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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Ten Steps to a Happy and Successful New Year

What do you want out of the New Year? Everyone’s different, but we often want similar things for ourselves – better health, greater happiness and more opportunities or life experiences. Here are 10 suggestions – do let me know which ones resonate with you.

Invest in your nutritional health
This might mean buying a new juicer (and actually using it!), committing to having your dehydrator on the go more, or supplementing with a top quality whole-food supplement that will actually work (I use and recommend this one). When you put in the good stuff, and flood your body with nutrients, you’ll be less prone to all the coughs, colds and viruses that seem to plague everyone else, especially in the winter. This will mean you’ll feel better and get more done. Win win!

Invest in your education
What area of your life would you like to work on? Could learning a language open up new opportunities for you? It certainly did for me when I learned Spanish a few years ago. Or how about learning a new skill, like carpentry, interior design or surfing? The possibilities are endless. If you’d like to gain in-depth knowledge of health on a one-year course leading to a certification, the new Hippocrates Online Program takes some beating. Enrol today for the next course, starting on 16th January.

Sort out your finances
Money is a massive source of stress for many people, and stress suppresses the immune system and shortens our life expectancy, so is something we should do our utmost to avoid. I know those who don’t have enough money and are always concerned about where the next pay packet is going to come from, right through to those who have a lot of money but are worried that they are not doing the right things with it. Don’t let that be you. I’m no financial advisor, but I was brought up by a very clever accountant. Don’t spend money you haven’t got on things you don’t need. Save 10% of your monthly income. Think about how you could create another income stream. If you’re into health and want to help others, here’s one idea.

Surround yourself with brilliant, positive people
Everyone’s good at something, but very few (if any) people are good at everything. Who do you need to learn from? Who would you like as your mentor this year? Contact them!

Get outside
We, as humans, were not designed to sit inside hiding behind a computer screen. Getting some fresh air is essential on a daily basis to feel at your best. Make the effort, even if it’s cold and dark outside.

Train your body
Exercise 5 times a week. In addition to all the other training that I do, I’m also fortunate enough to have a personal trainer who is very happy to push me to my limits twice a week, but not everyone needs one/wants one/can afford one. There are plenty of good YouTube videos you can follow instead, or just get outside and go running/cycling/walking/whatever you fancy. Exercise makes you feel good. Get some.

If you want to broaden your life experience, travel. It’s the best way to meet interesting people, see beautiful places and make lifelong friends. There’s a big world out there, and it’s never been more accessible. Could this be the year that you travel somewhere amazing to do something well outside your comfort zone? It certainly will be for me.

Don’t work too hard
I know there will be times when you have to work 18 hours straight to get stuff done, but that should not be your normal. If you can’t get the important stuff done in 6-8 hours a day then you’re either being ineffective or you need to start outsourcing. I know, it’s hard to let go. But find someone who is great at what you hate and let them do it for you.

Be polite, but say what you mean
Make sure that other people understand what you want. Take time to understand what they want. There is never an excuse for rudeness. I’ve met plenty of people who think that good manners are for losers. Unsurprisingly, I choose not to associate with them.

Be serious about what you do, but don’t take yourself too seriously
Have fun and have a laugh with people that you work with – life is too short to be miserable at work. You will be judged on your actions and your decisions, and how you treat people, rather than any particular image you might project.

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Five principles of food combining – for fighting bloating and fatigue


It’s Christmas! And what’s the over-riding feeling at this time of year? Full of energy and festive fun? Or bloating and brain fog from the endless overindulgence? Whilst I hope for my readers that it will be the former, I can’t help but feel that there might be some tendency towards the latter. As with all my solutions to common problems, there is never just “one thing” that makes the difference here, but if we eat 5000 to 7000 calories on Christmas Day, as many people do, then giving some thought to how we can aid in the digestion of all that stuff could be useful.

There’s plenty of information indicating that paying attention to food combining prevents bloating and poor digestion, so what does that translate to? Here are my 5 top food-combining tips dedicated to digestion.

1. Keep proteins away from carbohydrates. If you get this, you’re half way there already. Proteins are long complex molecules which require acidic digestion and adequate concentration of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Starches (carbs) require an alkaline or neutral pH for digestion, which starts in the mouth with the enzyme amylase. If you combine protein-heavy (nuts and seeds) with starch-heavy (sprouted grains) foods, what do you get? A mess, because proteins digest best in an acid pH and starches in neutral to alkali. And that’s a problem because enzymes work best within very specific temperature and pH ranges. Got it?

2. Eat fruit alone or leave it alone. Fruit digests quite fast, so eat it before other foods. Fruit salad at the end of a meal? Bad idea. A family friend is well known for his mantra “life is uncertain – eat dessert first”. In respect of fruit salad, he’s spot on.

3. Fats fight. It’s best not to mix too many fat-dominant foods to a meal. At Hippocrates, they have “avocado day” for a reason. When avocados are served, you won’t find any nuts or seeds, or nut-rich sauces on the menu. Too many fats fight. Keep it simple, OK?

4. Melons digest the fastest of all. Have it as a starter, on its own, or not at all. And where did the idea of serving it with Parma ham come from? You just wouldn’t, would you?

5. Greens go with most things. Greens and protein, greens and carbs, greens and fat – go right ahead. And if you like greens in your smoothie, there is evidence that mixing greens with fruit can be acceptable if everything is blended up. So – blend away!

For more information on all this, and how to aid your digestive system, take a look at my book The Whole Body Solution. Yes, your whole body will love you for it.

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Health Benefits of Algal Oil

Following on from my previous blogs about healthy fats, there’s a final part to the series – the often overlooked algal (or algae) oil, which I mentioned in my previous blog about healthy fats. Since this month I’m writing about brain health, I’ll focus mostly on the brain benefits of this valuable oil. As you read on, you’ll discover why I have decided to make a very special blend of plant oils, which includes algal oil, an important part of my life from now on.

Algal oil is extracted directly from algae. It contains DHA (docosohexaenoic acid for those who like long words), which makes up 97% of the omega-3 fats in the brain. Studies have shown that algal oil is just as effective as the fatty acids found in cold-water fish. A 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association indicated that algal oil capsules and cooked salmon appear to be bioequivalent – i.e. they have the same effect in the body. A 2014 scientific review published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found that algal oil is an effective alternative source of DHA, which leads to significant increases in DHA levels in red blood cells and plasma (the liquid part of the blood).

So, when we take it, it has measurable benefits. What else can it do?

Brain development
Omega-3 foods are important for cognitive development and function. The brain is made mostly of fat, and it functions especially well when there are high levels of DHA in the body. DHA is also required for the development of the brain in infants and maintenance of normal brain function in adults. The inclusion of good levels of DHA in the diet improves learning ability, whilst deficiency causes a reduced learning ability. Oils with high omega 3 content also appear to reverse anxiety and depression in mammals, according to a study in the European Journal of Neuroscience. Dr Axe is suggesting that we should give it to our kids from an early age so that they won’t develop anxiety or depression later in life. What a great idea! Try this one – it’s the one I use.

Studies indicate that higher intakes of omega-3 oils significantly reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease as well as vascular dementia; oils like algal oil also improve quality of life and memory in those affected by dementia. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation improves cognitive function and reduces brain cell destruction.

Since plant-derived oils do not have the contamination issues that fish oils do (such as traces of PCB, mercury and organophosphates), they are considered to be a lot safer, and, from an ecological perspective, are totally sustainable.

Other oils and brain/circulatory function

Pomegranate seed oil
Punicic acid in pomegranate seed oil reduces the build-up of atherosclerotic plaque in the blood vessels, promoting heart and circulatory health. If blood vessels are narrowed anywhere in the body, less oxygen and fewer nutrients will be delivered and that body part will suffer. Anything that helps blood flow will be of benefit for vascular dementia.
The antioxidants in pomegranate seed oil have been shown to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels.

Sea buckthorn oil
The oil of this bright berry reduces cognitive decline and lowers cholesterol levels naturally. It also boosts microcirculation – flow in the smaller blood vessels.

Tomato seed oil
Tomato seed oil is rich in compounds that can naturally lower blood pressure. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a known contributor to vascular dementia, since it causes narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain.

The supplement I am now using contains all these oils, and therefore a fantastic range of omega 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9. Invest in your brain health today. Buy it here.
(Change the globe icon for your country of residence – this site automatically defaults to the UK. It’s available internationally).

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Depletion, Destruction, Devastation – and Regeneration

WP_20170909_16_06_43_ProI have recently been in southern Spain for a yoga retreat. Here’s the view from the yurt I was staying in. Lovely, right? But this photo actually tells a different tale – a darker tale of drastic intervention, depletion, destruction and, dare I say it, devastation. How could that be? Look at the parched land. All of the olive trees, some of which were over 1000 years old, and whose roots prevented soil erosion, have been cut down to grow wheat instead. And why? EU subsidies – farmers get paid via these subsidies for growing wheat, not olives.

But it gets worse. Losing the trees and hedgerows has created a monoculture, which is fed with chemical fertilisers and sprayed with Monsanto pesticides, according to the farmers I spoke to. Sometimes the harvest is so weak that it just isn’t worth cutting and processing it, so they burn it instead. After all, they get the EU subsidy for growing the crop, regardless of whether they end up harvesting and selling it. This burning, which I witnessed whilst in Spain, adds more carbon to the atmosphere, messing up the carbon cycle and, as I understand it from the permaculture experts, making the land even less useful.

This is a very sad state of affairs, adding to a worrying trend in southern Spain – that of desertification. In fact, if you look at a satellite image of southern Europe and north Africa, Spain is becoming an extension of the Sahara, and the region already contains Europe’s only true desert – Almeria. It is predicted that in 50 years the entire region could be totally dry and unproductive if nothing is done.

Even if these weak crops were harvested, would you really want to eat them? They contain very low levels of useful nutrition, and will be especially depleted in minerals, since the soil is mostly pesticide-ridden dust. With such farming techniques becoming more widespread, and the soil becoming ever more depleted, it’s more important than ever to consider food supplementation. Yes, I know, in theory if you’re on an excellent wholefoods raw or high-raw diet, you shouldn’t need it. But life isn’t perfect and our monocultured soil is in a mess.

Artificial fertilisers only provide “NPK” as it is known – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Where are you going to get your other 89 minerals from? Not to mention the thousands of phytonutrients that you need for optimal health. Please click here to listen to why I believe supplementation is essential (scroll down on the webpage for “Do we need supplements?”). And click here for what I recommend to bridge the gap between what you are eating and what you should be eating. To find out more about the importance of minerals, click here.

You can avoid adding to the problem by reducing or eliminating your demand for monocultured crops. Why eat wheat anyway? We don’t have to – in fact, eliminating it is a positive health upgrade that is easy to do. You can also support local organic farmers – they know what to do to replenish and regenerate the soil, working with nature rather than against it.

And to prevent the northern extension of the Sahara into Europe? I attended an excellent presentation about what the retreat centre is doing about desertification. It was given by a representative of Danyadara, a non-profit organisation that is planting trees (olive, fig, almond etc.) in this part of Spain, regenerating the land and teaching local farmers to get the benefits by doing the same. No more monoculture and crop-burning. Making Spain greener again. It’s a long-term project, but highly worthwhile. You can find out more here. I’ve donated. I hope that you’ll consider doing the same.

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7 Benefits of Sulforaphane

One of the main reasons that eating cruciferous vegetables is so beneficial is because of their sulforaphane content. Sulforaphane is a phytonutrient classified as one of the isothiocyanate group, which has a wide range of effects in the body. Read on to discover my favourite 7.

1. Antioxidant activity. Numerous clinical studies indicate that sulforaphane has significant antioxidant effects, and according to a scientific paper published in Trends in Neuroscience, 2006, sulforaphane also stimulates the production of antioxidant enzymes. We need antioxidants to protect ourselves from the wide range of oxidative stresses that we are exposed to on a daily basis. For more information about oxidative stress and how it affects you, click here.

2. Detoxification. Detox is the buzzword of the decade, and not without good reason. In my book The Fatigue Solution, I have devoted a whole chapter to detox and why it is so important in fighting fatigue. Sulforaphane stimulates phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification in the liver and this has far-reaching benefits (see below). For the full lowdown on how to detox safely and very effectively, click here.

3. Anticancer. Leading on from the above, sulforaphane is very effective at detoxing potential carcinogens. This benefit is seen largely in phase 2 detoxification systems in the liver, and sulforaphane from broccoli appears to be dose-dependent – i.e. more broccoli, more detoxification of carcinogens. Broccoli sprouts, according to research conducted by Fahey, Zhang and Talalay, may be between 10 and 100 times more potent in this effect than consuming the mature plant. In other studies, sulforaphane from cruciferous vegetables has been shown to be protective against cancers of the breast, bladder, prostate, lung and colon. Good reason to grow your own broccoli sprouts in an automatic sprouter like the one I use – click here to buy one and quote RAWFOOD20 to get a 20% discount on this great kitchen device.

4. Antibacterial. H pylori is a bacterium that is implicated not just in gastric ulceration but also stomach cancer and, somewhat surprisingly, a heart condition known as atrial fibrillation, which leads to an irregular heartbeat. Research has shown that sulforaphane has the ability to destroy H pylori that resides both inside and outside the cell. It is as yet unknown how it does this, but it’s great to know that it does. Aren’t plants wonderful?

5. Anti-inflammatory. Since inflammation is something I have been fighting recently, this comes as great news. When sulforaphane is combined with curcumin from turmeric, there is a synergistic effect for reduction of inflammation. In nature, the sum is usually greater than the individual parts. Just as in cancer protection, the combination of nutrients from various plant sources is always more effective than one single ingredient (even if that ingredient is the wonderful sulforaphane).

6. Bone and cartilage health. Evidence is accumulating that not only could sulforaphane be useful in reducing the degradation of cartilage, but also might influence bone metabolism and protect against osteoporosis. For more information about keeping your bones healthy, click here.

7. Anti-Alzheimer’s. having lost my father to dementia, I am passionate about anything that can protect brain cells. It appears that via its detox action, sulforaphane could do just that. The studies are in the early stages, but why wait to increase your consumption of foods that are rich in sulforaphane?

And finally, it appears that raw really is best. With raw broccoli sprouts being shown to be significantly more powerful than the mature plant, what about the effects of cooking on sulforaphane? Naturally you would eat broccoli sprouts uncooked, but many people prefer to cook their “adult” broccoli. Studies have shown that boiling broccoli in water destroys 3 times the amount of sulforaphane than the process of steaming it. So if you must cook your broccoli, lightly steaming it is the way to go.

Want all the benefits of not just sulforaphane but the many, many other potent phytonutrients found in a rainbow-coloured variety of fruit, vegetables and berries? Click here for information on the scientifically proven supplement that I use and recommend. After all, we need all of the 25,000 phytonutrients found in the plant kingdom, not just sulforaphane.

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