Fungi are incredible things. They are not plant but not animal, they are essential to life and they are everywhere including inside your body. As you will know if you’ve read previous blogs, the microbes inside our digestive systems influence every function within the body, including a healthy brain (the brains of Alzheimer’s patients are now known to have a degree fungal overgrowth). There are probably some positive functions being carried out by some of the fungi in our systems, but this is yet to be fully understood. What is known is that an excess of yeasts and fungi in the gut can trigger very powerful cravings for sugars and starchy, yeasty foods (bread).
If you suffer from a constant drive for sweet or starchy foods, or if at certain times of the day, all you think about is getting a sugar fix, it could be that it’s not actually you but an overgrowth of yeast (fungus) in your system, demanding to be fed. Yeasts thrive on sugar. We all have some degree of yeast and fungi in our guts and in a healthy system they are kept under control by the good stuff that lives there too. However,if you are eating sugars and starches on a daily basis, it is likely you are super-fueling the yeasty-guys and killing off the good guys. If the beneficial microbes get overwhelmed, the healthy ecology of the gut is thrown out of whack and that then has a knock on effect on so much else within the body.
An excess of yeast and fungi can manifest as dandruff, fungal nail infections, thrush infections, skin rashes, ‘jock itch’. But it may be that you have no such obvious symptoms, but more subtle issues like headaches, coated tongue, bad taste in your mouth first thing in the morning and a lot of bloating. A really common symptom is also brain fog!
How to fix it? Starve those billions of hungry fungi who love, love, love to feed on sugars and starches. That means NO SUGARS and refined starches for a good 30 days, it may take longer. You can speed up this process using an amazing probiotic yeast (counter-intuitive yes, but trust me – it’s an amazing way to clean out the nasties) called Saccharomyces Boulardii. Couple Sacc. B with a really good probiotic (capsules, liquid or powders containing live beneficial bacteria) and/or feed your good bacteria with fermented foods and fibre and you can rectify this problem amazingly quickly. Sort this imbalance out and for many, their sugar cravings disappear or certainly dramatically reduce as will all of those other horrid symptoms.
To find out more about how to de-sugar your body and brain and how to re-seed your good gut bacteria, read chapter 5 & 9 of my new book
I am so frustrated by the constant marketing-hype about the health benefits of rapeseed / Canola oil. It is not chemically possible to extract the oil from the seeds of a toxic plant like oil seed rape without doing so much damage in the process that the oil is rendered highly toxic and inflammatory. Rapeseed (Canola) oil is not high in healthy omega 3 as is widely promoted. Rather, this highly beneficial but volatile essential fatty acid is converted to damaging trans fats during processing. Sally Fallon from the Weston A Price Foundation, sums it up:
“Like all modern vegetable oils, canola oil goes through the process of refining, bleaching and de-gumming — all of which involve high temperatures or chemicals of questionable safety. And because canola oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which easily become rancid and foul-smelling when subjected to oxygen and high temperatures, it must be deodorized. The standard deodorization process removes a large portion of the omega-3 fatty acids by turning them into trans fatty acids. Although the Canadian government lists the trans content of canola at a minimal 0.2 percent, research at the University of Florida at Gainesville, found trans levels as high as 4.6 percent in commercial liquid oil. The consumer has no clue about the presence of trans fatty acids in canola oil because they are not listed on the label.”
For safe, healthy choices of fats to eat and cook with, that help you lose weight, and those to avoid that trigger inflammation and weight gain, read my chapter on Fats in my new book: “Why Eating Less & Exercising More Makes You Fat”. Out on November 10th.
Many people are now familiar with certain foods that contain live, beneficial bacteria – natural live yogurt being the most commonly consumed in the UK. A live food literally contains lots and lots of living bacteria. Including live foods in to your diet allows you to add to your own gut bacteria, keeping them ‘topped up’ and healthy. Much of modern life kills off our good bacteria, so looking after them is essential. Live foods also include non-pasteurized (not heat-treated) sauerkraut and kimichi (these are fermented vegetables); kefir, a sour, yogurt type drink that has oodles more bacteria than yogurt; water kefir (fermented water); Kombucha (fermented tea) and raw apple cider vinegar – a really useful digestive tonic and anti-inflammatory aid.
Adding some of these foods in to your diet on a regular basis is a really easy way to keep your gut microbiome healthy and a healthy microbiome will ensure your digestion, immune system, hormonal and brain chemical balance and metabolic functions are well regulated. You also need to feed your gut bugs with fibrous foods, as these are what the bacteria need to thrive and multiply (prebiotics). Low sugar fruits and lots of green leafy and brightly coloured veg provide lots of good fibre. Other good sources are pulses, nuts and seeds.
If you nurture and nourish your gut bacteria, your overall health will improve and you will also encourage growth of certain bacteria that appear to be instrumental in regulating our weight. This is a fascinating and very exciting area of research as ‘skinny’ bacteria have been identified, as have those that make us more prone to putting on weight, to type 2 diabetes, even some bacteria that make us more anxious and depressed, and most people eat for comfort when anxious and stressed, which further adds to the challenge of weight management.
Get inspired to eat live and fibre-rich foods to feed those 100 trillion beneficial bugs by reading chapter 5 of my upcoming book: ‘Why Eating Less & Exercising More Makes You Fat”. Out on Nov 10th.
The body is a miraculous machine, still far from being fully understood. A huge area of research in the last 20 years has been identifying triggers of inflammation inside the body as inflammation is known to be a major cause of chronic disease. A key initiator of internal inflammation is excess body fat, especially the fat that accumulates around the organs, increasing the waistline. This is known as visceral fat and the more you have the greater your risk of type 2 diabetes, dementia, cardio vascular disease and stroke to name a few.
Even seemingly skinny people can have too much visceral fat, so just focusing on what you weigh is not helpful. Getting your body fat percentage checked annually in a professional environment is far more indicative of how well, or unwell you may be. Understanding what makes us prone to storing fat around the middle is essential to then being able to reverse and / or prevent this.
We need a certain amount of body fat to function well. If we keep within the margins of around 15 – 22% for men and 18 – 25% for women, the body is able to produce plenty of energy in between meals and at night; has enough cushioning for the organs without the organs being over-burdened by fat and when we have the appropriate amount of body fat, our hormones can signal to each-other and the brain efficiently, ensuring we stay in a state of healthy balance. This then allows for a natural, clear appetite regulation (you know when you’re hungry and you know when you’re full), balanced energy production without energy crashes and sugar cravings, muscle mending and building and manufacture of hormones. In short, you don’t have to try to lose or gain, to work out when to eat and when to stop – your body clearly tells you.
We can quickly lose this natural self-regulation of appetite and fat burning as it can be deregulated by many modern-day life style factors. Understanding which of these factors are affecting you and what to do about it is essential to re-programing the body in to being able to naturally self-regulate, taking away the hard work of the guess work when knowing what to eat, how much to eat etc.
My book “Why Eating Less & Exercising More Makes You Fat” explains this subject and much more in lots of easily accessible detail. Available from November 10th 2016.
Most people have some awareness that there is an issue with the over-use of antibiotics and our growing resistance to them. As a result people are beginning to be far more judicious about taking antibiotics with the understanding that they should be used only when absolutely necessary.
However, few people are aware of just how many antibiotics are in the foods we eat. Below are some shocking statistics on antibiotic use around the world as applied to livestock. This means that the meat, poultry and fish you eat is highly likely to be laced with antibiotics unless the produce is marked organic. Antibiotics can be used in cases of sick animals within organic farming but it is not permitted for use in organic animal feed. Antibiotics are used in conventional animal feed partly as a means to control infection (which in itself is a dubious practice as constant exposure to antibiotics leads to suppression not strengthening of the immune system), but the main purpose for adding antibiotics to animal feed is for fattening and triggering quicker growth. This is an outrage!
Fortunately Britain is far from the worst where this is concerned, but it is standard practice in the UK, so be warned, go organic, free range, grass fed or at least grass finished. Yes, this is a premium product, so eat less but better.
“In some cases, antibiotics are used in agriculture to treat infections – but most are used prophylactically in healthy animals to prevent infection or, controversially, as a way of boosting weight gain. Using antibiotics as growth promoters was banned in the EU in 2006. Based on current rates, the global consumption of antibiotics is expected to increase by 67% by 2030. In the US alone, every year, 3,400 tonnes of antibiotics are used on patients, while 8,900 tonnes are used on animals.
The economist who led the review, Jim O’Neill, said such figures were simply “staggering” and 10 million people would die each year from drug-resistant infections by 2050. He said a reasonable target for agricultural antibiotic use would be 50mg for every 1kg of livestock – a level already achieved by one of the world’s biggest pork exporters, Denmark. The UK uses just over 50mg/kg, the US uses nearly 200mg/kg, while Cyprus uses more than 400mg/kg.”
To counteract the negative effects of antibiotics on our health, be it prescribed by the doctor or levels in our food, it is imperative we really look after our beneficial gut bacteria which get killed off by the antibiotics we consume. Eating foods that are live and fermented, meaning they contain beneficial bacteria can really help. Aim to have a daily range of these foods such as organic bio-yogurt, dairy kefir, raw sauerkraut, kimchi and raw apple cider vinegar. It will also help if you reduce your exposure to other factors that kill off our good bacteria: avoid / filter chlorinated tap water, limit alcohol, greatly reduce sugary and grain-rich foods and eat plenty of fibre-rich food like green leafy and brightly coloured veg; nuts & seeds; pulses / legumes, which contain prebiotics, food for our probiotic bacteria.
You can give your healthy gut bacteria a super-boost by taking probiotics – capsules, powders or liquids that contain high levels of these beneficial bugs. There are many on the market making it a confusing area for the consumer. You tend to get what you pay for as quality is king when it comes to how effective a probiotic is for you. However many billions of live bacteria a product might contain, what is more important is the variety and specific types and how well they have been protected against stomach acid that is designed to kill bacteria. The good bacteria have to be able to survive the passage through the stomach and small intestine to reach the colon where they then need to be adhere to the gut wall and then colonise. The truth is, science is weak when it comes to the efficacy of most probiotics and it may be that individuals respond better to different doses and types. There will come a time when we can determine exactly what numbers and type of beneficial bacteria an individual would most benefit from, but that’s probably a few yeas away.
For now, one of the few probiotics that has been independently, clinically tested and proven effective is Symprove, a liquid probiotic made from fermented barley. Taken daily, first thing in the morning for 12 weeks, your gut bacteria will greatly benefit and so too will your immune system, your digestive capacity and as the new research is discovering, a healthy gut bacteria also positively impacts weight management and mental health.
Any probiotic should be taken at least 2 hours away from taking antibiotics and taken either very first thing in the morning or after food when your stomach acid is at its lowest.
It’s been a long time since I last blogged and I have a very good excuse – I’ve been writing a book! The image here is rather misleading because I am discovering that the writing of my book is only the very beginning of a rather long and complex process of getting it to print. However, I am determined to get my book reader-ready as soon as possible, so watch this space. I already have a very healthy list of people who are keenly awaiting it, and if you would like to be notified once it’s ready, please send me an email or message me so I have your contact details. Oh?… the title of the book ….?
“Why Eating Less & Exercising More Makes You Fat!”