Running is the best metaphor for life – the more you put in, the more you get out

– Oprah Winfrey – 

Here is the full article by Gary Taubes from the New York times – it is long but worth persevering with. See if you think his writing is ‘diatribe’ as said by Dr David Katz in his rebuttal or well balanced. Yes , he is on the anti- sugar side, as is any health care practitioner worth their salt! – We are a nation with an huge Obesity problem, yes this is complicated, but also its not hard to see where many of the problems lay – see what YOU think!…

Is Sugar Toxic?


On May 26, 2009, Robert Lustig gave a lecture called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” which was posted on YouTube the following July. Since then, it has been viewed well over 800,000 times, gaining new viewers at a rate of about 50,000 per month, fairly remarkable numbers for a 90-minute discussion of the nuances of fructose biochemistry and human physiology.

What the average American consumes in added sugars:

Kenji Aoki for The New York Times

Lustig is a specialist on pediatric hormone disorders and the leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, which is one of the best medical schools in the country. He published his first paper on childhood obesity a dozen years ago, and he has been treating patients and doing research on the disorder ever since.

The viral success of his lecture, though, has little to do with Lustig’s impressive credentials and far more with the persuasive case he makes that sugar is a “toxin” or a “poison,” terms he uses together 13 times through the course of the lecture, in addition to the five references to sugar as merely “evil.” And by “sugar,” Lustig means not only the white granulated stuff that we put in coffee and sprinkle on cereal — technically known as sucrose — but also high-fructose corn syrup, which has already become without Lustig’s help what he calls “the most demonized additive known to man.”

It doesn’t hurt Lustig’s cause that he is a compelling public speaker. His critics argue that what makes him compelling is his practice of taking suggestive evidence and insisting that it’s incontrovertible. Lustig certainly doesn’t dabble in shades of gray. Sugar is not just an empty calorie, he says; its effect on us is much more insidious. “It’s not about the calories,” he says. “It has nothing to do with the calories. It’s a poison by itself.”

If Lustig is right, then our excessive consumption of sugar is the primary reason that the numbers of obese and diabetic Americans have skyrocketed in the past 30 years. But his argument implies more than that. If Lustig is right, it would mean that sugar is also the likely dietary cause of several other chronic ailments widely considered to be diseases of Western lifestyles — heart disease, hypertension and many common cancers among them.

The number of viewers Lustig has attracted suggests that people are paying attention to his argument. When I set out to interview public health authorities and researchers for this article, they would often initiate the interview with some variation of the comment “surely you’ve spoken to Robert Lustig,” not because Lustig has done any of the key research on sugar himself, which he hasn’t, but because he’s willing to insist publicly and unambiguously, when most researchers are not, that sugar is a toxic substance that people abuse. In Lustig’s view, sugar should be thought of, like cigarettes and alcohol, as something that’s killing us.

This brings us to the salient question: Can sugar possibly be as bad as Lustig says it is?

It’s one thing to suggest, as most nutritionists will, that a healthful diet includes more fruits and vegetables, and maybe less fat, red meat and salt, or less of everything. It’s entirely different to claim that one particularly cherished aspect of our diet might not just be an unhealthful indulgence but actually be toxic, that when you bake your children a birthday cake or give them lemonade on a hot summer day, you may be doing them more harm than good, despite all the love that goes with it. Suggesting that sugar might kill us is what zealots do. But Lustig, who has genuine expertise, has accumulated and synthesized a mass of evidence, which he finds compelling enough to convict sugar. His critics consider that evidence insufficient, but there’s no way to know who might be right, or what must be done to find out, without discussing it.

If I didn’t buy this argument myself, I wouldn’t be writing about it here. And I also have a disclaimer to acknowledge. I’ve spent much of the last decade doing journalistic research on diet and chronic disease — some of the more contrarian findings, on dietary fat, appeared in this magazine —– and I have come to conclusions similar to Lustig’s.

The history of the debate over the health effects of sugar has gone on far longer than you might imagine. It is littered with erroneous statements and conclusions because even the supposed authorities had no true understanding of what they were talking about. They didn’t know, quite literally, what they meant by the word “sugar” and therefore what the implications were.

So let’s start by clarifying a few issues, beginning with Lustig’s use of the word “sugar” to mean both sucrose — beet and cane sugar, whether white or brown — and high-fructose corn syrup. This is a critical point, particularly because high-fructose corn syrup has indeed become “the flashpoint for everybody’s distrust of processed foods,” says Marion Nestle, a New York University nutritionist and the author of “Food Politics.”

This development is recent and borders on humorous. In the early 1980s, high-fructose corn syrup replaced sugar in sodas and other products in part because refined sugar then had the reputation as a generally noxious nutrient. (“Villain in Disguise?” asked a headline in this paper in 1977, before answering in the affirmative.) High-fructose corn syrup was portrayed by the food industry as a healthful alternative, and that’s how the public perceived it. It was also cheaper than sugar, which didn’t hurt its commercial prospects. Now the tide is rolling the other way, and refined sugar is making a commercial comeback as the supposedly healthful alternative to this noxious corn-syrup stuff. “Industry after industry is replacing their product with sucrose and advertising it as such — ‘No High-Fructose Corn Syrup,’ ” Nestle notes.

But marketing aside, the two sweeteners are effectively identical in their biological effects. “High-fructose corn syrup, sugar — no difference,” is how Lustig put it in a lecture that I attended in San Francisco last December. “The point is they’re each bad — equally bad, equally poisonous.”

Refined sugar (that is, sucrose) is made up of a molecule of the carbohydrate glucose, bonded to a molecule of the carbohydrate fructose — a 50-50 mixture of the two. The fructose, which is almost twice as sweet as glucose, is what distinguishes sugar from other carbohydrate-rich foods like bread or potatoes that break down upon digestion to glucose alone. The more fructose in a substance, the sweeter it will be. High-fructose corn syrup, as it is most commonly consumed, is 55 percent fructose, and the remaining 45 percent is nearly all glucose. It was first marketed in the late 1970s and was created to be indistinguishable from refined sugar when used in soft drinks. Because each of these sugars ends up as glucose and fructose in our guts, our bodies react the same way to both, and the physiological effects are identical. In a 2010 review of the relevant science, Luc Tappy, a researcher at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland who is considered by biochemists who study fructose to be the world’s foremost authority on the subject, said there was “not the single hint” that H.F.C.S. was more deleterious than other sources of sugar.

The question, then, isn’t whether high-fructose corn syrup is worse than sugar; it’s what do they do to us, and how do they do it? The conventional wisdom has long been that the worst that can be said about sugars of any kind is that they cause tooth decay and represent “empty calories” that we eat in excess because they taste so good.

By this logic, sugar-sweetened beverages (or H.F.C.S.-sweetened beverages, as the Sugar Association prefers they are called) are bad for us not because there’s anything particularly toxic about the sugar they contain but just because people consume too many of them.

Those organizations that now advise us to cut down on our sugar consumption — the Department of Agriculture, for instance, in its recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, or the American Heart Association in guidelines released in September 2009 (of which Lustig was a co-author) — do so for this reason. Refined sugar and H.F.C.S. don’t come with any protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants or fiber, and so they either displace other more nutritious elements of our diet or are eaten over and above what we need to sustain our weight, and this is why we get fatter.

Whether the empty-calories argument is true, it’s certainly convenient. It allows everyone to assign blame for obesity and, by extension, diabetes — two conditions so intimately linked that some authorities have taken to calling them “diabesity” — to overeating of all foods, or underexercising, because a calorie is a calorie. “This isn’t about demonizing any industry,” as Michelle Obama said about her Let’s Move program to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity. Instead it’s about getting us — or our children — to move more and eat less, reduce our portion sizes, cut back on snacks.

Lustig’s argument, however, is not about the consumption of empty calories — and biochemists have made the same case previously, though not so publicly. It is that sugar has unique characteristics, specifically in the way the human body metabolizes the fructose in it, that may make it singularly harmful, at least if consumed in sufficient quantities.

The phrase Lustig uses when he describes this concept is “isocaloric but not isometabolic.” This means we can eat 100 calories of glucose (from a potato or bread or other starch) or 100 calories of sugar (half glucose and half fructose), and they will be metabolized differently and have a different effect on the body. The calories are the same, but the metabolic consequences are quite different.

The fructose component of sugar and H.F.C.S. is metabolized primarily by the liver, while the glucose from sugar and starches is metabolized by every cell in the body. Consuming sugar (fructose and glucose) means more work for the liver than if you consumed the same number of calories of starch (glucose). And if you take that sugar in liquid form — soda or fruit juices — the fructose and glucose will hit the liver more quickly than if you consume them, say, in an apple (or several apples, to get what researchers would call the equivalent dose of sugar). The speed with which the liver has to do its work will also affect how it metabolizes the fructose and glucose.

In animals, or at least in laboratory rats and mice, it’s clear that if the fructose hits the liver in sufficient quantity and with sufficient speed, the liver will convert much of it to fat. This apparently induces a condition known as insulin resistance, which is now considered the fundamental problem in obesity, and the underlying defect in heart disease and in the type of diabetes, type 2, that is common to obese and overweight individuals. It might also be the underlying defect in many cancers.

If what happens in laboratory rodents also happens in humans, and if we are eating enough sugar to make it happen, then we are in trouble.

The last time an agency of the federal government looked into the question of sugar and health in any detail was in 2005, in a report by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academies. The authors of the report acknowledged that plenty of evidence suggested that sugar could increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes — even raising LDL cholesterol, known as the “bad cholesterol”—– but did not consider the research to be definitive. There was enough ambiguity, they concluded, that they couldn’t even set an upper limit on how much sugar constitutes too much. Referring back to the 2005 report, an Institute of Medicine report released last fall reiterated, “There is a lack of scientific agreement about the amount of sugars that can be consumed in a healthy diet.” This was the same conclusion that the Food and Drug Administration came to when it last assessed the sugar question, back in 1986. The F.D.A. report was perceived as an exoneration of sugar, and that perception influenced the treatment of sugar in the landmark reports on diet and health that came after.

The Sugar Association and the Corn Refiners Association have also portrayed the 1986 F.D.A. report as clearing sugar of nutritional crimes, but what it concluded was actually something else entirely. To be precise, the F.D.A. reviewers said that other than its contribution to calories, “no conclusive evidence on sugars demonstrates a hazard to the general public when sugars are consumed at the levels that are now current.” This is another way of saying that the evidence by no means refuted the kinds of claims that Lustig is making now and other researchers were making then, just that it wasn’t definitive or unambiguous.

What we have to keep in mind, says Walter Glinsmann, the F.D.A. administrator who was the primary author on the 1986 report and who now is an adviser to the Corn Refiners Association, is that sugar and high-fructose corn syrup might be toxic, as Lustig argues, but so might any substance if it’s consumed in ways or in quantities that are unnatural for humans. The question is always at what dose does a substance go from being harmless to harmful? How much do we have to consume before this happens?

When Glinsmann and his F.D.A. co-authors decided no conclusive evidence demonstrated harm at the levels of sugar then being consumed, they estimated those levels at 40 pounds per person per year beyond what we might get naturally in fruits and vegetables — 40 pounds per person per year of “added sugars” as nutritionists now call them. This is 200 calories per day of sugar, which is less than the amount in a can and a half of Coca-Cola or two cups of apple juice. If that’s indeed all we consume, most nutritionists today would be delighted, including Lustig.

But 40 pounds per year happened to be 35 pounds less than what Department of Agriculture analysts said we were consuming at the time — 75 pounds per person per year — and the U.S.D.A. estimates are typically considered to be the most reliable. By the early 2000s, according to the U.S.D.A., we had increased our consumption to more than 90 pounds per person per year.

That this increase happened to coincide with the current epidemics of obesity and diabetes is one reason that it’s tempting to blame sugars — sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup — for the problem. In 1980, roughly one in seven Americans was obese, and almost six million were diabetic, and the obesity rates, at least, hadn’t changed significantly in the 20 years previously. By the early 2000s, when sugar consumption peaked, one in every three Americans was obese, and 14 million were diabetic.

This correlation between sugar consumption and diabetes is what defense attorneys call circumstantial evidence. It’s more compelling than it otherwise might be, though, because the last time sugar consumption jumped markedly in this country, it was also associated with a diabetes epidemic.

In the early 20th century, many of the leading authorities on diabetes in North America and Europe (including Frederick Banting, who shared the 1923 Nobel Prize for the discovery of insulin) suspected that sugar causes diabetes based on the observation that the disease was rare in populations that didn’t consume refined sugar and widespread in those that did. In 1924, Haven Emerson, director of the institute of public health at Columbia University, reported that diabetes deaths in New York City had increased as much as 15-fold since the Civil War years, and that deaths increased as much as fourfold in some U.S. cities between 1900 and 1920 alone. This coincided, he noted, with an equally significant increase in sugar consumption — almost doubling from 1890 to the early 1920s — with the birth and subsequent growth of the candy and soft-drink industries.

Emerson’s argument was countered by Elliott Joslin, a leading authority on diabetes, and Joslin won out. But his argument was fundamentally flawed. Simply put, it went like this: The Japanese eat lots of rice, and Japanese diabetics are few and far between; rice is mostly carbohydrate, which suggests that sugar, also a carbohydrate, does not cause diabetes. But sugar and rice are not identical merely because they’re both carbohydrates. Joslin could not know at the time that the fructose content of sugar affects how we metabolize it.

Joslin was also unaware that the Japanese ate little sugar. In the early 1960s, the Japanese were eating as little sugar as Americans were a century earlier, maybe less, which means that the Japanese experience could have been used to support the idea that sugar causes diabetes. Still, with Joslin arguing in edition after edition of his seminal textbook that sugar played no role in diabetes, it eventually took on the aura of undisputed truth.

Until Lustig came along, the last time an academic forcefully put forward the sugar-as-toxin thesis was in the 1970s, when John Yudkin, a leading authority on nutrition in the United Kingdom, published a polemic on sugar called “Sweet and Dangerous.” Through the 1960s Yudkin did a series of experiments feeding sugar and starch to rodents, chickens, rabbits, pigs and college students. He found that the sugar invariably raised blood levels of triglycerides (a technical term for fat), which was then, as now, considered a risk factor for heart disease. Sugar also raised insulin levels in Yudkin’s experiments, which linked sugar directly to type 2 diabetes. Few in the medical community took Yudkin’s ideas seriously, largely because he was also arguing that dietary fat and saturated fat were harmless. This set Yudkin’s sugar hypothesis directly against the growing acceptance of the idea, prominent to this day, that dietary fat was the cause of heart disease, a notion championed by the University of Minnesota nutritionist Ancel Keys.

A common assumption at the time was that if one hypothesis was right, then the other was most likely wrong. Either fat caused heart disease by raising cholesterol, or sugar did by raising triglycerides. “The theory that diets high in sugar are an important cause of atherosclerosis and heart disease does not have wide support among experts in the field, who say that fats and cholesterol are the more likely culprits,” as Jane E. Brody wrote in The Times in 1977.

At the time, many of the key observations cited to argue that dietary fat caused heart disease actually support the sugar theory as well. During the Korean War, pathologists doing autopsies on American soldiers killed in battle noticed that many had significant plaques in their arteries, even those who were still teenagers, while the Koreans killed in battle did not. The atherosclerotic plaques in the Americans were attributed to the fact that they ate high-fat diets and the Koreans ate low-fat. But the Americans were also eating high-sugar diets, while the Koreans, like the Japanese, were not.

In 1970, Keys published the results of a landmark study in nutrition known as the Seven Countries Study. Its results were perceived by the medical community and the wider public as compelling evidence that saturated-fat consumption is the best dietary predictor of heart disease. But sugar consumption in the seven countries studied was almost equally predictive. So it was possible that Yudkin was right, and Keys was wrong, or that they could both be right. The evidence has always been able to go either way.

European clinicians tended to side with Yudkin; Americans with Keys. The situation wasn’t helped, as one of Yudkin’s colleagues later told me, by the fact that “there was quite a bit of loathing” between the two nutritionists themselves. In 1971, Keys published an article attacking Yudkin and describing his evidence against sugar as “flimsy indeed.” He treated Yudkin as a figure of scorn, and Yudkin never managed to shake the portrayal.

By the end of the 1970s, any scientist who studied the potentially deleterious effects of sugar in the diet, according to Sheldon Reiser, who did just that at the U.S.D.A.’s Carbohydrate Nutrition Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., and talked about it publicly, was endangering his reputation. “Yudkin was so discredited,” Reiser said to me. “He was ridiculed in a way. And anybody else who said something bad about sucrose, they’d say, ‘He’s just like Yudkin.’ ”

What has changed since then, other than Americans getting fatter and more diabetic? It wasn’t so much that researchers learned anything particularly new about the effects of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup in the human body. Rather the context of the science changed: physicians and medical authorities came to accept the idea that a condition known as metabolic syndrome is a major, if not the major, risk factor for heart disease and diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimate that some 75 million Americans have metabolic syndrome. For those who have heart attacks, metabolic syndrome will very likely be the reason.

The first symptom doctors are told to look for in diagnosing metabolic syndrome is an expanding waistline. This means that if you’re overweight, there’s a good chance you have metabolic syndrome, and this is why you’re more likely to have a heart attack or become diabetic (or both) than someone who’s not. Although lean individuals, too, can have metabolic syndrome, and they are at greater risk of heart disease and diabetes than lean individuals without it.

Having metabolic syndrome is another way of saying that the cells in your body are actively ignoring the action of the hormone insulin — a condition known technically as being insulin-resistant. Because insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome still get remarkably little attention in the press (certainly compared with cholesterol), let me explain the basics.

You secrete insulin in response to the foods you eat — particularly the carbohydrates — to keep blood sugar in control after a meal. When your cells are resistant to insulin, your body (your pancreas, to be precise) responds to rising blood sugar by pumping out more and more insulin. Eventually the pancreas can no longer keep up with the demand or it gives in to what diabetologists call “pancreatic exhaustion.” Now your blood sugar will rise out of control, and you’ve got diabetes.

Not everyone with insulin resistance becomes diabetic; some continue to secrete enough insulin to overcome their cells’ resistance to the hormone. But having chronically elevated insulin levels has harmful effects of its own — heart disease, for one. A result is higher triglyceride levels and blood pressure, lower levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good cholesterol”), further worsening the insulin resistance — this is metabolic syndrome.

When physicians assess your risk of heart disease these days, they will take into consideration your LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), but also these symptoms of metabolic syndrome. The idea, according to Scott Grundy, a University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center nutritionist and the chairman of the panel that produced the last edition of the National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines, is that heart attacks 50 years ago might have been caused by high cholesterol — particularly high LDL cholesterol — but since then we’ve all gotten fatter and more diabetic, and now it’s metabolic syndrome that’s the more conspicuous problem.

This raises two obvious questions. The first is what sets off metabolic syndrome to begin with, which is another way of asking, What causes the initial insulin resistance? There are several hypotheses, but researchers who study the mechanisms of insulin resistance now think that a likely cause is the accumulation of fat in the liver. When studies have been done trying to answer this question in humans, says Varman Samuel, who studies insulin resistance at Yale School of Medicine, the correlation between liver fat and insulin resistance in patients, lean or obese, is “remarkably strong.” What it looks like, Samuel says, is that “when you deposit fat in the liver, that’s when you become insulin-resistant.”

That raises the other obvious question: What causes the liver to accumulate fat in humans? A common assumption is that simply getting fatter leads to a fatty liver, but this does not explain fatty liver in lean people. Some of it could be attributed to genetic predisposition. But harking back to Lustig, there’s also the very real possibility that it is caused by sugar.

As it happens, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance are the reasons that many of the researchers today studying fructose became interested in the subject to begin with. If you want to cause insulin resistance in laboratory rats, says Gerald Reaven, the Stanford University diabetologist who did much of the pioneering work on the subject, feeding them diets that are mostly fructose is an easy way to do it. It’s a “very obvious, very dramatic” effect, Reaven says.

By the early 2000s, researchers studying fructose metabolism had established certain findings unambiguously and had well-established biochemical explanations for what was happening. Feed animals enough pure fructose or enough sugar, and their livers convert the fructose into fat — the saturated fatty acid, palmitate, to be precise, that supposedly gives us heart disease when we eat it, by raising LDL cholesterol. The fat accumulates in the liver, and insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome follow.

Michael Pagliassotti, a Colorado State University biochemist who did many of the relevant animal studies in the late 1990s, says these changes can happen in as little as a week if the animals are fed sugar or fructose in huge amounts — 60 or 70 percent of the calories in their diets. They can take several months if the animals are fed something closer to what humans (in America) actually consume — around 20 percent of the calories in their diet. Stop feeding them the sugar, in either case, and the fatty liver promptly goes away, and with it the insulin resistance.

Similar effects can be shown in humans, although the researchers doing this work typically did the studies with only fructose — as Luc Tappy did in Switzerland or Peter Havel and Kimber Stanhope did at the University of California, Davis — and pure fructose is not the same thing as sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. When Tappy fed his human subjects the equivalent of the fructose in 8 to 10 cans of Coke or Pepsi a day — a “pretty high dose,” he says —– their livers would start to become insulin-resistant, and their triglycerides would go up in just a few days. With lower doses, Tappy says, just as in the animal research, the same effects would appear, but it would take longer, a month or more.

Despite the steady accumulation of research, the evidence can still be criticized as falling far short of conclusive. The studies in rodents aren’t necessarily applicable to humans. And the kinds of studies that Tappy, Havel and Stanhope did — having real people drink beverages sweetened with fructose and comparing the effect with what happens when the same people or others drink beverages sweetened with glucose — aren’t applicable to real human experience, because we never naturally consume pure fructose. We always take it with glucose, in the nearly 50-50 combinations of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. And then the amount of fructose or sucrose being fed in these studies, to the rodents or the human subjects, has typically been enormous.

This is why the research reviews on the subject invariably conclude that more research is necessary to establish at what dose sugar and high-fructose corn syrup start becoming what Lustig calls toxic. “There is clearly a need for intervention studies,” as Tappy recently phrased it in the technical jargon of the field, “in which the fructose intake of high-fructose consumers is reduced to better delineate the possible pathogenic role of fructose. At present, short-term-intervention studies, however, suggest that a high-fructose intake consisting of soft drinks, sweetened juices or bakery products can increase the risk of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.”

In simpler language, how much of this stuff do we have to eat or drink, and for how long, before it does to us what it does to laboratory rats? And is that amount more than we’re already consuming?

Unfortunately, we’re unlikely to learn anything conclusive in the near future. As Lustig points out, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are certainly not “acute toxins” of the kind the F.D.A. typically regulates and the effects of which can be studied over the course of days or months. The question is whether they’re “chronic toxins,” which means “not toxic after one meal, but after 1,000 meals.” This means that what Tappy calls “intervention studies” have to go on for significantly longer than 1,000 meals to be meaningful.

At the moment, the National Institutes of Health are supporting surprisingly few clinical trials related to sugar and high-fructose corn syrup in the U.S. All are small, and none will last more than a few months. Lustig and his colleagues at U.C.S.F. — including Jean-Marc Schwarz, whom Tappy describes as one of the three best fructose biochemists in the world — are doing one of these studies. It will look at what happens when obese teenagers consume no sugar other than what they might get in fruits and vegetables. Another study will do the same with pregnant women to see if their babies are born healthier and leaner.

Only one study in this country, by Havel and Stanhope at the University of California, Davis, is directly addressing the question of how much sugar is required to trigger the symptoms of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Havel and Stanhope are having healthy people drink three sugar- or H.F.C.S.-sweetened beverages a day and then seeing what happens. The catch is that their study subjects go through this three-beverage-a-day routine for only two weeks. That doesn’t seem like a very long time — only 42 meals, not 1,000 — but Havel and Stanhope have been studying fructose since the mid-1990s, and they seem confident that two weeks is sufficient to see if these sugars cause at least some of the symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

So the answer to the question of whether sugar is as bad as Lustig claims is that it certainly could be. It very well may be true that sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, because of the unique way in which we metabolize fructose and at the levels we now consume it, cause fat to accumulate in our livers followed by insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, and so trigger the process that leads to heart disease, diabetes and obesity. They could indeed be toxic, but they take years to do their damage. It doesn’t happen overnight. Until long-term studies are done, we won’t know for sure.

One more question still needs to be asked, and this is what my wife, who has had to live with my journalistic obsession on this subject, calls the Grinch-trying-to-steal-Christmas problem. What are the chances that sugar is actually worse than Lustig says it is?

One of the diseases that increases in incidence with obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome is cancer. This is why I said earlier that insulin resistance may be a fundamental underlying defect in many cancers, as it is in type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The connection between obesity, diabetes and cancer was first reported in 2004 in large population studies by researchers from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. It is not controversial. What it means is that you are more likely to get cancer if you’re obese or diabetic than if you’re not, and you’re more likely to get cancer if you have metabolic syndrome than if you don’t.

This goes along with two other observations that have led to the well-accepted idea that some large percentage of cancers are caused by our Western diets and lifestyles. This means they could actually be prevented if we could pinpoint exactly what the problem is and prevent or avoid that.

One observation is that death rates from cancer, like those from diabetes, increased significantly in the second half of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th. As with diabetes, this observation was accompanied by a vigorous debate about whether those increases could be explained solely by the aging of the population and the use of new diagnostic techniques or whether it was really the incidence of cancer itself that was increasing. “By the 1930s,” as a 1997 report by the World Cancer Research Fund International and the American Institute for Cancer Research explained, “it was apparent that age-adjusted death rates from cancer were rising in the U.S.A.,” which meant that the likelihood of any particular 60-year-old, for instance, dying from cancer was increasing, even if there were indeed more 60-years-olds with each passing year.

The second observation was that malignant cancer, like diabetes, was a relatively rare disease in populations that didn’t eat Western diets, and in some of these populations it appeared to be virtually nonexistent. In the 1950s, malignant cancer among the Inuit, for instance, was still deemed sufficiently rare that physicians working in northern Canada would publish case reports in medical journals when they did diagnose a case.

In 1984, Canadian physicians published an analysis of 30 years of cancer incidence among Inuit in the western and central Arctic. While there had been a “striking increase in the incidence of cancers of modern societies” including lung and cervical cancer, they reported, there were still “conspicuous deficits” in breast-cancer rates. They could not find a single case in an Inuit patient before 1966; they could find only two cases between 1967 and 1980. Since then, as their diet became more like ours, breast cancer incidence has steadily increased among the Inuit, although it’s still significantly lower than it is in other North American ethnic groups. Diabetes rates in the Inuit have also gone from vanishingly low in the mid-20th century to high today.

Now most researchers will agree that the link between Western diet or lifestyle and cancer manifests itself through this association with obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome — i.e., insulin resistance. This was the conclusion, for instance, of a 2007 report published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research — “Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer.”

So how does it work? Cancer researchers now consider that the problem with insulin resistance is that it leads us to secrete more insulin, and insulin (as well as a related hormone known as insulin-like growth factor) actually promotes tumor growth.

As it was explained to me by Craig Thompson, who has done much of this research and is now president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the cells of many human cancers come to depend on insulin to provide the fuel (blood sugar) and materials they need to grow and multiply. Insulin and insulin-like growth factor (and related growth factors) also provide the signal, in effect, to do it. The more insulin, the better they do. Some cancers develop mutations that serve the purpose of increasing the influence of insulin on the cell; others take advantage of the elevated insulin levels that are common to metabolic syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Some do both. Thompson believes that many pre-cancerous cells would never acquire the mutations that turn them into malignant tumors if they weren’t being driven by insulin to take up more and more blood sugar and metabolize it.

What these researchers call elevated insulin (or insulin-like growth factor) signaling appears to be a necessary step in many human cancers, particularly cancers like breast and colon cancer. Lewis Cantley, director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, says that up to 80 percent of all human cancers are driven by either mutations or environmental factors that work to enhance or mimic the effect of insulin on the incipient tumor cells. Cantley is now the leader of one of five scientific “dream teams,” financed by a national coalition called Stand Up to Cancer, to study, in the case of Cantley’s team, precisely this link between a specific insulin-signaling gene (known technically as PI3K) and tumor development in breast and other cancers common to women.

Most of the researchers studying this insulin/cancer link seem concerned primarily with finding a drug that might work to suppress insulin signaling in incipient cancer cells and so, they hope, inhibit or prevent their growth entirely. Many of the experts writing about the insulin/cancer link from a public health perspective — as in the 2007 report from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research — work from the assumption that chronically elevated insulin levels and insulin resistance are both caused by being fat or by getting fatter. They recommend, as the 2007 report did, that we should all work to be lean and more physically active, and that in turn will help us prevent cancer.

But some researchers will make the case, as Cantley and Thompson do, that if something other than just being fatter is causing insulin resistance to begin with, that’s quite likely the dietary cause of many cancers. If it’s sugar that causes insulin resistance, they say, then the conclusion is hard to avoid that sugar causes cancer — some cancers, at least — radical as this may seem and despite the fact that this suggestion has rarely if ever been voiced before publicly. For just this reason, neither of these men will eat sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, if they can avoid it.

“I have eliminated refined sugar from my diet and eat as little as I possibly can,” Thompson told me, “because I believe ultimately it’s something I can do to decrease my risk of cancer.” Cantley put it this way: “Sugar scares me.”

Sugar scares me too, obviously. I’d like to eat it in moderation. I’d certainly like my two sons to be able to eat it in moderation, to not overconsume it, but I don’t actually know what that means, and I’ve been reporting on this subject and studying it for more than a decade. If sugar just makes us fatter, that’s one thing. We start gaining weight, we eat less of it. But we are also talking about things we can’t see — fatty liver, insulin resistance and all that follows. Officially I’m not supposed to worry because the evidence isn’t conclusive, but I do.

The difference between a try and a triumph – is just a little umph!

– Mavin Phillips –

As we approach the running ‘season’ here are a few real life stories where running turned around the lives of 4 people… it could change yours as well!

4 inspiring running stories

By Nicola Conville

4 inspiring running stories

From weight loss to an attitude overhaul, see how a regular running ritual has touched the lives of four people.

Did you know?

In 1998, Takahiro Sunada of Japan ran 100 kilometres in the world record time of six hours, 13 minutes and 33 seconds.

Nicola Conville meets four runners who surprised themselves by changing their lives through the power of their stride.

Running turned my health around

Running turned my health around

Lucy Piper, 29

“In 2007, a good friend I grew up with was diagnosed with terminal cancer, so a group of us got together to run the five-kilometre Race For Life in the UK. I was expecting to finish in about 40 minutes, but I crossed the line in 25. It was a bit of a shock but great motivation for future efforts.

“Since the Race For Life, I’ve entered Run For The Kids, the City2Sea, the Falls Creek Half Marathon, Run Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road Marathon. I’m now training for the 2013 Ironman Asia-Pacific Championships.

“I think my family has a love/hate stance on my running. I’ve had Crohn’s disease since I was about 13 and when I moved to Australia in 2008 I was diagnosed with a degenerative liver condition.

“My family back in the UK are always concerned that I am putting my body under a lot of stress, but running actually has a positive effect on my conditions. Not only does the daily release of endorphins help me to psychologically deal with illness, but the gains in physical strength and conditioning have given me a whole new perspective on my body.

“My husband and friends train regularly for local running events, so we all motivate each other to achieve our best. I am also part of a running club at work.

“Experiencing progression over the past few years, through running times and distances I never thought possible, has shown me the importance of having a solid goal. This has translated to other areas of my life and it all came from running.”

Running helped me to lose 58 kilos

Running helped me to lose 58 kilos

Richard Eggleston, 29

“Between September 2006 and mid 2007, I lost a significant amount of weight through exercise and diet. By February 2007, I was getting tired of the elliptical trainer as my cardio workout, so I tried jogging on the treadmill in the gym and then progressed to running outdoors.

“I’ve now done many competitive events. In April this year I completed my first full marathon, during which I raised thousands of dollars for Camp Quality, which supports children living with cancer and their families. I also run twice a week with the Orange Runner’s Club.

“Having goals, by planning your next races and preparing for them, is a big incentive. From this, you can work out a training program that suits your local area, your needs, favourite routes and other commitments, to make it easy to stick to. I have all the medals I have won from finishing races on my desk as a daily reminder to keep going.

“Running is definitely addictive. Why else would people pay hundreds of dollars in entry fees and train for six months in all sorts of weather to have the privilege of running for four hours non-stop with no hope of finishing beyond mid-pack? But why wouldn’t you run if you are physically able to do so? It’s safer than cycling, more exciting than walking and more convenient than cross-training in a gym.

“I was a fat kid before childhood obesity became a widespread issue. Running helped me to lose 58 kilos and I now see myself as a fit, sporty person.”

Running made me realise I could achieve the impossible

Running made me realise I could achieve the impossible

Luke Edwards, 30

“I started running about five years ago. My interest was sparked after reading the book Ultramarathon Man (Penguin) by Dean Karnazes. At the time it was just for fitness, but now running is part of my daily life.

“I started with fun runs and half-marathons, and then moved on to full marathons. About a year ago, I decided I wanted to do an ultra-marathon and recently achieved that goal when I completed the North Face 100. It’s a 100-kilometre race with 4000 metres of elevation gain and loss through the Blue Mountains in NSW. It took me 12 months to train for it and it was visualising myself crossing the finish line that created the motivation I needed to stick to my plan.

“My family and friends have been amazing. To embark on a training schedule aimed at an ultra-marathon requires a big support team, namely your family and in my case my fiancée Bonnie. It is her love and support (and many pancakes and risottos) that makes it all worth it.

“The feeling when you cross the finish line is hard to describe. There are usually goose bumps and tears, but the most satisfying element is learning about yourself and what you’re made of.

“Running allowed me to take control of my life and simplify it. I use running as my ‘filing system’ time to think, recap on my day and start to plan the next. In the future I will also be setting up my own coaching business where I can inspire and motive others to go out there and accomplish their running dreams.”

Running has changed my attitude towards fitness

Running has changed my attitude towards fitness

Dani Lombard, 33

“In 2008 I signed up to do the nine-kilometre body+soul Bridge Run with Can Too, an organisation that trains you for different running events in return for you raising money for cancer research. I was doing some work with the organisation and felt that participating in a program was the right thing to do. I had zero interest in running. I always thought I was one of those people who biologically could not run.

“I have now done two nine-kilometre body+soul Bridge Runs, three half-marathons and a full marathon. I also did a 10-kilometre run in Melbourne in 2009 and the City2Surf in 2010. I have completed seven programs through Can Too and am currently enrolled in my eighth: the Sydney marathon. In that time, I have raised over $30,000 for cancer research.

“My friends and family have been very supportive, although I think it is hard for non-runners to appreciate what goes into a marathon. My parents were very worried about me doing a marathon but came out to support me on the day. My dad ran with me for a kilometre or so towards the end.

“Crossing the line was the most amazing feeling. As soon as I did so, I burst into tears. A volunteer asked if I was okay and I howled, ‘I’m just so happy!’

“Running has taught me I am capable of more than I ever thought possible. I did not think I could run non-stop for 15 minutes, let alone almost five hours. It has given me a new attitude towards my fitness. I really enjoy training for a specific event – it gives you a much greater sense of purpose.”

Here’s a recent article talking about the topic I blogged about a while ago – it’s always good to emphasise issues that really effect weight loss results – and this one affects way more than just weight loss but every aspect of our being – enjoy!…

Adjust your attitude for optimal weight loss

Research suggests that the unhappier you are with your body, the less successful you’ll be when you try to do something about it. For the best weight-loss results, you need a “can do” attitude from the start.

Here’s how:

Look at food in a new way

Stop dividing food into good and bad categories. Instead, think of it as fuel for your body. This simple shift in perception can help you make better food choices.

Cut it in half

Giving up is hard to do. So take your worst food habit (say, pizza twice a week) and halve it (once a week). You’ll lose weight and form an “I can do this” mindset.

Avoid all-or-nothing thinking

Talk down thoughts like “the damage has already been done, so I may as well keep on eating”. Remind yourself that one binge alone will never make you gain weight. It’s what you do afterwards that matters.

Banish boredom

Next time you feel bored, don’t autopilot to the fridge – get out of the house. Don’t worry about exercising or making practical use of the time; do something you’ll enjoy: go window-shopping, or head to the movies.

Shed the “shoulds”

The word, “should” isn’t motivating – it makes you feel something is lacking. Instead, give yourself a concrete goal. Don’t say, “I should exercise more.” Say, “I’m going to check out that martial arts class tomorrow.”

Stay calm

Stress increases your body’s level of cortisol, a hormone that may direct fat to your middle. Beat stress with this daily technique: sit in a quiet, comfortable place. Take slow, deep breaths, and repeat the word “one” to yourself as you exhale, for 5 to 10 minutes.

Muzzle your inner critic

When you hear yourself thinking “I’ll never lose weight”, stop what you’re doing. Then think of something to encourage yourself like: “OK, my body isn’t as lean and fit as I’d like, but I’m making progress.”

 Here’s an interesting article, talking about the possibility of other factors being involved in the Obesity epidemic other than the general “energy in – energy out” rule. While undoubtedly this is true, it is also true for some people that this method does not have the right effect – so, something is causing people to not lose weight as they should by following this basic principle. Whether or not something is proven, does not mean it is not true.  I believe some people are predisposed to specific genes making it harder to lose  – or gain weight, I have had clients with both problems. We are all different and react differently often to them same thing – this is certainly a FACT – have  a read and make up your own mind!….

What’s Really Making Us Fa

It may not be as simple as calories in, calories out. New research reveals a far more complex equation for weight gain that places at least some of the blame on organic pollutants.

Conventional wisdom says that weight gain or loss is based on the energy balance model of “calories in, calories out,” which is often reduced to the simple refrain, “eat less, and exercise more.” But new research reveals a far more complex equation that appears to rest on several other important factors affecting weight gain. Researchers in a relatively new field are looking at the role of industrial chemicals and non-caloric aspects of foods — called obesogens — in weight gain. Scientists conducting this research believe that these substances that are now prevalent in our food supply may be altering the way our bodies store fat and regulate our metabolism. But not everyone agrees. Many scientists, nutritionists, and doctors are still firm believers in the energy balance model. A debate has ensued, leaving a rather unclear picture as to what’s really at work behind our nation’s spike in obesity.

Bruce Blumberg, professor of developmental and cell biology and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of California, Irvine, who coined the term “obesogen,” studies the effect that organotins — a class of persistent organic pollutants that are widely used in the manufacture of polyvinylchloride plastics, as fungicides and pesticides on crops, as slimicides in industrial water systems, as wood preservatives, and as marine antifouling agents — have on the body’s metabolism. Organotins, which he considers to be obesogens, “change how your body responds to calories,” he says. “So the ones we study, tributyltin and triphenyltin, actually cause exposed animals to have more and bigger fat cells. The animals that we treat with these chemicals don’t eat a different diet than the ones who don’t get fat. They eat the same diet — we’re not challenging them with a high-fat or a high-carbohydrate diet. They’re eating normal food, and they’re getting fatter.”

The CDC reports that “nearly all” Americans tested have BPA in their urine, “which indicates widespread exposure to BPA in the U.S. population.”

A widely reported study that came out in January in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) would seem to dispute this finding: it confirms the belief in the energy balance model, and has been cited as proof by many researchers working in the field. I asked an author of the study, Dr. George Bray, professor of medicine at Louisiana State University, about the myriad of additives and industrial ingredients in our food that were not accounted for in this study. “It doesn’t make any difference,” he said in a telephone interview. “Calories count. If you can show me that it doesn’t work, I’d love to see it. Or anybody else who says it doesn’t — there ain’t no data the other way around.”

The participants in the AJCN study were given low, normal, and high amounts of protein and 1,000 more calories than needed. The study does not take into account the content and form of calories, how they were processed, or with what additives or industrial chemicals.

Bray doesn’t believe that additives or how foods are processed or produced will ultimately affect the outcome of studies. In fact, he completed research in 2007 that he refers to as his “Big Mac study,” which fed participants three meals a day for three days giving one group fast-food items like Big Macs and the other group foods made “from scratch.” Bray says the results showed that the type of food made no difference: “At least in an acute study measuring glucose tolerance, insulin, and things — they don’t make any difference. Now, if you fed them over a longer time period, it’s clearly going to be the quantity that matters, largely.”

One study conducted at Princeton University indicates that types of calories do matter. Researchers found that rats drinking high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) gained significantly more weight than rats drinking sugar water, even though the amount of calories consumed was the same. The rats drinking HFCS also exhibited signs of metabolic syndrome, including abnormal weight gain, especially visceral fat around the belly, and significant increases in circulating triglycerides.

Miriam Bocarsly, the lead author of the Princeton study and a Ph.D. candidate there, said in a phone interview: “The question of calories in, calories out is a very good one and is highly debated in the field. You have traditional nutritionists who say ‘energy in energy out,’ but we have this result and at this point all we can really say is that this is what is happening in the rat model. Something is obviously different between HFCS and table sugar, and the next question is, What is that difference?”

Blumberg says that fructose itself is an obesogen. “Crystalline fructose doesn’t exist in nature, we’re making that,” he says. “Fructose is not a food. People think fructose comes from fruit but it doesn’t. The fructose that we eat is synthesized. Yes, it’s derived from food. But cyanide is derived from food, too. Would you call it a food?”

Robert H. Lustig, a pediatric neuroendocrinologist and a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, also believes that fructose is an obesogen. “I personally do lump fructose in with [obesogens],” he told me in an email. “There are those who don’t, because fructose is a nutrient, and they want to think of an obesogen as a foreign chemical. But because fructose tricks the brain into eating more in a free-range situation, it has some properties consistent with an obesogen.”

Lustig is another researcher and doctor who finds fault in the calories in, calories out model. “I don’t believe in the energy balance model, which is calorie-centric,” he says. “I believe in the fat deposition model, which is insulin-centric. The reason is that by altering insulin dynamics, you can alter both caloric consumption and physical activity behavior. This has been my research for the past 16 years.” What Lustig means is that by increasing circulating insulin — often as a result of consuming too much fructose — people become hungrier and more fatigued, which results in overeating and little motivation to exercise.

Another possible obesogen that has made headlines recently is bisphenol-A (BPA), which is found in an overwhelming number of food items and packaging material. Frederick S. vom Saal, curators’ professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, receives funding the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for his research on BPA. “We do animal experiments with chemicals like BPA, and we dramatically alter the way fat is regulated in those animals,” vom Saal said in a phone interview. “And they’re not changing their food intake.”

Finally, an article, espousing the benefits of exercise! Though it unfortunately contains the statistic that 60%  or more of the population still do not partake in the minimum recommended amount of exercise daily, despite the obvious health benefits that it brings – I think sometimes it takes someone to become ill to force them to think about being healthy…

Exercise is the best medicine

Generic exercise, fitness, running, jogging, beach, couple, healthy, health, sunshine, summer.Fit for life … exercise can help prevent – and treat – many medical conditions.

Think about treating a disease that affects a woman’s hormones and you’d assume it’s all about drugs, but how about a prescription for brisk walking? Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a common problem affecting up to 18 per cent of women of childbearing age is on a growing list of health problems where exercise is recognised as an effective treatment.

For a woman with PCOS, as it’s known, just 150 minutes of exercise a week can be enough to improve the balance of hormones produced by her ovaries – and her chances of pregnancy.

“Exercise works by reducing a problem that underlies PCOS – insulin resistance which can make the ovaries produce excess male hormones, making it harder to conceive,” says Professor Helena Teede, Director of Research at the Jean Hailes Foundation for Women’s Health. “When insulin resistance improves, the hormone levels are more balanced,” she says.

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Another effect of exercise is helping us to cope better with pain. Our pain threshold rises after exercise, partly because of an increase in endorphins the body’s natural pain killers, explains exercise physiologist Dr John Booth, from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of NSW. Movement can also help with pain by improving muscle, nerve and joint function,” he says. “Doctors are increasingly recognising the importance of movement and exercise for managing pain –  the attitude that pain can only cured by a drug or a medical intervention is less prevalent,” he says.  

As far back as the 5th century, Hippocrates was pushing the health benefits of exercise, writing that ‘eating alone will not keep a man well; he must also take exercise’. It  took a few centuries but by the mid 1990s evidence was emerging that exercise  can be strong  medicine to treat disease as well as prevent it says Chris Tzar, Director of the Lifestyle Clinic, also at the Faculty of Medicine, University of NSW.

“With breast cancer, exercise can reduce mortality and the risk of recurrence by almost 50 per cent. It can decrease depression as effectively as Prozac or cognitive behaviour therapy,” he says.

As for the diseases exercise helps prevent, Tzar ticks them off. It can cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by a third and lower the risk of colon cancer by more than 60 per cent. With heart disease it lowers the risk by up to 40 per cent and reduces the incidence of both diabetes and high blood pressure by almost 50 per cent.

You’d think this would get us all off our butts, but around 60 per cent of us aren’t doing even the minimum 30 minutes exercise a day – and although inactivity is second only to cigarettes as Australia’s highest lifestyle related cause of death, our GPs don’t routinely ask us how physically active we are when they assess our health, Tzar says. They might want to know if we smoke or how many drinks we have each week – but not how often we go for a walk or a run.   

But this could change. By next year GPs will have access to a questionnaire to help them assess our physical activity levels. Already in use in the US, it’s being developed by the Australian arm of Exercise is Medicine, a global initiative by both doctors and exercise physiologists to make exercise a standard part of disease prevention and treatment in our health system.

Still, when it comes to prescribing exercise, there’s one way in which Australia leads the world. We’re the only country that subsidises the services of exercise physiologists for people with health problems that can be helped by exercise, says Tzar. This means that if you have a chronic problem like diabetes or heart disease, for instance, your GP can refer you to an accredited exercise physiologist for expert help and you’ll get a Medicare rebate. To find out more, check with your doctor or – it could be a good move.

 I was searching for a relevant article on my my latest series on Detoxing, but was finding it difficult until I came across this little gem! I have to say it REALLY annoys me when journalists make these stupid statements based on nothing except trying to liven up a boring and biased article! The below is a perfect example of this. With the current world obesity crisis we certainly don’t need people reading they don’t need to exercise. So how are these free radicals ‘unleashed’ may I ask?? – Free radicals come from many places including toxins like I was talking about in my blog, and anti-oxidants can be consumed by changing your diet to include them (berries in particular). Exercise by reducing body fat relieves the body of toxins and free radicals! As is SO often the case, these articles go for the controversial headline, but have so many holes in them, are totally useless! Have a read & see what you think!!…

Give it a rest: too much exercise a worry in the long run


FORGET the morning jog and go back to sleep: exercise may be bad for you.

Blame it on the free radicals, volatile little molecules in the body which are unleashed by exercise and have been implicated in a range of illnesses, from cardiovascular disease and cancer to accelerated ageing.

If there are too many free radicals roaming around, they can overwhelm anti-oxidants in the body (the good guys), leading to an imbalance called oxidative stress. But here’s the difficulty: while science knows that exercise increases the production of free radicals, it has also shown that trained athletes are more resistant to oxidative stress.

So, to exercise or not to exercise? This is the question that Amanda Geraghty, a James Cook University PhD candidate in sports and exercise science, is attempting to answer. ”Both trained and untrained individuals have been shown to experience oxidative stress,” she said. ”However, regular exercise has been shown to strengthen the resistance to this process.”

She hopes to be able to determine whether exercise can be tailored to reduce the risk of developing oxidative stress.

The key is to find out the impact of various exercises – high versus low intensity, short versus long sessions. Ms Geraghty is using ”healthy untrained males” willing to hit an exercise bike for up to one hour and undergo blood tests to examine their levels of both free radicals and anti-oxidants.

She expects to take another 18 months to finish the research and submit her thesis, which could pinpoint the best kind of exercise regime to undertake.

And while the temptation may be to sit tight until the verdict is through, Ms Geraghty is blunt: ”I just want to emphasise I’m not saying that exercise is bad at all … and I’m still encouraging people to exercise 30 minutes a day.”


 I have been talking about healthy eating recently and how important it is to clear out your pantry of the ‘bad’ foods & replace with HEALTHY snacks – it is worth investing just a bit of time to make sure what you are buying IS healthy – its not as if you’re buying new/different things everyday, so get into the habit of buying natural, low GI foods/snacks – but always check a new product…

Health food claims ‘highly misleading’

September 21, 2011
Generic pic of a woman shopping for groceries at the supermarket, shopping trolley.Buyer beware … dubious health claims don’t give shoppers the full picture, warns Choice.

Fatty, salty and sugary foods are being promoted as healthy choices because of a dubious labelling system, a consumer watchdog says.

Claims such as ”reduced fat”, ”low carb” and ”high in fibre” can be extremely misleading and don’t give shoppers the full picture, says consumer watchdog Choice.

”Supermarket aisles are littered with products that make ’99 per cent fat free’ or ‘high in protein’ claims, which are often a cover for their high sugar content,” Choice spokeswoman Ingrid Just said.

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”Similarly, claims like ‘source of wholegrains,’ or ‘low sugar’ may be drawing attention away from a product’s high saturated fat levels.”

Choice called on the public to find other examples of ”dodgy food labels” to add to a Wall of Shame – a gallery on their website that will feature the worst offenders.

Choice is also calling on the government to introduce a nutrient profiling system, such as ”traffic light food labelling”, to make it easier for consumers to identify healthy products.

Read more:

You have seen this last week in the media, & as usual there are lots of different opinions about it. And as usual many people seem to over react or take things out of proportion – why does this always happen?! Essentially there is nothing wrong with the core elements of this book it appears (it’s not even released yet!) – it’s trying to educate kids, and parents alike about healthy eating and diet – it is this word I think  that causes the problems due to the implications it carries – its only a word and it just means what you eat – it DOES  NOT mean starving yourself! I think perhaps the author could have gone into more detail about the health aspects of not being obese, rather than focusing on Maggie becoming more popular after she was on the football team, but overall  – this is a good message to get over to EVERYONE!  

Children’s diet book leaves bad taste

Cover art for Maggie Goes On A Diet.Good intentions, bad message … Maggie Goes On A Diet.

An “inspirational” children’s novel promoting weight loss has come under heavy scrutiny before it has even become available.

Maggie Goes on a Diet, by American author Paul M Kramer, who has a son, will go on sale in Australia on October 16 and is aimed at children aged six and up.

Kramer, who is now based in Hawaii, has self-published a number of children’s books with Aloha Publishers.

According to Kramer, his true passion in life has been to write books that deal with issues kids face today.

He has written novels dealing with topics ranging from bullying to wetting the bed. They are written in rhyme and are for parents to read with their children.

Maggie Goes on a Diet tells of the story of a 14-year old who goes on a diet and becomes the school football star.

The synopsis on the publisher’s website reads: “Maggie has so much potential that has been hiding under her extra weight.”

It’s a topical issue with the rise in childhood obesity rates causing alarm among health authorities in most Western countries. But the book’s equation of slenderness with success sends the wrong message, say local child psychology experts.

While acknowledging the difficulty in addressing this extremely complex issue, Dr Sloan Madden, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, who also heads the department of psychological medicine and is the co-director of the eating disorder program at Westmead Children’s Hospital, disagrees with the method used to communicate the message.

“Children in that age bracket are very black and white and literal in the way they understand things, so they can’t look behind the message,” he said.

“The blurb from the book basically equates being overweight with being unpopular, unsuccessful and lacking a societal worth, whereas being slim is associated with being successful.

“In the book she goes on to become the school soccer star, she develops self-esteem, essentially by losing weight and that’s desirable because of her hard work.”

Dr Madden said that many of the children who are admitted to Westmead with eating disorders want to lose weight because they think it is the simple solution to becoming more popular and successful.

While it is obvious Kramer had good intentions when writing the book, Dr Madden said the growing focus on negative messages about being overweight or obese has seen the rate of eating disorders among children increase.

“At the Children’s Hospital in the last 10 years, we now admit three times the number of children,” he said.

The Butterfly Foundation CEO Christine Morgan has labelled the book dangerous and irresponsible.

“To say that it’s inspiring for a 14-year-old to go on a diet … this age is when young girls are at their most impressionable, it is also the peak time for them to develop an eating disorder,” Ms Morgan said.

“Clinical eating disorders are psychiatric disorders, which have the highest fatality rate. Someone that suffers from anorexia nervosa is 32 times more likely to try and take their own life than their peers,” she said.

Ms Morgan said the Butterfly Foundation, which helps support sufferers of eating disorders and negative body image, promotes a positive image of self-worth based on a person’s attributes and skills, not based on weight or shape.

“At a societal level it [the novel] is giving all the wrong messages. It is setting up a time bomb within children,” Ms Morgan said.

Richard Lowe, from the National Book Network, which is handling sales of the book in the US, told ABC News America “[Kramer is] really passionate about what he’s doing. In Hawaii, he goes around to schools and does presentations and he likes working with kids”.

Dr Madden said it has become harder to educate children properly when they are bombarded with messages from many different sources.

”Parents need to help their children understand the messages that are being portrayed,” he said. “They should not be focusing on exercising to lose weight, but focusing on exercise for health and because it’s enjoyable.”

Kramer responded to his critics on

”I’m not advocating that that six-year-old go on a diet in any way shape or form, but if that six-year-old sees somebody 14-years-old who had a similar problem that they have or had, then they may have an incentive to want to be smarter about what they eat and at least try to eat nutritious foods so they can be healthier.  And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that,” he told the website.

Interesting article about how you see yourself can affect your weight loss, I am a firm believer in creative visualisation – so come on – think yourself thin! There’s also research out there that shows that when you are training, you will get better results if you actually think  about the particular body part you are working – don’t forget we know so little about the actual potential of our minds, so my advice is…keep it open!

Improved body image can increase fat loss efforts
Weight loss (or more accurately ‘fat loss’) is one of the main reasons that people contract the services of a personal trainer. Undoubtedly, you will have trained overweight clients, in which case – have you noted the negative body image that such clients often exhibit? ‘Not surprised’ you might think, but have you considered that poor perception of their own bodies may be hindering their chances of losing the weight, rather than acting as an incentive?

Recent research has found that improved body image can actually expedite fat loss in those undertaking diet and exercise programs.

Researchers from the Technical University of Lisbon in Portugal and Bangor University in the UK enlisted overweight and obese women to take part in a 12-month weight loss program. The women were divided into two groups; one group was placed on a ‘behavioural intervention’ program consisting of 30 sessions in which exercise, improving body image, emotional eating and overcoming psychological barriers to weight loss were discussed. The second, control group, was provided with general health and nutrition information.

The behavioural intervention group reported improved perception of body image and lessened concern over body shape and size. The study subjects in this group were also better able to regulate their eating, and lost significantly more weight than those in the control group, losing an average 7 per cent of their original weight, compared with 2 per cent in the control group.

Dr Teixeira from Technical University of Lisbon, who led the research, said, “Body image problems are very common amongst overweight and obese people, often leading to comfort eating and more rigid eating patterns, and are obstacles to losing weight. Our results showed a strong correlation between improvements in body image, especially in reducing anxiety about other peoples’ opinions, and positive changes in eating behaviour. From this we believe that learning to relate to your body in healthier ways is an important aspect of maintaining weight loss and should be addressed in every weight control program.’

Source: International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity

 Here’s a little article which isn’t saying anything new, but gives a nice little summary of what you need to be thinking about for the start of Summer – it may not feel like it now – but now IS the time to act and start setting those goals to look your best. Plus – its not ALL about diet & exercise – take time to make yourself FEEL good, and LOOK good, having the right attitude about yourself will make all the difference to your health/fitness goals!…

Three easy steps for a bikini-ready body

Want a sexy, toned bikini body ready for the summer? Then it’s time to take action. We’ve got three key areas you need to focus on to ensure you’re looking beach-alicious in time for peak season. So dust off those winter cobwebs and get ready to follow our guide to getting a top bikini body.


If you want a great figure, then you’re going to need to put in the exercise time – and that’s a fact. So, make sure you get up and active first thing. Mornings are one of the best times to work out – getting in your fitness fix in early kick starts your metabolism and frees up the rest of your day.

* Running

This is a great workout for you do alone or with friends, and a great way to shed some excess pounds. Try running a three times a week, starting with 10-minute sessions and then building to 30-minutes progressively. You’ll see some great results in your weight, the tone of your body and your overall fitness.

* Swimming

Swimming is a brilliant overall-body workout that works all of your major muscle groups. Again aim for three times a week and build up your time swimming progressively.  Swimming will also help ease any swim suit fear and get you used to donning your bikini in public.

* Resistance training

The more muscle you have the more calories you burn; the perfect reason to add weights to your workout. And you don’t need to be pumping iron day-in-day out, just adding a simple resistance workout with some light weights on top of your  running or swimming sessions will help tone lean calorie burning muscles.

Eat and drink well
What you eat and drink can vastly affect how your body looks and feels, so take this time to re-assess your diet and make some changes. Here are a few things you should try to include on your mission to a hot bikini body.

* Drink more water

Drinking 6-8 glasses a day of water has numerous bikini body benefits. Firstly it keeps you hydrated, and so prevents you from snacking; and secondly works wonders on your skin, even preventing the dreaded cellulite.

* Get some berries, whole grains and yoghurt

You’ll be pleased to know that all of the above are great flat-tummy foods. Combined they are supposed to help burn abdominal fat, improve digestion and keep you feeling fuller for longer. So start your day off with these top foods and be on your way to a nice and flat belly.

* Try grapefruit, cinnamon and chilli peppers

These are all great foods to include in your diet that are not just tasty but can also help you lose a few pounds. So make the effort add them in to add them into your daily routine, a few segments of grapefruit here, a dash of cinnamon on your brekkie or chopped up chilli in a stir-fry and you’ll be getting their weight-loss benefits.

Treat yourself
And last but not least – give your body a treat. Looking after yourself is often an enjoyable task that you may already include in your general lifestyle, but just not realise the benefits that you actually get from it. Here are a few little body tricks to try if you’re not already doing so…

* Massage

There are a whole heap of benefits that your body reaps from massage, but the ones key to how body’s appearance include its ability to increase circulation and how your skin looks. It also helps reduce stress – so you’re all ready for a nice and relaxing holiday.

* Body brushing

This is a really cheap and cheerful way to get beautiful looking skin that you can do all by yourself. Brushing regularly (twice a day is ideal), using long strokes towards your heart will stimulate circulation, get rid of dead skin cells and helps reduce cellulite.

* Tips and toes

Apply finishing touches to your overall look by making sure your hand s and feet are in tip top condition. Treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure, to smoothing rough skin and cuticles and opt for a nice bright summery polish to complete the look.

Here’s a fun article on what new classes we can expect to hit our gyms..all the way from Hollywood… my personal favourite, is the PILATES / strengthening class where the last 15 mins are spent in your stiletto’s…umm not sure what the OH&S at Fitness First would think about that! But like everything..Fitness will keep evolving and we will see different classes come..and some go.. it’s good to have variety & try new things otherwise you get bored & lose motivation. I say, whatever gets you moving is good…

Fitness fads of the stars

Madonna performs in Paris in May 2008.

Admit it, ladies: we’d all kill for a body to rival Cameron (actually make that Gwyneth, given her fabulously fit body of late).

But instead of eyeing the A-listers with envy every time you spot them leaving Hollywood hot spots such as Crunch Fitness (the “it” gym is a home away from home for many stars, including Jennifer Aniston and Madonna) we should actually be thanking them.

It’s the celebs’ devotion to worshipping their body that has led to the rise of the “super gym”, where a host of new fitness trends have sprung up. Our favourite is Stiletto Strength (the hot new thing at Crunch). As its name suggests, the last 15minutes of the class – a mix of pilates and strength training – is spent perfecting your pins in eight-centimetre heels.

For those who prefer a little more rough and tumble, put down your boxing gloves (so last season) and get familiar with Forza (new to Equinox Fitness in the US – Sophie Monk was spotted there), a sword-wielding class designed to help you Kill Bill, or Intensati, a blend of martial arts (a huge trend in the fitness world) and meditation.

“Health clubs are definitely on a mission to make going to the gym a total experience by offering fun, interesting group classes,” says Hollywood celebrity trainer Michael George (Reese Witherspoon is a client). “Exercise can be a fun and social experience. It’s about the choice of activity, good music and constantly changing your program.” That said, the stars, it seems, have happily ditched the traditional treadmill and rowing machines in favour of funky activities that sound fun just thinking about them.

Inspired by Beyonce’s flick, the Dream Girls dance class encourages participants to “become your own shining star” by shaking your booty to Motown-inspired dance routines from the movie. While Bally’s (Britney’s new haunt) has become famous for its cutting-edge approach to group fitness, offering classes such as karaoke spin, firefighter workouts (yes, it’s taught by real firefighters) and Beat Up Your Boss, where you and your superior embark on a two-month training program before thrashing it out in the ring.

Not that Australia intends to be left behind. Our leading fitness centres are firmly plugged into the pulse of the global fitness movement (now a $14.8 billion industry, says finance website

“This is the technology age and we want to be entertained, even in shopping malls, so if the health clubs aren’t keeping up they will get left behind,” Dominic dos Remedios, national personal training manager for Fitness First says.

“We refer to the gym as the third place – it used to be the pub, but we’re looking for healthier ways to socialise and meet people and we’ve definitely upped the ante.”

Dos Remedios spent seven years in a leading New York gym where Julia Roberts and Ben Stiller were regulars – and where classes such as Hips, Thighs and Gossip, run by drag queens who dished dirt on the social scene while whipping you into shape, was all in a day’s work.

“If there’s anything the New York experience taught me,” dos Remedios says, “it’s that when there’s a gym competing for attention on every corner, you have to be different if you are going to capture people’s imagination.”

Armed with that knowledge, Fitness First (where Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman are regularly seen working out alongside everyday folk) has made a name for itself with its innovative approach to fitness.

As for group fitness, dos Remedios agrees with the celebrity fitness experts that this is the way forward.

“We have pole dancing in some of our clubs, which was inspired by the celebs and a trend that came direct from the US. As did our boot camp, which has been hugely popular.”

Conducted three days a week from 6am to 7.15am regardless of weather (ouch), boot camp is based on military-style concepts such as shuttle runs, where you carry a weighted object down the beach. With its emphasis firmly on teamwork, you wouldn’t want to be late or slack off because this will result in penalty push-ups for the entire group.

Trainer to the stars John Fell (he’s responsible for Jennifer Hawkins’s to-die-for physique) says it is only natural we want to follow the stars.

“People now watch celebrities so closely and they want to know the details of their diet and exercise programs.”

But the bad news is there’s no easy ride, no matter who or how famous you are.

“The fact is celebrities get results following the same principles we all need to,” Fell says. “Work hard, rest well, stay focused on a healthy eating plan and have fun along the way.”

Sounds like a plan, though I still wouldn’t say no to a few rounds with the boss.

Here’s an article to go with our new series on Pilates, with the release of my introduction video and then 3 actual classes. This article highlights the need when doing exercise to be well informed in the actual mechanics of whatever it may be. In regard to this article I cannot quite see how she could strengthen her rectus abdominus (‘6-pack’), without engaging properly her transverse abdominus – but it does highlight the necessity to have proper instruction, in my blog on this topic I will recommend that anyone who is serious about doing Pilates should really find a well qualified instructor and have a 1-on-1 session first to ensure you understand the correct procedures/poses to get the most gain.

Core promises

Core strength.Developing core strength has benefits but poor technique can worsen back pain.

Building core strength has been hailed as a way to prevent back pain – but beware, writes Thea O’Connor.

Whether you are at an exercise class, working out at the gym or seeing a physiotherapist, it isn’t long before you hear about core strength.

Core strength is now common fitness talk, with Pilates largely responsible for bringing the concept into public awareness.

It refers to the strength of our core muscles, which are found in the deep muscle layers of the trunk. They work together to support and stabilise the spine when we move or lift a load.

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“Many people have heard about core abdominal muscles and do exercises to strengthen them, but many aren’t performing these exercises correctly,” says a physiotherapist and clinical Pilates instructor, Jo Keers. “Poor technique is common, which can actually cause or worsen back pain.”

A couple of years ago personal fitness trainer Donna Laine took up Pilates as a preventive measure to sustain her high level of fitness. “I learnt Pilates from a physiotherapist in Melbourne, one to one, and went to weekly classes. Six months later my back seized up and I couldn’t get out of bed for four days. Looking back now I can see that I learnt Pilates the wrong way, which brought on my injury.”

Laine endured back pain for another two years despite regular chiropractic and physiotherapy treatment. Following her relocation to the North Coast of NSW she developed sciatica, a debilitating nerve pain that starts in the lower back and travels down the leg. Doubtful but in need in of help, she turned to Keers, her local physiotherapist.

“When I assessed Donna I found that some of her deep core muscles were actually quite weak, despite all the exercise she’d been doing,” says Keers, who has seen many fitness buffs weak on the inside. “Unfortunately, what is often taught or understood is core rigidity rather than core stability, where the large surface trunk muscles are being overtrained and the deep core muscles aren’t even working. This leads to bracing yourself while doing the exercises, which is very likely to cause damage.”

It seems this is what happened with Laine. “I discovered that I was bracing and engaging my abdominus rectus (the six-pack muscle) instead of keeping it relaxed while engaging the deeper core muscles,” Laine says.

After a CAT scan revealed Laine had a prolapsed disc, she underwent surgery and returned to Keers for rehabilitation.

It has taken Laine several months to master the correct technique, but now she is back at the gym and pain-free after 2ÌÌÌÌÌÌ years.

The Pilates method was first created by German-born Joseph Pilates during his forced internment in England during World War I, where he trained fellow inmates in his unique system of breath awareness, alignment of the spine and core muscle strengthening. In the mid-1920s Pilates took his method to the US, where it became very popular among dancers.

It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the Pilates method was introduced to Australia, where its potential for treating back pain was soon recognised and since 2000 public awareness of Pilates has exploded. No longer confined to the traditional Pilates studio, the method can now be found in gyms and physiotherapy rooms, in the hybrid practice of yogalates and in newly developed forms such as the Menezes method.

Short training courses – as little as a day and a few even by correspondence – may help to meet popular demand, but they produce keen, green instructors in an unregulated industry. The president of the Australian Pilates Method Association, Liz Hewett, says the association’s greatest concern is the degree of training people undertake before they unleash themselves on the public.

“Allied health professionals can do a weekend course and call themselves Pilates instructors and think that’s OK because they are a physiotherapist or an osteopath,” says Hewett, who is a Pilates instructor herself and exercise physiologist for the Australian Ballet School.

“The training is an in-depth process that should take a year or two even if you have prior qualifications, in addition to doing Pilates yourself for at least a year,” Hewett says. She strongly advises people to check the quality of an instructor’s training before signing up.

“We’ve heard of many cases where a person has taken up Pilates to help with back pain, but has ended up worse,” Hewett says.

Back pain is a complex issue so there’s no single reason that explains why this is happening.

Professor Paul Hodges, of the school of health and rehabilitation sciences at the University of Queensland, says one-size-fits-all programs are likely to be part of the problem, as well as poor instruction.

“If someone is healthy and never had back pain, then doing generic core-strengthening training programs is likely to be OK. However, 80 to 90 per cent of the adult population has at least one episode of back pain during their life,” he says.

“Back pain changes the way you use your muscles even after the pain has gone. So if you then do a general core-strength training program, it’s quite likely that it’ll simply re-enforce the wrong muscle strategies your body has adopted to cope.”

“However, if you have an individual assessment [first] with a health professional, who can work out the unhealthy muscle strategies your body has adopted, they can instruct you with very specific and precise exercises to correct this.”

Pilates is a complex, subtle and highly specific method so it can be difficult to learn. “It comes as a big surprise to people how much concentration and co-ordination it takes to ‘get’ Pilates,” Hewett says. “It’s the brain that gets the biggest workout in the first few weeks. The physical workout comes later once you understand what to do.” To help ensure that students receive individualised attention the APMA recommends that Pilates instructors have only four people in a studio environment and 10 people in a mat class.

There’s increasing evidence that core-control techniques work, Hodges says. They alleviate back pain by training you to co-ordinate activity of the trunk muscles, including specific deep core muscles. “However, some people will benefit more than others, particularly women with lower back pain after pregnancy, those experiencing their first episode of one-sided back pain and for sufferers of spondylolisthesis (a condition where one vertebra slips forward over the vertebra below it). When you look at the effect on everyone the benefit is much smaller.”

Whether the Pilates method itself delivers such results is a difficult research question to answer, because there are now so many variations of the method.

However, a review of studies that examined use of the Pilates method specifically for treating non-specific back pain, did find that it resulted in improved general function and reduced back pain.

The review, published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies last year found three small controlled studies of sufficient quality to be included. Importantly the Pilates method was adapted for rehabilitation purposes and for each patient’s situation.

Hodges’s research has shown that people who suffer from chronic lower back pain not only use their muscles differently, their brain changes as well. People with lower back pain show a change in the organisation of the areas of the brain that co-ordinate movement. After doing exercises that train people to activate specific trunk muscles, this area of the brain can be restored to normal. Remarkably, positive change in the functioning in the back muscles is noticeable after only one training session. So when it comes to rehabilitating someone from back pain it’s more about rebooting the brain than building muscle.

Core muscles aren’t only involved in supporting the spine. They are also important for breathing and continence, so inappropriate use causes more than a pain in the back. “Excessive use of the surface abdominal muscles in women is associated with urinary incontinence, presumably because it puts too much pressure on the bladder,” says Hodges.

Philip Stevens is a Melbourne neurophysiologist who specialises in the study of breathing. “I was once brought into a Pilates training course to sort out why a number of students were having problems with stress and anxiety attacks. The focus on contracting abdominal muscles was leading people to breathe into the upper chest, which activates the fight or flight response of the sympathetic nervous system,” he says.

When Stevens assessed the way the students were being taught, everything was fine except that students were generalising the way they were being taught to breathe on the mat, to breathing in day-to-day life. “I suggested they added some meditation and relaxation at the end of the class and to relax the abdominal muscles for day-to-day breathing.”

Keers says it’s great that Pilates has increased public awareness about the importance of core strength, but the risks of poor instruction are high. “Find a well-qualified teacher and if you find yourself becoming rigid or holding your breath while doing the exercises, you know you are doing them incorrectly.”


 Here is an article just published yesterday in the UK broadsheet “The Independant” – it talks about my recent blog topics about getting kids active and my latest video about the same topic. It’s good to see the message continuing to be put out there & that people really are seeing the need to address the topic of childhood obesity (which usually leads to adulthood obesity) and try and make a difference…

Let’s get children moving


Children take only a fraction of the exercise parents think they do. But coaxing them off the sofa is easy with a little imagination, says Kate Hilpern


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Come outside: summer is the perfect time to discover new ways of staying active
Come outside: summer is the perfect time to discover new ways of staying active 

Children are physically active for barely half of the 60 minutes a day the Government says they need to keep them fit and healthy, according to new research from the University of Worcester’s Institute of Sport and Exercise Science. Yet parents believe they average 271 active minutes a day – more than eight times the amount they actually achieve.


Professor Peter Helms, from the Department of Child Health at Aberdeen University, warns of the consequences: “We’re becoming like America. For the first time, we’re seeing mature onset diabetes in obese children.” Other research shows that unfit children are six times more likely to show early signs of heart disease. But active children have been found to have less body fat, sleep better and have stronger muscles and bones. Studies also show exercise teaches team-building skills, boosts moods and enhances academic performance. So how, in the age of TVs, computers and pressures on parental time, can we get our children moving again?

Get walking

Ditch the car and walk wherever possible – to school, the shops, the park. You save petrol and just 20 minutes will give their heart (and yours) a good workout. Little tots can manage between 20 and 30 minutes at a steady pace, provided you give them water and let them rest.

“Or get them to bring roller skates, scooters or skateboards,” Adrian Voce, the director of Play England, says. “Don’t forget that children are more likely to play if they’re with friends, so why not invite them along, too?” Set them a challenge – sprint to the tree, skip to the lamp post, power walk to the letter box and so on.

Raining? So what? Children love puddles and, armed with waterproofs and an umbrella, you’ll have the added bonus of having parks and open spaces practically to yourself. “We take loads of children out in the rain as part of Forest School and it’s only the helpers who look daunted by the weather,” Fiona Danks, co-author of Run Wild, says. “Parents are fine with children getting muddy on the rugby pitch, yet they often freak out about a bit of rain.”


Lead by example

It’s no good telling your children to get out more if you’re a couch potato yourself, Helms says. “Children emulate their parents much more than people realise and our exercise habits start becoming established practically from the time we can walk.”

If you are overweight or obese, your child’s chances of being overweight as an adult are 80 per cent greater than those of a child whose parents are of normal weight. If, on the other hand, you keep yourself in shape, then your children are six times more likely to be physically active.

But before you grab your child to join you for a weekend jog in the park, remember children are not miniature adults and their physiological responses to exercise differ from those of adults. Their natural form of play consists of short bursts of energy punctuating more languorous passages. So go to the park and play stuck-in-the-mud or witches and wizards and let them take short breaks to play on the swings.

“Share your own play memories,” Voce says. “Whether it was a game of tag, rounders or piggy-in-the-middle, think about how you used to play.”


Join the club

Studies show that older children are far more likely to take part in sports if their friends are joining in. Sign up for after-school and holiday clubs such as gymnastics, swimming, trampolining and tennis.

“Holiday courses are the perfect solution for parents, many of whom work, to ensure their children have a fun and active summer. These courses and camps can help children with life skills, too – socialising, learning new skills and independence,” Matthew Yianni, the head coach at Sporting Steps, says.

But some children aren’t as sporty as others and shouldn’t be pushed into it. Try things out first to find out what motivates them and, where possible, get them to pick their own activities. Studies show that if children feel they have ownership of an idea, they get much more involved and are far more likely to enjoy it. “Keep it compelling,” Yianni says. “If exercise looks or sounds like hard work, your kids won’t want to know.”

Don’t lose heart if nothing springs to mind. Teenage girls can be particularly hard to please, Helms says, but you just need to be imaginative – disco dancing, drama, horse riding and cheerleading all count as exercise.


Make TV time more active

TV doesn’t have to be the enemy. Just set a limit on how long children sit in front of it – one hour a day is plenty until age 10, moving towards two hours as they hit their teens. And make them earn it, Dax Moy, a personal trainer, says. “Want an hour in front of the telly? Then do something active for 30 minutes.” Even when your children are watching TV, there are ways to make it more active, he says. Put a mini-trampoline in the room or put on one of the many exercise DVDs available, appealing to everyone from toddlers up. Alternatively, try Nintendo’s Wii Fit tennis, golf, football, snooker, aerobics or dance, all of which work on flexibility, fitness, balance and co-ordination and are endorsed by the Department of Health as a “great way” to exercise.

The Kinect for Xbox 360 is another good investment. The camera uses a depth sensor and camera to track your full body in 3D, allowing you to control and interact with the fitness games without a controller or remote. Meanwhile, the Playstation Move Motion Controller includes titles like Sports Champions and SingStar Dance that will get your kids and their friends using your living room like a sports hall.


Make the most of your garden

Gardens are great for disguising exercise as fun. Get a trampoline or attach a basketball net to the side of your house. “Invest in active toys,” Voce says. “Classic toys like hula hoops, pogo sticks, skipping ropes and space hoppers are still firm favourites.” Swingball is a good way of getting them used to a racket and treasure hunts are a fun way of getting them to run around.

Iain Reitze, co-founder of Prestige Boot Camp, advises placing various toys or objects around the garden, then timing your children as they run out to bring back each item before heading for the next one. “This will increase heart and lungs efficiency as well as burning calories,” he says.

Make a circular assault course for things to jump over or crawl under, he says. Buckets with a broom across can be jumped over, a plank can be used to balance on, hoops to step in and pass over the body and a blanket to crawl under like a military camouflage net.


Use local spaces

A trip to the park can be great, even for older kids, now that many have outdoor gyms. Voce says that Play England has helped build 30 staffed adventure playgrounds, aimed at older children, across the country so far. “Research shows that if you give children any large space, they will exercise naturally,” he says.

Let your children play in the local neighbourhood with friends and siblings, he says. “Children playing out in the street should not be seen as potentially antisocial behaviour waiting to happen.”


Holidays and events

Children exercise twice as much on holiday as at home, according to research by Eurocamp and Netmums. Choose somewhere with no TV or opt for a holiday involving water. Studies show swimming works every muscle group in the body.

Activity holidays run by the likes of Eurocamp, Canvas Holidays and PGL are the Rolls-Royces of childrens’ activity, Moy says, with pretty much every type of physical exercise going, including climbing, running, team sports, kayaking, assault courses and hiking.

No plans to go away? To celebrate the national day for play on 3 August, more than 900 events are being held across the UK to encourage families to get outdoors and play. Visit www. for details.

Change4Life’s The Really Big Summer Adventure – a six-week long initiative designed to inspire children, parents and carers – is also worth looking into, with ideas, offers and competitions to get the family up and about without breaking the bank.

SO, here we go to the other extreme and talk about babies & toddlers and how we can best get them off to a good start – many actually believe that our  personalities are programmed within our first few years, whatever the case, this is the time to train our kids on how to eat properly and with the correct portion sizes, and NOT to get them hooked on fastfood!...

Put chubby toddlers on a diet: report

Generic pic of a fat child.Bad habits … portion control and adequate exercise key to preventing childhood obesity, says report.

Contrary to popular belief, children don’t usually outgrow their baby fat — and a new report urges steps to help prevent babies, toddlers and preschoolers from getting too pudgy too soon.

Topping the list of proposed changes: better guidelines to help parents and caregivers know just how much toddlers should eat as they move from baby food to bigger-kid fare. And making sure preschoolers get at least 15 minutes of physical activity for every hour they spend in child care.

Thursday’s recommendations, from the US Institute of Medicine, aren’t about putting the very young on diets. But those early pounds can lead to lasting bad effects on their health as children grow, says the report.

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“It’s a huge opportunity to instill good habits at a time when you don’t have to change old ones,” said Leann Birch, director of Pennsylvania State University’s Centre for Childhood Obesity Research, who chaired the report panel.

Children as young as 2 or 3 are sensitive to portion size so it’s important to not inadvertently train them to overeat.

“If you give them larger portions, they eat more,” Birch explained.

Paediatricians generally give pretty explicit directions on how to feed babies. And US dietary guidelines include a special section for preschoolers, including information that a portion size generally is about 1 tablespoon of each food type per year of age.

But overall, those guidelines are aimed at ages 2 and older — though surveys show even very young children eat too few of the fruits and vegetables they need. So the institute called on the US government to create consumer-friendly dietary guidelines for birth to age 2.

That would capture the “dramatic dietary transition that occurs, from consuming one single food to, by the time they’re 2, ordering up things from McDonald’s and, we hope, having also learned to eat a lot of healthy foods,” Birch said.

That will be part of the discussion during the next US dietary guidelines update in 2015, said Robert Post, deputy director of the US Agriculture Department’s Centre for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, which oversees that process. But developing guidelines for these younger children is complex because their nutrition needs are based in part on developmental stage, he cautioned.

Of course, parents have the biggest influence over whether healthy eating and being active become a child’s norm.

But the report makes the case that children’s habits are influenced by far more than their parents — and thus it’s time to expand obesity prevention to more of the other places youngsters spend time. For example, the many children aged 2 to 5 who spend at least part of their day in some form of child care.

Among the recommendations:

* Child care and preschool operators should be trained in proper physical activity levels for young children, provide at least 15 minutes of it per hour, and avoid withholding physical activity as a means of discipline.

* Child care regulations should limit how long toddlers and preschoolers sit or stand still to no more than 30 minutes at a time — and limit holding babies in swings, bouncy seats or other equipment while they’re awake.

* Child care and preschools should practice what’s called responsive feeding: providing age-appropriate portion sizes, teaching children to serve themselves properly, requiring adults to sit with and eat the same foods as the children and following babies’ cues as to when they’ve had enough.

* Breastfed infants are less likely to become obese later in childhood, so doctors and hospitals should encourage breastfeeding and limit formula samples aimed at new mums.

* At checkups, doctors should consider the parents’ weight in assessing which children are at risk of later obesity, and then alert parents early that preventive steps are needed. About 10 per cent of US infants and toddlers already weigh too much for their length.

 Here’s the first article on ‘Family Issue’s’ – talking about kids and their sleeping habits during school and the effects it has- this is from ‘The Guardian’ but the research was actually done on Australian children! Have you had any problems with your kids at exam time – don’t forget you can ask me anything on my “Ask Ian” page….

Family under the microscope

Now more than half way into the school term, pubescent children will be showing signs of wear and tear. A significant factor is the grim discrepancy between school hours and the natural sleep rhythms of most teenagers. Studies from many nations show that normal school hours have a baleful impact.

In puberty we tend to become “evening people”, preferring later bed and waking times. This has a biological basis, with melatonin secretion (a key hormone in wakefulness) delayed in teens compared with pre-teens. The list of adverse effects associated with reduced and irregular sleep is long, with depression, increased accidents, more drug use and worse school performance being only some of them. During holidays they sleep longer and get up later.

Of course, individuals vary in the extent to which they are morning or night people. Children who naturally go for evenings are particularly at risk of, in effect, feeling jet-lagged by the school schedule. A study of 310 Australian 15-18-year-olds demonstrated just how severe the effects can be, comparing sleep patterns during two fortnights – holiday versus term-time.

Overall, the teens averaged 55 minutes less sleep a night during the school term compared with the holidays. In both the holidays and school terms, students reported that they ideally needed about eight hours 45 minutes’ sleep. This was exceeded during the holidays, with students sleeping for nine hours 12 minutes on weeknights – a sleep credit. During school term they averaged just under eight hours a school night, running up considerable sleep debts.

On school nights (Sunday to Thursday), the sample slept significantly less (an average of 77 minutes) than the same weeknights over the holiday period, despite going to bed earlier.

On school mornings (Monday to Friday), students reported waking up an average of two hours 34 minutes earlier than they did during the holidays. They obtained 1 hour 22 minutes less sleep a night than they believed ideal for them. Although they slept longer at weekends during term time, it was nowhere near enough to pay back the sleep debts run up during weekdays.

You can see where your child fits in from the extremes. During the holidays, the lowest reported average sleep was four hours 11 minutes a night, the highest 13 hours 31 minutes; but only 6% of the sample had less than seven hours’ sleep a night. During school term, average sleep ranged from a low of three hours 51 minutes a night to a high of 10 hours 55 minutes, with 15% reporting less than seven hours: over twice as many children were getting less than seven hours a night during term time. Boys were slightly more prone to be night owls than girls.

Sure enough, sleep deprivation predicted more negative mood and poorer daytime academic performance and behaviour during term time, especially among children who were particularly prone to be night owls. For them, the early start time of schools is very unhelpful.

The implications are considerable. Just as it suits hospital rotas to wake patients early regardless of their condition and personal time clock, designed to suit staffing issues, so school timetables are arranged to suit parents, teachers and businesses. It is true that it would be tricky to design a system that enabled teens to start school at 10am or later. But that is clearly what is required.

Short of ho can do to solve this problem. But at least now you know that the sluggish morning behaviour of your morose teen is neither laziness nor your (not an option or wish for most parents), where you could start their day at a time that fitted their circadian rhythm, there is not much you can do.

There’s nothing like a good headline to get people going! Here’s an article by Michelle Bridges, who I generally admire (unlike Shannon who just really annoys me!). I always find it interesting reading the comments after such an article, and the varying views of people, some of which just do not make sense.

Michelle is not a scientist (as some person noted), however this doesn’t mean that she does not know her stuff or that she can’t voice her opinion. Saying that I do not fully agree with the simplistic attitude of some of the article. Yes they got results from the Biggest Loser, but they are not realistic. Having a friend who knows 2 of the contestants I am aware that they were on a VERY low calorie intake, with an extremely HIGH energy output – 24/7.

Of course they got results.

I believe its fair to say that some people, due in part to their genes find it much more difficult to lose their weight than others, it also works in reverse, some people just cannot put ON weight, no matter what they eat. I say, take on board what is said, but make up your own opinion – the answer is generally someplace inbetween!

Fat gene theory dispelled

Thumbnail image for video asset.

Biggest Loser proves genes don’t control weight, says Michelle Bridges.

From Sunday Life

I am not a scientist. However, I can’t help being fascinated by what is going on in the research world as it relates to obesity and weight management. One of the things scientists are focusing their attention on is the field of epigenetics, which explores how every gene a person has inherited ends up expressing itself in their physical and neurological characteristics. This subject is even more interesting now that science has unravelled the human genome sequence.

In the past, we’ve looked to our parents and grandparents for the determinants of the way we look, or for our propensity for disease or obesity. What epigenetic research tells us is that our genes themselves are not wholly responsible for our physical characteristics.

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Guaranteed weight loss ... Biggest Loser trainers Michelle Bridges and Shannan Ponton.Guaranteed weight loss … Biggest Loser trainers Michelle Bridges and Shannan Ponton.

Let me explain. Epigenetics is the study of changes in our physical characteristics that are caused by mechanisms over and above our underlying DNA sequence. Our epigenomes sit on top of our genes, and effectively tell our genes which genetic characteristics to switch on and which to switch off. The action is better described as a dimmer switch, as epigenomes also control to what extent our genes determine our physical characteristics.

It’s important to remember that our DNA sequence itself doesn’t change. We can’t change our genetic sequence because it’s hard-wired into our system – but we can change the way our genes express themselves.

Obviously, if we can switch off the genes that give us a propensity to develop cancer or become obese, or at least “dim” them, we stand to benefit enormously. And here’s more amazing news: the way to change our epigenomes, and thereby our genetic expression (our propensity to disease, obesity, even the way we look), is by changing our diet, our exercise habits and our environment. In other words, it’s not the genetic cards you’ve been dealt, but rather how you play them that determines much about your physical health and well-being.

This research also dispels the fat-gene theory, which suggests that some of us have the fat gene and are therefore incapable of losing weight. We now know that all of us can control our weight to some degree – if we treat our epigenomes carefully through exercise, nutrition and our environment.

The common denominator of all the contestants on The Biggest Loser is that they all claim to have “tried everything, but nothing worked” in their quest for a healthy weight. Yet we trainers manage to get weight off all of them, without exception. Did they leave their fat genes at the front door? No. Has their DNA sequence changed? No. They just altered its genetic expression. And you can, too.

Following on from my post about alternative ways to exercise, here’s an article on some of those form….enjoy! 

Beginners’ guide to electronic fitness

In recent times, the video game industry has overcome its reputation for being couch-potato-inducing, receiving the recognition of health professionals for making ‘fun fitness’ a virtual reality.

In recent times, the video game industry has overcome its reputation for being couch-potato-inducing, receiving the recognition of health professionals for making ‘fun fitness’ a virtual reality.
This has led to an ‘exergaming’ (exercising while gaming) boom, which has seen an explosion of active video games on the interactive gaming market. Nintendo’s Wii Fit Plus, Sony PlayStation’s Move and Xbox’s Kinect are the leaders in electronic fitness and work by tracking body movement and reactions using technology.
Of all the ‘exergames’ (exercise games) on the market, Nintendo’s Wii Fit Plus is a popular choice. And with more than one million Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus games sold in Australia so far, it’s clear many Australians are incorporating exergames into their workout routine.
PT Brett Handreck says Wii Fit and other electronic workouts have bridged the gap between gym-haters and gym-junkies, also keeping couch-dwellers active in the comfort of their own lounge rooms.
“The simple nature of the Wii Fit set-up allows people to get straight into a positive routine that will hopefully set them on the road to a fit and healthy lifestyle,” Handreck says.
Angela Spehr of All Interactive Entertainment says the advances in video game technology makes exercising using video games even more fun as the user is getting real time feedback on their activities.
Want to know whether you should put a little gaming fun into your workout, too? Here’s your guide to exergaming, using Nintendo’s Wii – becoming a living-room athlete couldn’t be more convenient or fun!

The basics
The Nintendo Wii comes with Wii Sports, through which you can play a variety of competitive sports such as boxing, tennis, golf, baseball and bowling by yourself or with a gaming buddy. To play, you need to use the Wii Remote, which is a hand-held, motion-sensitive controller that works to translate your real-world actions into the virtual world, making your animated on-screen avatar mimic your movement.
And because it can judge the intensity of your movement, you’ll need to punch hard when you’re in Wii’s boxing ring, swing big when teeing off on the almost-real green and work your forehand on the virtual tennis court. With all that effort, you’ll be working up a sweat in no time!
In addition to these activities, there are a number of other titles available for the console, such as Wii Fit Plus, which has become a favourite among modern fitness devotees.
Unlike Wii Sports, as its name suggests, Wii Fit Plus focuses on improving fitness. Launched in Australia in 2009 as an upgrade to Wii Fit, it builds on the original with new activities that add to the original line-up. It also provides more detailed feedback on the player’s performance and allows players to create a personalised workout routine based on specific objectives or available time. It also amps up the fun – you can even create profiles for pets and babies!
The game uses a platform called the Wii Balance Board on which the player stands during exercise, enabling the program to measure your centre of gravity, weight distribution and balance. The board is pressure-sensitive, meaning it knows when you’re taking a break from exercise and your PT will step in to encourage you to hop back on (and scold you!).
Wii Fit Plus is a great way for independent workout types to custom-design their workout routine. The program offers a range of activities that can provide a moderate-intensity, all-round workout, including yoga, strength training and aerobics, also focusing on the three important principles of fitness: knowing your own physique, training yourself and keeping track of your progress.

Did you Know???…


1 in 12 men have some form of colour blindness..but may not know it, it could also be a sign of Diabetes


78%  of people are confused by food label health claims…


40%  is the reduction in risk of developing Parkinson’s disease for men who include rich berries in their diet..


275 the number of Australians who  develop diabetes (1 & 2) EVERTYDAY!.. 


 70%  the # of Aussies on at least one prescription or non-prescription medicine at any one time.. 

  • Leafy greens, are one of the best sources of Vit. K (Broccoli, parsley & cabbage) – it helps maintain healthy blood AND keep bones strong..

  • Muscular strength improves life say researchers at Sth Carolina body strength is linked to lower risks of cardiovascular disease, cancer and among most others!

  • Garlic may not be the best for your breath, but an Australian study showed a reduction in systolic blood pressure (5 pts) by taking 6-900 mg per day

So, the big day is here! Its hard to imagine the nerves Kate (& possibly William) will be feeling right now, although by looking at Kate’s weight-loss recently it sure looks as though she may suffer from them  – not too worry, she can help fix it by eating!…have a read, especially if you have a big event coming up!

Stress busters: what to eat before a big day

For those really big stress occasions – a royal wedding, for instance – what should you eat to ease the nerves?

Dietitians say Kate Middleton could have some yoghurt, or nibble on a banana or packet of mints as she makes her way to Westminster Abbey.

But, they say, the key to alleviate stress is a good breakfast which includes carbohydrates with a low Glycemic Index (GI).

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Melbourne dietitian Melanie McGrice said low GI carbohydrates have a calming effect because they increase the release of the feel-good hormone serotonin in the brain.

She said the princess-to-be – and the rest of us – should not skip the morning meal and should aim to eat low GI breakfast foods in order to ease anxiety.

“I’d be wanting something that’s low GI but not so high in fibre that you end up getting very farty,” Ms McGrice said. “I’d want to be avoiding the All-Bran.

“But at the same time you want something really low GI because you don’t want to get hungry half way through the day and then find that your stomach is gurgling in the huge big quiet cathedral.

“I’d be thinking of low GI breakfast cereal with some fruit on top and a low fat milk.”

A good calming snack for the bride on the way to the church could be a tub of yoghurt, a smoothie or maybe a banana, which is nourishing but not too high in fibre, Ms McGrice said.

Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, from Sydney University’s school of molecular bioscience, recommended a mint or a jube to lessen the effects of stress hormones.

“The stress hormones will increase the chances that she’s got a dry mouth,” Professor Brand-Miller said.

“So something like Tic Tacs or something like that, I think would be suitable.

“Maybe a jube or something like that … but she could end up with something on her dress.”

For those of us destined to be commoners forever, the perfect meal to alleviate stress is a good breakfast, she said.

Here’s my article for Easter, continuing the Chocolate theme, it’s talking about SUGAR &  the dangers of it whether you are overweight or not…. always check sugar content, it has to be shown & its often way higher than you may think!…

Sweet tooth a fatal flaw

Hidden danger ... radical increase in fructose consumption driving diabetes epidemic.Hidden danger … low fat isn’t healthy if it’s high in sugar.

It won’t be welcomed by sweet-toothed Australians, but research has shown how a diet high in sugar can cause health damage even when a person is not overweight.

Signs of impaired heart functioning were seen in mice that were fed a sugar-rich for just 12 weeks, as part of a study conducted at the University of Melbourne.

The mice ate the equivalent of a high-sugar diet for humans – for example a teenager fuelled by soft drinks and lollies – and the damage was seen to unfold even though they maintained a normal weight.

PhD candidate Kimberley Mellor said the results pointed to commonly held misconceptions about healthy eating, and an “overlooked” potential driver in the steady rise of type 2 diabetes.

“It has been overlooked but now it is increasingly moving to the forefront of this debate,” Ms Mellor told AAP on Wednesday.

“… Because we are recognising that it is not just fat that is bad for us, it is sugar as well.

“And all of these foods that we think of as healthy because they are low fat are actually not, because of their high sugar content.”

The mice were fed food high in fructose – the substance that gives sugar its sweet taste – which is a common food additive particularly in the form of high-fructose corn syrup.

The mice showed signs of oxidative stress in their hearts, which leads to a breakdown of cardiac cells and a disruption of the way these cells react to calcium, an essential process which enables the heart to beat.

While the study looked for an impact on heart function, Ms Mellor said other research also pointed to a link between a high-fructose diet and the onset of diabetes.

There had been a “dramatic shift” in the amount of fructose in the food supply over the past 30 years, she said, with average consumption thought to be up by about 30 per cent.

“Fructose intake has increased so much over the last few decades and this has been in line with an increase in type 2 diabetes,” Ms Mellor said.

“There has been a view that diabetes is involved with obesity, but actually we know that many diabetics are not obese and some are not even overweight.

“This research … is important because it shows us what can happen independent of body weight changes.”

The take home message, Ms Mellor said, was to “cut out sugar as much as possible” from the diet and there was little point switching to low fat foods that were otherwise high in sugar.

“It really puts forward a case for restricting the amount of fructose that can go into foods, because at the moment there are no restrictions at all,” Ms Mellor also said.

The research was done under the supervision of Professor Lea Delbridge and the results were presented at the 5th Australian Health and Medical Research Congress, which is underway in Melbourne this week.

More research to help back up the new “it Vitamin” – D! – its not just for healthy bones and a healthy heart & liver – but it can also assist you in losing weight – Fab! BioCeuticals has just the right thing – Vitamin D3 drops & only 3 drops needed per day, especially good heading into winter when there’s less sunshine…

Bust your belly with vitamin D

Your new ally in the fight against flab

Are you getting enough vitamin D? A study by the University of Minnesota has found that a vitamin D deficiency could be standing in between you and the ripped look you deserve.

Dr Shalamar Sibley tested a group of 38 overweight men and women by putting them on a calorie restricted diet that had them consuming 750 calories fewer than their estimated daily needs. Half the group was supplemented with vitamin D for the 11-week-trial whilst the other half simply dieted.

On such a diet the whole group obviously lost weight but crucially the vitamin-rich group shed, on average, half a pound more per person than those who were deficient. Sibley’s test showed a linear relationship between vitamin D and gut shrinkage: weight loss increased as vitamin D levels increased. In fact for every 1ng/mL (nanogram per millilitre) increase in vitamin D subjects lost 1/2lb more on their diet. Don’t let the science bamboozle you; the simple fact is that vitamin D can help you slim down.

Researchers at the universities of Madrid and Columbia have also revealed the fat busting qualities of vitamin D. They found that vitamin D is key in the assimilation of food and the regulation of blood sugar, both of which are important to the leaner man. Furthermore, a lack of vitamin D triggers your body to increase production of ab-hating Synthase. This evil enzyme converts the excess calories you consume into a squishy gut-bad news for your six-pack.

The discovery of vitamin D’s lean credentials couldn’t have come at a better time. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, 50% of us Brits are also woefully bereft of the blubber-bashing vitamin.

The best source of vitamin D is lots of bright sunshine but with the British winter firmly in its stride you’re unlikely to be treated to any of that. Never fear oily fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, etc.), milk, eggs liver and oats all pack a vitamin D punch and will get the pounds to D-rop off.

Following is an article written by Ricky Hay, International Nutritionalist, who is based in London & about to launch IsoWhey to the UK. See also my blog regarding the connection between sleep and weight management…

Sleep – Are You getting Enough?

“As boring as it sounds, if you are having problems with your sleep patterns, or are insomniac, then the plainer the menu the better – and this is especially true at dinner time.   Too rich food, too much food, or too spicy food laiden with herbs and spices that generate heat in the body can overstimulate and overload the digestive system.   The same goes for sugary foods as they are broken down providing energy which is not what you want if you are trying to drift off.

It’s very important to keep your blood sugar levels balanced so go for calming, sophomoric foods – go for something like a  shepherd’s pie which is a good complete yet simple meal, or lentil soup – a good warming filler.   And you can’t go wrong with some steamed fish and vegetables as steaming provides some easily digestible protein and vegies and will not overtax the digestive system.

There is a group of psychologists whose school of thought is that eating food that has comforting memories from childhood can be very effective in having a calming effect on the body.   What works for me is stewed apples served with a little custard, which triggers wonderful childhood memories of my grandmother who was an important part of my life.   So literally comfort food is great way to relax and soothe thus encouraging a good night’s sleep.  Scrambled eggs on one slice of wholemeal toast is a good choice too.

Sleep is when the body needs to repair and regenerate.   And the body is programmed to do just that so if you do take in too much food the body’s digestive system almost ignores it, which is when you can put weight on too, as the body is not able to use up the energy.

Alcohol as we know alters mood and is actually be too stimulating for the body at night which can lead to an interrupted sleep pattern.   Instead, the traditional bedtime remedy of hot milk is good.   Milk contains tryptophan which is an amino acid that helps with sleep, and again, it’s a comforting food.   Bananas have tryptophan, too, so a non-sweetened banana smoothie before bed isn’t a bad idea and a good replacement for a sugary pudding and if you add oats this helps nourish and calm the nervous system.

Portions just before bed should neither be too large nor rich as we don’t want the body to have to focus on digestion when it has other nightly repair work.  Don’t eat your main meal any later than 8 o’clock, but you should not go to bed hungry either as this will keep you awake.

I am a great advocate of juicing.  Since the body is repairing itself at night you are better off not overtaxing the body, but at the same time all of the nourishment and goodness in some juices will support the body over night and you won’t wake feeling ravenous and reaching for the first sweet thing you can lay your hands on for breakfast – Try combining half a small lettuce, 1 apple and one quarter to one half of a cucumber in a juicer – this recipe calms over active minds. If you want to buy a juicer go for a cold pressing one as they preserve enzymes, vitamins and minerals more than some other types. The Oscar 900 or 930 Pro from http://www.vitality4 are both excellent choices.

Spirulina taken just before bed can help keep you full and provide good nourishment throughout the night. BioCeuticals SomniCare and RestoraCalm which both contain herbal extracts, may help to relieve nervous tension and assist in the promotion of a sound nights sleep. In addition Adrenoplex, which combines traditional Chinese herbs with the Ayurvedic herb Withania, and added B Vitamins, can provide support in times of stress & mild anxiety.

Many people get good results with rescue remedy’s sleep formula. Many pharmacies also have herbal formulas containing hops , passion flower and valerian that help many to slumber – herbal teas like Cammomile can be of use 30 minutes prior to bed and have been used for millenia with success.


Ok, what news have we this week?? lets see….

Did you know –

89% , is the % of foods marketed to kids which provides poor nutrition!!

40% of kids skip breakfast at least once a week – this is bad, especially for childhood obesity!

10% of the whole worlds popuation are OBESE, (not just overweight), that’s half a billion!

61% – the number of people who drink soft drinks, that have a higher risk of vascular disease


  • Clean your mouth out!! people who have even moderate gum disease have a higher risk of diabetes. Inflamed gums lead to a trigger of insulin resistance which may lead to Diabetes, but
  • Broccoli has been shown to have properties which fight Diabetes, so get munching!
  • SHITtake mushrooms – contain Lentinan, a powerful immune strength booster, plus has high levels of anti-oxidants & protein!


Well, ok, perhaps its not that revolutionary, but it is different and hopefully will work those muscles around your mouth, into forming a bit of a smile!

Try to do everyday as instructed….


Start by climbing the walls                            x 1 hour

Then jump to the wrong conclusions            x10


Wade through the daily paper                      x 1 hour

Beat round the bush                                     x 8


Push your luck                              x10

Blow your own trumpet                x12


Hit the nail on the head                x8

Jump onto the bandwagon            x1


Fall off the wagon                                    x1

Bend over backwards                              x10


Make mountains out of molehills       x 1 hour

Run around in circles                         x rest of the day!


Put your foot in your mouth                        x 10

Sing Hallelujah & raise your hands              till the cows come home!

Do these everyday and you’ll be as fit as a fiddle!

In line with my blog this week, I found this article from the States, showing the resistance that organisations have about being responsible for the health of their customers – this sort of thing is the least we should be doing, lets start by banning all junk food ads in children’s movies I say! This issue has to be addressed and head on, health is ALWAYS more important than profit!

Cinemas attack nutrition rules

Highly profitable … cinemas resist call for calorie count on popcorn.
American cinema operators are fuming about proposed federal rules that could require them to disclose the calories in their food – including popcorn, a highly profitable item.

A provision in the federal healthcare law stipulates that restaurant chains with at least 20 US locations must provide the calorie content of menu items. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration said it intended to apply the provision not only to restaurants but also to cinemas.

Alarmed at the prospect, representatives of the National Association of Theatre Owners have been lobbying the FDA and congressional staff in recent weeks to exempt cinemas from the nutritional labelling requirement.

They argue that the proposed rules are an unwarranted intrusion into their business because people visit cinemas to consume films, not food.

”We’re not restaurants where people go to eat and satisfy themselves,” Gary Klein, the trade group’s general counsel said. ”It’s dinner and a movie, not dinner at a movie.”

Cinema operators have an interest in fighting the proposed rules, as they generate up to one-third of their revenue from selling popcorn, soft drinks and other snacks. Popcorn is especially profitable, with a bucket that sells for $US6 costing 15¢ to 20¢ to produce.

A 2009 survey based on laboratory tests conducted by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest in Washington found that a large popcorn serving contained as much as 1460 calories – which is the equivalent of eating nearly three McDonald’s Big Macs.

Check out this article, its a pre-curser to a Detox blog I am going to write soon, if you care about what you’re putting into your body, & if you want to achieve your goals quicker, its a must read!!

Food labelling: a case of natural selection?

Packaged and convenience foods line the aisles of every supermarket. Riddled with mystery chemical ingredients such as stabilisers and preservatives, their labelling can be almost impossible to decipher. Food manufacturers know that health sells, and product labelling is the front line in getting the message across to time-poor shoppers.
photo library

Buzz words like ‘lite’, ‘organic’, ‘scientifically proven’, ‘healthy’ and ‘natural’ – claims often stamped on the front of packaging – can be misleading. ‘Lite’ doesn’t always refer to reduced fat content – it can be used to refer to a thinner consistency or reduced sugar. And science is often used to bamboozle consumers into thinking a product is better for them than the competitor. Who conducted the study and how big was it? What does it claim to prove? It pays to be wary of scientific claims.

A product claiming to be ‘95 per cent fat free’ can in fact contain a disproportionate amount of fat. By concentrating on the portion of the product that isn’t fat, the manufacturer has diverted attention from the fact that there is still five per cent fat in the product. Depending on what the product is, this can be an alarming amount. Remember this isn’t a weighted measurement of fat, but a percentage of fat concentration. Read the label to get the unvarnished truth about how much fat you are actually consuming – in grams.

Another source of confusion is the way the words are arranged in a claim. For example, does a ‘100 per cent Australian apples’ label mean a product is made entirely of apples or that it’s only partially made of apples but the apples contained in it are from Australia? It can be a minefield trying to work out what you’re actually getting.

The truth about health

The word ‘organic’ is abused widely, because it moves products off shelves and into consumers’ shopping carts. The term means different things in different countries. To ensure a product meets Australian standards for organic produce, make sure it bears the Australian Certified Organic mark. This means it is:

Free from genetically modified organisms at every stage of production. The production unit must not be used for the shared processing of any genetically modified organisms.

Produced using soil that is free from artificial fertilisers, and from plants that have been kept pest-free using mechanical and natural controls such as crop rotation.

Produced with respect for conservation values and the natural environment, and without negative impact on it.

The word ‘healthy’ itself cannot be used as a product claim except in limited circumstances, but companies can get around this by adding words like ‘health’ and ‘natural’ to their registered trade name.

The claim that a product is ‘natural’ is one to pay special attention to, because it can be used by companies to get around organic certification, and because the meaning of the word is easily stretched and manipulated – after all, even the most complex chemical compound can be traced to a natural source at some point on its journey to the supermarket shelf.

In his book Fast Food Nation, which looks at the fast food industry in the US, Eric Schlosser explains that, “Natural flavours and artificial flavours sometimes contain exactly the same chemicals, produced through different methods.”

Just because something is natural or ‘nature identical’ doesn’t mean it is good for you. Ingredients like high sucrose corn syrup, used widely in soft drinks, and palm oil, found in a variety of processed foods, have been promoted as and are arguably ‘natural’ – but they have been linked to obesity, diabetes and a range of other diseases.

Finding your way around food packaging

Under legislation currently being reviewed, Food Standards Australia New Zealand requires most food products to have a nutritional information panel, which indicates energy content per serve and per 100 grams as well as levels of carbohydrate, fat and saturated fat, protein and sodium contained in the product. If there is a ‘characterising ingredient’, for example, oranges in orange juice, the product is required to show the percentage of that ingredient.

An ingredients list must also be visible, with ingredients (including water content) listed in descending order of quantity. In Australia it is also a requirement that the product show its country of origin.

Exceptions to the requirement for a nutritional information panel include very small packages (for example, chewing gum), foods with no significant nutritional value such as tea or a packet containing a herb or spice, foods sold unpackaged (for example, fruit) and foods made at the point of sale (for example, bread at a bakery).

Fair trading laws in both Australia and New Zealand prevent companies from making deceptive claims about their products – so for example, a carton featuring a picture of strawberries on it must contain strawberries. Food labelling also needs to be accurate. If a product contains strawberry flavouring or ‘nature-identical’ flavouring, then it needs to say so somewhere on the packet. There are also requirements relating to use-by dates and legibility of product labelling.

New Article – Check it out!…

A burst of activity

Are you doing endless hours of steady-paced cardio day in, day out and not seeing results? Here’s a valuable piece of advice: longer workouts are not the answer. Apart from the boredom factor, your body adapts to this style of training, so your results plateau, which in turn means you have to do an even longer cardio workout.

If you want to supercharge your fat loss and increase your fitness and performance in a shorter workout time, you need to increase your intensity.

High intensity

Simply put, high intensity interval training (HIIT) involves intense bursts of exercise followed by less intense ‘recovery’ periods of exercise that are continually repeated in the same training session.

For example, you might jog on a treadmill for two minutes, then sprint for one minute at high intensity, and repeat this pattern for a set amount of time, depending on your fitness level. The ‘rest’ or less intense phase allows you to recover from more intense exercise while still moving.

The great news is that you don’t need long bouts of HIIT to get results – 20 minutes will have you feeling ‘worked out’. In fact, if you are doing HIIT for much longer than this, you aren’t working intensely enough in the second phase.

If you belong to a gym it is fairly easy to incorporate HIIT into your cardio training using the different pieces of equipment – for example, treadmill or bike – and they will often feature an interval training setting.

However, the great thing about HIIT is that it doesn’t require you to be at the gym at all. HIIT can be used as a method of fat loss and will improve fitness via any form of cardiovascular exercise; for example, walking, sprinting, cycling or swimming.

Instead of just walking the same route at the same pace each day, try HIIT. Time yourself to powerwalk for two minutes, then rest with a slower walk for one minute and repeat.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to time yourself, use lampposts, trees or driveways as a guide. For example, powerwalk or jog to the fourth power pole, then walk at medium pace for two power poles and repeat.

You’ll be amazed at how quickly the time will fly because you are focused on your next marker and not dwelling on how far you’ve got to go as a whole. It can be great fun if you have a training partner (even if it’s the family dog), because you can try to beat each other to the next tree – and we know how much the family pooch loves trees.

Don’t get bogged down by correct timing or distances because mixing it up is a great way to prevent your body adapting to the exercise, which means you are challenging it each time.

The next level

As everybody’s intensity level is different, depending on experience and fitness level. As a guide, on a scale of 1-10 intensity, level 1 is more or less standing still, level 5 is jogging and level 10 is your fastest sprint. When you are completing a high intensity phase you should aim for level 9; however, if you’re a beginner, aim for level 7 and build it up gradually.

If you’re just starting out you may only be able to complete 10 minutes of HITT. As you get fitter, increase your intensity intervals to one minute and shorten your rest intervals to 20 seconds. Avoid the temptation to overdo the intensity level at the beginning as you simply won’t be able to do more than a couple of sequences.

Lean muscle is important for fat loss because it boosts your metabolism, causing your body to burn more fat. So it is important not to lose muscle when you exercise, which is exactly what happens if you do endless hours of cardio.

So instead of completing long training sessions, cut your training time down by incorporating HIIT and reap the rewards of burning more body fat.

Spring into action

If you’re used to long hours on the treadmill you will be surprised to learn you only need to do about 20 minutes of HIIT for great results. If you are just starting your fitness journey or coming back after a long break, make sure you ease your body into exercise by starting out with short walks or jogs before gently introducing HIIT.

Try to have a rest day in between each HIIT session to allow your body adequate recovery time. Combine HIIT with weight training and good, clean eating and you’ll soon start to see results.

HIIT for beginners

Try these DIY ideas for a little inspiration:

  • In the neighbourhood: Powerwalk to a tree in the distance, then walk to the next tree and repeat.
  • At the oval: Practise ‘walk-back’ sprinting – sprint to one side of the oval, walk back to the start point and repeat.
  • At the pool: Sprint freestyle for one lap, then slow breaststroke back to the starter’s block and repeat.
  • On the footpath: Sprint for three power poles, then walk for two power poles and repeat.
  • On your bike: Sprint for a set distance, then slow the pace for a set distance using road markers as your guide and repeat.
  • Kayaking and paddling: Perform 20 strokes at high intensity, then lower your intensity for 20 strokes and repeat.
  • At the beach: Run into the water, swim to the break, body surf back to the shore, walk to the start point and repeat.

Check out this Article about Energy drinks, what exactly is in them and what they may do to you – I’ll be blogging about it soon!

Energy drinks: are they safe?TUESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2010

In recent years, an increase in consumption of energy drinks containing caffeine has led to concern by teachers and parents of the possible effects of caffeine on children. They are afraid that caffeine will make their children behave in ways that are unusual or harmful for them.
This fact sheet provides information on caffeinated energy drinks and their effects.

What are energy drinks?
Energy drinks are drinks designed to increase stamina and improve physical performance. Some energy drinks are designed especially for elite athletes, but most are produced and marketed for the general community.

What are their main ingredients?
The main ingredients in energy drinks are caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone. Some new drinks on the market also contain opium poppy seed extract or ephedrine.

VIEW GALLERY: Boost your energy without Red Bull
Taurine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body. Amino acids help to build protein. They are also believed to detoxify and cleanse the body of harmful substances. In times of stress and high physical activity, the body can lose small amounts of taurine. Some people use energy drinks to try to replace or build up their body’s level of taurine.

Glucuronolactone also occurs naturally in the body. It is a natural metabolite and carbohydrate formed when glucose breaks down, and is believed to be helpful in ridding the body of harmful substances and providing an instant energy boost.

Caffeine is a stimulant which acts on the central nervous system to speed up the messages to and from the brain so that the person feels more aware and active.

The caffeine content of some popular energy drinks and soft drinks:

Beverage (250 ml) Caffeine content

Impulse 88 mg
Red Bull 80 mg
Naughty Boy 80mg
‘V’ 78 mg
Coca-Cola 48.75 mg
Diet Coke 48 mg
Diet Coke Caffeine-Free 2 mg
Pepsi 40 mg
Diet Pepsi 44 mg
Pepsi Max 44 mg
What are the health effects of energy drinks?
Not enough is currently known about energy drinks and their effect on health and well-being. The producers of energy drinks make many claims about the health effects of their products.

They say that their products can increase physical endurance, improve reaction time, boost mental alertness and concentration, increase overall well-being, stimulate meta-bolism, improve stamina and help eliminate waste from the body.

The drinks are marketed as healthy, fun and youthful, and many children, young people and adults are taken in by the excitement created around them, believing these claims to be true. However, the evidence shows that it may be wise to be cautious in our consumption of energy drinks.

Caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone occur naturally in the body, but the fact that they are present in much higher doses in energy drinks may be cause for concern. Scientists say that caffeine can have an effect on the growing brain and that it may cause a decline in the body’s immune system. For now, health authorities have determined that energy drinks are generally safe for consumption, with some cautions.

Related video

Who should avoid energy drinks?
The Australian Consumers’ Association advises that while energy drinks may be scientifically safe, young people especially need to be aware of their contents. Research shows that children and young people who consume energy drinks may suffer sleep problems, bed-wetting and anxiety. Children who consume two or more cans of energy drinks a day may become irritable and anxious.

When thinking about whether or not to allow your child to consume energy drinks, it is useful to consider the follow factors:

Would you be comfortable with your child drinking a cup of strong coffee? Most energy drinks contain around the same amount of caffeine as a strong cup of coffee, and nearly twice as much as in a cola drink.
Are you concerned about your child’s sugar intake? Some energy drinks, such as Red Bull, contain high amounts of sugar (equal to around 5 teaspoons per 250 ml can).
Will the drink enhance your child’s well-being, or is it potentially harmful? There is little (if any) evidence of nutritional value in most energy drinks. Some energy drinks are said to include natural vitamins and minerals, but these can be easily obtained from simple foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables.
How old is your child? Very little is known about the health effects of caffeine, so it is best to avoid giving children under age 10 products containing caffeine, especially energy drinks. Older children and young people should be careful, too. The human brain continues to grow up to about age 16 (some say age 21). We know that caffeine can affect a growing brain, but we don’t as yet know how.
Pregnant women
Women who are pregnant are advised to avoid energy drinks (especially during the first three months of pregnancy), as high amounts of caffeine can increase the risk of miscarriage, difficult birth and delivery of low-weight babies.

People who drink alcohol
The effects of combining energy drinks with alcohol are not yet fully understood, but there have been serious concerns about such ‘cocktails’ for some time. There have been reports of young people dying, possibly as a result of mixing of alcohol and energy drinks.

Active sports people
Unlike sports drinks such as Gatorade that replenish minerals and water lost during exer-cise, energy drinks with caffeine can cause dehydration. The combination of dehydration and exercise can be dangerous.

Following negative reports about their effects, many countries are warning people not to consume energy drinks after a heavy workout. Some countries ban the sale of energy drinks.

People with heart disease
Caffeine-sensitive people
Manufacturers’ labels advise all consumers not to exceed 2–5 cans per day. Others advise to keep them out of the reach of children. But labels can be confusing—often people think they must have the maximum amount to get the benefits they are after.

The verdict on energy drinks
Evidence is beginning to emerge that energy drinks may be harmful to some members of our community. It may be best to avoid giving these drinks to children under age 10 years. With older children and young people, watch closely the amount of energy drinks they consume as well as any effects on their mood or behaviour. If you are unsure or would like further advice, consult your doctor or other health professional.


Got an itch that needs scratching? then read this…but don’t forget that if you are going to succombe to the lure of Chocolate, then go for the darker kind, its much better for you with all those anti-oxidants, plus its kinda hard to keep on eating it as its normally so strong!
Don’t forget that IsoWhey, which contains Chromium, can reduce those sweet cravings by balancing out your blood sugar levels, therefore assisting your healthy weight loss or management.

How to beat chocolate cravings

February 11, 2011

Comments 19

Hand squeezing a piece of chocolate cake.Crush cravings … resist temptation by accepting it.

So you want to beat that constant craving for chocolate? The first step is to learn to acknowledge and accept the yearning, according to new research.

“If you stop fighting and … accept something it loses its influence and power over your life,” says psychologist and CSIRO researcher Dr Robyn Vast.

The sweet treat has long been associated with love and gluttony, and Australians munch their way through about $2 billion worth of it a year, says the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus).

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Chocolate stimulates the release of the hormone serotonin – the body’s natural happiness drug.

To test what drives our addiction to chocolate, Dr Vast recruited 110 volunteers in Adelaide and divided them into three groups.

Each group was given a bag of chocolate to carry around for a week, with the aim of resisting the goodies in the bag.

The first group was given no intervention, and 43 per cent totally resisted chocolate.

The second group was taught how to control cravings, with 56 per cent able to abstain from eating chocolate over the seven-day period.

The third group was encouraged to acknowledge and accept temptation when it arose.

“The third group was taught an acceptance-based approach with 81 per cent eating no chocolate at all,” Dr Vast told AAP.

Dr Vast sas cravings are a little bit like an itch, they seemingly come from nowhere and demand our full attention when they occur.

Just like an itch demands to be scratched, so too can cravings be hard to deny.

“What I found was that if people accept craving for chocolate as human behaviour, just something that happens to them, then you take the fight out of it,” she says.

“It takes the pressure off.”

Dr Vast, who shared her findings at an RiAus seminar this week called Gluttony: The Lure of Chocolate, will publish her study later this year.

Also speaking at the seminar, Haigh chief chocolate taster Brendan Somerville explored another reason why we find chocolate so hard to resist: it simply tastes good.

“Flavour depends on where the cocoa has been grown, and whether it’s been imported as a bean or in pre-made blocks,” he said.

Somerville, who describes himself as a “quality assurance technician” rather than a chocolate taster, says he never gets sick of testing chocolate, although his palate has become more discerning.

“I prefer dark chocolate, around 70 per cent. You get a better subtlety of flavours. But no – I’m not addicted.”

Researchers at the Spanish Council for Scientific Research in Madrid, Spain found that ordinary cocoa and chocolate bars contain a group of alkaloids known as tetrahydro-beta-carbolines.

The same chemicals have been linked to alcoholism, which may also explain cravings.

“Aerobic Exercise Increases Brain Size”

Talk about dramatic headlines – though this appears to be true! Researchers at the Universities of Pittsburg and Illinois tested a range of older people between the ages 55 – 80 and found that the group that did the aerobic exercise (3x sessions a week, 40 minutes duration) over a year period actually had an increase in the size of the ‘hippocampus’ (great name don’t you think?!), the area of the brain which affects memory and spatial navigation, and which normally shrinks in size in later life… so…you better move it, if you wanna stay with it!!

I’ve posted the article below because I feel it highlights a number of things. Firstly, headlines can be misleading & often over dramatic to ‘get you in’, secondly, when you actually read the articles of this kind they often contradict themselves!  I know quite a number of vegetarians, and they are all very diet conscious and make sure they get the vitamins they need, more so than my meat eating friends. The article talks about “the” vegetarian diet, as if it is one thing – but you can get Omega 3 and B12 vitamins from many different sources (including IsoWhey!), and I always ensure that I take my UltraClean EPA/DHA fish oil supps so no problem there! This happens a lot in the media, so always read articles of this nature carefully – to get the real picture.

Heart risk for vegetarians

February 8, 2011

Comments 13

Salad leavesUndersupply … vegetarians found to be lacking in B12 and Omega 3 nutrients.

Vegetarians tend to have a lower body weight, less incidence of high blood pressure and lower overall cholesterol but a review has pointed to one elevated risk factor – for cardiovascular disease.

The 30-year review of the literature on vegetarianism, published in the Journal of Agricultural And Food Chemistry, has found the diet can under-supply vitamin B12 as well as Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (n-3 PUFA).

This could lead to elevated blood levels of homocysteine and decreased levels of HDL or the “good” form of cholesterol – both risk factors for heart disease.

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“Vegetarians, especially vegans, could benefit from increased dietary intake of n-3 PUFA and vitamin B12 … which may reduce any thrombotic tendency that might increase their generally low risk of cardiovascular disease,” it concluded.

Salmon and oily fish is rich in Omega-3s but non-meat sources include include walnuts and certain other nuts. Good sources of vitamin B12 are seafood, eggs, and fortified milk.

It also said “meat eaters have a cluster of thrombotic and atherosclerotic risk factors higher than” vegetarians.

Check out this article, about the benefits of spinach and super green foods – links really well into benefits in weight training as well – see blog 8th Feb.

Superpowers of spinach revealed

February 3, 2011

Power food ... the nitrates in spinach, the vegetable which fuelled Popeye's bulging muscles, boost energy.Power food … Study finds the nitrates in spinach boost energy.

Popeye’s secret has been revealed – it is the nitrates in spinach that make him strong.

The chemical, abundant in green leafy vegetables, boost the powerhouses in cells which provide energy, scientists have discovered.

A single helping of spinach is enough to increase the efficiency of mitochondria, small bean-shaped bodies which fuel cell activity and growth.

Spinach is well known as the superfood that gave Popeye the Sailor Man his bulging muscles.

The famous cartoon character, who dates back to the 1930s, pops open a can of spinach whenever he needs to get out of trouble.

Originally it was thought that the iron content of spinach made it a power-food. Now scientists have learned that nitrates are the true energy-boosting ingredient in the vegetable.

Green leafy vegetables of all kinds are rich in the inorganic chemical which until recently was not thought to have any nutritional value.

“We’re talking about an amount of nitrate equivalent to what is found in two or three red beets or a plate of spinach,” said lead researcher Professor Eddie Weitzberg, from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

“We know that diets rich in fruits and vegetables can help prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but the active nutrients haven’t been clear. This shows inorganic nitrate as a candidate to explain those benefits.”

Previously Prof Weitzberg and colleague Professor Jon Lundberg showed that dietary nitrate increases levels of nitric oxide in the body with the help of friendly bacteria.

Nitric oxide is an important molecule which opens up blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, and improves circulation.

The new research shows that nitrates make mitochondria by making them less “leaky”. This has the effect of increasing their efficiency as biological machines.

Prof Weitzberg’s findings are published today in the journal Cell Metabolism.

An odd implication of the research is that mouthwash may reduce the benefits of nitrates.

Bacteria in the mouth are needed to provide the first step in the pathway that uses nitrates to generate nitric oxide.

“In our view, strong mouthwashes are not good if you want this system to work,” said Prof Weitzberg.


“You can’t start the next chapter of your life, if you keep re-reading the last one” 

– Anonymous –  

This is a great article from ‘Life Extension’ magazine, talking about one of the ingredients of IsoWhey – Chromium..

Take Control of Your Blood Sugar Levels With Targeted Nutrient Compounds

By Alonzo Brody

Take Control of Your Blood Sugar Levels With Targeted Nutrient Compounds

Over fifty years ago scientists conclusively established that low levels of chromium directly contribute to high blood sugar and pre-diabetic complications.1

Yet today, anywhere between 25-50% of the American population suffers from chromium deficiency.2 This is likely the result of modern commercial farming methods that have depleted the soil of valuable chromium and industrial food processing that depletes natural chromium from whole foods. Compounding the danger is the reality that your body’s capacity to absorb chromium declines with age.

These alarming facts highlight a widespread, stealth threat that rampant nutritional insufficiencies may be undermining even the best efforts to optimize blood glucose levels.

As Life Extension® members are well aware, excess glucose not only increases degenerative disease risk, but also adversely impacts longevity genes required for extended life span.

In published studies, chromium deficiency has been shown to induce early-stage diabetic complications and hasten the onset of full-blown diabetes.3-5

The encouraging news is that a targeted set of novel nutritional compounds has been identified that optimizes your body’s ability to keep a tight rein on glucose levels.

In this article, you will learn of a cutting-edge chromium complex that enhances your body’s ability to utilize glucose as you age. You will also discover the proven power of additional nutrients to protect against the system-wide damage inflicted by surplus glucose.

Chromium: The Master Blood Sugar Regulator

Studies on chromium have consistently demonstrated improvement in blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity, and lipid profiles.6-9 More recent research reveals how it works: chromium favorably modulates your cells’ internal communication centers (intracellular signaling systems) to effectively lower blood glucose.

Every cell in your body uses an internal communications system that must function properly in order to establish and maintain optimal blood glucose absorption and metabolism. Such intracellular signaling is especially critical to cells’ ability to detect and respond to elevated glucose levels in the blood.

When cells detect these elevations, an array of biomolecular processes is set in motion that will determine how well they will manage the increased sugar burden. Chromium is now recognized to be vital to this process, enabling cellular uptake and breakdown of blood sugar—and effectively lowering glucose levels in the blood.10,11

The clinical literature is rich with data supporting chromium’s singular ability to lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.

In a 2009 study, diabetic patients given chromium experienced reductions in their total insulin requirements, along with reductions in fasting and afternoon glucose levels.12 Recent studies show that supplementation with chromium and biotin can improve glycemic control in overweight to obese diabetic patients when taken along with their regular medication.13Chromium also exerts its positive effects on blood sugar selectively—which means it does not induce dangerously low blood sugar levels like some drugs, but rather kicks into gear only when blood sugar levels become too high.14,15Scientists recognize that control of blood sugar in the immediate period following a meal (the postprandial period) is perhaps more important than at any other time. This is the interval when blood sugar can dangerously spike in the body, inflicting low-level, cumulative damage to multiple physiological systems over time. Chromium has been shown to dramatically reduce total exposure to glucose during the postprandial period in most subjects.16Chromium’s multitargeted actions not only keep sugar levels low, they also prevent the formation of advanced glycation end products, or AGEs.5,12,17,18 Most notably, chromium helps bring down levels of hemoglobin A1c, the advanced glycation end product associated with long-term exposure to elevated sugar concentrations.18These benefits are accompanied by healthy reductions in abnormal lipid levels and increases in artery-cleansing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in the blood.9 The combination of chromium and biotin has also been shown to favorably affect a biomarker called the atherogenic index: the ratio of triglycerides to HDL that is associated with increased cardiovascular risk.19The improvement in insulin signaling by chromium is also associated with decreased production of specific pro-inflammatory cytokines. These cell-signaling molecules play a mutually reinforcing role in prolonging and worsening impaired glucose control.11,20

“I’ve got one word to say to you” – STOUT

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin have found that this tasty alcoholic drink is the healthiest of them all!!

Its low in calories and contains more flavonoids and the same amount of antioxidents as red wine – anyone for a tipple?!

  • What’s the reduction in the number of times you’ll get a cold if you walk everyday (30 mins) as opposed to being sedentary – 25%

– University of Massachusetts

  • If you make sure that you are always learning new skills, you can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 11% per year

– University of Cambridge

  • 41% – the amount by which the risk of you having a heart attack will be reduced if you take a daily multi vitamin

– American Journal of clinical nutrition.

  • Apart from having your daily IsoWhey shake for breakfast, or taking CoQ10, another way which may reduce Hypertension, a US study has found is to gaze at an aquarium – it takes just 15 mins!

– University of Washington

Home » News » Stress News » Scientific Basis for Yoga Benefits

Scientific Basis for Yoga Benefits

By RICK NAUERT PHD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on January 12, 2010

Scientific Basis for Yoga BenefitsNew research suggests a regular practice of yoga may lower an inflammatory protein that is normally linked to aging and stress.

The study, done by Ohio State University researchers and just reported in the journalPsychosomatic Medicine, showed that women who routinely practiced yoga had lower amounts of the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) in their blood.

The women also showed smaller increases in IL-6 after stressful experiences than did women who were the same age and weight but who were not yoga practitioners.

IL-6 is an important part of the body’s inflammatory response and has been implicated in heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and a host of other age-related debilitating diseases.

Reducing inflammation may provide substantial short- and long-term health benefits, the researchers suggest.

“In addition to having lower levels of inflammation before they were stressed, we also saw lower inflammatory responses to stress among the expert yoga practitioners in the study,” explained Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology and lead author of the study.

“Hopefully, this means that people can eventually learn to respond less strongly to stressors in their everyday lives by using yoga and other stress-reducing modalities.”

For the study, the researchers assembled a group of 50 women, age 41 on average. They were divided into two groups – “novices,” who had either taken yoga classes or who practiced at home with yoga videos for no more than 6 to 12 sessions, and “experts,” who had practiced yoga one of two times weekly for at least two years and at least twice weekly for the last year.

Each of the women was asked to attend three sessions in the university’s Clinical Research Center at two-week intervals. Each session began with participants filling out questionnaires and completing several psychological tests to gauge mood and anxietylevels.

Each woman also was fitted with a catheter in one arm through which blood samples could be taken several times during the research tasks for later evaluation.

Participants then performed several tasks during each visit designed to increase their stress levels including immersing their foot into extremely cold water for a minute, after which they were asked to solve a series of successively more difficult mathematics problems without paper or pencil.

Following these “stressors,” participants would either participate in a yoga session, walk on a treadmill set at a slow pace (.5 miles per hour) designed to mirror the metabolic demands of the yoga session or watch neutral, rather boring videos. The treadmill and video tasks were designed as contrast conditions to the yoga session.

Once the blood samples were analyzed after the study, researchers saw that the women labeled as “novices” had levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6 that were 41 percent higher than those in the study’s “experts.”

“In essence, the experts walked into the study with lower levels of inflammation than the novices, and the experts were also better able to limit their stress responses than were the novices,” Kiecolt-Glaser explained.

The researchers did not find the differences they had expected between the novices and experts in their physiological responses to the yoga session.

Co-author Lisa Christian, an assistant professor of psychology, psychiatry and obstetrics and gynecology, suggested one possible reason:

“The yoga poses we used were chosen from those thought to be restorative or relaxing. We had to limit the movements to those novices could perform as well as experts.

“Part of the problem with sorting out exactly what makes yoga effective in reducing stress is that if you try to break it down into its components, like the movements or the breathing, it’s hard to say what particular thing is causing the effect,” said Christian, herself a yoga instructor. “That research simply hasn’t been done yet.”

Ron Glaser, a co-author and a professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics, said that the study has some fairly clear implications for health.

“We know that inflammation plays a major role in many diseases. Yoga appears to be a simple and enjoyable way to add an intervention that might reduce risks for developing heart disease, diabetes and other age-related diseases” he said.

“This is an easy thing people can do to help reduce their risks of illness.”

Bill Malarkey, an professor of internal medicine and co-author on the study, pointed to the inflexibility that routinely comes with aging.

“Muscles shorten and tighten over time, mainly because of inactivity,” he said. “The stretching and exercise that comes with yoga actually increases a person’s flexibility and that, in turn, allows relaxation which can lower stress.”

Malarkey sees the people’s adoption of yoga or other regular exercise as one of the key solutions to our current health care crisis. “People need to be educated about this. They need to be taking responsibility for their health and how they live. Doing yoga and similar activities can make a difference.”

As a clinician, he says, “Much of my time is being spent simply trying to get people to slow down.”

The researchers’ next step is a clinical trial to see if yoga can improve the health and reduce inflammation that has been linked to debilitating fatigue among breast cancer survivors. They’re seeking 200 women to volunteer for the study that’s funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Source: Ohio State University

Multivitamins Reduce Heart Disease Deaths

Jodi Van Dyk, BHSc, Adv D Nat, Adv D WHM, Adv D Hom, Dip N, BSc

1 September, 2009

Can simply taking a multivitamin daily make heart disease patients live longer?

A recent study conducted in the US has highlighted that multivitamin supplementation may decrease the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.[1] 77,000 people were questioned on their use of multivitamins over a 10-year period. The researchers then analysed what effect this had on death from cardiovascular disease over a 5-year period.[1]

The study found that multivitamins decreased the incidence of death from cardiovascular disease by 16% if taken on a long-term, regular basis.[1]

Should taking a multivitamin be something to add to your daily routine?

Statistics from the Australian Heart Foundation show that cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in Australia.[2] Looking at the results of this most recent study, taking a multivitamin may reduce your risk of death from cardiovascular disease

Which multivitamin?

With so many different types of multivitamins available, it’s important that you find a high quality product that best suits your needs. Consult a qualified health practitioner for advice on which multivitamin will work best for you.

Why a multivitamin?

Approximately half of the Australian population take some form of complementary medicine,[3] including multivitamins which are becoming increasingly popular.

Multivitamins are beneficial when the diet is lacking as they provide nutrients that the body may not get from food intake. In our modern society it is proving difficult to consume foods that are not overly processed and not lacking in many essential vitamins and minerals. It could be that a multivitamin serves a perfect role as a nutritional backup.

Multivitamins may also be beneficial in supporting general wellbeing and energy as well as providing antioxidants for the body. Multivitamins provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals to ensure you are getting all nutrients required for optimum health.

Multivitamins or vitamin supplementation may not be for everyone. They can interact with some medications and you can take too much of some nutrients. Check with your healthcare practitioner to find out which vitamin or multivitamins may be suitable for you.

When might a multivitamin be useful?

  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Taking the oral contraceptive pill
  • In very active people
  • For elderly people
  • During stressful periods.


[1] Daniells S. Multivitamins may lower heart disease death risk. Nutraingredients, 2009 Jul 20. Viewed 31 Aug 2009

[2] National Heart Foundation of Australia (NHFA). Cardiovascular Disease Statistics. NHFA, 2009 May 30. Viewed 31 Aug 2009

[3] Bensoussan A, Lewith G. Complementary medicine research in Australia: a strategy for the future. Med J Aust 2004 Sep 20;181(6):331-333

Exercise can be good medicine

October 21, 2010

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Exercise bike, fitness.Fitness plus … Exercise can be beneficial for more than just general wellness. Photo: Nic Walker

Once relegated to gyms, structured exercise is muscling into its way into a wide variety of disease prevention and treatment plans.

Physical fitness programs are already a staple of cardiac care. But though research is still in the early stages, there’s encouraging evidence that consistent workouts can help with everything from cancer, autoimmune disorders and Parkinson’s disease to alcoholism.

University of Illinois scientists recently received funding for a study that looks at whether riding a stationary bicycle during treatment can help dialysis patients.

The burgeoning “exercise is medicine” movement is championed bymany experts including Sports Medicine organisations and cancer support groups.

Some big questions remain unanswered, such as what type and how much exercise is needed for what illnesses.

In many cases, working out appears to relieve symptoms, but its impact on the natural course of the disease isn’t known.

And many physicians are cautious about prescribing something that can stress the body, especially for patients in the throes of a life-threatening illness.

“There’s still a prevailing attitude out there that patients shouldn’t push themselves during treatment,” said Kathryn Schmitz, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and lead author of the new guidelines.

Schmitz acknowledges that exercise is a stressor on the body but said resting too much also can have adverse effects.

“Our message – avoid inactivity – is essential,” she said.

If exercise isn’t already a habit, of course, it can be intimidating. It’s harder to do when you don’t feel good.

And “some people would truly rather take a pill,” said Dr Holly Benjamin, an associate professor and pediatric sports medicine specialist at the University of Chicago.

“But once they do it, so many people feel so much better.”

In the past, breast cancer patients who had undergone surgery were told not to lift more than 7kg for the rest of their lives.

Doctors also encouraged rest and limited exercise, fearing that strenuous effort would slow treatment or exacerbate conditions such as lymphedema, a painful swelling of the arms.

But Schmitz’s groundbreaking work, published last year in theNew England Journal of Medicine, reversed decades of cautionary advice by finding that slow, progressive weight lifting wasn’t just safe; it could prevent lymphedema flare-ups.

Exercise can help people being treated for cancer cope with the side effects of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, including fatigue and the loss of muscle mass.

“It helps them get through treatment in better form,” said David Nieman, director of the Human Performance Labs at Appalachian State University and the author of several textbooks on exercise as medicine.

A handful of observational studies, meanwhile, have suggested that exercise could result in a 40 to 50 per cent reduction in the risk for recurrence of breast cancer, said Schmitz, though randomised controlled trials would be needed to prove a benefit.

For a few conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, there’s hope that exercise can affect the illness itself.

In animal studies, exercise improved symptoms and increased the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a chemical that protects cells.

“Exercise may modify disease by slowing the primary process of cell loss associated with Parkinson’s disease,” said Dr Cynthia Comella, a neurologist at Rush University Medical Center, who is currently investigating the effects on Parkinson’s of regular exercise with a personal trainer.

For treatment of paediatric rheumatic diseases, “exercise has been overlooked,” said Dr Bruno Gualano of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Traditionally, children with inflammatory diseases have been treated with drugs that can have side effects.

But certain types of exercise can be safe and effective treatment for symptoms including muscle wasting, osteoporosis, insulin resistance, pain and fatigue.

Scientists also hope to explore whether exercise can attenuate the systemic inflammation seen in such diseases.

Exercise’s greatest strength may be that it can work on both physical and emotional levels.

Cindy Gerstner, 42, an associate professor on leave from Columbia College, was diagnosed with Stage 1 cancer in 2007 but said exercise was not discussed as a way to prevent recurrence.

Now she’s rowing as a way to keep her body strong so she can endure more of the treatment.

“I may be exhausted when I arrive (at practice) but I feel energised when I leave,” said Gerstner.

“It also helps me feel normal – that my body hasn’t totally abandoned me via cancer, but that I can still exercise and push myself.”

1 thought on “Articles

  1. Diabetes is a big problem of the North American health system as well as the whole world. Thanks a lot for the informative post about diabetes. Each and every health writer must write helpful posts like you have done so that other humans can be benefited. Great article and keep up the good knowledge sharing.

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