Metabolic suicide :: the recovery mission!

October 20th, 2014

Re-boot your metabolism for permanent fat loss

Reality television shows are earning top ratings by flaunting the dramatic weight loss of   individuals desperate enough to endure punishing diet and exercise regimes.

Next time you hear someone moaning about a super restrictive diet, understand that it isn’t just a hissy fit. It’s real. The emotional and physical torment of deprivation challenges the very core of human nature and its inherent survival instincts.

Each time you jump from low carbs to low fat to low calories to high protein you are harming yourself. No-one wants to be fat and it’s great to become pro-active about getting in shape but we have to wise up about how it’s done. It won’t happen with fads, starvation or anything that even resembles torture but by re-booting your metabolism, it will happen and the best news is that it can stay that way. Diets which restrict calories too far may cause a reduction in weight but it almost always causes a reduction in metabolism. Once you begin on this downhill spiral, you are entering a destructive cycle where it is virtually impossible to lose fat without starving and over-exercising.

Too many people are following fads with the best intentions but inadvertently damaging their bodies by losing muscle tone, depleting your fat-burning capacity, your metabolism, your self-esteem, not to mention your overall health and energy levels. When you starve your body your fat-storage enzymes become ultra-efficient, stocking up on fat reserves in preparation for the next famine. Not unlike a bear in hibernation, in preparation for the next anticipated ‘drought’, your body will become a skilful fat-storing machine!

The good news is that even the most seasoned ‘yo-yoers’ can retrain their bodies and re-boot their metabolism, enticing those fat-releasing enzymes out of submission.

You expend energy/kilojoules regardless of your activity levels – even during sleep. Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) represents the energy your body burns over a 24-hour period to maintain normal functions and sustain life, without activity. This is determined by your age, height, weight, gender and, most importantly, your level of lean body weight (muscle tissue). Men commonly have a higher metabolic rate than women due to the fact that they have more lean muscle. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than stored fat tissue and therefore requires more energy to maintain.

Over-restrictive dieting can reduce your BMR by as much as 20 per cent!

Your BMR generally decreases with age and this decrease is exacerbated by kilojoule-restriction that leads to lean muscle loss. The less muscle / lean weight you have, the lower your metabolism. Fad diets often encourage the loss of lean weight because it produces a favourable result on the bathroom scales (lean muscle is heavier and more dense than stored body fat), however, this only works to your detriment in the long-term. Conversely, if you eat a sensible amount of kilojoules and participate in regular strength-promoting exercises, your metabolism can be rejuvenated and maintained for a healthy, lean, permanent result.

A sluggish metabolism causes an inefficient environment to effectively burn kilojoules, making you prone to excess body fat storage and making fat loss increasingly difficult. In an attempt to lower kilojoule intake, we inadvertently consume fewer calories and consequently, fewer nutrients. With this comes low energy levels and sluggish digestion, just at a time where higher energy levels are necessary for simple maintenance, let alone fat loss.

When your metabolism is functioning at its optimum, you have the freedom to consume more food without storing excess fat. Excessive exercise becomes completely unnecessary to maintain a fit, lean and energetic body. A higher level of nutrients can be consumed to promote optimum health and energy, without the looming risk of excess fat storage. In essence, your body becomes an efficient fat-burning machine!

Estimating your personal BMR …

The most accurate way to calculate your BMR is to have your body fat measured, however, the chart below will provide you with an indicative figure to get you on the right track:

Age BMR (men) BMR (women)
10-17 17.7 x weight (kg) + 657 13.4 x weight (kg) + 692
18-29 15.1 x weight (kg) + 692 14.8 x weight (kg) + 487
30-59 11.5 x weight (kg) + 873 8.3 x weight (kg) + 846
60-74 11.9 x weight (kg) + 700 9.2 x weight (kg) + 687
75+ 8.4 x weight (kg) + 821 9.8 x weight (kg) + 624

For example, a 32 year old female weighing 68kg:  8.3 x 68 + 846 = 1410 BMR

Tips for correcting metabolic meltdown …

1. Don’t allow your body to go into ‘starvation mode’. Keep your kilojoule intake just above your Basal Metabolic Rate and don’t skip meals in an attempt to lose weight

2. Don’t be seduced by over-restrictive fad / short-term diets that promise ‘fast’ weight loss. The weight you lose will likely be your valuable lean muscle!

3. Be consistent, but not excessive, with your exercise regime. Incorporate both strength and cardiovascular elements and remember quality, not quantity.

4. Limit your intake of over-processed, kilojoule-dense and nutrient-poor foods. Stick to ‘real’, unrefined and nutritious alternatives. It need not be time-consuming or boring to eat well!

5. Re-asses your goals and make a promise to yourself to change your daily habits for a lifetime,  not simply to fit into your new jeans on the weekend!  Remember, the physical and emotional torture of yo-yo dieting is a price too high to pay.

Things we all need to know (but nobody tells us) about Lycra!

September 15th, 2014

Having had the privilege of living through the past 25 years or so of the evolution of exercise attire, from leg warmers to g-strings worn on the outside of our tights (circa 1980), I feel it’s time for me to offer a few pearls of wisdom. Rather than taking offense, think of me as the honest friend who is brave enough to tell you the truth and, hopefully save you from any future source of embarrassment or regret!

The science behind wearing  Lycra

There are very few physiques flattered by lycra, but here are a few things we need to be aware of:

Tight underwear and the consequent VPL (visible panty line) is unflattering for several reasons. Tight elastic digs in to your bottom, gusset lines are often visible and a tight fitting full brief tends to create phenomena so aptly coined by one of my clients … the low-slung-bum!  Tight full-briefs create a kind of ‘hammock’ from cheek to cheek, forcing the tights to sit low (as opposed to a g-string or seamless brief which allows the tights to follow your natural contours, making your legs look longer and your bottom appear ‘higher’ and more shapely).

On the other hand, beware of the summer-weight or ‘worn thin’ tights. While they may look good in your bedroom mirror, bending over can reveal a little more than you may realise! As for men in Lycra – not without shorts over the top please! If you’re part of the MAMIL set, please, no white, bright or light colours. Black only please.  Ladies: Patterns and thick tights in dark colours can disguise any ‘curves’ you may wish to cover up.

** Important note: Men running or at the gym  – tights (without shorts) are NOT pants!

Finally, if you’re not convinced, please see Exhibit A below :-)

Muscle: your most valuable asset

August 18th, 2014

Are you one of the thousands of Australians enthusiastically pounding the pavement to work off some of that extra winter-flab? Before you take another step, you need to know

WHY WE NEED MUSCLES FOR FAT LOSS.

There has been an urban legend floating around for decades now that we must start a fat-loss regime with plenty of aerobic exercise to strip off the excess lard before tackling the weight-training for tone and shape. After all, muscle builds ‘bulk’ and your goal is to reduce your size, right?  But like many urban legends, this too is utter twaddle!

While aerobic exercise burns calories during execution, our participation is commonly restricted by both time and energy. Even if you were able to walk or run daily for an hour, what about the other twenty-three hours in your day? This is where strength training comes in.

Strength training is extremely important to kickstarting and maintaining fat loss for several reasons:

  1. strength training increases your lean body weight by stimulating muscle growth
  2. calories are burned in the central powerhouse of your muscle cells, know as mitochondrion
  3. your basal metabolic rate burns the majority of your daily calories and this is increased in tandem with muscle gain
  4. more muscle means a more efficient fat-burning ‘furnace’, 24/7 – not simply during exercise sessions

A ‘healthy’ range of body fat for men is between 12 and 18 percent. For a woman, 18 to 28 percent. This is why your weight on the scales is not an accurate guide to improving health, fitness tone, shape or size.

Muscle strength usually peaks between the ages of 20 and 30 years. After the age of 30, untrained muscle begins to decline. Statistics tell us that there is a 7 kilogram muscle loss and 14 kilogram fat gain between the ages of 30 and 60, with a 25% muscle loss between the ages of 50 and 75. While many are concerned about gaining too much muscle, the concern should actually be about managing a ‘normal’ amount of lean muscle.

This results in a loss of lean body weight and a consequent reduction in metabolism. The most dramatic decline in muscle occurs after the age of 70.

Sure you can lose ‘weight’ with aerobic exercise alone, but you will often end up as a smaller version of the flabby person you were trying to whittle away. Significant gains in muscle tone, definition or strength are rarely achieved as a result of aerobic activity.

The bottom line:

-          Muscles help burn fat 24/7

-          It’s almost impossible to gain too much muscle (it’s like being worried about earning too much money!)

-          We’re talking about increasing muscle density, not necessarily size. If you take a gold wedding band for example, whether it’s 9ct or 18ct gold, it doesn’t change size – just composition.

If you’re trying to beat your winter flab into submission by pounding the pavement, think again. Train smart, not hard…and don’t forget about your strength!

OMEGA-3: Are you getting enough?

August 4th, 2014

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid (we need to consume it in our diet), yet it’s one of the toughest to get from our food on a daily basis. Omega 6 is also essential, but it is in abundance in our diet. In fact, most of us are getting too much Omega 6 and nowhere near enough Omega 3. Omega 6 can act as a pro-inflammatory and it can promote thickening and clotting of the blood. Omega 3 is an anti-inflammatory and helps to thin the blood. This is why a balance between the intake of these two oils is essential for optimum health. The ideal ratio is 1:1, however most Western diets are more like 20:1 to 50:1 in favour of Omega 6! (see chart below)

Fish oil is the natural oil found in the body of the fish. It is different from fish liver oil as it contains a high concentration of Omega 3, known as EPA and DHA. These fatty acids work on all cells of the body, ensuring that nutrients and chemical messages can pass smoothly from cell to cell throughout all body systems.

Here are a few facts you may find interesting:

-          During pregnancy, the growing baby relies solely on its mother for DHA supply, which is required for healthy development of the baby’s brain and eyes.  During lactation, mums should also keep up their DHA intake to ensure adequate supply through breast milk. This will also replenish the levels of new mums.

-          Due to the risk of mercury toxicity in our fish supply, it is difficult to consume adequate fish to satisfy our need for Omega 3. For this reason, you may consider the addition of flaxseed oil and fish oil supplements to your daily diet. **

-          As much as 37% of school-aged children never or rarely eat fish. With fish playing such an important role in the structure and function of the brain and immune system, it’s not surprising that learning difficulties and allergies are some of the major challenges that parents face these days.

-          Fish oils contribute to healthy heart function in several ways, such as managing healthy fat levels in our blood, increasing HDL (good) cholesterol and reducing inflammation.

**please seek advice from your doctor before taking supplements as they may be contraindicated with certain medications and medical conditions

UNDERSTANDING DIETING METHODS AND FAT LOSS

July 17th, 2014

[extract: 'Fat or Fiction']

Use your intellect and you won’t need willpower!

How to detect a ‘rip off’ weight loss plan

If a weight loss program prescribes a reduction in calories below your BMR together with:

  • no exercise or physical effort
  • unrealistic promises of fast weight loss or
  • sales of the latest cream, pill or potion,

you can be confident that it is a scam! Such ‘magical’ programs will not only disappoint you through lack of promised results, but they may also harm your health, not to mention burning a hole in your pocket.

Some side-effects of such programs may include:

  • loss of lean tissue (predominantly muscle), causing your BMR to decrease.  In short, this mean that fat gain occurs when normal calorie intake is resumed (remember the twins) … hence the so-called yo-yo syndrome
  • loss of vital nutrition
  • a lack of energy and endurance, which automatically reduces fat-burning activity

Many commercial programs actually discourage exercise, particularly weight training.  The reason behind this is that they teach you to measure your progress by the scales.  They want you to see quick results, therefore, loss of muscle tissue is going to show a greater reduction in total body weight – very deceiving!  If you were to retain your lean tissue (muscle) and lose only stored body fat, this would hinder their desired outcome on the scales!

Even if these magic diet plans do not appear to be focusing on calorie restriction, they usually are.  Low fat means low calorie, plain and simple.  Fat has the highest value of calories of all the nutrients we consume.  One gram of fat has nine calories, one gram of protein or carbohydrates has four calories.  You may automatically reduce your total calorie intake when you begin to eat the types of food that your body requires for optimal nourishment.  When the body is satisfied with a balanced, daily intake of vitamins, minerals and all essential nutrients, your volume of food may be greater, however, the caloric value is quite often less and you lose food cravings.  It is still important, however, not to drop below your basal metabolic requirement.

The human body is a remarkable machine.  It will adapt and adjust its system to preserve life.  I t will continue to fine-tune all systems and functions as we try to trick and out-smart it.  If your main focus is on the bathroom scales, you are probably quite proud of yourself for exhibiting the willpower to diligently adhere to your latest calorie restrictions.

As many of us have discovered, it takes incredible willpower to voluntarily sustain feelings of hunger for prolonged periods of time.  Restricting calories is like holding your breath … when you begin to breathe again, you gasp for copious amounts of oxygen; after calorie deprivation you are desperate to feast!

With the lower metabolic rate you have created by losing valuable muscle tissue, that fat will be cascading down those thighs again in no time!  I think that most of us, men and women alike, would like to re-shape our bodies, as opposed to keeping the same shape and just getting a little smaller.  If you do not focus your efforts on changing your body composition, but instead on weight loss, at best, you will become a smaller version of the shape you are now and probably not permanently.  Generally, after several attempts at this spasmodic ritual, our bodies look and feel in worse shape than when we began!

Perhaps this explains why the latest research has proven that 95% of all weight loss clinic clientele regain lost weight.

It is usually at this point that we begin to search for blame.  Age is one reason I hear repeatedly.  As we age we become less active, full stop!  Picture a family get-together.  What are the children doing and what are the adults doing?  Well, I immediately see the image of adults lazing around the food area, eating, drinking and catching up on the latest gossip … probably complaining about how they have just eaten too much food! The children, however, are running, playing and are far too busy to even think about food, until their parents force them to sit still for long enough to eat something!

And, you must have heard this:  ‘It gets harder and harder to lose weight as you get older and, anyway, you are more susceptible to injuries if you exercise too much’.

Obviously, as we get older, we have more responsibilities, less time, perhaps a sedentary job, a vehicle to take us everywhere – excuses, excuses, excuses!  We create these habits, so therefore it is completely within our power to make changes, at the very least, to modify our lifestyle, without great time commitments, to allow for a healthier and more active existence.

Changing the nutritional composition of your diet in ways that are compatible with your lifestyle, and increasing your daily activity and therefore the calories burned, combine to give you a sustainable, logical and healthy method of losing stored body fat … forever!

Protein powders explained…

June 5th, 2014

Contrary to popular belief, Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) is not going to make you ‘bulk up’ and athleticism is not a prerequisite for its consumption.  Having said this, not all protein powders are created equal. Firstly, let’s understand what it is….

The curd in dairy is used for making cheese, while the liquid component, known as whey, is separated from the curd and is put through a micro-filter to remove the lactose and casein – two things many of us don’t digest well – and you’re left with the valuable amino acids and calcium. Whey Protein is possesses the highest biological value of all known Foods (the biological value of well-manufactured Whey Protein is 110-159 on a scale of 1-100). It has many immune-boosting properties, it can slow the process of sarcopenia (muscle loss as we age – see the chart below), lower triglycerides (fats in our blood), boost glutathione levels (powerful antioxidant), boost calcium intake, help to control our weight and keep us feeling fuller for longer.

Far from trying to turn you into a muscle-bound Schwartzneggar, most of us are struggling to maintain ‘normal’ muscle density. They say a picture tells a thousand words, so I’ll let the images below do the talking! This is a very real and common issue. It is not inevitable, but it will happen if we don’t feed our bodies what they need and we neglect regular exercise…

This muscle wasting is thought to underline a number of serious age-related health issues. While it is ‘common’, it is not ‘normal’. Slowing or reversing this process is dependent on exercise and nutrition-based strategies designed to build a reservoir of muscle mass as early as possible. Even very elderly individuals are still able to respond to both resistance training and the anabolic signals provided by protein ingestion, provided the right balance of amino acids (such as those found in WPI) are present.

Here is a list of some of the potential health benefits of WPI:

  • Whey Protein may lower Blood Pressure in Hypertension patients (due to the Alpha-Lactalbumin and Beta-Lactoglobulin content of Whey Protein inhibiting Angiotenson Converting Enzyme (ACE)).
  • Whey Protein is speculated to help prevent Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) (due to its ability to increase the Glutathione content of the Retina).
  • Whey Protein may help to prevent Cataracts (by supplying the Lens with additional Cysteine, the precursor of Glutathione, itself the precursor for Glutathione Peroxidase).
  • Whey Protein may help to prevent various types of Bacterial & Viral Diseases:

- Whey Protein is a valuable treatment for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) – it significantly improves the function of the Immune System in AIDS patients.

- Whey Protein may enhance the ability of Antibodies to counteract the Antigens that cause Bacterial & Viral Diseases.

  • Whey Protein may increase the body’s resistance to some types of Detrimental Bacteria including Helicobacter pylori, Salmonella and Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Whey Protein (20 – 30 grams per day) may counteract the ability of Hydrazines and some other carcinogens to initiate Cancer and may cause the regression of tumors in some Cancer patients:

- Whey Protein may enhance the effectiveness of Radiation Therapy in Cancer patients and may reduce the toxic effects of Radiation Therapy to normal cells (by depleting the Glutathione content of Cancer cells and increasing the Glutathione content of normal cells).

- Whey Protein (30 grams per day) may inhibit the growth of Breast Cancer cells and may cause the regression of some existing Breast Cancer tumours and may reduce the risk of Colon Cancer.

  • Whey Protein may enhance the function of the Immune System:

- Whey Protein may counteract the suppression of the Immune System encountered by people who engage in excessive Exercise.

- Whey Protein may enhance the function of Neutrophils.

  • Whey Protein possesses Antioxidant properties (due to the Lactoferrin and Lactoperoxidase content of Whey Protein).
  • Whey Protein inhibits the ability of Iron to generate Free Radicals (due to the Lactoferrin and Lactoperoxidase content of Whey Protein).
  • Whey Protein may improve Athletic Performance.
  • Whey Protein may lower total Cholesterol levels.
  • Whey Protein may counteract the suppression of the Immune System encountered by people who engage in excessive Exercise.
  • Whey Protein may be useful for the treatment of Hemochromatosis (due to its ability to reduce the excessive generation of Free Radicals caused by the increased Iron levels of Hemochromatosis patients).
  • Whey Protein (30 – 60 grams per day) may increase levels of Glutathione in the Liver in Hepatitis C patients (Hepatitis C patients have severe depletion of Liver Glutathione levels).
  • Whey Protein may help to prevent/treat Insulin Resistance and stablise blood sugar levels
  • Whey Protein may reduce weight in persons afflicted with Obesity by stimulating the production/release of Cholecystokinin (CCK), the Hormone responsible for satiety (i.e. reduced Appetite).
  • Whey Protein may increase Stamina.  In a 2010 study, WPI decreased blood tryglycerides by up to 27%. In another 2011 study, overweight women given 60g of WPI per day for 4 weeks decreased their fasting triglycerides by 15%.
  • Whey Protein may facilitate Muscle Growth by increasing the body’s retention of Nitrogen – Nitrogen retention from Whey Protein is believed to be sixteen times that of free Amino Acids and twice that of whole food.
  • Whey Protein may increase Muscle Strength.
  • Whey Protein may retard the Muscular Atrophy (Sarcopenia) that occurs as a consequence of the Aging Process.
  • Whey Protein may activate Osteoblasts (and may thereby facilitate the formation of Bones).
  • Whey Protein may help to prevent and treat Osteoporosis (by activating Osteoblasts).
  • Whey Protein may help to alleviate Pain (the Tetrapeptides content of Whey Protein have Opioid-like activity).
  • Whey Protein may counteract some of the negative effects associated with excessive Stress (specifically the Tryptophan content of the Alpha-Lactalbumin component of Whey Protein may increase the Brain’s Serotonin levels – excessive Stress often causes Serotonin depletion and this depletion of Serotonin is one of the causes of the cognitive impairment experienced during Stress).
  • Whey Protein may inhibit bronchoconstriction in (exercise-induced) Asthma patients.
  • Whey Protein may alleviate (atopic) Eczema.
  • Whey Protein may reduce the severity of Psoriasis (possibly due to the Transforming Growth Factor-beta2 content of Whey Protein).
  • Whey Protein may accelerate the healing of Wounds.
  • Whey Protein may stimulate the endogenous production of Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1).
  • Whey Protein may facilitate the production of Serotonin (due to the Tryptophan content of the Alpha-Lactalbumin component of Whey Protein).
  • Whey Protein (when correctly processed) may cause sustained increases in the body’s Glutathione levels (due to the high content of Cysteine (a precursor of Glutathione) in Whey Protein).
  • Whey Protein may lower elevated Cortisol levels.
  • Whey Protein may inhibit increases in Ghrelin (hunger hormone).
  • Whey Protein contains approximately 24% Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs, i.e. Isoleucine, Leucine and Valine) – this is the highest concentration of BCAAs of any single Protein.

Making sure you’re getting the real deal…

“Proprietary Blends” of Whey Proteins

The term “proprietary blend” is not listed on these brands of Whey Protein as an indication of any special benefits attributable to them.  The term usually disguises the requirement to reveal the percentage of each of the various Proteins in the product.  Some “proprietary blends” contain as little as 10% of “desirable” Proteins.  They usually contain many non-Protein additives and the Whey Protein constituent is “denatured”.

Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC)

Whey Protein Concentrate contains 25% – 89% Protein (most commonly it contains 80% Protein) which is less than the percentage of Protein present in Whey Protein Isolate.  The remaining non-Protein constituents are mainly Carbohydrates (predominantly Lactose) and Lipids.

Whey Protein Concentrate contains several micronutrients not present in Whey Protein Isolate including: IGF-1, TGFb-1 and TGFb-2. Whey Protein Concentrate contains higher levels of the following nutrients compared with Whey Protein Isolate: Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), Immunoglobulins and Lactoferrin.

Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)

Whey Protein Isolates contain 90% – 96% Protein.

Ion Exchange Whey Protein Isolate

The manufacturing process for Ion Exchange Whey Protein involves charging the Whey Protein solution with static electricity which charges the ions in the Whey Protein.  The Protein can then be separated from the Lactose and Water. It contains almost zero fats and little, if any, of the micronutrients present in Whey Protein Concentrate.

Microfiltered Whey Protein Isolate (as used in Donna Aston’s PURE Protein Supreme)

The manufacturing process for Microfiltered Whey Protein Isolate involves the physical separation of the Proteins in Whey from Whey’s other constituents by the use of a microscopic filter. Microfiltered Whey Protein Isolate is likely to be superior to Ion Exchange Whey Protein Isolate on the basis that key micronutrients (subfractions) are not lost during the manufacturing process. Our PURE Protein Supreme is, as the name suggests, pure – without additives. It is fructose and gluten-free and contains only a trace of lactose, making it suitable for those with various food intolerances.

http://www.donnaaston.com/store/index.php?category=3

Let Food Be Thy Medicine!

June 4th, 2014

While we know that our food choices can have an impact on our weight and energy levels, you may not realise that they can also have a significant impact on inflammation. With inflammation at the source of many disease processes, it’s important to be aware of what is driving the inflammatory process and what can reduce/reverse it.

Surprisingly, the human body contains over 10 times more bacteria cells than human cells. This fine balance of bacteria, known as our microbiome, is now understood to have a significant impact on human health. The human microbiome may be implicated in numerous auto-immune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetes and some cancers. Not only is the flora in our gut the foundation of our immune system (>70 percent is housed in our gut wall), obesity may also be exacerbated by a poor mix of gut microbes. These microbes control many functions essential to health, such as synthesis of nutritional compounds, for immune modulation and for inflammatory signalling.

PRO-INFLAMMATORY ANTI-INFLAMMATORY
sugar Flavonoid-rich berries (fresh or frozen)
fructose Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy)
Trans fats/processed vegetable oils Citrus fruits  (lemons, limes, grapefruit)
Flour/processed carbohydrates High-carotene vegetables (pumpkin, carrots, orange peppers)
Baked goods (trans fats/sugars) Lycopene sources (tomatoes, watermelon, strawberry, papaya, pink grapefruit)
Excessive alcohol consumption Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, bok choy)
Excessive Omega 6 fats (vegetable oils, nuts and associated products) & low Omega 3 fats (fish, flaxseed, etc) Herbs & spices (turmeric, ginger, garlic, onion, rosemary, capsicum, dill)
MSG Wild salmon
Low fibre diet Proteolytic enzymes (pineapple, kiwi fruit, papaya, miso)
excessive additives and artificial ingredients Adequate quantity & variety of dietary fibre (see list below)

Optimum for men: 30-35g/day , women 25-30g/day

So where does fibre come into it?

Fibre represents a group of carbohydrate-containing compounds that are neither digested nor absorbed in the small intestine. What most people don’t realize is the relevance of the different types of dietary fibres as well as the optimal daily intake. I’d suggest that the vast majority of us are not consuming anywhere close to the quantity and variety necessary for optimum health. Structural classifications have been developed based on either the water solubility or the susceptibility to large intestinal bacterial degradation (fermentation). Although fibre in general is an important source of energy for intestinal microflora, various fibres show different fermentation potentials.

An anti-inflammatory effect of fibre is of special interest because higher fibre intake has been linked to a decreased overall mortality in older adults including mortality due to infectious, inflammatory, and respiratory diseases. High fibre intake has also been associated with lower BMI, likely at least partly due to the low energy density of fibre-rich foods. Researchers are now also considering the alteration fibre causes to the intestinal microbiome and how this may directly affect our weight.

While the adequate intake (AI) of dietary fibre has long been established (25+g/day for women and 30g+ for men), the ideal ratio of the two types of fibre may still require further investigation. Animal studies have demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects with the ratio 1:1 or 2:1 in favour of fermentable fibres. Fermentable fibres are usually soluble, whereas insoluble fibres usually have poor fermentability.

Soluble fibre dissolves in water to form a thick gel in your intestines, slowing digestion. This can help to stabilise blood glucose levels and may help to lower LDL cholesterol levels. By slowing down digestion, soluble fibre helps people feel full for longer after eating. Foods higher in soluble fibre include:

  • fruits and vegetables
  • rolled oats (also contain insoluble fibre)

Insoluble fibre, adds bulk and helps to keep the bowels regular. It is the hard outer skins and surfaces of roots, grains and seeds which are not as easily digested. Insoluble fibre is also very filling. Foods higher in insoluble fibre include:

  • whole grains
  • the outer skins of fruit and vegetables
  • nuts and seeds

Both types of fibre are beneficial to the body and most plant foods contain a mixture of both types. Are you getting enough fibre each day?

FOOD SOURCE TOTAL FIBRE (g) INSOLUBLE (g) SOLUBLE (g)
Raw almonds – 1 cup 15.9 14.3 1.6
Apple – med with skin 3.7 2.7 1.0
Banana – 1 med 2.8 2.1 0.7
Tomato – 1 cup 2.0 1.8 0.2
Green beans – 1 cup 3.7 2.1 1.6
Raspberries – 1 cup 8.4 7.5 0.9
Cabbage – 1 cup ckd 3.4 1.9 1.5
Carrot – 1 cup raw 3.3 1.7 1.6
Muesli, raw – 1 cup 10.0 7.3 2.7
Kiwi fruit – 1 med 2.6 2.0 0.6
Mandarin – 1 cup 4.5 2.7 1.8
Oat bran – 1 cup 4.8 2.8 2.0
Rolled oats – 1 cup 4.0 2.1 1.9

Antioxidants

One of the most powerful (internal) antioxidants in our body is glutathione. Glutathione is different from other antioxidants in that it is intracellular. It has the unique ability of maximizing the activity of all the other antioxidants. It removes toxins from your cells and protects you from the damaging effects of radiation, chemicals, and environmental pollutants.

Your body is quite poor at getting glutathione from your digestive system into your blood. Most oral glutathione supplements have been shown to be poorly absorbed and, quite frankly, a waste of money. In fact, some glutathione supplements may interfere with your own internal production of glutathione.

The best way to boost your glutathione levels by consuming foods (and potentially supplements) which enhance your own production. Some of these foods are listed below:

BOOSTING GLUTATHIONE

NUTRIENT TO INCREASE FOOD SOURCES
Glutathione Asparagus, spinach garlic, avocado, zucchini, grapefruit, strawberries, peaches
Selenium Brazil nuts, meat, seafood
Cyanohydroxybutene Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage
Alpha lipoic acid Red meat, organ meats, brewers yeast
Riboflavin Sunflower seeds, spinach, avocado
Cysteine Eggs, garlic, whey protein
Flavonoids A wide variety of colourful plant foods, including berries, citrus fruits, vegetables, spices and tea

Coping with peer pressure

May 29th, 2014

It’s one thing to change your own psychology when embarking on a new eating and exercise regime but watch in wonder at how all of your friends react too. It’s quite an eye opener.

Often the people you think will be most supportive, turn out to be the most threatened. They start to notice you are choosing different foods from a menu, bringing lunch to work from home instead of the local sandwich bar and all the questions begin. Curiosity develops into lectures or challenges on the subject because there is always one friend or colleague who knows better.

Others will always try to sabotage your efforts to change. Often it’s your overweight friend who bonded with you over chocolate cake and cappuccino. Removing the sweets from the relationship leaves the relationship in crumbs.

These people often make themselves feel better by ensuring that you are not going to outshine them. They feel guilty eating that sugar-laden dessert after dinner when you have no intention of joining them. They pressure you in the name of encouragement: ‘Go on, just have a little bit’ or ‘One won’t do you any harm’ or my personal favourite ‘You only live once.’ Agreed, but you’d prefer to do it without being obese and crippled with disease!

You may already be feeling self-conscious about the changes you’re making and become tense at any extra attention. You may also be bursting to tell everyone of your new-found diet answers and want to bring the world on board.

Here is my advice to fight the peer pressure:
- Be strong – don’t allow others’ insecurities to hinder your ability to make positive changes.

- Be a leader, not a follower. Don’t be afraid to be different. You don’t have to behave in the same way as everyone else just to ‘fit in.’

-Try not to be evangelistic. If you try to ‘convert’ others because you are so enthusiastic about your new regime, no matter how genuine your intentions, this is asking for peer pressure. When the results are evident for all to see you will be fighting off the hoards begging for your ‘secret’. This is your cue to discuss your dietary changes if you wish. At this point, they can no longer tell you it doesn’t work as they’ve just admitted that it does!

-Be patient with yourself.

Above all else, make the commitment and stick with it. The results will be more than worth it.

THE POWERFUL CONNECTION BETWEEN YOUR MENTAL HEALTH & YOUR DIET

May 5th, 2014

You can’t pick up a magazine or newspaper without reading about the latest studies linking diet and nutrition to all manner of disease, such as sugar and diabetes, folate and spina bifida or obesity and heart disease…but what about our mental health? You may be surprised to learn just a few of the following facts. Yet a few more reasons to ‘nourish’ your body with food!

Your brain

  • The brain is the largest organ in our body and it consumes 20% of our energy
  • Like other organs, the brain is affected by what we eat and drink
  • Unlike other organs, the link between diet and the brain is not as well recognised
  • The brain is lipid (fat) rich tissue and develops in size in the first year of life. It is very susceptible to nutritional deprivation (such as iodine, iron and omega 3) and insult (methyl mercury poisoning)
  • Disability-adjusted life years (DALY) is a measure of overall disease burden, or the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death. Of the major diseases and conditions in the world, mental illness ranks #1 with a staggering 193,278,495 billion, leaps and bounds ahead of cardiovascular disease, HIV and cancer
  • 27% of years of ‘healthy’ life lost due to poor health or disability
  • Mental illness affects 1 in 5 Australians at some stage of their life
  • Rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are greater in this population:
  • 42% with schizophrenia are obese versus 27% of the general population

Depression

  • The blood supply to the brain is very extensive, therefore the delivery of nutrients and energy depends on brain blood vessel function and blood flow
  • In patients suffering from depression, studies have shown a reduction in blood flow to the brain and a reduction in glucose metabolism
  • About 20% of women and 10% of men have one episode of depression in their lives
  • There has been a 20-fold increase in incidence of depression since 1945
  • Symptoms: depressed mood, inability to concentrate, fatigue, sense of worthlessness or guilt, changes in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, reduced libido, suicidal thoughts
  • “The one disorder that is most responsive to diet” – Larry Christensen, Diet-Behaviour Relationships – Focus on Depression. American Psychological Association, 1996.
  • Causes of depression: increased stress & anxiety, genetics, a link to changes in diet since 1945 – less fruit and vegetables, fewer whole grains, very little oily fish.
  • This type of diet is fuelling not only obesity, CVD, diabetes and some cancers, but it may also contribute to rising rates of mental illness
  • Omega 3 (especially EPA) may influence/enhance blood flow to the brain
  • EPA and DHA found in fish oil have a positive influence on the production of eicosanoids (powerful regulating hormones), which are also known to be affected by the drugs used to treat depression
  • Omega 3 reduces the production of inflammation
  • 60% of our brain matter is lipids (fats), 1/6 of which are the essential fatty acids

Micronutrients and Behaviour

  • An experimental study of 3399 imprisoned juveniles found that replacement of refined sugary foods with unsweetened foods was associated with 21% fewer antisocial acts, a 25% reduction in assaults, a 100% reduction in suicides and a 75% reduction in the use of restraints!
  • The combination of nutrients most commonly associated with good mental health include Omega 3 (found in oily fish), the minerals zinc, magnesium and iron and vitamins B (incl. folate), C and E
  • Diets lacking in the above-mentioned nutrients are generally at higher risk of:
  • A range of depressive disorders, ADHD, Schizophrenia, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Studies show DHA improved memory and learning in healthy adults aged 55 and over (Alzheimer’s & Demential, May 6th 2010 – The MIDAS study)

Iodine

  • Iodine is required for production of thyroid hormones which are essential for growth and development of the brain during foetal and early postnatal life
  • Iodine deficiency results in a global loss of 10-15 intellectual quotient points at a population level and constitutes the world’s greatest single cause of preventable and irreversible brain damage and mental retardation
  • Insufficient iodine intake can result in poor school performance and impaired work capacity
  • Food sources are seafood and seaweed and from some plant foods grown in iodine-rich soil
  • Australian soils/food chain is very low in iodine. Many decades ago, milk bottles were sterilized with iodine but they no longer exist. Since this time iodine intake has plummeted
  • In recent years, it has been made compulsory in Australia to fortify bread with iodized salt in an attempt to boost the nations iodine intake. While this may help, bread alone is not sufficient during pregnancy

Diet soft drinks – friend of foe?

April 3rd, 2014

Diet soft drinks began way back in 1952, when a New York-based company launched a sugar-free ginger ale called No-Cal. This was created with Diabetics in mind, not dieters. Over the next few decades, several other companies began to compete in this arena and, in 1963, the Coca-Cola Company joined in with the launch of the cyclamate and saccharin sweetened ‘Tab’. In 1982 our very own Elle Macpherson strutted her stuff on the very famous TV commercial. This was closely followed by the release of Diet Pepsi in the 1960’s. Over the years there have been numerous reformulations of these diet drinks due to the banning of certain sweetening agents and their links to ill health and disease (in the case of cyclamates, the FDA banned them on evidence they caused cancer in lab rats). These days most are still sweetened with aspartame (Nutrasweet) or a combination of several different artificial sweeteners.

It’s interesting … while there have been rumblings about the potential health risks of diet soft drinks for many years now (regular drinkers have a 43% increased risk of stroke and heart attack and other vascular problems), it’s not until you hear that your risk of gaining weight is increased by 54.5% with just 1-2 cans a day that the majority of the soda drinking population prick their ears up! Let’s explore this further…

What are we drinking?

The primary ingredient is carbonated water. After this the ingredients vary, commonly a cocktail of artificial flavours, sweeteners, colours, acidifying and buffering agents, viscosity-producing and foaming agents and preservatives.

Sweeteners: Whilst those used in these drinks are ‘approved’ by the governing authorities, many other health practitioners caution against their consumption due to numerous complaints of side effects, such as headaches, dizziness, mood swings, nausea, seizures and abdominal pain.

Phosphoric Acid: This ingredient stops soft drinks from going flat.  Unfortunately it also leaches calcium from your bones and teeth in an attempt to restore your bodys delicate balance of phosphorus and calcium. It also neutralizes hydrochloric acid in your stomach, which is needed for digestion.

Potassium and sodium benzoate: These are preservatives that fend off mold and bacteria. When mixed with vitamin C the reaction forms benzene – a chemical which has been linked to leukemia and other cancers (according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest). Benzene is the same chemical which is released into the air from car emissions, burning coal and oil. It’s also used extensively in production of dyes, detergents, synthetic fibres, solvents, rubber and plastics. The US FDA conducted a food testing program between 1995 and 2000 and found that 79% of the soft drinks were found to have benzene above safe levels.

Artificial colouring: Various colouring, such as blue 1, caramel, red 40 and yellow 5 are common in soft drinks. Caramel colouring has recently been the topic of interest with studies showing these brown-coloured soft drinks contain a dose of the chemical 4-methylimidazole, or 4-Mel, commonly referred to on labels simply as ‘caramel colouring’. The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer say the chemical may cause cancer and is concerned about exposure above 29 micrograms/day. Many soft drinks tested contained amounts of 4-Mel above this level.

The low down

The perception that diet sodas are a healthier alternative to sugary soft drinks might be very wrong, according to the results of the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging, which were reported at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) 2011 Scientific Sessions.

This study, conducted over a 9 year period, showed that overall consumers of diet soft drinks experienced a 70% greater increase in waist circumference than non-consumers.

This is not the first study to associate weight gain with the consumption of diet soft drinks. In 2005, another study found that those who consumed 1-2 cans per day of diet soft drink had a 54.5% greater chance of being overweight or obese, plus for each can consumed per day, a persons risk of obesity increased by 41%!

So how can this be so when there is no sugar and almost no calories in diet drinks?

There are several possibilities…

-       the sweet taste has an effect on the appetite control centre in our brain

-       the sweet taste may stimulate an insulin response, just as it would when sugar is consumed. Insulin is a ‘fat storage’ hormone

-       it’s possible there is no effect at all, except that overweight people may tend to drink more diet drinks (it’s a chicken & egg situation!)

Conclusion

At this stage, there is no conclusive evidence to indicate which of these may be most plausible, however, the fact remains that, for whatever reason/s, diet sodas increase your risk of gaining excess body fat and, the more you consume the greater your risk.

Given the ingredients outlined above and the fact that these drinks may also increase your risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, weight gain and possibly even cancer, I really can’t think of a good reason to partake…