Archive for the ‘diet & nutrition’ Category

OMEGA-3: Are you getting enough?

Monday, 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

Thursday, 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…

Thursday, 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!

Wednesday, 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

Thursday, 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.

Media Headline: “High protein diet raises cancer risk as much as smoking”

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Dozens of worldwide media outlets are reporting on the same study recently published in the Journal of Cell Metabolism. Let’s take a look at the facts…

The study:

The researchers conducted a 24-hour dietary recall (known to be highly inaccurate) and measured nutrient intake (protein, carbohydrates, fats, and calories) of 6,000 participants. These participants were categorised into three groups (low, medium and high protein intake) based on their consumption in one 24 hour period.

Eighteen years later they measured causes of death (cancer, diabetes, heart disease and all-cause mortality). The researchers theory was that protein increases IGF-1, which may increase the rate of growth in tumours already present in mice. In addition to this, 2,200 participants were tested for IGF-1 levels, although no information on how this testing was done was detailed in the study.

Their “findings”:

This was an observational study.  This means they are looking for relationships between two or more phenomena and commenting on this association, however, this method of research cannot prove causation.

For example, you may look at the association between the increased presence of umbrellas in wet weather. Although umbrellas are often present when it rains, it doesn’t prove that they cause it to rain!

Unfortunately, claiming causation based off of an association is exactly what these researchers have done. Hence the sensationalism of the headlines.

Overall, our human and animal studies indicate that a low protein diet during middle age is likely to be beneficial for the prevention of cancer, overall mortality, and possibly diabetes through a process that may involve, at least in part, regulation of circulating IGF-1. Having said this, is it the low-protein component or is it due to the possibility that those who consume ‘high’ protein generally lead a relatively unhealthy lifestyle. After all, protein can be a Big Mac or a piece of steamed fish. Big difference.

In short, there are many influencing factors that have been ignored in this study. For example, those who eat more meat are typically not living healthy lifestyles. They may be inactive, consume less fruits/vegetables, smoke, consume high amounts of added sugar, alcohol, chemicals and preservatives, etc. They likely live the typical Western life. Despite the ability to control statistically for these factors in an equation, you cannot control physiologically for the interactions, and you certainly cannot pick one factor out of the myriad and claim it is the main cause.

Findings of many studies to date also indicate that it may be important to avoid low protein intake and gradually adopt a moderate to high protein to allow the maintenance of a healthy weight and protection from frailty.

In addition, the authors claim a benefit of increasing the consumption of plant proteins, however, the results from the mice studies where animal protein was actually replaced with plant proteins do not support these statements. There was no effect on tumor growth regardless of type of protein consumed. Not to mention the fact that mice, unlike humans, do not consume very much of their natural diet from protein sources (primarily herbivores).

Despite the very similar rate of cancer death per group, the authors described this as a 70% increase in cancer mortality with higher protein consumption, triggering a media sensation, despite the absence of these statistics (it seems they have calculated this figure over the entire cohort, rather than the categorised groups).

Next the authors claim that protein consumption increases the release of insulin and IGF-1, which increases the growth of existing cancer cells.

It does not cause the development of cancer.  If IGF-1 and insulin caused the development of cancer then we should all avoid exercising (as it’s a powerful stimulator of IGF-1) and eating as every time we eat (especially carbohydrates) insulin is released to maintain normal blood glucose levels.

It’s also worth noting that the author (who supervised this study) is Victor D. Longo (VDL), the founder of the company, VDL. VDL, designed the study and obtained funding from the Nation Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, or the writing or and publishing of the manuscript. VDL has an equity interest in L-Nutra, a company that develops medical food. L-Nutra’s products are a “formulation of natural nutrients with the ability to provide nourishment and allow subjects to enjoy a combination of good and mostly organically grown and plant-based food.”

In summary, there appears to be a vested interest from the author of this study and some exaggerated and unfounded claims, which have eventuated in a sensational media storm. I know we all aim to do the best we can for our health and sensational claims, such as this, don’t make our decisions any easier. I felt compelled to write this blog to clarify a few things.

At the end of the day, a balanced diet containing lean protein (beef, fish, chicken, dairy, eggs) and loads of colourful, fresh plant foods will cover all bases. I don’t advocate “high” or “low” anything as “high” is more than your body can use, which is useless and “low” is less than your body needs, which is also useless. Adequate amounts of lean protein, unprocessed carbs and essential unrefined oils is the best ratio for optimum health and longevity.

As I always say – you can’t believe everything you read!

Prehab

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

Tight neck & shoulders? Aching lower back? Do you sit for hours a day? Do you play a sport or train regularly? Read on…prehab may be just what the doctor ordered…

What is it?
Prehab is a customised and ever-evolving exercise program designed to match your lifestyle, physical condition and goals for change and/or maintenance. It provides body-specific focused exercises and activities to best suit an individuals needs.

Used to keep high-level athletes in optimum physical condition for decades, incorporating prehab into your training regime is just as important for those of low to moderate fitness levels, if not more so. The philosophy is essentially to prevent injuries and to keep you fit to train and fit to sit! The development of postural issues, specific muscle weakness/tightness and pressure on joints is exacerbated by day-to-day life. Prolonged working hours, sitting (car, plane, desk, sofa), poor ergonomics in our work environment, stress and recreational sports/exercise can all play a role in causing a multitude of imbalances. Injuries often occur as a result of many years of repetitive strain. You’ll often hear someone say they bent down to tie a shoe lace and ‘put their back out’. The shoe lace is not the cause – it was likely the 10 years of sitting at a desk for 8-10 hours a day leading up to this event.

The development and execution of an effective program can be complex. The practice of prehab and its success relies greatly on an individuals ability to commit to prevention. The development of the program needs to be progressive and regularly re-evaluated to tweak and change with the individuals needs.

Who Needs it?

Individuals of all ages and fitness levels can gain great benefits from incorporating prehab into their weekly regime. The more stress your body is under, the greater the need for prehab. Too often repetitive actions and everyday stresses can have a negative effect on our body. Incomplete and limited training techniques may cause tightness in certain muscle groups, imbalances in strength, coordination and/or muscle stabilisation. It’s difficult to avoid such imbalances as they occur with most activities and are constantly reinforced. This repetition is at the core of many injuries and may predispose an individual to a greater risk of injury and joint degeneration. This is where a specific prehab program comes in.

What’s involved?

A customised prehab program takes into consideration any existing imbalances, lifestyle, posture, weaknesses and strengths. It balances and optimises your range of movement, strength, coordination and stabilisation. In designing your prehab program, your trainer will compare left to right, front to back and upper to lower. Exercises and mobility training are focused on correcting weaknesses and vulnerabilities, primarily stabilisation of the hips/glutes, and the core. This may require a combination of Clinical Pilates, specialised Personal Training and consultation with an Exercise Physiologist. Tools such as a foam roller, balance boards, Pilates Reformers and weighted balls are invaluable in such a program. A Nutritionist may also be enlisted to complete the Prehab program. It’s important to ensure your movement is not being impaired by carrying excess body fat and/or excessive inflammation, plus there needs to be focus on optimum nutrition to allow efficient muscle recovery.

Prehab programs can be as simple as adding a few exercises in a warm up or cool down or as complex as a dedicated workout focussed on correcting weaknesses.

Who can help me?

Individuals should be screened for imbalances, measuring active range of motion and strength, biomechanical observations, past medical history, overall lifestyle, goals and present health status. Such screenings can be initiated and monitored by a Certified Exercise Physiologist.

For further information, please contact Aston Fitness – info@donnaaston.com or +61 3 9827 8671

The ‘Secret’: Make it your New Years Resolution…

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

If I have a dollar for each time I’m asked (or told) about a new miracle diet plan, pill, cream, procedure or fad exercise class, I’d have my feet up on my private island counting the proceeds!

Despite the fact that the worldwide obesity rate continues to climb and 99% of fad diets end in a dramatic rebound, most continue to remain eternally optimistic about finding the elusive weight loss Holy Grail. While I’m all for optimism, the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing and expect something different to happen!

I’m going to let you in on a secret – and believe me, I am speaking from many years of experience…

To gain and maintain the body you desire is not the result of any specific exercise or diet plan, it’s simply the result of a way of life.

I have clients and friends who exercise 10 times more than I do, yet they’re still struggling with their weight. Getting into shape and staying there is all about lifestyle choices and consistency. It’s not about ‘excess’ and you cannot out-run or out-train poor choices. So the “secret” is as follows:

  1. Take responsibility: while you’re spending all of your energy trying to find the ‘right’ program, you’re relying on someone or something else to fix it. Take responsibility for your choices. You will not have success until you suck this one up.
  2. Consistency: rather than being “all or nothing” or “going hard” for a short period of time, find a happy medium and stick with it. Remember, if you try to be ‘perfect’, you will fail time and again.
  3. 3. K.I.S.S.: there’s no need to follow an elaborate program, nor is it feasible to sustain. Keep it as simple as A, B, C! Aim for the following:

Active: 30 mins/day of movement (walk, run, swim, play with the kids…whatever works!)

Braun: Use your strength 2-3 times/week (the gym, a home program, with a trainer – just do it!)

Choices: eat 3 meals a day and put 5 minutes of thought/organisation into it the evening beforehand to ensure you don’t get caught out. Loads of colour, lean protein at each meal, adequate water intake, no added sugar or processed carbs and fats. Simple!

Now that you know the ‘secret’, it’s time to make this your resolution for the New Year. Let’s face it, you’ve tried everything else and have likely had many failures. This is the easiest of the lot and most importantly, it works!  Happy New Year  :-)

Think before you drink…

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

With the festive season fast approaching, it’s easy to be seduced by the numerous Christmas parties and celebrations. As we all know, a little extra alcohol consumption is generally part and parcel of such occasions. Before you become immersed in the festive season, it may be worthwhile familiarising yourself with the calories in alcohol…

The calorie misconception

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

I have found over many years of consulting with and advising clients, that most people believe they need far more calories than they actually do. While online calorie calculators are now widely accessible, they may provide an estimate of your requirement, but much of the time I have found these estimates to be too high. Particularly when we enter information about our activity to calculate calories burned over and above our minimum daily requirement (BMR). In the menu planner in my sixth book, The End of Dieting,  you will find and accurate BMR calculator. However, be careful not to overestimate your perceived activity. Once you have one of these calculations, if you follow this honestly over a period of weeks and you do not see a significant loss in body fat, you are probably over-consuming. In this case, I don’t care about the fact that your calculations are correct, or that it’s working for your best friend and third cousin on your mothers side! The only thing that matters is that it’s not working for you. The fact remains that if you continue to do the same thing you will continue to get the same result. You either increase your daily exercise and/or decrease your portions by 10 per cent (or both!) and you WILL kick-start fat loss. Your body is a mirror-image of your lifestyle. If you’re 80 kilos with a goal of 60 kilos, and you get ‘stuck’ at 70 kilos, it’s because you have the diet and exercise habits of a 70 kilo person. Tweak your lifestyle to that of a 60 kilo person and your body will have no choice but to follow you there!

Now, I hear you saying that you may keel over from malnutrition if you stick to this rule of thumb, but I’m here to tell you it’s going to be pretty close to what your body needs.

After discussing goals with a client recently, she commenced her new regime. Two weeks later she was standing in my office to weigh in and discuss how she was progressing. Let’s call her Jenny. Jenny started out at 20 kilos above her ‘healthy’ weight and, as a result, had been experiencing some health problems. She was quite distressed, explaining to me that she would have starved to death on the amount of food I had suggested if she had kept it up for more than a day (the plan, by the way, included three balanced main meals and two snacks each day and the appropriate amount of calories). I asked her what ‘starving’ felt like. Did she feel faint, shaky, lethargic, vague, nauseous?  All of which may have indicated that she was not consuming enough food and she was experiencing blood sugar fluctuations, which we certainly want to avoid at all costs. She said her stomach felt empty, but there were no ‘symptoms’ as such. She felt to compelled to increase the amount of food we’d recommended because she couldn’t stand the hunger. So I weighed Jenny and measured her body composition to compare it to her initial result two weeks prior. No surprise she was exactly the same. She hadn’t lost a gram of fat. After a long conversation, I started to get the feeling that much of what Jenny had experienced was a psychological attachment to her food and a fear of change. Jenny left my office with a new goal: to take on the food plan with an open mind and instructions to contact me immediately should she start feeling unwell.  Seven days later an ecstatic Jenny skipped out of my office having lost 1.5 kilos of pure body-fat! She had experienced no hunger. In fact, she now felt she had more energy and fewer cravings. The lesson in this? Sometimes we need to let old habits die and acknowledge that change can be a bit intimidating. It’s a lot easier to feel full and satisfied if you focus on ‘quality’ rather than ‘quantity’.