the brain and plays a critical role in the production of key hormones, vitamin D (arguably our key vitamin) and cell membranes. In fact, you can’t live without cholesterol; a wax like, fatty substance that’s essential for good health.

Lowered cholesterol levels seem likely to be linked to higher rates of early death, suicide, aggressive and violent behaviour, personality disorders, and possibly depression, dementia and penal confinement among young males.

Just how effective is cholesterol control? We know that low fat diets that reduce cholesterol levels are ineffective for the purposes of prevention of heart attacks or stroke and also for reducing the risk of death.

Also, even when drugs get used, the results are far from impressive for most people. For example, if we take a group of individuals with no prior history of cardiovascular disease and treat them with a statin for 5 years, 98% of them stand to gain no benefit; but a significant number (up to 20%) will have potentially debilitating side effects such as fatigue, muscle pain, liver damage, kidney damage or diabetes. In short, for many people, statins just don’t make sense.

The statin drugs doctors prescribe to lower cholesterol don’t do anything at all to balance the HDL to LDL ratio. Statin drugs act by blocking the enzyme your liver needs to produce cholesterol and this limits the total amount your liver can create. As a result, these dangerous drugs can artificially cause your cholesterol level to fall too low.

Professor Sarah Harper, director of Oxford University’s Institute of Population Ageing, says that “the country’s love affair with medicine means that we choose to pop pills rather than follow a healthy lifestyle.”

Bravely, she challenges the belief that statins are the Holy Grail. “Patients want pills and doctors want to prescribe them. The pharmaceutical industry fulfils a perceived need, as well as trying to create one.”

“We fear for our future health but we do little to promote it.” As Professor Harper says, “we prefer to pop pills. There is a simple reason for this; neither doctors nor patients want or sometimes even know of other alternatives”.

“If we are reluctant to take responsibility for ourselves if we are physically and mentally able to do so, we run the risk of being hooked on the largesse of the government, the common sense and concern of doctors and the benign efficacy of pharmaceutical products. I don’t want that for myself or for people who ask for my help, I don’t trust it.”

Statin drugs are a sweetheart alright, a £14 billion a year industry sweetheart that is! Not only are they the best-selling drug class out there, but they provide an almost endless list of side effects that assure the hapless taker a lifetime of expensive medical treatment. Statins are a Big Pharma dream come true!

Statin drugs were brought in with fanfare and a hero’s parade because they were purported to heal the nations of the evil causes of cardiovascular disease. However, a study analysis reported in the Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine last year concluded that even in spite of a huge rise in statin drug use, the number of people having heart attacks simply has not decreased at all, but rather has risen. Did you know that 50% of all heart attacks today are in people with normal cholesterol? Cholesterol is only a marker and not even the cause of the problem here.

Peter H. Langsjoen, considered one of the foremost experts in using CoQ10 to treat cardiac disease, has said, “We are now in a position to witness the unfolding of the greatest medical tragedy of all time; never before in history has the medical establishment knowingly created a life threatening nutrient deficiency in millions of otherwise healthy people”.

He is of course talking about coenzyme Q10, a critical heart nutrient and its severe depletion due to statins.

High cholesterol is a warning to you to control inflammation. Inflammation in the body generates C-reactive protein, which in turn causes the body to respond with soothing, repairing and life-saving cholesterol. C-reactive protein is a measure of the body’s history of inflammation and a far better predictor of heart attacks than cholesterol levels. In terms of natural solutions to reducing inflammation markers in the body, vitamin C and fish oil will reduce C-reactive protein more than statins ever will.

You can download a free introduction of my new e-book at