Friday, 31 October 2014

Who ate all my 85% chocolate?!!

Not me!!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Sleep the magic cure

Here is another episode in the 'its a sleepy story' series!

Sleep - The Magic Cure

We all know that sleep is very important to our overall well being and our mood, as our families will attest too! 
But what a lot of people do not realise is the effect that sleep has chemically on our body, and how important that is if we are looking to lose weight or to be optimally healthy.

Sleep is underestimated, it effects everything that we are doing.

You cannot lose weight and be sleep deprived. 
There's a great sleep project that tested insulin sensitivity on a group of young people. They depleted their sleep for a number of days and the results were amazing. 
They had the metabolic profile of someone with diabetes and severe metabolic problems. When this happens you leave yourself open for weight gain and for pre-diabetes. Trying to lose weight in this state is barely possible. 

If you are sleep deprived the leptin and grelin hormones are effected and as a result you are hungrier and eat far more. I've totally had this, when I've had poor sleep my hunger levels and carbohydrate cravings have gone through the roof!

Here is what another study has found.
They took people and all they changed was the amount of sleep they were getting. They gave them 6 hours per night for 11 consecutive nights. They did cognitive testing on them before and after. When they were sleep deprived they had the same cognitive level as if they were legally drunk.

Other studies have shown that a lack of sleep results in Inflammation in the brain, a long the same lines as from traumatic brain damage.
Shift work has also been named as carcinogenic and leads to increased inflammation in all the body, not just the brain, but in other hormonal functions such as Thyroid function.

So it's clear from the science how bad a lack of sleep is for us.
We don't often deplete ourselves of sleep deliberately, but we are busy and want to pack our lives full of  looking after our families, homes and jobs. 
We might even say that we are too busy to go to bed early and to get a good sleep.
But if we truly value our productivity and our health, we will make sure that we value our sleep.

So what is sleeping adequately?
The number is generally 7.5 hours - give or take 30 mins.

There's also been great research about sleep debt, scientists have found that we do indeed have sleep debt, and that we need to catch up on a lack of sleep. So if we have a night of reduced sleep we need to try to catch up on that sleep - either in a daytime nap or increased sleep the following night.

What about sleeping tablets?
They increase the sleep time but you don't get any deep sleep. Your not getting to the repairing sleep stage - REM sleep is also reduced by 80% - which is brain repair and helps us make sense of the world.

Brain scans have shown (EEG) that the brain looks like its been knocked unconscious rather than restorative sleep when we take sleeping pills. People then feel worse and worse and can become addicted to them. Often this is noticed by people needing sleep tablets, and feeling no refreshment from a nights sleep.
Instead there are far better ways of getting a better night sleep.
If you can, avoid sleep tablets!

Bright Light Therapy.
We've discussed here a number a methods of getting a good sleep.
Bright light therapy means using light to code your circadian rhythm.
One of the queues for our body to wake up is blue light. So if you get good sun light in the start of the day your adrenal function ramps up and starts your body for the day.

By putting more light in your eyes it can improve your adrenal functions.
But then the opposite is true, you need to avoid blue light after the sun has gone down. Especially one hour before sleep.
One thing that lets out huge amounts of blue light are televisions and screens.
If we look at screens right up to sleep time, then our body is being told chemically that its still day time. Melotonin - the sleepy hormone isn't made as much in your body, and you'll have problems dropping off and staying asleep.

Value sleep.
If you get enough sleep, everything will be better with your day. Your productivity will be better and your mood will be better.

Remember the above statistic that 6 hours of sleep for 11 consecutive has the same results as being legally drunk.
Would you make life changing decisions in that state? Would you say that your mood is stable?
I know that if I've had an interrupted night sleep (Probably the baby!!) that the next day my hunger and mood is drastically effected.
I know myself well enough that I stop myself from planning my work for future weeks or from making any important decisions. That's because my mood would always be far more pessimistic, and my decisions would be far less rational.

Please value your sleep - It's the magic cure...

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Food as a chemical reaction.

The same as the rest of you I've lost weight by counting calories. To be honest with you it was torture, I had a app on my phone and I used it to calculate the total calories of what I was eating.
This meant using the packaging of goods to get the calorific content and using a digital weighing scales to see what the calorie quota was. I aimed for 1690 calories from a daily usage estimate of 2600.
This is quite hard to do and took a lot of time and motivation. But I did manage to lose 15 pounds over a few months.

But what I didn't realise at the time was that measuring calories and eating a quota under your expenditure does work, but it's not very smart. In fact it's very black and white...too black and white.
It's also very inaccurate because the calories in food and the calories burned can never be calculated accurately. Foods differ from the calories on the label, and when a app says we burned 100 calories it is also a best guess.

Even though calories do matter, there is a much smarter way of doing business.
If we recognize that one calorie is not always have the same impact on the body as another type of calorie.

The Science bit!!!
As you know food is broken down into its three macro nutrients.
Fat, Protein and Carbohydrates.

A calorie of each of these macros behaves differently in our body.

When we consume a carbohydrate our body breaks it down into glucose for our body to burn. But our body can't handle too much sugar in the system. So it makes Insulin in the pancreas. The Insulin then transports the sugar, if not burned off, and turns it into fat in our body. It is stored here until we next need it.
But Insulin can also be described as the gate keeper to our fat stores. If Insulin levels are high, then it is impossible for us to access the fat storage. Instead we simply keep burning the carbohydrates that we eat.
If we eat more carbohydrates than we are able to burn off then we will put on fat.
The worst carbohydrates for this are the refined sugars. Other carbs, such as found in fruit and vegetables have fibre and thus are metabolised slower in the body. That doesn't spike the Insulin so high, and we don't get the blood sugar highs and lows.
Because of the highs and lows of blood sugar from spiking, hunger and cravings also come hand in hand.
A lot of fruit and vegetables actually ripens in the late summer / Autumn time, in the natural world that would help us to store some fat for the winter months where there may be a scarcity of food. Just like in the animal kingdom.

Repairs our cells and helps us to build new tissue. Without protein we would die. Adequate protein is necessary for health bones and muscle growth. Not forgetting a sharp mind!
If we have lots of protein our body can convert some of it by the process of Neoglucogenesis into fuel for our body - into glucose.
Protein is also acknowledged for being good at satisfying our hunger and keeping us fuller for longer.
As with all foods it is important to eat as high of quality protein as possible. This includes organically produced meats and organ meats.

Like protein, it is needed in order for our bodies to function. We need it to makes cells and for our health.
Fat can be used also as a energy source. Remember that our bodies store fat for burning at times of food shortage. For our bodies to be able to burn fat as a fuel though we need to be fat adapted. We have to have time periods where we solely feed ourselves on fat, or times where we do not eat at all.
When we fast or do not eat for an extended period- say skipping breakfast after not eating for the night, then our bodies naturally shift over to utilizing fat for energy.
When we have the ability of burning fat we can then open the doors to the fat closet and burn our stored energy. When we use body fat for fuel we also do not have the same sugar highs and lows, and can often go for far longer without feeling hungry.
A lack of blood sugar highs and lows also prevents diabetes (type2), because Insulin production is minimalised and as a result we do not become insensitive to vast amounts of insulin.

Calories aren't really just calories, there's a far deeper story behind them than that.
The amount of food that we eat matters, the quality of the food matters, but also the ratio of fat, protein and carbohydrates in our food.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Live in the moment, grateful and distraction free

Well the sofa that I'm sitting on isn't quite long enough to stretch out fully but it's comfy and it's only three foot away from a nice roaring fire. The stove is putting a lovely red/ orange hue across the Kitchen. Its also 2am. Our daughter is asleep in my arms too. She has a lot of allergy problems at the moment, shes also teething. So there isn't too much unbroken sleep in our house at the moment.
I was in bed at half eight and so Ive managed to get in some hours sleep and I'll do so in another while.
As I've mentioned before sleep is an essential part of our being. it's where we repair ourselves, We regulate ourselves and our genetic expressions, we reset ourselves.

But I'm not writing to you about any of that really. What I'm writing about today is something i have been working on. Its something I think the new technology generation has to be conscious of.

One way of describing it is living in the moment.
Being grateful of the moment, and avoidance of multi tasking.
Wait just let me put some more on the fire...

We all have smart phones that give us 24/7 access to our emails, Facebook, forums and eBay.

All these things though can be noise, they can prevent us being truly productive but more importantly they can take away the moment of reflection.

We don't have a minute just to stop and be in that minute. We fill it with catching up on the latest news and events. You may feel that the latest thing on facebook or forum is important or engaging, but is it really?

If you keep filling every single little void minute in the day with random and unimportant internet searching then you'll leave yourself tired and disconnected from your family and whats going on around you. Put it all down.

Those things though useful in their place are there to serve you, perform tasks for you. You are the master over them, and they could be taking more from you than you think. They don't add to your quality of life...

Try this:
Live in the moment-

  • Enjoy the quiet times in your day. You don't have to fill them, but instead use them as time for the most important thing of all - yourself.
  • What can I be grateful for in this moment? Right now I'm grateful that I have a comfy sofa to sit on, I'm lovely and warm beside the fire. My daughter is sleeping soundly...(for now). This, even though a unfortunate time is a chance for me to bond with her and build that attachment. I can enjoy the lovely glow of a fire on a frosty night. I'm healthy and feel good in myself. I'm grateful I have this way of communicating what I'm learning. There's so much good for us to see. We just have to stop distracting ourselves
  • By being grateful of the moment avoid all negative thoughts. Better yet, realise they are only thoughts and rewrite the law in your own head. For example - Why am I not in bed right now - this sucks. Why does it have to be MY daughter that cant sleep. But why go down a negative path like that?
  • Realise and acknowledge what you use as a pacifier/ distracter in your life. What will eBay shopping or facebook give me right now in comparison to enjoying this moment with family/ children/ or a hobby.

Finally, another thing that I'm trying not to do and yet so many are trying to learn is to multi task. I'm actually quite good at it too, in comparison to my wife who cant do it at all, which can be a good thing!

If you multi task instead of doing two things at once ( or more), you are instead doing two things badly. Your not giving things 50/50 percent attention your giving them 25/25 percent attention because so much energy is wasted in stop start tasking and not giving your full thought to a task.

Live in the moment, cherish and be grateful for each moment, you're more important than the distractions.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Sarah Ballintyne Review Notes on Ancestral Health 14

Sarah Ballintyne Review Notes on Ancestral Health 14

Ancestral Health for Women
The full video of the speech can be seen here:
But here are some of my notes and conclusions from listening numerous times to Sarah and from watching her at AHS14
Medical research is typically performed on men and not women. We know far more about Men’s bodies and not the hormone systems of women. We then tend to infer those results onto women but this is not always an accurate or proper procedure.
Hormones in the body are controlled by the hypothalamus who sends signals to the adrenal glands where the hormone is made and released. The HPA axis is the fight or flight but also all the other hormones. For example if something scary happens we send the message that It’s time to be stressed so it sends signal to pituitary glands.
As the brain sends the signal that we are in fear and need to release a rush of hormones, how does the brain know when the hormones have done their job?
Cortisol is released and the brain says oh my signals have been working and I can shut that off now.

The same with the thyroid gland, they signal back to the brain letting it know that they have made the necessary hormone gland.
The same with making estrogen and progesterone in the body. But here there is positive and negative feedback.
Stress can affect all these things Stress inhibits the T4 to T3 production.
It’s not just what’s happening with cortisol but how these axis effect other systems. Such as stress causing a problem with sex hormones and thyroid. These all work together. Stress prevents the relevant signals from getting to the brain and interrupts a woman’s hormones.

They are then impacted by diet.
Blood sugar regulation
Leptin Level and sensitivity
There’s an effect where there is too high of insulin and too low of insulin. It helps us store energy after feeding. When we have high insulin from high carb then we can end up with insulin resistance also
Insulin being too high suppresses the thyroid as well as when it’s too low. So being careful of your sugar regulation is needed to ensure proper thyroid function.
Having too low of Insulin can also happen with prolonged fasting and very low carb. But in women there are some detrimental effects.
Leptin is a hormone that we want the proper amount, we can throw our production out of balance from eating refined carbohydrates, over eating but also from very low carb diet.
All these hormones are effected by our diet.
It’s down to the quality of the carbohydrates and if they are eaten in conjunction with other macro nutrients.

What regulates Insulin and Leptin?

·         Carbohydrate intake – Amount, Quality and other Macro nutrients
·         Meal timing and size
·         Amount of Adipose tissue
·         Activity
·         Sleep
·         Stress
·         Nutrient status. Rich in micro nutrients.
These all affect both amount of insulin and leptin produced and sensitivity and resistance.
Women are more sensitive to changes in macro nutrient

Intermittent Fasting

This is when someone doesn’t eat for 16-24 hours, this normally includes a period when you are asleep. There seems to be a different effect that the result on men.
Why does it not always work well for women?
Ramadan fasting seems to show decrease in all hormones through that time. However the study was not done on paleo people so would not be fat adapted.
Study in Rats show significant changes in body weight, blood glucose, estrous cycle and serum estradiol. Testosterone and LH level indicated the negative role of intermittent fasting regimen on reproduction in these young animals. Leptin plays a mechanistic role in suppressing hypothalamus axis.

Intermittent fasting negatively affects the Leptin and thus all the hormones. When chronically under eat then they can be infertile.

Ketosis as we know is from a very low carbohydrate diet.
Under 30g of carbohydrate in a day and high fat diet.
Proposed to help with weight loss, improve energy and manage health conditions and extended life
Ketogenic research mainly into men but research shows women should be careful into a ketogenic diet. The studies were done for epileptic patients.
But results from a study with women show the following results
  • ·         Amenorrhea occurred in 21%
  • ·         All women described menstrual irregularities
  • ·         Menstrual dysfunction 45%

A better solution for women 

  • ·         Moderate carbohydrates
  • ·         Maintain insulin sensitivity with activity, sleep and stress management
  • ·         75g plus in a day
  • ·         Nutrient Density
  • ·         Many adverse effects may be linked to deficiencies
  • ·         Focus on eating organ meat, plenty of vegetables, high quality dairy if tolerated
  • ·         Adequate protein intake especially at breakfast
  • ·         Regularly spaced meals, limited smacking
  • ·         Weight bearing activity and strength training.
  • ·         7-10 hours sleep.
  • ·         Reduce the stress in your life
  • ·         Increase activities
  • ·         Walking. Yoga. Fun activities
  • ·         Meditation.
  • ·         Laughing and Play

Are all carbs created equal?

  • ·         Low and moderate GI food are best choices.
  • ·         Starchy carbs are a slow burn
  • ·         Blood sugar is better regulated when consumed with protein, fat and fiber.
  • ·         Experiment with timing of carbohydrates, perhaps low carb until when you exercise. 

Women seem to have varied responses to changes in macro nutrient ratios than men
The reason is likely the complex interplay between the hormone systems
Female responses to ketogenic diets, very low carb diets and IT likely depends on stress level, sleep, nutrient status and preexisting imbalances in hormone and thyroid dysfunction.

Does that mean that keto diets don’t work? It means caution is required when experimenting with them.

What Do I Think?

Well I've always known that men and women lose weight at different rates and that a certain amount of that is down to hormonal differences. 
Women seem to suffer from Thyroid problems far more than us men as well.
It makes total sense that women have to be careful with very low carbohydrate conditions. It is beneficial to keep them lower and to get them from healthy sources.

There was one point though that I agree with "Chris" an audience member. He asked about the study of women who fasted for 24 hours for the Ramadan festival. They would no doubt eat a high carbohydrate diet and thus not be fat adapted. So when no carbohydrates are available to them they would indeed have poor blood sugar regulation as well as other health problems.

Saying that I'm delighted that Sarah was on Jimmy Moore's podcast recently. Jimmy is a Ketogenic advocate and she explained her argument respectfully to his audience. Jimmy though is a total gentleman and is open to honest debates.

Weighting up all the evidence though I think that low carbohydrate could be tried by women but on a careful basis. Slowly reduce the carbs and experiment with how your body is reacting. 
Try to notice if your extremities are getting colder than they had been, thus showing a poorer thyroid function. 
But more importantly, the same as the rest of the population, make sure to get your carbohydrates from natural sources such as vegetables and perhaps some rice. Avoid refined carbohydrates.
(Especially grains- but that's a story for another day)

Thank you Sarah Ballintyne and AHS14!!!

There'll be more great AHS14 lectures reviewed soon so stay tuned!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Skin blistering and Rash/ Dry Skin from food intolerance

For years and years I had skin problems as you can see below.
I went to the doctor and he saw me for a matter of minutes and said that my cure was to use a steroid cream and then moisturise in between times. This was clearly not the answer to my problem, but he had my 50 bucks in a few minutes and he was onto his next customer.

I've always been against using medicines though and especially steroid creams. So i used the steroid creams once or twice but I knew that I didn't want to go through my life like that. It did improve my skin but at what cost.
I visited my local health food store and the owner saw my hands and said that most skin conditions are from gut problems and food intolerances.

I bought a natural ointment and left the shop. I knew that I could go and get tested but I didn't know where or how. I tried eliminating several things from my diet and to no effect. Where do you start? For how long? It could be anything?!!!

As mentioned in another post my daughter got tested not long after that and one of her allergies was to wheat and eggs. With that head start I removed them from my diet and all of my skin problems improved. My digestion improved and my headaches became less. I also haven't had a cold or flu in over a year which is very unusual for me.

Here's how my hands used to look:

You can't imagine how sore it used to be. What was happening was that toxins were trying to escape the body, and they would do by means of the skin instead of the digestive tract, mainly because of the inflammation caused by the intolerance.

If you have skin conditions its worth getting allergy testing done and even try an elimination diet. If you don't want to get a test done try eliminating things starting with wheat, dairy, eggs and nuts. They are the most common problem causers. Add each back after a couple of weeks and see what reaction you get. 
If I eat wheat in a meal, the next day I have digestion problems, rashes and blisters forming on my skin. It's very obvious when I've eaten wheat, but less obvious is when I've eaten eggs. It takes perhaps a week for the rash to come up on the back of my knees. 

The long term solution, as always, is to get to the route of the problem.

I've not looked back and I know you wont...

Friday, 3 October 2014

What food can I give my baby?

We have two adorable little girls, 41/2 and 9 months, so it's a busy little house!
Im afraid I pass on some amazing DNA to my offspring, they are truely gifted in every way. (tongue in cheek).

But I also pass on food intolerances and allergies.
Both of our girls have been allergy tested and have been identified to be allergic to a whole host of things. The four year old handles her intolerances far better now, but the test came back saying she was allergic to nuts, wheat, eggs and dairy.

Our baby has been showing signs of intollerances too with severe skin rashes.
So its an ongoing challenge to find foods that contain non of the above. It can be quite limiting and can leave you feeling- what can I feed the baby today?!!!

We are very fortunate that we are able to grow most of our own vegetables. We endevour to feed our family organic and natural foods that have as little processing as possible. Still it can be a challenge.
But I came accross these little packages in Tesco:

As you can see from the ingredients they are organic and contain no nasties.

The little one loves them smothered over her meat and vegetables.

So if your a bit bemused about what to give your baby, whether its for food intolerances or for a Paleo lifestyle. Check out these pouches!

beginners guide - what should I eat???

What should I eat?

Food makes us happy, gives us energy and can make us healthy and strong. Food can also be a comfort, a companion and something to share with friends.

Most people that go to the effort of reading this material though are either looking for an improvement in one of the above aspects in life.
Food has the ability to add so much positive into our lives, but only if we are smart enough to use it in the way that humans have for thousands of years: naturally. Organically. Whole foods.

Years ago there wasn't the obesity or diabetes that we see today. Humans have advanced so far, and yet we have so much to learn from the past.

Years ago your great grand parents ate off the land, often food that they grew with their own hands.
There wasn't chemicals, pesticides or other nasties in their food. Nor was their food filled with E numbers or copious amounts of sugar.
As a result they worked hard physically, and often didn't suffer from being over weight and sick.
Of course there were terrible diseases that killed millions, and anti biotics have been one of those great inventions that humankind has brought about.

Would you like to lose weight? Would you like to have more energy and less colds and flus?
I sure would, add along to that the prevention of diabetes and other diseases and its a easy yes!
All we have to do is to go back and copy the diet of our ancestors, the way we were meant to eat.
Because the science backs it up.

I've found great success with this way of eating. I know that if I hadn't educated myself about the science in ancestral eating that I would of continued to pile on the weight, and I know that in the end I would of had diabetes and other health problems. This has indeed saved me from a poor fate.
Once you have this down it can be one of the most empowering things in your life. You can then be able to focus on what is important in life.

Some of these blog posts may not be interesting to you, but I will try to add beginners guides to this page. So go on and give it a try. Let food be thy medicine.