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Aspartame

Aspartame is an intense sweetener, approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar, which has been used in soft drinks and other low-calorie or sugar-free foods throughout the world for more than 25 years. It is also referred to as E951. It was discovered by accident in 1965 when James Schlatter, a chemist of G.D. Searle Company, was testing an anti-ulcer drug.

The artificial sweetener has been the subject of several controversies since its initial approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1974. The FDA approval of aspartame was highly contested, with critics alleging that the quality of the initial research supporting its safety was inadequate and flawed and that conflicts of interest marred the 1981 approval of aspartame.

So why is it so bad?

Chemicals already in our body Aspartate and glutamate act as neurotransmitters in the brain by facilitating the transmission of information from neuron to neuron. Too much aspartate or glutamate in the brain can kill neurons by allowing too much calcium into the cells. This influx triggers excessive amounts of free radicals, which in turn kill the cells.

Aspartame is made up of 40% Aspartic Acid, 50% Phenylalanine,  Methanol a.k.a wood alcohol/poison/ANTIFRREEZE!

Aspartic acid is an amino acid that significantly raises the blood plasma level of aspartate and glutamate. As mentioned above this leads to killing off of our cells!

The large majority (75 percent or more) of neural cells in the brain are killed before any clinical symptoms of a chronic illness are noticed. A few of the many chronic illnesses that have been shown to be contributed to by long-term exposure to excitatory amino acid damage include:

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • ALS
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Memory loss
  • Hormonal problems
  • Dementia
  • Epilepsy
  • Brain lesions
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Neuroendocrine disorders

Phenylalanine is an amino acid normally found in the brain. Persons with the genetic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) cannot metabolize phenylalanine. This leads to dangerously high levels of phenylalanine in the brain (sometimes lethal). It has been shown that ingesting aspartame, especially along with carbohydrates, can lead to excess levels of phenylalanine in the brain even in persons who do not have PKU.

Excessive quantities of phenylalanine in the brain can cause the levels of serotonin in the brain to decrease, leading to emotional disorders such as depression. It was shown in human testing that phenylalanine levels of the blood were increased significantly in human subjects who chronically used aspartame.

Methanol is a deadly poison. It is used in products such as bio diesel and antifreeze. (So why wouldn’t you want to drink it?)The absorption of methanol into the body is sped up considerably when free methanol is ingested. Free methanol is created from aspartame when it is heated to above 30°c. This would occur when aspartame-containing product is stored in direct sunlight or when it is heated e.g. in Jelly. Methanol breaks down into formaldehyde in the body. Formaldehyde is a deadly neurotoxin. Yes the stuff they use in embalming-nice!

As well as the more serious conditions mentioned above ingestion of Aspartame has been shown to have lower level health responses that people would not necessarily have related to that diet drink they have had. These include.

•             Headaches/migraines

•             Fatigue (blocks sufficient glucose entry into brain)

•             Anxiety attacks

•             Nausea

•             Sleep problems

•             Depression

•             Abdominal pains

•             Vision problems

•             Asthma/chest tightness

•             Memory Loss

Aspartame is predominately but not limited to use in diet, low fat, no sugar products. This is so that manufacturers can take out the calorie content making you think it therefore a healthier product but still make the product taste sweet. Some examples include:

Diet Coca Cola,Pepsi,7up, tango etc,  Coca Cola Zero, Pepsi Max ,Lucozade Sport ,Schweppes Slimline Drinks (now you know why I tell you to take the calories and go full fat!), Robinsons Orange Squash, Robinson’s No added sugar range, Muller Light Yoghurt, Some Activia Flavour Yoghurts, Weight Watchers Products (don’t set me off again!)Wrigleys chewing gum, Uncle Ben’s LightCooking Sauces, Some flavours of Walkers Crisps, Canderel, Silver Spoon Sweetness and Light,Silver Spoon Light Granulated Sugar,Cadburys Highlights,  Options Hot Chocolate Drink.

I could go on but I would suggest you start checking your labels in the supermarket!

 

 

 

 

The NHS Fails Me Again

So yesterday the NHS announced it will be referring overweight britains to subsidised Weight Watchers, Slimming World or Rosemary Conley diet clubs-aaaaarrrrggggghhhh! This has been the Personal Trainers version of the who killed Tina in corrie scandal this week. We’ve all been ranting about it on social media, in the gym and anywhere else we can force people to listen.

I’m going to try very hard not to go into a complete rant about this but unfortunately it’s stuff like this that really gets my back up.  And this topic could take several blogs for me to hit every point that irritates me about it.

We as a nation have been rapidly getting fatter since the 1980’s with 2 thirds of men and just over half of women classed as obese.  Worryingly our children are also now climbing the obesity ladder setting them up for a life of inevitable type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer……….need I go on.

So over the years the government has scratched its head over what is possibly causing this and how they can fix it. Is it our lack of activity now so much of our lives are spent sat at desks, TV’s, games consoles? We drive everywhere, can have our weekly shop delivered and basically have no reason to leave the house unless we choose to.

So the government has decided that sending the overweights to a group meeting where you are taught that all food has a points/calorie etc. value (that doesn’t necessarily stack up against it actual nutritional value) and as long as you stay inside this allocated points value all will be well, doesn’t matter if you used it up on curly wurlys as long as the points add up that’s fine.

Starting with Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers ex-financial director himself stated that they have a 16% success rate and the other 84% is where they make their money as people keep paying to go back! 16%!!!!! So essentially the whole business model is based on failure, if it had a 90% success rate it would go bankrupt as people would have no reason to spend their money there time and time again..

And whilst they are giving you your allocated point’s value they are promoting their own branded products, classing them as actual food! Now call me strange (you won’t be the first) but I like to think of my food as something that has grown, lived etc. and is therefore recognisable as a food product.

So by example here is an ingredients list for a weight watchers Shepherd’s Pie ready meal. I have highlighted in red the various forms of sugar used, I could go into the other chemicals in there but I will save that for another day, another chemistry lesson.

Reconstituted Potato (51%, Water, Potato Flake, Preservative – Sodium Metabisulphite), Water, Beef (11%), Onions, Carrots (6%), Concentrated Tomato Puree, Peas (2%), Diced Tomatoes (Tomatoes, Tomato Juice, Salt, Firming Agent – Calcium Chloride), Modified Tapioca Starch, Concentrated Beef Stock (Beef Stock, Water, Maltodextrin, Salt, Palm Fat, Vegetable Concentrates (Onions, Carrots, Celery, Celeriac), Tomato Concentrate, Chicory Fibre, Yeast Extract, Glucose Syrup, Sugar, Herb and Spice Extracts, Spice), Worcester Sauce (Barley Malt Vinegar, Water, Treacle, Soya Sauce (Water, Soya Beans, Wheat, Salt), Brown Sugar, Salt, Lemon Juice, Colour – Plain Caramel, Anchovy Paste (from Fish), Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Oil of Cloves, Tamarind, Garlic Extract, Chilli Pepper, Spirit Vinegar), Flavourings (contain Milk), Cream Powder (Cream Solids, Skimmed Milk Powder), Salt, Yeast Extract (contains Barley), Colour – Plain Caramel, Parsley, Spice Extract, Black Pepper,

Contains Gluten, Wheat, Barley, Milk, Soya, Fish, Celery, Celeriac, Sulphur Dioxide

 

A whole 11% beef-mmmm wait I thought Shepherd’s Pie was lamb but that’s the least of this dishes problems! You would need a chemistry degree to understand that lot.

When I make shepherd’s pie (ok when the lovely Mr A makes it as he does most of the cooking) it contains –

Lamb mince, potatoes, onions, carrots, peas, stock and some butter, salt and pepper to taste. No chemistry lesson required?

So the NHS is advising us in the battle against the bulge to favour a company that promotes a myriad of chemicals over your local butcher and green grocer?

One first view Slimming World appears to get it right, breakfasts include eggs, bacon, fruit…..

But then they suggest as one of your “free foods” i.e. eat as many as you like, Muller Light Yoghurts.

Here is the ingredients list of said offending yoghurt (honestly I do find them offensive!)

Yogurt (Milk)       Water  Fructose              Modified Maize Starch  Lime Juice from Concentrate (0.5%)        Coconut Milk Powder (0.5%)  Gelatine               Flavourings         Stabiliser: Pectins             Sweetener: Aspartame                 Acidity Regulators: Citric Acid             Sodium Citrate

Aspartame!!!! Aspartame!!! Seriously, anybody who listens to me talk about diet foods will know that I hate this substance with a passion – potentially a whole blog on its own –which I’m sure you’re now looking forward to. Aspartame is addictive and been linked to several side effects including

Migraines, seizures, dizziness, numbness, muscle spasm, rashes, depression, fatigue, tachycardia, anxiety, heart palpitations, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, joint pain, insomnia, vision problems and wait for it you’re going to love this last one…………………..weight gain! It is basically a poison, and it is currently in most of our labelled diet/low fat foods which is why I always tell people to go full fat every time. There have been several campaigns over the years to have it banned but unfortunately I think the failure to do so proves the power of big business over what is right and wrong…….

So almost slimming world but not quite, I can’t agree with a company that will willingly promote poison.

Rosemary Conley – Now I have to admit back in the day she was a bit of an icon, I remember doing her hip and thigh video with my mum in the living room.  I imagine the sight of me and my mum shuffling along the floor on our bums would look quite comical and yes that was an actual exercise!

Her approach on the weight loss club is to combine a weigh in meeting followed by an aerobic exercise class. Bravo someone spotted that exercise was a missing link in the other two. If I were forced at gun point to join one of these groups it would be this one, purely for the fact that she promotes exercise and there are no chemicals in her branded ready meals. Although they do all contain sugar so I haven’t given them the green light.

However, once again it focuses on counting calories rather than considering the nutritional content of the food we are eating.

And this is where the problem lies. We are constantly surrounding by these marketing messages, low fat, low calorie, must be healthy for you because the packet says so-the clue that it’s not is probably the fact it’s in a packet. With this NHS scheme I think they have missed the point. We aren’t getting fatter because we don’t know how to count calories- I have a client who can tell me the calorie content of most foods (you know who you are) and still she struggles to lose weight! We have forgotten to consider what is in our food, and how this makes us feel, how this affects our bodies, how it helps it function, restore and repair.

I say this time and time again to my clients, if you know exactly where your food came from and what’s in it you can’t go wrong-no one ever had a weight problem over eating broccoli. And before I am accused of being part of the problem encouraging you to sit down and read at your lap top for large lengths of time I will leave it at that………………………..for now.

Keeping Fit With a Family

Keeping fit with a family

 

Let’s be honest, sometimes life gets so busy it can be a struggle to find the time to exercise. Especially if you have a full time job, partner, kids and if you’ve still got the energy a social life!

I totally understand why after all that you’d be thinking you can’t possibly still have enough energy to get through a work out? Well firstly I will kick that excuse to the kerb because exercising releases endorphins that give you more energy meaning you’re more alert for your working day, time with the kids etc. Secondly, exercise has been proven time and time again to be good for your health and help to prevent heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes so if you haven’t got time to exercise you will need to make time to be ill in the future.

But that doesn’t stop the problem that you have got many other responsibilities to deal with first. An emergency at work, kids after school clubs, a friend’s birthday.

I bet if you do currently make time to exercise you sometimes feel guilty about the time you are spending away from your partner, kids or housework. Well don’t! Easy for me to say because I don’t have kids? Erm, just because my kids have 4 legs rather than 2 does not mean they don’t need lots of love! But, if it you are struggling why not get the family involved in your active lifestyle? That way you will all benefit.  If you’re a parent encouraging your kids to lead an active lifestyle that will give a them a great grounding for the future that exercise is a normal part of life.

 

That being said I do understand that sometime the guilt will get you and family time is important  so today I’m going to give you some ideas on how your family can spend some quality time together whilst being active.

We often think of exercise as something to be endured rather than enjoyed. (Admittedly if your training with me there will be an element if love/hate to some of your sessions!) When fitness is looked at as a chore, it’s a REALLY tough habit to build. So, you need to find exercise you enjoy.

If you’re exercising with kids then it doesn’t even have to be official “exercise”. Think about it – kids will jump over stuff, climb on stuff, make up imaginary games (don’t stand on the cracks!), and they are having so much fun that they don’t realize they’re exhausted and just had a workout.

So, I hereby give you permission to act like a giant child.

You could do something slightly more conventional. Take the family for a walk, do a nature trail check out Geocaching, where you find treasure left by other geocachers. Pretend to be explorers! Check out Dora for inspiration-Spanish speaking optional!

Just embrace the simple stuff, skip, hula hoop, do cart wheels whatever you fancy; roll down hills, Jump in puddles, Climb trees, play a game of tick! (Your it!!)

Now, let’s say you still enjoy doing structured exercise, but maybe life is too busy now that you have kids. Well the key is to get organised. With kids and families, every minute counts.

We all know that eating right is 80-90% of the battle, so that final 10% can come in any type of exercise you can fit in, whenever you can fit it in.

Things aren’t going to go according to plan, and you’re not going to always have that perfect 60-minute window to get to the gym. So you need to have a plan B (and a plan C) for when things go wrong. Once you stop allowing yourself to use excuses as to why you’re not exercising, suddenly finding the time to get it done takes care of itself.

What’s that? You are busy from the time the kids wake up until the time they go to bed? Wake up just 5 minutes earlier and do a quick hiit workout, 10 squats, 10 press up 1 min plank as many times as you can!

Do something! I don’t care what you do, but it’s vital for you to do something.

Exercise is not all or nothing. It’s not “I need 60 minutes or why bother.” It’s “do the best you can, with what you have, where you are.” You’ll be surprised at what results you can achieve will just 10mins a day.

So be ready to squeeze exercise anytime, anywhere. Your family will thank you for instilling that habit in them!

I want to leave you with one final thought: you’re a superhero to your family, whether you realize it or not. You’re probably the person that makes sure all the important stuff gets done.

It’s time to decide what kind of superpower you have. Is it super strength? Lightning fast reflexes? Or the ability to sit on the couch and watch TV for hours on end?

If we can instill the habit of health, fitness, and happiness in ourselves, our families are more likely to grow up healthy and not deal with the health issues that come with being overweight and out of shape. And that people is a great thing for securing your families future. Right I’m off to play tick with my goats…….

 

Nicola x

 

Pie is Good For You!

Pie is good for you?

 

Ok after last week’s blog I had some feedback that it’s great that I recommend you all eat steak and drink champagne-not technically what I said……………..and then it was suggested that all I needed to do was say pie was good for you and I’ll be pretty much classed as the ideal personal trainer.

Well having been born and raised in Wigan I think it is actually against my religion or in fact illegal for me to tell you not to eat pies; or I would be struck down by a giant Uncle Joes Mint Ball claimed to be a tragic accident…..

Anyway, whilst I can’t actually say that Pie’s are a health food, I can at least give you some tips on how to make them healthier.

Unfortunately it is not necessarily the filling that makes Pie a problem, it is the pastry.  If you make the pastry yourself your half way there no additives just butter, flour, water, salt, water. Unfortunately it’s the flour that I take issue with, namely the Gluten. I’m going to go into this on another day but bottom line is whether you think you’re sensitive to it or not you need to get flour/gluten out of your diet. Particularly if you’re trying to lose weight.

So here are some ways to add some more goodness into your pies-so then I can say they are good for you!

Try making your own pastry using either coconut or almond flour, these can both be used with sweet or savoury dishes.

Coconut/Almond flour shortcrust pastry

INGREDIENTS

70g coconut/almond flour

100g chilled butter, chopped into pieces

pinch salt

1 egg

Water

METHOD

Place flour, butter and salt in the food processor and mix until they resemble breadcrumbs. Add water and egg and knead to form a dough. As the consistency will be slightly different than that of normal dough you may find it easier instead of rolling it out, to press it directly into the tin and mould it. Don’t forget to save some for the lid though!

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C until it just starts to turn golden. Add filling and of course the top and return to the oven for further cooking.

 

Or maybe you want to forgo the pastry all together and you could try topping your pie with potatoes, sweet potatoes, mashed cauliflower or other veg-probably wouldn’t do this on a fruit pie though! For fruit you could always make a crumble as you would ordinarily but switching wheat flour for almond or coconut.

Then you can wash it down with a nice healthy pint of …………………………………water!

I may just make a pie this weekend, send me a picture if you do too!

Nicola x

 

 

 

 

 

Eating Out

Afternoon Amigos,

 

Sorry I have been a bit off the boil of late, unfortunately my campaign for extra days in the week or extra hours in the day has been unsuccessful so I’m just going to have to kick my ass into gear and cram more into my 24 hours!

 

Anyway, I’m going to keep this one fairly light-hearted no serious science this week (It will be back soon I’m sure) and instead I’m just going to give you some tips on eating out without completely derailing your clean eating plans.

This is one of the things that my clients find the most difficult as its all well and good planning your meals on a day to day basis, when you do the shopping and can control what you’re eating. But many people find their social life can seriously derail all their good intentions.

Now I’m not saying that if you’re out somewhere fancy as a special occasion you should just have a salad, but if you’re a regular socialite eating out on a regular basis this can be very damaging on your waistline. So how can you dine out on a regular basis and still keep in shape.

 

  • If possible, review the menu before you go so you can make a decision about what you are going to eat before you get there. This way you can make a decision based on choosing healthier options rather than based on your growling stomach when you get there.
  • If you’re having a starter have a salad, soup or a bowl of olives. These will help to fill you up and encourage you to eat less of the main course.
  • If there is a bread basket about, ask them to take it away. If it’s looking at you whilst you’re hungry you are very likely to succumb eventually.
  • Ask for some water on the table. Not only to slow you down on the alcohol but also so that you don’t mistake hunger for thirst.
  • On the subject of drink, obviously no alcohol is actually good for you (it’s technically a poison) but if you’re going to indulge and want to make some better choices here are my tips. Essentially although I don’t really go in for calorie counting as far as alcohol is concerned it’s really the easiest way to make a decision if you’re thinking about your waistline. As a general rule Beer is not your friend, however spirits with tonic (full fat not the aspartame laden diet ones though, calories or not I can’t advocate that!), sparkling or soda water keep it low, cocktails your best bet is a martini (shaken not stirred……) and wine well you wouldn’t want to miss out on the heart benefits of a glass of red or if it’s white Champagne is just 90 calories a glass! Yes ladies I absolutely insist that you drink champagne when socialising, tell them your Personal Trainer told you too!
  • Back to the food. If the food has a sauce, as a rule tomato based sauces are usually the healthiest option.  Most white sauces are made with cream, butter etc. which although aren’t unhealthy they are used in such quantities at restaurant that they won’t be doing you any favours.
  • When looking at cooking methods, poached, boiled, steamed, grilled, roasted, blackened or stir fried are your friends.
  • If you really want a sauce that you know is going to equal a blowout, ask for the kitchen to put it on the side. That way you can control how much of it you eat.
  • In terms of protein, fish is always a good choice (unless it’s covered in batter); Chicken breast and a good piece of steak are also good.
  • If you want to be extra virtuous and skip the chips/potato option completely ask for extra salad or vegetables instead.
  • If you still need your potato portion ask for baked or boiled potatoes rather than chips.
  • If you are indulging in dessert, firstly you could always share with your partner/friend etc. to keep it light. Or if that’s not an option fruit, sorbet or frozen yoghurt can keep your waistline in check.
  • Now if you read a menu and really can’t see an even remotely healthy option you can always order off menu. Just ask them to prepare you fish, chicken, salad, veg etc. and if you feel like an idiot just tell you have allergies! But why should you, you’ll be there drinking champagne at the instruction of your trainer so they’ll think you’re a celebrity anyway and completely expect that sort of thing!

 

So I hope two pages of my rambling has helped make up for a couple of weeks without and brownies honour (yes I was one, seconder in the kelpies if you must know) I will be much more regular (no comment) from now on.

 

Nicola x

Saturated Fat and Heart Disease

Saturated Fat Doesn’t cause heart disease!

So last week it was reported in the news that saturated fat does not increase your risk of heart disease. Welcome to the table BBC! Myself and many other fitpros have been pointing this out for years.

The study I’m referring to was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It pooled together data from 21 unique studies that included almost 350,000 people, about 11,000 of whom developed cardiovascular disease (CVD), tracked for an average of 14 years, and concluded that there is no relationship between the intake of saturated fat and the incidence of heart disease or stroke.

The diet-heart hypothesis—which holds that eating cholesterol and saturated fat raises cholesterol in our blood is just not true!

 

We are conditioned to think that we have a “healthy” diet because we avoid  butter, cheese or red meat or any other foods high in saturated fat. Or low-fat yoghurt  because they want to make the “healthy” choice completely avoiding the fact that it is a full of chemicals and is therefore questionable whether it should still be classed as yoghurt at all.

What is funny is that around 5 decades ago when the “saturated fat causes heart disease” advice came about it took many years to convince people that eating traditional, animal fats like butter and cheese is bad for you, while eating highly-processed, industrial vegetable oils like corn and soybean oil is good for you. This simply defied common sense for most people.  It still does defy common sense to me and I am still definitely not buying it! But the relentless, widespread campaign to discredit saturated fat and promote industrial oils was eventually successful. I wonder who was funding that advertising? Large multi national companies who make products containing these industrial oils set to make them millionaires…………..

And our heart disease rates have been going up ever since?

And I know your all dying to ask, Why?

Now you know I love the science bit so here goes,

On any given day, we have between 1,100 and 1,700 milligrams of cholesterol in our body.

25% of that comes from our diet, and 75% is produced inside of our bodies by the liver.

Much of the cholesterol that’s found in food can’t be absorbed by our bodies, and most

of the cholesterol in our gut was first synthesized in body cells and ended up in the gut

via the liver and gall bladder. The body tightly regulates the amount of cholesterol in the

blood by controlling internal production; when cholesterol intake in the diet goes down,

the body makes more. When cholesterol intake in the diet goes up, the body makes less.  See, your body already has it’s own system for controlling your cholesterol!

 

This explains why well-designed cholesterol feeding studies (where they feed volunteers

2-4 eggs a day and measure their cholesterol) show that dietary cholesterol has very little

impact on blood cholesterol levels in about 75% of the population. The remaining 25% of

the population are referred to as “hyper-responders”. In this group, dietary cholesterol

does modestly increase both LDL (“bad cholesterol” and HDL (“good cholesterol”), but it

does not affect the ratio of LDL to HDL or increase the risk of heart disease.

 

So can you stop disrespecting the hens and eat the yolks again please!

 

What about saturated fat? It’s true that some studies show that saturated fat intake raises

blood cholesterol levels. But these studies are almost always short-term, lasting only a

few weeks. Longer-term studies have not shown an association between saturated fat

intake and blood cholesterol levels. In fact, of all of the long-term studies examining this

issue, only one of them showed a clear association between saturated fat intake and

cholesterol levels, and even that association was weak.

 

So please throw your “heart healthy” two steps away from plastic (another blog for that topic) spread away and use some good old fashioned butter!

 

Well that’s this weeks rant over I promise to try and be more mellow next week, maybe less science even……………..

 

Nicola x

Is Meat Bad For You?

So this weeks rhymes with Pollocks in the newspaper Eating meat and Cheese is as bad as smoking for our health.   The Telegraphs article then listed foods that contain protein and suggested avoiding these all though favouring plant based ones would be better. So listed where meat, eggs, dairy, fruit, vegetables, beans and nuts. Right so  I’ve got it, I will just live off chips and I’ll be fine-Great!

No, not great, no wonder people are confused about what to eat with stuff like this being put out.

The report came from research by Dr Valter Longo P.H.D . I will highlight two things about Dr  Longo, firstly he has done some great research with Cancer patients on the effects of using fasting during Chemotherapy as a way to manage the side effects but also with more research to be done on the possibly of shrinking the tumours. So he definitely has some admirable research under his belt.

However, he is also a partner in a company called L Nutra a Plant based product (although I can’t actually find an ingredients list) which is based on a fasting diet for health using it’s products.  It states “ProLon is the first Fasting Mimicking Enhancing Diet for increased healthspan and reduction of age-related diseases. ProLon is also expected to have a potent effect in causing weight loss while optimizing the micronutrient nourishment and promoting anti-aging effects in patients. “ So Dr Longo has a vested interest in turning us off meat and dairy products.

The report is an epidemiological study from the University of Southern California. An epidemiological study means that they did not actually perform a study in a lab, but simply looked at factors in life to make associations or correlations. The researchers did some further tests with mice and yeast to support their findings, but I will just remind you in case you have forgotten we aren’t actually mice or yeast for that matter so it cannot be said the same results would occur in human beings.

In this particular study, the researchers took data from a pre-existing survey known as NHANES III, one of the largest national surveys of health and nutrition done in the United States, assessing about 6,300 people over the age of 50 years old. The authors of the original study collected a wide range of data about their subjects and followed them for 18 years, even analysing their death rates and cause of death.

Utilising this data, the researchers in the new study separated the subjects into three different groups:

  • High protein: People who consumed 20%or more of their daily calories from protein.
  • Low protein: People who consumed 10% or less of their daily calories from protein.
  • A middle group between the low and high groups.

They found that, among subjects aged 50-65, people who consumed a high-protein diet, mainly from animal protein, were 75% more likely to have died over the next 18 years than people consuming a low-protein diet. These unfortunate individuals also had a 4 times greater risk of dying from cancer, as well as a greater risk of dying from diabetes.

On the other hand, in people 65 and older, there was no greater risk of death or death from cancer from eating a high-protein diet. In fact, it seemed that the higher-protein diet in people over 65 decreased the risk of overall death and death from cancer while the low-protein diet increased their risk of death.

However, there was still a greater risk of dying from diabetes in all ages eating a higher-protein diet.

So, based on this data alone the researchers came to the conclusion that anyone age 50-65 should consume a very low-protein diet. On the other hand, researchers also suggested that people over the age of 65 should consume a high-protein diet, since there is a relationship between higher protein intake and reduced death rates in older people.  So you eat no protein for 15 years your life and then on your 66th birthday you celebrate at an all you can eat meat restaurant! Viva Brazil!

There are a couple of concerns with the findings from this study, in particular was with a method called “24-hour recall.” Basically, the subjects were asked what they ate the day before. So the study is based in humans on just one day of eating!

It’s ridiculous to think that what these people ate in one random 24-hour period of their life is representative of the diet they maintained for up to 18 years. I mean is you asked me what I ate yesterday, that being Wednesday I would appear a very healthy individual, however if you asked me what I ate on Saturday you may not be given the same impression. (A girls allowed a day off ok!)

Another issue I have is that the researchers only calculated total protein from “animal sources” or “plant sources.”  There has no consideration been given to those eating grass fed lean beef and chicken compared to those eating Mcdonalds!

The researchers also concluded from the stats that carbohydrate intake had no impact on overall death rates, nor on death from cancer and diabetes. But protein intake did have a negative impact on diabetes. I’m expected to believe that eating chicken breasts, lean beef, fish, eggs, and  whole dairy has a negative impact on diabetes, but eating a loaf of processed white bread doesn’t?  You would only have to look at the diet and lifestyle of most people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes to know that doesn’t add up! I’ll give you a clue they aren’t regular Farmer’s Market or Parkrun attendees!

This study also says nothing about the level of physical activity or exercise habits of the people involved.  It would stack up from various studies that those people who exercised and ate a clean healthy diet with very little processed food would have a lower incidence of overall death, death from cancer, and especially death from diabetes regardless of whether their protein was animal or plant based.

Going back to the point regarding the over 65’s requiring a high protein diet. It is of great importance as we age to ensure we have enough protein in our diet to maintain muscle mass. If you failed to eat adequate protein for most of your adult life you will have already lost significant muscle mass. Poor muscle mass has been shown to decrease both quality of life and lifespan in senior citizens due to it helping you stand up, move around and what not. A sudden blast of protein at that point is more than likely going to be too little, too late. Grandad sighs and puts his protein shake back down….

I am going to however without going into a whole other subject just look at the reason the protein and cancer relationship occurs. Protein increases your production of IGF-I (Growth Hormone) hence how it helps you to build muscle. You grow them! In the study an increased Cancer risk was associated with higher insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) levels in the subjects i.e those eating a High protein diet. The relationship between IGF-I and cancer progression, as well as high-protein intake and IGF-I, is interesting and although I will not go into great detail on this right now there are some very interesting studies using a very pure plant based diet to shrink cancerous cells and essentially clear patients of cancer! If we had more research funding pumped into these studies rather than medical companies producing drugs I feel we would be closer to solving the problem but that is just my opinion. But I must highlight that is using it to shrink existing cancers there is nothing to suggest that avoiding protein and therefore IGF-I would stop cancer forming.

Anyway, I think this study has not taken enough of the total lifestyle factors into account to be able to make sweeping nutrition statements such as this. And as much as we would like to get closer to understanding cancer, the truth is there is so much more to learn and putting it down to one single factor is overly simplistic. And as for the lead researcher to make a comparison of eating meat to smoking is downright irresponsible-and damaging to Farmers and Butchers both of which I have great fondness for! Has probably done some great marketing for those plant based products he makes though? Bet your about to look them up aren’t you??

So???

Should you be concerned about eating a high-protein diet? No! Should you celebrate at an all you can eat restaurant at 66? Hell yes but not because you’ve only been eating bamboo for 15 years before!

But I do think we should be picky about where our protein comes from. Pick good quality lean meats over cheap, processed meat and balance that out with plenty of fruit, vegetables and exercise and you won’t go far wrong.

Science lesson over for today, for your homework I’d like you to eat some organic, grass fed steak and if you’ve done a workout that day have a little cheese with it too! Trust me it is less likely to give you cancer than a fag!

Pancake Recipes

Hi,

How has your week been? Personally I feel like spring is on it’s way, it’s not quite as dark in the mornings and it is not already dark when I leave for my evening sessions.

Firstly this week, I have to congratulate my client Simon on touching his toes from a standing position for the first time in about 30 years! My response? Of course you can I don’t make this s!#t up you know there’s method in it! We’ll be in the splits by Christmas…….

Anyway, you may or may not have noticed with spring being just around the corner that it is Shrove Tuesday next week-Pancake Day!!!!!!!!!!!! Why am I telling you so early? So you can make sure you have time to get all your healthy ingredients of course.

 

So I have come up with some healthy alternative recipes or if you are going to go traditional pancakes some healthy sweet toppings.

 

Firstly an alternative flour recipe for my fellow Gluten freers. An almond flour pancake with only three ingredients.

Ingredients

  1. 185g cups  Almond Flour
  2. 3 eggs
  3. 8 tablespoons of water or milk(or slightly less to desired thickness)
  • Optional: spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, vanilla,

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl using either a blender or by hand until batter is a pourable consistency.
  2. Cook all pancakes on a griddle or in a large pan for approximately 2-3 minutes per side until bubble form and both sides are golden brown.
  3. Enjoy!

 

This time an alternative recipe using some unusual ingredients for the more adventurous among you.

Red Velvet Pancakes

Ingredients

– 125g cup oats

– 1 ripe banana

– 8 tablespoons almond milk

– 1 roasted beetroot

– 1 TBSP pure vanilla extract

– 1 TBSP ground flax seed

– 2 TBSP baking powder

– pinch of salt

– a squeeze of lemon

 

Grab your beetroot. Chop off the head and tail. Roast in oven on around 180°c until soft. Place the beetroot in a blender, squeeze some lemon (to preserve colour) and turn it into a soft puree. If you are having difficulty mixing, feel free to add a tiny bit of water.Mix the beetroot puree with all of your other ingredients in the blender then  Just spray your pan with cooking oil then pour it on, wait until turning golden underneath, flip, repeat  and bam you’re done!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Pancakes

Ingredients

40 g oats

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 ripe banana, peeled

60 ml milk (any kind – e.g. almond, coconut, oat, cow’s)

2 dates, pitted

2-3 tbsp dark chocolate chips, plus more for topping

Blend all the ingredients, except the chocolate chips, in a food processor or blender, until well mixed. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Heat a non-stick frying pan with a little coconut oil. Dollop the batter into the frying pan (I go for a heaped tablespoon of batter) and spread out a bit with a spoon. Cook until lightly golden underneath, then flip and cook until the other side is golden. Serve warm with the remaining chocolate chips.

 

Banana Pancakes

These are a personal favourite of mine and may well have to be my pancake of choice this year due to me no longer having a blender following a liver cake baking incident (liver cake for the dog!)They are completely idiot proof and really tasty although technically the ingredients would suggest they were a banana omelette but I’m calling them pancakes.

Check this ingredient list:

– 1 ripe banana

– 2 whole eggs

Bam!!! That’s it. Just blend. If you’re mixing in a bowl, make sure the banana is all mashed. Then spray your pan with some coconut oil or butter on low to medium heat, scoop some of the batter on there, give it about 20-30 sec, flip, and done!

 

And if you are going traditional here a couple of tasty toppings for you to try.

Mixed Berry Puree

Puree your mixed berries in a blender and warming the mix in a pot on the stove. Add some stevia or a dab of honey for sweetness and drizzle away!

 

Sweet Apples & Cinnamon

I actually do this just on its own keeping the apple whole as a dessert sometimes, like eating apple pie without the guilt-or in my case the gluten! Cut apple into slices, sprinkling with cinnamon, and bake in the oven on medium for 20-minutes.

 

Let me know how you get on, Enjoy!

Food Preparation

Being prepared is the key to dieting success. I myself appear to have a Tupperware fetish, we have literally got an entire cupboard full of it in our house.  Then on a Sunday afternoon we prepare 5 breakfasts (steak and green beans at the minute) and 5 lunches (chicken, new potatoes, broccoli, carrots, sweetcorn and peas) then put them all lined up in the fridge. We then also decide what we are going to eat for dinner each evening so we know we have all the ingredients and are able to plan ahead for evenings we may be home late and have something quick and simple on those nights say soup for example-pre prepared, and then plan meals that may take some preparation on other nights say a stir fry or a frittata. We also pre prepare snacks in yet more Tupperware , like fruit and nuts or little bacon and egg omelettes in a muffin tray. This way we already know what we are going to be eating, and have it all with us so there is never a point in which the easy option becomes to call for a takeaway or eat a shop bought chemically processed sandwich – impossible is your gluten intolerant like me anyway!

Anyway this is not just a general note to tell you what goes on in our house at the weekend-it is as rock n roll as it sounds though, but to highlight how much easier you will make it for yourself to make healthy choices if you plan ahead.

It really does save a lot of time preparing breakfast and lunch ahead, even if you’re a morning porridge person just preparing lunch a week ahead helps, to be honest you could just prepare it the night before but personally as I get home quite late I would rather just start winding down so spending just an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon makes more sense for me.  You could have salads all boxed up ready to go, soup for heating at work or heating first thing and keeping in a flask, some roasted veg with fish or maybe you are a more adventurous cook than me!

I also think pre preparing bulk batches of healthy meals that can be frozen are a great way to keep you away from the take away menu. Soups, casseroles, Chilli etc can also be made in bulk then portioned out to be kept in the fridge or freezer to save time in the evenings when you get home late and don’t fancy cooking.

Another great time saver is a slow cooker, you can have a nice soup, casserole or healthy curry cooking all day ready for when you get home, or if you get a fairly big one you could use it to do your bulk food preparation, meaning you can be out and about on a weekend whilst your bulk cooking is going on at home saving even more time!

Even if your not much of a cook and prefer to buy your lunch, planning ahead can still help you. Taking your own snacks of fruit for a start to stop you raiding the biscuit tin in your office! But also if you know where you are likely to buy your lunch from you can consider in advance what you will get i.e Subway Salad, Boots Sushi box etc meaning you don’t run in starving and get tempted by a massive calorie not to mention chemical laden pasta bowl and a mars bar.

Preparing food in advance like this also saves money as you just need to prepare a list of exactly what you will need to make everything and nothing gets wasted. Saving you money to spend on your new wardrobe when you have lost more inches from all your healthy eating!

 

Fat vs Sugar

Sorry I haven’t sent an email for a few weeks, I’ve had technology melt down with my website being hacked, but albeit without a website/blog as yet I am back online!

So how are those 2014 health and fitness goals looking? If you’ve fallen off the wagon, don’t worry just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and climb right back on. Still going strong? Well Done You!

So how are mine looking?

Running a marathon-well I’ve been consistently running 3 times per week as well as stretching, strength work and some cross training with rowing and swimming so gold star on that one.

Online Programmes-well with current web based nightmares ongoing this is on the back burner but still on my list to get going this year so watch this space!

Giving up sugar? Well I am down to just half a teaspoon in my coffee and sometimes none at all, I’ve been avoiding chocolate during the week-big task for me and the only processed foods I use are sports supplements, but even then I get the cleanest, least crap filled brand I can find that still tastes nice www.theproteinworks.com if your interested.

Which leads me nicely on to what I want to talk about today. I have had many people ask me whether I watched the BBC Horizon programme last week Fat v Sugar. Did you see it? Well I watched it on Iplayer earlier and I found myself a little disappointed with the way they portrayed their message. Mainly because the versions of the diet they tested were not likely diets for the majority of the population and therefore clearly not the cause of our weight gain problems. But secondly because they didn’t provide us with clear reasons why the results happened as they did. So I’m sorry for the lengthy science lesson today but I felt due to the amount of questions and confusion I had from people surrounding it was necessary. And I hope I have managed to keep it as easy to understand as possible-get yourself a brew and get comfy for this one it requires some concentration.

For those of you that haven’t seen it the programme involved an experiment with two identical twins who both happened to be doctors. One of them was given a high fat, low sugar diet which essentially consisted of meat, eggs and dairy only. The other was given a low fat, high sugar diet which consisted of fruit, vegetables, and starchy carbs like pasta and bread.  They monitored the effect this had on their body fat, cholesterol and blood sugar levels as well as how it affected mental and physical performance.

At the end of the study which lasted a month they re tested body fat, cholesterol and blood sugar. They found that the high sugar diet candidate lost 1kg of weight half of that being muscle the other half fat, the high fat candidate lost 2 kg of muscle and 1.5kg of fat.

The high sugar candidate was producing more insulin which although not at a dangerous level could potentially be a long term problem, the high fat candidate was not responding to insulin at all and his body was producing more glucose as a result. This is a big problem. Both candidates did not see a difference in their cholesterol.

I will just hit on this point before I move on, what was interesting about this is that we have been told for years that eating fat, particularly saturated fat found in animal products-meat, dairy, eggs can raise our cholesterol levels. This is quite simply not true. Your body needs saturated fat for cell, organ and brain function.  Saturated fat reduces Lp(a), which is associated with increased risk for heart disease, and contributes to higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which keeps your heart healthy. I may write a further blog about saturated fat in the near future as it is a big and often misunderstood topic.

Going back to the other results, the loss of muscle and particularly the raised glucose levels and insulin resistance in the low sugar /high fat diet . Now it is a common fact that we need protein to build muscle, but we also need glucose. Now obviously with the amount of meat he was eating he will have been covering his protein needs however with no form of dietary sugar he will not have been providing his muscles with glucose. Glucose is made by the body from carbohydrate. These can be supplied by fruits and vegetables with an addition of starchy carbohydrates i.e potatoes, rice for heavy exercise loads.  The high sugar diet only saw minimal muscle loss as he was obviously being provided with enough glucose.

Basically, eating very low in carbohydrate means you don’t have access to  glucose, so the majority of your cells switch to burning fatty acids instead of glucose. However the body can make glucose using protein from the muscles using a process called gluconeogenesis (hence the muscle loss) . However in this case the cells will continue to run on fatty acids become more resistant to taking up glucose in order to save it for use by those few cells that have to have glucose, like in the brain. It is a healthy ‘saving mechanism,’ if it didn’t happen we would die. When glucose becomes sparser, the cells that have the option of running on fatty acids, which is not sparse, choose to not use the glucose and instead use the fatty acids. Thus you can assume those cells have become ‘resistant’ to glucose as they are saving it for other cells that really need it (again, namely the brain). So essentially the raised glucose levels were as a result of the body saving the glucose it had created in order to power the brain.

Now, if you’ve got your head round that we will go on to how this made him resistant to insulin. Studies have shown that going very low carb – to around or below 10% of calories, can induce ”physiological” insulin resistance. Physiological insulin resistance is an adaptation, a normal biological reaction to a lack of dietary glucose. As previously mentioned, the brain must have glucose. It can use ketones and lactate quite effectively, thus reducing the glucose requirement, but at the end of the day it still requires a portion of glucose. Now, in a low-glucose state, where the body senses that dietary glucose might not be coming anytime soon, peripheral insulin resistance is triggered. This prevents the muscles from taking up “precious” glucose that the brain requires. The brain’s sensitivity to insulin is preserved, allowing it to grab what glucose it needs from the paltry – but sufficient – levels available to it.

And the results of the high sugar diet? He was producing more insulin, which they stated was not a significant problem but could be long term.  Well he had only been on this diet for a month so had they continued for longer my bet would be that his insulin levels would have been too high so Essentially IT IS A PROBLEM!

High levels of insulin cause several problems: one of them is high blood pressure. One of the roles of insulin is to assist the storing of excess nutrients. Insulin plays a role in storing magnesium. But if your cells become resistant to insulin, you can’t store magnesium so you lose it through urination. Intra-cellular magnesium relaxes muscles. What happens when you can’t store magnesium because the cell is resistant? You lose magnesium and your blood vessels constrict. This causes an increase in blood pressure.

Insulin also causes the retention of sodium, which causes fluid retention, which causes high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.

More long term? When your cells are exposed to insulin at all, they get a little bit more resistant to it. So the pancreas just puts out more insulin. Cells become insulin resistant because they are trying to protect themselves from the toxic effects of high insulin. They down-regulate their receptor activity and number of receptors so that they don’t have to be subjected to all that stimuli all the time.

Different cells respond to insulin differently. Some cells are more resistant than others, as some cells are incapable of becoming very resistant. The liver becomes resistant first, followed by the muscle tissue and lastly the fats. As all these major tissues, become insulin resistant your pancreas is putting out more insulin to compensate. Any time your cell is exposed to insulin it is going to become more insulin resistant. That is inevitable, we cannot stop this process, but the rate we can control.

But the pancreas can’t always keep up that high level of insulin production forever. Once the production of insulin starts slowing down, or the resistance goes up, then blood sugar goes up and the person becomes a diabetic.

So as you can see neither diet is particularly healthy long term, but I think this programme missed the point on the fat v sugar as a potential for solving our obesity crisis. As mentioned earlier the diets prescribed are not representative of the general publics diets and other than the high fat being representative of the Atkins diet do not bear resemblance to any fad diets people may have tried.

However it did at the end touch briefly on the factors that are most likely causing us our weight and health problems; The combination of fat and sugar together. And this is where most of our western diets lie, why and how it affects us is a whole other science which I will be writing about shortly and it is in cracking this that will help us to solve our weight problems.

I think the Dr Susan Jebb on the programme summed it up rather well that in our western world of convenience, high fat, high sugar foods “you need a high level of restraint if you aren’t going to sleep walk into obesity”. And that restraint is what I aim to help you with!