Bowel Scope Screening

I must have reached that age. Perhaps you know the one – when you get regular invitations from your doctor, nearest hospital or NHS clinic to come for mammography, cholesterol testing, BMI analysis, blood pressure measurements etc. How is that possible? I’m sure I’m still only about 26… The latest invitation I have had is one for bowel scope screening. For those of you who have not yet reached my age, bowel scope screening detects polyps in the wall of the large intestine, which, although initially benign, can become cancerous. This screening, according to the brochure I received from the NHS, saves 1 or 2 extra lives in 300*, and is stated to be the best method of lowering your risk of bowel cancer.

Now, knowing me as you do, you can be sure that I would be interested in challenging such a statement. Surely diet and lifestyle factors are most likely to influence the development of bowel cancer? From a preventative point of view, according to the brochure I received, under a heading of “what else can I do?”, you can do this –

– Be physically active
– Keep a healthy weight
– Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and other high fibre foods (yay!)
– Eat less red meat and processed meat (umm… how much less? How about none?)
– Drink alcohol in moderation (they missed a word out there. Drink alcohol only in moderation. Otherwise, for people like myself who don’t drink any alcohol at all, do they mean I have to start drinking?)
– Don’t smoke (pretty obvious!)

I’ve been digging about in the literature and have come up with my own list:

– Avoid all red meat, particularly barbecued and processed meat. For each extra portion of these foods that someone regularly eats, the incidence of bowel cancer increases by an average of 18%, according to global studies.
– Eat a high fibre, plant-based diet. The diet advocated by the Hippocrates Health Institute is the most protective. Have you booked your stay yet?
– Avoid highly processed grains. Numerous studies have linked their consumption to colon cancer.
– Ensure that your fat intake is tipped towards “protective” omega 3 from algae, rather than “aggravating” omega 6, from refined vegetable oils. Your ratio ideally should be 2:1 or 1:1. Some people’s is skewed as far as 1:20. This is a slippery slope and highly detrimental to numerous body systems. To boost my healthy omegas, I use these capsules.
– Ditch the dairy. Some studies consider dairy products to be protective against bowel cancer but this is controversial and currently not statistically significant, unless you’re African American, in which case dairy products increase your bowel cancer risk. Some postulate that any protective effect is because of the calcium content. But as you’ll read in my book Love Your Bones, the best source of calcium is not dairy products. You can read about Love Your Bones and buy it here.
– Avoid alcohol and coffee. They are both positively correlated with bowel cancer according to studies in North and South America, Europe and the Far East.
– Ensure that you have a bowel movement for every meal you have. Constipation helps no one! And to get into the best position for elimination, put your feet up on some books when you’re sitting on the loo. The modern toilet has a lot to answer for. When I was travelling in China and Bhutan in May, I came to notice that most toilets were holes in the ground over which you squat. It certainly gets the colon into a good position for letting go…
– Finally, exercise. Yes, every day, or at least 5 times a week. You don’t necessarily have to go to the extremes that I do (Marathon in Madagascar in June 2019 anyone?) but you’ve got to move that body to stay healthy.

*NHS statistics:
5 out of 300 people will get bowel cancer over 10 years if they are not screened. Screening reduces this to 3 in 300.
2 out of 300 people will die of bowel cancer over 10 years if they are not screened. Screening reduces this to 1 in 300.

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Summer’s most important nutrient?

Whether you consider it to be a nutrient or not, it’s almost as important as it gets, and is right up there with the most important nutrient of all – oxygen. What are we considering here? Yes, it’s water – and hydration generally. It’s very easy to become dehydrated when it’s hot, even if you’re not participating in heavy exercise. You can sweat just walking around! With this in mind, let’s think about how to stay hydrated all day, because it’s essential to do so for your general wellbeing.

Commit to drink plenty of water – fresh spring water if you can get it, but filtered at the very least. Carry a reusable BPA-free bottle around with you wherever you go.

Start your day by drinking a glass of water. If you add lemon juice to this, it is an even better way to hydrate and it can also help the liver to detoxify. Follow on with a big green juice for the absolute best start to the day. See this article (with video) about making green juice, and for my favourite juicer, click here. Quote RAWFOOD20 at checkout to get a fantastic 20% discount on this brilliant machine, giving you the best price available anywhere.

Think you’re hungry? Drink something! Many people mistake thirst for hunger. Drink a large glass of pure water if you feel hungry. Wait 20 minutes, and see if you’re still hungry. If so, by all means eat something. If not, you won’t need to eat, and this is better for creating that beach body.

If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Get water on board even if you don’t feel you need it. If you’re exercising in hot weather, think about changing the time of day you go. Early morning and later evening is better for both high intensity exercise and long duration exercise. Your muscles generate a lot of heat when you’re exercising, and if you combine this with high external temperatures it doesn’t take much to push you into the danger zone. Having recently run a very hard half marathon on the Great Wall of China in 30 degree temperatures, I can certainly vouch for the importance of good hydration (and being realistic about your performance level!). And whatever you do, don’t be tempted to “boost your performance” with sports drinks. See my separate blog on this important subject here.

Eat lots of high water content foods. By basing your diet on the raw organic leafy vegetables and sprouted foods, you’ll be getting a lot of “extra” water on board without even noticing. Cooking your food causes the water to evaporate off – and you won’t get the benefits.

Make your drinking water more exciting. Try adding organic lemon, lime, cucumber, watermelon, or mint. I was out with friends last night who were all drinking alcohol (in rather large quantities), so I ordered glass-bottled water and opted for the addition of fresh strawberries, mint and lemon. Served in a fancy glass, it looked and tasted delicious!

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The Hardest Half

“It’s all perfectly runnable.”… or so I was told in the pre-race briefing. And I’m sure it would have been – right up until the time that the Indian tectonic plate smashed into the Eurasian plate 50 million years ago and created the Himalayas.

I consider myself to be a reasonable runner, and I’d put in a hard winter of training in the lead-up to this race, the Thunder Dragon in Bhutan. A week earlier I was competing in a half marathon on the Great Wall of China – 5126 steps into history, and I felt every one of them. I somehow came second in my age category, despite it taking me nearly an hour longer than pretty much every other half marathon I have run, with the 30 degree temperature sapping my energy like you could only imagine.

But the Thunder Dragon – this was something entirely different. At 11 miles, my pace had slowed to a crawl. Perfectly runnable? It might have been for the organiser, a former London Marathon winner in a time of 2 hours 9 minutes. But for me, a recreational runner who 28 years ago had been deemed incurable by the medical profession – this wasn’t running, it was survival. I was at 2500 metres, feeling sick, dizzy and gasping for breath. I poured water over my head so that my mouth could focus solely on the act of breathing. It didn’t help.

My pace slowed to a walk. I faced a long uphill on a stony track at 8200 feet. Hard enough at lower altitudes, the sharp stones particularly cruel for a barefoot runner like me, whose only acclimatisation had been a hike to the famous Tiger’s Nest monastery at 3600 metres two days previously.

Yet somehow I finished, even managing to run the last mile (mainly, I’m sure, because it was downhill). It was the hardest half marathon I had ever done, reflected in my very slow time.

A major surprise came later that day at the prize-giving ceremony. An American runner was announced as the winner of the women’s over 40 age category. “That can’t be right, Max.” she said as she went up to collect her prize. “You were about half an hour ahead of me!”

I smiled and congratulated her. Immediately afterwards, I was announced as the winner of the over 50s age group. We were both amazed – I because I had won my age category in that savage race, and she because she thought I was about 42, not 55. This anti-ageing lifestyle certainly has its benefits!

Thunder Dragon Finish

Max Tuck was in China and Bhutan raising money for Dogs Trust. See www.justgiving.com/fundraising/maxagainstthewall to donate.

Max’s latest book The Fatigue Solution: my astonishing journey from medical write-off to mountains and marathons, is published by Hammersmith Health Books.

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Recovery, Running and Visa Applications

I used to like filling in forms. What could be more satisfying than taking a blank document and experiencing the joy of completing it to someone else’s exacting standards? Does this make me odd? Maybe you’re just not with me on this one. And today, I’ll confess, I’m not feeling the love either. There are so many other things I’d rather be doing on a Saturday afternoon.

The form in question is a visa application to enter the People’s Republic of China. If someone had told me 28 years ago that in May 2018 I would be embarking on my biggest running challenge in years, involving a half marathon on the Great Wall of China, followed by a race of the same distance at altitude in Bhutan in the Himalayas, I would have replied that they were clearly wrong, because I wasn’t expected to live that long. Never mind not only still being alive, but to be taking on that kind of physical challenge? Definitely a case of mistaken identity.

The reason for my disbelief would be simple. In 1990 my body was wasted and exhausted. As a vet, if I’d had a patient with as few white blood cells as I had, I would be looking down a microscope at a blood film to check, because the machine must have got it wrong. My desperately low white blood cell count was mirrored by my startlingly low bodyweight and complete muscle wastage. I was so weak that even getting into my car to drive to work involved significant effort. As for the idea of running races for charity in challenging conditions – forget it.

But here I am. In my book The Fatigue Solution, I explain how I went from medical write-off to mountains and marathons; how I rejected exhaustion and rediscovered life. It sounds like a dramatic turnaround. It certainly was.

What had happened to me? I was overworking myself, never taking breaks, cramming far too much in, never saying no, refusing to give up… and ultimately I lost my most precious possession. No, not my house, my job or my car – my health. You never fully appreciate what you have until you lose it. And at the ripe old age of 27, I lost that completely. It disappeared in a fog of exhaustion, muscle degeneration and viral attack. Hello Epstein-Barr virus and chronic fatigue. Goodbye life.

Or… so the doctors believed, based upon other patients similarly affected. Not me. I’m tough. I’m stubborn. I take huge delight in proving people wrong. As you’ll read in The Fatigue Solution, I never give up. Tell me I’m incurable? I’ll show you. Don’t tell me I can’t.

And prove them wrong I did. Not only am I still alive at the age of 55, I’m thriving. I’m fitter, stronger and have more energy than most 25 year olds (or so my personal trainer tells me anyway). My muscles all came back, and then some. Drastic turnaround? You bet. Was it easy? No. Did it take hard work, dedication and determination? Of course it did. Was it worth it? Hell yes!

How, you might wonder, did I do it? After all, if you’re in a similar exhausted situation, running to the next lamp-post might seem impossible. Step by step, that’s how. As I explain throughout The Fatigue Solution, by upgrading every aspect of my lifestyle. By researching and implementing all the factors that are known to make a difference. Applying the information and using it to fuel my recovery, consistently, every day. By believing that I could, and that I was worth it. I did it for me. Armed with the right knowledge and a will to succeed, you can do it too.

There’s now only one thing standing between me and my tough far-eastern running challenge – that wretched visa application form.

Max Tuck’s book The Fatigue Solution: my astonishing journey from medical write-off to mountains and marathons is available in print and e-pub versions from Hammersmith Health Books.

For more information visit www.thefatiguesolution.co.uk

To support Max in her charity fundraising, visit www.maxagainstthewall.com

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Let’s hear it for nut milks!

Have you seen the trends? Chiller cabinets in the supermarkets lined with milk alternatives, not just the ubiquitous (and not very good for you) soya milk, but also almond and coconut milks, plus the “new kids on the block” cashew, hazelnut and even turmeric chai latte milks (yes, I actually did find a raw turmeric chai latte milk, and in the name of research felt I needed to try it. It was very good, but at £2 for just 330ml it’s unlikely to become a regular habit since I can make my own). The dairy-free trend is spilling over to the cheese cabinets too, and supermarkets are even introducing their own coconut milk-based cheese alternative. Vegans have never had such choice.

Why the exponential increase in the availability of dairy alternatives? Clearly, word’s getting out that dairy products are not the health foods we had been led to believe, and that the industry itself is environmentally harmful and increasingly unsustainable. I have blogged, spoken and written copiously elsewhere that dairy products are non-essential to human health and significantly detrimental in certain areas (increasing the likelihood of everything from osteoporosis to prostatic cancer), so to avoid going over old ground, allow me here to direct you to further information from me on this subject:

The Whole Body Solution
Love Your Bones
The Real Truth About Food

The significant trends mentioned above have not gone unnoticed by the dairy industry, and in a veterinary journal published recently, one particular article outlined what the industry is doing about it. Hurray – we’ve got a new ministry for dairy! Its mission, it appears, it to show us the error of our ways and get us eating more dairy products and shunning the ever-increasing range of alternatives. After all, we are the only species on the planet that deliberately chooses to consume the mammary secretions of the wrong species, past weaning age, so now that we have a large industry behind this strange compulsion, why not throw some money at it to keep us consuming? A few spoof videos have been released from “The Department of Dairy Related Scrumptious Affairs” to encourage us to have cheese on toast, buttered crumpets in bed and creamy porridge after walking the dog. Its budget? 1.2 million per year.

According to the website www.tellitlikeitis.co.uk, which outlines “the vitally important story about dairy nutrition and health”, those involved in promoting an increase in dairy product consumption despite the known detriments this activity has on our health, can access ready-made tweets, videos and infographics to spread the word. In bold capitals, the site assures those who gain financially by promoting dairy product consumption: “Together we can tell the story of dairy nutrition. If we all pull together and get this right, it will stand the industry in good stead for generations to come.”

Personally, I have been dairy-free since the age of 15. No amount of propaganda from an industry in decline will convince me to take up the habit again – I already know too much. If I want a “milk” on my chia seed porridge, I make my own – it’s so much healthier. Let’s get rebellious. Let’s join together and raise a glass of nut milk to the dairy alternatives.

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Ultra-processed food and cancer – who knew?

Why is it that ultra-processed food is now implicated in cancer risk? For many health-conscious people it will come as no surprise to learn this. We have known for many years about dietary factors contributing to either health creation or degradation. Why should it be a surprise to anyone that a study is published which implicates ultra-processed food as a causative factor in the cancer picture?

I believe that there are two main reasons why the processed food is so bad, and why this, in turn, leads to higher cancer rates: firstly, the ingredients/composition of this degenerate food itself, and secondly, the protective factors that those who eat a lot of processed food are missing out on. Let’s look at them both.

The damaging ingredients in highly processed food
1. Deranged fat. I could write for weeks about this, but fortunately I don’t have to. Starting on page 40 of The Fatigue Solution and throughout my MP3 The Importance of Fat, you’ll learn all about how high temperature exposure and other processes cause perfectly decent oils to turn into horrible deranged substances that stick in our arteries and kill us, as well as degrading our cells, causing free-radical damage, harming the immune system and interfering with our hormonal balance on the way. Rancid fat, as I call it, is a killer. On the other hand, good fat is a lifesaver. Read about and order the healthy omega oil supplement that I use here.

2. Deranged protein. High temperature processing causes the formation of numerous damaging protein-derived compounds, such as skatols, to name but one. High temperature processing of meat products causes carcinogenic compounds to form. Combine this with the fact that they are in contact with the bowel lining for longer than ideal (since those who eat such foods have a slower bowel transit time than those eating a high-fibre, plant-based diet), and you have a recipe for increased bowel cancer rates at the very least. Chargrilling adds another layer of potential carcinogenicity to the high temperature processed meat story, as does preservation with nitrites. Get your protein from plants and you’re far less likely to be exposed to such challenges.

3. Deranged carbohydrates. White flour, white pasta, white rice… Stripped of the outer “husk” and refined to within an inch of their lives, grains have been robbed of any health benefits via processing. Add another layer of problems by high temperature treatment, such as frying, and you’ve got the potential for the formation of toxic substances such as acrylamide. Acrylamide is formed in substantial quantities when starchy foods are fried or baked at high temperatures. For us, this means chips (French fries for my North American friends) and crisps (potato chips for those across the pond). So what about potatoes in general? Not a problem if they are boiled – the acrylamide content is very low to negligible.

The carcinogenic properties of acrylamide have been known since 2002. Still, it is unregulated in processed food, and some brands of crisps (potato chips) exceed “safe” acrylamide levels by 910 times. You won’t see “Warning – contains acrylamide, a known carcinogen” on your next packet of crisps. I’m not sure how many of my readers will still be eating such snacks, but if you like the texture of these things (I can’t imagine that you would like the taste!), switch to dehydrated kale chips/crackers. Much healthier, because not only are they low-temperature processed and devoid of the deranged substances above, but they also contain significant levels of antioxidants.

Protective factors – antioxidants
Let’s face it, processed food is very unlikely to have been made from fresh fruit and vegetables. Fruit and veg contain many thousands of antioxidants – compounds found in brightly coloured produce which have known health benefits, keeping our immunity high and our disease rates low. Each colour gives us a different spectrum of nutrients, which in turn has a specific benefit inside the body. Want to prevent breast cancer? You can reduce your risk by eating broccoli, or, better still, broccoli sprouts, which are full of sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. Heart and vascular diseases more of a concern for you? Reach for the dark red and purple foods such as berries and dark grapes, which are loaded with resveratrol.

Have you ever noticed that raw, rainbow plant food is just that (rainbow-coloured) but that processed food is, well, brown? There are no antioxidants in brown food. Even if there were, they would have been destroyed by high temperature processing. Listen to my MP3 Oxidative Stress and the Link between Diet and Health for more on antioxidants. For more info on the role of nutrition in cancer treatment, click here. Finally, to get all of your 25,000 (approximately) antioxidants daily in a whole-food form, have a look at this – it’s what I have been using for 22 years. I call it my insurance policy (and use it every day even though I have been raw-vegan for 2 decades). What’s yours?

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Experimenting with CRON

I’ll confess right now that I like to conduct personal experiments. Generally they happen in January, but they are not resolutions. January 2018 has been about experimenting with CRON. I started the year with a 6 day fast, but on breaking it, I didn’t feel ready to eat normally (normally for me is living foods vegan, and I eat quite a lot). I wanted to continue the fast, but it wasn’t practical, so I decided to eat minimally. CRON stands for Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition.

CRON is a nutrient-rich, reduced calorie diet which pushes people towards longevity and vitality. It is not designed to give you a longer life that’s not worth living! It’s not about starvation, it’s about abundance – abundance of nutrients, abundance of health, abundance of energy and a better body that works properly for you.

Caloric restriction is the only thing we know that is able to consistently slow aging in all animals, including mammals. In mammalian studies, caloric restriction results in extended lifespan and reduction in all biomarkers of ageing. In fact, it seems to help every measure of health that we check for longevity.

One of the beneficial effects of eating a living foods vegan diet and detoxifying the system is the anti-cancer effect. It is well established that caloric restriction is “pro-apoptotic,” meaning it promotes cell suicide of damaged or cancerous-type cells.

According to Dr Gabriel Cousens, we only need to eat approximately half the amount of food and calories on a live-food diet as on a cooked-food diet to get an equivalent amount of vitamins, minerals, protein, and phytonutrients. He states:

“On a healthy live-food regime we automatically get the anti-aging calorie-restriction effect without having to diet. On live foods, one normally achieves what I consider a healthy weight. This is the optimum weight for life extension and protection against chronic disease. Periodic fasting, as we have known for centuries, is one of the most powerful ways to extend life and minimize chronic disease.”

Caloric restriction will improve your health in the following ways:

  • Lower insulin
  • Lower glucose
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Decrease in inflammation
  • Improved immunity
  • More energy
  • Better mental clarity
  • You may start looking younger!

Moving on to what to eat – see my books The Whole Body Solution for the basics, and Love Your Bones for lots of recipes which fit with the CRON lifestyle.

The basics are green leafy vegetables, sprouted foods, fermented foods, some low glycaemic fruit (unless you have a cancer diagnosis), baked root vegetables and beans if you’re cooking. And very importantly, green juices every day for the phytonutrients. Supplement by all means (personally I think this is vitally important and take it very seriously – everyone benefits from whole food supplementation) – Vitamin D3, B complex including B12, algae, Juice Plus and ensure that you get essential fatty acids too – here is where I get mine.

What to avoid – bread, cakes, breakfast cereals, dairy products, processed foods, empty high calorie fizzy drinks, alcohol, sugar in all its guises.

So finally for this blog, what benefits have I noticed on my experiment since the New Year kicked off? Firstly, I am sleeping better. Secondly, my bodyweight has dropped by 2kg (4.4 lbs). I didn’t really need to lose any weight, but I think I look better. I am now buying UK size 6 clothes (size 2 US) instead of UK size 8 (size 4 US). Thirdly, I am running faster. In my most recent session of 800 metre reps on 26th January, I was running the repetitions at an average of 3 minutes 42 seconds, rather than my previous average of 3 minutes 55 seconds. They didn’t feel any easier though – 800 metre reps are hard!

I’d be happy to guide you through the changes you need to make if you’d like to make a start with your own CRON experiment. If you’re not ready to invest in a consultation, I will be putting together a guide on CRON within the next few weeks which will soon be available. Look out for this on my website in the spring. And in the meantime – live well!

 

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