Archive for Diet & Nutrition

JR 8000S Juicer

I received this Juicy Retreats juicer as a present a couple of years ago and I simply can’t find anything to fault it.

This juicer meets the four criteria I would consider paramount when assessing the quality of a juicer.

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The first thing to point out is that the JR 8000S is a slow or masticating juicer, and that’s important when it comes to performance compared to the older, outdated centrifugal juicers.

Centrifugal juicers produce much more heat than the slow or masticating juicers, and this is an important distinction due to the fact that delicate nutrients like enzymes and phytochemicals are easily damaged when subjected to heat.

Secondly the level of juice extraction as evidenced by the dryness of the pulp is a strong indicator of the level of nutrient extraction. You have to remember that some plants especially green leafy plants have very strong cellular walls and these walls need to be broken down in order to extract key nutrients. The JR 8000S excels in this second indicator of quality.

Thirdly the ease of assembly and disassembly is also a consideration. I always find it a bonus when products are easy to either assemble or operate, because I am absolutely useless with my hands and figuring out technical details. Therefore when I discovered how easy the assembly and operation of this machine was, it came as a relief. Roughly 30 seconds and you have the machine ready to go, and when it comes to disassembly it’s even quicker.

Last but not least, how easy the juicer is to clean is more important than you may think. If you think of the psychology behind buying the new “toy”; you are very excited at first and any inconvenience you may perceive (cleaning it) can be offset by the initial excitement of receiving and using that product. However this wears off, and that’s why ease of cleaning the juicer actually becomes a very important criterion in whether you will continue to use that juicer on a regular basis, rather than it gathering dust.

Juicers v blenders

Juicers and blenders are the perfect marriage, as they both complement each other. If you’re really working to optimise your health, then both a juicer and blender are a must. Juicers have advantages over blenders, and similarly blenders have advantages over juicers. Juicers really do a great job of breaking down the cell walls of plants, rendering the nutrients more bioavailable than blenders. This allows the body to use more of the nutrients for absorption into the cells; the lack of fibre in juices also helps with this process.

Where blenders excel is in the wider variation of ingredients you can use and that includes proteins (including powders), fats and carbohydrates. A blended smoothie will also offer you the fibre that is stripped out in the juicing process, which obviously plays many key roles in the body, including gut health. However you won’t extract as many nutrients from a blended smoothie as you would from a juice due to less cell wall breakdown, but due to the smoothie’s ability to incorporate more ingredients, you will have a wider variety of nutrients. So all in all, they both play an integral part in optimal health and disease prevention.

Sugar is NOT Dangerous: The Nutty Professor

The following blog discusses the comments on the BBC1 programme, The Big Questions on 29th January, 2016, which addressed the question, “Should sugar be treated as a dangerous drug?”

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To give you some background, I have taken issue in a previous post with this man’s (Prof Mike Lean of Glasgow University School of Nutrition) £2.5 Million research award from Diabetes UK, researching a low calorie diet and its effects on obesity and reversing type 2 diabetes. You can read the absurdity of this award here.

The show was hosted by Nicky Campbell and the following transcript only involves both Nicky and Prof Mike Lean; NC denotes Nicky Campbell and PML denotes Professor Mike Lean. My personal comments are denoted by CR and are not part of the transcript from the programme.

You can watch it on the YouTube link here.

Should sugar be treated as a dangerous drug?

NC – Sugar causes diabetes

PML – Well that is, dismiss that one completely

CR – Seriously? A professor of nutrition is saying that sugar has no causal link to diabetes is nothing short of disgraceful. See here and here.

NC – What?

PML – The firmest science that we have is called a meta-analysis, when you take all the data that has been done since research started, in this case about the 1980’s; put it all together, re-analyse it and say where is the truth in all this.

CR – This meta-analysis that PML is referring to can be seen here (see section 6.23), but unfortunately it only uses three studies; hardly a meta-analysis, which usually collates many studies and in this case you would definitely expect more studies since PML also mentions that the research goes back to the 1980’s.

The problems are that this still DOESN’T prove that sugar does not cause diabetes. It offers “limited evidence” (3 studies) of “no consistent evidence of association” with heterogeneity too high and the studies too few to pool results. So there are two issues; firstly the study is not really a meta-analysis, certainly not a peer reviewed meta-analysis and secondly, lack of evidence for association is not evidence for no causation.

NC – So the NHS website is wrong

PML – If it has said that sugar causes diabetes, then it is wrong; Diabetes UK is correct on this, so is The European Association for the Study of Diabetes and the World Health Authority, which conducted a review last year. A very major meta-analysis has been conducted on this, and the answer is there is no evidence that sugar causes diabetes.

CR – Sugar DOES cause diabetes and here is a large (larger than PML’s aforementioned study) meta-analysis of 17 studies.

NC – Is sugar killing us; how dangerous is it?

PML – Sugar is not killing us; sugar has been, was created, invented roughly 450 years ago; it came to Europe on boats. Until that time, sweeteners, which is what you guys like Nicky, you like sweeteners, and the addiction is not to sugar, the addiction is, there was a very nice study at Aberdeen, the addiction to food, yes thank goodness we are addicted to food, or we would have died out as a species years ago.

So the sugar came over on these boats and suddenly, what do we do with it, and of course since then, people have been writing books, claiming that sugar causes every disease under its spell.

CR – Sorry, but sugar is killing us alright; see here. No Professor, sugar is a major part of food addiction and hijacks the brain’s reward centre; see here and here. In fact sugar is known to be more addictive than cocaine; see here.

NC – Causes obesity, causes obesity, does it cause obesity?

PML – And the answer is one by one, you go through these, and say no, I’m afraid it DOESN’T cause cancer, and it DOESN’T cause heart disease and no it DOESN’T cause diabetes.

What it DOES do is, if you eat excess calories from sugar, then you will gain weight, and the evidence says about 0.8Kg of weight, not obesity, and can I just finish this because what is important is the sugar if you analyse it says that; however if you look at sugary drinks, then you’ll find that greater consumption of sugary drinks does cause weight gain in children. Interesting!

What we’re seeing is an increase in food consumption; there is an addiction to food, there are foods you like and foods you don’t like. People who like more food like more food, and sugar is one of the things that contributes to weight gain if you eat more calories.

CR – Sorry PML, you can waffle on by stating the obvious, “if you eat excess calories from sugar, then you will gain weight”, “there is an addiction to food, there are foods you like and foods you don’t like” etc, but unfortunately sugar DOES cause cancer; see here , DOES cause heart disease; see here, here and here and DOES cause diabetes; see here.

Yes there is an addiction to foods and the main driver is sugar; see my previous comment above.

NC – Some foods are not going to make you fat

PML – If you swap sugar for other calories, and this has been subject again of a meta-analysis, there is no difference in weight. What is important is that sugary drinks are associated with greater weight gain in children and that is very important, because what it tells us is that it’s not the sugar, but the pattern of eating, which is associated with weight gain and ultimately diabetes.

We’ve been demonising sugar for centuries; the science says it’s not dangerous, but I’m not a lover of sugar. Do you know I’m probably the only person here that’s never tasted Cocoa Cola or Pepsi Cola or any other Cola in my life? Is there anyone else here that could claim never having tasted the wretched stuff. It is very bad for teeth, it is absolutely tragic for Scottish teeth, in a country which has no fluoride and you know we are a fluoride deficient nation, and we will lose our teeth if we eat sugar. I’m no supporter of the sugar industry and no supporter to sugar addition to foods.

CR – PML states that if you swap sugar for other calories, there is no weight difference. This is complete nonsense and I would like to see this meta-analysis. The quality of calories is far more important than quantity; see here. The body processes an avocado differently than a Snicker bar and they both have similar amounts of calories.

He, PML is back on the sugary drinks and weight gain in children theme; he seems to have hammered this blatantly obvious point. However he omits the fact that all drinks, sugar or diet will not only affect children, but also adults as will sugary foods. He mentions the pattern of eating as the cause of weight gain and diabetes; I have no idea what he is waffling, but I suspect he is using this as some sort of smokescreen or he just doesn’t have a clue, a bit of both in my opinion.

He, PML also states that “the science says it’s not dangerous”. What a load of nonsense and we have covered this throughout the blog as to why it is nonsense. After his apparent personal disdain for sugar, another irrelevance, he makes the point about the lack of fluoride in Scottish water and appears to blame this for the incidence of tooth decay. Well if he had only the slightest clue on the damage fluoride can do to the body and brain, then he would not make such a silly statement.

Flouride has an endless list of health dangers including brain damage, thyroid damage, cancers and hormone damage to name a few. See here.

NC – Are we being puritanical?

PML – Well you’ve just got the science up the creek; the science says, I’m sorry it DOESN’T cause cancer, it DOESN’T cause heart disease and it DOESN’T cause type 2 diabetes and quite correct. If it contributes to extra calories, then it’s a very bad thing and we need to limit it for that reason.

CR – No we did not get the science up the creek, you, PML have and sugar DOES cause all of the aforementioned health conditions. Yes it DOES contribute towards many extra calories since it is addictive. Even if it wasn’t addictive, it would still make you eat more calories since sugar is devoid of nutrition and the body will crave more calories as a result.

Sugar also depletes magnesium, see here, the body’s most important mineral that is responsible for over 300 metabolic reactions, and magnesium deficiency is linked to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes; see here.

Incidentally magnesium is depleted by soft drinks, sugar or diet types due to caffeine and phosphates, which are present in both. See here. Therefore irrespective of the sugar element, soft drinks have other issues involved in the potential onset of diabetes.

Summary
This man, PML is either in the pockets of big business or deluded; not sure which to be honest. One thing for sure is that he (Glasgow University) received £2.5 million for a red herring study from Diabetes UK.

He, PML rants on about a meta-analysis with only 3 studies, he waffles about how sugar came across on boats and has been with us for 450 years that have absolutely no relevance to the debate and the issues at hand and he mentions that everyone is conspiring against sugar.

He repeats the sugary drinks and weight gain in children connection, which is only part of the picture, in an attempt to detract from the bigger picture.

This reeks of a man who is hiding an agenda and clearly on the back foot in this programme. He is involved in a “healthy” pizza company; take a look here. Talk about a misnomer and a conflict of interest.

If this is the level of knowledge and/or deceit that is influencing our decision making ability regarding our health and wellbeing, then God help us.

Academics should be taken with a pinch of salt. They have spent too much time sheltered from reality with no accountability for their actions and conclusions. They are also surrounded by vested interests in their continual quest to attract research funding, which in its very nature leads to biased findings.

You find a similar scenario in drug research; where the efficacy and safety of most drugs are grossly exaggerated.

Folic Acid Fortification: A Pandora’s Box

The news was awash recently with the story concerning the consideration by the Scottish Government to add folic acid to flour, in an attempt to thwart a potential rise in birth defects.

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Folic acid plays a role in preventing brain and spine defects including spina bifida; however 85% of women don’t have an adequate intake, which has been recommended as 400mcg per day.

There seems to be the absence of an important distinction in all the recent media coverage; demonstrating that the health and medical professionals don’t seem to appreciate that folic acid and folate are two quite different substances or molecules.

So what are folic acid and folate?

Folic acid is basically a synthetic (made in a lab) form of vitamin B9, often used in cheap dietary supplements or in food and beverage fortification. In contrast folate is the natural B9 metabolite found in natural food sources, including leafy green plants and liver.

What is the difference?

The importance of favouring folate over folic acid can be recognised by how the body metabolises (or breaks down) both versions.

Natural plant based folate is broken down to tetrahydrofolate in the gut lining of the small intestine, whereas the synthetic folic acid form starts it’s breakdown in the liver. However the problem is that the enzyme (dihydrofolate reductase) required in breaking it down, is in short supply in the liver.

The lack of enzymatic breakdown combined with a high intake of folic acid through supplementation or fortification, may result in unnatural levels of non-metabolised folic acid entering the circulation; this has been demonstrated in several studies.

Our bodies are very smart machines, which have evolved over millions of years; hence the reason they are too smart to be fooled by synthetic substances, posing as legitimate natural plant derivatives. Natural plants and their constituents represent the true essence of the human diet, and simply won’t be replaced by laboratory chemicals masquerading as nutrients.

What are the health implications?

Although the incidence of neural tube defects (NTDs) in the United States has been significantly reduced due to the introduction of folic acid fortification in 1998, there have nevertheless been concerns about the safety of chronic dosing of high levels of folic acid from fortified foods, drinks and dietary supplements. See here.

Believe it or not there is an increased risk of cancer from excessive consumption of folic acid; see here. In some counties, including the USA, Canada and Chile, there was an increased rate of colon cancer associated with the introduction of folic acid supplementation programmes. See here and here.

In another study, which involved a randomised control, researchers found that supplementing with 1mg of folic acid resulted in an associated higher risk of prostate cancer.

One of the mechanisms in which high folic acid levels promoted cancers was proposed in one study, where it was postulated that folic acid destroys natural killer cells (NKCs); NKCs play a key role in our immune arsenal, responsible for the destruction of cancer cells and tumours. See here.

A high intake of folic acid can mask detection of vitamin B12 deficiency, leading to a deterioration of the central nervous system in the elderly. See here.

Benefits of folate

Folate represents the best option for preventing brain and spinal conditions in your child, whether you are thinking about starting a family or are pregnant. It is important to boost your folate intake well in advance of pregnancy.

Not only are folate containing foods protective for your foetus and baby, but they also offer many other health benefits including the correct source of fibre (not from grains), a good variety of vitamins and minerals and chemo (cancer) protective compounds.

What types of foods are rich in folate?

Excellent sources of dietary folate include; Romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, lentils and liver. Liver has by far the highest amounts; about 250mcg per 100g of liver; liver is often referred to as “nature’s multivitamin”.

It is possible to top up your folate intake if your dietary intake is inadequate. Just make sure you avoid folic acid and choose brands that stipulate “5-methyltetrahydrofolate” or “5-MTHF” on the label.

NB Most multivitamins contain the folic acid version of B9, which is as previously discussed, fraught with dangers.

What are the correct dosages?

Well in terms of folate, our healthy alternative to synthetic folic acid, anywhere between the 800mcg and 1,200mcg range on a daily basis is about right for women planning a pregnancy and they should ideally start a few months before becoming pregnant. During pregnancy the same dosage applies.

Now this is quite a lot to glean from foods alone unless you are regularly consuming the aforementioned foods, especially liver at least a couple of times per week and plenty leafy greens.

Therefore if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, I would suggest supplementing with 600-800mcg of folate per day, depending on your dietary intake.

For everyone else other than pregnant women, they should be able obtain plenty of folate in a diet rich with vegetables including leafy greens, and shouldn’t really need to supplement.

Other problems with fortification

Specifically in the case of folic acid, the Scottish Government’s consideration on adding it to flour is  concerning on many levels. Flours, which are mainly used in breads and baked goods have many detrimental health issues. We cite three below and their impact on mother and foetus (and child).

Bromine – Flours and their products like breads contain bromine, which is added to modern day flours as a flour improver, apparently. Unfortunately bromine is toxic and not only that, it depletes iodine in the body; iodine is a critical nutrient and one that has seen widespread deficiencies in the Western World. Iodine deficiency is linked to thyroid disease, increasing rates of cancer of the thyroid, stomach, breast and prostate. See here.

Iodine is essential to every cell in your body, but it’s especially important to your thyroid gland, which makes the hormones, T3 and T4 that regulate your entire body’s metabolism.

Iodine levels in the UK and the U.S. have dropped 50% in the last 30 years. During the same period, breast cancer rates have tripled, and the percentage of pregnant women with low iodine levels has increased 690%. Many studies have shown that children born to these mothers run a significant risk of being born with lowered intellectual ability. One such study measured a 13.5 point difference in IQ scores. In utero iodine deficiency has been associated with a host of childhood ailments including ADD/ADHD, depression, cretinism, dwarfism and mental retardation. See here and here.

Blood sugar and insulin response – The Scottish Government’s recently launched website dedicated to informing better food choices ran a radio ad campaign which claimed that, “A wholemeal wrap boosts energy levels and keeps you fuller for longer.”

This is basically nonsense; regardless of whether the breads are white or brown, theyproduce similar insulin responses (very high), which leads to a quick surge of energy, followed by a crash; hence the term “afternoon crash” or “3pm slump”.

Opposite shows a graph of blood insulin responses after oral glucose, white bread, wholewheat bread, and bread made from a finely ground flour that the researchers called “ultra-fine ground whole-grain wheat flour.”

The study was carried out by a group at the USDA to study whether the particle size of wheat made any difference on blood sugar, insulin and other measures; however I think it demonstrates something different.

Here’s the effect of these four study foods on insulin, which is often referred to as “the fat storing hormone”.

All four study foods increased insulin approximately four fold or by 400%. That’s a huge insulin spike, and did you notice what food increased insulin the most? Surprisingly to most people, it was the whole wheat bread, even without the fine grind.

The health impact of chronically high insulin and associated glucose levels are huge; in short it leads to a higher risk of cancers, obesity (including dangerous visceral fat accumulation), diabetes, Alzheimer’s (often referred to as type 3 diabetes) and heart disease to name a very few. See here, here, here and here.

A 2012 study found a link between the maternal size of women, before and during pregnancy and obesity and other associated health risks e.g. heart conditions in their young adult offspring.

Also highly processed foods including wheat flour products fuel the growth of the yeast, Candida, which can be passed from mother to foetus; this can lead to autism in utero or after birth. See here.

Gluten – Finally gluten, it could be argued is even worse than sugar and is contained in most flours including wheat, which we have just demonstrated above is a disaster for blood sugar, insulin and general health.

Taking a snapshot of gluten and it’s damaging effects to health.

  • Gluten causes autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
  • Gluten causes leaky gut syndrome, which in turn is associated with over 200 disease conditions. See here.
  • Gluten sensitivity is enough to produce antibodies (allergic reaction) andstudies have been published, concluding that everyone has gluten sensitivity to some degree. See here.
  • Gluten is a known neurotoxin. See here.
  • Gluten has been confirmed to cause weight gain. See here.
  • Gluten is linked to depression. See here.
  • Gluten is linked to Alzheimer’s. See here.
  • Gluten can make you infertile. See here.
  • Gluten contains addictive opiates (exorphins), stimulating hunger and increased consumption. See here.

Summary

I realise that the Government have the best of intentions here. However that doesn’t excuse the lack of understanding of the many issues and health implications of adopting this policy.

The first problem is the decision to consider folic acid (the synthetic, unnatural and low absorption form) and not folate (the natural, high absorption form found in plant and other foods such as liver), which as we have alluded to above is a major issue on its own.

If we then consider that this problematic form of B9 is being considered for fortification with bread flours, we have the potential for opening up a Pandora’s Box of other health problems for mother, foetus and child.

By encouraging women to consume more nutrient deficient wheat flour, which is among the most damaging “foods” on the planet, they are exposing them to a host of health issues including high blood sugar and insulin levels, bromine and gluten.

As if it was not bad enough that women may consciously choose to eat more wheat to meet their daily folic acid needs, they are subconsciously being hooked on it, due to the fact that wheat contains gluten exorphins, which are opiate like peptides, responsible for increased hunger, cravings and consumption.

We are seeing a parallel between the fortification of flour issue and the Scottish Government’s consideration and subsequent decision not to fluoridate the public water supply.

Regarding the fluoridation issue, common sense, proper risk and scientific analysis and putting the onus on the public to take control of their own health, all prevailed.

Fluoride is a toxic carcinogen and brain robbing chemical and has no place in anything, let alone the public water supply. See here and here.

There is an opportunity to apply the same criteria used in declining the option to fluoridate, to declining the option to fortify the flour (a damaging ingredient on its own) supplies with a synthetic and potentially damaging chemical, folic acid.

The question is whether the same result as the fluoridation issue produced will be replicated.

England and Wales made a huge mistake adopting water fluoridation; now they have an opportunity to make some amends by rejecting the Scottish Government’s request for UK wide fortification of flour.

The Scoop on Carbs

This is by far the most confusing food group due to the amount of choices in our supermarkets, which contain carbs in many guises e.g sugars, wheat flour, other flours and starches. By choosing the right type of carbs (allowing for treats), in the right amounts and ideally at the right time, you can use carbs to your advantage in weight control and optimum health.

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Why do carbs need to be controlled?
When you eat a big meal, which is loaded with carbohydrates (carbs), e.g. pasta, rice, bread, potatoes etc, it sends your blood sugar soaring. The body immediately releases the hormone insulin whose job is to move the sugar out of the bloodstream; sugar (glucose) is toxic in the blood; hence the reason why the body, with the help of insulin moves it from the bloodstream and transports it into body tissues e.g. muscle cells and the liver.

NB Carbs get broken down mainly into glucose, regardless of the type.

Insulin escorts glucose into muscle cells for immediate energy, but when the muscle cells don’t need it (e.g. you don’t burn enough energy through exercise and daily activity), it gets shuttled into the fat cells. That is why insulin is also known as the “fat storing hormone”.

NB Some glucose gets stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen for emergency needs. However the glycogen “tank” can only store so much, then the excess glucose gets coverted to fat and then stored, often referred to as “fat spiilover.”

Insulin does its work with the help of an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which is the “fat storing enzyme.” LPL takes triglycerides from the bloodstream, divides them into smaller parts (fatty acids), and then promptly helps store these fatty acids in your fat cells.

If insulin remains in the bloodstream, it effectively locks the doors to the fat cells; they won’t open up and you won’t burn fat until insulin levels come back down. Of course, the more you continue to eat the same high carb diet, the less your insulin levels go down.  Now you can see how it is impossible to burn fat when you have high insulin levels in your blood.

How do you burn fat?
Insulin has a sister hormone, namely glucagon and it’s a critical component of your fat burning biochemistry.

When you need more energy and food isn’t available, glucagon is secreted from the pancreas. Its purpose is the exact opposite of insulin; glucagon enters the cells and signals the release of fat and does so with the help of a fat burning enzyme, namely hormone sensitive lipase (HSL).

Much like glucagon is the opposite of insulin, HSL is the opposite of LPL, the fat storing enzyme mentioned  above. HSL breaks down triglycerides, the form of fat stored in your cells into fatty acids and glycerol, allowing them to be released into the bloodstream and burned for energy or excreted. This glucagon/HSL axis is what is called the “fat burning switch”.

Fat burning and weight loss/control won’t take place unless the fat burning switch, glucagon/HSL is turned “on”. The fat burning switch is in the “off” position as long as insulin levels are high. Insulin levels are high whenever blood sugar is high, and blood sugar is typically high in response to not only highly refined carb meals, but also high carbs in general.

Keep blood sugar in a nice, moderate range (a combination of fats and proteins does this) where it won’t trigger excess insulin. By keeping blood sugar and insulin down, you allow glucagon/HSL aka the “fat burning switch”, to work its  magic.

If you want to trigger your “fat burning switch”, you have to learn to eat in a way that won’t trigger excess insulin. Fortunately, that isn’t that hard to do as the simple and tasty ideas are included in this book.

So when you do eat carbs, choosing the right types of carbs, in the right amounts and ideally at the right time, will allow you to use carbs to your advantage in weight control and optimum health. Let’s look at all three factors below.

Type
The type is important due to insulin response, calories and level of nutrients. For example grains for the most part have a higher insulin response (risking fat storage) than most other carbs, they are calorie laden, which in itself is not the be all and end all; however they have little nutrition and actually contain opiod peptides, which makes them mildly addictive. Hence the term “carb cravings”. They also have low satiety i.e they don’t keep you feeling full for long compared to fats and proteins.

For the best types of carbs to eat, see under “carbohydrates” in the “Foods to eat” section above. Similarly for the worst carbs to eat, see under the “Foods to avoid (or keep to a minimum)” section above.

Amounts
Amounts are important due to the fact that the average human can only use so much glucose (depending on energy expenditure) per day and store so much glucose (as glycogen) per day in the muscle and liver tisues. Once these two options have been exhausted, the body has no option other than to store the excess glucose as fat, often referred to as “fat spillover”.

In terms of the proportion of macronutrients in your diet, at least 23 high quality studies have confirmed that a high healthy fat diet (about 55%) with a moderate quantity of protein (about 25%) and lowish amounts of carbohydrate (about 20%), will give optimal results for health and weight control.

The daily carb amounts below are a rough guide to your overall ability to regulate your weight and attain optimal health. Obviously exact amounts depend on activity levels and metabolic differences.

You can also cycle your carb intake to coincide with your activitiy levels e.g. on a workout day, you could have 200g of carbs and on a non workout day, you could titrate down to 50g. For an explanation on why this is an effective way to eat for weightloss and/or weight control, see “Timing” below.

NB We are not talking about grams per weight of food type e.g 100g (by weight) of sweet potato contains 20g of carbs, so a medium sized sweet potato is about 350g and would contain 70g of actual carbs. See the “Carb values for common foods” table at the end of the book.

  • 20g to 50g is akin to a ketogenic diet; hard to maintain, but you will burn lots of fat.
  • 50g to 100g represents the weight loss sweet spot; you will find fat loss fairly easy.
  • 100g to 150g will give you (in most cases) effortless weight maintenance; you will maintain body composition.
  • 150g to 300g will cause insidious weight gain; you will store more fat, leading to obesity.
  • 300g and above represents an immediate danger to your health.

Timing
It is best to eat the bulk of your carbs post workout or on active days, since your insulin senstivity is at it’s highest i.e. your body will process carbs more efficiently, allowing them to be used for immediate fuel and glycogen (stored glucose), lowering the chance of fat storage.

For example on workout days, you opt for a meal with sweet potato and on non workout or inactive days, you would be better opting for fibrous vegetables in place of starchy carbs with your protein e.g. chicken or salmon with broccoli (lots of) or fish with cauliflower cheese (lots of).

The Truth about Fats: British Heart Foundation

I recently stumbled across an online article from BHF’s website (1), which I was disgusted with, although not totally surprised, by the inaccuracies of the article. It makes me irate that people who are supposed to have your interests at heart would pump out so much dogma.

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When you scratch under the surface and follow the money and vested interest trail, it becomes pretty transparent about where their interests lie. Just take a look at their sponsors; ASDA, Tesco, Flora, Warburtons.

OK, let’s get to the article, “The Truth about Fat – There’s a lot written about fat in the press, not all of it accurate. Pascale Varley clarifies those fat myths”.

“MYTH: All fats are the same”
“REALITY: All fats are high in energy and have identical calorie value (9kcal per g), so their effect on your waistline is the same. The big difference is their effect on your cholesterol levels, so it’s important to consider the type as well as the amount of fat you are eating.”

Pascale is inferring that fats make you fat. This is not the case; in fact fats are processed by the body differently to carbs and even proteins; carbs cause the secretion of huge amounts of insulin in order to deal with the excess glucose in the bloodstream from carbs (carbs equals glucose). Therefore when you eat a diet high in carbs, as is specified by the Government’s “Eatwell Plate”, you find it hard using up all the glucose as energy or storing it as glycogen (emergency glucose), resulting in carbs being stored as fat, commonly referred to as “fat spillover” (2). Insulin is not called the fat storage hormone for nothing (3).

In terms of fats altering cholesterol levels, from the saturated point of view, the outdated dogma from the 1950’s that blames saturated fats for increasing cholesterol levels, has been disproven beyond any doubt (4, 5). In terms of refined vegetable oils (e.g. peanut, groundnut, soybean, rapeseed or canola, grapeseed, generic vegetable oil, sunflower, safflower, corn); while they do not raise actual cholesterol levels, unfortunately they damage the LDL cholesterol due to their highly inflammatory nature, resulting from the heat and chemical extraction process; polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils actually do find their way into LDL cholesterol, making them much more likely to become oxidised, forming oxidised LDL particles (67891011).

These are the LDL particles that build up inside the walls of the arteries (12), and are a major cause of heart disease and death (13).

“Industrially produced trans fats and too much saturated fat can increase the risk of coronary heart disease by raising the level of harmful LDL cholesterol, which can contribute to blood vessel blockage.”

Pascale is correct on trans fats and incidentally refined vegetable oils can often contain large amounts of trans fats. In one study that looked at soybean and canola oils found on store shelves in the U.S., about 0.56% to 4.2% of the fatty acids in them were toxic trans fats (14). In terms of saturated fats, this is a myth (15) from the highly flawed “7 Countries Study” (16) in the 1950’s. 

“Trans fats have largely been removed….. Saturated fats are also in whole milk, cream, cheese, cakes and chocolate.”

Pascale may be correct on trans fats, but these oils would need to be tested to confirm their removal; however this is just a smoke screen anyway as we have postulated that vegetable oils are very detrimental to health.

According to Pascale, we are exceeding recommended amounts of saturated fats; recommended by The Establishment, that is the Government who are in the pockets of the food and Big Pharma industries, as well as charities who rely on the aforementioned for donations.

Yes Pascale, saturated fats include butter, ghee, lard plus coconut oil and palm oil. Unfortunately for the BHF and The Establishment, they are all healthy, especially in the grass fed version (for the first three) and the virgin, non hydrogenated version (for the last two). I notice Pascale points out coconut and palm oils inclusion in baked goods; I think you will find that these will be the cheap, hydrogenated versions that are highly inflammatory and cause oxidised LDL cholesterol (the bad type) and heart disease.

“Swapping saturated fats in your diet for unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) can help lower cholesterol levels. Find unsaturated fats in avocados, olive, rapeseed and sunflower oils, oily fish, seeds and nuts.”

No Pascale, saturated fats are very healthy and have many benefits (17). I notice Pascale has also lumped polyunsaturated fats together; this is a very big mistake as these fats include Omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids, and even though both are classed as essential, the ratio of them is very important for health and disease prevention.

These fatty acids play important roles in many biochemical pathways, including those related to inflammation, immunity and blood clotting.

The problem is we need to get Omega 3 and Omega 6 in a certain balance. When this balance is off kilter, it can interrupt these important biochemical pathways (18).

For example, these two types of fatty acids often compete for the same enzymes and the same spots in cell membranes (1920) and have related but opposing roles; for example, both of them are used to produce signalling molecules called eicosanoids.

Eicosanoids made from Omega 6 tend to be pro-inflammatory, while those made from Omega 3 tend to be anti-inflammatory (2122).

Throughout evolution, we consumed balanced amounts of both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. The problem today is that this balance has been drastically skewed towards Omega 6.

Not only are people eating way too much Omega 6, but their Omega 3 intake is also incredibly low, which is a recipe for disaster.

Whereas back in the day our Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio may have been between 1:1 and  3:1, these days it stands around 16:1, which is way outside of evolutionary norms (23).

Vegetable oils are the biggest source of Omega 6 fatty acids in the diet by far.

MYTH: I need to eat a low fat diet to look after my heart”
“REALITY: As our understanding develops……This is not a low-fat diet, but the fats are mostly unsaturated. It seems to be the overall combination that makes it so successful.”

There are a few issues here with respect to a Mediterranean diet; firstly it is a thing of the past as more people are turning to fast foods and processed foods (24). Also according to a 2014 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Greece and Italy actually have a greater proportion of overweight children than the United States (25).

Secondly, even if the diet consisted of grains, beans and legumes in previous generations, they would have been in trouble as all three have many health issues. I would be hear all day with grains, so I include a link (26) to one of the foremost authorities on grains and by coincidence he is also a heart surgeon.

In terms of beans and legumes, they are full of anti-nutrients e.g. lectins and phytic acid, which can damage the intestinal lining of the stomach (27); gut permeability leads to alterations in gut flora, which leads further to obesity and diabetes, two key risk factors for heart disease. (28).

“MYTH: Cutting out all fat is good for my heart”
“REALITY: Such a drastic approach isn’t necessary, and excluding fat can mean missing out on nutrients and fatty acids that our bodies need, such as omega 3 and omega 6 fats. These polyunsaturated fats are found in oily fish, nuts, seeds and the oils made from them.”

Well at least Pascale has recognised that fats contain nutrients and telling people not to cut them out completely avoided even the least educated in nutrition to be suspicious; obviously he stops short of that. Again he fails to address Omega 3 and Omega 6 ratios and types of Omega 6 foods that should be banned e.g. heart destroying refined vegetable oils.

“MYTH: Butter is better
“REALITY: Butter is high in saturated fat, so restrict yourself to small amounts and use alternatives for everyday eating.

Try mono or polyunsaturated spreads, such as olive oil or sunflower spreads (a new manufacturing process solved past concerns about their trans fat content). Liquid oils can also be used for cooking and baking instead of butter.”

Grass fed butter is high in Vitamin K2, which helps to prevent hardening of the arteries, which is a common factor in coronary artery disease and heart failure. Research suggests vitamin K2 may help to keep calcium out of your artery linings and other body tissues, where it can cause damage. The latest studies show it’s vitamin K2, rather than K1, in concert with vitamin D, that prevents calcification in your coronary arteries, thereby preventing cardiovascular disease (29).

Pascale just doesn’t understand that refined vegetable oils found in non butter and butter spreads are highly inflammatory and lead to oxidised LDL cholesterol and heart disease. Also liquid oils further degrade under high heat and compared to heat stable fats like saturated and monounsaturated fats, cooking with vegetable oil forms large amounts of disease promoting compounds (3031).

Some of these harmful compounds vaporise and may contribute to lung cancer when inhaled. Just being present in a kitchen where vegetable oils are being used may raise your risk of lung cancer (3233).

“MYTH: Any kind of meat is bad for my heart”
“REALITY: Lean meats such as chicken or turkey, without the skin, are healthier options, as they are lower in saturated fat. Red and processed meats can be high in saturated fats and may also have added salt.

Watch out for the white bits of fat in ham, steaks and bacon, and trim them off where possible.”

Saturated fats are good for you provided they are from a grass fed animal; also red meat form a grass fed animal is full of heart friendly, health promoting omega 3 fatty acids; yes it’s the truth.

Pascale is obsessed with saturated fat, so much so that it has completely clouded the truth, while the real culprits to heart disease (and many other diseases) get away Scot Free.

If you value your health, then I urge you to disregard everything in the BHF article. It is nothing short of a disgrace. If the BHF had a moral bone in their sorry bodies, they would retract the whole article and issue a public apology in every major UK media publication.

Magnesium: King of Minerals

We need a full spectrum of minerals for optimum health and function, but arguably the most important is magnesium.

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Few people are aware of the enormous role magnesium plays in our bodies. Magnesium is by far the most important mineral in the body. After oxygen, water and basic food, magnesium may be the most important element needed by our bodies.

“You can trace every sickness, every disease and every ailment to a mineral deficiency”

                                                 Linus Pauling – two time Nobel Prize winner

Although Dr Pauling was referring to the general mineral depletion in our soils and thus our food supply, he was also referring to magnesium, perhaps unbeknownst to him.

Consider Dr. Norman Shealy’s statements, “Every known illness is associated with a magnesium deficiency” and that, “magnesium is the most critical mineral required for electrical stability of every cell in the body. A magnesium deficiency may be responsible for more diseases than any other nutrient.”

When you consider the fact that 80% of Americans and other Western populations are deficient in magnesium, and the fact that modern diseases have exploded in the past few decades, then it is reasonable to think that there may be a causative link and that Linus Pauling and Norman Shealy may be on to something.

Causes of magnesium deficiency

There are many causes; here is an abbreviated list.

  • Magnesium deficiency can be caused by increased amounts of fluoride, chlorine and calcium.
  • Depleted soil and magnesium deficient produce due to chemicals e.g. pesticides and fertilisers.
  • Poor diets especially the consumption of processed and junk foods.
  • Stress
  • Insufficient stomach acid.
  • Reduced level of transport proteins.
  • Low water consumption.
  • Diseased intestines for instance candida albicans overgrowth.
  • Increased phosphorus in diet drinks or increased potassium or sodium.
  • Supplemental iron, which can impede magnesium absorption.
  • High consumption of tea, spinach, soy powders, soy milk, and chard, which have ingredients that interfere with magnesium absorption.
  • Many different medications.
  • Insufficient vitamin D, which is necessary for the body’s utilisation of magnesium.
  • Rarely, people have conditions of magnesium wasting where too much of this mineral is lost through the kidneys.

Why don’t we just eat more magnesium dense foods?

In 1992, the official report of the Rio Earth Summit concluded “there is deep concern over continuing major declines in the mineral values in farm and range soils throughout the world”. This statement was based on data showing that over the last 100 years, average mineral levels in agricultural soils had fallen worldwide by 72% in Europe, 76% in Asia and 85% in North America.

According to health journalist Larry Trivieri, Jr., author of The American Holistic Medical Association Guide to Holistic Health, overall “the mineral content of soil used to grow today’s group is one sixth of what it was fifty years ago, due to commercial farming methods…

The days are long gone when healthy living simply meant getting the right nutrients from our foods. Nowadays our soils are jam packed with an array of harmful chemicals not to mention mineral deficient plants and animals that eat the plants.

Conditions related to magnesium deficiency?

Magnesium deficiency can affect every organ and system in the body, which is what you would expect from a substance that is involved in over 300 metabolic reactions in the body. Hence the list is endless; however some common diseases and symptoms include:

The first symptoms of deficiency can be subtle, since most magnesium is stored in the tissues, leg cramps, foot pain, or muscle ‘twitches’ can be the first sign.

  • Other early signs of deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. As magnesium deficiency worsens, numbness, tingling, seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary spasms can occur.
  • People with magnesium deficiency often seem to be “uptight.” Other general symptoms include a salt craving, both carbohydrate craving and carbohydrate intolerance, especially of chocolate, and breast tenderness.
  • Continuing with the symptoms of magnesium deficiency, the central nervous system is markedly affected. Symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, hyperactivity and restlessness with constant movement, panic attacks, agoraphobia, and premenstrual irritability. Magnesium deficiency symptoms involving the peripheral nervous system include numbness, tingling, and other abnormal sensations such as zips, zaps and vibratory sensations.

How to supplement

In addition to eating foods with appreciable amounts (allowing for soil depletion) of magnesium, supplementation offers the chance to get more magnesium needed for optimum body function and health.

The best forms of magnesium are magnesium taurate, magnesium glycinate, magnesium citrate, magnesium malate, magnesium oratate and magnesium oil; magnesium oil (magnesium chloride hexahydrate) is the new, apparently more absorbable form, delivered through the skin (transdermal).

Summary

Magnesium is involved in over 300 metabolic reactions in the body; hence the importance of this mineral to optimum health and multiple disease prevention.

A deficiency in magnesium pervades our modern World due to many factors, including the consumption of nutrient deficient foods as a result of soil depletion from pesticides, chemical fertilisers and over farming practices.

Another contributing factor is the mass consumption of junk and processed foods, which conspire to either deplete magnesium as in the case of sugar or prevent its absorption as in the case of anti-nutrients in certain foods.

Due to the depletion of magnesium in our diets, it is becoming a must for most people to supplement.

Magnesium oil offers the best absorption rates.

Modern medicine is supposed to help people not hurt them, but with their almost total ignorance of magnesium, doctors end up hurting more than they help, since many of the medical interventions deplete magnesium levels when they should be replenishing them. Many if not most pharmaceutical drugs drive magnesium levels into very dangerous zones and surgery done without increasing magnesium levels is much more dangerous than surgery done with.

The foundation of medical arrogance is actually medical ignorance and the only reason ignorance and arrogance rule the playing field of medicine is a greed for money and lust for power. Human nature seems to be at its worst in modern medicine when it should be at its best. It is sad that people have to suffer needlessly and it’s  tragic that conventional medicine has turned its back on the Hippocratic Oath and all that it represents.