High cholesterol? Look no further than your meal plate

'Even though most people don’t realize it, fat does not cause your blood cholesterol to go up. It’s sugar or anything that turns to sugar in your body like flour and other refined carbohydrates.

 Our diet is intimately connected to our cardiovascular health.

Our diet is intimately connected to our cardiovascular health.

When you eat sugar – particularly fructose or high-fructose corn syrup – it causes the cholesterol-producing factory in your liver to turn on. In fact, consumption of high-fructose corn syrup, which is present in sodas, many juices and most processed foods, is the primary nutritional cause of most of the cholesterol issues we doctors see in our patients.

Simply put, if you have high triglycerides, low HDL, or high total cholesterol, getting off flour and sugar becomes the best way to fix the problem.' Dr Mark Hyman

If you want to find a way of improving your heart and general health with a diet that is suitable for you as an individual, don't hesitate to give me a call and we can start working on a diet that is fitting for you as an individual.

Bicarb soda can be used to remove pesticides from vegetables & fruit

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Scientists from the University of Massachusetts have shown that baking soda or sodium bicarbonate comes is nearly as effective as peeling with respect to its ability to reduce the pesticide load from conventional.

While conventional produce is sprayed with pesticides to protect it from the microbes, most fresh produce is also processed using sanitizers in the postharvest washing process to remove visible soil or organic matter residues as well as to reduce the microbial contamination found on the surface.

This recent study shows, that after immersing the product in bicarbonate water for 12 min, then washing in clean water and drying, the amount of pesticides on the test apples was reduced below the detection limit.

It's important to note however that the washing did NOT get rid of all pesticides - the argument for buying - or growing your own - organic produce is still strong!

So why is this of interest; why should one not rather just peel the produce? First of all, peeling is not suitable with all produce (think of cauliflower for instance).

Secondly, the majority of the plants' natural antioxidants reside in the skin of the fruit or vegetables, as this is how the plant protects itself against the sun, the wind, the microbes etc. Take an apple for instance; the good stuff (antioxidants) reside in the skin; the inner fruit flesh is pretty much sugar and vitamin C, plus few other nutrients.

Bicarbonate of soda is cheap and it has MANY uses beyond washing your vegetables and raising your cakes.. :) And when organic is not available or it is too expensive, it's good to have a trick up your sleeve, which protects you and your family's health!

Read the whole article HERE

Perfumes - not so rosy after all?

We live in a toxic world.

 Perfumes and after shaves may contains ingredients, which are not listed in the ingredients but which may burden our detox pathways.

Perfumes and after shaves may contains ingredients, which are not listed in the ingredients but which may burden our detox pathways.

Our food, air and water carry chemicals which were unknown to nature, let alone our body, one hundred years ago. While our detoxification system is equipped to excrete toxins via urine, faeces, breath and sweat, it would be better if we didn't intentionally add to the toxic load our system needs to process.

One of the sources of these ‘intentional’ toxins is our daily cosmetics. And one of the key offenders here are fragrances. Did you know that many globally popular scents have hidden chemicals, which are not listed in the ingredients?

While it may be these undisclosed ingredients which make these scents so alluring, the American Environmental Working Group found that some of these hidden chemicals have troubling hazardous properties or a propensity to accumulate in human tissue.

These harmful chemicals include among other diethyl phthalate and musk ketone, a synthetic fragrance ingredient that concentrates in human fat tissue and breast milk.

That, my dears, is not a rosy idea. Learn more about chemicals in fragrances here: 
http://www.ewg.org/…/…/report/SafeCosmetics_FragranceRpt.pdf

If you find yourself sensitive to smells and chemicals, you liver and detoxification system may appreciate a little extra help. To address this with Nutritional Therapy, don't hesitate to get in touch and we'll find you a date to get started. 

 

The last hunter-gathers and what they can teach us about health

 Hunter gatherer diet supports a rich gut ecology. Picture credit: BBC

Hunter gatherer diet supports a rich gut ecology. Picture credit: BBC

This BBC Food Programme episode is fascinating listening - it takes us to the home of the Hadza people, the last remaining hunter-gathers in East Africa. The episode explores how their diet, which for many is still 100% non-cultivated and wild, affects their gut microbiome (gut bacteria), which in turn then protects and supports their health and wellbeing.

It's a truly fascinating episode, in two parts. To hear the whole story, listen to part one first, but episode two contains more interesting talk about the microbiome and what it does for us.

If you can’t find time to listen, the take-home is this: a varied, seasonal and unprocessed whole food based diet supports good gut microbiome, which promotes good health. And this microbiome responds to dietary changes very fast: Dr Tim Spector, whom you will hear in the episode, recorded marked changes in the three days he spent with the Hadza people.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p057w3nm

Turmeric – from curry houses to cancer research (with turmeric smoothie recipe!)

 Turmeric is researched in relation to cancer; it's strong anti-inflammatory properties may prove useful in many other inflammatory conditions from arthritis to asthma.

Turmeric is researched in relation to cancer; it's strong anti-inflammatory properties may prove useful in many other inflammatory conditions from arthritis to asthma.

I commonly recommend turmeric as an all-around anti-inflammatory for many of my clients, especially if they either do hard physical exercise, or suffer from arthritis or similar inflammatory conditions. Anecdotally, I am aware of some using this to keep their asthma at bay… and I am sure other uses are many. 

For those interested (and in the UK, with access to BBC IPlayer), you will surely enjoy the Food Programme's program fully dedicated to turmeric.  You can find it here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08rpd85

If you listen to this episode, you will learn about a study where turmeric used in food, rather than taken as a supplement, provokes a positive effect. As turmeric’s active molecules, curcuminoids, are not easily absorbed alone, we have learned that the best way to take turmeric is together with food: some fats and ideally black pepper, which enhances absorption.

So – for best benefits – enjoy yours with food. I’ve included here a recipe for a smoothie, which you may enjoy when the weather is warm and when hot drinks, such as turmeric tea, may not be so desired.

PAPAYA TURMERIC SMOOTHIE

300ml filtered water (you can replace 100ml with full fat coconut milk)

~130g fresh papaya, peeled

0.5-1 tsp turmeric

2 tbsp flax seeds

Turmeric is the king of anti-inflammatory herbs. Here, its bitter taste is masked by the fresh papaya. Fresh papaya contains proteolytic enzymes, which help to rid the body of old immune cells in the gut. Anti-inflammatory omega 3 oils from the flax seeds combine with water to give this smoothie a slightly gel-like texture; don’t be alarmed by this, as this consistency is actually desirable. It protects the membrane of your gut, which can get inflamed due to intense workout sessions, stress or medication.

Ketogenic diet, fasting and cancer

Recently the topic of cancer has been coming up a lot. Therefore I was pleased to find this audio cast - together with a transcription - by Chris Kresser. Here he looks at the evidence on ketogenic diet and cancer. It's a well balanced take and if you have cancer or are caring for someone who does, it may be of interest.

For those who do not want to read through the article, the long and short of it is that yes, diet affects our cancer risk and also our ability to survive it. It's not a magic bullet - and everyones situation is different - but it may sure be something to look into BOTH as a preventative measure as well as part of a recovery program.

I hope you enjoy it. If you want to discuss how diet can help you defend against diseases like cancer, do not hesitate to give me a call and we can meet for a session to discuss your individual situation.

Access the article HERE

Polyphenols; why variety rocks and colours matter

 Different colours, different properties. Polyphenols help our cells run smoothly and resist the wear and tear of time and activity. 

Different colours, different properties. Polyphenols help our cells run smoothly and resist the wear and tear of time and activity. 

I am compiling a talk for early June about the beneficial compounds found in coffee, chocolate and wine. The superstars of this talk are polyphenols; compounds that plants produce to defend themselves against UV rays and microbes.

When we eat plant foods, we benefit from the effects of these polyphenols, which have been researched in relation to cardiovascular disease, ageing, diabetes and cancer (and that's just naming the usual suspects).

There are literally thousands of different kinds of polyphenols, all with slightly different form, function and effect. Different colours signify different polyphenols, so by eating different coloured plant foods we gain a variety of benefits.

In paired-down and over-simplified terms, these polyphenols help our cells work well. And if a cell works well, we as a whole work well.

Polyphenols are one key aspect of why our diet benefits from a variety of plant foods. Think of different colours, seasonality and also whether the plant is grown organically or not. As the polyphenols are the plants' defence mechanism against invaders, the use of herbicides and pesticides lead to a reduced polyphenol content... let alone the fact, that when humans or other animals ingest herbicides, this is not good news for our own biological systems.

Things like coffee and tea, red wine and dark chocolate are indeed a source of polyphenols... but don't let these be your only ones. Tuck into nature's plentiful plethora of plant foods, and let your cells reap the benefits!

PS if you are new to eating plant foods, introduce new plants gradually to avoid constipation from increased fibre and always chew your foods properly to ensure good digestion.

Food for a Healthy Brain

 Can we eat our way out of the dementia epidemic? Research shows that a brain healthy diet is plant based, and rich in colourful, varied, seasonal whole foods. 

Can we eat our way out of the dementia epidemic? Research shows that a brain healthy diet is plant based, and rich in colourful, varied, seasonal whole foods. 

I recently gave a talk for the Camden Carers Service about food and brain health. This topic is so fascinating, as is the brain, one of the most complex organs in our body.

To cut a long talk short, I've compiled the main messages from my presentation here.

In essence, eating for a healthy brain is nothing short of delicious and features a varied and colourful whole food diet. When you include well managed stress levels and regular movement, the studies show that you may be able to reduce your risk of dementia by well over 50 percent. This is a huge percentage - note that no drug on the market is able to do this!

A fairly recent MIND study looked into the benefits of the Mediterranean and other diets in relation to brain health and dementia. Nearly a thousand Chicago residents between the ages of fifty plus to a nearly hundred were followed for approximately four and a half years, and the participants diet and brain health was recorded on a regular basis.

What the study found is that even a moderate adherence to the Mediterranean diet led to a reduction in Alzheimer’s risk by 35%, while with those with stricter adherence to these diets the risk reduced by up to 54%. All diets studied in this research (Mediterranean, MIND diet and DASH diet) were also associated with better heart health and a reduced risk of diabetes and obesity: all of which are key risk factors for dementia

Extrapolating from the study, a brain-healthy diet is largely plant‐based and places particular emphasis on eating colourful, varied, seasonal foods including:

 Healthy fats are key to brain health; after all, made of about 60% of fat, it is the fattiest organ of our body. Paleontological evidence suggests, that when humans learned to fish, our brain size grew fast. DHA – a type of Omega 3 fat – is an abundant fat in our brain membrane. We can’t produce it ourselves: it has to come from food we eat, and it is rich in cold water fish such as sardines, herring, mackerel and salmon.

Healthy fats are key to brain health; after all, made of about 60% of fat, it is the fattiest organ of our body. Paleontological evidence suggests, that when humans learned to fish, our brain size grew fast. DHA – a type of Omega 3 fat – is an abundant fat in our brain membrane. We can’t produce it ourselves: it has to come from food we eat, and it is rich in cold water fish such as sardines, herring, mackerel and salmon.

o   green leafy vegetables (I would recommend 2-3 portions daily minimum. Portion is ~80g)

o   other vegetables – aim for 3 different colours per day! (2-3 portions daily)

o   berries (my recommendation is a portion per day)

o   nuts (my recommendation is 30-50g per day, provided you're ok with nuts)

o   whole grains (however, not all my clients are good with grains...not everything applies to everyone!) 

o   beans (not all my clients are good with legumes either..) 

o   fish

o   poultry

o   olive oil

o   wine (1 glass per day, with meals, preferably organic and local)

Berries provide powerful protection for the brain due to their high antioxidant content, beneficial fibre and relatively low sugar content. You can consume them fresh or defrosted; be mindful however if you eat them out of season, then frozen may be the best option.

The MIND study also identified five unhealthful food categories:

o   red meats (eat rarely, choose organic if possible)

o   fried and fast foods (one serving per week maximum)

o   butter (no more than a tbsp per day)

o   margarine (never, due to the trans-fats/hydrogenated fats)

o   cheese (one serving or less per week)

o   pastries and sweets (avoid all)

 

And how about lifestyle?

 

High levels of physical activity have been found to be associated with up to a 42% reduction in the risk of cognitive impairment in the future, suggesting that increased physical activity can greatly benefit brain health. Fitness levels have also been shown to be associated with better thinking skills and better memory consolidation, as well as with better mood and mental health. Half an hour of physical activity would be beneficial every day: half of this would ideally be with a moderately raised heartbeat.

Good sleep is also a key for good brain health. Sleep helps us to learn as it aids in remembering and consolidating new information while lack of sleep has been shown to interfere with this learning. Nearly all psychiatric and neurological mood disorders express coexisting abnormalities of sleep, suggesting an intimate relationship between sleep and emotion. As the most prevalent mood disorder, major depression has consistently been linked to sleep abnormalities, found in up to 90% of patients.

As chronic stress increases blood sugar levels, raises blood pressure, affects sleep negatively and also may lead to unhealthy food choices and increased ‘self-medication’ with food, alcohol or drugs, low stress levels are ideal with regards to brain health. Finding healthy ways of winding down is central for our brain health as much as it is for our long term wellbeing. 

You can read about the MIND study more HERE

So it seems that in order to keep our precious cognitive super-powers, we should aim to keep the diet as unadulterated as possible, keep moving and truly cherish our downtime. It does not sound completely unreasonable, does it?