Your big vision

From a young age I was a big fan of Lewis Carroll. Indeed, I was delighted to receive “The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll“, a huge tome of a book, from my parents when I was eight years old. Yes, just 8. I loved reading it, even if I couldn’t quite grasp the concept of the “frumious bandersnatch” in Jabberwocky at that time in my life. Undeterred, I memorised all 140 verses of his famous Phantasmagoria poem a few months later. What, might you ask, does all this have to do with raw food? It brings me neatly on to a section of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the part in which she meets the Cheshire Cat.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the cat.
“I don’t much care where…” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the cat.

Does this sound at all familiar? Are you focusing with laser-like clarity on your vision of what your diet and lifestyle will be in the future, and exactly which benefits you are going to enjoy as a result, and by when? Or are you drifting around, dare I say a little aimlessly, like Alice seemed to be in this encounter? What is your vision for your diet and lifestyle? Do you have one? And how will you feel when you have achieved it?

Let’s conjure up an example – say you want to enjoy an 80% raw plant-based diet because it will make you feel amazing, give you clear skin, boundless energy, the body of your dreams etc. All of those outcomes, when you aim for them, must be stated and written down, in the positive. Where focus goes, energy flows. If instead you focus on the downsides of not adopting a high-vibrancy plant-based diet, for example to no longer experience excess weight, spotty skin or poor digestion, then you’ll be likely to attract more of the same. The focus of having, for example, low energy, poor digestion or absence of a slim and fit body emphasises a feeling of lack. Focusing on not wanting these things makes you have to think about them. It’s kind of a backwards way of doing things.

In order to make your goal compelling (whether that be a body/health/lifestyle specific goal or otherwise), you have to be able to see, hear and feel what it will be like to have it. Focus on the ‘why’, rather than initially on the ‘how’, because the ‘how’ part might feel overwhelming at first.

Giving attention to how you are going to feel when you have achieved your goal will shift your mind towards the resources you need to achieve it. So, once you are clear on what you want to achieve (let’s say, for example a health or fitness goal), sit quietly in a comfortable place and think about how that outcome feels. Does it have a shape? A specific colour? A temperature? What is in your environment when you think about it? Who is there with you? What are you saying to yourself? Once you have formed this vision you can make it louder, brighter, bigger. Go deep and really feel it. A great big positive visualisation which, at the very least, fills the whole room that you are in.

When you emerge from this experience, write about it, and make your writing in the present tense, as if it is all happening right now, giving yourself clarity and direction. Your subconscious mind, which cannot differentiate between real and imagined, needs to get familiar with your goal, so that your mind can accept it as something real that actually exists (and can therefore become reality).

As a friend once told me:
“Whatever the vision of your future, your subconscious believes it to be true and it will focus on and (almost unknowingly to you) shape your behaviour and nudge you to take inspired action to reach your goal.”
And as I tell my clients, make three positive changes or adopt three new healthy habits every month, and within a year you will have turned your life around. Small positive steps, performed consistently, bring the biggest benefits. Imagine it and make it yours.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Longevity Part 3

In Part 2 of this blog last month, which you can access here, I focused on some nutrients that have been shown to be helpful in boosting telomerase activity, to lengthen those little end bits of your chromosomes, thereby boosting longevity. Let’s look at a few more.

Vitamin K2. This fat-soluble vitamin could be the next vitamin D. Whilst most people get enough from their diet to prevent blood clots, they don’t necessarily have high enough levels for disease prevention. In 2004, the Rotterdam Study, which was the first study demonstrating the beneficial effect of vitamin K2, showed that people who consume 45 mcg of K2 daily live seven years longer than people getting 12 mcg per day. Association doesn’t always mean causation, but it’s an interesting finding nonetheless. Can you eat it? Yes, if you want to eat natto, a bad-smelling Japanese fermented soya product. You can get plenty of K1 from your greens, which, if your gut bacteria are behaving themselves, will be converted to K2.

Magnesium, often known as the mineral that “does it all”, also plays an important role in DNA replication, repair, and RNA synthesis. Dietary magnesium has been shown to positively correlate with increased telomere length in women. Other research has shown that long term magnesium deficiency leads to telomere shortening in cell cultures. Can you eat it? Yes – it’s abundant in greens. Wheatgrass juice is full of it, as is chlorella. Watch your stress levels though – magnesium is run out of the body in times of stress, as a result of the action of cortisol.

Polyphenols. Yes, I have mentioned them before, in my 2013 blog on longevity and also in various other blogs, because they are important. Resveratrol, one type of polyphenol antioxidant, is known to activate our longevity genes, and although we are not yeasts, one study has indicated that resveratrol prolongs the life of yeast cells. It’s a good start! Can you eat it? Yes, as long as you’re not avoiding fruit, since most polyphenols are present in dark skinned berries. You can get those without the sugar by using Juice Plus berry blend. They are also present in matcha (green) tea.

Folate (folic acid). According to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, plasma concentrations of the B vitamin folate correspond to telomere length in both men and women. Folate plays an important role in the maintenance of DNA integrity and DNA methylation, both of which influence the length of your telomeres. Can you eat it? Yes. Green leaves have loads of it. So does Juice Plus vegetable blend.

Vitamin B12. In the “sister study” as it is known, researchers concluded that vitamin B12 had its protective action on telomeres as a result of reducing oxidative stress. Brian Clement, Director of the Hippocrates Health Institute, recommends that everyone, without exception, supplements with B12. Do you take it? If not, why not start today? A word of warning – make sure you use methylcobalamin and not cyanocobalamin – a small difference, but an important one.

Turmeric. Curcumin, the active molecule from turmeric root with its amazing health benefits, also seems to have anti-ageing qualities. You can also get it in supplement form (I use it every day), and its absorption is enhanced by black pepper (piperine). Guess what’s in your curry?

Finally, let’s look at the practice of “undereating”. It’s all over the media isn’t it? 5:2, caloric restriction, intermittent fasting… and it could be the secret to life extension and freedom from degenerative disease. Gabriel Cousens, in his book Spiritual Nutrition, devotes a whole chapter to undereating. On the Hippocrates Health Institute program, participants fast once a week (Wednesday is fasting day at Hippocrates). However, we fast on “liquid nourishment” – i.e. green juices, and those that need to have a blended green soup in the evening.

So, what’s so great about fasting? Nothing if you view it as deprivation. Everything if you view it as the fountain of youth! Science has confirmed there are many good reasons for fasting, including:
• Normalising your insulin sensitivity, which is key for optimal health as insulin resistance (which is what you get when your insulin sensitivity plummets) is a primary contributing factor to nearly all chronic disease, from diabetes to heart disease and even cancer
• Normalising ghrelin levels, also known as “the hunger hormone”
• Promoting human growth hormone (HGH) production, which plays an important part in health, fitness and slowing the aging process
• Lowering triglyceride levels
• Reducing inflammation and lessening free radical damage

There’s also plenty of research showing that fasting has a beneficial impact on longevity in animals. There are a number of mechanisms contributing to this effect. Normalizing insulin sensitivity is a major one, but fasting also inhibits the mTOR pathway, which plays an important part in driving the aging process. The fact that it improves a number of potent disease markers also contributes to fasting’s overall beneficial effects on general health.

So there you have it – for now anyway. Here’s to a long, happy and fulfilling life – whatever that means to you.

Posted in longevity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Longevity Part 2

What happened to Part 1? I wrote a longevity blog in 2013 which you can access here.
Further research has allowed me to elaborate on this, so here I bring you Part 2, with Part 3 to come next month. Who knows what amazing information is yet to be discovered, which I could be blogging about in a few years from now? Since living a long, happy, healthy and productive life is a top priority for me, you can be sure that I’ll be writing about, and acting upon, anything that I find out in years to come.

At seventy you are but a child. At eighty you are merely a youth, and at ninety if the ancestors invite you into heaven, ask them to wait until you are 100, then you might consider it. – ancient Okinawan proverb.

Telomeres are now considered by some authors to be the ultimate dictator of our longevity. Telomeres are the little end bits of chromosomes which shorten with each cell replication. However, the telomere length can be increased with a neat little enzyme called telomerase. But before we get on to how telomerase works, let’s take a look at telomeres and think about how they affect us. Remember of course that although researchers (and in particular the 2009 Nobel Prize winners who won for their work on telomeres) like to focus on one thing, it’s never really one thing. We have to focus on everything.

Telomeres shorten with every cell division, and cells can multiply about 50 times before they die. Young people’s telomeres generally are between 8,000 and 10,000 nucleotides long (nucleotides are the building blocks of your chromosomes), but old people may have as few as 5,000 nucleotides making up their telomeres.

Telomeres are shorter in certain disease processes, which has led to the “what came first” question. Is it that the disease-causing processes also shorten the telomeres, or is it that the telomeres just happen to be shorter anyway when the disease rears its head? So far, no one knows. However, it’s interesting to note that telomerase, the enzyme that rebuilds telomeres, can either be stimulated or blocked. Since telomeres seem to hold so many keys for us in relation to whether we age successfully or not, let’s look at how.

Firstly, here are some nutrients that help to lengthen your telomeres, most likely as a result of their action on boosting telomerase. These nutrients also have other beneficial actions that go way past just their activity with telomerase.

Vitamin D. In one study of more than 2,000 women, those with higher vitamin D levels were found to have fewer aging-related changes in their DNA, as well as lowered inflammatory responses. Women with higher levels of vitamin D are more likely to have longer telomeres, and vice versa. This means that people with higher levels of vitamin D may actually age more slowly than people with lower levels of vitamin D. Can you eat it? Not really, unless you want to start eating organ meats and eggs (off the menu here, for obvious reasons). You have to get it from the sun, or supplementation, or both. See last month’s blog for more information.

Broad spectrum antioxidants, notably astaxanthin (from algae, rather than fish). It is by far the most powerful carotenoid antioxidant when it comes to free radical scavenging, being 65 times more powerful than vitamin C, 54 times more powerful than beta-carotene, and 14 times more powerful than vitamin E. It’s also far more effective than other carotenoids at “singlet oxygen quenching,” which is a particular type of oxidation. It is 550 times more powerful than vitamin E, and 11 times more powerful than beta-carotene at neutralizing singlet oxygen. Another feature that separates astaxanthin from other carotenoids is that it cannot function as a pro-oxidant. Many antioxidants will act as pro-oxidants (meaning they start to cause rather than combat oxidation) when present in your tissues in sufficient concentrations. This is why you don’t want to go overboard taking too many antioxidant supplements like beta-carotene, for example. Astaxanthin, on the other hand, does not function as a pro-oxidant, even when present in high amounts, which makes it massively beneficial. For those taking this whole-food supplement, you can celebrate – it’s got bioavailable astaxanthin in it.

Lastly, one of the most profound features of astaxanthin is its unique ability to protect the entire cell from damage – both the water-soluble part and the fat-soluble portion of the cell. Other antioxidants usually affect just one or the other. This is due to astaxanthin’s unique physical characteristics that allow it to reside within the cell membrane whilst also protecting the inside of the cell. Can you eat it? Yes. Eat algae. And supplement with this.

Essential fatty acids. Some authors state that one of the top foods for rebuilding telomerase is extra virgin cold pressed olive oil. Make a salad dressing out of it. Don’t cook with it and don’t heat it, since the benefits would be destroyed. You can use EFA supplements as well. I have previously experimented with Echium oil, which gives a good distribution of omega 3, 6 and 9. However I currently use Juice Plus Omega blend which contains omega 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9, and is the most complete plant-based source of essential fats that I have found so far. You can order it here.

Well, that’s enough to be going on with for now. Next month I’ll bring you the lowdown on other aspects of longevity, including an additional list of nutrients that boost telomerase activity.

Posted in longevity, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

5 important ways to keep your vitamin D levels high

Before launching in to this vital topic, let’s think about why we might want to maintain optimal levels of D3, the active form of vitamin D, in our bodies. Vitamin D is involved in keeping the immune system healthy and some hospitals currently dealing with COVID-19 are treating patients with supplementation of this important hormone/fat-soluble vitamin. It’s essential to bone health, it has been shown to be deficient in those suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) and it’s essential in energy production and generally feeling good.

It’s hardly surprising that its benefits are far-reaching, since vitamin D receptors have been found in 300 locations in the body (so far – no doubt there will be more discoveries in the next few years). Low vitamin D levels correlate with the increased risk of certain types of cancer, often associated with the increased levels of IGF-1 which occur when vitamin D levels are low (high IGF-1 is a risk factor for breast and prostate cancer).

Certain autoimmune disorders correlate with low vitamin D levels. Anecdotal evidence exists that flares of SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus) are less acute and can be controlled with Vitamin D supplementation.

Indeed, whole books have been written about Vitamin D. For example, Dr Michael Holick reports in his book The Vitamin D Solution that after several months on supplementation with 2000IU per day, participants upregulated 291 genes that were responsible for 80 metabolic processes, ranging from improving DNA repair (which may explain another pathway for the benefits relating to cancer reduction) to having a beneficial effect on the immune system, whilst also reducing oxidative stress. So… keeping vitamin D levels within the ideal reference range is good for you!

Here goes with the 5 reminders on keeping your levels optimal.

1. It’s not all about the sun, but certainly the amazing weather we have had here in the UK recently (I, certainly, have never known an April as warm and sunny as this one) has reminded me about the importance of that feel-good solar radiation to our overall health. And getting sun exposure, ideally every day but at least 3 times a week, is hugely beneficial. We need to expose 80% of the skin’s surface for 20-30 minutes at a time to get levels into the recommended range. So that means stripping off a bit. At the very least, expose your arms and legs. By all means use some sunblock on your face to prevent premature skin ageing and melasma (unwanted patches of darker pigmentation due to uneven melanin distribution), but ideally don’t use sunblock on the rest of the body (unless, like me, you are a long distance runner or work outside and are going to be in the sun for hours on end). 

2. Are you over 70? If so, even with sun exposure, your mechanisms for converting vitamin D in the skin to its active form will be diminished by up to 75% in comparison with 20 year olds. As you age, it’s a great idea to get your levels checked and take oral supplementation in addition to getting sun exposure if you need a boost.

3. Are you a meat eater? I appreciate that most of my readers will not be, and that we are often (mis)informed that one can only obtain dietary vitamin D from the animal kingdom and not via plants. However yet another downside of animal protein consumption (and yes, this includes dairy and eggs) is that it blocks the enzyme that is responsible for converting vitamin D into its “supercharged” metabolite, thus suppressing 25(OH)D3. What’s on your plate, it appears, is just as important as what isn’t.

4. How are your stress levels? Many people are having a seriously hard time with lockdown. Personally, I am loving it! I don’t have any kids to home-school, I don’t have a partner to argue with (not that I would want to argue with him, but I know some people argue with theirs and that in the USA particularly, domestic violence levels have soared), and because I am working on alternate days, I have 4 days per week to get out in the sun, exercise, do my weight-training workouts with resistance bands, read, write articles and generally sort my life out. Your situation may be hugely different from mine, and if it is, I genuinely massively sympathise with you and appreciate what you must be going through. Stress is an insidious and well-known destroyer of health, and it also has adverse effects on vitamin D levels by reducing its absorption. We also know that this is a double-whammy for reduced bone health, since not only are vitamin D levels suppressed, but stress is also directly damaging to the bone formation process as well. In these remarkable times, work on self-love. It may well be the most important (and in some cases the only) love that you receive.

5. Do you shower a lot? Now this might seem an odd kind of thing to ask my readers, and I am not here to cast doubt on anyone’s personal hygiene. But please, hear me out. We know that vitamin D is fat soluble and that it is made in the skin. Recent research indicates that if we shower a lot, we can inadvertently disrupt the lipid (fat) layer on the surface of the skin, thereby reducing the formation and absorption of vitamin D in the process. Clearly if you are out in the sun exercising a lot, as I certainly am right now, you’re going to get hot and sweaty and you’ll need that shower. My suggestion – wash the areas of your body that get hot and sweaty/smelly (armpits, feet, groin, scalp) with non-toxic shower gel or soap, whichever is your preference, but use water only on the rest. If you remember, oil (fat) and water don’t mix. If you need a reminder, pour some olive oil into a glass, top up with water and observe. The only places where you disrupt vitamin D absorption from is where you have disrupted the lipid later – i.e. where you have used a surfactant (soap, shower gel).

So that’s it – use this time wisely to improve your health and vitamin D levels through sun exposure, exercise, adequate sleep, stress relief and showing appreciation and gratitude for your partner. It may be the best opportunity we have this year.

Posted in Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Help – we’re in lockdown! What can we do?

We are currently living in unique times, and people might be wondering where all this is going and if everything will be OK eventually. Many will be wanting to keep some semblance of normality, and for good reason. Studies have shown that those people who don’t have structure in their lives might feel directionless. They are more likely to suffer from depression and a sense of having “everything to do”, but no motivation to do it. I totally get it. This is the first time in our lifetimes that we are likely to have experienced anything like this.

For those who are working from home, I imagine that life will continue in a similar way for the most part. In this situation, and having spoken to office workers in the USA who are now working remotely, they all reiterate that it’s important to keep a daily routine. So if you normally work an 8 till 5 job, stick to those hours, and the only thing you’ll miss is the travelling time, which can only be a good thing! Get up at the same time of day and go to bed at the normal time. Eliminate screen time at least 1 hour before bed and limit your access to news items and the frenzy of mass media, especially before bed, since this might embed negative thoughts or concerns into your subconscious. Blue light from phones and computers disturbs quality sleep. Unplug and switch off.

Here in the UK we are allowed out to exercise once a day and that includes walking, running and cycling. Make a point of taking advantage of this right now! Exercise is essential for mental and physical wellbeing. So if you aren’t a regular exerciser, start immediately. Get outside for a brisk walk or a slow run. It’s easy and it’s free. There’s never been a better time to start. Because, like all others in the UK, my gym has closed down, I have bought some resistance bands for home-based weight training workouts. I recommend that you do the same. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that show you how to use them. There – that’s something that you can do with any extra time you may have, especially if you have been furloughed.

If indeed you have been furloughed, spend your time at home as productively as you can. Have a massive tidy up and clear out. Being surrounded by clutter and things you don’t need dulls your focus and can reduce your enjoyment of your home (and make you grumpy). It might be overwhelming if stuff has been accumulating for years, so start small. Choose one room, or even one cupboard, and work out an action plan. Do you need just a general superficial clearance of clutter or do you want to go really deep and eliminate everything that isn’t absolutely essential in your life? I did this in my bedroom last August (going really deep) and it was cathartic and liberating. I loved the process! Whilst we in the UK can’t go to the tip or take items to the charity shop right now, it’s still an excellent opportunity to get really well sorted out; I’m sure you’ll love your new clear space and wonder why you didn’t do it years ago.

Looking after your health has never been more important. You need excellent immunity and high quality food to recover quickly from any viral attack, or better still, avoid it in the first place. Here are some ideas of foods and supplements that are excellent for your health at this or indeed any other time. More information on immunity and also keeping the respiratory system healthy can be found in my book The Whole Body Solution, available here.
As I understand it, this book was even being used in class by a year 11 vegan student in one school prior to lockdown, so word is getting out.

Moving on to food – eat your sprouts! Lentil sprouts and mung sprouts are an excellent source of protein and healthy carbs. They are cupboard staples that lasts for months and will see you through difficult times. Forget cans of baked beans – all you need is a sprouting jar and you’re good to go. Small green leafy sprouts are also brilliant for health, notably loaded with vitamins and trace minerals. I am growing lots of them in my Freshlife automatic sprouter and I recommend that you do the same. Need a Freshlife sprouter? Buy one online here, and quote RAWFOOD20 at checkout to get a 20% discount. Now’s the time!

Eat your greens. Because salad greens are perishable, they thankfully still seem to be in good supply. Eat salads every day and supercharge them with your sprouts. Add at least 2 cloves of crushed garlic to all your salads. For sure your breath might smell a bit, but who cares – we’re isolating, right? Garlic is antiviral, antibacterial and keeps the circulation healthy. Go on, add it to everything – I dare you.

Stock up on chia seeds. These little black wonders are a nutritional powerhouse and they last for months in the cupboard. You can serve them soaked in your favourite (preferably home-made) nut milk. In addition to my twice daily green juice, chia seeds with hazelnut milk are currently my post-workout meal.

Scared of food shortages? Grab some raw vegan protein powder. This is a great option for anyone who is exercising heavily, and all those with an ectomorphic body type. Ectomorphs are those tall, lean people who have trouble maintaining muscle mass. You know who you are… I have plenty of Sunwarrior and Vivo Sport Perform protein powder stashed away in case things get really tough, or if Waitrose runs out of lentils!

Supplement-wise I am asked all the time which supplements are good for the immune system. Information I have received from the USA indicates that those hospitals which are treating coronavirus patients with vitamin C are getting them better faster and getting them out of hospital more quickly. My favourite supplement, as many of you know, is Juice Plus capsules and one study performed in Germany indicated that taking Juice Plus every day had a protective effect against colds and flu in office workers.

To make it clear, no studies have yet been performed to see if Juice Plus helps people with coronavirus, but since other studies indicate it has benefits for the immune system, I am personally continuing to take all four capsule types every day. If you can afford it, I recommend that you do the same. To save on cost, you can “mix and match” capsule types – check out this webpage for more information and to order yours (scroll down for the various options, including the fully-vegan Omegas – which I also love). Finally, choose the capsules not the soft chewables – the capsules are much better.

A good quality green powder is also useful to get those superfoods on board and keep your resilience high. Add it to your daily green juice if you like – it’s what I do. I am currently using Raw Reserve made by Amazing Grass, mainly because it was the only one I found in the health food store prior to lockdown.
Here’s the USA site for my friends across the pond. For the UK, just Google.

So in summary – keep to a regular routine and avoid negative news. Get good quality sleep, and ensure that you exercise every day, or at least 5 times a week, for at least 30 minutes but preferably an hour. Have a project (something to focus on), and stay positive. Fuel yourself with excellent nutrition and clinically proven supplementation. Breathe and let go. And always remember the phrase: “This, too, shall pass.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why are we still churning out the same outdated dogma?

Even before I read it, I had the feeling that the article would annoy me. Featured in the January issue of Platinum magazine, it was called The Bare Bones. Would they be serving up the usual outdated and inaccurate information we’ve all heard so many times before, or would the features writers for this lifestyle magazine, aimed at women over 55 who want to make the most of every day, finally give us something closer to the truth, stepping outside the often-repeated dogma of vitamin D and calcium?

Sadly, it was the former. One page of the feature included “foods for strong bones”, so that is of course where my attention went immediately. Let’s look at the recommendations:

Drink more water. Avoid alcohol and canned fizzy drinks containing phosphoric acid. Excellent – we’re off to a great start.

Eat your vitamins. Foods containing vitamin D were recommended and their suggestions were fortified breakfast cereals, oily fish and egg yolks. Oops – bad idea. Breakfast cereals are a poor source of the minerals needed to build bone strength, and often contain significant amounts of sugar, which leaches calcium and magnesium out of the bones, raises cortisol levels, and in turn inhibits DHEA (a hormone involved in bone-building). You’ll find out more about this on page 50 of my 2015 book Love Your Bones. The value of any added vitamin D in cereals would be very limited in the face of these other onslaughts.

Oily fish and egg yolks are poor food choices for bone health. Oceanic pollution concerns with fish aside, these are both animal protein sources, which negatively impact bone health. A study as long ago as 1992, published in the journal Calcified Tissue International, indicated an association between animal protein consumption and hip fracture across several countries. Numerous other studies published more recently indicate that hip fracture is more common when the ratio of animal protein to plant protein consumption is higher. High protein diets are implicated in bone loss, but there is no risk association with diets high in plant protein – it’s only animal protein consumption that increases the risk. See pages 46 and 47 of Love Your Bones for more on this. Animal protein consumption, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, inhibits the production of a particularly active form of vitamin D, therefore negating the value of any vitamin D that you might have obtained via the oily fish and egg yolks. Fascinating stuff. I wonder if the features writers were aware of this?

Get your greens. Hooray! But not because of the bone-beneficial amounts of magnesium present in the greens. Oh no, magnesium was not even mentioned. it was all about calcium, which is arguably significantly less important than magnesium for bone health. Greens were cited as a source of calcium, and other sources of calcium were listed as dairy products, fish and bread. Hang on a minute – why not focus on the greens?

Double up on dairy. Who writes this stuff? How many years have to pass before people start taking notice of the fact that countries with the highest dairy consumption have the highest incidence of osteoporosis and hip fractures? 20 years ago a large-scale international study indicated the link between dairy product consumption and hip fracture. Why are “experts” still ignoring this? Other studies show that whilst dairy-consumers may on average have denser bones on X-ray than dairy-avoiders, this does not protect them against fractures. The article stated “milk and cheese are rich in both calcium and protein, essential for improving bone health.” See above regarding animal protein – it’s detrimental to bone health. As for calcium, it’s just not that relevant for bone health in comparison with the minerals magnesium, boron, strontium and silica, as you’ll find out in Chapter 8 of Love Your Bones, starting on page 67. The conclusion of the authors of a study published in Pediatrics in 2005, following extensive review of the literature, is as follows: “Scant evidence supports nutrition guidelines focused specifically on increasing milk or other dairy product intake for promoting child and adolescent bone mineralisation.” Other studies indicate that the same applies to senior populations. After having been practically force-fed dairy products as a child, which did nothing but aggravate my dairy-induced severe eczema, I am so pleased that I eliminated them at the age of 15.

At the end of the feature, we have the “case study” of a 65 year old lady called Christine who managed to reverse some of the osteoporotic features of her DEXA scan. She was told to increase dairy, which she reports to have struggled with since she is not a fan (sensible lady!). She has made many other lifestyle changes including weight training, which to be fair, has probably made the greatest difference in her case. But as I say to everyone, there is no “one thing”. If you truly want to tackle the multi-faceted disease processes of osteopenia and osteoporosis, you have to look at all the aspects that make a difference.

You don’t have to struggle with this. I have done all the leg-work and meticulous research for you. Heck, I have even put 100 recipes in my book Love Your Bones. Because your bones, just like the rest of your body, deserve love and attention. And, to the features writers of Platinum magazine, this means (according to the best research studies we currently have on this debilitating condition) ignoring the outdated dogma that still pervades in the medical establishment, and writing about the things that will make a positive difference. It means avoiding dairy products and animal protein, as well as heeding the many other recommendations that you’ll find in Love Your Bones. Please invest in your bone health and read my book, even if you have to borrow it from the library or from a friend. Sermon over.

Posted in Osteoporosis | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Please don’t do it!

They’re everywhere, aren’t they? Catchy, attention-grabbing headlines such as “lose weight for good”, “try our 10-day “shred” to get in the shape of your life”… all the usual stuff to create guilt after an overindulgent holiday season. Look more closely at these adverts and you will find a recurring theme. Liquid meal replacements, food replacement bars (terrible things – check out the ingredients if you don’t believe me), “complete” shakes that allegedly contain everything in them that you need (and also, if you read the label, a whole stack of junk that you don’t need), and now even low calorie soups sold by networking companies with no concept of the harm they are causing.

Why do we keep doing this to ourselves, knowing that over 98% of these unhealthy fads end in failure?  In just one of the “complete” shakes from a company that is well known for producing synthetic supplements that do not contribute to health, I found the line “rich in protein from soya and dairy” as a boast about its “healthy” weight loss ingredients. And you are supposed to replace 2 meals a day with this stuff? Please – do not. Do not replace even one meal with anything like this – ever. Why not? Let’s consider just two of these highlighted ingredients.

Soya. Most processed soya powder is genetically modified. if you don’t know about the harm that GM foods can do to the body, have an enlightening read of Genetic Roulette by Jeffery Smith, a highly respected presenter at several of the Real Truth About Health conferences. Soya is also allergenic. It doesn’t contribute much to health and it isn’t that easy to digest – there are much better protein sources available. Additionally, it can inhibit thyroid function. Many of the studies indicating health benefits associated with soya have been performed on fermented soya in condiment quantities, rather than genetically modified, unfermented soya beans, dried and ground up into a powder and added to, in this case of the shakes, a toxic blend of other non-food ingredients.

Dairy. Don’t even get me started on this. Or maybe we all need a reminder. Either way, here goes. Milk is baby food, produced by lactating mammals for their young offspring. Cow’s milk is the perfect growth diet for a calf, which will gain 400lbs of weight in the first year of its life. Goat’s milk is perfect for a young goat. Human milk, from our own mother, is perfect for humans until weaning age. After that, it is unnecessary. Period. And if we choose to continue drinking the pasteurised mammary secretions of the wrong species of mammal, past our natural weaning age, we can look forward to pancreatic and metabolic challenges including type 2 diabetes, weight gain (so what it is doing as a primary ingredient in a weight loss shake makes no sense whatsoever), and increases in IGF-1, which in turn increases the risk of breast and prostate cancer. Consumption of dairy products weakens your bones. Yes, I know, the dairy industry really don’t want you to know this. I researched this very subject for one of the chapters of my book Love Your Bones. Please read it if you still think that dairy products are necessary for bone health, or indeed the health of any of your other organ systems. Or, heaven forbid, as a meal replacement.

Back to the shakes. Stop and think. You think you need to drink concoctions such as this instead of making a healthy salad from scratch with local, organic ingredients, because you want to lose weight? That’s nonsense. By all means have a smoothie (home-made, not shop-bought) with low glycaemic fruit and greens. And by all means throw in a scoop of protein powder (look for Sunwarrior or Vivo Sport) if you have just done a long tough workout. But packaged meal replacement shakes, bars, soups or whatever else for weight loss? No way. Ever.

Let’s get one thing straight – there is no quick fix. Success and failure are both very predictable. We need to make lasting changes to our diet and lifestyle to bring about lasting change to our bodies. If you really do want a healthy kick-start, the only liquid one that is proven to start you on the road to better health is a high nutrient green juice fast. Fasting on liquid nourishment, as it is described by the Hippocrates Health Institute, can set a course for a healthier way of living, provided that the way in which the fast is broken is the correct one. You can do a fast in your own home or join a retreat (some of which are better than others – look for one that provides only green juices and definitely no fruit). All the information you need to conduct a green juice fast at home is here.

And I stress green juice fasting, NOT water fasting. There’s a big difference, and it’s important to get it right. It’s a sad fact, but most people are just too nutritionally depleted to safely conduct a water fast. Finally, if you want a truly life-transforming weight management experience to take you into the new decade with vigour and outstanding health, this is the one to go for.
Happy New Year!

Posted in Weight loss | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Getting Back to 100% Hippocrates

It’s been going on for a few weeks now. You know, that niggling feeling that something’s not quite right. That you don’t feel quite as good as you could. That maybe, dare I say it, you might have deviated too far from what you know you should be doing. It can start insidiously enough, but before you know it, it’s becoming more habitual. It’s confession time! Not helped by the fact that I am currently working with a “feeder”, I had been eating too many raw energy bars. Made from dates and nuts, they’re a lot healthier than many snack foods out there. But they don’t really create energy (that only happens in your mitochondria).

As a result of this daily bar (or two), and a few too many almond butter smoothies (yum!), I was starting not only to crave sugar, but was also getting horrible muscle cramps in my legs at night – something I had never experienced (apart from once in a Marathon), even with years of long distance running. Time for a personal experiment – time to get back to what I know, from all my years of experience, really works best for me.

This was my plan:
1. No more raw energy bars or raw smoothies (that’s saved me a few ££), and cut out all sugar. Yes, I have gone fruit-free for now as well. The feeder’s not too happy about it, but she’ll adapt. This is one thing I am not going to compromise on to please others.
2. More green juice. I have doubled my green juice consumption and am adding spirulina to it, every day. Because I work 10-hour days, I make a big batch in the morning, drink half of it for breakfast, then decant the remainder into two 250ml BPA-free bottles. I drink one of these at 11am and the other at 4pm. Interestingly, no more muscle cramps at night. No muscle pain after my long runs (not that I suffer much with that anyway). That’ll be the minerals and electrolytes then! (See below). Click here to order the juicer that I use and recommend, and quote RAWFOOD20 at checkout to obtain a 20% discount.
3. Add seaweeds to my salads every day. I don’t know how I managed to let this one slip, because I always keep plenty of dried seaweed in the kitchen. Maybe I just forgot to open the cupboard in which the seaweed is stored. Whatever the reason, I wasn’t getting the extra minerals, notably iodine, that my body was craving. Iodine is super-important for boosting the metabolism via its beneficial action on the thyroid gland. Back on track now with daily nori and dulse. Yum!
4. Get back in the sauna. Whilst food is a big part of the health picture, detoxification is also hugely important. I have an infrared sauna at home, and I hadn’t been using it very much. How silly! I am now back in it 3 times a week. Yes, I know that daily is better, but even this superwoman can’t quite fit that in around work, training, food prep, blogging…
5. Increased water consumption. Strangely, as I increased my green juice consumption, I also felt more thirsty. More water (filtered of course) to flush the system through. And raw coconut water too.

The upshots that I have noticed in the past 14 days of this experiment are as follows:
1. No more painful leg cramps. These were gone within just 3 days.
2. Waking up earlier and with more energy.
3. Quality of my workouts has improved. Today’s run was outstanding! I feel stronger.
4. I have lost 1.3kg and my muscle definition has improved. Note to those who haven’t met me – I am not overweight and never have been – I am a UK dress size 6-8 (USA size 2-4), but clearly some fat loss has occurred.
5. My resolve has strengthened; I am going to keep this up.

So, even though I had never deviated from 100% raw vegan, I wasn’t doing it in the way that suits me best – I had, in effect, downgraded my diet. And as a result, I downgraded me. Have you ever done the same, then come to the realisation that it wasn’t the best thing for your health, energy and well-being? Get back on track with a few simple tweaks and upgrades – you’ll be glad you did!

For those interested in the Hippocrates Health Institute, whose system I follow, please click here for more information.

To access their complimentary mini-course, click here.

Posted in Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Path of Most Resistance

Compared with many people, I have had a pretty easy life, and looking back I have made the most of the many opportunities that came my way. However, as I describe in my book The Fatigue Solution,  I was often a bit like the swan that effortlessly cruises across the lake – outwardly calm, but with legs working furiously underwater to achieve an outwardly graceful glide. Perhaps I am not graceful like a swan on water, even though I aspire to be. Peel back the layers and you would uncover someone rather different, and at times, struggling to keep her head above water. My challenges started at school, progressed through university and my early working life, and continue to slap me in the face periodically even now. I was never one to take the easy path. We have probably all faced tough times in our lives. My question is this: how did you respond to yours?

When I was dangerously ill in 1990, I faced the biggest challenge of my life to date. Did I take the medical advice seriously (go home and die, basically) or did I fight back with every fibre of my exhausted body and prove them wrong? As Viktor Frankl says in his famous book Man’s Search for Meaning, “If the why is big enough, you can cope with almost any how.” Few people will experience anything as extreme as Frankl did in the Nazi concentration camps. He had one mission – to survive. David Goggins went through “Hell Week” on three separate occasions in training to become a Navy SEAL. His resolve was so tough he even made the instructors suffer on more than one occasion. Even before joining up, he put himself on an extreme dietary and exercise regime to lose the 100 lbs of excess weight that would have excluded him (he achieved this in less than three months), in addition to teaching himself to swim and studying hard to overcome his poor educational record. That’s determination. That’s a massive great why.

We live in a society where there is an excess of pretty much everything. We can get food (often delivered right to our doors now with the touch of an app) at any time of day or night. What this does to fuel the obesity and health crisis that many people face can only begin to be imagined. We have 24/7 TV on demand. We have never been less active (see my separate blog post for more about this). We crave the quick fix and it is readily available. Temporary pleasure for long term pain. Least resistance. Shouldn’t we be turning that on its head?

We need sustainable solutions to health, and it’s really very simple. But the attitude we have to adopt might be viewed as the path of most resistance – it’s uncomfortable until you get used to a new way of living. Yes it is easier to slope on home after work, grab a ready meal and a couple of glasses of wine to reward yourself, and turn on the TV. It’s tough to finish work and get to the gym instead. But if you want real change, you’ll get it done. You have to be prepared to do what most people won’t, to get the results that most people can’t. Challenge yourself. Decide what your goal is, write it down and divide it into achievable chunks. Celebrate the wins. And whatever goal it is, the list below will positively assist you in that quest because it will give you better health, and therefore a better life.

  1. Shake up your diet. Cut out all processed food. Eat the rainbow. Eat a whole foods, plant-based diet, always. Incorporate as much raw plant food as you can handle. Start juicing and drink green juice every day. Grow your own sprouted food – its easy, inexpensive and very nutritious. Start using proven whole-food supplementation to get there faster (you’ll find some on my separate website). Stop allowing yourself regular “treat” foods. It’s time to get tough to get better.
  2. Get moving. Everyone can do some sort of exercise. Yes, everyone. Decide what you are going to do, and stick with it. Make a start. Keep yourself accountable. Yes it will hurt, but are you going to give it up just because of that? Not if your resolve is strong enough. Get uncomfortable. You’ll learn to appreciate it, even if you don’t love it. And I’ll tell you something, you will enjoy the compliments that you’ll inevitably get after a few weeks of working on yourself.
  3. Drink water. Get it out of the tap and filter it. It’s free! It doesn’t have to cost a lot to get healthy. Proper hydration will make your brain work better, and with all the exercise you’re going to do, that sweat needs to be replaced. You don’t need any of those fancy electrolyte performance drinks unless you’re racing in endurance races that last for several hours. See my blog about sports drinks if you need the lowdown on this.
  4. Avoid alcohol. It’s a carcinogen, as well as an addictive substance that lowers your mental and physical performance.
  5. Get to bed early. Exercise, then sleep. Wind down with a good book, not screen time. See chapter 10 of The Fatigue Solution to find out why screen time is the most important thing to avoid before bed.
  6. Work on your weakest link. I am currently on a yoga retreat, working and stretching my body in ways it isn’t used to when at home. I am getting stronger and more flexible whilst also working on my mind with meditation. Yes I am still running (strongest link), but that doesn’t need as much work as the rest of me, and the practice of yoga and meditation helps me run more smoothly and reduce my risk of injury. What is your weakest link and how are you going to work on it?
  7. Don’t waver in your resolve. Why wait until January 2020 to get started? Start today. Start right now. If you want it badly enough, you’ll do it.
Posted in Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oestrogen (Estrogen) Dominance

One of the growing concerns over our hormonal health in recent years has come from the many conditions that are all closely related to oestrogen dominance in both sexes, leaving us immunologically susceptible to such conditions as Syndrome X, diabetes and cancer as we age. Oestrogen dominance has a detrimental effect on levels of thyroid hormone, progesterone, vitamin D3, testosterone and DHEA in both men and women.

Our sex hormones are fundamentally signallers, and whilst a surge of oestradiol is appropriate in girls of age 14, it is definitely not desirable at the age of 65, since at this life-stage it would drive the development of abnormal cells in breast tissue. Conversely, progesterone signalling improves immunity, is anti-ageing, improves lean muscle mass and reduces fat storage, which is a far more desirable outcome.

Birth control pills cause oestrogen dominance, which is a huge concern given how widespread their use is. I know of very few women aside from myself who have never taken such prescriptions, and I always think how sad that is, to have so many people not knowing the compounding harm they are causing themselves in the long term. In addition to certain foods being oestrogenic, such as soya, most of the commonly used pesticides also act as oestrogen mimickers. This is a bad thing if you happen to live near a large scale commercial farm that is liberally spraying pesticides on crops, and also a very good reason to eat organic food. Since artificial hormones are pumped into animals to improve growth rates, the likelihood of hormonal imbalance can be reduced by adopting a plant-based diet (vegetarian is not enough, since hormones and drugs are secreted into milk).

We may have heard about xenoestrogens – oestrogen-mimicking hormones that come from leached plastics and cause mayhem, disrupting our delicate balance of natural oestrogens. You can read more about xenoestrogens in chapter 9 of my book The Whole Body Solution (I have also devoted a section of my book Love Your Bones to the pros and cons of HRT).

The so-called “bad oestrogens” have a chemical structure that is described as non-methylated. By using foods that are “methyl group donors”, we can detoxify these dangerous compounds more readily so that they don’t wreak havoc in the body. Methyl group donors are useful in other respects: homocysteine, which together with CRP (C-reactive protein) is strongly implicated in heart disease, ageing and the risk of stroke, is an amino acid which is non-methylated and therefore detoxified more readily in the presence of methyl group donors.

The best foods and compounds that act as methyl group donors are as follows:
• Beetroot (both raw and fermented)
• Broccoli and broccoli sprouts (the sprouts are particularly powerful)
• MSM (methyl-sulphonyl methane, available in tablet and dissolvable crystal form)
• SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine, a food supplement used for liver support)
• Vitamins B6, B9 and B12.

Many of the side effects from HRT in women come from adding yet more oestrogen to a body whose oestrogen levels, whilst in decline, are not matched by progesterone, the levels of which are falling faster than oestrogen. High oestrogen levels in men contribute to prostate cancer and heart disease as well as gynecomastia (enlarged breasts). Testosterone is transformed into oestrogen and the resultant low levels of testosterone can cause many unpleasant symptoms including loss of muscle mass, fatigue, low libido, erectile dysfunction and increased storage of fat as you age. Block that oestrogen!

Posted in Hormone balance | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment