Tag Archive: diet

  1. June newsletter: the campaign against corn syrup

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    Taken from Kate’s newsletter – click here to subscribe.

    This month’s topic is something a little different. For a long time now I’ve been aware of corn syrup in our diet, but recently it’s hit the media in a big way, particularly after the documentary film, Food Inc. This deadly stuff is infiltrating its way into our foods and the only way to try and stop its production is to read food labels and avoid the obvious foods that contain it. There is a huge campaign in the U.S. and now murmurings in the U.K. to ban it completely, and I’m sure it can be done (perhaps not this week, but give it a few years of public demand and small miracles can happen!).

    We are told over and over again that fat is bad, fat makes people fat and butter should be banned. However it is sugar and refined foods that are one of the main causes of the obesity epidemic. What makes matters worse is that the corn (used to make the corn syrup) is subsidised by the U.S. government, so one could argue that they are causing the problem in the first place – how about that for getting your eyes open! Concentrating on exercise is all very well (and of course it is a vital component for shifting fat), but weight loss will only come if people stop eating addictive junk food. Those of you who saw Morgan Spurlock’s documentary Supersize Me may also remember how, about halfway through the challenge, he started craving the food that was making him ill, and it seemed by that stage he had become addicted. Being ‘addicted’ to food is a relatively new concept, but we now need to look at this seriously as one of the reasons why people eat too much of the wrong foods. What it is in the food that makes people continue to eat in this way? I call it the Hobnob theory. Why is it when you buy a packet of biscuits you have to eat the whole packet? What’s going on here? Is it just greed or is there something more sinister going on?

    So what is corn syrup?

    In the U.K., corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup is also known as isoglucose, maize syrup, and glucose-fructose syrup. It includes any corn syrup groups that have undergone processing to convert glucose to fructose and then mixed with corn syrup (100% glucose) to produce sweetness.

    In the U.S. foods and products containing HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) are typically using it as a sugar substitute and it is found in processed foods and beverages, soft drinks, yogurt, bread, biscuits, soups, salad dressing, and soup. This HFCS has replaced table sugar thanks to the U.S. government’s subsidy on corn and an import tariff on sugar from overseas. This has raised the price of sucrose so high that HFCS is extremely cost-efficient. Since the mid 1990s, the United States federal government has subsidized corn growers. The cheapness of the corn syrup is why you can get a large junk meal in the U.S. for 99 cents. It’s so cheap that it makes poorer families so much more vulnerable. You can barely get a couple of sticks of broccoli for 99 cents. As you can see, this is a ludicrous way to run a country. Fruit and vegetables should be cheap – not junk food – it makes no sense whatsoever. It makes me mad and hopefully it makes you mad as well!

    There is at present an internal argument going on – one side saying that this HFCS is contributing to obesity and the other side saying it’s no more harmful than regular sugar. Studies by The American Medical Association suggest “it appears unlikely that HFCS contributes more to obesity or other conditions than sucrose” but calls for further independent research on the subject. You will hear similar statements from the fizzy drinks industry (no surprise there then!), and remember if the U.S. government is subsidising HFCS – which essentially they are – how are they going to do the massive U-turn that is needed? The easiest way is not at all, just keep sending out statements that it doesn’t effect health when they know it does.

    Back to the Hobnob theory (or any other biscuit that contains HFCS…) Purposefully buy a product with glucose fructose syrup in – e.g. a packet of biscuits and eat a couple. Not everyone, but most people, will either have a steep rise in blood sugar (8 mmo/l or higher) or will have that ‘I need to eat the whole packet’ scenario. If you have either of those – welcome to the world of addictive corn syrup! Start your day with cornflakes and feel how starving you are three hours later (yes…cornflakes contain HFCS).

    Those who oppose HFCS call it as addictive as crack cocaine and heroin, and unless you checked labels you wouldn’t really notice it entering the food system. Unless you researched it yourself I suspect you wouldn’t even know what it was. In the UK, it is now being widely used instead of beet and cane sugar (sucrose), as it’s cheaper to produce and easier to blend into foodstuffs. It contains around the same number of calories as sugar, but it is thought that the body does not metabolise the syrup in the same way as sugar and that this can lead to weight gain.

    What foods contain high fructose corn syrup?

    Here are some products that contain HFCS or, as its called in the UK, glucose fructose syrup:

    Kellogg’s Cornflakes
    Kellogg’s All Bran
    Kellogg’s Rice Crispies
    Ribena
    Ocean Spray cranberry juice (a real shocker as so many women buy this to help with cystitis)
    Mullerice apple & Mullerice caramel
    Yoplait Petits Filous (marketed at children)
    Fromage Frais
    McVities HobNobs
    McVities Jaffa Cakes
    Carte D’Or ice cream
    Weightwatchers vanilla and fruit fromage frais (this is worrying as this is so called ‘diet’ food)
    Frubes
    Mr Kipling Bakewell slices
    Lucozade
    Yop yoghurt strawberry

    Going round the supermarket the other day the number of products with this has risen greatly, and sadly there are just too many to list. Do particularly look out for it in yoghurts.

    Returning to the Hobnob theory, HFCS may trick the brain into thinking you need more food. Why so often is it hard to stop eating just one biscuit, how does a spoon of ice cream become a whole tub? So often I read that getting fat is down to personal responsibility and it is greed that makes people fat. What if that wasn’t necessarily always true – what if people were actually addicted to the very food that was making them ill? How do people get to be 40 stone?

    HFCS has been labelled ‘the Devil’s Candy’ and may trigger the growth of fat cells around the liver, heart and other vital organs and even cause diabetes and heart disease. The fructose part may be to blame for artificially boosting appetite and sending confused messages to our brains regarding our satiety. As you may be aware, when you eat sugar your body produces insulin, which tells the brain that we’ve had enough to eat and high insulin levels dampen appetite. However, fructose does not trigger as much insulin as regular sugar so the brain will get the message that you are not full up and want to keep on eating. Certainly previous studies have linked fructose with high blood levels of triglycerides (a fat which, in excess, can increase the risk of heart disease).

    A study at Colorado University in the U.S. looked at more than 4,500 people with no history of hypertension, and found that those who ate or drank more than 74 grams a day of fructose (the same as two-and-a-half sugary drinks) increased their risk of high blood pressure by up to 87 per cent.

    I’m confused? Does this mean we shouldn’t eat fruit?

    In moderation fruit is fine, particularly low GI fruits – but perhaps avoid huge bunches of grapes, and high amounts of bananas and dates etc. Also be careful not to drink too much fruit juice – it’s a concentrated form of fructose and can contain quite a few calories – dilute it half and half with water. Fruit sugar per se is not bad, it’s how it is changed and combined that is the problem.

    HFCS is cheap and also keeps foods moist, which boosts a product’s shelf life. It also helps to provide texture to food such as cereal bars and biscuits, making them chewy, and thickens up ice cream and yoghurt drinks. It’s not just used in obviously sweet foods – glucose fructose syrup is also found in lots of products you wouldn’t necessarily imagine contain it, such as cereal and batteries. Often it appears in product ingredients lists as ‘glucose-fructose syrup’, ‘high fructose corn syrup’, or ‘HFCS’, which is the name used by some manufacturers.

    Has it been proven to affect our metabolism?

    Scientists have indeed proved that HFCS can damage human metabolism and may well be fuelling the obesity crisis. Fructose, a sweetener derived from corn, can cause dangerous growths of fat cells around vital organs and is able to trigger the early stages of diabetes and heart disease. Fructose bypasses the digestive process that breaks down other forms of sugar. It arrives intact in the liver where it causes a variety of abnormal reactions, including the disruption of mechanisms that instruct the body whether to burn or store fat. Kimber Stanhope, a molecular biologist who led the study, says “This is the first evidence we have that fructose increases diabetes and heart disease independently from causing simple weight gain.” “We didn’t see any of these changes in the people eating glucose.”

    High-fructose corn syrup, or glucose-fructose syrup, is listed as an ingredient in many food and drink products in Britain, although it is virtually impossible for consumers to know the quantity and ratio of fructose used. Barry Popkin, professor of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina, and a US government adviser on health policy, said: “Historically, we never consumed much sugar. We’re not built to process it.” The Food and Drink Federation, a UK industry trade group, have said: “It makes no sense to highlight one single ingredient as a cause of obesity.”

    Whatever you choose to believe, this week a new report is expected to claim that about one in 10 children in England will be obese by 2015. Grim news indeed, and our genes cannot change that fast – something else is happening.

    Interesting facts

    Between 1967 and 2000 the consumption of HFCS increased by over 1000%, far exceeding the changes in intake of any other food group.

    HFCS represents over 40% of sweeteners added to foods and drinks.

    A conservative estimate of the daily consumption of HFCS in the US is 132 kcal, while the top 20% of consumers eating HFCS ingest 316 daily. The daily average is 318 kcal. Over a year, that would equate to 115,752 calories.

    The evidence for and against is conflicting, as with most studies, depending on who is doing the trial. However, if you look at the data (and I have done) on trends in obesity and HFCS availability the evidence to me seems overwhelming. Whilst not the only issue in the rise in obesity it can certainly be one of the major causes, and until more research is done, I would eat it in extreme moderation if at all. If you go to www.sweetsurprise.com you will see the case for but do remember why it is in foods – its subsidised and its cheap – I’ll let you make your own minds up.

    Drinks containing HFCS tend to have higher levels of reactive carbonyls, which are linked to tissue and cell damage that may lead to diabetes.

    Don’t forget the corn from which the HFCS is derived may be GM.

    Food and drink can be labelled natural and have HFCS in them – only foods labelled 100% organic can be assumed to be HFCS free, however even then HFCS may be in the food if it is not GM and grown organically – tricky!

    There is one small food chain in Seattle that no longer carries products containing HFCS.

    WANT TO KNOW MORE? WATCH SUGAR: THE BITTER TRUTH – ON YOUTUBE HERE.

    If you would like to get more involved join The Ban of High Fructose Corn Syrup on Facebook or Google about it, get talking about it with friends, and start reading. Do not be hoodwinked, this stuff is economically evil and damaging to your health.

    In-season recipe: Broad Beans

    I love broad beans simply boiled, buttered and served with the Sunday roast. They’re also wonderful when partnered with bacon or pancetta.

    HISTORY
    Broad beans are thought to have originated in the Mediterranean. Archaeological findings at Iron Age and Bronze Age settlements in various parts of Europe show that they have been an important staple food for millennia. Today broad beans grow in temperate regions across the globe. They are known as fava beans in America where they haven’t reached the same level of popularity as in Europe. They are enjoyed across northern China and are crucial to Egyptian cuisine as a key ingredient in the national dish, Ful medames, and in falafels.

    BIOLOGY
    Broad beans are a type of vetch with the Latin name Vicia faba. Vetches, which include peas and alfalfa, are nitrogen-fixing plants that enrich the soil in which they are planted. Commonly cultivated broad beans mainly fall into two classes. Longpod beans feature eight beans per pod and are more durable to different climatic conditions. Windsor varieties have four or five beans per pod and are considered by some to have a finer flavour.

    NUTRITION
    Broad beans are good sources of protein, fibre, vitamins A and C, potassium and iron. They also contain levodopa (L-dopa), a chemical the body uses to produce dopamine (the neurotransmitter associated with the brain’s reward and motivation system).

    Broad Bean Risotto

    Ingredients

    450g broad beans, shelled
    3 tablespoon olive oil
    1 onion, peeled and chopped finely
    2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
    500g risotto rice
    1.7 litres hot vegetable Stock (or chicken stock if you prefer)
    1 tablespoon fresh thyme sprigs
    Salt and pepper
    Fresh parmesan shavings

    Gently heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan. Cook the onion until it has softened but do not let it brown. Add broad beans and the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the rice and continue to cook until the grains have become translucent and glossy. Turn the heat down and add the stock, one ladle at a time. All the liquid must be absorbed before adding more. Stir all of the time. This will take no less than 20-25 minutes. Add half the thyme with the last ladle of liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Take the pan off the heat, cover and leave of stand. Serve hot on warmed plates and sprinkle with the last of the thyme and shavings of Parmesan. Serve with a delicious salad and garlic bread.

  2. Judging people’s health by their looks

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    Following on from a recent article in the Daily Mail, it is fair to say that we judge people to be healthy if they look good on the outside. However the outer beauty whether faked or real rarely hides or makes up for what is really going on inside the body.

    An example of this arrived at my door last year – a family of four all came to me for a complete health MOT – a few basic blood tests, cholesterol, thyroid, full blood count, diet etc. On sight they were the healthiest four people I had seen in a long time – very good looking, great skin, good hair, sparkling eyes, great BMI’s, all with no health problems. Alarmingly the parents blood tests came back and all was not well. The father had dangerously raised cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and his homocysteine was the highest I had seen for a while – it seemed he was a walking time bomb. The mother came back as having an underactive thyroid, low B12 and anaemia and also raised cholesterol. What was concerning was that they displayed no symptoms whatsoever. Even with anaemia the mother looked well. This just goes to show that you just cannot judge the inside by the outside.

    I think it’s even more relevant today with botox, hair extensions, whitened teeth, fake tan – its not difficult to make ourselves look better but do remember that it is fake, and will never reflect the rising liver damage or hardened arteries inside us!

  3. Coeliac Awareness Week – 10th-16th May 2010

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    If you are in doubt, get tested and look out for the following symptoms:

    The symptoms can be subtle, and you may feel unwell for some time for no reason before the diagnosis is made. It used to be thought that coeliac disease affected about 1 in 1500 people. More accurate diagnosis through blood tests has shown that the condition affects up to 1 in 300 people in the United Kingdom, Europe and the USA. It is more common in some areas of the world, particularly on the west coast of Ireland, where 1 in every 100 people are thought to have coeliac disease. Coeliac disease can affect you at any age. It was thought to be more common in men, but probably occurs equally in men and women. One definite risk factor is a history of the condition in your family. Coeliac disease occurs in people who are genetically prone to it. If you have a parent, sibling or child with coeliac disease, you have a 10 per cent chance of also developing it. If you have an identical twin with coeliac disease, your chances increase to more than 70 per cent.

    Coeliac disease has many and varied symptoms, and symptoms in adults are different to those in children.

    Childhood symptoms

    In childhood symptoms do not appear until gluten-containing foods are introduced into the diet.

    • Poor appetite, irritability and a failure to gain weight are usually the first symptoms.
    • Pale, bulky stools that smell nasty.
    • Vomiting and diarrhoea, which can lead to a wrong diagnosis of gastroenteritis.
    • Swollen stomach.
    • Arm and leg muscles may become wasted and thin.

    Adult symptoms

    • weight loss with pale, offensive diarrhoea
    • constipation
    • abdominal bloating with wind.
    • extreme tiredness – which is a sign of anaemia
    • psychological problems like depression
    • bone pain and sometimes even fractures – which are due to thinning of the bones
    • ulcers in the mouth
    • a blistering, itchy skin rash mostly on the elbows and knees, called dermatitis herpetiformis.

    In one neurology clinic, several patients who, for no apparent reason, had difficulty walking and coordinating (ataxia) were tested for coeliac antibodies in the blood. A significant number were found to have coeliac disease, although many of them did not have any gut symptoms. Your doctor may also want to know whether you have lost weight or whether you have symptoms of anaemia (tiredness, exhaustion, pallor). The doctor may:

    • examine your abdomen
    • look for a blistering rash on your skin
    • check for mouth ulcers
    • Your doctor will check for anaemia, testing the levels of iron, folic acid and calcium in your blood

    Another blood test detects antibodies that are often found in coeliac disease. Several antibodies are linked to the condition, but the most specific is anti-endomysial antibody. If this is present in the blood, you are very likely to have coeliac disease.

    An endoscopy test is often used to diagnose coeliac disease. Your doctor should arrange this test at the endoscopy unit at your local hospital.

  4. Brainwashing through marketing

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    As I often do, I got into a long discussion the other evening about branding and marketing. What was clear on going through the foods most marketed is how the british breakfast has changed. Gone are the eggs on toast and more and more people are being targeted to eat sugary cereals. As I told one patient the other day, look at what is not being marketed and that is what you need to eat. When was the last time you saw an advert for scrambled eggs on toast? Well of course you never have as it’s near impossible to brand or market eggs.

    The hot topic food products discussed were probiotic yoghurts and drinks, cereals, fast food chains and so called beneficial margarines. There is a kind of brainwashing going on which people need to wake up to. Going to work on a sugar-based cereal will not fill you up, protein fills you up. Eating a snack bar mid morning will not make you lose weight because it is full of sugar, and will leave you starving. A probiotic yoghurt is so low in good bacteria that it will not magically make your IBS disappear. Apart from anything these products are expensive. A large bag of jumbo oats lasts twice as long as a packet of cereal.

    GPs are still shocked when I tell my patients that a scrape of organic butter will not kill you. Fat is not the enemy remember. During the recession the media kept banging on about the second world war which frankly I found quite irritating but diet-wise they had it spot on. Hardly any sugar was eaten and of course processed foods had barely got off the ground. Butter was eaten and exercise was taken.

    Just stop a minute when you are next shopping and ask yourself what is it that you are buying, and is it really good for your health or has someone told you it is so……

  5. Kelloggs Krave – a new brand of cereal is unleashed

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    Looking at the ingredients of the new Kelloggs Krave (see below), I still think these cereals are too full of sugar. This particular one does not have the glucose fructose syrup but is still not good for those children who are sensitive to grain and dairy, and lactose. More and more children are being diagnosed with ADHD and learning difficulties and sending them to school on sugar is not the greatest idea. A protein breakfast with carbohydrate or porridge would give even blood sugar control throughout the morning.

    Cereal Flours (Oat, Rice & Wheat), Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Hazelnut (4%), Chocolate (4%) (Sugar, Cocoa Mass, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder, Flavouring), Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder, Skimmed Milk Powder, Lactose (from milk), Salt, Almonds, Colour (Carotenes, Annatto), Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin), Antioxidant (Ascorbyl Palmitate, Alpha Tocopherol), Niacin, Iron, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (B2), Thiamin (B1), Folic Acid, Vitamin B12.

  6. Food neurosis

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    Sadly more and more often I am seeing clients who come to me with what I term as “food neurosis”. I will take the example of a 34 yr old woman (let’s call her Jane) who came to see me late last year. She had IBS, and no one had been able to help her. She had been through endoscopies, colonoscopies, barium x-rays, drugs, hypnotherapy etc and got precisely nowhere. During this time, which was about a year she had become more and more anxious about what she was eating – eliminating more and more food groups until she was barely eating anything. She had convinced herself that she was allergic to nearly everything: red meat; wheat; gluten; yeast; all dairy foods; too much carbohydrate. She had diagnosed herself as having candida (a yeast infection that can occur in the vagina, mouth and bowel). She had read a book that said she couldn’t eat fruit, or nuts (as they had mould on). She was literally eating ricecakes with some foul nut butter on, water, vegetables, chicken and rice.

    It took a long time to convince this girl that she had it all wrong. So often people with food neurosis blame allergy/intolerance for their symptoms. She agreed to a stool test with me and in fact she had 3 parasites which responded really well to antibiotics. Her IBS went, she went on a course of probiotics. I then convinced her she wasn’t allergic to gluten or cows milk by doing a coeliac and lactose tolerance blood test – both were negative. She is now eating pretty much anything she wants. She still doesn’t eat red meat and avoids cows milk, but the variety of her daily diet has increased substantially. She began to enjoy her food and realise that it was not the enemy and freely admits now that she had become totally neurotic.

    It is vital to enjoy your food. It’s one of life’s amazing pleasures. The 80/20 rule pretty much works for everyone, i.e. 20% you eat what you want, and 80% you eat well. Do not eliminate large groups of food unless you have proof that they are definitely the cause of your problem. Food neurotics become boring. You can’t invite them round to dinner and you can’t go out to dinner with them!!

    Having said that I am genuinely lactose intolerant, and allergic to msg and mushrooms so I find dining out hard however it doesn’t stop me going out to eat – I find my way around those menus somehow!

  7. Nutrition myths debunked

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    Taken from this month’s newsletter, just out – to subscribe and receive the newsletter, click here.

    Scrambled eggs on toast1. A cooked breakfast is bad for you.
    Scrambled eggs on toast is a wonderful way to start the day rather than a sugary based cereal. Hold back on the fried bread and sausage though. A protein breakfast will leave you feeling fuller longer and keep your blood sugar levels stable until lunch and stop the urge to snack on sweet foods.

    2. Fat makes you fat/all fat is bad.
    This is the strongest held myth still talked about today. It’s a long-held nutrition myth that all fats are bad. But the fact is, we all need fat. It helps with the absorption of nutrients, nerve transmission, and helps to maintain cell membrane integrity. However, when consumed in excessive amounts, fats contribute to weight gain, heart disease and certain types of cancers. However not all fats are the same. Some fats can actually help promote good health. The key is to replace bad fats (saturated fats and trans fats) with good fats (monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats). It doesn’t make you fat either! When you eat fat, your body has to break it down into building blocks and then its absorbed. The fat you have in your body is not the same as  you eat. In fact, the fat naturally found in whole foods is fat you actually need for your body to function properly. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) are a type of fat that you need to eat. This is why they are called essential. Your body cannot make them, so you must get them from food. Every cell in your body is partly made up of these EFA’s. To breathe, to have your heart beat, to run, walk, think, to make hormones, to remember anything, you need essential fatty acids. If you don’t have them in the food you eat, your body will not function properly, and the only place you can find them is in food that has naturally occurring fat e.g. oily fish, nuts and seeds etc. So if you try and cut fat out of your body, you will actually be causing harm and not really be doing anything to get rid of the fat already in your body.

    So if fat doesn’t make you fat – what does? The answer is sugar and refined carbohydrates. You have a relatively set amount of fat cells in your body. It is just a matter of how big those cells are. Sugar affects the size of your fat cells. This is because glucose is stored in your fat cells, and there is a “gate” that controls the movement of sugar in and out of your fat cells.  The key to this gate is insulin. Insulin is the key that opens the gate to the fat cells and allows excess glucose in the blood to go into the fat cells. So if you never eat anything that raises your blood sugar levels beyond normal, your body will not release insulin, and you will not get bigger fat cells. The body releases insulin to lower blood sugar levels that are too high. So sugar and refined carbohydrates are actually the largest contributing factor to why people are overweight. The ironic part of all of this, is that low fat foods usually have added sugar.

    Brown sugar3. Brown sugar is better than white sugar.
    The brown sugar sold in stores is usually white granulated sugar with added molasses. Even though it does contain minute amounts of minerals., you would need to eat a large portion of brown sugar every day to gain anything from these minimal amounts. Nutritionally I think unrefined brown sugar is better for cooking and eating as it does contain iron, chromium and minerals that are essential for health. Refined white sugar is the only “food” substance that has absolutely no nutrients in it whatsoever.

    4.  Avoid carbohydrate to lose weight.
    The key message that many low-carb diets convey is that carbohydrates promote insulin production, which in turn results in weight gain. Therefore by reducing carbohydrate intake, you can lose weight. Unfortunately, this is just another nutrition myth. Many low-carb diets actually do not provide sufficient carbohydrates to your body for daily maintenance. Therefore your body will begin to burn stored carbohydrates (glycogen) for energy. When your body starts burning glycogen, water is released. Therefore the drastic initial drop of weight at the beginning of a low-carb diet is mostly the water that you lose as a result of burning glycogen. The truth is that low-carb diets are also often calorie-restricted! Followers only eat an average of 1000 – 1400 calories daily, compared to an average intake of 1800 – 2200 calories for most people. To lose one pound a week, you only need to eat 500 fewer calories per day in your normal diet. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you eat a high- or low-carb diet, you will lose weight if you decrease your caloric intake to less than needed to maintain your weight. However in my weight loss programme I do advise a higher ratio of protein to carbohydrate with every meal, with the emphasis on protein particularly for breakfast. So reduce carbohydrates a little when losing weight – do not cut them out totally.

    5. Nuts are fattening.
    Nuts can be quite “calorically dense” e.g. 15 cashews have 180 kilocalories! On top of that, it is very tough not to overeat these tasty snacks. If you can restrain yourself from overeating them, nuts can be a source of protein and a good snack food. It’s a nutrition myth that nut should be avoided. They are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as plant sterols, all of which have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. In 2003, the FDA approved a health claim for seven kinds of nuts stating that “scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces (45 grams) per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Instead of simply adding nuts to your diet, the best approach is to eat them in replacement of foods high in saturated fats. If you are watching your weight you are probably avoiding nuts as they are high in fat – however nuts are high in protein, fibre, vitamins, selenium, other minerals and omega 3 oils. However, do avoid salted nuts and limit yourself to 8-10 nuts a day.

    6Water. Everyone should drink 8 glasses of water per day.
    You need to replace water lost through breathing, excrement and sweating each day – but that doesn’t necessarily total 64 ounces of water. It’s hard to measure the exact amount of water you have consumed daily in food and drink, but if your urine is pale yellow, you’re doing a good job. If it’s a darker yellow, drink more water. Daily requirements will vary according to your needs. Marathon runners will need more than sedentary workers and those of you taking medication may need more as well. The standard 1.5 litres is normal, but this will vary with the amounts of fruit and vegetables you eat and how active you are.

    7. Skipping meals can help lose weight.
    Many people think that by skipping a meal, they will be eating less food and therefore lose weight. As we now know, this is a nutrition myth. People who think skipping meals means weight loss do not understand how our bodies work. If you skip a meal, your body will think that you are in starvation mode and therefore slow down the metabolism to compensate. You then tend to overeat at the next meal. Often, skipping a meal and then eating too much at the next one means that you have a higher total caloric intake than if you just ate more frequently throughout the day. A better approach is to eat smaller frequent healthy meals and snacks to keep your blood sugar balanced.

    8. Red meat is bad for your health.
    I often hear people saying they avoid eating red meat. When I ask why they don’t, or even what they consider to be red meat, the answers vary dramatically. Many of my patients have studied the Eat Right for Your Blood Type and have discovered that they feel better when they eat red meat. However, it’s not right for everyone. Best avoided for those with gut problems, arthritis and high cholesterol or heart problems. If you do eat red meat choose lean cuts and try and by free range or organic. This does not include processed meat which should be avoided at all costs, but by all means enjoy a good roast lamb for Sunday lunch.

    9. Eat less food in hot weather.
    As the temperature outside rises your appetite may decrease. Even if you do not feel hungry you need to eat because you need as much energy to perspire and stay cool as you do to stay warm. If you do not find yourself eating so much in the summer months and lose a few pounds that’s fine but don’t forget to eat your quota of essential nutrients and remember to keep well hydrated. It’s key to keep an eye on your sodium and potassium levels in severe heat.

    10. Raw vegetables are better than cooked. Raw vegetables
    There is nothing wrong with raw vegetables but they are not always so nutritious as cooked. Some pulses such as red kidney beans contain a toxin which if not cooked can cause sickness and diarrhoea. Butter beans contain cyanide that could be dangerous if eaten raw. Some vegetables improve – cooking carrots or tomatoes helps to release carotenoids and lycopenes. However do remember when cooking vegetables to steam them and eat them al dente to retain as many of the nutrients as possible.

    11. Eating for two is necessary during pregnancy.
    Energy requirements vary among individuals. Unfortunately, the idea that pregnancy is an ice cream free-for-all is a nutrition myth. It is generally recommended that pregnant women increase their daily intake by 100 kcal in the first trimester and 300 kcal in the second and third trimesters. An extra snack before bedtime consisting of a fruit, a serving of milk or yogurt, and a few biscuits is often enough. A daily prenatal multivitamin supplement is often recommended during pregnancy, but not a daily bowl of ice cream! Trying to eat little and often whilst pregnant is also a good idea as it keeps blood sugar and energy levels stable.

    12. Brown grain products are whole grain products.
    Brown dyes and additives can give foods the deceiving appearance of whole grain. Read labels to be sure a food is whole grain. For example brown bread is not necessarily wholemeal bread it is often white bread died with caramel.

    13. Eating eggs will raise your cholesterol.
    This myth began because egg yolks have the most concentrated amount of cholesterol of any food. However, there’s not enough cholesterol there to pose health risks if eggs are eaten in moderation. Studies suggest that eating one egg per day will not raise cholesterol levels and that eggs are actually a great source of nutrients. Eggs contain Vitamin A,D, B12, niacin and protein and many are rich in omega 3 from the feed.

    14. Eating fibre causes problems if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
    There are two kinds of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fibre can cause problems in IBS sufferers; soluble fibre, however, is more easily absorbed by the body and helps prevent constipation for those with IBS. Soluble fibre is found in most grains, particularly porridge and psyllium husks are also a good source. For those with severe IBS, avoid bran cereals as they can be abrasive and make IBS worse. That can also be the case for a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Take it easy and see what works best for you.

    15. All alcohol is bad for you. Alcohol
    Again, moderation is key. Six ounces of wine and 12 ounces of beer are considered moderate amounts, and should not pose any adverse health effects to the average healthy adult. All alcohol is an anticoagulant and red wine also contains antioxidants, so drinking a small amount daily can be beneficial.

    16. Diet food is healthy food.
    Don’t get me started on this one! When you choose diet food you are probably not eating as well as you think. Calorie controlled ready meals are high in salt and sugar and the portions are tiny so they won’t fill you up. For example, some low fat biscuits contain more calories than regular varieties – that’s because the manufacturers have added more sugar to make them taste better – always check the label. When I do my home visits I’m always shocked at the amount of diet food in people’s cupboards and fridges. Stop choosing low fat and sugar free foods. Look at the back of the packet not at the front – that’s where you will see the real ingredients.

    17. Eating before bed makes you gain weight.
    Many diets recommend a carbohydrate curfew after 6pm. This limits the amount of calories you have a day and can also can give you a low blood sugar attack in the night as you would be going over 12 hours without food before breakfast. You will gain weight if you expend the calories you use in the day – when you eat them does not make the slightest bit of difference. However it’s not a good idea to go straight to bed after a heavy meal though.

    18. Diet drinks are healthy.
    Diet drinks may be low in calories but they are very acidic which can damage the tooth enamel. They also contain artificial sweeteners which can be toxic to the body. There is also evidence that the body responds to the sweeteners in the same way it does sugar, raising insulin levels and leaving you craving for more sweet food. Avoid them at all costs and choose juice, which can be diluted half and half with water.

    19. A vegetarian diet is healthier.
    A vegetarian diet can be extremely healthy if you are not relying heavily on cheese as your main protein source. Include pulses, tofu and nuts as well. Keep an eye on your iron and B12 levels as well.

    20. Eating any more than three meals a day will make me fat.
    Eating five smaller meals a day will keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day and balance your insulin levels Supplementsmaking it in fact easier to lose weight.

    21. Supplements are a waste of money.
    Not always. It’s important to get the right advice when choosing supplements. Some people need them and some don’t. It completely depends on your diet, lifestyle and overall health.

    22. Vitamin C stops a cold.
    Actually there is no research to back this up. Once you have the cold virus, you have it. Vitamin C can however boost your immune system on a general basis and you may catch fewer viruses but it can’t stop the virus itself.

  8. Latest newsletter: The outward signs of health problems, and personality types

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    Taken from this month’s newsletter, just out – to subscribe and receive the newsletter, click here.

    The outward signs of health problems

    As a complete unique individual you will have completely unique individual traits in not only your personality but also how you look. Starting with the eyes (often referred to as the windows of the soul) here are some symptoms that people suffer from and what they could (but not necessarily) mean:

    Eyes
    Glassy-eyed: too much adrenaline, exhaustion, prescription or recreational drug use
    Bloodshot: lack of vitamin B, tiredness, allergy, infection
    Itchy/dry: allergy, vitamin B deficiency or lack of tears (sjorgrens syndrome)
    Dark circles: tiredness, anaemia, parasites (often seen in children)
    Allergic shiners: usually seen in children – an allergy to a food or inhalant
    Photophobia: lack of vitamin B, migraine/headache sufferer
    Sunken eyes: dehydration/exhaustion
    Pallor under eyes: anaemia

    Nails
    White spots on nail: calcium and/or zinc deficiency (often seen after an illness)
    Pitted nails: can indicate partial or total hair loss
    Ridges: vertical can indicate general poor health and horizontal can occur after severe
    stress

    Pulse
    Very slow: i.e. if under 50 bpm and little/no exercise done it can be braccycardia – a sign of hypothyroidism
    Fast/irregular pulse: heart conditions/anxiety

    Skin
    Spots: there are many reasons for spots or acne. Usually where they are on the face can give a clue, e.g. around the chin and hairline is usually hormonal.
    Rashes: can indicate an allergy or fungal infection
    Dry and scaly: dehydrated, lack of vitamin A, lack of EFA’s (essential fatty acids)

    Skin colour:
    Lemon Yellow: lack of vitamin B12, pernicious anaemia
    White: anaemia, lack of zinc
    Orange: can indicate liver problems, jaundice
    Dark Pink/Red: high blood pressure/heart problems

    Athletes foot: fungal infection
    Easy bruising: can indicate a lack of vitamin C
    Dandruff: usually a fungal infection
    Psoriasis: stress, lack of EFA’s, allergy
    Eczema: stress, lack of EFA’s, allergy
    Vitiligo: autoimmune conditions/lack of PABA’s

    Lips
    Cracked: lack of essential fatty acids or vitamin B
    Sores at the corners: lack of vitamin B3
    Dry: lack of EFA’s

    Mouth
    Dry mouth: dehydrated, medication or lack of saliva (sjorgrens syndrome)
    Ulcers on tongue: run down or allergy
    White coating round the gums: oral candida
    Bad breath: tooth decay or bad digestion

    Your personality

    Although there is no scientific basis whatsoever, I love the idea of the very old practice of humors. Ancient Greek philosophers such as Hippocrates (400 BC) and Galen (140/150 AD) classified four types of “humors” in people. Each type was believed to be due to an excess of one of four bodily fluids, corresponding to their character. The personalities were termed “humors”. All diseases and disabilities resulted from an excess or deficit of one of these four humors. The four humors were identified as black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood. Greeks and Romans, and the later Muslim and Western European medical establishments that adopted and adapted classical medical philosophy, believed that each of these humors would wax and wane in the body, depending on diet and activity. When a patient was suffering from a surplus or imbalance of one fluid, then his or her personality and physical health would be affected. This theory was closely related to the theory of the four elements: earth, fire, water and air – earth was predominantly present in the black bile, fire in the yellow bile, water in the phlegm, and all four elements were present in the blood. Theophrastus then developed a set of characters based on the humors. Those with too much blood were sanguine. Those with too much phlegm were phlegmatic. Those with too much yellow bile were choleric, and those with too much black bile were melancholic. Here are the general personality types of those humors:

    Sanguine
    A person who is sanguine is generally light-hearted, fun loving, a people person, loves to entertain, spontaneous, and confident. However they can be arrogant, cocky, and indulgent. He/She can be day-dreamy and off-task to the point of not accomplishing anything and can be impulsive, possibly acting on whims in an unpredictable fashion. The humour of Sanguine was once commonly treated with leeches.

    Choleric
    A person who is choleric is a doer. They have a lot of ambition, energy, and passion, and try to instil it in others. They can dominate people of other temperaments, especially phlegmatic types. Many great charismatic military and political figures were cholerics. On the negative side, they are easily angered or bad-tempered.

    Melancholic
    A person who is a thoughtful ponderer has a melancholic disposition. Often very kind and considerate, melancholics can be highly creative – as in poetry and art – but also can become overly pre-occupied with the tragedy and cruelty in the world, thus becoming depressed. A melancholic is also often a perfectionist, being very particular about what they want and how they want it in some cases. This often results in being dissatisfied with one’s own artistic or creative works and always pointing out to themselves what could and should be improved. They are often loners and most times choose to stay alone and reflect.

    Phlegmatic
    While phlegmatic are generally self-content and kind, their shy personality can often inhibit enthusiasm in others and make themselves lazy and resistant to change. They are very consistent, relaxed, rational, curious, and observant, making them good administrators and diplomats. Like the sanguine personality, the phlegmatic has many friends. However the phlegmatic is more reliable and compassionate; these characteristics typically make the phlegmatic a more dependable friend.

    As I said, the humors have no scientifically proven basis, and are out of favour now. Like an astrology chart though, part of the thought process does have a sense of… something.

    Type A and B personalities

    If we bring things up to date slightly, our 21st century equivalent is the Type A and Type B personality, first suggested by Meyer Friedman, an American cardiologist, who noticed in the 1940s that the chairs in his waiting room got worn out from the edges. He hypothesized that his patients were driven, impatient people, who sat on the edge of their seats when waiting. They labelled these people “Type A” personalities. Type A personalities are workaholics, always busy, driven, somewhat impatient, and so on. Type B personalities, on the other hand are laid back and easy going. “Type A personality” has found its way into our general vocabulary.  Since its inception, the theory has been widely popularized and also widely criticised for its scientific shortcomings. It is thought to be that Type As tend to get more fatigue syndromes (the yuppie burn out so common in the ’80s and ’90s), and also heart disease, than Type Bs.

    Type A can be described as impatient, time-conscious, concerned about their status, highly competitive, ambitious, business-like, aggressive, having difficulty relaxing; and are sometimes disliked by individuals with Type B personalities for the way that they’re always rushing. They are often high-achieving workaholics who multi-task, drive themselves with deadlines, and are unhappy about delays. Because of these characteristics, Type A individuals are often described as “stress junkies.”

    Type B individuals, in contrast, are described as patient, relaxed, and easy-going, generally lacking any sense of urgency. Because of these characteristics, Type B individuals are often described as apathetic and disengaged.

    Whatever your personality, there are certain traits individual to you that make you unique. That is why for me no one is ever treated the same. It’s extraordinary how two people with two similar health problems have completely different symptoms, coping strategies and outlooks and that’s why I love my job so much! Again there is no scientific basis on constitutions but we use them in everyday language, i.e. he has the stomach of an ox. There are also certain types of people that are forever strong – Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill showed the same ‘never show weakness’ mentality. Churchill lived into his nineties and smoked and drank, and I look at people like the actress June Brown (Dot Cotton), 81 years old, who smokes and drinks and gets away with it whilst still working full time. For me these people have strong constitutions and good genes, but maybe its more simple than that – perhaps they have a more healthy way of coping with stress than others (more of that in another newsletter!).

  9. Weight loss without the the ‘d’ word (diet!)

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    (From an article featured on my monthly newsletter – click here to sign up for regular updates)

    Our relationship with food is one of the most significant we will have in our lives and what we eat every day can have a huge impact on our weight, health and mood. We all eat and choose different foods for different reasons. For some its routine, some comfort eat in times of stress or don’t eat at all while others crave sugar, salt or carbohydrate. Some don’t eat enough and others too much. Let’s look at two key areas of our relationship with food: why we are more attracted to certain foods, and how portion control has changed the way we eat.

    Why do we crave certain foods?

    Your feelings are generated by tiny brain chemicals called neurotransmitters; these include dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline. These neurotransmitters are responsible for dictating your mood and are greatly affected by what you eat. Serotonin is associated with a reduction in stress, tension and feelings of happiness, whereas dopamine and adrenaline have different mood effects by boosting concentration and alertness. In times of stress many of us crave chips, cheese or chocolate. As some foods directly stimulate a neurotransmitter response, e.g. carbohydrates influence serotonin production and caffeine stimulates adrenaline synthesis, we can begin to understand why the idea of a portion of cheesy chips is so tempting! Two other neurotransmitters are: GABA, which restores calm after a stressful event, and dopamine, which enables your body to deal with stress more efficiently, helping to reduce feelings of anxiety – these are also extremely helpful and can be found in food.

    GABA is found in cheddar cheese, cows milk, chicken, turkey, eggs, flour and potatoes.

    Dopamine is found in soya products like tofu, miso and soya yoghurt, peanuts almonds and tuna.

    Serotonin is important to maintain feelings of happiness and positivity. It’s formed from the amino acid tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid – this means it can’t be made in the body and has to be sourced from food. This is where carbohydrate comes into play – it is used to make serotonin. One of the symptoms of a low carbohydrate diet is irritability and anxiety. To raise your serotonin levels naturally you will need to increase foods rich in tryptophan, e.g. cashew nuts, bananas, figs, cheese, milk and turkey. Avocados, lentils and bananas all contain levels of vitamin B6 which help with the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin.

    What about chocolate?

    Most palatable foods stimulate an endorphin release in the brain, however there is something rather special going on with chocolate. Chocolate is full of mood-enhancing chemicals. To start with, it is loaded with sugar, which is a carbohydrate and triggers the release of serotonin. Chocolate also contains fat, which in itself provides a feeling of satisfaction since it answers the urge for calories. Chocolate is also said to have the same mood-enhancing chemical that is found in marijuana, although in much smaller quantities. Chocolate also contains caffeine and sugar, which both give you a little energy high after eating and make you feel good. However, neither are actually addictive in the true sense of the word. It does contain ‘anandamide’, a cannabinoid, which hooks up to the same brain receptors that catch similar ingredients in marijuana smoke. So can you be a chocoholic? You usually crave chocolate when you are low in mood or blood sugar, and women crave it premenstrually. You are probably attracted to how it makes you feel. If you have a sugar ‘addiction’, at least change the quality of your chocolate to an organic, dark form if possible and let it melt on the tongue slowly.

    Portion control

    As waist lines expand, portion control has gone out of the window and I doubt many people know what a normal portion size is any more. Everything seems to be larger and super sized. A good example of this is chocolate bars and crisps. Did you know that a normal bag of crisps in the 1980s weighed 25g, it’s now 50g. Does that mean that you will eat half the 50g bag – of course you won’t! The 50g bag then becomes the norm and our point of view becomes distorted. Scones used to weigh about 50g and had about 160 calories – in a high street coffee shop they can now weigh as much as 190g and can contain 600 calories! All without us noticing. It only takes a few hundred extra calories eaten here and there over a typical day to gradually build up and trigger a gain in weight.

    Hidden calories

    As I go through my client’s food diaries, it’s amazing how much hidden fat and sugar they are eating without knowing it, and when it’s written down over a week they are amazed how much excess they are eating without knowing. If you are struggling with your weight, have a look at these main culprits and ask yourself – are they slipping into your diet without you noticing?

    Wine: A glass of wine can be 150-200 kcals per glass, depending on how large the glass is of course. Going out with your friends for a few drinks every night and having three glasses of wine would total 600 extra calories a night, an eye watering 4,200 extra kcals per week!

    Sandwich fillings: If you didn’t see the Dispatches programme recently about what goes into bought sandwiches, it was an eye opener. Bought sandwiches are often very high in fat or salt and making your own is the best option. Try and keep the ratio of protein, i.e. the filling greater than the bread. Also the addition of mayonnaise can add hundreds of calories to a sandwich. A bought tuna mayo sandwich could contain as much as 500 calories. A homemade turkey and avocado sandwich on wholemeal bread may contain as little as 300 calories.

    Lattes: Women who pick up a coffee on their way to work could be consuming almost a third of their recommended daily calories in one go. Increasingly sophisticated coffees and larger cups mean chains are regularly selling drinks that contain well over 600 calories each. A well-known high street coffee chain sells a large white chocolate mocha with “whip” made with whole milk – it has 628 calories – nearly a third of the recommended daily amount for women. So if you are addicted to your daily mocha chocca latte, take note. “I only have one a day,” I hear you say defensively – well, on a weekly basis that could add up to a staggering 3,500 kcals – that’s well over one day’s calorie intake for women.

    Dried fruit: If you are wanting to lose weight, I don’t consider dried fruit a healthy snack as it’s very high in sugar. Dried fruit should be soaked or eaten in minimal quantities. It is a high GI food, therefore not good for the blood sugar – normal fruit like apples, pears, peaches and berries are medium and low GI. Marketed as a healthy snack, you may eat much more of course, and a packet of dried apricots will have your blood sugar soaring.

    Smoothies: There has been a lot of marketing hype recently about how smoothies are good for you and can be an easy way to have your Five a Day, but they can have as much as 11g of sugar per 100ml. Be sensible – if it tastes sweet, it is sweet. Having a daily smoothie is not good at all, sugar-wise you might as well be drinking a coca cola. If you really like your smoothies, limit them to two a week.

    Flavoured crisps: Avoid crisps with flavours like sweet chilli as most companies will add sugar to any flavoured crisp; that may include salt and vinegar and black pepper as well. Stick to ingredients that say potato, sunflower and salt.

    When trying to lose weight, bear in mind:

    * No two people are the same as to what works
    * The foods you crave are usually the ones to avoid
    * Don’t go on a fad diet, i.e. starvation or shake diet – it’s not the way to go for long term weight loss
    * Avoid low fat diets – these are not healthy – certain fat is good for you and actually helps you lose weight

    In a recent survey, 9 out of 10 people said that if they were dieting they would cut out fat from their diet. The truth, however, is that low fat diets are not always healthy and do not necessarily help you lose weight. Although a diet high in saturated fat is not good either, we tend to put good and bad fat into the same mould. One calorie of saturated fat is not the same as one calorie of essential fat, which is needed by the brain, immune system, skin, hormones and heart. Crash dieting makes you hungry and the most important thing to remember when losing weight is to never go hungry. Starving yourself does not help you lose weight but causes your metabolism to go haywire and in the end can lead to the addictive patterns of yo yo dieting. As every person is individual a tailored weight loss programme is best – just because your friend has lost a stone on a fad diet, doesn’t mean that you will. You might have:

    Different genes, hereditary illnesses, differing metabolic rates, nutritional deficiencies, food allergies, bad digestion, an under-active thyroid, specific medication needs, different motivational needs, work or family issues…

    all of which will not help your weight loss. Remember we are all different and what works for one person will not necessarily work for someone else. People with an under-active thyroid will find it harder to lose weight so it’s important you know your thyroid is functioning before starting a weight loss programme.

    An example of a day’s diet

    Breakfast: Two scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast – rooibosh tea
    Mid morning snack: Two apples and a handful of nuts – water
    Lunch: Wholemeal pita stuffed with cold chicken, peppers, spring onion and lettuce. Fruit or a few square of organic chocolate
    Mid afternoon snack: 2 oatcakes with hummus – water
    Supper: Grilled/poached salmon, steamed vegetables and sauté potatoes.

    Does this sound like a diet to you? No of course not – some of you are used to starving yourself, having a carbohydrate-based breakfast, a couple of coffees, and going long periods with not eating!

    If you would like an individualised weight loss programme please call me. If you have been yo yo dieting all your life you will need to be de-brainwashed about the facts on losing weight and what is suitable for you. The key is to never think you are dieting. I’ve never put anyone on a diet and usually with a low to medium GI diet people lose about 4-6lbs per month eating five times a day.

    Tips for losing weight

    * Eat every three hours
    * Eat protein and carbohydrate together
    * Eat low to medium GI food

    If you follow the above, you will automatically cut out high sugar foods

    * Cut out all caffeine, and refined foods
    * Drink approx 1.5 to 2 litres of water per day
    * If you have an under-active thyroid you will need more exercise to boost your metabolism
    * Have protein for breakfast rather than carbohydrate.

    If you can remember one thing when losing weight it’s this:
    IT’S NOT HOW MUCH YOU EAT, IT’S WHAT YOU EAT.

    Why is the thyroid gland important?

    The thyroid gland lies in front of the neck between the skin and the voice box. The entire gland weighs less than an ounce. Despite its small size, it’s an extremely important organ which controls our metabolism and is responsible for the normal working of every cell in the body. It achieves this by making the hormones thyroxine (t4), and triiodothyronine (T3) and secreting them into the bloodstream. In healthy people the amounts of T3 and T4 in the blood are maintained within narrow limits by TSH which is secreted by the anterior pituitary gland. If your GP suspects that you may have an under-active thyroid they will send you for a blood test. High levels of TSH means you have an under active thyroid. You will then need to go on thyroxine. The typical (but not necessarily accurate) type of person to get this is female, fat and over forty.

    However, that is too specific. I’ve seen many underweight people who have under-active thyroids in their late 20s and 30s. If you are having trouble losing weight, feel the cold a lot and feel tired, it’s worth getting your GP to get a test. I have listed most of the other symptoms below. Unfortunately the thyroid blood test is notoriously unreliable as the thyroid secretions change quite a bit, so you might need several tests to get a positive result. If your blood tests come out positive your GP will usually leave it a month or two and do another one just to make sure. You are measuring your TSH level and often you can be borderline and then normal several months later. It is often hereditary, and particularly so in women.

    What are the symptoms of an under-active thyroid?

    * Cold hands and feet
    * Tendency to feel the cold
    * Fatigue, especially in the morning
    * Depression
    * Dry skin
    * Headaches
    * Constipation
    * Loss of hair
    * Aching in the joints
    * Muscle cramps in the feet at night
    * Swollen eyelids (especially in the morning)
    * Swelling of hands and feel
    * Heavy periods
    * Loss of libido

    Diet considerations for hypothyroidism

    Your diet should include apricots, dates, egg yolks, molasses, parsley, potatoes, prunes, raw seeds and whole grains. Eat fish and chicken.

    Eat in moderation (they can suppress the thyroid function): broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, mustard, greens, peaches, pears, radishes, spinach and turnips.

    Avoid white sugar and refined foods

    If you are not doing so already, begin a moderate exercise regime to boost your metabolism.

    Do not take sulphur drugs or antihistamines unless specifically directed by your GP.

    Avoid fluoride and chlorine which both block iodine receptors in the thyroid gland, i.e. avoid fluoride toothpaste and highly chlorinated water.

    An under-active thyroid may increase your risk of a heart attack, so take nutritional steps to make sure your heart is healthy.

    Exercise can help the thyroid to work more effectively.

    Eat zinc-rich foods such as almonds, tofu, chicken, turkey and pumpkin seeds.

  10. Dispatches on cereals, probiotics, and sugar

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    The wonderful Dispatches on Channel 4 last night put breakfast right under the spotlight. A much needed documentary into the marketing hype around breakfast cereals and probiotic drinks. As some of you are aware I drone on and on about the high sugar content in cereals and the lack of scientific research into probiotic drinks. Many of my patients have thought that sitting down to cereal each morning was a good thing, but the high sugar content even in adults can have a roller coaster effect on the blood sugar – and we don’t want that in children either. Always READ THE LABELS. Even the plainest looking cereals can be packed full of glucose-fructose syrup. A protein based breakfast like scrambled eggs on toast or good old fashioned oats, or fruit and live yoghurt is a good way to start the day. As for probiotic drinks, I think they are a total waste of money. Real probiotics and prebiotics come from a good diet, live yoghurt, garlic, onions, leeks etc and if you feel you need a supplement then see my newsletter/blog on what to buy. The probiotic drinks themselves have even more sugar in them, so many people are sitting down to a sugar based breakfast – if thats what you want – just have a bar of chocolate instead!!!