May 2010

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May 2010

Since many of the queries I get are to do with weight-loss, I would like to address, in this newsletter, two weight issues around which there seems to be an element of confusion. But there is also something for the skinnies so don’t run away just yet.



I have never been a fan of calorie counting. I believe this is complicated, open to errors, downright stressful and often a dismal failure. I believe many a failed dieter will back me up here however there is more confirmation of this from the surprising, or not so surprising, results of a recent study. In this study one group of women had to restrict calories and do the calorie counting themselves and the other group did not have to restrict or count calories and could eat what they wanted. The result:  a significant rise in the stress hormone, cortisol, in those who had to restrict and count calories.


The raised cortisol levels have special significance, as this hormone predisposes to weight gain, particularly around the middle. This biochemical side-effect of caloric restriction is possibly the reason why calorie counting often fails. A diet restricting calories can be ineffective in the long term but this is not the only downside. Other negative factors are:

·         May also result in  a reduction in metabolic rate which takes a long time to correct.

·         A lot of low calorie foods are unhealthy foods.

·         Tendency to eat less fat and more carbohydrate which causes rise in insulin output, the hormone that is responsible for fat deposition in the body.

·         Hunger and food cravings


I have proved time and again with my patients that the best way to lose weight is on a balanced diet, including carbohydrates with a low glyceamic load, protein and fats in every meal and snack. If you’re unsure how to do this, work with a nutritional therapist.



The body mass index or ‘BMI’ (calculated by dividing someone’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in metres) is the most commonly-used weight-related measure of health.  It is useful, however should not be relied upon too heavily as it tells nothing of the distribution of fat in the body. A person who is muscular and fit could have the same BMI as a person who is flabby and carrying a lot of fat. One needs to look too at the shape of a body. A person may have a BMI in the correct range however too much fat sitting around the midriff, which is really not a healthy sign. So use BMI as a guideline only, to tell you whether you need to lose some weight and, if it is hanging around your waist, make sure you lose it there too. To calculate your BMI go to

BMI categories are: 

·         Underweight =

·         Normal weight = 18.5-24.9

·         Overweight = 25-29.9

·         Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater



The latest news out of the American Association for Cancer Research says:

Women beware: if your body mass index or BMI is on the upswing, you might be at higher risk for breast cancer.

While previous studies have linked excess weight with increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, this latest study is one of the few to directly target increases in BMI and its timing in relation to postmenopausal breast cancer risk. More than 72,000 women between 55 and 74 years old were screened during an analysis that included 3,677 cases of postmenopausal breast cancer.

Women reporting increases of 5 kg/m2 or more between ages 20 and 50 were at an 88 percent increased risk of developing post-menopausal breast cancer, compared with women who maintained approximately the same BMI.



A recent study in which the subjects were assessed for the presence of metabolic syndrome, focussed on men and women with BMIs of 30 or above (who, technically, fulfil the criterion for being ‘obese’).

Metabolic syndrome is the precursor syndrome to Type 2 diabetes and is characterised by excess weight around the middle, along with a cluster of symptoms such as raised levels of blood fats called triglycerides, raised blood sugar levels, raised blood pressure and low levels of ‘healthy’ cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol).


It turned out that about a third of the study subjects, although ‘obese’, did not fulfil the criteria for metabolic syndrome. In broad terms, these people could be described as being ‘metabolically healthy’, reason being: they were carrying more subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin surface) than visceral fat (fat that accumulates in and around the internal organs). Visceral fat is quite strongly associated with enhanced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, while subcutaneous fat is, generally speaking, not.



Did you know that research suggests that eating 50 grams of processed meat per day - roughly equivalent to two slices of bacon - increases a person's risk of bowel cancer by 20 percent? This finding is particularly important to men who apparently eat more processed meats such as bacon, ham, salami and sausage than women do. Researchers believe that one in ten cases of bowel cancer could be averted if everyone kept their consumption to less than 70 grams per week.

So they’re not saying give up processed meats altogether (although I wish they would!) because you can still make a real difference to your cancer risk by limiting your ham sandwich to one a week.

But please, at the very least, stay away from those awful pink polonies and Vienna sausages. Leave them in the supermarket fridges where they can do no harm.



Staying rigidly attached to a particular philosophy or program can be dangerous, and I believe this to be the case when it comes to a strictly vegan diet. Although many health problems disappear when a person initially goes on a strict vegan or raw food diet, unfortunately these health gains don't last for most people who stick to these diets, especially if they adhere to such a program for periods of years. Indeed, all too often the old symptoms and diseases return or new health problems begin to manifest as a result of what appear to be inherent deficiencies brought about from the lack of various nutritional factors that are only present in foods from the animal kingdom.


The biggest concern surrounding a vegan diet is that it is virtually devoid of vitamin B12 and a deficiency in this vitamin can have serious consequences. Dietary vegan sources of vitamin B12 are very sparse since plant foods do not contain vitamin B12 in appreciable amounts. For strict vegans a B12 supplement is non-negotiable.

Pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants and small children are particularly vulnerable to B12 shortages. Ensuring adequate B12 is critical for normal neurological development and maintenance, with shortages resulting in permanent damage, as was highlighted in an article entitled "Persistence of neurological damage induced by dietary vitamin B-12 deficiency in infancy" which was published in Arch Dis Child 1997 Aug;77(2):137-9. The abstract reads, "A case is reported of a 14 month old boy with severe dietary vitamin B-12 deficiency caused by his mother's vegan diet. Clinical, electroencephalography (EEG), and haematological findings are described. Cranial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed severe frontal and frontoparietal cranial atrophy. Vitamin B-12 supplements led to a rapid improvement of haematological and neurological symptoms. Serum vitamin B-12 and urinary methylmalonate excretion were normal 10 days after treatment began. After six weeks, EEG was normal and cranial MRI after 10 weeks showed complete disappearance of all structural abnormalities. Cognitive and language development, however, remained seriously retarded at the age of 2 years. It is concluded that infantile vitamin B-12 deficiency induced by maternal vegan diets may cause lasting neurodisability even though vitamin B-12 supplementation leads to rapid resolution of cerebral atrophy and electroencephalographic abnormality."


Furthermore, deficiencies of Vitamin D, zinc, iron, and calcium, and probably numerous other nutritional factors that haven't yet been identified, can and do occur in long-term vegans. This diet may be particularly deficient for children and teenagers who burn a lot of calories each day and whose growing bones and bodies still require a full spectrum of nutrients. Optimum health comes from balance. If you or your family members are not thriving on a vegan diet I trust you will see the sense in doing some careful research so that you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family. As a start, read what long-term vegans whose health and energy levels went downhill learned at the Beyond Vegetarianism web site


I believe that to really thrive for an entire life time a human being needs a balanced diet which includes whole foods from both plant and animal kingdoms. Somewhere between 10% and 20% of a diet should include clean and minimally processed animal foods. If you are totally against eating animal flesh then the ovo-lacto vegetarian diet (plants, eggs and dairy) would still be a good choice. But if you should find you are craving meat it’s only because your body is telling you it needs meat. Seek out the best quality meat you can find, preferably organic or free-range of course, then eat and enjoy it!



We’ve all heard of Omega 3, 6 and 9 - those fatty acids that are hopefully already part of your health routine. Present in fresh flax and fish (3), borage and primrose (6), and olives (9), there is a broad scientific consensus that these oils sustain and protect. But one critical omega fatty acid is missing from that list: omega-7 oil (palmitoleic acid) from the bright orange fruit of the sea buckthorn. The only other known plant source of this rare omega-7 fatty acid is macadamia nut oil, but sea buckthorn oil contains almost twice as much. Scientists believe our most delicate body tissues, like the skin and the mucous membranes that line the digestive and urogenital tracts, have the greatest affinity for omega-7 fatty acids. The oil is also rich in natural antioxidants; tocopherols, tocotrienols, carotenoids and plant sterols and has the unique ability to combine oil soluble and water-soluble vitamins A and C. Based both on many centuries of traditional use, and on modern scientific research and clinical studies, sea buckthorn oil has been proven to be an amazingly effective natural remedy for all health problems related to damaged mucous membranes of the gastrointestinal tract, including widespread conditions such as: Mouth ulcers (canker sores), sore throat and strep throat,  esophagitis, peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, acid reflux (GERD), Crohn’s disease,  diverticulosis and diverticulitis.  Sea buckthorn oils have been used for centuries as a skin care remedy, with reported skin nourishing, revitalizing and restorative actions. It is proven to promote the recovery of various skin conditions, including eczema, burns, psoriasis, bedsores and poorly healing wounds, as well as the skin damaging effects of sun, therapeutic radiation treatment and laser surgery. It also helps to prevent and treat wrinkles, dryness and other symptoms of malnourished skin. But what excites me most about sea buckthorn oil is how it can dramatically reduce or eradicate the large number of demodex mites associated with rosacea. I have discovered that rosacea sufferers certainly have a saviour in sea buckthorn oil. It can be taken in capsule form or used topically on sensitive skin.

Next time we chat we’ll be well and truly gripped by the icy tentacles of Winter. Take extra special precautions to maintain your good health so that you can enjoy the wonders of the changing seasons. 


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