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Posts tagged ‘vitamin D’

Stay sober, have sex and eat chocolate

Some people look at the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet and they tell me it all looks too hard, too limiting, too restrictive. Broadly speaking, I work hard to make Mother Nature’s Diet as simple, accessible and sustainable as I can – I think it’s all based on common sense, I think I have taken lots of science and given you some simple easy steps to follow, and I think it should prove beneficial to almost everyone.

I’m big on common sense, and on keeping things simple, and natural, avoiding overly-complicated solutions, expensive supplements and complex guidelines to follow. Mother Nature’s Diet is all about sustainable lifestyle choices – no fad behaviour, just sensible long-term healthy living.

Making changes

I am constantly suggesting that you drink less alcohol, because alcohol consumption in our society is, in my opinion, too high, and most people do not realise it is a risk factor for cancer and other health problems. New research now shows that even moderate alcohol consumption is a risk factor for adverse brain outcomes and cognitive decline. Folks, we all need to drink less. A glass or two, four, five or more times per week is not ‘moderate’ and we need to cut down.

However, there is good news around chocolate. While we all need to drink less alcohol in order to resist cognitive decline, research really does seem to support the fact that eating a bit of dark chocolate has quite the opposite effect and can be good for cognitive function as we age. This is good news! Drink less alcohol, but feel free to eat some good quality dark chocolate! Hoorah for dark chocolate! Just remember, it’s the high cocoa content that is beneficial, so make sure you buy high quality dark chocolate, not the sugar-filled cheap milk chocolate! While you are at it, shoot for Fairtrade, and organic!

Research also suggests that maintaining muscular strength is another way to defend against cognitive decline. In my blog posts and at my live events, I tell you to lift weight, or do bodyweight exercises (like push-ups, squats and crunches) to maintain muscular strength as you age. I often say this advice is more important for ladies of 50 and over, than it is for men of 40 and under. That is to say, as a stereotypical generalisation, that younger men rarely lack muscular strength, but older women frequently do. Ladies, this is important – use your muscles! Use it or lose it!

You may not like weight training, but there are plenty of ways to use your muscles without hefting barbells in a gym full of sweaty grunting types. You can take up a sport you enjoy, join a yoga class, workout at home in front of a home-workout DVD, or engage in our other favourite home workout – bedroom athletics. Research has linked a regular healthy sex life in women with living longer. That’s got to be good news then!

And all that dark chocolate, sex and weight training…or weight training, sex and dark chocolate, depending on which order you like to put it all in, is bound to help you experience a range of positive, happy emotions. That’s good news too, because research now shows that people who experience a range of positive emotions, seem to suffer less systemic inflammation, which is a key marker for so many chronic health problems, from irritable bowels to heart disease.

So, you see, I think the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet aren’t so bad after all –

  • Drink less booze
  • Eat some dark chocolate
  • Hit the gym and enjoy some weight training
  • Have more sex
  • And enjoy it all

See, that’s not so hard, is it?

This healthy living thing isn’t as bad as you might think. At Mother Nature’s Diet we don’t count calories and we don’t starve, instead we eat plenty of delicious, wholesome good food, including dark chocolate, and we enjoy our regular exercise, including good sex, and we like to get a tan and we get plenty of healthy sleep.

No fad diet mentality here, no deprivation, no misery.
Just sensible, sustainable healthy living.

What’s not to love about that?

Get yer kit off!

Strip off, that’s my advice!

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

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

The aim of the game is RESPONSIBLE sun exposure.

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

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

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

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

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

Sun bathing for cancer prevention

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

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

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

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

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