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Chill out before you peg out…

Why stress is so bad for you and you need to sort it out.Why stress is so bad for you and you need to sort it out.

The following is an extract from my new book, Mother Nature’s Diet, available for immediately download right now.

It’s all about your hormones

Everything in the human body interacts with everything else.

There is virtually no system or function that operates in isolation, everything is interconnected by your central nervous system (kinda like the wiring in your supercomputer), your blood (the river of life) and by the chemical signals and instructions that blood carries around, in the form of hormones, proteins and other compounds.

Hormones arrive at an organ or a certain type of tissue or cell, and deliver instructions telling those tissues or cells what to do. When hormone signalling works well, like signalling in a computer or on a railway network, all is well. When signalling is ‘shot to shit’, just like on a road or rail network, all hell breaks loose, and we either have major crashes, or everything seizes up in grid lock. That’s how important hormones are.
You have hormones that govern when you feel hungry or full; hormones that make you happy or sad, angry or calm, lively or relaxed. Hormones and minerals between them regulate many complex processes in the body including appetite, blood pressure and elimination of waste.

Fight or flight…rest and digest

You have likely heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response. When you feel fear, when you sense some imminent danger, your body releases a rush of stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol are the ones you will have heard of) and prepare you to either fight, physically, or to run away. Yes, this all dates back to caveman and the proverbial sabre-toothed tiger, these hormonal systems have been keeping us safe since we climbed down out of the trees in East Africa seven or eight million years ago.

When those stress hormones flood your body, they trigger a whole Read more

Brexit and booze

Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about politics! I’ll keep my views on Brexit to myself.

This is the first in a series of posts that will eventually come together as a short series on “ignoring the elephant in the room” and as the series builds, you’ll see how the posts all connect together, to highlight ‘gross national stupidity’ and the ignorance our media perpetuates by spreading lies and misinformation.

£350m per week for our NHS

As surely everyone in the country can remember, during the Brexit campaign, the Leave campaign drove around Britain in a bus touting the slogan “We send the EU £350 million per week, let’s fund our NHS instead. Vote Leave”

Brexit bus

This was one of the cornerstone arguments of the Leave campaign – stop giving money to the EU, and give it to the NHS instead.

This post is not about politics, but you may have followed in the news how this £350m GBP promise has been pulled apart and rubbished…the £350m figure does not account for Britain’s EU rebate, it’s a gross figure not a net figure, and it fails to account for everything our nation gains in return for EU membership. Scholars have largely proven that in fact, once the UK leaves the EU, there will be zero surplus cash available for the NHS, quite a lot less that £350m per week.

At this stage, at time of writing, there is no sense exploring that issue any further because:

  • Until the Brexit negotiations are complete, nothing is certain and we can’t know whether the UK economy is going to be better off or worse off
  • That’s not the point of this post

What’s this got to do with health?

Read more

Save yourself a bunch of hassle, a small fortune, and years of poor health – JFDI

This post, in a nutshell:

  • I was a fat yo-yo dieter for 20 years, in and out of obesity, trying fad diets and fad bouts of exercise
  • I finally ‘figured it all out’ and lost 101 pounds of fat, or 7 stone 3, or 46 kilos
  • Now I have spent 11 years obsessed with health and fitness and read 847 books and research papers on all-things-health related
  • I have spent the last five years trying to teach the best of what I learned – no gimmicks, no fads, no selling snake-oil supplements, no bullshit, just the truth
  • Most folks don’t want this truth, it’s too boring. It’s not very sexy, it doesn’t sell
  • Ugly as it sounds, the reality is that ‘most’ doctors and ‘experts’ are disinclined to teach healthy diet and lifestyle modification as preventive medicine. Instead they wait for people to mess themselves up, then when they come for help, they prescribe drugs or surgery
  • And most ordinary people are turned off by honest advice to eat healthily and exercise more, and instead they prefer to live the hedonistic life, wait til shit goes wrong, then take those prescription drugs in the hopes that can fix things
  • This strategy falls apart when the NHS goes bust and everyone has type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer
  • The solution? Follow my boring and sensible advice, follow the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet, and stop using food and alcohol as cheap thrills and anxiety drugs to make up for the fact that other areas of your life are less than fulfilling

The size of the problem

If you follow this blog then you know my back story and there is no real need for me to go through it again. For those who are new to this blog, here is the super-short version. I struggled with my weight from age 14 to age 35, yo-yo diets, exercise fads, in and out of obesity. I smoked for 20 years, drank pretty heavily for 26 years, had skin problems, nasal congestion problems, took prescription meds for 17 years, and fought low self-esteem my entire life. Mid-30s, I started to learn about nutrition and turned it all around. Lost 7 stone 3 (101 pounds, 46 kilos), got fit, ran a bunch of marathons, had some injuries and accidents (including every running injury in the book, knee surgery, fractured spine, busted some ribs, bust a few bones) and then studied and became a Personal Trainer. Long version here.

Along the way, I read hundreds of books, hundreds of research papers, attended dozens of training events, seminars, conferences and more. I learned a ton about health, nutrition, disease prevention, fitness, training, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, weight loss, mindset, personal development, farming, agriculture, the environment, history, anthropology and a whole lot more. Along the way I got really pissed off with all the confusing and conflicting research and advice.

  • Meat is good for you : no, meat gives you cancer!
  • Dairy is good for you, it’s a superfood : no, dairy is full of pus and gives you breast cancer!
  • Running is good for you : no, running trashes your knees and hips!
  • Low-fat is the secret to losing weight and avoiding heart disease – so just eat less fat and more carbs! : No! Fat is essential…it’s the carbs that cause heart disease and make you fat!
  • Coconut oil is good : no, coconut oil is bad!
  • Put butter and fat in your coffee : no, coffee is already bad for you, it’s worse with butter in it!
  • Weight training is good for you : no, weights will make you bulky and you’ll end up damaging your joints and taking steroids!
  • Calories are all that matter for weight loss : no, calories don’t matter at all!

And so it goes on and on and on. I read every book, paper and blog on every topic for 27 years and it all drove me nuts. Every expert disagrees with every other expert! And today, if anything, it’s only Read more

Every master was once a disaster

Every master was once a disaster…it’s worth remembering, that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and few people are great at anything the first time they try it.

I was listening to one of these personal development guru types the other day, a great speaker and author called T.Harv Eker who teaches people how to get rich, and he used the phrase ‘every master was once a disaster’.

The phrase came back to my mind the very next day when I was training with a PT client who was really struggling with the challenge I had set for him. This guy is around 40 and he’s let himself get out of shape; you know, bit of a belly, let the fitness go, not done any strength training in years. He is in perfectly good health, has no heart problems and not morbidly obese, so I was pushing him pretty hard to get through this workout challenge, and he was swearing and cursing and flagging big time.

I could see he was reaching exhaustion, but on each exercise I was pushing him to go one or two extra reps, just to get the best out of him, the best he could do that day. He was swearing at me, sure, but he was mostly swearing at himself.

When we finished the workout, he was hard on himself, berating himself for doing poorly, for being unfit and out-of-shape. He was ashamed, maybe that word is too strong, but he was disappointed by how few push-ups he could do, how few burpees he could do, how few dips he could do. I told him, ‘every master was once a disaster’ and he shouldn’t be so hard on himself now, but instead understand that he has work to do to move from ‘disaster’ to ‘master’ and he should be proud that right now he is taking the necessary steps, doing the work, pushing himself forward, and starting to make improvements.

I do a lot of push-ups, I guess 200 to 500 per day most days. In fact on a good day, I think little of doing 1000 in a day. But it wasn’t always like that. When I first decided it was time to get fit and healthy, I couldn’t finish a single set of 20. I was only 20 years of age. Let’s be absolutely clear, failing to complete even one set of 20, flaking out at less than 15, as a young man aged just 20, that is very poor. I was at ‘disaster’ at that time, but I didn’t beat myself up too much for that. I just said ‘OK, it’s 14 today. OK, let’s shoot for 15 or more tomorrow’ and started making progress from there. Now I do 1000 in a day, no big deal.

The lesson to learn is this: often no one is as hard on us as we are on ourselves. Don’t beat yourself up too much, instead take pride from the fact that at least you are here, you’re reading this blog, you’re trying to live by the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet, you’re working out, even if it’s starting with just one push-up, well done you, that’s one more than yesterday. Just start, and keep moving forward. As I wrote last week, the road to ‘master’ is seldom straight, upward and easy; instead it’s fraught with setbacks and trials and tribulations along the way, but you have started, you have made a move from ‘disaster’ and you are on your way. Master awaits, you just have to keep making forward progress.

Exercise, diet, lifestyle. Keep making progress. Don’t be too hard on yourself, the journey is long, stay the course. Rather than emotionally beating yourself up for errors in days gone by, mistakes you have made that cannot be undone, keep going consistently now, keep making forward progress, and never look back. Consistency is where so many fail. Stay the course.

Whatever your goals, keep chasing them, keep working; and as you move towards mastery, one day at a time, just remind yourself that every master was once a disaster. Keep going, you’ve got this.

 

 

Bumps along the road to success

The path to getting the results we want is never the smooth, easy road we imagine it is going to be.

For almost 47 years old, with a history of 20 years of smoking, heavy drinking and yo-yo obesity, now I am in pretty good shape for a guy my age. I’m healthy, full of energy, got zero health complaints, I’m fit-as-a-fiddle, I train every day and barring a couple of minor muscular niggles, I am fit and strong in every way. ‘Minor muscular niggles’, yeah I have a few of those, currently the main one is a rotator cuff issue in my right shoulder that’s been holding back progress on my bench press for almost nine long months. I used to get frustrated about the aches and pains, but over the years I have now come to realise they are just part of life training over the age of 40, I just have to live with them.

I was having this conversation the other day with a coaching client of mine, we were talking about working around the minor niggles. He was frustrated by a neck/shoulder ache that was stopping him doing his upper body training properly, and I was encouraging him to train more lower body while his upper body strength is compromised. This is life, the journey is never smooth, it never goes to plan, there are always hiccups along the way. My client was having a crap day, he was feeling down about his training, things not going to plan, progress too slow. This week he can’t train upper body properly because of this neck/shoulder ache, all last month he was off running because of a touch of shin splints, he was feeling exasperated, “I just want to get on a train hard every day! It’s not fair! It’s slowing my progress, all these damned injuries!”

The ups and downs

I can empathise, I have been there myself. The road to success is never the smooth journey we want it to be. When we start out on our health transformation, to lose the excess weight and get all fit and healthy, we imagine in our minds that it will all go smoothly. We imagine that after years of not doing the right things, not looking after ourselves, smoking, drinking, eating too much fattening food, not exercising, making the wrong choices, we imagine that once we start ‘being good’ and doing all the right things, then everything will be good, everything will work well, everything will go in our favour. We have some unquestioned mental faith in the depths of our mind that quietly assumes that we are switching from ‘being naughty’ to ‘being good’ and therefore nothing will go wrong, the quiet forces of the universe will line up in our favour and everything will be perfect, it will all go in our favour.

Then we start, and for the first month or two things often start out well, weight falling off, we get over the ‘OMG I am so unfit’ and start to find aspects of exercise that we quite enjoy. Days are early, resolve is high, results come quickly. Oh the joy of it all! And then we hit our first plateau. Down to Earth with an almighty thump.

Success

Two months in, two stone down, the weight loss slows to a crawl and we pick up our first training injury. And so the honeymoon period is over, and the real work begins. What can I say? It’s hard. People reading this who have done it, you’re nodding right now and saying ‘oh yeah, oh brother, I know just what you’re talking about’ and folks reading this now who have never been fat and had to lose it all, you folks who have always been slim, you have no idea what I am talking about.

Hiccups along the way

I had someone came up to chat with me in the lunch break at one of my seminars last year, and he shook my hand and thanked me for a good morning, he said he was feeling inspired and learning some great stuff, and then he said “…but it’s OK for you, I mean look at you mate, you’re in good shape, you’re slim and fit, you’ve got your pecs all squeezed into your tight t-shirt, you’ve got your flat stomach, you run marathons and you lift weights, you rock climb and you play squash, you know how to cook all these healthy meals, you know all about what not to eat…you know mate, it’s OK for you, you make it all sound easy when you are telling us what to do, but some of us have a lot more work to do to be able to do the things that you can do. We’re not all you!” He then went on to tell me of this injury he has to work around, that food allergy he has to watch out for, and this work commitments that he has to fit the rest of his life around. He told me of his unsupportive spouse, his career commitments, his lack of cooking skills and his financial pressures.

I really understand. I truly do understand all those things, all those headaches, hiccups and obstacles we face. Because I have faced them all too. When I am standing up there in my tight t-shirt delivering my seminar, I’m talking to a room full of people, many of whom are at Ground Zero on their health transformation, Day One of their own personal weight loss journey…meanwhile I’m standing up there at year eleven. Year. Eleven. Eleven years earlier I was at my own Ground Zero, Day One on my own personal weight loss and health transformation journey. At that time I too would have looked up at ‘tight t-shirt man’ and thought ‘well it’s OK for you pal, you’re all slim and fit and healthy…’ and I would have thought that guy didn’t understand the challenges I faced.

For eleven years I have overcome all those obstacles myself, every one of them. I have had a gazillion hiccups along the way and I can promise you the road to success is never the smooth, easy, endlessly-upwards journey we imagine it is going to be. I’ve had shin splints, a fractured right tibia, right knee surgery, a fracture in my left foot, a broken toe, every running injury in the book. I ran my first marathon with a fracture in my lower leg still healing. I ran that marathon with only 1 training run in the 12 weeks before the event. I fractured my spine on L2 and L4 in a training accident in 2012. I have had muscle spasms in my back so bad I couldn’t stand up straight and walk. I have had to retire from running completely because of a destroyed meniscus in my knee. I have broken a toe and several fingers in training. I fell over 200 feet down the side of a mountain in 2014 and bust five ribs. I have had pulls, sprains and strains in almost every muscle I can think of. I have had to stop training for a week here, a fortnight there, a month here and three months there more times than I can possibly remember.

I have had running injuries, climbing injuries, cuts, scratches, breaks and bruises. Bike crashes, expensive bike crashes. I’ve ripped clothes, ripped skin, busted bones and shed blood, sweat and tears. I’ve had to juggle it all with family life. Three young children, my own businesses, endless 15-hour workdays. I’ve been through losing my mother to cancer in her 60s, the loss of friends and family members. I’ve been through the sleep-loss of young children, the emotional ups-and-downs of married life, near bankruptcy in business, the highs and lows of recession, and more.

I always say I lost 7 stone 3, or 101 pounds of fat, 46 kilos to my European friends. In reality I have probably lost 200 pounds of fat, counting all the times it went up and down. You lose two stone, then plateau and put one back on again. Then you have to lose that one again before breaking new ground and losing more. And so it goes on.

Consistency

Hiccups along the way? I’ve broken bones, lost loved ones, built businesses and had almost every injury in the book. How come I get to be the slim fit guy in the tight t-shirt teaching the weight loss seminar?
Because despite all that shit, I stuck it out.

I didn’t let those hiccups stop me. I didn’t let the shitty days take me out of the game for good. I never quit.

When it’s all going wrong, we get demoralised, we feel down, we feel like giving up. We hit these plateaus and the voice in our head says “What’s the point? It’s not working any more, you might as well give up.” And “See, dummy, you’re injured again. You didn’t have all this hassle when you were a couch potato, this exercise malarkey is bad for you!! You might as well just stop and go back to the DVD and a tub of ice cream, that didn’t hurt, you didn’t ache all over then!” Those voices in our head would screw us over if we let them, they would stop us every time. We have to learn to master the voices and stay the course. It’s these ups and downs, these plateaus in our progress, these hiccups that derail most people’s weight loss efforts and cause most people’s plans to fall by the way side.

Success is not the smooth journey we imagine. The road forward is fraught with hazards and hiccups. I am sorry, that’s just how it is. When you actually start using your body to work hard after a decade or two of neglecting it…it grumbles back at you! It aches and moans, it creaks and groans. Now and then something breaks, you’re out for weeks or even months with an injury. You have to learn to train around your injuries and aches and pains.
Legs hurt? Train upper body.
Shoulder injury? Work lower body.
Can’t run? Cycle.
Can’t cycle? Swim.
You have to learn to do whatever it takes to keep making progress, no matter how slow.
Just don’t ever quit.

If you want the results, damn the hiccups, you have to find a way. The rewards go to those who stay the course.

Never, ever quit.
That’s how winning happens.

The One Diet to Rule Them All…

Which diet is best for you?

I have recently been reading a lot of ‘diet books’ and related blogs and looking at some of the most popular diet programs currently in vogue.

Within the space of just a few days:

  • I read an excellent report on the benefits of ketogenic diets for type-2 diabetics and people suffering from neurodegenerative disease. The article was written by someone knowledgeable, intelligent, published and well-respected, and backed up by plenty of examples of people who have enjoyed success with ketogenic diets (personally, I know several who get great results!)
  • Then, without looking for it, the very next day I happened across a well-reasoned argument against ketogenic diets, again written by a knowledgeable trainer with a long track record of client success stories. He warned of the dangers of low carb diets negatively affecting thyroid function, and he shared many anecdotal stories of female clients who have suffered hormone disruption through trying ketogenic diets. He also argued convincingly that ketogenic diets can cause some people to suffer sleep abnormalities, hormone problems, mood swings, anxiety and misery (life without carbs – not much fun!)
  • Ummm, one blog full of reports of people going super low-carb and finally ditching that stubborn belly fat they wanted to get rid of. The other blog full of reports of people feeling tired, run-down, burnt out on ultra low-carb, who then ate more carbs and felt strong again and saw that stubborn belly fat finally melt away! Confusion much!
  • Then I was reading a book about the benefits of intermittent fasting and the health benefits of fasting in general. Again a well-researched and well written book, lots of scientific references and plenty of anecdotal references too. Mental benefits, fat burning benefits, metabolic benefits, weight loss, improvements in blood sugar management, insulin sensitivity and more
  • I had a look around online and found many blogs and groups proclaiming the benefits of intermittent fasting diets, full of weight-loss success stories…and I found a similar number of blogs and groups bemoaning that ‘intermittent fasting diets don’t work’ or that as soon as they returned to eating ‘normally’, these people regained any weight they had lost – “it’s just a fad” they proclaim
  • I read a wonderful book a couple of weeks ago about some of the newest research into the effectiveness of Paleo diets and how many people enjoy weight loss results on a Paleo-style dietary regime. Then I read a series of very confusing blogs, and it became clear to me just how muddled the Paleo message has become, which is kinda sad. Some people seem to interpret Paleo as meaning ‘fairly low carb’, and some seem to think it means LCHF (low carb, high fat) and some seem to eat lots of carbs. Some think ketogenic diets are an extension of Paleo, while others look at hunter-gatherer tribes eating high carb diets (many roots and tubers) and argue that Paleo is actually pretty high carb
  • Oh the glorious confusion! I found stories of folks getting weight loss results and improved health from all variants of this Paleo interpretation! These people were all following variations of what they believe to me a Paleo diet, some very low in carbs, some really quite high in carbs, and all achieving weight loss results or health improvements. Then I searched around and found opposing legions of people complaining Paleo is too hard, Paleo is too restrictive, Paleo doesn’t work and they failed to lose weight on a Paleo diet!

Now let’s just see – Read more

The BIG Issues…in troubled times

With major public health and global health issues on the agenda, we need more unity and collaboration, not isolation and division.

It is absolutely not my intention to use the this blog to discuss politics or share or promote my own personal political opinions in any way. However, in the current political environment, with Brexit negotiations now in full swing, and the question of Scottish independence again coming in and out of the news, I find the political climate in Europe deeply saddens me.

And worldwide, with tensions between the US and North Korea, and terrible troubles in Yemen, Syria and Myanmar, among other places, I am struck with an overall sense of sadness, that such issues of isolation, nationalism and political and religious division seem to be dominating national and international politics, at a time when I believe what we need more than ever is more national unity and international collaboration, to address the really big issues that affect us and our children and grandchildren.

I believe our world needs more tolerance, understanding and unity, not less.

As I see it, we face some really big, deadly serious problems, in our lifetimes.

1) There are only 60 to 100 years of arable soil left on Earth. Just exactly what does anyone think we are going to eat when there is no soil left to grow any plants? I see vegans promoting the movie Cowspiracy saying we should all eat more plants and less animals. Yet as I see it, properly farmed animals eat grass and help built soil fertility and depth, where growing more plants for food means more ploughing and further soil erosion.

2) Climate change is real and it’s happening. We need to radically, massively tackle this issue now. I genuinely believe that every tax paying citizen in the developed world should be putting their hand in their pocket right now, probably to the tune of around a 5% tax rise for all of us, to completely eliminate the use of fossil fuels and stop all further greenhouse gas emissions and start wide scale implementation of renewable energy production and carbon sequestration techniques.

But they won’t. And no politician will suggest it, as that would be wildly unpopular and political suicide.

And our children and grandchildren are going to Read more

Sunbathing for cancer prevention

In this post, we are continuing from a previous post, looking at the benefits of sun exposure. In that previous post I explained that the benefits of regular, responsible sun exposure vastly outweigh the risks, and I explained the responsible bit, which I suggest you go back and read again! The goal is to spend some time outside every day, exposing some skin and making vitamin D naturally. The goal is not to stay inside for 50 weeks of the year and then burn for two weeks on holiday! And tanning beds are not the answer either!

I’m pretty much going to just repeat that message (it is worth repeating, in my opinion) in this post, but before you close this and stop reading, we’ll add a fair bit more detail and back it up with a little bit more science.

Multiple studies show than overall, adequate levels of vitamin D have a protective effect against several common cancers, including some of the most common, such as breast cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. Breast cancer and prostate cancer are the most common cancers in women and men (respectively) in the UK.

Personally, I think it is important to remember that while skin cancers are quite common, they are also among the easier cancers to detect and treat, so survival rates are high. Skin cancer mortality in the UK is very low compared to breast, prostate and bowel cancer. In my opinion, if good high levels of vitamin D offer proven protection from breast, prostate and bowel cancer, then the small risk of occasionally burning and possibly promoting skin cancer is a risk well worth taking. Especially if we factor in all the other benefits of sun exposure and good vitamin D levels.

As an aside, it’s also worth noting that while adequate levels of vitamin D are recommended for cancer prevention and many other benefits, it’s not always a case of ‘more is better’. There seems to be no evidence so far that excessive vitamin D offers any proven benefits, and indeed at extremely high levels, vitamin D can prove toxic. I don’t want to sound like I am saying Read more

It’s not just about weight loss…

A permanent and sustainable healthy lifestyle is about a lot more than just losing a few unwanted pounds.

Mother Nature’s Diet is a permanent, sustainable healthy lifestyle. It’s about a whole lot more than just “eat less sugar, get more exercise and you’ll lose those unwanted extra pounds.” I mean, sure, it is about losing the unwanted pounds through an improved diet and more regular, varied exercise, but that’s most definitely not the whole story.

The 12 Core Principles of other Mother Nature’s Diet encompass broad healthy lifestyle advice aimed at helping the majority of people to improve their lives through healthy living. Weight loss, improved feelings of energy and vitality, better fitness and athletic performance, resisting the signs of ageing and resisting ill health.

Beyond the obvious

Looking beyond the popular topic of weight loss, beyond the obvious subjects of nutrition and exercise, there are other areas that demand demand our attention for a complete, balanced, sustainable healthy lifestyle.

Firstly, this piece in The Guardian running under the headline UN experts denounce ‘myth’ pesticides are necessary to feed the world is something you really should read. The headline is of great interest to me as I read a lot about population growth and sustainable agriculture, but there is much more of interest to this story than the headline suggests. I urge you to read the article, where you will find the following statements:

A new report, being presented to the UN human rights council on Wednesday, is severely critical of the global corporations that manufacture pesticides, accusing them of the “systematic denial of harms”, “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics” and heavy lobbying of governments which has “obstructed reforms and paralysed global pesticide restrictions”.

And –

“The report says pesticides have “catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole”, including an estimated 200,000 deaths a year from acute poisoning.”

Wow! This is huge, and if there are 200,000 deaths from acute poisoning, I can only imagine the number of deaths from chronic poisoning, or from pesticides as a ‘contributing factor’, which are yet to be proven. Such data is of staggering significance.

Pesticides contain compounds knows as POPs, Persistent Organic Pollutants. These are chemical compounds that can bioaccumulate in humans, animals and fish, and the effects of this bioaccumulation over many years are very hard to study. POPs have been linked to obesity, hormone function, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and more.

The article continues – Read more

Get yer kit off!

Strip off, that’s my advice!

It’s August, the summer holidays are finally here and the weather forecast for the UK for the summer break is generally excellent. Most people will probably be taking some time off work and getting away for some rest. So make the most of it and get your skin exposed to the sun. Vitamin D is an immensely important nutrient, which actually converts to a steroid hormone inside our bodies. That hormone then plays many important roles, it helps to regulate hundreds of genetic, cellular and metabolic functions, including playing an important role in bone mineral density and it helps our bodies to regulate a number of anti-cancer activities.

We can get vitamin D from some foods, such as oily fish, fortified orange juice or free range egg yolks, but skin exposure to sunlight remains the absolute best way to get plenty of vitamin D. In fact, taking your top off for just 10 to 15 minutes in the middle of the day and getting warm summer sun on your skin will give you as much vitamin D as eating over three pounds of fresh salmon!

The aim of the game is RESPONSIBLE sun exposure.

I find so many people get all caught up on this idea of sun exposure, through years of scare mongering about skin cancer. Let me help you with this.

‘Responsible’ sun exposure means little and often, and spending time outside every day all year round.

Irresponsible sun exposure means spending 350 days of the year inside an office, sat inside watching TV, and wearing long trousers and long sleeves, then flying 2000 miles south for a fortnight and laying out for hours in blazing midday sun in a bikini. That’s just dumb and you’re going to get burned.

But responsible sun exposure, and then going into the shade or covering up when you start to go pink, telling you that you’ve had enough, is highly beneficial. Research points out that worldwide, the anti-cancer benefits of a lifetime of adequate vitamin D far outweigh the small risks of skin cancer.

So enjoy the summer, and enjoy the sun, responsibly!

Who is influencing you?

In this post we look at the most influential people in health and fitness…and question if they are the people you really want to be influenced by?

A little while ago, I was catching up on news in my email inbox, and I found this, a list of The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness. I spent some time reading the list, and I was delighted to see some people on there who are positive influences on me, like the excellent Mark Sisson, and the dependable blogger Yoni Freedhoff, and the personal development guru Tony Robbins.

I was delighted to see some of the people I go to for learning, such as the always-brilliant Robb Wolf, the writer I aspire to emulate, Michael Pollan, and the excellent Natalie Jill who makes fitness so easy and approachable for so many people.

So I think there are some great people on this list, there is Dr Mark Hyman, the ever-inspirational Arnold Schwarzenegger, nutrition guru Gary Taubes and the highly agreeable Josh Axe. I am pleased to find two people on the list that I have actually met and shaken hands with.

But I also find some things about this list rather alarming. I decided to look at what skills it takes to become one of the most influential people on Earth in health and fitness. The article defines how they compiled the list –

“A note about our methodology: This list is intended to highlight people who had the greatest impact and reach in health and wellness—they’re not necessarily people we personally endorse.

The order is determined by a long list of criteria. We started with a list of nearly 300 individuals nominated by the Greatist staff and Greatist ambassador network. We then created a scoring system based on the following categories: followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube; studies published; professional degrees and certifications; number of Google News mentions; number of products created (including starring TV and film roles); brand partnerships; and an estimate of how much each person’s career focuses on fitness and health.

We purposefully excluded most health care executives, professional athletes, and spiritual leaders, unless we felt they strongly contributed to health, fitness, or mental health.”

I ran some counts down the list, not exactly scientific, but the best I could do in just an hour or so, and I counted that the list includes, roughly, the following: Read more

Mother Nature’s Diet – 6 years later, and the experts are starting to agree…

You may be interested in reading this editorial, which includes a number of statements from one of the leaders of a study called the PURE Study.

The quotes I find to be particularly interesting are:

“…many of the most significant and impactful nutrition recommendations regarding dietary fats, salt, carbohydrates, and even vegetables are not supported by evidence.”

“Yusuf displayed data showing that the incidence of cardiovascular disease in the PURE population increases as carbohydrate intake (as a percentage of total calories) rises.”

“Previous guidelines said reduce fats and compensate for it by increasing carbohydrates … and so essentially we’ve increased carbohydrate intake in most Western countries and this is likely damaging. We were in for a big surprise. We actually found that increasing fats was protective.”

6 years later…

For the last six years we have been promoting Mother Nature’s Diet as the best all-round healthy lifestyle for living a preventive medicine lifestyle. It seems now that research, such as the findings from the PURE Study reported above, are coming out in support of the Mother Nature’s Diet way of life. We suggest laying off processed grains and starchy carbs, and we promote Read more

The fad diet pretending not to be a fad diet…

The latest thing in the world of fad diets, is to strongly deny that you are in fact selling a fad diet!

I read a lot of books, and they are not all good. I read all sorts of books in the name of learning, including diet books. I make it my business to read lots of diet books, just so that I am aware of what’s going on in the diet industry and I am constantly looking to learn, to pick up nuggets of information. In my experience, the great majority of fad diets actually do have some kind of science or common sense at their core, there is usually a good idea at the foundation, it’s just a shame that all too often it become lost in the commercialisation, or twisted all out of shape in the excessive detail.

And so it is this week, I am reading a diet book, it’s rather well known, so I shall not name the book, as I am not in the business of speaking ill of others, but the text has amused me, and I wanted to share it with you.

Throughout the book, from the very start, the text repeatedly states that this is not a fad diet, that “unlike most fad diets, this…” is different, and that ‘they don’t work’, but what’s in this book does. The book explains that “when you are on [this system] you are not on a constant treadmill, dieting all the time” but then in the very next sentence, it explains that you have ‘diet days’ and ‘non-diet days’ and so if you want a bar of chocolate, just have the will power to resist it one day and then… “You can have it tomorrow”!

Oh my word!

Throughout this best-selling book, and I must have read statements that “this is different, this is not a fad diet” at least twenty to twenty five times. Yet here are some of the other things I have read – quoted directly from the text:

“While you are doing it” [The diet, they mean.]

“Our regime of exercises”

The book states that “…in order to be effective, the method…needs to go on holiday with you…you need to be able to do it in the office…you need to be able to cope with Christmas” and then on those same pages, they spell out strict days counting calories, strict days checking your macros, balancing proteins and carbs, and they spell out meal timings and when you should eat.

The book is even called “The [X name] Diet” – surely that’s a sign of a diet???!!!??

“Unlike deprivation diets…on this plan…tomorrow there may be pancakes for breakfast, wine with supper, apple pie with cream.”

The text instructs you to “cut your calories on [this] day”…but tomorrow “you can eat as normal.”

“Tomorrow you can eat as normal” – is the very stereotypical wording of a fad diet! Modify your behaviour X way for a few days, massively cutting calories, then eat chocolate bars and apple pie tomorrow!! If that’s not a fad diet, I don’t know what is!

The book talks constantly of weight loss as the primary goal, and of cutting and counting calories as the principle method to achieve this weight loss, of severely calorie restricted days, it spells out low calorie recipes, daily meal plans for low calorie days, and then uses phrases like “Unlike full-time fad diets, you’ll still get pleasure from food, you’ll still have treats…” They are trying to distance themselves from the world of ‘slimming clubs’ which restrict calories but award ‘sin points’ or ‘red points’ to treats, allowing you ‘a little of what you fancy’ within a system of counting numbers – calories, macros, sins, sugar, etc. Yet in effect, this diet is exactly the same – caloric restriction some days, and ‘eat your treats’ on others.

The book describes the dangers of ‘hedonic eating’ and the text claims Read more

Doing what you have to do, versus doing what you want to do…

It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in all the tasks we have to do…and forget to give ourselves time to enjoy.

There is an art to finding balance in how we live our lives.

From a statement like that, we could go off in all manner of directions; around diet and ‘moderation in all things’; around exercise and the benefits of variety; around relationships, careers and more. Rather than exploring any or all such topics in depth, let’s just look at one angle, the work-life balance. And by ‘work’ I don’t just mean ‘career’ or ‘your job’, I mean the broader work-life balance, the balance between always doing what you have to do, versus doing what you want to do. In our modern high-speed lives we always have so much to do.

Some of this is real – that leak in the conservatory roof must get fixed, because every time it rains water is pouring in and it’s making a mess, filling buckets, staining the floor, so this is an urgent task that must be attended to, it’s no use saying “I’ll do that next month”. But many of the things we find ourselves striving to get done are not so essential, or at least not so urgent; often they are self-imposed rules we feel we should live by, or goals we feel we must achieve to fit in, to meet certain social or societal standards, to keep up with the Jones’s. We don’t want our lawn to look unkempt compared to our neighbours; we must attend that parent–teacher association meeting at our child’s school; we must wear certain clothes, look a certain way, earn a certain amount, drive a certain type of car.

Constant overwhelm

It’s not to say there is anything wrong with helping out at the parent–teacher association, or driving a BMW, or having an immaculately manicured lawn, there isn’t, these are all good things. But the problem is, we often find our lives become completely swamped in all these things, between parenting, working full time, trying to stay fit and healthy, keeping up family contacts and obligations, maintaining the home and more, so often we feel utterly overwhelmed with it all. I speak to people almost daily who joke (but they are only half-joking) something like “I go to work for a rest!” Often we find the weekend is busier than the working week.

I feel this myself sometimes…I pour my energy into my working week, it has structure and purpose, I have objectives for the week, and I work hard to get those things done. Working from home I have to be fairly strict about my working time; I have to avoid distractions, family, the kids, things that need fixing, conversations, play, repairs…all the things that come up during a typical week. I have to have the discipline to say “Not now, I’ll put it on my list and deal with it at the weekend” and by the time the weekend comes, I have more to do on a Saturday or Sunday that during the week – so much for rest!

No time for fun at the weekend

This has become our norm as a society. And I don’t know about you, but I am fairly hard on myself for the things that don’t get done. I still don’t find time to Read more

Fat shaming, beach bodies and thigh gaps…

Fat shaming, plus size models, beach bodies and the thigh gap – why are we even having these conversations?

I wrote this a while back, when the singer Lady Gaga came in for some so-called ‘fat shaming’ criticism after her performance at the Super Bowl a couple of months ago. Take a look at the pictures of her performing, here in this news article, and see what you think.

First off, anyone who thinks that what they see in these pictures is somehow overweight, or some kind of ‘jelly belly’ or ‘muffin top’ then they have some serious issues around body image perception and they need to get educated on what is a healthy level of body fat. Let me put this in plain English – if you think that is ‘fat’, then you’re part of the problem. Seriously, no wonder so many young people, especially girls, have body image problems and develop eating disorders, when people seem unable to differentiate between ‘slim‘ and ‘muffin top‘.

Time and again, long-term epidemiological studies show that ‘overweight’ is just as healthy, or often healthier, than ‘normal’ weight when it comes to longevity and all-cause mortality. As I have said many times in my live seminars, the truth is that ‘pinch an inch’ is actually healthier than a rippling 6-pack. That’s not to deny that many of us covet low enough body fat to have visible abs, and as such it’s fair to say that ‘vanity goals’ are not without merit – they can support strong self esteem, body confidence and so on, but there is no evidence that ‘washboard abs lean’ is particularly any healthier than ‘normal’.

So what am I saying? I’m saying that the obsession with being thin is Read more

Top tips to help you lose weight and enjoy the best health possible

Twelve simple tips that might help you lose some unwanted weight, have more energy, feel better and enjoy more abundant good health, now, for the rest of the year, and onwards into your future.

This week, let’s keep things super simple.

I am aware of the fact that in some of my posts we tackle some tough topics, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more.

While I am sure regular readers find all these posts interesting to one degree or another, some times I bet you just want to keep it simple, and keep it light, so this week it’s just that. I have a dozen tips for you – they may not all be right for you, but I hope you will find a few in here that will help you. There should be something for everyone.

1: To lose weight. Not everyone wants to lose weight, but most places I go, I find two thirds or more of people want to lose a few pounds, or more, and others want to ensure they don’t put any on! One way to get some quick weight loss results is to quit eating cereals, bread, pasta, rice and spaghetti. Quit all that starchy food – buns, bagels and baguettes. So often I give people this one tip and they lose 2 stone in 3 months, or 3 stone in 6 months, or something like that. If you have weight to lose, try it for 30 days and see what a difference it makes.

2: Stop eating sugary foods. Since 1977 when the government started telling us all that fat was the enemy, food manufacturers have been adding more sugar to foods to replace the fat they took out. The result is a huge increase in Read more

Prevention is infinitely better than cure

Here at Mother Nature’s Diet I teach healthy living to anyone who will listen, delivered as a blend of common sense, science-in-plain-English and real life examples from my own experience.

The goal is to live a preventive medicine lifestyle.

Does it work?

Hell yeah!
To quote this study:

“15 [studies] were included in the meta-analysis that comprised 531,804 people with a mean follow-up of 13.24 years. The relative risks decreased proportionate to a higher number of healthy lifestyle factors for all cause mortality. A combination of at least four healthy lifestyle factors is associated with a reduction of the all cause mortality risk by 66% (95% confidence interval 58%-73%).”

So they looked at 15 studies, covering more than half a million people, over 13 years. All in, adherence to healthy lifestyle factors (good diet, regular exercise, drink less alcohol, don’t smoke, avoid obesity) demonstrated a clear reduced risk of all-cause mortality. Folks maintaining at least four of these factors enjoyed a 66% reduction in mortality risk.

Healthy living during the decades before you become ‘old and sick’, helps you not to get ‘old and sick’ – live healthy now, you live longer. It’s so simple!

Take smoking OUT of the equation, and see this study:

Quote “CONCLUSION:
Adherence to cancer prevention guidelines for obesity, diet, physical activity, and alcohol consumption is associated with lower risk of death from cancer, CVD, and all causes in nonsmokers.”

So if we isolate these healthy living factors separate from smoking, in this study of 112,000 nonsmokers followed up for 14 years, adherence to a healthy diet, regular exercise, drinking less alcohol and avoiding obesity led to a substantial reduction in cancer mortality, heart disease deaths and all-cause mortality.

Jeez, it’s simple stuff.
Like I keep saying, HALF of our chronic disease burden is ENTIRELY preventable through dietary and lifestyle interventions.

  • No one wants heart disease
  • No one wants diabetes
  • No one wants to be obese
  • No one wants cancer

I cannot promise anyone a cure, but my life’s mission is to teach people how not to get these problems in the first place. Let’s start by slashing our chronic disease burden in HALF in a single generation by education our population in preventive medicine lifestyles.

1luvx

Sun bathing for cancer prevention

Phew, what a scorcher! Well, if you are even close to my age you’ll remember a few hot summers back in the day when the newspapers ran those headlines, and it certainly feels like that this week. I am sitting outside at my laptop typing this in 33 degrees and the black plastic keyboard is getting so hot it hurts my hands to type! I may have to retire inside before I finish this post!

I want to write about the benefits of sun exposure. In last week’s Weekly Weigh-In I explained that the benefits of regular, responsible sun exposure vastly outweigh the risks, and I explained the responsible bit, which I suggest you go back and read again! The goal is to spend some time outside every day, exposing some skin and making vitamin D naturally. The goal is not to stay inside for 50 weeks of the year and then burn for two weeks on holiday! And tanning beds are not the answer either!

I’m pretty much going to just repeat that message (it is worth repeating, as we swelter in summer heat) in this post, but before you close this and stop reading, we’ll add a bit more detail and back it up with a little bit more science.

Multiple studies show than overall, adequate levels of vitamin D have a protective effect against several common cancers, including some of the most common, such as breast cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. Breast cancer and prostate cancer are the most common cancers in women and men (respectively) in the UK.

Personally, I think it is important to remember that while skin cancers are quite common, they are also among the easier cancers to detect and treat, so survival rates are high. Skin cancer mortality in the UK is very low compared to breast, prostate and bowel cancer. In my opinion, if good high levels of vitamin D offer proven protection from breast, prostate and bowel cancer, then the small risk of Read more

Why giving up meat isn’t the answer

Living the Mother Nature’s Diet way, I eat an omnivores diet – I eat meat, fish, and eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. I respect vegetarians and vegans, and I respect the choices they make. I never criticise the choice not to eat animal foods, I never go online looking to enter heated discussions and I avoid arguments. However, I do find myself subject to criticism coming the other way. I have many times been ‘attacked’ online by angry vegans screaming ‘meat is murder’ and picking a fight over my lifestyle choices.

Intelligent comments on this post are welcome – aggression, insults and abuse will be deleted 🙂

A while back, a vegan friend of mine posted this image. He’s a nice guy, I like him, but this image bothers me, because it’s flat out wrong.vegan grain image

Pictures like this are heart breaking for sure, but frustratingly they are factually incorrect. Vegans tend to promote these images as some kind of proof that if we all stop eating meat in the developed world, then somehow global economic inequality will be fixed overnight and poverty will disappear, and no one will be hungry. This is just not true, not even close to true.

One of the big problems with world grain markets is that they are dominated by exported grains from the USA and other wealthy nations. In countries like the US, and EU countries, tax payers money is used to pay farmers to over-produce staples such as grains, sugar, cotton and other commodity crops. These cheap crops then flood world markets, driving down prices to artificial lows. This is a key factor in the root causes of poverty in Africa (I’m assuming that the image is from Africa) and other developing markets, because the low price of grain undermines the ability of developing world farmers to sell their own crops for a profit. Poverty will remain an issue in Africa for as long as EU and US agricultural subsidies distort international grain markets, and this has all been going on for a very long time.

While many wealthy nations still refuse to cancel all debts owed by the poorest nations, some of those same countries, and charitable foundations, flood these poor countries with grains sent free, as international aid. Aid does not help, see below. At the same time, large corporations from the rich countries continue to take African mineral resources without fairly investing in the countries those minerals are extracted from.

When our media floods with images of starvation in Africa, charities raise funds and we send aid by the boat load…while alleviating immediate suffering a tiny bit, ultimately we are adding to the long term problems, by dumping free grain into the African economy…even more farmers go broke and give up, as free is a tough price point to compete against. African farmers will never be able to Read more

The dose makes the poison

Research shows further links between sugar consumption and certain cancers, such as pancreatic and colon cancer.

Regular readers of this blog will not be at all surprised to be reading ‘the evidence against sugar’ again today, sorry to keep banging this drum!

This week has been a busy week for news and I have lots to share with you today. Of particular interest was this article from 2013, which identifies a clear pathway by which high dietary sugar intake directly increases the risk of cancers forming. As the article notes, the dose makes the poison. I have said many times before, we should think of eating sugary foods the same way we think of smoking cigarettes. You could probably smoke one cigarette every month for your entire life and it would never cause you ill health, but we all accept that if you smoke a pack-a-day for decades, then you massively increase your chances of suffering from lung cancer.

So it is with sugar. You could eat one chocolate-chip cookie per month for your entire life and it would likely never cause you any ill health, but if you eat a whole packet of cookies every day, you would almost certainly end up with all manner of health problems – type-2 diabetes, obesity, possibly heart disease and maybe cancer. The dose makes the poison.

Non-communicable disease

As we have covered before, non-communicable diseases are the main things that kill us these days, and a hefty proportion can be avoided or delayed by adopting a handful of simple healthy lifestyle habits, such as not smoking, eating more vegetables, and maintaining a healthy body weight. Being overweight or obese is a direct cause of 13 types of cancer, and being overweight is the second largest preventable cause of cancer in the UK. One major worrying problem is that the public are just not aware of this information. As we are heading for a situation where three quarters of the UK population will be overweight or obese just 20 years from now, there seems no end to this growing problem. Read more

Butter from the salad bar…

Over the last year or so I have been visiting a lot of farms, talking to farmers and learning as much as I can about farming. I passionately believe that sustainable and regenerative agriculture needs to be intimately understood and linked to healthy eating – the same set of principles and actions are right for our health, right for the environment and right for animal welfare. Farming and food are not two separate industries, they are one and the same thing.

I recently visited the absolutely wonderful Smiling Tree Farm in Shropshire, where organic farmer Christine Page was kind enough to share her time and knowledge with me and show me around her farm. This post comes right out of my ‘Things I have been learning about whole foods this week’ files.

Micronutrients

We know that vitamins and minerals are good for us.

We know that we are supposed to “eat the rainbow” or “eat the colour spectrum” or something like that, meaning we are supposed to eat many different coloured fruits and vegetables to get a broad variety of vitamins, minerals, flavonoids and enzymes. I am sure you have heard this, I know I have said it many times before in my live seminars and written about this in blog posts.

Different colours in the plant world tend to indicate different nutrients. Oranges, reds and yellows come from carotenes – we have all heard how we eat our carrots for beta-carotene, a substance that our bodies can use to convert into vitamin A if we need it. So if our diet is low in good food sources of vitamin A, such as liver, butter, oily fish and free range eggs, then we can use the beta-carotene from carrots, sweet potato, butternut squash and other vegetables to make vitamin A.

If you have been to a Mother Nature’s Diet 1-day seminar when I talk about food sources of vitamin A, we cover this. Quite a few green veggies also provide some vitamin A, such as kale and spinach.

The carotenes from green food, also provide the yellowness of butter.  Read more

Time to look at alcohol consumption…again!

Here we are, back on the subject of alcohol. I have written about alcohol for you several times before. If you are interested, you can go back and look at the MND ‘official’ stance on alcohol, or you can read about some of the ridiculous alcohol-related stories we see in the media, or you can read how ‘the dose makes the poison’ whether we are talking about alcohol, sugar, cigarettes or almost anything else!

For most of the last decade or two, the prevalent opinion has been presented that moderate drinking is actually considered to be beneficial to complete abstinence. Many media reports have told us that moderate drinking will help us avoid heart disease and live longer than people who do not drink at all.

This is how the media present such ‘research’ to the public. While 99% of the population get their ‘health and lifestyle’ education from newspapers and television, for the 1% who dig deeper, the reality has always been less conclusive. When we look at a meta-analysis of all the research available, we see that in fact moderate drinking confers no life-extending benefits at all. At this point, it’s also worth remembering that alcohol is one of the leading preventable causes of cancer in the UK, responsible for 4% of annual UK cancer deaths.

Alcohol consumption is back in the press again this week.
With the prevalent view supporting moderate alcohol consumption as part of a healthy lifestyle, and government advice that drinking moderately is fine as part of a healthy lifestyle, and with newspapers regularly running headlines that Read more

Epic battle strategy – get sick!

Interesting fact I learned today.

For most of history, germs have killed far more people than wars.

Often invading armies defeated nations by bringing diseases with their soldiers.

Quote (from Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond)

“Until World War Two, more victims of war died of war-borne microbes than of battle wounds. All those military histories glorifying great generals oversimplify the ego-deflating truth: the winners of past wars were not always the armies with the best generals and weapons, but were often merely those bearing the nastiest germs to transmit to their enemies.”

I love it! History was never this interesting at school.

Image credit: By Robert Alexander Hillingford, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3278768 

Nah-nah-na-na-nah my addiction is worse than yours…

Regular readers know that for a good few years I was into the world of Personal Development books and seminars and so on…I still am to a less feverish degree. I always remember something Tony Robbins talks about, he used to say how weird it is when people meet and the conversation goes something like this…

Person A: Hi, how are you?
Person B: Ah not too bad I suppose. You?
A: Well I could be better, I mean my boss is a pain in the ass and my doctor says I need to lose some weight, my blood pressure is high.
B: Yeah I know what you mean, my boss is a jerk, and the people I work with are just idiots, every day in that place drives me nuts. And I have this back pain, and I get this cough, and my doctor says it might be hereditary…
A: Yeah well my father died of a heart attack so the blood pressure thing is a big deal in my family, and all the men on my father’s side dies young, and my wife’s no help, she keeps doing this and doing that…and the kids wind me up…so I drink too much…and we’re in debt right now, cos of the car payment and the medical bills…

And so the conversation goes, it’s like “a race to the bottom” to see who has the most shit going on and who can be the most miserable! And we see this all the time, people post a status on Facebook about some injury they got “I went skiing, broke my arm” and underneath a bunch of folks are like “Oh that’s nothing, I went skiing and broke both my legs!” “Oh you guys are amateurs, I went skiing and broke my own head off!” It’s like we are all competing to have the worst crap going on in our lives out of every one we know!

I think people do this, subconsciously, to excuse their failings. I mean, if you believe that life is hard, getting rich is really difficult, finding the wonderful loving partner of your dreams is only for the lucky few, being in great shape and amazing good health requires sacrifice and dedication that few are prepared to give, success is difficult, happiness and fulfillment are hard to achieve – if we all buy into these ideas, then we have excuses for having rather mediocre, or downright crappy, results in our lives. If we convince ourselves it’s all hard, then we are more likely to settle for average.

My addiction is worse than yours

In a similar vein, I have recently seen (on Facebook) a discussion in a Health Group about ‘sugar addiction’ – and these folks were getting so insanely competitive, judgemental and insulting to each other it made me leave the Group. Someone was saying that it’s truly hard to beat this sugar addiction, and in this big Group (15,000 plus members) they were just torn apart – folks writing insults and saying “you know nothing about addiction, I was on heroine for 14 years, nearly died, you just like a cake, eff off what do you know” and then the next person to comment would feel the need to “compete for the bottom” and push further “I spent 22 years in puddles of my own vomit, selling my own sister for drug money, how dare you liken your desire for chocolate bar to the hell I went through” and then the next “I grew up in the sex trade, I was a child slave, I raped my own father, my life was a living hell for 50 years, I sold my soul to the devil himself…” and on and on and on.

Obviously I’m not quoting real people here, but honestly the thread was like that…hundreds of people, throwing insults, belittling each other, belittling that anyone’s addiction to food, or sugar, could possibly be a serious health challenge compared to the way other people’s lives have been wrecked by alcohol and narcotics. It was the ultimate race to the bottom, like we were all supposed to give some kind of kudos to the must messed up person in the Group. It was shameful to read, shameful to be in a Group with people with that mentality.

The voice of common sense

After that episode, a week or two ago, yesterday I saw a post from the frequently-brilliant and frequently-amusing Alex Viada. If you don’t know this man, he’s an outstanding athlete, author and coach at Complete Human Performance, I suggest you check him out and if you are interested in strength training, endurance sport, or both, buy his superb first book. (No, I am not on a commission, I am just recommending this excellent book!)

So to the point of this newsletter today – yesterday Alex wrote this (quote verbatim):

The sugar addiction debate is back, which reminds me of this field’s stunning inability to understand its own purpose.

The question of whether or not sugar is actually “addictive” is moot. Yes, the nonsense documentaries and poor understanding of science that shows dopamine release and pleasure centers lighting up after consuming sugar, and pointing to similarities in how the little bits light up after taking in heroin (this is serious science) are intentionally misleading. But the response completely misses the point.
Who cares that glucose does not and cannot create similar physiological and psychological addictions that many drugs can? The behaviors exhibited by many who struggle with food intake, especially high palatability, calorie dense foods, mirror the behaviors of drug addicts in that understanding the latter gives us an effective model for treating the former. Read more

Fire alarms and heart attacks

Who/what saves the most lives – fire fighters or fire safety officers and smoke alarms?

Second day on the trot that our boiler has broken down, second gas engineer on site, all fixed now.

Had a conversation about carbon monoxide alarms. The gas engineer was explaining that in a house in the next town along from me, they have this awful boiler where the flu runs right through the loft, and the pipes have high potential for sagging over time. Two years ago he pushed the people hard to spend out and buy four carbon monoxide alarms (they cost £30 each)…he installed one on the boiler, one in the loft, and one each in the two bedrooms below the run of the flu pipes.

A year later, one alarm was going crazy, he went in and found the flu pipes were leaking and the loft was full of carbon monoxide – invisible, odourless, a silent killer. If they hadn’t spent £120 quid on alarms, the first warning might have been a dead child in her bed at night.

As we continue to build a safer world, alarms, warnings, safety measures and precautions save far more lives than the fire fighters, gas engineers and maybe even ambulance crews who attend emergencies.

Yet as a society, we’re not taking this same approach to our health. The NHS allocates around 2% of it’s annual budget to “prevention and detection” and most of that is for early detection – things like breast cancer screening, well-man and well-woman clinics looking for signs of diabetes or heart disease, and so on. The rest goes on smoking cessation and then a small amount, only around 0.12% of total NHS annual budget is spent on promoting healthy lifestyle – 5-a-day, Drink Aware, and so on.

Given that the NHS experts acknowledge that “Making lifestyle changes is the most effective way to prevent having a heart attack” and given that the NHS say heart disease and stroke is costing us over £30 billion per year and 16 million working days lost every year across the nation, wouldn’t it make more sense for us to massively increase ‘health promotion’ and encourage people not to develop heart disease in the first place?

  • Regular varied exercise
  • Healthy balanced diet
  • Don’t smoke, drink less alcohol
  • Maintain a healthy body mass, and blood pressure

Ummm, all seems familiar… 

What saves more lives – a healthy lifestyle, or heart surgeons?

Prevention is better than cure.

I know which is cheaper.

#personalresponsibility

 

Vote to save our NHS…

There are several ways we can save the NHS – let’s look at the one you and I can do today.

I do not intend to start using this blog to talk politics, so apologies up front for the slightly provocative political tease in the title this week. As we approach a general election in the UK, there is an even greater than usual amount of talk in the media about the NHS being sold off, privatised, deliberately run into financial ruin and going broke.

Sadly, much of this talk is based in the uncomfortable reality that the NHS truly is in huge financial trouble. Doctors working long hours; A&E departments struggling to cope; patients on beds in corridors; nurses forced to go to food banks; the rising cost of treating an ageing population; the huge cost of treating obesity-related ill health; and the massive rise in the cost of treating our diabetes epidemic. These costs, along with the massive and constant cost of treating heart disease and related circulatory conditions and cancer treatments are crippling the NHS, and unless funding is increased, the system faces breaking point.

As a nation, we spend around 19% to 20% of our tax receipts on running the NHS, roughly the same as we spend on pensions. These two things – the NHS and pensions – are the biggest single areas of government expenditure in the UK. Be under no illusion, the NHS is a big deal, we spend many billions on healthcare annually, and no doubt private profit-making corporations would just love to get their hands on some of those big contracts.

But I’m pretty sure we don’t want an American-style system, we really don’t.

It seems that once nationwide healthcare provision comes under the influence of the joint forces of profit making insurance companies, profit making private medical facilities, and profit-making drug companies, then the whole system starts to Read more

Stop reading crap in The Daily Fail!

Stop reading crappy articles in the media! They do almost everyone more harm than good, they really are hopeless, they serve only to sell newspapers and attract online traffic, to help the media site sell to advertisers.

We see all this garbage, news articles like “Drinking red wine does you as much good as going to the gym” and “Drinking coffee helps fight bowel cancer” and “Just 6 minutes of exercise is better for you than hours every day…” and “Eat more cabbage to prevent heart disease” or “Study shows eating sausages cures Parkinson’s” or whatever crap they write. What newspapers and media sites do, is take a grain of truth from a study and turn it into some kind of statement of fact. But the information we start with is NOT a statement of medical or biological fact in the first place, it’s often just an observation…only the dumbass newspaper tries to make it a fact.

The limitations of studies

So for instance, let’s look at a made-up, but realistic, example scenario. Maybe a team of researchers in Canada, or Finland, or California, conduct an observational study, known as a cohort study, to track a large group of people over a fairly long period of time. It may be that they follow 17,450 people for 14 years. At the start of the study, the people recruited were aged 30 to 50 and did not have heart disease, or at least no diagnosed condition or symptoms, such as high blood pressure. The study follows these people’s lives for 14 years, asking them to complete an online survey 4 times per year for 14 years, tracking a couple of hundred questions every time, to understand their behaviour, such as how much they smoke, how much they drink, how many coffees per day they drink, how many times per week they eat fish, how many times per week they eat meat, how many times per week they exercise, and so on. At the end of the study, the researchers primary target is to see how many people developed heart disease or signs of heart disease, such as obesity and high blood pressure.

Once the study is finished, the researchers will have a mass of data about 17,450 people (maybe 20,000 or 25,000 started, but a bunch dropped out along the way) which shows rates of obesity, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, and so on, at the start, and rates at the finish, including who developed heart disease or cancer along the way. They also have all this data on what those people ate and did in between times, so they can then look for trends in the data, like xx% of heavy smokers developed xx condition, or xyz% of people who took no weekly exercise, gained the greatest % of weight gain…and so on.

There are many strengths and weaknesses of these kinds of studies, which we won’t look into in detail here. The point is this; often such a study will generate a finding such as “People who drank 3 or 4 cups of coffee per day were at 17% less relative risk of developing coronary heart disease or suffering a myocardial infarction (a heart attack), than people who drank only 1 cup per day or less.”

This makes it to the average trash newspaper or media site as “Good news coffee lovers, drinking 4 cups per day prevents heart attacks!” Read more

Pick up a cow every day, and never miss a day

The secret to getting results is consistency, above all else.

Whenever I am driving, I almost always listen to educational material, audio books or personal development CDs. A few days ago I was listening to a personal development CD and the speaker was telling a great story. When he was a boy, growing up on a farm, he watched one day as his father helped one of their cows deliver her baby calf.

Within no time the calf was standing up and his father said to him “Son, if you come out here tomorrow and wrap your arms around that baby calf and pick it up, then come out here every single day and pick that calf up, day by day you will get stronger, and by the time that calf is a fully grown cow, you’ll be able to pick up a 500-pound adult cow.” The son looked at his father with questioning eyes, and the father added “But son, you must never miss a day. If you miss a day, by the time you come back the next day, that calf will have grown too much and you won’t be able to pick it up, and then you’ll never be able to catch up. Son, you must never miss a day.”

The son came out the next day and picked up the calf, and thought it felt pretty easy. He came out the next day and the next, indeed every day for a week or two. But then it rained one day. And he couldn’t be bothered to go down to the barn, so he missed a day. When he went back the next day he was surprised how much harder it was to pick up the calf. But then he got busy, and he missed another day. And then he came home from school and he was busy playing with his friends. Now he had missed two days, and when he went back to the barn and tried to pick up the calf, he just couldn’t do it, the calf had grown too heavy, and he couldn’t pick it up.

He went to his father and told him how the calf was now just three weeks old but he could no longer pick it up, all because he missed a couple of days. The father said “I told you son, you can never miss a day. If you want to do the impossible, you can never miss a day.” As the speaker goes on to say, most likely he’d have never been able to pick up a 500-pound full-grown cow, but regardless, as a child that lesson taught him the power and value of consistency.

Are you planning to pick up a cow?

If you have goals in 2017, to lose some unwanted weight, to build some muscle, to sculpt and shape your body, to clean up your diet and learn to cook some new, healthier meals for yourself and your family, know that nothing beats consistency.

You wouldn’t rock up at the gym one time, workout for 63 hours straight, then go home and say “Well that’s me done for the year” and expect to look a million bucks the next morning, would you? You’re smarter than that, you know it doesn’t work that way. You only need to go to the gym for 40 minutes at a time, not 63 hours, but you need to work hard in those 40 minutes, make them count, and most importantly, do it five or six or seven times every week. Every week. All year. That’s the way to get results.

You wouldn’t cook three times your own body weight in broccoli one time in January, eat it all in one very long (and rather crazy) day and then say “Well that’s my veggies for the year then” and expect to see some kind of miraculous health transformation staring back at you in the mirror a few months later, would you? But if you just eat two or three servings of green vegetables every single day all year, for most people that would signal significant improvements in their annual diet.

The magic is in consistency. Fad diets and 5-minute-wonders be damned, staying power trumps all.

If you want to be picking up a 500-pound cow by this time next year, just remember you can never miss a day.

Consistency rules. Stick to it.

To your good health!

Why people eat sugary crap for breakfast

Breakfast – the most important meal of the day – has become a sugar-fest, and it’s contributing to childhood obesity.

I find my inbox is constantly awash with article that are sugar-bashing, as the world slowly starts to shift from ‘fat is the bad boy’ to realising that sugar is the real problem.

It was good to see Dr Rangan Chatterjee on the BBC One Breakfast Show recently, trying to point out how much sugar is in the typical breakfast options of cereal and toast. Our government seem, to my eyes, to be faced with overwhelming evidence that we need to change dietary advice. We have an out-of-control childhood obesity problem, predicted to add to our already rampant adult obesity problem, yet the government refuse to change dietary advice.

The same day that TV interview was recorded, I saw a blog about a radio interview with Ireland’s top dietitian, slamming low-carb eating (less sugar!) as nonsense! While it’s ultimately true that ‘eating too many calories leads to weight gain’ and no one can deny it, saying that is the whole story misses all the many factors why people eat too many calories!

There are, of course, many factors behind our obesity problems. Personally, I think breakfast is a huge problem, and the UK breakfast table is sadly dominated by cereals and toast. If you follow Mother Nature’s Diet, this obviously isn’t an issue for you anymore, as Core Principle 1 removes that starchy white mass of carbohydrates from your diet. But in reality it’s a stumbling block for a lot of people. I deliver live seminars and people come up to me all the time, or email me in the days after, saying “But what can I do for breakfast? Without cereals and toast, what is there? What can I feed my kids?”

I answer that question a lot!

And the answer is – real food! Plants and animals. You can cook some eggs, that’s the quickest and easiest healthy option for most people. I eat the same food for breakfast that I eat for my other meals – fish, meat, eggs, vegetables, fruits. It’s just a case of putting a new habit in place. I’m rather fond of the ‘I don’t eat crap for breakfast’ habit, it works well for me personally.

You see, the truth is that breakfast cereals and toast have made people lazy. They are both quick, easy options. Really quick. Open the packet, dump some cereal in the bowl, pour on milk. Boom, breakfast in 60 seconds. Hands up. I confess, I can’t beat that, 60 seconds is too quick. I have only one healthy option that is that quick – fresh fruit. I can pick up 2 bananas and an apple and take them with me to my desk or my car and eat them ‘on the go’ – but that’s the only healthy breakfast option I have that is ready in 60 seconds or less.

Today, for my breakfast, I put a knob of butter in a frying pan, sliced and diced about a quarter of a whole red cabbage (it turns my eggs blue!) and threw that in to start simmering, then sliced and diced some savoy cabbage and threw that in too. Stirred that around for a couple of minutes, then cracked in 4 eggs. Making my breakfast took 6 or 7 minutes, maybe 8. My bad.

But I made a choice. A choice that I would prefer to get my butt out of bed 8 minutes earlier, so that I had time to take in some actual nutrition for my breakfast, rather than leaving my alarm to the last possible second and then using the ‘no time’ excuse as my reason for eating crap. And yes, it is crap.

Breakfast cereals are loaded with sugar. If they didn’t fortify the flour for making bread, and the breakfast cereals, with synthetic vitamins and minerals, it would be illegal to sell these products to you because they would make you sick – and eventually kill you. Take the time to read the link and understand why all cereals and breads have to be fortified – breakfast cereals are ‘nutritional cardboard’ and they taste like it, hence the need to add all that sugar.

I appreciate that you’ll face a challenge trying to get your kids to eat red cabbage for breakfast (though it is delicious fried in butter!) but there are plenty of options available. Scrambled eggs, fresh fruit salad, add a dollop of Greek yoghurt if it helps, fresh fruit and a few nuts, maybe make a smoothie and then you can even sneak in some veg like spinach without them noticing.

Do yourself a favour going forward and start every day the best way you can, with some quality nutrition and a few servings of fresh vegetables before you leave for work in the morning – rather than your entire day’s sugar allowance in one meal.

Gimme the pills…I want value for my money!

“Don’t tell me to look after myself doc, just give me the pills! I want some value for money!”

Some months ago I interviewed an NHS GP for a monthly newsletter that I write called Against the Grain. I publish Against the Grain every month for members of the Mother Nature’s Diet subscription Community. If you’d like to read a sample of Against the Grain, you can download it here – and that sample is actually the first half of the GP interview. If you would like to know more about MND Community Membership, you can learn more here.

Back to our GP. In our interview, he shocked me by revealing that even when he gives patients lifestyle and dietary advice, in a whopping 9 cases out of 10, people just say “Thanks doc, but to be honest that all sounds like hard work, can’t you just give me the pills?”

I personally find this astounding! He has people who come to him every month for years on end complaining of coughs and chest infections, yet they refuse to quit smoking. Are they addicted? Maybe, but the NHS offer a great, proven, successful smoking cessation program, for free, and these people won’t even try it out.

The doctor has patients who come to him obese, smoking, drinking, eating a poor diet, out of shape, complaining of chest pains and shortness of breath. They have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and they are stressed with busy careers. Prime candidates for heart disease and heart attack, yet they refuse healthy lifestyle advice, instead they just want pills, the quick fix.

If you want to read more of that interview in depth, check out that edition of Against the Grain linked above.

I was chatting about all this to a friend the other day. Obviously, here at Mother Nature’s Diet I promote personal responsibility, I encourage people to take charge of their own health and live by the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet as a way to maintain a healthy body weight, resist the signs of ageing and stave off ill health for as long as possible. So I cannot understand this ‘quick fix’ mindset, this notion of ‘just give me the pills’ seems crazy to me. And that’s when my friend came out with something very insightful.

He said “Oh I can totally understand that. I mean, you go to the doctor because you want a solution, you want some pills, because they are something solid, something material you can take away. I mean, we pay our taxes, we pay for the NHS, we want some value-for-money. Don’t just tell me to go home and eat my veg and get some exercise, that’s rubbish, I can call my mother for that advice!”

Wow! What an insight, it had never occurred to me that anyone would think that way! If I visit my GP, I want to understand what has gone wrong, and the best way to fix it, ideally with no surgery, no pills, and a swift return to good health. It would never occur to me to seek ‘value for money’ in that way – personally, i think the mere fact that we have the NHS, a world-leading public health service free at the point of entry for everyone, is in itself all the value-for-money that I need.

But clearly, other people see it differently to me.

So what do you think? Are you one of the 9 out of 10 people who is happy with ‘the quick fix’ or are you the 1 in 10 who is ready to make changes to your lifestyle and diet in order to try to fix your health problems without resorting to prescription medications?

To your good health!

Should we all be cutting back on starchy carbohydrates?

I have seen a lot in the press recently about type-3 diabetes, the proposed alternative name for Alzheimer’s disease.

This is not particularly new, Type-3 diabetes has been offered as a name for Alzheimer’s for over a decade now, but it does increasingly seem to be coming to the fore and reaching mainstream discussion more recently.

It makes me wonder how many more people are starting to see that high refined carbohydrate consumption is not our long-term historical norm. Now, I didn’t just write “humans are not supposed to eat carbs.” No, that’s not what I said. Humans have always eaten carbohydrates, just not is such great quantities, and not refined and processed, the way breakfast cereals, sliced bread, quick-cook pasta and baked goods are today. These refined carbs (sugars!) and all highly processed grain products (bread, pasta, cereals) are a relatively new addition to our diet, and in such bulk, they seem to be causing some serious problems.

And with all the increase in grain consumption, we are seeing an increasing rise in the human consumption of glyphosate, the highly controversial herbicide from Monsanto. This is of great concern to many – the numbers reported in that link are certainly ringing alarm bells.

It seems there are plenty of good reasons to look at consuming fewer foods made from processed grains, and fewer refined carbohydrates in general.

Low-carb diets have become amazingly popular in recent years, first it was The Atkins Diet, and more recently the Paleo movement.

And there are increasingly many reports of low-carb diets helping people, with challenging health problems such as type-2 diabetes and advanced renal failure. Indeed, I have had plenty of people email me over the last five years to tell me that they follow the MND lifestyle and they have controlled their type-2 diabetes or even reversed it and come off their medications. I have had some emails from people exclaiming “you’ve cured me!”

I do not actively promote Mother Nature’s Diet as a low-carb diet. MND as a way of living includes eating plenty of carbs every day, we just like to eat the most nutritious carbs we can, such as sweet potatoes and squash, rather than bread, pasta and cereals. These vegetables tend to be lower in calories and higher in fibre – in my opinion, much better choices. I promote MND as a healthy-carb diet, rather than a low-carb diet.

The 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet do steer you away from high carbohydrate consumption.

Core Principle 1 states “Eliminate processed grains and starches from your diet”

What’s the point here?

In very broad general terms, there are five key reasons why we avoid eating grains and processed starchy carbs when living the Mother Nature’s Diet way.

1: For the vast majority of people, unless you are an athlete, then you just don’t need lots of bulky starchy carbs in your diet. The truth for most people is that eating lots of these starches provides a lot of calories they don’t need, and that can lead to a gain in excess body fat.

2: Grains cannot be digested unless they are processed or fermented, and in the natural order of things, way back in evolution, these foods would not have formed a major component of our diet.

3: Most of these foods (grains) naturally contain compounds that are not good for a lot of people. These foods contain gluten, phytates and other chemical substances that can cause digestive problems for a lot of people.

4: Grains and starchy carbs – the way they are consumed in the typical Western diet – tend to supply lots of bulk and lots of calories, without supplying much in the way of micro-nutrients – vitamins and minerals. In terms of eating foods that fill your plate, there are much better choices.

5: Modern large-scale industrialised agriculture, particularly grain (wheat and barley, also maize, rice and soya) agriculture, is a major source of topsoil erosion and greenhouse gas emissions.

If you would like to read a little more detail, just click here.

We are not excluding an entire food group “from all people, in its entirety, at all times” just because “grains are bad for you” as there is much more to it than that. The reality is that for many people, the popular foods made using grains and other starches, sold en masse in our supermarkets, which form a bulk part of the typical modern Western diet, are feeding people large amounts of easily-digestible calories, eaten rapidly in large quantities, eaten too quickly, too easily, too eagerly, too often, and these foods tend to be of a fairly low overall nutrient density.

In all, this ‘consumption pattern’ seems to be a major contributing factor to growing obesity levels, it seems to be a major contributory factor to the rising type-2 diabetes problem, and it seems to be a major contributory factor to the sub-standard level of micro-nutrients in the modern Western diet.

Additionally, people tend to eat these grains and starchy carbs as ‘the bulk’ element of a meal (think cereals and toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, pasta, rice and spaghetti for dinner) and this can often lead to over-eating large quantities of these foods. Because of this issue of quantity, these grains and starchy carbs tend to contribute a substantial proportion of the calories in a person’s diet, but comparatively little micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals). This can contribute to weight gain.

Eating the MND way, we swap out those processed starchy foods for better options, namely fresh vegetables. The vegetable still offer some carbohydrate, but they are also offer more fibre, more micronutrients, less starch and fewer calories. For most people, this helps with weight loss and a healthier, more nutritious diet.

Eating the Mother Nature’s Diet way, in Core Principle 2 we also “Eliminate refined sugar, and limit natural sugars” and this further reduces the heavy carbohydrate load in the typical Western Diet.

So MND is not a low-carb diet per se, but it’s a healthy carb diet. It balances good choices of carbs, with good fats, varied proteins and plenty of micronutrients.

Try implementing the MND way into your life, just try it for 90 days, and see if it works for you.

The third leading cause of death…

Is it true that medical errors and prescribed drugs are really the third leading cause of death in our society?

There seems to be a fairly persistent news story going around that suggests that medical errors and prescribed drugs are killing so many people that they have actually become the third leading cause of death in our society after heart disease and cancer. Personally, I find this very dubious.

In various guises, this story has ‘done the rounds’ a few times in recent years, but the ‘current story’ comes from a study of hospital deaths in the United States which collated all sorts of data to reach this conclusion that medical errors were killing more people than most other things.

It comes by measuring the amount of people who are admitted to hospital but then die and some human error is found along the way – a better drug could have been used, a different surgical procedure may have had fewer complications, another piece of equipment may have been more efficient/effective.

But the thing is, we have to look at the fact that these deaths are only about 4% or 5% of hospital admissions. So in 96% of cases, medical staff are doing everything right, and patients are getting better.

And we need to remember that the patients were ill enough or injured enough to be admitted to hospital in the first place…so it’s not like we have 100% perfectly healthy members of society walking around, and doctors just ambush them in the street and kill them! It’s not like that…the reality is these folks may have died anyway, or may have died a few days, weeks, months later. They were sick and in need of life-saving surgical intervention, or they needed multiple medications, so they are not ‘typical populations’ to start with. In truth, many of these people were in hospital for heart surgery, or fighting cancer, in the first place. So if an error in surgery resulted in a death, do we say that person died of ‘medical error’ or did they die from heart disease, which was the reason for the surgery in the first place?

Additionally, the numbers used to come up with these “third largest cause of death” quotes are hotly contested numbers…they are not officially recorded figures at all. Many doctors and experts have criticised these studies as inaccurate, ‘twisting’ the data to show a contentious result.

Cause of death

There is a lot of this sort of thing online…twisting data to make it show what you want it to show. This goes on in the research business, in medicine and in most other fields of research too. I have talked about this in my seminars on a few occasions. Depending on where we chose to look, at the cause or the effect, changed how we can determine someone’s cause of death.

For instance, if someone smokes for 40 years and then dies of lung cancer, that person’s death certificate will record ‘cancer’ as the cause of death. But we could argue that ‘smoking’ was actually he cause of death, couldn’t we?

This gives us a different way of looking at causes of death. Smoking is a major causal factor in heart disease, and smoking is also a major cause of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and several other fatal lung conditions, as well as lung cancer, of course. So if smoking is the root cause of all those conditions, then perhaps it is more meaningful to consider smoking as the ’cause of death’ rather than recording all those deaths as ‘heart disease’, ‘lung cancer’, ‘COPD’ or whatever else.

  • According to official data, heart disease is the #1 cause of death worldwide
  • And cancer is the #2 cause of death worldwide
  • Diabetes, and then COPD and other closely related lung conditions are close behind in the top ten
  • These 4 conditions account for at least half of all human death every year.

But some people have pointed out, that obesity is a contributory factor to all of those conditions. Poor diet is a contributory factor to all of those conditions. Lack of exercise is a contributory factor to all of those conditions. And of course, poor diet and lack of exercise, in turn, are the leading causes of obesity. This has led some researchers to declare that in fact, the #1 worldwide cause of death is obesity.

If poor diet, too much sugar and a lack of exercise, cause obesity and diabetes, which in turn then lead to heart disease, stroke, cancer and more, then it’s easy to see how these researchers can claim that obesity is the leading cause of death.

I have read opinion pieces from some doctors and researchers taking that argument through to its logical conclusion and claiming that “Lack of exercise is the leading cause of death worldwide.”

They have a point.
Or maybe ‘poor diet is the leading cause of death worldwide.’

And I postulate, perhaps then…
“Apathy is the leading cause of death worldwide” …because people know what they should do, but they don’t do it.

They know they should exercise daily, eat a good diet, quit smoking, drink less, get some fresh air, drink more water…but they don’t do it, because they can’t be bothered. They think they are young and strong and it won’t catch up with them. They think they can get away with it. Despite the data.

Folks don’t appreciate their good health til it’s gone.

Apathy – the world’s biggest killer.
Yes or no?

What do you think?

Just something to think about.

To your good health!

Karl

Do you really need all that?

Time to take a quick look at portion control.

For many people who follow Mother Nature’s Diet as a healthy lifetsyle, weight loss is a goal. While I encourage you to focus on being healthy, and let your weight sort itself out, I also understand the goal to lose unwanted weight…I chased that goal myself for about 20 years.

As I am sure you know, there are many factors behind the obesity epidemic today, and doubtless there are multiple factors contributing to excess unwanted bodyfat for each and every one of us that has some weight to lose. It would take a lot of editions of The Weekly Weigh-In for us to look at all those factors, so this week let’s just look at one – portion control.

I work one-on-one with a lot of people who want to lose weight, and this is often one place where we can look for a quick and easy win. Most people are still piling their plates too high, it’s just such an easy thing to do. I did this myself for many years. Even when I switched to eating healthier foods, I would take a large sized dinner plate and heap up the meat and veggies, telling myself that it was all healthy food, so I could eat as much as I like.

In some respects, that’s true. I mean, I bet you never met anyone obese who grabbed their big belly and said “damn all that cabbage for making me fat!” Right?

But while ‘eating too much cabbage’ is never the reason someone becomes overweight in the first place, there is still good reason to limit those huge plates of food, even if it’s mostly veggies, for someone who is actively trying to lose weight. Unless you are doing insane amouts of exercise, and in reality, that accounts for very few people indeed, then you just don’t need to eat so much. You will enjoy far better results if you limit meal sizes.

A human stomach is not as large as you might think. In reality, it’s really only about the size of your own fist. It actually doesn’t take that much food to fill it. Wisdom says that a ‘palm sized’ portion of meat or fish is enough for one meal, and then around two to three times that much again in salad or vegetables. Really, that’s plenty for a main meal.

One size does not fit all, and I don’t know who you are, reading this now, so I can’t say how much each person should eat, as we are all different. But broadly speaking, if weight loss is your goal, and if you are moderately active, then you could try cutting down your meal sizes and see if that helps move your weight loss forward.

You could try:

  • Breakfast: a couple of eggs with a handful of greens and a tomato
  • Morning snack: an apple
  • Lunch: a roasted sweet potato with a little side salad
  • Dinner: a palm-sized portion of meat or fish, with fresh vegetables

That should be plenty. Remember, if your goal is to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn, so you should expect to feel hungry from time to time. Not all day, every day, but several times per week.

Try cutting your portions down and let me know how you get on.

To your good health!

Fruit, weight loss and breakfast smoothies

Does too much fruit make you fat?

In the world of nutrition and weight loss I see a lot of people getting rather confused about fruit. I hope to clear up that confusion.

Quite rightly, over recent years sugar has come under the spotlight as ‘public enemy No.1’ in the battle against the obesity epidemic, but along the way, some people have pointed out that fruit is also full of sugar, and some folks are out there saying that eating too much fruit contributes to unwanted weight gain, so you should cut back. I see bloggers telling people “bananas make you fat” and advising people to “stay away from fruit if you are on a diet” and this strikes me as madness!

In a world where too many people eat too much junk food, and where surveys in the UK show that only around a third of the adult population get even close to eating their 5-a-day, I think telling people to stay away from fruit is utterly bonkers! This whole topic has become a little confusing, so let’s clear that up.

It’s true that fruit is full of sugar, a type of sugar called fructose. However, in your body, fructose acts differently to the kind of sugar you get from eating chocolate or white bread (called glucose). Eating fruit won’t create the ‘insulin spike’ we have heard of, so eating fruit isn’t going to contribute to insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes the way eating confectionery and white carbs do. That’s good news.

And if eating fruit isn’t leading to an insulin spike, then it’s not going to lead to gaining body fat. Right?

Well, actually, fructose goes to the liver where, if you have an excess present, then that excess is converted to glucose and put back into the blood, where it then will be stored as excess body fat.

Gosh, it’s all very confusing isn’t it!

Think of it this way:
If you live a healthy lifestyle, you are active, you get some kind of exercise most days and you eat a reasonable, balanced diet, including plenty of good foods such as vegetables and fresh fish, then a couple of pieces of fruit per day is absolutely fine, it’s good for you, a beneficial source of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
However, if you are overweight and trying hard to lose the excess body fat, then blending five bananas for breakfast and gulping the lot down in ten minutes flat might not be the smartest way to start the day.

Make sense?

I made a video for you, explaining it all in a bit more detail.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Bashing sugar, bashing carbs, bashing grains…bashing each other?

Bashing sugar, bashing carbs, bashing grains…bashing each other. How is all this in-fighting actually helping anyone?

In-fighting within the ‘nutrition, diet and health’ industry, it seems, is a problem escalating even more rapidly that the much-talked-about obesity epidemic.

My kind friend alerted me to this piece in the news this week, titled ‘Bad fad – Ruby Tandoh on how clean eating turned toxic’ This follows on from a BBC Horizon episode that screened last week, which attacked the trend for ‘clean eating’ and looked at a number of cook books that promote ‘clean eating’ as a diet trend. To be honest I don’t watch TV, I have not watched the show, and a number of trusted friends who watched it have assured me I didn’t miss much! So, I will save my hour for watching something better, like Joel Salatin on farming, or Rhonda Patrick and Bruce Ames discussing micronutrients, or I’ll grab myself some motivation and exercise tips from Erin Stern working a Tabata circuit.

Anyway, back to our clean eating post.

Goodness, where do I begin with this!!!??!?!!

I agree with about half of the article, maybe more, in fact I agree with most of it, the facts and figures and statements about health, food and nutrition, yes I pretty much agree with all of that…but I strongly disagree with the angry, finger pointing, judgemental, aggressive tone of the writing.

Let’s see now, we have a skinny, young, privileged female, who has recovered from an eating disorder, and who blogs to share recipes and sells cookery books, and here she is basically slagging off all the other skinny, young, privileged female food bloggers and cookery book sellers, suggesting that their work promotes eating disorders. Ummm, writers bias anyone? Read more

The Weekly Weigh-In

Would you like to receive our free weekly newsletter, The Weekly Weigh-In, delivering simple common-sense health advice to you in one easy-to-read weekly email?

We think most people are suffering ‘information overload’ these days, drowning in too many emails, too much news, too many things to read. We don’t want to add to that overload! A lot of companies are out there mailing you daily, we think that’s too much. If you would like us to stay in touch with you, we’ll just drop you The Weekly Weigh-In once a week, including news, views, announcements and more. No hard sell, not too much to read, absolutely no spam.

A large part of the whole ethos of Mother Nature’s Diet is to offer you a lifestyle that takes the confusion and complexity out of healthy living, so we send out a free, brief, email newsletter once per week, that you can opt out of any time you feel you have had enough. The Weekly Weigh-In newsletter offers you links to the most interesting or relevant health news of the week, exercise tips and words of motivation and encouragement. The content varies every week, sometimes it might cover disease prevention, sometimes gardening tips for growing your own fruit and veg, and sometimes it might cover longevity and resisting the signs of ageing.

Every issue will be short, simple and honest – you won’t need a PhD in nutrition to understand it and you won’t be bombarded with daily sales emails – we hate spam just as much as you do. If we want to tell you about an upcoming seminar or a new book release, we’ll pop it on the bottom of the newsletter for you with a link to find out more if you’re interested.

If you would like to receive this free weekly newsletter, please visit this page and sign up, it’ll only take a moment.

 

You have a choice…

You have a choice…
But a lot of people don’t realise this.

Sorry, today the topic is rather morbid – disease and death. I am working on a presentation called ‘You have a choice’ and so I thought I would share the basic idea with you.

Over the years, the things that kill us have changed. 20,000 years ago, our caveman ancestors were killed by predators, accidents and infectious diseases. High infant mortality was almost certainly the #1 cause of death.

Then for a long time, in more recent history, it was wars, poverty, infectious dieases and malnutrition that was killing us.

But through technology, medicine and public sanitation, many of those things have been sorted out.

Now, what kills most humans is NCDs. Non-commincable diseases.

‘Non-communicable’ means they are not infectious, we don’t ‘catch’ them, they ‘develop’ inside us. Worldwide, around 55 to 60 million people die every year. These NCDs account for about 70% of those deaths. The four things that kill most people are heart disease and stroke (circulatory diseases), cancers, diabetes and lung conditions.

What these diseases all have in common, is that they develop inside us, over time. Another word for ‘develop’ might be ‘grow’. They grow inside us, and therefore we have some ability to exert an influence over that growth process.

Of course, some of these diseases are unavoidable. Some people are born with heart problems, some people inherit a genetic malfunction that can lead to a cancer forming at a young age, and some people inherit genes that make them predisposed to certain cancers. But in all, inherited conditions and genetic abnormalities only really account for about 10% or so of cancers, and less than 10% of heart disease.

What of the other 90%? Well, we can exert some influence over the other 90%.

For instance, the #1 preventable cause of cancer worldwide is smoking. Smoking causes heart disease, lung cancer, other cancers and several lung diseases. According to WHO, the World Health Organisation, smoking is the primary cause of death behind roughly 10% of all human death every year.
So there we have a choice – don’t smoke, and you should live a little longer.
See how this works?
You have a choice.

According to Cancer Research UK, and the NHS, approximately 42% of cancer deaths in the UK are caused by smoking, obesity, drinking alcohol, poor diet, lack of exercise, irresponsible sun exposure and exposure to toxic chemicals at work.
Well, you can choose not to smoke, you can choose to eat sensibly, the Mother Nature’s Diet way, you can choose not to drink, or to drink much less, you can choose to eat a better diet, more than your 5-a-day, you can choose to exercise regularly, you can choose to be sensible in the sun, and you can choose not to work in an environment where you may be exposed to toxic chemicals.

Just those things, in that paragraph, that’s almost half of UK cancer deaths taken care of right there. You can choose not to be a part of that statistic.

Now of course, let’s not talk about saving lives. We can’t save lives, we can only prolong them. Personally, I’m all for a longer life! The truth is, we’re all going to die, one day, that’s a fact of life. But average life expectancy in the UK is around 80, so I am saying you can choose, do you want to go at 65, or make it to 95? How you live, can make that difference.

Many of the things that cause cancer, are the same things that cause heart disease. And it just so happens they are also the same things that cause diabetes (type-2) and certain lung diseases. While smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, it is also the leading cause of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and it is one of the leading causes of heart disease.

Poor diet and a lack of exercise are the leading causes of obesity and type-2 diabetes. Obesity in turn is a major cause of heart disease and a direct cause of ten types of cancer, including breast cancer and bowel cancer. Being diagnosed with diabetes takes 10 years off your life expectancy, and diabetes in turn is a leading risk factor for heart disease.

You see, it’s the same things, time and again, causing so much of our ill health.

So today my message is simple: You have a choice.
I find a lot of people just don’t realise it.

We grow up with ‘common knowledge’ like “Smoking gives you cancer” and “Being obese, you’re a heart attack waiting to happen.” but beyond that, I find that most people really don’t realise that if we all just made some smarter choices, we could hold off 50% of deaths in the UK for an extra decade or two, just through some simple healthy living. And heaven knows how this would ease the burden on our beloved NHS.

So now you do know, that you have a choice.

What are you going to do differently?

More gym, less wine

News items telling the public that drinking alcohol has health benefits are a regular feature of the tabloid press, and once again this week I spotted this news item this morning on my Facebook feed:
“Glass of Red Wine Equals 1 Hour at Gym, New Study Says”

My goal this week is not to ‘bash alcohol consumption’ specifically, but just to highlight how scientific facts become distorted by the time they find their way into the mainstream press.

The news article linked above clearly attempts to inform the reader that drinking red wine is so good for your heart, that it’s as good as exercise. Of course, if we read down a little way, we find the message is slightly less clear…the research lead is noted as saying that a compound found in red wine, resveratrol, can have positive benefits on your heart and other muscles which may be beneficial for those who cannot exercise. He stresses that for those physically incapable of exercise, a glass of red wine may be beneficial alongside what little exercise they can manage.

So here we have a classic example of how a research er has made a suggestion that “may offer some benefit” to a specific ‘special population’ but by the time it reaches the popular press, the headline is “Glass of Red Wine Equals 1 Hour at Gym, New Study Says” with no mention of “might” or “for those who are physically incapable of exercise” and the short article is accompanied by a picture of red wine being poured, captioned with the words “Glass of red wine equals 1 hour at gym.”

Clearly, this is somewhat stretching the truth – to suggest to the population at large that they will somehow derive the same benefits from sitting at home drinking wine, as they would from going to the gym and working out for an hour. How ridiculous!

Resveratrol

So what is this compound, resveratrol?
You can read a little about it hear on Wikipedia.

Resveratrol is a compound found in the skin of the grapes they use to make wine. In the grape skin, the resveratrol is found in much higher concentrations…so why not publish an article saying “eating grapes can benefit your heart” – that would surely be better health advice to give to the general public, yes? In a society wrestling with an obesity epidemic, would that not be more responsible journalism? Read more

It’s never a matter of education…

It’s never a matter of education.
It’s always a matter of motivation.

I have been on my own health journey for the last 27 years, and I have spoken to many hundreds of people around the subject of weight loss and healthy living, pretty much every day for the last 11 years, and I have directly worked with people and tried to help people with weight loss just about every day for the last 5 or 6 years, and in all that time and contact, I have never met one single person who didn’t understand that eating vegetables is good for you.

I have never met anyone who thought smoking was good for you.
I didn’t meet one single person who thought beer and pizza was healthy, slimming food.
I have not met a single soul who thought ‘eat more veg, drink more water and get some exercise’ was bad advice.

You see, we all know what to do, we just don’t do what we know.

It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I revisit this topic, it remains an undeniable truth. These days, everyone knows what they should be doing. We know we shouldn’t smoke, we know we should drink less, we know six pints per night is not healthy. We know two bottles of wine on a Saturday evening is too much and we are going to regret it the next morning. We know that we shouldn’t order take-away food four nights per week. We know we should eat more salad, more oily fish, and watch less TV.

But still we do all of these things. I work with people every day who know the things they should be doing to lose weight, have more energy, and feel better, yet they still engage in those things they know they shouldn’t.

And so it is.
Success in our health endeavours is almost never a matter of education, and almost always a matter of motivation. Read more

Less wine, more gym…

News items telling the public that drinking alcohol has health benefits are a regular feature of the tabloid press, and once again the other week I spotted this news item making it’s way around on social media:
“Glass of Red Wine Equals 1 Hour at Gym, New Study Says”

My goal in this post is not to ‘bash alcohol consumption’ specifically, but just to highlight how scientific facts become distorted by the time they find their way into the mainstream press.

The news article linked above clearly attempts to inform the reader that drinking red wine is so good for your heart, that it’s as good as exercise. Of course, if we read down a little way, we find the message is slightly less clear…the research lead is noted as saying that a compound found in red wine, resveratrol, can have positive benefits on your heart and other muscles which may be beneficial for those who cannot exercise. He stresses that for those physically incapable of exercise, a glass of red wine may be beneficial alongside what little exercise they can manage.

So here we have a classic example of how a researcher has made a suggestion that “may offer some benefit” to a specific ‘special population’ but by the time it reaches the popular press, the headline is “Glass of Red Wine Equals 1 Hour at Gym, New Study Says” with no mention of “might” or “for those who are physically incapable of exercise” and the short article is accompanied by a picture of red wine being poured, captioned with the words “Glass of red wine equals 1 hour at gym.”

Clearly, this is somewhat stretching the truth – to suggest to the population at large that they will somehow derive the same benefits from sitting at home drinking wine, as they would from going to the gym and working out for an hour. How ridiculous! Read more

Keeping things simple

This week, I have been reading a lot of things that resonate with me around a central theme of simplicity. I often talk about how the diet industry and the health-and-wellness industry over complicate everything in order to sell you ‘solutions’ This may be selling you supplements that promise amazing results – yet in reality, in the overwhelming majority of cases, supplements maybe make up about 1% of the story in total, at best.

Or it may be selling you ‘detox’ retreats, or fad diets promising to rid your body of ‘toxins’ – when in reality, there is no scientific truth behind the idea that if you eat a few extra vegetables you are somehow going to ‘release toxins’ that might be in your blood waiting to harm you. If your blood was ‘toxic’ you would be in hospital, fighting for your life. Don’t buy into this bullshit sales rubbish.

I read a lot, and I teach ‘science reduced to simplicity’ as the core of what I do at Mother Nature’s Diet. Time and again, I find that there really are only a handful of genuinely good ideas, all of which are of course encompassed in the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet.

Today, I was reading about ‘The Simple 7’ taught by the American Heart Association. Heart disease remains the global number one cause of death, and back in 1978, experts at the American Heart Association thought that rather than spending all our time trying to ‘cure’ heart disease, prevent people with heart disease from suffering heart attacks (and strokes), and keep people alive for longer after a heart attack, why not spend some time trying to help people not get heart disease at all in the first instance.

Now this is my kinda medicine – prevention is better than cure!

The American Heart Association came up with ‘The Simple 7’ Read more

At the end of the day, it’s down to you

Everything you say you want, is out there waiting for you, but it won’t come to you, you have to go and get it.

Today we are talking about personal responsibility. Folks are all out there talking about everything they want, but if people expended half as much energy on doing, as they do on talking about it, they might just find themselves getting there faster.

I guess this little mini-rant comes from two separate things.

One is ‘shelf development’ and the other is social media.

Personal development

I’m a big fan of personal development, I go to seminars, buy books and audio courses, listen to motivational CDs in my car, all that kind of thing. Obviously a lot of it is health and nutrition related, as that is my greatest interest, indeed my overwhelming passion, but I also study business growth, finances and more.

Personal development is also known as self development. I guess there is a distinction – personal development might include coaching, mentoring, and personal training, which all involve hiring someone else to help me to develop personally as an individual. Whereas self development might include reading an educational book, listening to a home-study CD or DVD, taking a course or watching a webinar. It’s me on my own, it’s me working on my self, hence self development, alone.

The thing is, I find a lot of people buy all those materials – books, CDs, DVDs, webinars and so on, but never actually read them, listen to them or watch them. This then isn’t self development, but shelf development. All you end up with is a shelf full of wisdom…it shouldn’t be on your shelf, it should be in your head!

Social media

Then combine this trend for shelf development with the world of social media, everyone posting internet memes almost daily admonishing us to ‘Step into your fears’ and ‘Live your dreams’ and ‘You can achieve anything’ and so it goes on and on and on.

Really, I like the positive thinking, ‘dream big’ stuff myself, I honestly do, but I sometimes look at some of the people who are the most ardent posters of all that motivational stuff and their own lives are an absolute mess! I see folks telling us all to ‘live our dreams’ and ‘make our lives a masterpiece’ and they are flat broke, failing through their second divorce, overweight, unhealthy and out of shape, dissatisfied with their lives and working a job that isn’t even paying enough to cover their bills.

I see this every day! It’s crazy.

And it all makes me think – just stop saying it, and damn well do it.

I don’t see successful business leaders and billionaires out there posting ‘Go for it’ Internet memes every day…I don’t see Bill Gates and Richard Branson and Elon Musk buying books and not reading them. The real movers and shakers are too busy doing it to be prancing around on social media talking about it.

So the message here is to take some personal responsibility, and be one of the few who do, not one of the many who talk. Yeah, you could make a meme out of that – it’s a Tony Robbins quote. Thanks big Tony!

 

Fitness or fatness?

Is it healthier to be slim but not fit, or overweight but physically fit?

Does it even matter?

I spotted this question being debated – rather excitedly to be honest – online in a Facebook Group and I thought I would share it with you.

There are many opinions on this. Some people think we should stop obsessing over body image, and there is too much public pressure on us to be thin. Some people say it’s wrong to assume that an overweight or obese person is either lazy, unfit or unhealthy. Maybe that person exercises and is physically fit, they just happen to be overweight too.

Others point out that being overweight or obese is a risk factor for many poor health conditions, such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. This is true, being overweight or obese is a risk factor for all these diseases, in fact being overweight or obese is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK, and worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.

But while being overweight or obese contributes to several of our most prevalent diseases, so does a lack of physical exercise. That’s right, when we look at lists of all the factors causing type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, while we see ‘overweight and obesity’ on the list, in every case, ‘lack of exercise’ is right there on the same list too.

If we dig a little deeper, we actually find out that fitness matters more than fatness, when it comes to all-cause mortality. If you read the short abstract from that study which was published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, you’ll see that overweight and obese people who maintained good physical fitness, lived about as long as normal weight people who maintained good levels of physical fitness too. As the article says “Compared to normal weight-fit individuals, unfit individuals had twice the risk of mortality regardless of BMI.”

So there you have it. It turns out that it’s more important to be fit, than to be thin, if living a long healthy live and avoiding major diseases is your objective.

In a society that values ‘the body beautiful’ so much, and uses stereotypes of slim and lean models for advertising and marketing, it seems we have been putting too much focus on looks and not enough focus on action. If we want to hold back heart disease and cancer for as long as possible, then we should enjoy regular exercise more and stop worrying so much about our bodyfat levels. It seems the 6-pack really is just about vanity, rather than health.

Of course, at Mother Nature’s Diet we already knew this! Our focus has always been on being healthy, and I have said for years that if we work towards being healthy on the inside, our bodies will take care of how we look from the outside.

In my own personal weight loss journey, I wrestled with my weight for 20 years, yo-yo dieting in and out of obesity. All that time my focus was on losing weight to try to look better and feel happier about myself. Only when I changed my focus to being healthy did I finally crack it, and lost 7 stone 3, that’s 101 pounds of fat, or 46 kilos to my European friends.

Living by the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet we focus on eating healthy nourishing whole foods, we don’t count calories, and we aim to stay active and exercise almost every day.

Sounds like we’re doing the right thing if you ask me.
Well done, keep going!

To your good health!

Are we normalising obesity?

The rising obesity problem is a subject that is constantly in the news these days. As with every ‘latest thing’ that comes in and out of the public consciousness, when a topic is hot, we find every journalist and blogger out there writing about it, and opinions become varied, multitudinous and often contentious. And so it is with obesity.

In recent years we have seen many opinions about obesity, and read much shared research. We see that obesity can be blamed on genes, and we can read that childhood obesity is down to parenting, not junk food. We might read in the news that obesity could be classified as an eating disorder, or the next day the news will tell us that obesity is caused by poverty. We read that in the US, obesity is being treated as a disease, and we see obesity being blamed on something called obesogenic environments. Another day we may read about the obesity-promoting role of hyperpalatable foods, and we are constantly reading that sugar is to blame for obesity, and other addictive foods. We see the obesity epidemic blamed on the giant corporations of the food industry, and we may have even read that obesity is socially contagious.

Amid all this, while many derogatory words have been written about obese people over the years, now we see the tide turning. Many journalists and bloggers are now reporting that fat shaming does no good, it only makes things worse, it hurts people, and it’s time to stop blaming obese people for their condition; we must be more understanding and supportive. It is suggested that obesity is actually just a learned set of behaviours. We are seeing new reports that obese people are treated differently, to their detriment, by the doctors, and some experts are saying that if you put together everything above, then it plain isn’t your fault if you are fat.

Normalising obesity

It certainly is a contentious topic. I’m not going to go through all those news articles linked above and address each one of them in turn, giving my analysis and opinion on them all, that would take many pages of writing. Suffice to say that some of those articles I broadly agree with, some I largely disagree with, and most, or perhaps all of them, I would say contain some truth, but not ‘the only truth’.

The weight problem in the UK is accelerating rapidly. Official data from 2013 shows that 26% of men in the UK are obese, and 67% of men in the UK are either overweight or obese. For women, those figures are 24% and 57%, respectively. Of all the large, populous nations in Western Europe, the UK is the fattest. In the United States, the problem is even worse, with 71% of men and 62% of women overweight or obese.

To give that data some context, 50 years ago, in the mid-1960s, obesity in the UK stood at around 1.5% (1.8% men, 1.2% women, in 1965).  Read more

Time to look at your habits…are they supporting you, or not?

I have a friend who used to eat biscuits all the time. He loved biscuits, especially those chocolate-coated ones, and chocolate-chip cookies. But he was overweight, he was out of shape and he knew that he was eating too much sweet food, and he was heading for obesity and likely type-2 diabetes. He also knew that eating three or four biscuits every morning, and then three or four biscuits every afternoon, and sometimes another three or four biscuits in the evening, was making all the rest of his food taste bland, so he wasn’t eating his veggies. He knew he was in danger of letting his ‘biscuit habit’ or ‘biscuit addiction’ take over his diet entirely, to the detriment of his health.

So he changed. he started eating a banana as his mid-morning snack, and an apple as his mid-afternoon snack. If he feels the need for an evening snack, he’ll eat some raisins or sultanas.

At first, this wasn’t easy. Day one was torture Read more

Mother Nature’s Diet FAQs – Core Principle 3 and pasteurised dairy

In Core Principle 3 you say “eliminate pasteurised dairy”. Does that mean all dairy is completely out? Can you explain please?

This is a great question, and a massive topic, that goes off in many different directions. In the book MND Book 1: the 12 Core Principles the whole topic is dealt with in detail, here we will just touch on the subject in brief.

Here is ‘the short version’.

Core Principle 3 includes “eliminate pasteurised dairy” from your diet.

That is not a blanket statement to say that ‘dairy is bad for you’. In fact, it is often a sign of fad diets and inaccurate science when diet plans block out entire food groups for all people without any exception.

The reality is that we can’t make such blanket statements because in truth, all people are different. Cow’s milk contains a carbohydrate called lactose, and it contains proteins called whey and casein. Many people are intolerant to lactose or whey, and some folks can’t tolerate casein. These compounds can cause all manner of unwanted side effects from bloating, smelly gas, mucous, cold-like symptoms, gastrointestinal distress, stuffiness, lethargy, stomach cramps, diarrhoea and more.

So if you ever consume milk or dairy foods and suffer from any of those symptoms, you could try quitting dairy completely for a few months and seeing if that helps you.

But these intolerances may only affect, perhaps, half of us here in Europe. The other half, might be just fine. It seems, that if you are lactose, whey and casein tolerant, then a quality organic dairy food can be a valuable source of protein and micronutrients in your diet.

Pasteurisation

Mass-market milk, the stuff for sale in our supermarkets, is pasteurised and homogenised. These are processes designed to kill off potentially harmful bacteria in milk, and extend its shelf life for the purposes of distribution and sales. The trouble is, pasteurisation also kills off some of the digestive enzymes in milk, and this causes two problems. One is that Read more

Mother Nature’s Diet FAQs – MND and motor neurone disease. Is there a connection?

1: Mother Nature’s Diet, you guys call it MND, but that stands for motor neurone disease, right?

2: Are there any links between Mother Nature’s Diet and motor neurone disease or the UK charity The Motor Neurone Disease Association, the MNDA?

3: Are you recommending Mother Nature’s Diet as a suggested dietary protocol for people suffering from motor neurone disease?

4: Are you selling supplements to help motor neurone disease sufferers?

No, Mother Nature’s Diet is in no way at all linked to, authorised by, affiliated to or connected with The Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Mother Nature’s Diet is not designed as a dietary protocol for sufferers and we do not sell supplements, or anything else, to people suffering from motor neurone disease.

About motor neurone disease and The MNDA

Motor neurone disease is a rare progressive condition that attacks and damages the nervous system, leading rapidly to weakness, muscle wasting and sadly, often to a fatal end. Motor neurone disease is a very serious neurodegenerative condition, the precise causes are not fully understood and there is currently no known cure. Motor neurone disease is often fatal within two years of diagnosis, it affects approximately 5,000 people in the UK at any one time.

MND in known as ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – in the United States. MND and ALS are the same disease.

According to the NHS, motor neurone disease affects around 2 in every 100,000 people in the UK each year, and according to the MNDA, every day six people in the UK are diagnosed with the disease, and six people every day die from the illness. Read more

Mother Nature’s Diet FAQs – Is it healthy to drink coffee?

Short answer: Whether or not you should regularly consume coffee (and caffeine) very much depends on the person, you the individual. The current state of your health, will depend on whether caffeinated coffee might help you or exacerbate problems for you.

For example, studies show that, in general, type-2 diabetics and folks who have high blood pressure or have suffered a heart attack, benefit from moderate coffee consumption. Broadly speaking, moderate coffee consumption, which means Read more

Mother Nature’s Diet FAQs – Can I eat beans and legumes?

Living the MND way, can I eat legumes – beans, pulses and sweetcorn?

If you have read the FAQs and learned why we avoid eating grains, you will remember that one reason to avoid eating grains is because they contain compounds that affect our digestion – gluten, phytic acid, and so on.

Just like grains, all these beans and legumes are a kind of seed, they are the “babies” of the plants. So if we think of wheat as the babies (seeds) of the grasses in that family of plants that we call cereal crops, then similarly, beans and lentils are the seeds of the plant family we call legumes. Technically, biologically, they are very similar to grains. Apologies for the over simplification, but this isn’t a science lecture, I just want you to understand the broad idea.

Mother Nature, in all her complex wonder, evolved our wonderful world to help propagate every species in some kind of glorious harmony. All these grasses and other plants evolved for herbivorous animals to eat them, but Mother Nature had to come up with ways to enable the seeds of those plants to survive and re-grow. In some cases, seeds evolved in ways to avoid being eaten, by growing high out of a grazing herbivores reach, or by hiding inside a tough seed head, in other cases seeds  evolved tough outer cases, so that they would survive being eaten by an animal and then pooped out the other end. In other cases, she designed the seeds to thrive inside that animal, so that when it was pooped out the other end, it was ready to grow into a new plant.

Ruminants (that is animals such as cows, sheep, goats, camels, yaks and so on) have a much more complex, slower digestive system than humans. They pass food into a rumen (one of their multiple stomachs) which is basically a fermentation tank inside a cow. They also “chew the cud” which means they Read more

Mother Nature’s Diet FAQs – Why avoid grains and starchy carbs?

Why do we avoid grains and processed starchy carbs?

This, Core Principle 1, is mostly explained in detail here in the 12 Core Principles.

For further reading, you might like to check this post: Back off those carbs!

Now you will understand that:

1: We have not evolved to eat grains, we cannot digest these plants, that is why they have to be processed before we can consume them.

2: You understand there are compounds in grains – gluten, lectins, phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors – that are largely undesirable and have negative side-effects for many people.

3: For most people, the 99% of the population who are not elite athletes, eating a lot of grains and processed starchy carbs is probably contributing to undesirable weight gain.

4: Bulky meals of starchy carbs can cause your pancreas to work too hard and can trigger blood sugar highs and lows. In time, this can Read more