Posted on

Why Diets Fail You

Nowhere is hope over experience more prevalent than in the world of the multimillion-dollar diet industry.

There is a growing amount of evidence suggesting that for many people going on a diet which restricts what you eat as a way of achieving enduring weight loss does not work and is not sustainable in either the mid or long term.

If restrictive or calorie-controlled diets worked, then by now one ‘super diet’ would have emerged and it would work for everyone, but this is definitely not the case. Hundreds of diet books are published every year and no doubt this trend will continue.

Any diet that encourages you to eat fewer calories, or to radically cut out whole food groups, in order to achieve weight loss is scientifically flawed. Denying yourself food to the point of going hungry convinces your subconscious mind that you are living in a time of food shortage or famine and passes messages to your body to hold onto its fat as your mind is not sure for how long the food shortage will continue. As you can imagine, this is counter-productive to good health as the body feels under stress.

If you have dieted in the past, and most people have, your mind will have a ‘memory’ of experiencing those periods of reduced food intake. Periods of self-induced calorie reduction where you experience hunger pangs are very difficult to maintain and are often the trigger for a stint of bingeing or excessive eating. This is what is meant by ‘yo-yo dieting’. Yo-yo dieting like this can negatively affect your metabolism, making it even harder in the future to regulate your weight. If you recognise you have a pattern of dieting and bingeing, then it is even more vital that when you commit to eating real food as part of nutritionally balanced meals that leave you satisfied, and that you do not go hungry, as this will quickly plunge your metabolism back into fat-storing mode.

A holistic, all-body approach to eating real food means that there is no advantage to going hungry or feeling deprived. This approach is diametrically opposed to the usual diet model. In How to Feel Differently about Food, we encourage a way of eating that promotes reassuring your mind that nutritious food is available to you and that your body is no longer under threat of impending food shortage. This reassurance enables habitual stress levels around food to be reduced and when the stress symptoms of emotional eating are reduced, your body reduces its production of cortisol – the stress hormone that can also inhibit weight loss. Feeling less stressed also ensures that the nourishment in the foods that are eaten becomes more ‘bio-available’ and advantageous. Later in the book we explain how stress shuts down many of the processes of digestion, leaving sufferers deprived of essential nutrition.

Our methodology promotes resetting your metabolism into fat-burning mode instead of fat-storing mode and this is achieved through selecting appetising and tasty foods that encourage satiety. In addition, this approach HOW TO FEEL DIFFERENTLY ABOUT FOOD 10 focuses on the effect of refined sugar as a key cause of weight gain. Sugar and simple carbohydrates are rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream and affect your body’s production of insulin. Rapid spikes in blood sugar cause insulin levels to rise and take sugar out of the bloodstream and into storage in the liver, muscles and (if they are full) fat cells; the high glucose level is therefore followed by a rapid drop in blood glucose levels. This in itself can be the cause of sugar cravings and the trigger for compulsive eating. The cumulative effect of eating in ways that spike insulin production eventually leads to what is called ‘insulin resistance’. This is a condition in which the cells of the body become unresponsive to increasingly high levels of insulin and this is a key predictor of diabetes.

The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 2014) in the US show that almost 10 per cent of the US population has been diagnosed with diabetes. The equivalent figures from Diabetes UK (2015) show figures approaching 3.5 million in 2015 and all predictions expect these numbers to grow year upon year. In addition, many, many more people the world over have ‘pre-diabetes’ (also known as metabolic syndrome) and remain undiagnosed until their health deteriorates with associated serious health problems – heart, circulation, eyesight and kidney damage – that bring them to medical attention and the confirmation of type 2 diabetes. Going back to health risks associated with being overweight, the incidence of pre-diabetes and diabetes itself is higher in patients who are classed as obese.

There are two other important hormones found to affect a person’s ability to manage his/her weight. The first is called leptin. It is made by fat cells and works to decrease appetite. This can become unbalanced in response to insulin resistance caused by spikes in blood sugar levels. Leptin is responsible for sending messages to your brain that you’ve eaten enough and feel sated. When leptin’s signalling goes awry, the hormone stops being produced so the messages that you have eaten enough are no longer sent, which leads to an inability to determine satiety. This is called ‘leptin resistance’. Medical professionals are now focusing more on the part leptin plays in the development of obesity, and how the hormone responds may actually be the result of obesity.

The second key involved with appetite is called ghrelin and its job is to signal to you that you are hungry. It also influences how quickly you feel hungry again after eating. Ghrelin naturally increases before meal times and is then designed to reduce after eating for around three hours until it once more naturally increases to signal the need to eat again. However, this hormone too can become unbalanced and send hunger signals more frequently, encouraging a reduction in the time between meals or even promoting the habit of constant grazing on food. One way that ghrelin becomes out of balance is through stress, which disturbs sleep patterns. This can affect workers who work unnatural hours such as night shifts. Not getting enough sleep has been shown to increase levels of ghrelin and cause an increase in appetite.

In simple terms, the hormonal responses that help manage appetite and weight are like a house of cards that are all interdependent on each other to maximise your health, weight management and wellbeing. Although designed to be perfectly in balance, a key element that can cause the whole house of cards to collapse is the eating of sugar and simple carbohydrates. It doesn’t take long before sugar spikes begin to undermine the complex hormonal interactions.

The good news is that by reducing stress levels, improving sleep patterns and changing the types of food eaten it is possible to re-calibrate the hormones’ signals to the brain to promote a feeling of fullness and enhanced wellbeing. On the food front this is achieved by cutting out refined sugars, simple carbohydrates and processed foods and replacing them with real foods, including plenty of good fats, such as olive oil, oily fish and nuts that your body can naturally process.

 

This blog was taken from Sally Baker and Liz Hogon’s book How to Feel Differently About Food

Posted on

‘Tis the season: Two festive paleo pudding recipes

Festive-paleo-pudding-recipe

Christmas can be a tricky time to try and stay healthy. Author and naturopathic health practitioner Eve Gilmore puts a paleo twist on a couple of classic festive rice pudding recipes, guaranteed to be a favourite with all the family this Christmas.

‘Rice’ pudding with hot cherry sauce

This is a traditional Christmas pudding in Germany and Scandinavia.
Ingredients:
Serves 6–8 depending on the size of your ramekins

  • 2-3 packets konjac ‘rice’ noodles
  • 1½ tins/600 ml/150g coconut cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or seeds from 1 vanilla pod
  • ½ tsp Luo Han Guo, stevia or maple syrup, or 1 dsp Palmyra Jaggery, to sweeten
  • Large bag of fresh cherries, stones removed
  • 1 dsp kuzu

Method:
Rinse and drain the konjac ‘rice’ as directed and place in a serving dish.  Mix the vanilla and sweetener into the coconut cream and stir into the noodles. Place the mixture in the fridge to chill.  Stone the cherries and place them in a saucepan with a little water and sweetener, into which you have stirred enough kuzu to thicken the mixture. Bring to the boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until glazed and thickened. Serve the cold rice pudding in the ramekins and spoon the hot cherry sauce on top.

Aromatic ‘rice’ pudding

Ingredients:
Serves 6

  • 4 packets Miracle Noodles ‘rice’
  • 2 tins/800ml/200g coconut cream
  • Seeds from 10-12 cardamom pods, crushed in a pestle and mortar
  • Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into three
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 free-range egg yolks
  • ½-1tsp Luo Han Guo or stevia,   or 1dsp Palmyra Jaggery or maple syrup, to sweeten
  • Ghee, goat’s butter or coconut oil, to taste – makes it creamy

Method:
Using a heavy-bottomed pan, warm the spices together, including the vanilla seeds but using only half the nutmeg. Whisk the egg yolk, butter, sweetener or stevia, fat, rose water and coconut cream together and add to the spices. Bring to boiling point, stirring until thickened into a custard. Rinse and drain the ‘rice’ and pat dry. Mix the ‘rice’ into the pan.

This extract was taken from “The Urban Caveman” by Eve Gilmore.

Posted on

Eating the rainbow part 2: The health benefits of the nutrients that colour foods

health-benefits-of-the-nurtients-that-colour-food

The following list of nutrients in foods, that produce their colours, is by no means complete as more are being discovered all the time.  However, it provides the reader with some reasons why the consumption of colourful foods is vital for ultimate health.

Anthocyanins (blue to black)
Anthocyanins are a water-soluble bioflavonoid pigment and the colour will depend on the pH of the solution they are in. They are red when the pH is below three (highly acid), blue at pH ghihger than 11 (very alkali) and violet a neutral pH 7.
Bioflavoniods have been found to help slow down age-related motor changes, such as those seen in Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, prevent the oxidisation of certain compounds and fight attacks on the body from harmful chemicals.
They also increase vitamin C levels within cells, decrease the breakage of small blood vessels, protect against free-radical damage and help prevent destruction of collagen by helping the collagen fibres link together in a way that strengthens the connective tissue matrix. They also reduce blood glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity due to the reduction of retinol-binding-protein-4 so are useful in preventing diabetes and can help with treating obesity.

Anthoxanthins (cream and white)
Anthoxanthins are water-soluble pigments which range from white or colourless to a creamy yellow and red, often in the petals of flowers. These pigments are generally whiter in an acid medium and yellower in an alkaline medium. Consuming foods rich in anthoxanthins has been found to reduce stroke risk, promote heart health, prevent cancer and reduce inflammation.

  • Those undergoing treatment for complex corneal diseases, whose underlying eye health condition is caused or aggravated by inflammation, might find increased symptom relief by including more anthoxanthin-rich foods in their diets.

Astaxanthin (red)
Astaxanthin is the most powerful antioxidant to man and is capable of crossing the blood/brain barrier to protect the brain cells from free radicals. It also increases the activity of the liver enzymes that detoxify carcinogens and stimulates and enhances the immune system.

Betalains (orange and yellow and blue to black)
Betalains are found in the petals of flowers, but may colour the fruits, leaves, stems and roots of plants that contain them. Betalains are aromatic indole derivatives synthesised from the amino acid (building block of proteins) tyrosine. There are two categories, Betacyanins (red to violet) and Betaxanthins (yellow to orange). Betalains provide a higher antioxidant value than most other vegetables containing beta-carotene and have anti-inflammatory anti-cancer and detoxifying properties and support the making of red blood cells.

Health benefits of betaxanthins

  • Stop the spread of cancerous tumours
  • Prevent diseases of liver, kidney and pancreas
  • Help reduce ulcers in the stomach
  • Strengthen the lungs and immune system
  • Improve vision and are good for treating eye redness
  • Reduce pain after intense physical training and also menstrual pain
  • Eliminate hard stools and prevent constipation
  • Positively affect the colon
  • Regulate high blood pressure
  • Eliminate bad breath
  • Help to treat acne and create healthy skin.

Health benefits of betaxanthins

  • Can cross the blood-brain, eye and spinal barriers to help arrest free-radical damage in cell membranes, mitochondria and DNA
  • Enhance immune cell strength and antibody activity
  • Improve gastrointestinal health
  • Improve cognitive function
  • Help to maintain peak performance in athletes
  • Protect the heart.

Carotenoids (deep green, yellow, orange and red)
The carotenoids are a group of more than 700 fat-soluble nutrients. Many are proving to be very important for health. They are categorised as either xanthophylls or carotenes according to their chemical composition. These compounds have the ability to inhibit the growth of many pre-cancerous tumours.

  • Carotenoids act as antioxidants. Alphacarotene, betacarotene and cryptoxanthin are types of carotenoids, and the body can convert all of these to vitamin A which helps keep the immune system working properly and it is needed for eye health.
  • Other types of carotenoids are lutein and zeaxanthin and, when consumed regularly, protect the retina from damage caused by the sun’s harmful UV rays and high-energy visible light. Lutein and zeaxanthin can also reduce the risk of cataracts later in life.
  • These antioxidants also have the ability to protect cells and other structures in the body from the harmful effects of free radicals.
  • Lutein can also help to reduce the risk of breast cancer and heart disease and supports healthy skin, tissue, blood and the immune system.
  • Lycopene is the bright red carotenoid that is found in fruits and vegetables. Consuming lycopene regularly helps to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, cancers of the prostate, stomach, lungs and breast, and osteoporosis, and protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation, which prevents heart disease.

Chalcones (yellow), Chlorophyll (green), Curcumin (yellow), and Flavins (pale-yellow and green fluorescent) are further nutrients founds in foods that produce their colours. For more information on these nutrients, you can purchase the book here.

This extract was taken from “Nature’s Colour Codes” from the Nature Cures pocketbook series by Nat H Hawes.

 

 

Posted on

Eating the rainbow part 1: The six colour categories of natural foods

eat-the-rainbow

Why we should “eat the rainbow”
Nature’s colours give strong clues about the nutrient content of foods which we should not ignore. For instance; beetroots are rich in betacyanins and iron which gives them their deep red colour and provides the essential ingredients for optimum health. Iron is essential to the production of red bloods cells that carry vital oxygen to all parts of the body and betacyanins have a whole host of amazing health benefits.
Some vegetables contain more than one colour. For instance, spring onions have green leaves and white roots. This means there are the nutrients associated with both these colours present so the whole of the plant should be eaten and will provide the nutrients listed for green and white below. The same goes for beetroot and beetroot leaves and turnips and their leaves.
Some vegetables, fruits and nuts contain different healthy nutrients in both their flesh and skins so both should be consumed. Apples, aubergines, potatoes and sweet potatoes are examples. Orange, lime and lemon peel has powerful antioxidant properties and can help to protect the brain and heart and therefore should be included in the diet. Skins should only ever be discarded if they are completely inedible, such as those of bananas, watermelons or pumpkins.
The colour of foods can also indicate the ripeness, which again has an impact on the nutritional content. For instance, green unripe bananas are richer in resistant starch and fibre than ripened yellow bananas while Japanese scientists have found that a fully ripe banana produces a substance called tumour necrosis factor (TNF). This compound has the ability to combat abnormal cells and protect against cancer. They discovered that as the banana ripens and develops dark brown and black spots and patches on its skin, the concentration of TNF increases. They say that the degree of anti-cancer effect corresponds to the degree of ripeness of the fruit.

The six colour categories of natural foods
Choose at least one small serving of each of the following six colour categories each day if you can. Make two of them fruit and four of them vegetables and at least one should be a leafy green.
• Green
• Orange/yellow
• Red
• Black/blue/purple/violet
• Cream/white
• Brown/gold

1. Green
Chlorophyll and carotenoids give the green pigment found in: apples, alfalfa, algae, artichoke (globe), ashitaba, asparagus, avocado, bell peppers, broad beans, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, celery, chilli peppers, chives, chlorella, cress, courgettes, grapes, olives, herb leaves, kale, kiwi fruit, lettuce, lime and peel, mung beans, okra, peas, pumpkin seeds, rhubarb, rocket, runner beans, seaweed, spinach, spirulina, spring onions, watercress, winged beans and sprouted seeds, grains, nuts and legumes,

2. Orange and yellow
Curcumin gives turmeric its yellow colour and anthoxanthins, betaxanthins, carotenoids and/or chalcones give the yellow and orange colours found in: apricots, bell peppers, butternut squash, carrots, chick peas, chilli peppers, corn, ginger, lemons, lentils, mango, oranges, papaya, peaches, pineapple, prickly pear, pumpkin, swede, sweet potato, tangerines, turmeric, the peel of yellow and orange citrus fruits and whole grains.

3. Red
Anthoxanthins, betacyanins, carotenoids and/or lycopene provide the red pigment in: apples, asparagus, bell peppers, cabbage (red), cherries, chilli peppers, cranberries, goji berries, grapefruit (pink), grapes (red and black), guava, oranges (blood), pears (red), mung beans, persimmons, pinto beans, prickly pear, radishes, raspberries, rhubarb, red chokeberry, kidney beans, onions (red), pomegranates, rose hips, saw palmetto berries, strawberries, sumac, Swiss chard, tomatoes and watermelon.
Astaxanthin causes the pink/red colour in seafood, such as lobster, prawns, salmon and shrimp. The highest concentration is found in red krill oil. (Note that in farmed salmon the pink colour is produced by feeding them with lab-produced astaxanthin as they would otherwise be grey).

4. Black blue, purple and violet
Anthocyanins and betacyanins (never together) give the blue to black colours and are often most concentrated in the skins and/or stems of food crops such as: acai berry, purple aubergine, beetroot, bilberries, black bananas, black beans, blackberries, black chokeberry, blackcurrants, black tea, blueberries, broccoli (purple variety), cherries, chokeberries, cranberries, dates, elderberry, figs, black grapes, black olives, kidney beans, maqui berries, mulberries, onions (red), navy beans, plums, poppy seeds, potatoes (red-skinned), prickly pear, prunes, purple broccoli tops, radishes, raisins, sweet potato (skins), Swiss chard and winged beans.

5. Cream and white
Anthoxsnthins give the cream and white colours found in: white aubergines, just-ripe bananas, Brazil nuts, butter beans, cauliflower, celery, chestnuts, coconut, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, leeks, macadamia nuts, mung beans, mushrooms, navy beans, onions, parsnip, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, potatoes, radishes, soya beans, spring onions and turnips.

6. Brown and gold
Brown and golden foots can contain a variety of the above pigment nutrients. Examples include: brown rice, cocoa beans, dates, mushrooms, nuts, potato skins, seeds and whole grains.

This extract was taken “Nature’s Colour Codes” from the Nature Cures pocketbook series by Nat H Hawes.

Posted on

Prevent and Cure Diabetes – The blood-sugar roller coaster

The blood-sugar rollercoaster

Sugar is extremely damaging to the body for many reasons. It is damaging to the body in high levels, it is damaging to the body in low levels, and the swinging of levels between the two is additionally damaging because of the hormonal response to those rapid changes. I call this the blood-sugar rollercoaster – it is often described as a ‘hypoglycaemic tendency’ (‘hypo’ meaning ‘below’, from the Greek) – but it is the whole rollercoaster that causes metabolic havoc – not just the dips. If we constantly eat carbohydrate foods, this is a rollercoaster which just keeps on going, and along with the metabolic havoc, there are associated mood swings which mirror the ride. These emotions are very similar to those documented by Barry Ritholtz, in his financial writings on the rollercoaster ride experienced by investors in risky stocks. People who are regularly feeling these emotions, and in particular are experiencing them cyclically, are most likely already on the blood-sugar rollercoaster: Returning to the medical case in point, in metabolic syndrome and diabetes any or all of the following problems can result. In each case, a description of the problem is followed by symptoms and diseases that may result from that problem, thereby giving clues as to whether this may be an issue in a particular individual.

The financial rollercoaster ride

The blood-sugar rollercoaster

The blood-sugar rollercoaster, as I explained earlier, is my name for the process of rapidly rising levels of blood sugar prompting a release of insulin and the ‘happy’ brain neurotransmitters followed by rapidly falling levels of blood sugar causing a release of adrenaline. This combined effect switches on addiction. Wobbly blood sugar levels are highly damaging because of their hormonal effects. These hormonal effects I suspect relate to the rate at which levels of sugar rise and fall in the bloodstream. As we lose control of our blood sugar, then eating a high-carbohydrate snack or meal will cause blood sugar levels to spike, and as blood sugar levels make this rapid rise there is an outpouring of insulin in order to protect the body from this dangerous (but addictive) sugar spike. Insulin brings the blood sugar level down by shunting it into fat. However, if this occurs quickly, then blood sugar levels fall precipitously and that results in an outpouring of adrenaline. Adrenaline is responsible for all the symptoms that we call ‘hypoglycaemia’.

Hypoglycaemia comes from the Greek words ‘hypo’ meaning low, ‘gly’ meaning sugar and ‘aemia’ meaning blood, and hence has a literal meaning of ‘low sugar blood’.

However, the term hypoglycaemia I suspect is a misnomer that relates to at least two issues. Firstly, adrenaline is released in response to poor fuel delivery (lack of sugar and/or ketones in the bloodstream). This means that, in the keto-adapted, the adrenaline symptoms do not arise because these people can switch into fat burning mode. Secondly, in those who cannot make this switch, it is not just the absolute level of blood sugar that causes the symptoms but also the rate of change; this means that often people who complain of hypoglycaemia wil d their blood sugar level is normal from a ‘snapshot’ blood-sugar test result. What they need is a ‘video’ of their blood sugar level changing over time to make the diagnosis. Consequences of the rollercoaster spikes in insulin and adrenaline include the following:

a.) High levels of insulin put us into a metabolic state of laying down fat, and prevent fat burning – this is the major problem of
metabolic inflexibility. It is almost impossible to lose weight when insulin levels are high. Furthermore this effect can be sustained for hours.

b.) High levels of adrenaline make us anxious, irritable and sleepless. This adrenaline release is a major cause of high blood pressure. Indeed, it astonishes me that doctors appear completely unaware of this link so that hypertension is described as ‘essential’ (of unknown cause) or ‘idiopathic’ (again, of unknown cause). They may accurately describe it as due to ‘stress’, but fail to realise the cause of this stress is actually nutritional stress due to loss of control of blood sugar levels.

Sugar has immediate effects on the brain, by various mechanisms, and this is partly responsible for why sugar is so addictive. For people who have lost control of their blood sugar, in the very short term, a carbohydrate rush, or ‘hit’, will have a calming effect which allows them to concentrate. Inspector Morse used the carbohydrate hit of a pint of beer to solve his murder mysteries – but ended up diabetic and died prematurely. Falstaff too found that alcohol had an inspirational effect.

‘It ascends me into the brain, dries me there all the foolish and dull and crudy vapours which environ it, makes it apprehensive, quick, forgetive, full of nimble, fiery, and delectable shapes, which delivered o’er to the voice, the tongue, which is the birth, becomes excellent wit.’  Act IV scene iii of Henry IV, Part 2 William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

Any parent will report how their child’s behaviour changes abruptly with a sugar hit and, much more noticeably, when blood sugar dives and they become irritable and moody. My daughters were often tired and irritable when they came in from school – it was not until supper that their normal good humour and energy were restored.

Problems with sugar – hyperglycaemia

Symptoms of blood sugar rising rapidly (due to the sugar hit and insulin) Diseases of blood sugar rising rapidly (due to the sugar hit and insulin)
Brain function improves – better concentration, feel calm, relief from depression.
Satiety
Triglycerides in the blood are high as insulin shunts excessive sugar into fat. 
Obesity and Inability to lose weight. (It is important to recognise that obesity is not the cause of diabetes but may be a symptom of metabolic syndrome – indeed, many people with normal weight have metabolic syndrome and diabetes.)

Problems with sugar – the rollercoaster

Symptoms of blood sugar falling rapidly (due to adrenaline release) Diseases of blood sugar falling rapidly (due to adrenaline release)
Acute anxiety and low mood.
Panic attacks.
Insomnia.
Shaking.
Palpitations.
Fearfulness.
Hunger and intense desire to eat.
Weakness.
High blood pressure.
 
Chronic high blood pressure.
Premenstrual tension.
Chronic anxiety.
Depression.
Eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia). Obsessive compulsive disorders.
Increased tendency to addiction – caffeine, chocolate, nicotine, cannabis, ‘social highs’, gambling, sexual perversions, exercise.

You will again see the similarities between the mood changes here and those noted by Barry Ritholtz in his financial writings on the rollercoaster ride experienced by investors in risky stocks.

This extract was taken from Prevent and Cure Diabetes: Delicious Diets, Not Dangerous Drugs by Dr Sarah Myhill.

Posted on

Psoriasis: Natural Remedies

Natural remedies for Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder that affects 1% to 3% of the world’s population. It is characterised by periodic flare-ups of well-defined red patches covered by a silvery, flaky scale on the skin and the scalp. There are several variations of psoriasis, but the most common type is chronic plaque psoriasis. The exact cause is unknown, but it is believed that a combination of several factors contributes to the development of this disease. In a normally functioning immune system, white blood cells produce antibodies to foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. These white blood cells also produce chemicals that aid in healing and fighting infective agents. With psoriasis, though, special white blood cells called T-cells become overactive; they attack the skin and set off a cascade of events that make the skin cells multiply so fast they start to stack up on the surface of the skin. Normal skin cells form, mature and then are sloughed off every 30 days, but in plaque psoriasis the skin goes through this whole process in three to six days.

DAMAGE
Sometimes an injury to the skin can cause the formation of a psoriasis patch. This is known as the Koebner phenomenon, and it can occur in other skin diseases, such as eczema and lichen planus. It can take two to six weeks for a psoriasis lesion to develop after an injury. Types of damage that can trigger a flare include: abrasion – even mild abrasions; increased friction from clothing or skin rubbing against skin in folds, such as armpits or under breasts; sunburn; viral rashes; drug rashes and weather damage.

DIET
Alcohol, sugar, coffee, fatty meats, refined processed foods, additives and deficiencies in minerals and phytonutrients can induce attacks of psoriasis.

DRUGS THAT CAN INDUCE OR WORSEN PSORIASIS

  • Chloroquine – used to treat or prevent malaria.
  • ACE inhibitors – angiotens in converting enzyme inhibitors, used to treat high blood pressure. Examples include fosinopril, captopril, and lisinopril.
  • Beta-blockers – used to treat high blood pressure. Examples include metoprolol tartrate (Lopressor) and atenolol (Tenormin).
  • Lithium – used to treat bipolar disorder.
  • Indocin – an anti-inflammatory medication used to treat a variety of conditions, including gout and arthritis.

INFECTIONS
Infections caused by bacteria or viruses can cause a psoriasis flare. Streptococcal infections that cause tonsillitis, or strep throat, tooth abscesses, cellulitis, and impetigo, can cause a flare of guttate psoriasis in children. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) does not increase the frequency of psoriasis, but it does increase the severity of the disease.

PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS
This has long been understood as a trigger for psoriasis flares, but scientists are still unclear about exactly how this occurs. Studies do show that not only can a sudden, stressful event trigger a rash to worsen; the daily struggles of life can also trigger a flare. In addition, one study showed that people who were categorised as ‘high worriers’ were almost two times less likely to respond to treatment compared to ‘low worriers’.

WEATHER
Weather is a strong factor in triggering psoriasis. Exposure to direct sunlight, which usually occurs in the warmer months, often improves the rash. On the other hand, cold, short days seen in the winter months can trigger the rash to worsen.

NATURE CURES FOR PSORIASIS
Raw juice therapy can effectively improve psoriasis. The best organic natural foods to juice are: apricot, beetroot, carrot, celery, cucumber, grapes, lemon, spinach and tomato.

EXTERNAL REMEDIES FOR PSORIASIS
The following can be used as external remedies for psoriasis: burdock root, Chinese rhubarb root, egg white (beaten to fluffy stage), mango, oats, parsley, pine needle tea bath and tamanu oil.

 

This extract was taken from Nature Cures by Nat Hawes. Check out her website at http://www.naturecures.co.uk/about.html

Posted on

Pumpkin Power: Your Halloween Health Kick

Pumpkin Recipes

It’s the one and only time of year where we see hundreds of pumpkins lining supermarket shelves and garden paths, often with a rather wicked smile grinning back at you. But don’t be fooled, they’re actually one of the greatest superfoods out there. Pumpkin seeds are one of the best plant-based sources of zinc, which works wonders for the human body by improving the immune system, preventing osteoporosis and reducing cholesterol. Pumpkin seeds are also a fantastic source of protein, fibre and magnesium. They help with weight loss, relaxation and increased fertility in both men and women, and their high levels of L-tryptophan make them an effective mood booster – particularly useful as the cold weather sets in!

Extracted from her book, Love Your Bones, Max Tuck provides two delicious recipes to help you make the most of this Halloween superfood:

 

Pumpkin seed pesto

In this recipe pumpkin seeds replace the traditional pine nuts that can be so very expensive. For optimum nutrition and digestibility it is important to soak the pumpkin seeds for a few hours beforehand.

  • In a food processor mix all of the following to a smooth paste:

½ cup soaked pumpkin seeds

¼ cup water

The juice of ½ lemon

Optional: splashes of tamari or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos to taste

A medium clove of garlic

¼ cup of cold-pressed olive oil

 

  • Separately, chop a medium-sized bunch of fresh basil leaves very finely. Stir them into the pumpkin seed mixture or pulse for a second.
  • Serve the pesto stirred into pasta, preferably into ‘courgette pasta’ made from thin shavings of courgette cut with a potato peeler.

 

Pumpkin seed and walnut loaf

2 cups pumpkin seeds, soaked for six to eight hours

2 cups walnuts, soaked overnight

1 cup carrot, chopped

1 cup red pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 cup onion, diced

1 cup parsley, chopped

1 cup dried mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon raw tahini (optional)

Sprig of parsley to garnish

 

  • Process the pumpkin seeds, walnuts and carrot in a food processor until smooth. Remove and place in a bowl.
  • Pulse the remaining ingredients except the parsley together in a food processor until they are of a chunky consistency. Place in the bowl with the pumpkin seed mixture and combine thoroughly.
  • Place on a serving dish and mould into the desired shape. Garnish with parsley.

 

These recipes were taken from Love Your Bones by Max Tuck.

 

Posted on

The PK Cookbook: PK bread recipe

PK Cookbook

The single biggest reason for lapsing from the PK diet (Paleo-ketogenic) is the absence of bread. To secure the diet for life you must first make PK bread. I have searched and nothing is currently available commercially which passes muster. Loaves will become available as demand builds, but in the meantime you have to make your own bread. If you do not have the energy to do this yourself but have any friends or family offering to help you, then top of the list must be, ‘Please make my daily bread’. PK bread consists of just linseed, sunshine salt (see Chapter 13, page 93) and water.  Americans, and others, may be more familiar with linseed being referred to as flax or flaxseed or common flax. There is technically a subtle difference – flax is grown as a fibre plant that is used for linen.  Linseed is grown for its seed. The flax plant is taller than linseed and is ‘pulled’ by hand, or nowadays by machine.

How to make a PK bread loaf in five minutes

Please forgive the tiresome detail, but you must succeed with your first loaf because then you will be encouraged to carry on. I can now put this recipe together in five minutes (proper minutes that is – not the ‘and this is what I did earlier’ TV version). I have spent the last six months making a loaf almost every morning – there have been many revisions and the version below is the current recipe which I think is perfect!

Equipment needed:

  • Cooking oven that gets to at least 220 degrees Centigrade
  • Weighing scales
  • Nutribullet (or similarly effective grinding machine – do not attempt to do this with a pestle and mortar; I know – I have tried and failed)
  • Mixing bowl
  • A 500 gram (or one pound in weight) loaf baking tin
  • Measuring jug
  • Cup in which to weigh the linseed
  • Wooden spoon
  • Wire rack for cooling
  • Paper towels

Ingredients needed:

  • 250 grams of whole linseed (use dark or golden linseed grains)
  • One teaspoon of sunshine salt (can be purchased from www.sales@drmyhill.co.uk) or unrefined sea salt
  • Dollop of coconut oil or lard
Actions Notes
Take 250 grams of whole linseed You could purchase linseed in 250 gram packs and that saves weighing it. Use dark or golden linseed grains – the golden grains produce a brown loaf, the dark a black one.Do not use commercially ground linseed – the grinding is not fine enough, also it will have absorbed some water already and this stops it sticking together in the recipe.If you purchase linseed in bulk then you must weigh it really accurately in order to get the proportion of water spot on.
No raising agent is required.
Pour half the linseed into the Nutribullet/grinder together with one rounded teaspoon of PK ‘Sunshine’ salt (see page 93).
Grind into a fine flour.
Use the flat blade to get the finest flour.Grind until the machine starts to groan and sweat with the effort! You need a really fine flour to make a good loaf. This takes about 30 seconds.The finer you can grind the flour the better it sticks together and the better the loaf.I do this in two batches of 125 grams or the blades ‘hollow out’ the mix so that half does not circulate and grind fully.
Pour the ground flour into a mixing bowl.
Repeat the above with the second half of the seeds and add to the mixing bowl. Whilst this is grinding, measure the water you need.
Add in exactly 270 ml water (not a typo – 270 it is). Chuck it all in at once; do not dribble it in.Stir it with a wooden spoon and keep stirring. It will thicken over the course of 30 seconds.Keep stirring until it becomes sticky and holds together in a lump. The amount of water is critical. When it comes to cooking, I am a natural chucker in of ingredients and hope for the best. But in this case, you must measure.Initially it will look as if you have added far too much water, but keep stirring.
Use your fingers to scoop up a dollop of coconut oil or lard. Use this to grease the baking tin. Your hands will be covered in fat which means you can pick up your sticky dough without it sticking to your hands
Use your hands to shape the dough until it has a smooth surface.
Drop it into the greased baking tin
Spend about 30 seconds doing this. Do not be tempted to knead or fold the loaf or you introduce layers of fat which stop it sticking to itself. This helps prevent the loaf cracking as it rises and cooks (although I have to say it does not matter two hoots if it does. It just looks more professional if it does not!)
Let the loaf ‘rest’ for a few minutes …so it fully absorbs all the water and becomes an integral whole. This is not critical but allows enough time to…
…rub any excess fat into your skin, where it will be absorbed There is no need to wash your hands after doing this – the basis for most hand creams is coconut oil or lard. (Yes, lard. It amuses me that rendered animal fat is a major export from our local knacker man to the cosmetic industry.)
Put the loaf into the hot oven – at least 220°C (430°F) – for 60 minutes Set a timer or you will forget – I always do!I do not think the temperature is too critical – but it must be hot enough to turn the water in the loaf into steam because this is what raises it. I cook on a wood-fired stove and the oven temperature is tricky to be precise with. That does not seem to matter so long as it is really hot. Indeed, I like the flavour of a slightly scorched crust.
Wipe out the mixing bowl with a paper towel. This cleaning method is quick and easy. The slightly greasy surface which remains will be ideal for the next loaf. The point here is that fat cannot be fermented by bacteria or yeast and does not need washing off mixing and cooking utensils. My frying pan has not been washed for over 60 years. I know this because my mother never washed it either.
When the timer goes off, take the loaf out of the oven, tip it out and allow it to cool on a wire rack.
Once cool keep it in a plastic bag in the fridge.
It lasts a week kept like this and freezes well too.It is best used sliced thinly with a narrow-bladed serrated knife.

Fry your freshly made PK bread in coconut oil or lard and add the following for a delicious PK breakfast;

  • 2-3 boiled eggs
  • Smoked fish, tinned fish, tinned cod’s roe
  • Paté or rillette
  • Nut butter
  • Vegan cheese (check the carb content of this) and tomato
  • Coyo yoghurt

This blog was taken from Sarah Myhill and Craig Robinson’s new book The PK Cookbook

Posted on

Nutritional approaches to CFS

Food choice and quality

The value of choosing, where possible, locally grown or produced food has been much reviewed and generally agreed upon in recent years. We all have access to news items, television programmes, magazine articles and, for many of us, internet information on this subject. The value and availability of local, seasonal produce have been discussed at length. Many authors in Europe and America have written controversial books covering such subjects as poor food quality, food commercialisation, food additives, pressure advertising and many other contentious topics. A selection of my favourite authors includes: Michael Moss, Bee Wilson, John Humphreys, Ben Goldacre, Barry Groves, Stanley Feldman with Vincent Marks, and Eric Schlosser.

Meanwhile our chefs and celebrity cooks have made us more aware of our poor-quality school meals (Jamie Oliver), the use of country produce (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall), or simply good quality food and healthy cooking methods (Gary Rhodes, Nigel Slater, Simon Hopkinson etc). Having scanned today’s main TV channels (Free-Sat) today being a typical quiet Thursday in March, I have identified 13 programmes whose subject matter is cooking or food. This does not include the radio programmes.

With such unrelenting advice on food selection, preparation and cooking it is difficult to believe that an unhealthy diet is possible in the UK. Although media and governmental advice on ‘healthy’ eating can be conflicting, we are all aware that refined, processed and generally harmful ‘junk food’ is best avoided. At the same time, I frequently encounter patients who admit that their diets are dreadful; their excuses range from lack of time to dislike of cooking or shopping, or simply a result of craving all the wrong foods.
Regrettably, a major motivation for many people’s food selection is a result of economic necessity. Such items as convenience foods, TV snacks, cakes, biscuits, crisps, chocolate, cola-drinks and alcohol feature as essential components in many weekly housekeeping bills. Quality proteins, in particular beef and fish, are beyond the household budgets of many families. The failure of many schools to give basic education in cookery is also very much to blame. It would be so easy for all teenagers (both sexes) to have basic cookery skills taught to them whilst at school, to form a basis upon which to draw in their adult life. It is common knowledge that many school children do not know where milk, eggs and common vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes etc) have come from, or how they are grown.

I have already outlined my opposition to high-carbohydrate diets and criticised the ‘healthy eating’ maxim that advocates five portions of fruit and vegetables daily. Such disorders as syndrome X, diabetes, obesity and a huge range of health problems can result from such diets. I have emphasised the value of eating proteins at each meal and also animal fats as part of a recommended diet. There is only one advantage to a high-carbohydrate diet: it is inexpensive. A diet rich in cereal foods and root vegetables has been defined as ‘peasant food’. Protein foods have for centuries been the preferred food of the middle and upper classes. One only has to look at the favoured food of different countries and cultures to identify this class bias. Obvious examples of ‘people’s foods’ are rice in China, cereals and pulses in India, pasta in the Mediterranean area, wheat in Europe and America and potatoes in Ireland. Carbohydrates are cheap, filling, tasty and usually easy to prepare.

This has made the current official recommendation for the diet to consist of 50–70% carbohydrates all the easier for people to adopt. However, it is seen by many as a major cause of the obesity, diabetes and heart disease epidemics that afflict the so-called civilised nations. Perhaps CFS should be added to the above list; certainly the prevalence of chronic fatigue, with the often related symptom of depression, is increasing each year.

The treatment of many health problems requires nutritional intervention and advice. Problems that are directly food related include gastro-intestinal complaints, leaky gut, candidiasis and food allergies, but systemic general health problems may also benefit from this approach.

Food digestion

Having reviewed the relative value of fresh, locally produced food versus processed ‘junk’ food, the next topic must be the part digestion plays in the breakdown of our health.
I want to start by considering several, generally held misconceptions concerning our digestion:

1. It doesn’t matter what we eat, as rubbish is eliminated and all the nutrients are absorbed.

2. The typical symptoms of indigestion – such as stomach fullness and wind, diarrhoea and/or constipation, heartburn and nausea – are all transient symptoms resulting from hurried meals or stress and are not serious health disorders.

3. The symptoms of indigestion can usually be solved by ant-acids, Immodium, paracetamol and other self-prescribed medicines. Advice or treatment is rarely necessary.

These misconceptions may be reassuring, but they prevent us from seeing what the problems really are. Digestive disorders, as with many ailments, do not always present matching symptoms. Achlorydria (lack of stomach acid), reduced pancreatic enzyme status, leaky gut, and low short-chain fatty acid levels do not present predictable diagnosable symptoms. To put it simply, a lot can go wrong before you are aware of the problem. This can result in a situation where quite serious gut problems can develop over several years before real action is taken to accurately diagnose and effectively treat the condition. I have a patient who had been prescribed ant-acids for eight years, for an acid stomach, before a gastroscopy was requested and a stomach tumour diagnosed. This resulted in surgery to remove one third of his stomach, yet this life-saving emergency surgery was preceded only by occasional heartburn and nausea until a few days before the stomach operation, when he developed severe blood loss and black stools. Not surprisingly, he had no awareness of the potential seriousness of his condition.

The gastro-intestinal tract is vital for energy production for our entire metabolism. The efficiency of every body organ can be compromised by digestive disorders. Naturopathic medicine, or ‘functional medicine’ as it has been termed in America, has promoted many clinical approaches designed to treat gastrointestinal disorders.

A brief review of these diets and treatment methods will serve to emphasise the value of the drug-free systems that have been prescribed to normalise gut function. I do not endorse all of these regimes, but I do agree with the common theme of non-invasive therapies to treat indigestion, without recourse to drug-based symptom relief.

This blog is taken from Why Am I So Exhausted? by Martin Budd.

Posted on

How food influences your mood

How Food Influences Your Mood

Learning to feel differently about food includes recognising the link between nutrition and mental wellbeing. There is no point in achieving a slimmer body if the price is depression and increased anxiety. Scientific researchers suggest people should be cautious in how they reduce their calorie intake while attempting to slim down as research findings show that sudden changes in nutrition, or reducing certain nutrients in a diet, can result in a worsening of depressive symptoms. (Sathyanarayana et al, 2008)

A study in the British Journal of Psychiatry (Akbaraly et al, 2009) also found evidence that eating a wide range of real foods versus processed foods of poor nutritional quality increased the likelihood of depression.

When people abruptly stop eating large amounts of processed foods containing unhealthy fats, and loaded with sugar, they can often experience withdrawal symptoms similar to those of going “cold turkey” from drugs. The withdrawal symptoms can last for several days and for some people the symptoms of headache, muscle pain and feeling below par can be powerful enough for them to return to their old eating habits just to make them feel “normal” again. Stick with the process, though, as the rewards will far outweigh any temporary discomfort.

Other nutritional deficiencies have a part to play in feeling low or even depressed. These include deficiencies in zinc, omega-3 fats, B vitamins, B6 and B12 especially, and vitamin D.

Missing meals can cause a dip in blood sugar levels, resulting in the release of adrenaline which increases feelings of anxiety and can even be a trigger for raised levels of anxiety generally.

Disordered eating often involves binge eating. This causes physical discomfort but can also often be a trigger for feelings of despair and shame. If overeating happens late at night, the inevitable bloating can interfere with the ability to sleep, again lowering mood.

Following a restrictive diet where carbohydrates are eliminated has an impact on serotonin levels in the brain that can lead to feelings of depression. We encourage eating a balance of complex, unrefined starchy carbohydrates such as vegetables and protein and healthy fats to maintain a positive mood, and promote satiety.

Making changes towards healthier food choices is obviously beneficial on many different levels. The changeover can happen during a radical period when mass changes are made, or one meal at a time, gradually reducing the amount of processed sugars and high fat foods that are eaten. How this is tackled is down to personal choice, and what best suits each individual.

In essence, a healthy diet will not cause ecstatic happiness but a poor diet could be a contributing factor to feeling low, so it’s important for mental wellbeing to eat a wide variety of real foods.

This blog is taken from How to Feel Differently About Food by Sally Baker and Liz Hogon. You can read the first chapter here!