Archive for Diet & Nutrition

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.

Vitamin D: King of Vitamins

When you examine the multitude of health benefits that Vitamin D offers, it is not difficult to appreciate the significance it plays in both disease prevention and the treatment of existing conditions.

However the disturbing statistic is that up to 80% of the population could be deficient in this critical health promoter and disease fighter, which has been described as a pandemic in the USA.

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Not a day goes by where I don’t receive a new study or article about the wonders of this vitamin (in the natural, non synthetic D3 form I may add) or to be more accurate, steroid hormone.

Researchers are finding that Vitamin D acts more like a hormone in the body and influences many biochemical processes and you absorb it primarily from sun exposure or supplementation in high amounts with much less coming from foods; it is the ability of Vitamin D to influence genetic expression that produces many of its wide ranging health benefits.

What are the health benefits?

  • ImmunityVitamin D fights infections, including colds and the flu, as it regulates the expression of genes that influence your immune system to attack and destroy bacteria and viruses.
  • CVD – Vitamin D is very important for reducing hypertension, atherosclerotic heart disease, heart attack and stroke. One study showed that Vitamin D deficiency increased the risk of heart attack by 50% and if you have a heart attack and you’re Vitamin D deficient, your risk of dying from that heart attack creeps up to 100%.
  • Autoimmune diseases – Vitamin D is a potent immune modulator, making it very important for the prevention of autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Cancers – Vitamin D has been shown in many studies to reduce the development of various cancers. For example, one of the Nurses’ Health Studies showed that nurses who had the highest blood levels of Vitamin D, averaging about 50 ng/ml, reduced their risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 50%.

St Georges Hospital in London calculated from their studies that women with low levels of Vitamin D in their breast tissue have a 354% (4.5 times) greater risk of breast cancer.

That is remarkable and begs the question, why are cancer charities and the medical profession not continually embarking on publicity programmes for Vitamin D supplementation?

Research in 2012 in Cancer Causes and Control presented findings that former/never smokers were 44% less likely to die from lung cancer if they had blood levels of Vitamin D above 44 nmo per litre.

Research published in the Journal of Cell Biology (Nov 2008) has shown that “Vitamin D can adjust almost everything in the cancer cell, from its genetic messaging to its cytoskeleton. It can switch genes on and off, reduce cell division and can calm the cancer cells so that they settle rather than spread. It seems Vitamin D can actually return a cancer cell to a normal and healthy state. One pathway seems to control everything”.

Vitamin D can also enhance the efficacy of cancer drugs; researchers at the Salk Institute have shown that the pancreatic cancer drug Gemcitabine works 57% better if combined with Vitamin D.

Researchers recently made a link with high Vitamin D levels and an increase in the survival of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.

  • In utero and beyond – Vitamin D levels are linked to many pre and post birth conditions including poor general foetal health, pre-eclampsia, excess C-Section procedures, asthma and wheezing, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

 What is the recommended dosage?

If you do not live in the sun belt areas of the world, then supplementation is the best other option. Here are some guidelines that will help you to start reaping the benefits of this powerful vitamin like steroid hormone.

  • Neonates: 400 to 1,000 IUs per day
  • Children one year of age and above: 600 to 1,000 IUs per day
  • Adults: 2,000 to 4,000 IUs per day

NB For best results, Vitamin D should be taken in tandem with Vitamin K2. Also there are no toxicity issues with Vitamin D even up to 10,000 IUs per day. George Ebers, the renowned Vitamin D researcher takes 4,000 IUs per day.

Summary

Since the early 2000’s there has been 34,000 scientific investigations carried out on the health benefits of Vitamin D and still we see increasing rates of many disease conditions.

Vitamin D is so powerful as a therapeutic agent that it has been reclassified in medical circles as a hormone. Not only does Vitamin D prevent a wide range of diseases, but can also reduce the risks of dying and even reverse diseases; prevention is the much preferred option of course.

Dr. Michael Holick, an expert on Vitamin D and author of the book, “The Vitamin D Solution” estimates that 50% of cancers could be prevented with Vitamin D supplementation; this example alone clearly demonstrates the therapeutic power of this cheap and easily accessible vitamin or to be medically correct, steroid hormone.

So what on earth are Governments doing when they are supposed to be protecting the health of nations.

Is the information being suppressed or not publicised more freely? Would free prescriptions for Vitamin D at the correct doses (not Government RDA’s) slash the disease rates in cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and much more? Would Big Pharma put the brakes on such a bold and innovative step by Governments?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diets: The Wrong Approach

Now that New Year’s resolution season is upon us and many people don’t know which way to turn with their dietary and health aspirations, I have made an effort to make your decision much more informed, in an attempt to prevent you falling for all the marketing hype from the mainstream diets e.g. 5:2 diet, the NewMe diet.

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To achieve this we need to tackle a few concepts, which may seem foreign or abstract to some; however they offer the real answers, not only to permanent weight loss, but also optimal physical and mental health.

Metabolism refers to all the chemical processes that go on continuously inside your body. It is influenced by your age, gender, muscle to fat ratio, the food you eat, environment and physical activity. Your hormones and nervous system control your body’s metabolism.

It is widely accepted that metabolism controls weight; the higher your metabolism, the more calories you burn at rest. From the above definition of metabolism, we learn that hormones control metabolism, hence it makes complete sense that we need to focus on what controls or more to the point balances hormones; balance is what the human body strives for and is often referred to as homeostasis.

When we upset this finely tuned chemical system akin to an orchestra, mainly through poor lifestyle choices, we knock our hormones (signal sender) out of balance and deplete their respective receptors (signal receiver).

Cornerstones of weight loss and health
The key to achieving your weight loss and health goals include; controlling inflammation, improving gut flora, adopting a low carb/high healthy fat diet, adopting intermittent fasting and avoiding the pitfalls of dieting.

Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is a constant immune response the body finds itself in when confronted by foreign invaders and these include certain foods like gluten grains, certain dairy (if lactose or casein intolerant), refined vegetable oils, processed foods; also sleep deprivation, elevated stress, excess alcohol, infections, toxins, lack of exercise and medications can all contribute to this chronic state of inflammation.

If you are obese or overweight, you will have chronic inflammation by default, resulting in insulin resistance and leptin resistance (via inflammation of the hypothalamus in the brain); insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar and can lead to weight gain when elevated in the blood and leptin is a hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism.

What is the other problem with this state? Damaged gut flora , which are inextricably linked to inflammation in that they both have similar triggers and can both be a cause and result of each other.

Gut health
As alluded to above, gut flora and inflammation are inextricably linked. Fix one and the other becomes fixed by default since they have similar triggers as listed above.

It was the father of medicine, Hippocrates who wisely stated over 2,000 years ago that “All disease begins in the gut”.

Poor gut health, where the ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria is unfavourable, increases appetite and causes insulin resistance. ; leptin resistance also results via inflammation of the hypothalamus. Insulin and leptin resistance unfortunately promote weight gain; insulin is not called “The fat storage hormone” for nothing.

Poor gut flora can increase the rate at which we absorb fatty acids and carbohydrates, and increase the storage of calories as fat.

Low Carb
Not only are higher fat/low carb diets healthier, but you will lose fat permanently by adopting them and your health will be much improved; there are at least 23 quality studies that conclude this.

Higher carb diets equals high blood glucose levels in turn causing high insulin levels; consistently elevated insulin levels are a disaster for not only weight control, but also general health as it leads to a plethora of conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancers. Low carb diets help with weight loss for many reasons including:

  • Helping to regulate insulin levels; insulin being “the fat storage hormone”.
  • Carbs suppress PYY compared to fats and proteins; PYY is an appetite regulating hormone.
  • Carbs increase the release of ghrelin, usually referred to as “the hunger hormone”.
  • Low carb intake helps turn on the fat burning switch, glucagon/HSL.

NB HSL is short for hormone sensitive lipase, an enzyme that helps with accessing fat stores for energy, in tandem with glucagon; glucagon is a hormone that works in reverse to insulin, signalling the release of fat for energy in the presence of low blood sugar or glucose.

Fasting
The fasting diets are getting this all wrong including the 5:2 diet; as John Berardi, a leading American nutritionist coach put it; “With IF, you still make great food choices and eat the same amount of food, you just adjust your meal frequency”. Folks, intermittent fasting (IF) was originally devised as a substitute for calorie restriction, as a solution for the masses who find severe calorie restriction difficult to sustain.

Also you can eat certain foods that do not trigger an insulin response, thus preserving your fast; hence you don’t need to torture yourself with 20 hour fasts that most fast diets advocate. Why is this significant? Well there is strong anecdotal evidence that women in general find it difficult fasting. Here is an article on the subject.

When properly implemented, fasting:

  • Improves insulin sensitivity, thus enhancing the body’s use of glucose, preventing fat storage.
  • Turns on the fat burning switch, glucagon/HSL
  • Secretes human growth hormone (HGH), a fat burning hormone aka “the youth hormone”

The 5:2 specifically does not return any better weight loss than calorie restriction alone, which is not that impressive anyway as well as being unsustainable. However you have to complete two 20 hour fasts (no calories) in a week. You can read my Huffington Post blog here on the subject.

Also it’s inadvisable to dive straight in to fasting; small incremental changes in diet over a period of about a couple of months allow your hormones to improve towards balance and their receptors to up-regulate.

Fasting is also not an excuse to eat junk foods; you still need to eat highly nutritious foods about 80% of the time, allowing for 20% treats to reap the health and weight loss benefits in the long term.

NB Combining intermittent fasting or IF with high intensity exercise is the “Holy Grail” for hormone balance, receptor function and optimum genetic expression, resulting in optimum health and weight loss.

Dieting
The Huffington Post had a great quote some time ago, which stated that “The diet industry is the most successful failed business in the world”

Dieting as we know it usually involves deliberate and severe calorie restriction; in a landmark study (Mann 2007), which reviewed 31 scientific studies on calorie restriction, the authors concluded that calorie restriction does not work long term. The main reason for this is that the body goes into survival mode as it interprets the lack of calories as a potential shortage or famine, thus slowing down metabolism to prese

Diets and dieters see weight loss targets as an end game, like the wonderland, where in fact it is only the start and unless you adopt a new lifestyle with more of an emphasis on health, you will revert back to your old habits.rve energy reserves.

Diets are obsessed with calorie counting, where in fact it is the quality rather than quantity.

The diet industry usually advocates snacking especially if they produce snacking products; which disrupts leptin signalling, throwing your normal appetite cues and disrupting metabolism.

The “want it now” aka immediate gratification culture has played into the hands of the diet industry, who serve up calorie restrictive diets with short term results, but long term problems e.g. weight rebound, hormone imbalance and long term damage to your metabolism.

Summary
Health and weight loss are a journey; there is no ending. Avoid inflammatory foods and other aforementioned triggers, improve gut flora, eat a high, healthy fat diet, practice IF and combine with exercise where possible.

Eat highly nutritious foods 80% of the time, allowing 20% for treats and calorie control will take care of itself. If possible have your treats on a workout day, which lessens any chance of fat storage. Eating the right foods actually stokes your metabolism; poor foods and deliberate calorie restriction actually slows your metabolism.

The crux is you will be able to develop a small calorie deficit naturally if you are following all the aforementioned advice, because your body’s hormones (and receptors) will be working optimally and in balance, aka homeostasis; your cravings will subside and you will begin to discover the new YOU

The Fat Loss Puzzle eBook has a full blueprint for long term weight loss and health, with over 100 easy, fat burning recipes.

Carbs: Yes and No

Gelatine: A Superfood

Gelatine is just a processed version of a structural protein called collagen that is found in many animals, including humans. Collagen makes up almost one third of all the protein in the human body.  Read more

Collagen is a fibrous protein that strengthens the body’s connective tissues and allows them to be elastic i.e., to stretch without breaking. As you get older, your body makes less collagen, and individual collagen fibres become increasingly cross linked with each other. You might experience this as stiff joints from less flexible tendons, or wrinkles due to loss of skin elasticity.

There are so many benefits from eating gelatine or collagen, and it’s not just for pregnant women or those wanting to get rid of cellulite. Here are just some of the benefits:

  • Powerful anti-inflammatory with almost immediate relief from joint pain, similar to taking cortisol or aspirin.
  • Good source of protein (6 grams per tablespoon) and amino acids.
  • Improves digestion by making it easier for the food to pass through the digestive system. It also soothes and heals the digestive tract.
  • Strengthens bones and joints so it’s wonderful for growing children and those with brittle bones and joint pain.
  • Helps skin, hair and nail health.
  • Helps our immune function.
  • Helps regulate our weight by boosting our metabolism.

The only gelatine powder I can find that is from grass fed, naturally raised beef is Great Lakes. Use it in shakes (hydrolysed) and to make table jelly (non-hydrolysed) to reap its remarkable health benefits, not least better skin elasticity.

If you feel you or your children want to include gelatine for healthier skin, hair and nails, then throw a teaspoon or two into smoothies a few times a week, making sure you use the hydrolysed version for smoothies or non-hydrolysed gelatine for jellies).

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