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
Do you know the difference between, starch, simple sugars, resistant starch and fibre? All are carbohydrates and all have a different impact on fat storing and fat burning ability. Understanding the effect these different forms of carbohydrates have on your metabolism is critical to long-term health and weight loss.
Some carbs will actively put you in to fat-storing mode and shut off any possibility of burning your own body fat as a source of fuel. Other forms of carbohydrate actually feed your good bacteria, improving your overall health, including your fat-burning capacity. Some carbs trigger inflammation, which makes you more prone to fat storing, some carbs calm inflammation allowing the body to heal and regulate hormonal and metabolic balance.
When is comes to proteins, did you know that a high protein, low fat diet is extremely unhealthy? It puts the kidneys under a huge amount of pressure ad can lead to many imbalances and inflammatory issues. However, too little protein, that’s a big issue too, especially if you are trying to burn fat and build muscle.
Protein comes not only from animal sources like meat, fish, eggs and cheese but beans, nuts and seeds are also useful sources. Protein should always be accompanied by plenty of natural (non-refined) fats to be digested in a healthy and balanced way. Protein in a non-processed form i.e. as nature intended, often naturally contains fat along with the protein. Do you know which of the proteins listed above is the only one very low in fat?
Having a wide range of proteins, balanced by fat, in appropriate amounts, at every meal, is key to long-term health and metabolic balance.Getting the optimal ratio of healthy, slow-burn carbs (think green leafy & brightly coloured veg), appropriate amounts of protein, plenty of balancing fats and filling fibre is essential but not difficult. Whether breakfast, a quick snack or a four-course feast, ensuring you have all of these elements present will really help in transforming your body in to an energetic, fat-burning machine. It doesn’t have to be complicated; it doesn’t require weighing scales or apps to work out, but it is important you become aware of the whys and hows of getting this balance right.
Chapters 7 & 8 in my new book explains these principles in simple, accessible language.
Great news! My book, “Why Eating Less & Exercising More Makes You Fat” is out this Thursday , Nov. 10th. You can pre-order from all the usual online stores and most book retailers (links below). If you would like a signed copy, contact me via the website and I’ll send you one directly.
This book will be really beneficial for anyone you know who has battled with their weight for years, diet after diet failing,
or simply people who are confused about what a healthy diet really looks like.
Order your print copy from these retail outlets:
My book is available from more than tens of thousands of retailers, libraries, schools, internet commerce companies, and other channel partners, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters/Indigo (Canada), and other well-known book retailers and wholesalers across North America.
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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.
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is a measure of the rate of energy (calories) your body burns over a 24 hour period. Naturally skinny people tend to have a naturally high BMR, meaning that they burn off the calories in their food very rapidly by converting the food in to energy and their body then seamlessly turns to body fat to keep them going if the food energy gets low.
There are some genetics involved in this, but there are also many lifestyle factors that can influence whether we are a high, fast burner of calories and fat, or a slow burner and good storer. One of the key principles of BMR is how much muscle you have. Muscle fibres are very metabolically active, requiring a constant supply of fuel, even when we are not actually moving the muscles. Increasing muscle density is what to focus on. Many women are concerned that doing some weights / resistance training will make them bulk up. The reality is, very few women will develop big muscles as testosterone, a hormone far greater in men than women, but essential to women’s health, is at a level for most women equivalent to that of an 8 year old boy. This means bulking up just isn’t going to happen. By challenging your muscles to the point of fatigue, using high weights and low reps, your muscle fibres will increase activity and density, resulting in that higher metabolic burn every second of every day while also giving your body tone and shape, not bulk.
Aerobic exercise, although supporting many areas of health including significant mental health benefits, is NOT an effective means to burning body fat and building muscle. This is such a common mistake made by those who want to slim down. Eating less and exercising more is the opposite of what is required to rev up your metabolic burn.
To really understand why this is the case and discover 3 further, really influential health practices that super-charge the metabolism, read my new book, out on Nov 10th: “Why Eating Less & Exercising More Makes you Fat”.