Archive for February 2014

Chocolate Strawberries

Enjoy these delicious strawberries with a rose cava or champagne

Ingredients
Box of strawberries
Bar of dark chocolate, at least 72% cocoa, chopped

Method
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, then take off the heat and stir gently.

Dip the strawberries 3/4 of the way up in the chocolate carefully to coat them, shake off excess chocolate and put them on a tray lined with parchment of greaseproof paper and leave to set.

Turmeric: The King of Spices

With the ability to positively influence 586 diseases (including fat loss, obesity and diabetes) and boast about the fact that it has 1,543 scientific journal entries, turmeric the spice native to Southeast Asia is a true superfood shown to have remarkable healing and anti-inflammatory properties that are just now being discovered.

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Turmeric and inflammation
Cellular inflammation, also known as chronic or low grade inflammation is a common day epidemic that is the catalyst for most disease in modern societies. Turmeric has been shown to reduce inflammation & oxidative stress as well as any herbal medicinal ever studied.

Turmeric is a powerful pain inhibitor and has been shown to be more effective that NSAID’s (anti-inflammatory drugs). [1]

Turmeric and diabetes
Blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistant cell membranes are critical factors that promote inflammatory conditions in the body. Curcumin has been shown to stabilize blood sugar and reverse cellular insulin resistance by increasing the number of insulin receptors and improving the receptor binding capacity to insulin.

Curcumin has been shown to activate PPAR (peroxisome proliferator-activator receptor), which is a group of nuclear receptor proteins that regulate gene expression and modulate sugar uptake and utilisation from the blood. Curcumin also acts on the liver to decrease the activity of enzymes that release sugar into the blood while increasing activity of enzymes that store sugar.

Through these mechanisms, curcumin has been shown to significantly reduce blood glucose and triglyceride levels in diabetic rats.

Turmeric has been shown to reverse diabetes.

Turmeric and anti-ageing
When blood sugar imbalances occur without sufficient regulation, glucose cross-links are formed with functional proteins. These new molecules are called Advanced Glycolytic Enzymes (AGE) that damage cell membranes, vital enzyme systems, and perpetuate inflammatory conditions in the body. [2]

Turmeric and fat loss
In one such study from the Xi’an Jiaotong University School of Medicine (3), it was found that turmeric can even counter the negative effects of a ‘junk food’ diet.

The study also found that curcumin (a compound within turmeric) consumption directly decreased levels of insulin resistance and leptin resistance, two factors heavily linked to fat gain.

Turmeric as an antioxidant
Turmeric is the 4th highest antioxidant rich spice with an impressive ORAC score of 159,277; these antioxidants such as curcumin are very powerful modulators of oxidative stress.

Turmeric and anti-cancer properties
Researchers at UCLA [4] found that curcumin, the primary component in turmeric also responsible for its colour, exhibited these cancer blocking properties during a study involving 21 participants suffering from head and neck cancers.

The Life Extension Foundation (LEF) has conducted extensive research [5] into the anti-cancer properties of turmeric and found that the spice targets an astounding 10 factors involved in cancer development, including DNA damage, chronic inflammation, and disruption of cell signalling pathways. Countless hundreds of published studies, it turns out, have also shown that curcumin is a potent anti-cancer food that blocks cancer development in a number of unique ways.

Curcumin also interferes with production of dangerous advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that trigger inflammation which can lead to cancerous mutation. [6]

Turmeric has proven highly effective in combating female cancers; it has the ability to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in a variety of hormone negative cancers, including the highly aggressive triple negative breast cancers. [7] [8]

Turmeric and brain health
Turmeric improves blood flow and reduces brain inflammation, thus making you cognitively sharper while protecting against Dementia, Alzheimer`s, Parkinson`s and every other neurodegenerative disorder. [10]

Turmeric and skin damage
It has been shown to speed up wound healing from cuts & burns while reducing inflammatory skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema.

See my simple recipe to get turmeric into your diet every single day.

References
[1] http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/turmeric-extract-puts-drugs-knee-osteoarthritis-shame
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22449800
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19176142
[4] http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/cancerresearchnews/2011/UCLAStudyTurmeric
[5] http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2011/mar2011_How-Curcumin-Protects-Against-Cancer_01.htm
[6] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9973181
[7] http://www.hoajonline.com/journals/pdf/2052-6199-1-6.pdf
[8] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19809577
[10] http://www.examiner.com/article/sacramento-area-scientists-examine-turmeric-s-health-benefits-for-the-brain

 

 

 

 

 

Turmeric Coffee

A bit misleading as there is no coffee in it. However the health benefits more than make up for it. This is a quick, convenient way to get these 4 disease fighting (inflammation and cancer), metabolism boosting spices into your diet on a daily basis.

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Ingredients:
150ml approx almond milk or 50ml coconut milk and 100ml water
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 to 1 inch wide round slice of ginger root, peeled and grated
Sprinkle of cayenne pepper or cinnamon
1/2 to 1 teaspoon honey or other natural sweetener like stevia

Method:
Gently warm the almond or coconut milk and water on the stove.

In a mug, combine the remaining ingredients. Drizzle a teaspoon of the warmed milk and water mixture into the mug and mix until the liquid is smooth with no lumps. Add the rest of the milk and mix well. You can leave the pieces of ginger in the coffee, or strain it out before drinking. Sprinkle with cinnamon or cayenne or both and drink.

 

Healthy Heart Month: Unhealthy Heart Advice!

Although these “good” causes like “Healthy Heart Month” are all very laudable, they evade the real, underlying issues and causes of heart disease, primarily nutrition. Why? Well that’s a complicated question, but the simple answer has its roots in politics, money and vested interests. Let’s break down the real truth behind heart disease and one of its falsely claimed culprits, cholesterol.

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What are these charities saying about nutrition?
Taking some highlights from the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) diet page, they recommend, “plenty of starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta. Choose wholegrain varieties wherever possible”. [1]

This is just poor advice; starches and sugars cause high triglyceride (blood fats) levels, increase small, dense LDL and reduce HDL, the perfect storm for heart disease; also wholegrains are as good as junk food, but dressed up with a health halo. I have written an article on my own blog about wholegrains and really grains in general. [2]

The BHF healthy eating page goes on to say, “too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which can increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease”. Not this old, outdated chestnut again!

This myth was perpetrated by the defamed American, Ancel Keys in the late 1950’s with his infamous “Seven Countries Study“, which was highly flawed.

High cholesterol is caused by inflammation, which in turn happens to be the catalyst for most, if not all disease. Inflammation is caused by lifestyle factors, primarily poor diet, which includes grains, sugars, allergy inducing foods, processed foods, industrial seed oils (pretty much most on the shelves except cold pressed oils like EVOO); I have a blog article on inflammation. [3]

Subsequent to Ancel Key’s lies and deceit, the statin makers and food giants picked up “the saturated fat is the enemy” baton and soon we will have a disaster on our hands. Statins come fully loaded with a myriad of health problems and low fat foods are full of poor carbs, the real culprit in bad cholesterol and heart disease.

Here is a quote from one of the world’s most leading authorities on coenzyme Q10 and satins; coenzyme Q10 is the most critical nutrient for heart health.

Peter H. Langsjoen, MD 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 and its severe depletion in the body and heart due to statins.

How ridiculous is this; the BHF’s medical director supports the use of statins with data that does not support the use of statins. [4]

Moving on to under the heading, “Unsaturated fats”, the BHF recommend sunflower and vegetable oil. No No No!; these are heat extracted, highly processed and chemically altered by the extraction process.

They are highly inflammatory, leading to heart disease and a plethora of other disease, including suffocation of cells (loss of oxygen), leading to cancers. The late Johanna Budwig, an alternative cancer therapist, expert on fats and oils and seven times Nobel Prize nominee, made this link between disease and refined vegetable oils and trans or hydrogenated fats and oils over 50 years ago.

With this in mind, look at the sponsors page of the BHF; it includes Flora Pro-Activ, which contains refined vegetable oils.[5]

There is also other evidence that they are harmful. [6]

Under fruits and vegetables, there should be no limit on fibrous vegetables; you can’t over eat them, they provide a very good nutrient to calorie ratio and they provide the right type of fibre unlike whole grains, which cause a plethora of health problems. The BHF have them size portioned; God help us!

With regards to fruits, depending on your activity levels you should be aiming for a couple of portions per day, with an emphasis on berries, which are low in sugars and high in nutrients and antioxidants. The BNF also include dried and tinned fruit as well as fruit juice; sorry these fruit products should only be eaten as a treat; they are loaded with concentrated sugars, which raise triglyceride levels, increases small, dense LDL, raise insulin and glucose levels giving rise to fat storage.

Fat is a factory for inflammatory chemicals (cytokines); inflammation as we have indicated causes high levels of the bad cholesterol i.e. small, dense LDL and the associated risk of heart disease.

More unbiased science
It is not saturated fat or cholesterol that increases the amount of small, dense LDL we have in our blood; it’s excess carbohydrates and inflammation.

Dr. Ronald Krauss has shown that reducing saturated fat and increasing carbohydrate intake significantly increases your risk of heart disease. Ironically, this is exactly what the BHA and AHA and other similar organisations have been recommending for decades.

In Dr. Krauss’s study, participants who ate the most saturated fat had the largest LDL, and vice versa. [7]

Krauss also tested the effect of his dietary intervention on HDL (so called “good” cholesterol). Studies have found that the largest HDL particles provide the greatest protective effect against heart disease. [8]

Guess what? Compared to diets high in total and saturated fat, low fat, high carbohydrate diets decreased HDL levels. [9]

In yet another blow to the AHA recommendations, Berglund et al. showed that using their suggested low fat diet reduced HDL in men and women of diverse racial backgrounds. [10]

The authors basically concluded that following the advice of the AHA is hazardous to your health; unfortunately the same applies to the BHF and Heart UK.

How do you reduce small LDL
Eating fewer carbs is perhaps the best place to start. Reducing carbs has several cardio protective effects. It reduces levels of small, dense LDL, reduces triglycerides and increases HDL levels. A triple whammy!

Eliminate or minimise refined vegetable oils and processed foods.

Exercise and losing weight also reduce small, dense LDL, lower triglycerides and improve HDL.

I have included a link to a great article by Dr. Chris Kresser, an American chap who I respect highly; he actually understands nutrition, unlike most doctors. This will help fill any gaps, although I have endeavoured to include the key points. [11]

Summary

  • Cholesterol is a critical substance in the body; in fact cholesterol containing foods, mainly found in saturated fats, are not only harmless, but highly beneficial. Take eggs for example; eating eggs (FRO of course) every day, is one of the best ways to lower small, dense LDL! Yes, you read that correctly. University of Connecticut researchers recently found that people who ate three whole eggs a day for 12 weeks dropped their small, dense LDL levels by an average of 18%.
  • Eating saturated fat and cholesterol reduces the type of cholesterol associated with heart disease.
  • Replacing saturated fat and cholesterol with carbohydrates lowers “good” (HDL) cholesterol, raises triglyceride levels, increases small, dense LDL, thus increasing our risk of heart disease.
  • Statins do not distinguish between bad and good cholesterol and they are loaded with other health risks. Look at who the Heart UK sponsors are. [12]
  • Bad cholesterol (small dense LDL) is caused mainly by inflammation, which it turn is caused primarily by poor dietary habits, specifically bad carbs like sugars and grains (including wholegrains) and bad fats, mainly refined cooking  oils, non-butter spreads and NOT saturated fats.
  • Heart charities like the few mentioned in the article offer poor dietary advice for preventing heart disease; the main reason being the food companies and statin makers aka Big Pharma control the agenda and the Government has to play ball or they risk these companies taking the jobs abroad along with tax revenues.

    Only when the cost of sickness and disease to Governments outweighs the tax revenues, will there be action on providing the public with accurate information, allowing them to make informed decisions about their lifestyles.

  • Do not rely on heart charities or any other health charities to give you accurate advice”; in this case the advice of the AHA or BHF or Heart UK etc is hazardous to your health.

References
[1] http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/prevention/healthy-eating.aspx
[2] http://blog.thefatlosspuzzle.com/whole-grains-going-against-the-grain/#more-438
[3] http://blog.thefatlosspuzzle.com/inflammation-the-silent-killer/#more-490
[4] http://www.drbriffa.com/2013/12/30/british-heart-foundations-medical-director-supports-use-of-statins-with-data-that-doesnt-support-the-use-of-statins/
[5] http://www.bhf.org.uk/get-involved/how-your-company-can-help/our-corporate-partners.aspx
[6] http://www.drbriffa.com/2013/10/17/adverts-for-flora-pro-activ-banned-but-for-the-wrong-reasons/
[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8299884
[8] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1906084
[9] http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/57/2/146.abstract
[10]http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/70/6/992.full?maxtoshow=&HITS=30&hits=30&RESULTFORMAT=&titleabstract=saturated+fat&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT
[11] http://chriskresser.com/the-most-important-thing-you-probably-dont-know-about-cholesterol
[12] http://heartuk.org.uk/partners/our-partners

 

Inflammation: The Silent Killer

This is arguably the most important article I have written in terms of improving not only your weight loss, but overall health, which should really be the primary goal.

While gut flora (a future article) is the root cause of disease, inflammation is the catalyst for most disease; both can be the cause or the effect of each other; hence there is a close interdependency.

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Most people have never heard of chronic inflammation, which is a low grade state of inflammation and is nothing to do with bumping and bruising yourself, often referred to as acute inflammation and represents our body’s defence and repair mechanism.

The chronic state is caused when your immune system is constantly responding to substances like certain foods that may seem harmless to the body, but nevertheless cause the immune system to treat it as a threat; gluten and other anti-nutrients, especially those found in wheat products are highly problematic and we are not talking about celiac disease, but gluten intolerance. [1]

This immune response sets the scene for a cascade of biological reactions or events including the destruction of your good gut bacteria or flora, which can threaten your long term physical and mental health.

New research published in the journal, Nutrition and Clinical Practice [2] shows that your gut flora can affect numerous processes in your body, including your metabolism, immune function, energy production, body weight, nutrition and genetic expression i.e. whether your disease inducing genes are suppressed or turned on.

It is really important to understand that there are very few, if any symptoms of chronic inflammation; hence the reason it is often referred to as the “silent killer”; it smoulders like a slow burning log and then through time, erupts like a volcano, when symptoms become apparent, but very often it is either too late or life changing, e.g. heart attack, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s.

Chronic Inflammation and Disease
Chronic inflammation is the catalyst for most, if not all disease including; diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol (not caused by saturated fats as the statin makers would have you believe), Alzheimer’s, lung conditions, arthritis, autoimmune diseases (e.g. Hashimoto’s, multiple sclerosis) and many cancers.

Apart from the conditions mentioned, chronic inflammation leads to poor gut health (and vice versa), which in turn causes:

  • Poor nutrient absorption
  • Fat storage
  • Mood disorders
  • Depression
  • Insulin resistance
  • Digestive disorders; bloating, gas, nausea, heartburn, diarrhoea, leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, acid reflux and constipation.

Pro-inflammatory foods
If you look at most dietary advice out there, they include many allergenic foods and from a weight loss and health point of view, they are a disaster. However they persist with their misplaced advice to sell millions of books, which really do not tell it how it is, because they want their books to be more palatable to the mass market or they need to appease the food and Big Pharma industries.

Avoiding chronic inflammation will help prevent the aforementioned diseases, improve nutrient absorption, alleviate cravings, improve insulin function, help control body weight, and improve your mental state; 90% of the “feel good” brain chemical, serotonin is produced in the gut.

Inflammatory foods cause a constant immune response and should be limited or even better avoided. These include:

  • Gluten especially from wheat based foods such as cereals, breads, pasta, noodles, couscous, tortillas, bagels, cakes, pastries, pies, biscuits, muffins, ready meals, processed foods, most packaged foods. NB Don’t be fooled by gluten free products as they are high in other starch flours like potato and rice, which cause high insulin responses leading to potential fat storage, contain anti-nutrients as well as being devoid of nutrition.
  • Refined vegetable oils, pretty much most on the supermarket shelves such as generic vegetable oil, sunflower, safflower, corn, grape seed, groundnut (peanut) soya and the non-butter spreads, processed and fried foods that contain these oils.They are high in omega 6, disrupting the crucially important omega 6 to omega 3 balance. Use cold pressed oils like extra virgin olive oil, macadamia and avocado oils for drizzling and dressings only. NB some cold pressed nut and seed oils can be pricey such as walnut, flax seed, hemp and hazelnut.
  • For cooking use organic or grass fed butter or ghee, virgin coconut oil or animal fat (lard) from a grass fed animal; they are all stable at higher temperatures and do not degrade into oxidative compounds.
  • Sugars and their by-products. NB sugar has many guises; corn syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin, fructose, golden syrup, maltose, agave syrup, sorghum syrup and sucrose are some of the creative names used. Use natural sweeteners like Truevia, Purevia or pure Stevia.
  • Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats (aka trans fats); these include margarines, baked goods, some packaged foods and vegetable shortenings.
  • Dairy products ONLY if you have an intolerance to them; soy, eggs, yeast are common allergens also.
  • Grain fed animal meats and poultry. Where affordability allows, opt for naturally raised meats and poultry and avoid farmed fish; it’s toxic and this also includes the organic farmed fish.
  • Alcohol should be limited; red wine in moderation however, reduces inflammation.
  • Grains such as wheat as mentioned above, white rice, white flour, white bread, corn and corn flour, noodles, pasta, biscuits and pastries. NB whole grains (wheat, barley, oats, rye etc) should also be avoided or minimised as they are moderately inflammatory, have very little nutrition relative to the calories and come with anti-nutrients and a plethora of health problems including weight gain and obesity.
  • Beans and legumes UNLESS they are pre-soaked when using in the dried form to remove anti-nutrients. Unfermented soy products like tofu and soy milk are obviously sources of this legume, but it’s also found in many cereals, baked goods, energy bars, canned broths and soups. Read ingredient labels carefully.
  • Artificial food additives such as aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, MSG, colourings, flavourings etc.
  • Medicines including antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s), birth control and anti-inflammatories should be avoided. There is mounting evidence that antibiotics can permanently destroy your gut flora. [3]

Anti-inflammatory Foods
So what should you emphasise to help keep inflammation at bay?

  • Probiotic foods include sauerkraut and kimchee (both homemade), plain yogurts with live cultures including goat’s milk products, kefir, microalgae (spirulina, chorella, and blue-green algae), miso soup, pickles (homemade), tempeh, natto, kombucha and high quality probiotic supplements. NB To ingest enough healthy bacteria, you will need to consume a food like homemade sauerkraut, which has been found to be very effective at populating your gut with beneficial bacteria and is very cheap to make and much cheaper than probiotic supplements, which do not always guarantee potency; they certainly do not have the wide range of bacteria that sauerkraut offers.|
  • Prebiotic foods contain the most common type of prebiotic from the soluble dietary fibre inulin. Inulin is common in many plants containing oligofructose. Furthermore, many of these plants are frequently eaten as vegetables like asparagus, garlic, leek, onion, artichoke and are excellent sources of inulin. Other foods include legumes, bananas and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, radish and rutabaga, also contain appreciable amounts of inulin. NB You need to soak legumes to remove the anti-nutrients.
  • A wide assortment of vegetables including leafy greens
  • Wild Alaskan salmon and other wild fatty fish; omega 3 is highly effective at thwarting inflammation. Supplementation would also help and guarantee that you maintain your omega 3 intake.
  • Some fruits especially blueberries and other berries, cherries, pomegranates and papaya and pineapple, which all contains anti-inflammatory compounds.
  • Turmeric and ginger; all herbs and spices really
  • Green tea and Rooibos (Redbush), which make great natural drinks
  • Green juice every day or every other day
  • Sweet potatoes
  • In general, a diet high in healthy fats; coconut and its by-products, EVOO and other cold pressed oils, fat from naturally raised animals and poultry, raw nuts and seeds in moderation, olives, avocados, oily fish, wild fish, meats including offal and poultry from grass fed or naturally reared animals when affordable, FRO eggs, high fat organic or grass fed dairy in moderation, fruits, vegetables, milled flaxseed, all spices and herbs. NB If you have an allergy or intolerance to dairy, then you should consider eliminating them.

Other factors and inflammation

  • Sleep or the lack of, is also a cause of elevated cytokines (inflammatory markers).[4]
  • Stress is a major contributor to inflammation [5] and steps should be taken to reduce it; a proper night’s sleep is in actual fact one of the best strategies, meditation and yoga are other options.
  • Environmental toxins, also labelled as endocrine disrupters or hormone mimickers, increase oestrogen levels in turn causing fat gain; fat is a factory for cytokines, (inflammatory chemical mediators. These toxins are found in household cleaners, pesticides, canned foods, plastics, toiletries in particular phthalates and parabens, industrial products e.g. solvents and paints, herbicides and non-filtered water; they all cause inflammation. [6]
  • A Sedentary lifestyle; exercise in moderation will help reduce inflammatory markers [7], whereas too much and the wrong type can actually cause inflammation.
  • Chronic infections; identify and take steps to eliminate these bacteria, viruses, parasites etc

If you find the article useful, please feel free to share it.

References

[1] http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/glutenintolerance/a/How-Many-People-Have-Gluten-Sensitivity.htm
[2]
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.pubmed
[3]
http://www.naturalnews.com/033901_antibiotics_gut_flora.html
[4]
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3548567/
[5]  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402162546.htm
[6]
http://blog.lef.org/2010/07/environmental-toxins-cause-inflammation.html
[7]
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15772055