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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

Healthy food does NOT have to mean bland food!

I wrestled with my own weight loss journey for more than two decades, and now I have been talking to people about weight loss and helping people to move to a healthier way of living for the last five years. One thing I have noticed that comes up again and again, is that overweight folks who are trying to shift from a diet of processed foods and sweet foods, often say they find healthier meals bland and boring.

I see folks switching out ready meals for steamed vegetables, or switching out take-away meals for ‘plain white chicken breast and boiled veg’ and then they say the ‘fall off the diet bandwagon’ because the healthy food just doesn’t satisfy them.

We need to explore what is going wrong here!

Let’s do this in bullet points for simplicity. Read more

Against the Grain

Every month I publish a newsletter titled Against the Grain. This is a private, Members-only newsletter for MND Community Members.

Here is a free sample of that newsletter for you.

MND Against The Grain April 2016

For full details of MND Community Membership, please visit this page on our all-new site.

 

What’s wrong with us?

shutterstock_174268115

Human civilisation is truly at a pinnacle in many ways, the things we have achieved and the strides we have made in technology, medicine, construction and engineering are mind-bogglingly amazing. We can fly people out to space, build offices and hotels hundreds of meters high and perform amazingly complex medical operations. Over the last few hundred years, we have come out of the dark ages and largely fixed all the things that used to kill people – high infant mortality, infectious diseases, predators large and small, and rampant wars on every continent. We now live in times of technology, peace and prosperity (and population!) on a scale the human race has never known before.

And yet, for all our wonder and all we have achieved, something is wrong. In my opinion, something seems to be very wrong.

The biggest disease on the planet now is over-consumption. Folks are eating too much, food has become a leisure activity, hundreds of millions of people are literally addicted to eating sweet, tasty, desirable foods. People are eating their way to a global obesity epidemic (while millions in developing nations still starve), eating their way to a diabetes epidemic and eating their way to increasing rates of heart disease and cancer. Inactivity is arguably a global pandemic, and malnutrition is on the increase among the overweight faster than the underweight.

We now have devices that enable people to have a tube from their stomach out to an external pipe, so that they can overeat, then flush a third of their food directly into the toilet. What on Earth is wrong with us?
http://www.newscientist.com/article/2093802-stomach-tap-to-let-obese-people-empty-their-gut-after-eating
According to that article…the ‘most effective treatment for obesity is gastric bypass surgery’ – that’s a sad state of affairs, highlighting the massive problem we have. High-calorie, low-nutrient foods are a legal drug…where cocaine and heroin may only affect a small percentage of the population, sweet foods and junk foods are a ‘mass market addiction’ and in the UK alone we have gone from a situation where 1.5% of the population were obese in 1963, to 28% of the adult population obese 50 years later in 2013.

This is a sickness that risks engulfing the planet, Read more

Myth busting – Part 12

Summary: Connect together the bigger picture

 

Please read Myth Busting – Part 10 and Part 11 before you read this; otherwise this summary won’t make much sense to you.

Thanks!

Natural equilibrium

It is my hope that this series of posts have demonstrated several things.

1: Global warming, the factors contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, and the factors affecting our most precious carbon sinks, are not as simple as many mainstream media reports would have us believe.

2: It’s all a bit more complicated than ‘cars and power stations are melting the ice caps, we’re all doomed’.

3: The solutions are also somewhat more complicated than ‘buy a few electric cars and build some wind turbines and we’ll all be OK’.

4: Electric cars, well, still need electricity, and wind turbines use a vast amount of concrete to stay upright. If you really want to ‘go green’ try getting a job closer to home. Using no car at all because you walk to work, that’s the ultimate green transport. Even if we stopped running cars completely and burning fossil fuel in power stations right now today, the pollutants in the atmosphere would take the entire 21st century to clear, and all that time, the effects of global warming would persist.

5: Some of the factors involved in global warming, major factors, are seemingly innocuous things that the mainstream media rarely seem to cover, like fluffy white clouds and freshly ploughed fields. We do not look at a picture of a ploughed field and instantly think ‘oh look, global warming in progress’.

6: No disrespect intended to the film-makers, and no axe to grind with the vegan movement in general, but the movie Cowspiracy is just plain wrong, it is a ‘dramatised pretend documentary’ or ‘docu-drama’ that uses cherry-picked data and ignores vast amounts of contradictory science.

7: Simply giving up meat and dairy and all becoming vegetarians will do virtually nothing to alleviate our present environmental problems. Converting large amounts of the world’s grasslands to croplands would actually make things worse. If folks give up meat and dairy and start eating more rice and wheat and soybeans, greenhouse gas emissions will likely go up over the next few decades.

8: The problem is industrialised agriculture. Becoming vegan won’t change a thing. It’s our ‘abusive attitude’ to farming in general that needs to change.

Since the industrial revolution began, almost 250 years ago…

What have we done wrong?

  • The population explosion. We used industrialised agriculture, and fossil fuel power to boost the human population to unsustainably high numbers in a very short space of time
  • We ripped up the trees and ploughed the grasslands to plant wheat, corn and soybeans, and we flooded fertile fields to grow rice
  • We dramatically over-fished the oceans, and killed a lot of the world’s fish stocks
  • We ripped up the forests to grow maize and soybeans, to make cheap cattle feed, vegetable oils and biomass fuels
  • We planted too many monocrops, used too much fertilizer, and polluted many of our rivers and seas

Now we have oceans devoid of fish, grasslands diminished, cattle living in steel pens in CAFOs, ankle deep in their own shit, sick, obese, taking antibiotics. Traces of antibiotics get into cheap meat, and humans are developing ‘antimicrobial resistance’ as a result. Wheat grows on the grasslands, so the people all eat wheat, making them fat, driving metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and causing widespread autoimmune illness because half the human race are not biologically adapted to tolerate eating gluten.

The forests are massively diminished, chopped down to grow maize and soybeans to feed the unhappy sick cows and chickens. The topsoil is depleted, releasing carbon into the atmosphere instead of sequestering it for decades into the future. Rivers are polluted, flows diminished and freshwater fish stocks depleted. The oceans are half-empty, and the lack of oceanic life, and rising seawater acidity, means there is nothing to suck up atmospheric carbon dioxide from all the cars and power stations burning fossil fuels.

While wind, wave, sunshine and tide are ever present, governments have moved too slowly to give businesses tax incentives to develop renewable energy supplies. Still, in 2016 now, only 21% to 22% of world energy production comes from renewable sources. Still only 3% to 5% of transport is powered by any form of clean or renewable energy. Considering that global warming has been on the agenda as a “major international imperative” since 1990, this is a shameful lack of progress in a quarter of a century.

  • The air is polluted
  • The soil depleted
  • The oceans weakened
  • The forests weeping
  • Animals are widely mistreated
  • Humans are overweight, diabetic, stressed out dying of heart disease and riddled with cancer

I think it’s fair to say, we’re in a bit of a mess and not doing as well as we could be. Read more

Myth busting – Part 11

Continued from Myth busting – Part 10. If you have not read Part 10 yet, I suggest you go start there, in order to keep everything in context. Thanks!

Carbon sequestration

 

To be clear on usage of certain terms:

Carbon (organic carbon) means the mineral carbon, an essential building block of all organic life on Earth – plants and animals, including humans.

Carbon dioxide means the gas breathed out by animals, and taken in by plants. Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas in our atmosphere – but human activity burning fossil fuels has increased the amount.

Over millions of years, plants ‘breathe in’ carbon dioxide and use it as a building block for cellular life. As those plants grow up into big strong trees, so the dense wood holds lots of carbon. When the tree dies, the logs fall to the ground and are buried in new growing organic matter. That carbon is taken down into the ground and stored for many years, slowly releasing its mineral content into the soil to nourish other plants and animals. This is a crude explanation, but you get the idea.

Carbon sequestration means ‘taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and storing it as carbon bound up in life forms (such as wood, plants, soil, insects, etc.)

A carbon sink is a place or thing that acts to sequester carbon, such as a tree.

Mother Nature provides places to sequester carbon naturally. The oceans, the topsoil, the forests and peat bogs (peat wetlands or peatlands) are all massive efficient carbon sinks, the world’s top four. The problem is, those carbon sinks are not working optimally.

Where have all the fishies gone?

Approximately 70% of the planet is covered by oceans and seas. Currently, around one third of all the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is sequestered by our oceans. They could be taking a lot more.

However, there is a problem with our oceans. We have over-fished them for the last century or more, and the result is that early in the 21st century we find that 85% of fisheries worldwide are over-fished and seriously depleted. We have massively reduced fish stocks in our oceans, and the use of trawlers and supertrawlers has decimated marine life, hurting Mother Nature’s ability to restore what we have taken. In some species, over 90% of living stock has been wiped out over a few decades, reducing numbers below a certain ‘critical mass’ to such a point that populations can’t recover. This means the oceans have a reduced ability to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, due to lower levels of biological activity in ocean waters.

You see, it’s supposed to be the life in the water that sucks up the carbon…not the water itself. However, with more carbon dioxide in the air, our oceans are also suffering from something called ‘ocean acidification’ which means the water itself is absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, because there is more there to absorb, and it’s changing the pH of ocean waters, reducing the oxygen-richness of ocean waters. This makes it harder for marine life to proliferate. It’s a double whammy, and a vicious negative cycle.

We need marine life to proliferate in order to sequester carbon. Ocean acidification, over-fishing and pollution have left the oceans with reduces amounts of algae, phytoplankton, seaweed and fish. The result is that our best carbon sink isn’t working at all well, and the largest part of the planet’s surface, that should supply a huge proportion of our food, is drastically depleted. The answer must be to stop over-fishing, stop polluting our oceans with plastics, chemical waste and more, stop polluting the atmosphere with burned fossil fuels and let the oceans work naturally, the way they are supposed to.

Without trying to sound too melodramatic about it, it’s a bit like the zombie apocalypse, but underwater. Reduced life, pollution, loss of marine biodiversity, massive scars of land destroyed by trawlers, ‘kill squads’ out slaughtering marine life en masse. What’s happening in our oceans isn’t pretty. Read more

Myth busting – Part 10

Wow, we made it to Myth busting – Part 10! Let’s quickly look back over this mini-series so far and recap what we have covered.

In the previous nine instalments of this mini-series, we have read that:

 

Phew! It’s been a lot of fun writing this series – and I hope you are enjoying reading it!

But…you might have one last question, and this is now going to open up a whole can of worms. If we are supposed to be eating meat and fish instead of grains, and all those big juicy sweet pieces of fruit and veg are actually a relatively new ‘man-bred’ novelty.
Then, well…

Myth: It’s animal agriculture that is destroying the environment isn’t it? Haven’t you seen that film ‘Cowspiracy’? It’s all those burping and farting cows that are causing global warming. If we encourage people to eat less grain and more meat and fish there will be an environmental catastrophe, and besides there is not enough land to keep all those abused and mistreated farm animals fed and watered.

 

Truth: With respect to the good intentions of the makers of the film, in my personal opinion, that movie Cowspiracy is totally biased and wildly inaccurate, made purposefully to appeal to one particular paradigm, or one specific set way of thinking, namely veganism. Far from ‘exposing the truth’ these kind of mock-umentaries (known as a ‘mock-doc’ or a ‘docu-drama’) often do more harm than good by spreading misinformation, and they are nothing short of  propaganda made to promote the vegan cause, not to present a balanced view of reality.

I respect anyone who makes the choice to be vegan because they abhor cruelty to animals, I do too. But that is not what this is about.

There is so much misunderstanding in this area. Since Cowspiracy came out, it’s now ‘the latest trendy thing’ to talk about how animal agriculture is ‘the biggest cause of environmental destruction and greenhouse gases’ on Earth and so ‘everyone should just stop eating meat’ but this is just fundamentally wrong. Cowspiracy has certainly taken this issue (agriculture’s contribution to global warming) to a broader audience, but the so-called science in the movie is completely flawed, it uses data points cherry picked to provide a one-sided view, and it ignores loads of facts that don’t fit with the main goals of the presentation.

Let’s actually look at some reality. Read more

Myth busting – Part 9

This post is Part 9 of a continuing short series of posts tackling persistent myths in the world of healthy eating, with a particular focus on the consumption of animal foods as a source of ill health and environmental destruction.

If you like to cut through the b/s you see on social media these days and understand, in plain English, what’s really going on, then you may like to read the whole series starting from Myth busting – Part 1

Myth: All this talk of our ancient ancestors, how we evolved eating a lot of meat and this talk of ‘prehistoric man’ is all very interesting, but didn’t caveman die at like, 35 years old?

 

Truth: Prehistoric man didn’t die at 35. Infant mortality was very high, and a lot of people died from predators, communicable diseases and accidents. The rest lived to a good age. Cancer did exist, but as far as we know (from fossil evidence, which isn’t much), it was quite rare.

I blogged this whole piece a little while back, so if you regularly read my blog then you may have already seen this one, but it really fits with the other myths we are busting and paradigms we are shifting here in this mini-series, so I thought I would run it for you again as we transition from ‘animal consumption and human health’ to ‘animal agriculture and the environment’ which is coming up next.

‘Caveman’ didn’t always ‘die at 35’

Don’t believe everything you see on social media!

bullshit caveman meme

Recently, a friend of mine shared this image with me and asked me “So what can we say…?” and it’s a good point, this is something I am often asked about, it’s a common myth about our ancient ancestors. I could write a whole book on this, but I’ll keep it brief here. Read more

Myth busting – Part 8

Myth: We must eat vegetables to be healthy, but we can live without meat.

 

Truth: Actually, it’s the opposite. We can live on animal foods alone, but it’s very hard to live on plant foods alone.

This myth-busting series is in danger of becoming a manifesto for meat eaters, and that is not my intention!! I feel the need to state – I love vegetables!!! I still recommend the MND target for vegetables and fruit intake is 17-a-day! And I am not trying to put a downer on the vegetarian choice!

But the truth is this, while half the human race are intolerant or sensitive to gluten in one way or another, I’ve never met a single person intolerant to chicken. I’ve never heard of anyone with a salmon intolerance. I’ve never heard of anyone allergic to mackerel.

Some people are intolerant to eggs, and many people are intolerant to dairy (food Mother Nature evolved for baby cows, not for adult humans) but very few healthy people have any kind of intolerance to meat, poultry or fish.

Following on from Myth busting – Part 7

You see, once we get through the claws, teeth and fur, that animal is all done with the whole ‘defending itself’ thing and Read more

Myth busting – Part 7

Myth: Plants are healthy, they are ‘all good’ and we can eat as much as we like.

 

Truth: No! Many plants contain all sorts of chemical compounds that are extremely harmful to human health! You can’t eat poison ivy! What about deadly nightshade! Apple pips contain cyanide! What about gluten! There are highly poisonous mushrooms and numerous deadly herbs. The list is long! But among the common plants we do eat, there are plant foods containing compounds such as lectins, goitrogens, protease inhibitors, amylase inhibitors, phytate (or phytic acid), tannins, saponins and calcium oxalate, as well as some lesser compounds that are not very good for us.

The reality is that more than 90% of the biomass of plant life on Earth is completely unavailable to humans as food. We cannot eat grasses, we cannot eat trees, and most leaves are indigestible to us. We cannot eat grains unless we process them, and estimates suggest that around half the human population is intolerant to gluten to one degree or another. Raw potatoes will make you sick. Legumes are rich in lectins that upset digestive function. Phytates, or phytic acid, found in legumes, nuts and grains, have ‘anti-nutrient’ properties, leaching other valuable minerals from your body.

Many of these compounds are enzyme inhibitors of one type or another – that is, they stop various digestive enzymes from doing their job properly, meaning your body cannot absorb some of the minerals that you consume in your food.

And you thought plants were good for you!!!! Read more

Myth busting – Part 6

Continued from Myth busting – Part 5

Myth: OK, so gorillas might not be a great example, but cows are vegans, they eat only grass all day long, and look how big and strong they get! Clearly, a low-fat, meat-free, plant based diet is the way forward!

Truth: Cows eat an extremely high-fat diet! And they are not vegans!

Yeah this one will really mess with your head! Yes, cows eat an 80% fat diet, through a very similar set up as described in Myth busting – Part 5 for the gorilla. Cows and gorillas are both fermenters, so in some ways cows and gorillas have more in common, from a digestive perspective, than humans and gorillas.

Cows are ruminants, they have multiple digestive chambers inside (you’ve heard ‘cows have four stomachs’ right?) the first of which is called a rumen. When they eat grass and leafy plants, it all goes straight down into the rumen, where the process of ‘rumination’ (hence the genus name, ruminant) begins. Rumination involves bringing the food up and down between the mouth and the rumen, generally four to five times for every mouthful.

A cow’s rumen is an amazing thing. This fact blows my mind: in a single cow’s rumen, there are more bacteria then there are human being’s alive on the whole planet! Boom! Mind blown!

And on top of all that bacteria, there are billions of protozoa and digestive enzymes too, and this is still only in the first of the cow’s four major digestive chambers. Traditional tribes used to understand that the lining of a cow’s rumen is so nutritionally dense, they would kill a cow and eat the rumen lining, throwing the muscle meat to their dogs. Yes, they ate the organs and stomach lining and gave the sirloin steak and fillet steak to their dogs!

Read more

Myth busting – Part 5

This post is Part 5 of a continuing series of posts tackling persistent myths in the world of healthy eating, with a particular focus on the consumption of animal foods as a source of ill health and environmental destruction.

You may like to read the whole series starting from Myth busting – Part 1

Myth: But big strong animals like gorillas don’t eat meat. A gorilla is a vegan and he’s made of muscle! So who needs all that protein now then?!?!

You may have seen this image circulating on social media sites, lots of folks who don’t really know much about health and nutrition like to share this image as some kind of ‘proof’ that it is healthiest to be a vegan, and no one needs to eat animal foods at all.

I don’t want to sound rude, and this next line isn’t meant to be an attack on any vegans or an insult to anyone specifically, but in all honesty, sharing this Internet meme as some kind of ‘proof’ that people shouldn’t eat meat is pretty much the highest display of ignorance out there in the whole ‘meat vs. vegetarian’ discussion.

Not ignorant because the people sharing it don’t know much about the digestive system of a gorilla; that’s fair enough, most folks probably don’t; but ignorant because the people sharing this are stupid enough to think the digestive function of one animal somehow acts as some guide of evidence-based scientific guide to the digestive system of another. That is just plain dumb.

Why would the digestive system and food habits of a gorilla have anything to do with a human?

Oh because gorillas have muscles, therefore this is ‘proof’ of how to build muscles?

Well elephants have muscles too; maybe I should eat an elephant’s diet? Read more

Myth busting – Part 4

Continued from Myth busting – Part 3

Myth: But longevity studies show that most 90 and 100 year old folks are vegetarians, right?

Truth: The truth is that in many longevity studies we see people in their 90s and 100s who ‘don’t eat much meat’ but that does not make them strict vegetarians.

In almost all the longevity studies I have read, very few of these people in their 90s and 100s were reported as specifically being vegetarians, most often they just “don’t eat much meat” because they tend to be quite poor (financially) and they can only afford to eat meat once or twice per week at most. Many of these elderly folks eat fish or eggs a few times per week. Fish is often readily available as many of the demographic groups studied (where exceptional longevity has been noted) live near the coast or on islands, so fresh fish is often a staple of the local diet.

This in itself is, to my mind, all far more interesting than whether or not these people are vegetarians. One of my all-time favourite books is ‘Blue Zones’ by Dan Buettner, an excellent review of the lifestyles of several societies where a high proportion of folks enjoy far-above-average longevity. In four of the five communities he and his team studied around the world, they live between the coast and the hills/mountains. A lifestyle including regular hill walking, daily clean fresh air, fresh fish and home-grown vegetables feature as key ingredients to living a long and healthy life. Many of the people studied “ate little meat” but only one of the five communities identified themselves as vegetarians, and this was in the case that vegetarianism came as a part of their religious belief system.

Read more

Myth busting – Part 3

Myth: Vegetarians are healthier than meat eaters, because eating meat is bad for you.

Truth: Eating meat is not ‘bad for you’ – go back and read Myth busting – Part 1 again! What do you think your ancient ancestors ate before we started farming?

According to a number of studies, it would seem that many (certainly not all!) vegetarians are indeed ‘healthier’ than many (not all) meat eaters, but there is no real evidence to suggest that it’s got much to do with avoiding meat.

There is a lot of confusion around this area. Studies have attempted to look at the differences between vegetarians and meat eaters – but what does ‘vegetarian’ really mean? It’s a self-reported ‘condition’, it’s not like ‘people over 6 foot tall’ or ‘black people’ or ‘women’ – these are irrefutable facts that are visible to all eyes. But many vegetarians report themselves to be vegetarians when in fact, they are not. There are varying degrees of vegetarianism, and it is quite common for people to claim to be vegetarians when they ‘occasionally’ eat meat.

I personally know several people who describe themselves, with complete sincerity, as vegetarians, yet they openly admit that they get drunk once a month and have a big greasy meaty kebab on their way home from the pub! Or they are ‘vegetarian’ all week, then order a Chinese take away on Saturday night and enjoy tucking into sweet ‘n’ sour chicken! I know so-called vegetarians who treat themselves to a chicken vindaloo once a month then go back to being a vegetarian! These people actually laugh it off and they think they can wake up the next day, go back to their hummus and tofu and be a vegetarian again….until next time! Seriously?!?!? Read more

Myth busting – Part 2

Myth: Cholesterol is bad for you

Truth: Cholesterol itself is a naturally occurring compound, an essential part of YOU! Only high LDL and VLDL cholesterol is associated with heart disease risk factors.

Whole books have been written about ‘the cholesterol myth’, lots of them, and I’ve read several. The truth that I always come back to is this – cholesterol is a naturally occurring sterol lipid (that’s a fancy name for a fat-based chemical compound) that is an integral part of every cell of every animal on Earth. Your body needs cholesterol to maintain cell integrity for all cells in the human body. Cholesterol is also an essential precursor in the production of a number of hormones, and it has other functions in our bodies too.

Cholesterol is an essential element of all cells in all animals. Your brain and nervous system, organs and muscles, none of them would work without cholesterol. It is so important, that if you don’t ingest any from dietary sources, your body can make its own.

So I think: if cholesterol is so important, vital to all animal life and so omnipresent in all animal life forms, how on Earth Read more

Myth busting – Part 1

This is the first instalment in a series of posts tackling persistent myths in the world of healthy eating, with a particular focus on the consumption of animal foods as a source of ill health and environmental destruction.shutterstock_159768692

It’s simply not true that eating animal foods causes ill health and environmental damage. However, intensive industrialised agriculture certainly causes environmental damage and leads to humans eating animal products that are less-than-optimal nutritionally.

The vast, overwhelming majority of research linking meat consumption to ill health fails to separate meat products from animals that have been raised in intensive, industrialised agricultural systems from meat products that come from animals raised humanely, naturally and sustainably.

I have written about this before, if this interests you please check the following posts:

https://mothernaturesdiet.me/2015/10/26/meat-consumption-and-cancer-who-report-and-media-frenzy/

https://mothernaturesdiet.me/2013/02/17/naturally-reared-meat-versus-junk-meat/

https://mothernaturesdiet.me/2013/03/07/new-research-linking-processed-meat-to-increased-risk-of-death/

This series of posts will now primarily look at the issue of whether or not it is healthier to be a vegetarian or a meat eater, and connections between modern agriculture and its impact on the environment.

Let’s start with…

Myth: Eating fat makes you fat

Truth: Eating more calories than you use makes you fat, whether those calories come from dietary fats, carbohydrates or anything else. Eating a broad, healthy, whole foods diet high in wholesome natural dietary fats does not make you fat. Eating a lot of processed foods and sugar will significantly contribute to making you store more body fat.

I’m starting with this one because this should be pretty easy for you MND’ers to grasp, this is old news to you now. Over the last 60 years, the diet industry has promoted low-fat as the way to go to lose weight and prevent heart disease. Sadly, after 60 years of this, we have an obesity epidemic spreading across the entire Western world, heart disease rates are higher than ever, and we’ve thrown in an international diabetes epidemic as an unexpected little bonus. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure stripping the fat out of everything and replacing it with added refined sugar and processed vegetable oils wasn’t the smartest way forward.

As I have already hammered this topic to death about a hundred times, I won’t go over it in too much detail again now, let’s just highlight the three key points:

  • A certain amount of body fat is good. Excess body fat can become unhealthy. Lots of your body is made up of fat – your brain is largely fat and water. Your nervous system is made up of lots of fat (and cholesterol). Many hormones are made up from lipids (fats) in your body, helping to regulate mood, sleep, sexual function and more. Fat keeps you warm and fat is a great place to store certain vitamins, minerals and hormones, that all help to keep you healthy. So don’t just hate fat!
  • Mother Nature designed dietary fat as a dense source of calories – calories are energy you can use, so eating dietary fat is a great way to consume lots of usable calories for energy (more on high fat diets below). Dietary fats include lots of lipids that help nourish and support these important functions in your body – hormone production, mood regulation, brain and nervous system function, heart function, joint function and more. Natural dietary fat is not bad. Natural fats – from olive oil to organ meats, from avocado to oily fish – can be part of a healthy human diet for everyone. Over-eating fat, like over-eating anything, can become a problem.
  • Animal fats are an [in my opinion] essential element of a well-balanced healthy human diet. We rose to prominence on this planet, between 7 million years ago and the beginning of the agricultural period around 10,000 years ago, by hunting and eating other animals. Saturated fat has always been a major component of the human diet. Over the last 60 years, as food companies pulled all the fat out of processed food, they realised that it left that food bland and tasteless, so they added processed refined sugar, refined vegetable oils and processed salt to create flavour – the end results of half-a-century of this are not good!

 

Respect

You cannot DEMAND respect.
You can only COMMAND respect.

No amount of throwing your weight around, physically or intellectually, will win you the respect of others. You can’t bully your way to being respected, you can’t coerce people into respecting you. And you can’t show off to win respect, you can’t get respect by showing others up, being more intellectual or show-boating that you are smarter than everyone else.

You just can’t DEMAND respect that way.

But you can COMMAND respect, by being nice, by showing integrity, by living a life based on quality values and kindness.

Strong-arm tactics is bullying, that won’t work. But showing strength of character, based in integrity, will command the respect of others.
Putting others down by trying to show off how intelligent you are will only gain you contempt, not respect. But sharing what you know in order to help others, and learning from your mistakes in life and then improving over time, shows humility and wisdom, and these will COMMAND respect from those around you.

Sadly, it seems that far too many people out there are unaware of these subtle differences, and they are out there trying to DEMAND respect, throwing their weight around and showing off in every direction.
Don’t let them fool you for a second.

1luvx

Be kind

I saw this in a book the other day, it struck a chord with me.Mental pain quote

I’ve dealt with some physical pain, 20 years of yo-yo diets, in and out of obesity, I’ve bust a bunch of bones, fractured my spine in two places, fallen down a mountain, suffered through some marathons and ultra distance events, I’ve fought through some tough physical challenges, not least losing 7 stone 3, 101 pounds of fat.

But that’s nothing, really, compared to dealing with the mental pain of losing someone you love, fighting depression, or struggling for years to overcome three decades of emotionally crippling low self-esteem.

Don’t confuse physical toughness with mental and emotional toughness. Some people can endure physical pain, some can endure emotional pain. Some people can endure both, and some can endure neither.

It’s easy to recognise physical toughness in a person, and our culture acknowledges these people openly. Meanwhile, many people who have faced, and continue to face, huge mental and emotional challenges, slip quietly among us, unnoticed and often unsupported.

Those people might be in the same room as you right now, working across the desk from you, sitting in the chair beside you, reading whatever you just posted, or waiting to hear from you, quietly hoping you’ll call or email today.

Maybe that person is you.

You never know. Just be kind, please, to everyone.
1luvx

Are you dancing and singing your way through your life?

It’s midday’ish on a random damp November Tuesday.

I’m leaping around my office at my stand-up desk, I’ve got music blasting, I’m dancing, playing air guitar, and air drums, I’m singing (very badly, throat still whacked from delivering a high-energy 2-day workshop all weekend!) and I have oodles of energy.

I’m 45 years old, I run 2 companies and have 3 young kids. My life is busy and demanding.

This is how I am when I’m at work.
I’m driven, I’m motivated, I know what I want out of life.

If you don’t feel this way, do you ever wonder why?
If you don’t feel like leaping and singing and dancing every day, why not, what are you doing with your life that’s draining your energy, sapping your life force?

Do you ever think about that?

If it bothers you, I suggest you attend a MotherNaturesDiet seminar and let’s work on this together.

Just an idea…
Details and tickets – http://www.eventbrite.com/e/central-london-full-day-seminar-with-mothernaturesdiet-enjoy-the-best-of-your-health-best-of-your-tickets-18292556529

Beware of hidden sugar.

This is a common theme, but always a topic worth revisiting. I was looking at the amount of sugar in certain foods the other day, and comparing a small fruit yoghurt with a chocolate coated tea cake,  and other items that may be consumed as mid-meal snacks, late-night snacks, or as dessert after a meal.

You see, the yoghurt is a classic example of the kind of foods that have become enormously popular over the last 20 or 30 years, as the words ‘low fat’ have been used as marketing tools to get people to buy these foods thinking they are opting for foods that are healthier options and may help with weight loss. IMG_4869

Typically, a parent buying foods in UK supermarkets for their children to have as dessert may consider a chocolate coated tea cake as a ‘naughty treat’ only for special days or holidays, but they may look upon fruit-flavoured low-fat yoghurts as healthy options for ‘every day’ consumption.

However, looking at the ingredients of this Tesco low-fat orange flavoured yoghurt, we see that sugar is the 4th ingredient listed, and Glucose-Fructose Syrup is the 5th ingredient listed. On food labels, ingredients are listed in size order. Glucose-Fructose Syrup is the UK name for HFCS, High-Fructose Corn Syrup. Read more

A steak and a beer…

All this stuff in the press about red meat being a probable carcinogen…

So under some rather questionable research methodologies, they have classified ‘consumption of red meat’ as ‘probably carcinogenic’ – Class 2A

But alcoholic beverages are a KNOWN Class 1 ‘carcinogenic to humans’.

IARC red meat Class 2A carcinogenIARC alcohol Class 1 carcinogen

All these folks claiming “that’s it now folks, time to quit meat” – I don’t see them all running around declaring “beer gives you cancer!”

‪#‎hypocrites‬
‪‬

Get the facts: https://mothernaturesdiet.me/2015/10/26/meat-consumption-and-cancer-who-report-and-media-frenzy/

IARC classifications

Meat Consumption and Cancer (WHO report and media frenzy)

This week, the media here in the UK (and elsewhere I guess) is awash with this latest ‘processed meat and cancer’ story. WHO cancer agency IARC (The International Agency for Research on Cancer) just published a report (October 2015) identifying associations between meat consumption and cancer. The media has, predictably, gone nuts over this story.

In my opinion, this is not news at all. This supports everything I say and every word MotherNaturesDiet stands for.

‘Processed’ is the key word here

The report mostly points a finger at processed meat, then less so at red meat in general.

Living the MotherNaturesDiet way, we say ‘avoid processed foods’. That’s Core Principle 3. If it has a barcode and a list of ingredients, don’t eat it. That stands here, for processed meat, too.

Just to be clear, this new report won’t be forcing me to make any changes to the MotherNaturesDiet recommended healthy lifestyle. I’ve been warning against processed meat for a long time.

https://mothernaturesdiet.me/2013/03/07/new-research-linking-processed-meat-to-increased-risk-of-death/

In my opinion, any dietary advice generally around ‘red meat’ MUST be openly questioned.

As I often explain in my live seminars, before you eat an animal (or plant) you have to ask “What did that animal eat?”

If the animal was mistreated and eating grains, and worse (antibiotics, growth hormones, ash, cardboard, mashed up pig parts…etc.) then that animal will make meat that is not so good for you. But if the animal has lived a natural life, living outside (pasture raised, free range) eating grass (natural food for cows) and been treated properly, then the meat will be nutritious and good for you.

This is, of course, the logic behind Core Principle 8 – eat only organic, free range, pasture-raised, grass-fed meat.

So this WHO advisory makes ZERO different at all to MND.

For a long time, I have been asking the question: Read more

Why we have an obesity problem

Do you want to know why we have an obesity epidemic?

Because you can buy 5,496 calories for £14 – 24 cans of Strongbow cider, 440ml cans, 229 calories per can.

The calories in the Strongbow come from the sugars and of course the alcohol itself. Half comes from sugars, all of which you absorb and half comes from alcohol, all of which you don’t. (The metabolism of alcohol is a complex scientific process, but you could think of it as ‘half the alcohol is converted into a form of sugary energy your body uses, the other half just fucks up your liver.)

If you are a regular reader of my work, you will likely have read about how your body depletes small amounts of certain valuable micronutrients in order to process sugar. Quote “It requires some B vitamins (particularly vitamin B1 (thiamine), and B3 (niacin)), some vitamin C, and also calcium, and trace amounts of potassium, magnesium, zinc, chromium and sodium in order to absorb and use the energy provided by refined sugar” – read the full article here: https://mothernaturesdiet.me/2014/12/23/white-refined-sugar-is-an-anti-nutrient/

The Strongbow works out at a cost of £1.33 per litre. Without getting lost in the minutiae of scientific detail let’s say a litre weighs 1 kilo, which is close enough.
So this 24-pack of Strongbow costs £1.33 per kilo, and the whole pack weighs 10.5 kilos, and contains 5,496 calories, giving you 520 calories per kilo, calories which all come from sugar and alcohol. Read more

Be someone

Someone lost half a stone.
Someone else lost 8 pounds.
Someone else lost a stone.
Someone feels the best they have in years.
Someone else is bursting with energy.
Someone quit smoking.
Someone else quit drinking.
Someone quit sugar.
Someone feels great!
Someone ran a PB.
Someone else quit feeling so tired.
Someone feels like a new woman.
Someone else feels like a new man.
Someone had a good healthy poo!
Someone else has seen marked reduction in symptoms.
Someone keeps smiling at everyone else.
Someone feels new hope.
Someone started a new job.
Someone else started a new relationship.
Someone looks younger.
Someone else had softer skin.
Someone feels younger.
Someone else looks slim.
Someone is happy.
Someone else is no longer depressed.
Someone gave someone hope.
Someone gave someone else some praise.
Someone felt encouraged.
Someone felt motivated.
Someone felt inspired.
Someone else felt a new strength.

I run a very active Facebook Group for people who follow MotherNaturesDiet. As a Private Closed Group, the members have a secure place to share their personal lives, and they regularly post results as they pursue a better life living the MND way.

YOUR posts make me smile. Thank you.
It’s the little things.
It’s progress.
It’s personal growth.
It’s why I do what I do, it’s why I am here.

MotherNaturesDiet
– Live better
– Live longer
– Live stronger

‪#‎itworks
‪#‎sofar2015rocks
‪#‎keepgoing
‪#‎bestyeareverbestyouever

Yours,
Karlos
1luvx

Don’t believe everything you see on Facebook!

The other day, a friend of mine shared this image with me bullshit caveman memeand said “So what can we say…?” and it’s a good point, this is something I am often asked about, but it’s not come up for a while, so it’s worth me covering today.

I could write a whole book on this, but I’ll hit it here in super-brief form.

Frankly, it’s a common myth.

‘Caveman’ didn’t die at 35. Well, I am sure some did, but in reality, a third died in childhood, a third died young from accidents or predators or disease, and a third lived to old age. But when we look at millions of people over thousands of years, we arrive at a single figure for life expectancy, and many people then wrongly believe that this meant ‘the age that everyone lived to’, rather than a broad statistical average.

The trouble with data

Life expectancy figures are vast generalisations. Anthropologists look at a big base such as ‘the entire human race’ over a period of time such as ‘the paleolithic era’ which means “everything from 190,000 years ago to 10,000 years ago”.

So we are looking at ALL people, over 180,000 years of NON-written history, largely derived from the fossil record, and covering billions of lives over huge stretches of time, tens of thousands of years, spread across all climates and geographies around the planet. When statistical data for “caveman” is talked about, Read more

I don’t want to ‘hack’ life, I want to live life.

I don’t want to ‘hack’ life. I want to live life. IMG_5429 

I don’t want fast food, I want the nourishment of slow food.

I don’t want to take the short cut to the prize, I want to enjoy the long journey.

I don’t want to make ‘a quick buck’, I’m working daily on making a slow million.

I don’t want ‘cheap thrills’, I want to invest my time and energy in building a lifetime of meaningful experiences, lasting love, fun and excitement.

I don’t want to ‘drive the fast car’, I want to enjoy the ‘slow road’.

I don’t want to ‘know it all’, ‘see it all’ or ‘have it all’, not ever, I want to enjoy a life of learning, unfolding the mysteries, discovering beauty and wonder every day, everywhere I go, til the end of my days. 

I don’t want ‘what comes easy’, I want to relish in the pride and self-respect that comes with what I have worked hard for.
I
 don’t want to take the ‘fast track’ to anywhere, I want to take my time, savour the growth, relish the learning, live in the moment. 

I don’t want to rush through the week, I want to enjoy what I get from the week, in growth, love and learning. 

I don’t want to spend all week trying to find some time to rest, I want to have the energy and zest for life that means I rarely feel the desire to rest nor the need to rest.

I see everyone out there looking for ‘life hacks’, and I have grown to dislike that expression – it sums up this 21st Century belief that life is there to be cheated, beaten, or somehow dominated. It isn’t. In my opinion, life is here to be enjoyed, the planet should be respected, Nature should be loved. We are here to take nothing but joy, memories and learning from the world around, and to give kindness, growth and energy to this gift we have called life.

I don’t want to ‘hack life’ for a minute, I want to slow it down and savour every second, not speed it up to get through as fast as I can.

Someone might say that hacking is about making the most of your time, shortcutting the bits you don’t like, maximising your time for the good stuff.

I get that…but I also think that life would just be better if there weren’t bits in it that we didn’t like in the first place. Instead of spending my time looking for hacks, I spend my time trying to make life so good that I don’t want to hack anything. All I want to do is slow the clock and relish every last second for all that it brings.

But that’s just me, I guess.

1luvx

 

Training in hot weather, hydration and electrolytes

I’m either seriously self-motivated, or seriously crazy!

Yesterday, which was probably the hottest day of the year so far in this country, I trained an hour of killer hard high-intensity bodyweight drills between 1pm and 2pm, the hottest part of the day, with the temp showing as 34.8. I trained outside, no cover, in a field at my local rugby club, crawling around in the dirt and doing sprints and push-ups and lots more.
Alone.
That kind of intensity takes some motivation!

Phew! It was hot!IMG_1714
But then I love training in the heat, and I am conditioned and used to it – but I don’t recommend everyone trains outside in such heat!

Hydration is crucial…but so is getting your electrolyte balance right. I drank around 2 litres of water throughout the morning, and then had a half litre just before training. When I got back, over 40 minutes I had at least another litre, and then I drank around 2 more over the rest of the day.

But just drinking water can actually make things worse, not better. Water rehydrates your body, but if you sweated out lots of ‘salts’ (electrolytes – sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium) then you need to put them back in with the water – otherwise the water replacement simply dilutes your remaining electrolytes even more.

So after training I immediately made lunch – which contained 9 servings of green leafy vegetables and a large portion of mackerel. Oily fish and leafy green veggies are rich sources of potassium, calcium and magnesium. I also added a ton of quality Himalayan rock salt, replacing my sodium. All my electrolytes in large quantities in one meal. By the time I got to bed last night, my body was fully hydrated and my electrolytes in balance, so I had no twitchy restless legs, I wasn’t waking with cramp in the night, or waking with a sore throat feeling thirsty. And not a supplement or sports drink in sight! IMG_1721

Additionally, all that good quality food also provides many other valuable nutrients that would have been depleted by hard training in hot weather – such as vitamin C, zinc and iron.

Yesterday was a bonanza day, I hit big numbers on my fruit and veg intake, even by my standards! I had 6 servings for breakfast, 2 servings of citrus fruit mid-morning, 9 servings of green veggies for lunch and another 8 for dinner. 25-a-day, that’s close to a record even for me! And the good thing is, 90% of it was all home-grown, 100% organic, super fresh, from stalk or stem to my belly in under an hour.

This nutrition thing, I got it nailed! Boom!

It’s hot out there folks, watch your hydration AND your electrolytes!