Tag Archives: Diet

Three Coffee Hacks That Will Change Your Life

Drink better coffee today following these sexy hacks

I’m not joking when I say coffee is more important to me than everything I hold dear in this world. I’d push my own mother off a cliff for a bag of beans. I’d throw my sisters in jail for one last whiff of grounds (I’d throw them in jail for a lot less and all, they’re very annoying). If you tried to take my morning coffee, I’d fight you. I’d wrestle you naked in the mud, screaming like an ape. I’d take everything you loved in this world if you threatened my liquid, warm, coffee-joy. 

Having said that, I am a compassionate man who is always looking for ways to help his community. I want to share with you three changes which dramatically improved my access to good quality coffee on the go, healthier blends, and a healthier experience. Don’t say I’m not kind, you’ll thank me at the end of this (that is not a supposition). 


Get an Aeropress — Seriously, GET ONE

The aeropress changed my life. Before, reliant on revolting instant misery (might be a cool band name, noted), I was a shade of a man. Today, I pack light, and live on cloud nine. You can get them on Amazon super cheap. If you buy a metal filter, you can get literally thousands of uses out of this thing, which you can easily take with you anywhere. 

This piece of kit is immense. It’s lightweight and uses your own physical pressure, paired with boiling water, to press a shot of coffee at a time. I think it has other uses too, but that’s of no interest to me, I just use it for the raw, brooding pleasure of delicious coffee, any time I want. 

AeroPress – Official Store, Replacement Parts And Recipes
The AeroPress coffee maker is a better coffee press that makes delicious coffee quickly and easily.

Not only does this piece of kit make itself uniquely portable, but it’s also saving you money. Historically, you might have had to use a cafetiere (I never liked them much, personally), or a proper coffee machine (yikes, expensive!), but now you can get your own grounds, often for much cheaper than at a cafe! I mean, let’s face it, nobody is going to enjoy a coffee shop anymore, what with a shuffling queue system, grumpy, militant employees, and the unnerving ambience of an operating theatre. Skip the queue, do it at home, or on the go, and save yourself MONEY. 


Choose a Medium Roast No. 3–4 for Ultimate Health Benefits

You might be partial to some reaaaallly dark coffee. We’re talking so dark, it’d crack an inappropriate joke over your grannies funeral casket just for kicks. But the science says you’re missing out if you go too far north on the cooking scale. Too well-done, and you’re going to be skipping some of those vital nutrients, abundant in medium to light roasts. 

Photo by Ochir-Erdene Oyunmedeg on Unsplash

That’s because this study found that lighter roasts contain more chlorogenic acid and higher levels of antioxidants, which contribute to lower levels of inflammation in the body. Antioxidants can reduce your risk of heart and liver disease (as well as a host of other inflammatory diseases), so making it a part of your diet is a great boost to overall health. Just make sure you’re getting everything you can from that delicious, bitter bean (I’m sure that could have been my nickname in high school). 


Drink It Blaaaaaaaack

Like the colour of my soul. No, I’m kidding, we’ve clarified that I’m actually a really nice guy. Drop it, would you? 

The thing I’m trying to get at, isn’t so much that black coffee is any different, it’s just less likely to be filled with things that can antagonise your immune system. I realised I couldn’t hack milk. That’s right, an abyssal character such as myself cannot drink milky wilky cos it makey my tummy achey. Don’t make fun, I’m still terrifying and powerful and dangerous, oh wait, no, scratch that, I am very nice. 

Lactose intolerance is much more common than you’d think. 30 million Americans suffer from the disorder in which the body cannot break down the milk sugar lactose. It’s not usually serious, but over time, it can have a negative impact on digestive health. Even if you’re not intolerant, you might still be sensitive (not me, I’m hard as nails), which can mean that milk still irritates your digestive system. 

Photo by Tania Malréchauffé on Unsplash

Additives such as sweeteners have been linked to rising obesity levels. Do not put sweeteners in your drinks. You are not bypassing, cheating, or otherwise tricking your body’s mechanisms in a clever way. You’re just trying to do things the easy way. Nothing in life is easy, don’t cheat, especially not with such an elegant mistress as caffeine. She’ll think you’re tacky, and may even file a court order for abuse in a domestic setting. Don’t ruin this good thing you have going.

Sugar is the final, and potentially most yucky of all additives. I don’t even feel the need to provide any kind of research backed evidence for this. Sugar kills. You know it, I know it, it’s not controversial at this point. Try not to have so much, especially in drinks where sugar can get to your blood stream faster than in solid foods. Get it from fruits, not processed sources. Also, coffee deserves better. Don’t you think it deserves better? I’m not really asking you anyway, but you already knew that.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Coffee Made Easy, With Me, Your Host, The One And Onl… 

So that’s three things you can do today to improve your coffee drinking experience. You’re welcome. Don’t thank me. I already thanked myself. You should get an aeropress, make sure to drink a lighter roast for optimum health, and keep added shit out of your coffee! Drink it black, and never go back! 

Please like, comment and subscribe – I won’t beg, I’m not desperate, just chill about this whole thing. No big deal. No sweat at all. Don’t worry about it.

We Are Way Past The Point Where Fat People Only Have Themselves to Blame

There are no words in the English language to describe the ire I feel when I hear ignorant, narrow-minded opinions about fat people.

Why are we here today? With one of the last acceptable prejudices being against someone’s weight, which as I’ll explain, has less than ever to do with victorian values of ‘personal responsibility’ and ‘a jolly good helping of elbow grease and grit’, the stuff of real characters! Go-getters! Nay, dare I say, thin people?

You’ll regularly here from thin people that ‘fat people only have themselves to blame’, but that just isn’t true. Society is playing an ever greater part in obesity, and I cannot sit by any longer and hear all about the erudite, no, transcendental wisdoms of the general public, who more often than not, have no understanding of the science of obesity whatsoever.

I’ll admit, I’m coming on a little strong, but remember, if you even have a niggle in your mind that society is at least partly to blame for fatness, then this is not directed at you. Remember that. If you’re on the fence, then this is probably not directed at you either. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and it’s hard to know without a thorough rummage through the science, what exactly is true on the topic of obesity.

No, this piece is about that charming selection of people in the audience who take no greater pleasure than provocatively poking fat people with metaphorical sticks and other sharp, pointy things, telling them how disgusting and lazy they are, and how their health is declining because they can’t stop shoving pork pies in their mouths. Well, I’ve got news for you, nasty, you’re wrong, and I’ll tell you why right… now.

Despite what you may think about fat people, they are still people, and people have been peopleing now for a very long time. People have been the same, physiologically speaking, for at least long enough for me to make my next point. If, accepting that human physiology has not changed in any discernible way in the last millennia, even in the last thousand years, why, in the last hundred, have people become fatter and fatter? Obesity levels are reaching record heights. People are fatter than ever. Not just fat people, but people in general.

More people are morbidly obese, proportionately speaking, than at any other time in history. Since 1991, obesity levels in the UK have risen by 65% in males, and 25% in females. To believe that fat people are lazy or disgusting is to admit unbridled ignorance. Society is changing the proportionality of obesity. It is fair to say that the amount of human willpower, or our propensity towards good old-fashioned elbow grease has not decreased. We are still animals of fortitude, tenacity and endurance by all accounts. So what has changed? Fat people are not the hinge on which obesity generates itself, they are but a byproduct of something much more sinister and creeping.

Dr Giulia Enders in Gut tells us that the concept of obesity is far more complicated than just willpower. Our gut microbiome plays a significant role in our propensity to eat the wrong things. The most memorable test she illustrates was done on a unique set of lab rats without any bacterial colonies in their digestive systems at all. They were completely sterile. These rats then received various colonies of bacteria in transplantation. The rats who were given strains of bacteria known to cause disease became disproportionately obese. The rats given a healthy cocktail of lactobacillus and friends continued to maintain a slim weight.

What is more, the gut biome, much like the cordiceps mushroom or the parasitic wasp, may actually influence host behaviour. When you have an overgrowth of bad bacteria, you are more likely to crave carbohydrates and processed sugars, Enders says. These bacteria can produce chemical signals to request more food from the host. This symbiotic relationship between our gut bacteria, which help us digest our food and us, has been a pact of understanding for aeons. We are only just beginning to understand the mechanisms by which these tiny microorganisms can have such large effects on our behaviour.

Genetics, method of birth, food eaten, trauma, antibiotics, sleep and exercise, all impact the gut biome. A compromised gut makes room for pathogens, which leads to obesity as cravings increase for processed sugars and carbohydrates which feed these bad bacteria. This mixture of influences is a fairly common list in how to be healthy or unhealthy, but it’s not as simple as ‘do these things and you will be healthy’. We are now contending with an environment which actively wants to take these things away from us.

During the birthing process, the mother provides a great deal of beneficial bacteria to the baby as it leaves the birthing canal. Cesarians are on the rise. Cesarians prevent this important transfer of beneficial bacteria. Breast feeding has also been displaced by formula milk. Breat milk contains huge amounts of beneficial bacteria to an infant, as well as lots of important antibodies. From birth, our gut biomes are under onslaught from westernised influences which can set us behind, or even lead us to obesity.

Look at sleep, for instance. Sleep deprivation is on the rise. From 2010 to 2018, sleep deprivation (classed as anything under 7 hours), rose from just over to 30%, to just over 35%. That might not seem like a lot, but if we account for the fact that this has happened over just 8 years, we can see that modern life is coming for our z’s.

Physical exercise becomes a chore when so many of our waking hours are consumed by menial tasks, work commitments and socialising at the end of the day. Jobs demanding physical activity are falling as more people work at a desk for at least 8 hours a day. A poll of 2000 UK residents found that, during the lockdown, physical activity fell by 30 minutes, leading to weight gain over time.

Antibiotics are a blessing. They provide a way for us to perform surgeries without sepsis. They allow common infections to be treated and cured with relative ease. They’re essential to saving lives. Unfortunately, they’re also overprescribed needlessly for common complaints which might improve with rest, and they’re devastating for the gut biome. When antibiotics are used long-term, they can kill off many of the important fibre digesting bacteria which support health, which then leaves space for hardier pathogens to take root in the gut lining.

Finally, the food that we eat is laced with additives which promote weight gain. Drinking a diet coke to be skinny? The artificial sweeteners are known to cause obesity. Our meat is drenched in hormones and antibiotics to meet high meat demands and the growing prevalence of disease and antibiotic resistance in intense agriculture. Pesticides riddle our produce. Tomatoes are bred to contain more sugar. Food is a constant onslaught for our insides. All of these factors are detrimental to our gut health, and poor gut health correlates with weight gain, autoimmune diseases and metabolic syndromes.

Society is fuelling obesity, perhaps not consciously, perhaps not with malicious intent, but definitely, and powerfully, and even, dare I say it, clandestinely. We just see fat people and their fatness, and it makes for an easy target. They’re there, we can observe that they are fat and therefore, by some kind of cave man logic, they must be the source of fatness, but, as with anything that’s worth researching about, it’s not that simple.

People like to blame what they can see because it’s much easier to live with than what they cannot. The Cold War was a time of anxiety, deep suspicion and secrecy. The sort of contextual backdrop which leaves the hairs on your nape on end. Not knowing your enemy, or when he will strike is fear itself. Without fat people to take the fall for obesity, who would we point the finger at? It’s not easy when you can’t see the problem, but it is there and it needs addressing now.

Fatness is endemic.

Fatness is spreading.

Fatness is not about fat people.

Society plays a bigger role than ever in fatness. Fat people have agency, yes. We all have agency, but agency is also effected by societal structures. Big food corporations, employment law, covid isolation sanctions, stressful lives and so much more. To say that fat people bring about their own health issues is to ignore the mounting scientific evidence. The walls are closing in on us. We’re being squashed in our freedoms, liberties, and desires for healthier lives. You can’t fight a shrinking room with no doors. Not without looking at the problems in our modern lifestyles will we begin to make better choices.

The paradox of it all is this.

As our world shrinks in around us, we’re all going to get bigger.

Fat is symptomatic of an imbalance in the social fabric of our lives. The sooner we recognise that, the faster we can begin to heal.

And for the last time, repeat after me, fat people are not the cause of fatness, society is.

Dietsolation – How What We Eat Can Divide Us

There’s a lot of fear that comes with food.

Fear that we eat too much. Fear that eat eat too little. Fear that we are hurting our health. Fear that we cannot have a normal relationship with food. Fear that our diet makes us different from other people.

These are all fears I experience sometimes.

Now let me hit you with a few oughts that feed the fear.

I ought to eat more healthily.

I ought to be healthier.

I ought to enjoy food.

It’s really heartbreaking when you see other people around you, succeeding, even treating food as a triviality, as something that merely goes in the mouth and keeps the body ticking.

There is pain in seeing the way others get on with food. How they can take it for granted, enjoy it for the taste alone, even maintain a healthy lifestyle without obsessing over it.

Food can be painful for us. Eating can be control. It’s often an enmeshing of a host of meticulous, exhausting titrations and layers, like creating the finest chef’s cuisine, with none of the feeling of satisfaction for making it.

I don’t like my relationship with food. Eating too much is guilt, misery and chastisement. When I eat for the pleasure and release of emotional pain, I am only reminded of how tied up food is with my sense of self, my ego and my emotional baggage.

The wold is out of control.

You have no control.

You cannot even choose what you put in your mouth.

Only babies need help putting the right food in their mouths. Like a baby, you are not fit to have control over your life.

That drifting hopelessness is all too familiar for many of us. Depression is like staring into oblivion, tied to a thread, tied to a stick, that’s being held by someone you don’t trust, who’s lackadaisically relying on a pilot they don’t know, to keep you steady. There’s no feeling quite like it. You’re an astronaut, not quite cut loose into the depths, but in severe danger of it.

That’s why some of us (including me) like to diet. It gives us some fleeting control back. No longer are we thinking ‘I have no choice but to trust in the environment, in chaos’, but rather, ‘I get to choose. I am in charge here.’. No longer are you facing the depths of open space with nothing but a needle thread and your hooligan-disaster-buddy his unreliable, probably unlicensed, cowboy-space-pilot to save you. You’re driving the ship, you’ve booted out the space monkeys of dubious origins, and you’re driving somewhere, with a steering wheel (or whatever it is they use in space).

Dieting can give us that control, for a moment at least.

The problem is, once you get out in your space boat, how long before you get lonely? How long before you run out of juice? How long before you give up on your destination?

Usually, it’s not that long, give or take your god-given resolve and tenacity.

What is worse is how taking back control through dieting can actually reinforce the sense of loneliness and otherness in your life, further driving you to sadness.

I’ve spent no end of time dieting, and the truth is, it can make you feel very lonely.

Often, your reasons are the first thing which creates the schism.

‘I’m dieting for my health.’

‘But you don’t look ill, what are you going to eat?’

‘I am going to try and eat more wholefoods and cut out junk.’

‘Oh, uh, ok, I couldn’t live without my takeaways!’

You couldn’t live without the takeaways? I might be reading too much into it, but does that mean you think I want to die? And if you do think that, well you can’t think much of me. We all know that suicide (sadly) is a taboo. People who are suicidal are some of the worst treated and most poorly regarded in society. Why? Because people don’t enjoy dealing with emotions. They want a hassle-free, easy life.

Half the time, just saying you want to eat healthier separates you because people think you’re trying to become better than them. It couldn’t be further from the truth. If I could eat badly all the time and not have that start to impact my health or, sometimes, my sense of control, then I would, believe me. I just don’t see it that way.

And if / when you fail your diet and revert to your old ways, the schism inverts itself. You, who were on the pedestal, become just another failed dieter who cannot live up to their snobby health standards. Everyone in the office gets their smack of delicious schadenfreude. Oh, the taste of watching others fail is ambrosia to these people, like a melted ice cream, dropped by a sad child at the zoo. Again, never my intention, but certainly somewhat the attitude I have noticed from some colleagues or friends.

If the sense of isolation due to ‘snobby lifestyle choices’ wasn’t enough, dieting makes it almost impossible to enjoy social commitments centred around food. You’re going to your parents for Christmas dinner, you’re a vegan (you can scream in horror if you like) now. Your mum, who cooks delicious food, is definitely not a vegan, and as powerful as her food is to your olfactory schnozz, more powerful yet, are her opinions about ‘fad diets’.

At once you’re met with an interrogation, defiance and a lack of acceptance. In order to appease your family, you let go of your control or alienate yourself. The same is true for situations with friends. Want to meet up for a chat? Cafe, restaurant, pub? Your choice! You have options! Except, you don’t really have options… Most of the places people talk are also the places they eat. Society is defined by the community of food and eating. If you’re dieting, you can’t eat like others. You’re committing the social equivalent of sepukku (please do not look that up if you’re about to eat – actually, just don’t at any point if you can avoid it).

If all the endemic social and cultural obstacles were not enough to make you despair, think about this final, and potentially, most devastating schism, the otherness of your own attitude to something which you can neither give up, nor enjoy fully as other people seem to. You might be something close to an addict, but unlike an alcoholic, who may give up his vodka in his recovery, you cannot decide to give up eating. You are perpetually trapped into a cycle of emotional entrenchment with food, which you must repeatedly experience for the rest of your life.

Every time you eat, you are creating a divide between what you perceive food to be, and what food actually is. You are not like other people, who eat and enjoy food, but who do not have any emotional side effects every time they chow down on a delicious flaky pastry.

It’s just you. You’re the one who doesn’t get the enjoyment, but somehow obsesses over it more than the average person. What greater divide exists, than between a food addict’s perception of food, and the reality of its function? For the pensive among you, the power of the mind to separate us from reality can be one of the most potent causes of sadness in existence. Our mind’s relationship with food is no less devastating and chasmic in nature.

Dieting has so many benefits, but it’s also riddled with traps. Traps of social and cultural courtesy and expectation, but also traps in perception and judgement, both about the world around us, and about ourselves. Dietsolation is a real problem for many, especially those who have found food a source, equal parts despair and obsession. When division is rife in just about every segment of social life, from politics, to technology, to the repercussions of pandemics and protests, does food have to be another way for us to exclude one another?

No, I hope not, but it will take an understanding as to why some people diet in order to get there. When we learn to be less judgemental about dieting, when we appreciate what a diet entails at face value, we allow the distance to fall, and create opportunities for innovation in social life. Could we get a coffee to go, then take a walk in nature? Can we be supportive when friends or colleagues get on a health kick? Can we perhaps even listen to them when they feel down about their relationship with food? Understanding is the road to intimacy without food, and I want to be a part of that understanding. It’s why I’m writing this article to you now. 

Closeness shouldn’t only come from food, and for some, that requirement is vital to their health and happiness. 

Beat The Heat – Five Health Foods That Can Keep You Cool This Summer

Summer is here.

We’re sweating buckets, and begging for shade.

When it’s hot, it’s all too easy to grab an ice cream or a cold lemonade for a frozen sugar rush, but are there any health foods that can naturally aid your bodies ability to regulate its temperature?

Homeostasis is the system by which the body maintains a number of checks and balances. Temperature, heart rate, blood glucose and pH to name a few, are all regulated by this system. Your body is in a constant balancing act to maintain homeostasis. When you’re not at your healthiest, it can struggle or become sluggish to environmental pressures, taking much longer to respond, which in turn takes a toll on the body.

Core temperature is sensed by fine nerves in the skin, the great veins and the spinal chord, among other systems. When temperatures drop, sensors alert the hypothalamus and the brain sends signals to initiate vasoconstriction, a process whereby all blood vessels (especially those on the extremities) shrink in diameter. The opposite is true when temperatures increase. Your blood vessels are commanded to relax and open up (advice I could use myself).

The effect of vasoconstriction and vasodilation is one of thermal conservation or loss. Constriction prevents blood flow over the larger extremities where surface area is increased, allowing heat to be lost more rapidly. When dilation occurs, more warm blood is able to get to the most heat wasteful areas of the body to cool down. Think of your body as a very efficient 2 in 1 radiator. You give off heat, or you close the pipes, depending on environmental temperature.

Not all of us are in prime condition when it comes to these processes however. Some of us have compromised homeostatic abilities due to unhealthy lifestyles or chronic conditions. For instance, those who suffer from heart disease may not be able to cool or warm up because the effectiveness of their heart muscle is compromised and arteries may be damaged. In those with Reynaud’s a type of spasmodic vascular response, vasoconstriction may happen even when temperatures are not too cold.

What can we do to support the process of vascular constriction and relaxation? Here are five foods you can incorporate into your diet to help support your bodies ability to react to temperature changes, especially important as it gets warmer!

As a shout back to my post on ‘What Would Jesus Eat?‘, many of the foods that ancient israelites ate supported excellent circulation. I suspect this is due to the climate’s extreme temperature. The bodies ability to dilate the blood vessels effectively seems very importantin these hot conditions. Pomegranates, garlic, onions and wine are all excellent foods to support circulation and vasodilation. Check the post out for more examples!

Green Leafy Vegetables

red and green leaves on white surface

Green leaves are full of nitrates which the body can convert into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator which can improve circulation and lower blood pressure. Eat your veggies if you want to stay cool!

Oranges, Lemons and Limes, Oh My!

bunch of orange fruits

Ok, well it’s not just oranges and lemons, you’ve also got grapefruits and other citrus fruits too! Citrus fruits are packed with antioxidants which can reduce inflammation in the lining of the arteries. Inflammation causes hardening in the arterial walls which, over time, leads to a poor temperature response. An artery that is less flexible will not respond well to the demands of temperature change. Support your bodies response by eating lots of citrus which will keep your vascular system bouncy and supple!

Cinnamon, Hot But… Not?

brown wooden sticks

Maybe you ought to have your spiced orange wine in the summer rather than at Christmas to incorporate your citrus and your cinnamon! Cinnamon is a great spice that goes with many things and makes them taste even better. It’s implicated in better blood flow and heart performance under stress. For once, we’re barking up the right tree (it’s a pun I’m so sorry).

Berry For Your Thoughts?

blueberry fruits

Berries are delicious. You can’t NOT like berries, right? Anyway, like citrus, berries are brimming with antioxidants which support the bodies ability to elastically respond to temperature changes in the atmosphere. Berries are usually cheaper in the summer as well, so go mental! Get as many berries as you can, make your face look like a jammy mess. I’ll allow it, just this once.

Walnuts, As Sexy As They Are, Wrinkly…

bundle of white seeds

I absolutely SWEAR by walnuts. These blossoming, nutty brain sculptures are excellent for a whole range of ailments. They will help if you experience chronic skin issues, prostate or bladder problems, diabetes and will even improve heart health. Which is kinda why we’re here. They are packed with beautiful antioxidants that will soothe the lining of your vascular system like a luxurious, sexy oil rub for your insides. They are also filled with prebiotic fibre which supports digestive health. I’m a firm believer that many of our bodies health issues originate in the gut, so these little powerhouses of nutrition should be pouring out of your cupboard. I’m serious. Just put these nuts in your bed, by your computer, in your car. Wherever you are, they is, kapiche?

As you might expect, a lot of these foods are already health foods and something you should try to incorporate in your diet. If you have to choose just one though, try and add walnuts, as I really do think they are an absolutely phenomenal health food which can tackle all of the important issues that anyone with chronic disease or poor circulation may have.

But the good thing about many of these foods is that they are in season during the summer when your body needs that support the most to keep you cool. Berries and citrus fruits can be bought cheaply and you should take advantage of this! I’m a big believer in buying foods which are in season. Nature made them that way!

I hope some of this can give you an insight into how to tackle the summer heat. The vascular system is so complex and fascinating. Learning a bit of science while you eat can’t be bad, right?

Please like, comment, and subscribe for more interesting health tips.

Julian

100 Followers!

So here we are, 100 followers!

Thank you so much for joining with me on the road to better health.

I started this blog as a way to reconnect with nature and our health. This is something I strongly believe in and want to bring to everyone who’ll listen!

The thing is, health is often taken for granted, or not made a priority in our busy lives, and that is wrong.

We have never needed to prioritise our health more than we do now, as we are bombarded by stressful lifestyles, shorter time windows for eating, and food that is killing us, all while saying it’s curing us.

So, anyway, this is a brief thank you from me.

I know it’s early days yet and 100 doesn’t seem a lot, but I am so so SO grateful for the support of every single one of you.

This is as much a journey for me, as it is for you.

I think we can learn a lot together, raise each other up and grow into healthier people. I am so passionate about health and wellbeing, reclaiming your energy and autonomy from all the chronic pain and fatigue that can set in from poor diet, and generally living a happier life. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than share what I find with you beautiful people through this medium.

Here’s to unbridled self-improvement and personal success to all of us!

Keep learning, keep healthy and keep happy.

Julian

What Would Jesus Eat?

I’m trialling a new series.

I’m looking at diets from around the world and seeing if anything we used to do has any merit today.

Jesus would have eaten an ancient Israelite diet, so let’s see what that involves.

Surprisingly, a large number of health foods were regularly consumed by the Israelites, so we’ve got a pretty solid anti-inflammatory diet here.

Jesus is always depicted drenched in amber glow, kissed by the warm silken banner of the almighty, but could a portion of that be due to a diet full of healthful foods promoting beautiful golden skin?

Let’s check out some of the staples in Jesus’ day:

Olive Oil

Olive oil and olives grew well in this mediterranean climate, so they were abundantly used. Olive oil was likely to have been cold pressed, avoiding the damage that other heated processes can cause to this stable oil. Oilve oil is high in unsaturated fats, which are linked to lower levels of heart disease and related disorders, like high blood pressure.

Figs and Dates

Figs grew well in this climate and are an excellent source of prebiotic fibre. Prebiotics support the natural gut flora and suppress the growth of pathogenic settlers! Dates are sweet, but also contain some fibre which slows down digestion and prevents unhealthy insulin spikes from occurring. Dates were also fermented into a drink called ‘Shechar’. Fermented beverages contain probiotics which help to colonise the gut with helpful bacteria.

Pomegranates

Pomegranates are unlikely to have been a huge part of the ancient Israelite diet, but they nevertheless tout a number of health benefits. A recent study found that pomegranate extract could reduce inflammation by bringing down blood lipid levels (a known risk factor for heart disease, obesity, diabetes and a range of other inflammatory conditions). Israelites probably would have eaten this fruit fresh in season, and may have fermented it into wine to preserve it out of season.

Wine

Many of you know that too much wine can cause inflammation and liver damage over time, but a little every day can actually support health. Red wine, which is what Israelites would largely have had access to, can reduce inflammation because it contains lots of antioxidants which inhibit cellular damage.

Dairy

This is where it gets really interesting. There were no cows in ancient Israel, so milk, cheese, and yogurt were made solely from goats. Goat milk is widely accepted as anti-inflammatory. Many who cannot tolerate cows milk can drink goats milk without difficulty. Due to the naturally warm temperatures, this could also be made into a range of probiotic yogurts and even something similar to ghee or clarified butter, which has become a popular health food.

Fish

Coastal and river dwelling inhabitants would have had access to a range of fresh fish. Fish is naturally high in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, both of which are shown to support longevity and provide anti-inflammatory effects in the ratios naturally found in marine foods. Fish were also salted and dried, producing a lean, protein rich food source that could be transported and kept in storage without going off.

Leeks, Onions and Garlic

Potent prebiotics, these three vegetables were often added to a range of cooked dishes for flavour and nutrients. These three in particular have been praised in the scientific literature for contributing to the health of the gut due to their high levels of prebiotic fibre, which help good bacteria populate the large intestine, crowding our pathogens which cannot digest it. Leeks, garlic and onion are all related, coming from the onion family.

Wheat

Any of you Keto/ Paleo people will reel in horror at the notion that wheat was a staple in ancient Israel, but this was not the refined wheat you are used to today. Most widespread was Emmer Wheat, an ancestor of Durum Wheat. Durum wheat is a much heartier grain which contains more fibre and is less processed. It also contains less gluten, which is inflammatory to the gut lining.

Overall, to eat like Jesus, was to eat surprisingly well! Lots of healthy oils with anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids. Fruits and vegetables with prebiotic fibre. Dairy from goats instead of cows, and fresh fish some of the time! On a side note and not mentioned above, meat was rarely eaten during the year, and when it was, it was largely goat, with some chicken, duck and goose. Too much meat has been implicated in heart disease as well as some cancers, most commonly colorectal.

Jesus is known for his wisdom as a prophet in Christianity, and is a guiding light for Christians across the globe, but even those of us who aren’t religious could probably learn a thing or two about health from this historical figure.

If you enjoyed this short insight into diets from around the world, let me know in the comments, and as ever, please like and subscribe for more to come!

J

Stoicism On A Diet – What Would Marcus Aurelius Do?

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

― Marcus Aurelius

When we think about health, we think of ‘new beginnings’, of turning over a new leaf, or starting afresh.

It’s a time for throwing away our past defeats and diving into the kick with a revived child-like vigour.

‘This time it’ll be a success. I’ll have the willpower, time, and energy to make it work, and I’ll never give up!’

Admirable, in a ‘not gonna work, but I admire your zeal’ kinda way.

I’m not saying the effervescent optimism of a health kick isn’t charming, and useful, even, when used properly, but to win in the health game, you have to buckle down for the long haul. The honeymoon period doesn’t last long, and before you know it, that deliciously crisp ceasar salad, filled with antioxidants and nourishing vitamins, is a wilted, sweaty abomination, sending you overboard into a miserably deep ocean of relapse, filled with sweet carbs and sumptuous, forbidden fried delights.

That’s why I love that quote by Marcus Aurelius, a Grecian Emperor and stoic philosopher from ancient times.

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

Stoicism is the belief that all you can change is your perception. The only control that you have is in the way that you tackle the chaos that sweeps your daily life.

When you apply this to dieting, it provides you with a refreshing approach.

Instead of getting bored and giving up, then slipping into a spiralling pit of despair coated in syrup and lard, you can change your approach.

Having a bad day? Did you eat something naughty?

Ok, well now we get to analyse what we could do to prevent that. Could we take something out of our day that then makes everything more easy to tolerate? Could we maybe find a different way to approach a difficult or stressful task which makes it less of a monster? Do we need to think that all our hard work is destroyed because we ate something bad?

When we start questioning the habits that cause us to react poorly, we can begin to regain some control over them.

The obstacle becomes the way.

We want to look at what is making our life more difficult. The boulder of hardship. Can we find a way over it, a way under it or a way around it?

If we can, can we do it every time we come across it? Better to slip past, or chip away at an obstacle than to spend hours and days crumpled in a heap over the whole agonising weight of its total mass, like a behemoth of misery and despair that we, personally, have to lug up hill.

Changing our approach to dieting by making our lives easier, adapting our habits, and maybe even recruiting the help and support of our friends and families, can make the whole burden of the task so much easier to face.

That’s why I love stoicism.

I just like the simplicity of self-analysis it affords.

You just need to look at your biggest problems and find better ways to tackle them.

And I know, seriously, I know, that that is easier said than done when you’re already overwhelmed. Your plate is already well past full (your metaphorical plate, but your real plate can also be full so long as it’s mainly wholefoods, don’t limit yourself).

I’m just saying that self-care is really important, and if you don’t give yourself some time to reflect, you’re going to burn out faster than a tealight from poundland. Sometimes we need five minutes just for us to get some perspective and start tackling those problems, one at a time, bit by bit.

Meditation can also be great for this. Asking yourself a question, just dropping it into your subconscious. ‘How can we tackle x?’. Not demanding an answer, just taking 5 – 10 minutes and just dropping the question. Eventually, answers bubble up!

So anyway, next time your start to feel like flinging your salad, ripping all of your clothes off, and screaming from your cubicle in the office, just think, ‘how can I approach this differently?’. Give yourself five minutes to relax, maybe even take a meditative minute to drop that question in the dimming pool of your mind. See what comes up. ‘The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way, becomes the way.’

Diet is an obstacle. If we keep approaching it the same way, we’ll never keep going with it. We need to constantly find new ways to approach it, or the obstacle will overwhelm us. Just remember, there is always a way around, through or under your health obstacle, you just need to find out which way works best for you, and allow yourself the space to get there without judgement.

Now get your chisel, there’s a big bully boulder ahead, waiting to be slugged down to size.

Five Daily Habits That Can Help Aid Digestion Without Changing What You Eat

Changing you diet is hard, right?

This is a process that takes time. Eating scallops on a fresh bed of organic leaves, with an exotic coolie of immune boosting fruits and vegetables is not something most of us have time for, and it can be a little intimidating on day one of a big change.

That’s why I believe in small changes to habits which net a global positive impact on health.

If you’re still struggling to get your five a day, then that’s ok! No judgement here.

Remember, I’m somebody who has struggled all their life with food cravings and a crippling habit for junk food. I get it completely.

And besides, like I said, the best way to get into turning your diet around is to make incremental changes.

So, that got me to thinking. How do we positively improve digestion without changing anything about the core diet? Is it even possible?

Well, as always, I advocate for changes in diet as the fundamental basis for digestive health, especially in cases where food sensitivities may be present. That being said, I do believe that there are some things we can all do without upsetting the status quo, that can help support better digestive health.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at five changes which don’t uproot your lifestyle too much:

1. Drink More Water:

Some of you may be laughing in frog as this comes in as rule number one, but water is, in large part, what we’re made of. We’re approximately 50-60% water. We need lots of it for an array of vital metabolic processes, including digestion. If you can’t change anything else, try and carry a bottle of water with you wherever you go. When you’re sat down at work, on a walk, or going to school keep that bottle on your person. Wherever you are, even if you’re not able to kick some of the other drinks which might not be so healthy, adding water will help your gut health by assisting digestive enzymes in breaking down food. It’s actually the key ingredient, water, which allows enzymes to split molecules of food down into digestible chunks! Don’t underestimate it!

2. Take An Acid Supplement And Digestive Enzyme With Your Biggest Meal:

Those of us who are struggling with our digestion may not be producing enough enzymes and stomach acid to break food down properly. This is more important still when eating large meals, especially at the end of the day, when we actually have time to make something filling. Taking these digestive aids can ease inflammation by fighting the number of undigested particles which end up in the large intestine. This is where pathogens pounce, growing stronger and producing toxins which can breach the intestinal wall, create cellular damage in the body, and excite an irregular immune response.

3. Eat Fruit As A Snack:

I know this one sounds very straight forward (and possibly a little cheeky given the title of the article), but habits form through convenience. If you carry some fruit around with you, especially fruit that you enjoy eating and can access easily, you’re much less likely to slither over to the vending machine, lusting after forbidden snacks. Fruit is a better alternative to chocolate and sweets because it has natural vitamins, as well as fibre, which slows a sugar spike and feeds the good bacteria in your gut!

4. Meditate Once A Day:

As I mentioned in Meditation For Gut Health, your digestive system will thank you if you take a moment out of your busy, stressful day to breathe and relax. A stressed gut is a poor digester, and that will only contribute to undigested food reaching the large intestine, where nasty little bacteria and yeasts feast at our expense. Remember, we’re looking at what we can do without an entire diet overhaul, and ten minutes out of your day to breathe and relax the body can contribute to better gut health.

5. Get Your Shoes On And Go For A Walk:

Exercise encourages the good bacteria in the gut to produce butyrate, an extremely important biological molecule, which can help seal a compromised gut lining. The more butyrate your body is able to produce, the better your gut is able to seal itself and prevent bacterial toxins and undigested food from entering the blood stream. When this happens, we see a range of autoimmune reactions, and in the long term, multi-organ degeneration and chronic disease. A 30 minute walk during the day should help your body make more of this substance and help fight leaky gut! What’s not to like? Time to tie those laces and hit the tarmac!

Remember, everything we’re trying to do is fostering small changes for wider net benefit. Maybe you could try out one or two of these things, maybe you’ll want to do all of them! Whatever your decide, know that this is a process which takes time. Habits form when they’re sustainable, so I hope some of these are sustainable enough for you to have a go at in your day to day life, without rocking the boat too much.

Drink your water and step outside in the sun, let’s get this butyrate!

J

Blame FAT SOCIETY, not fat people

The blame game.

We love to play it, but does pointing the finger really help us move forward?

Often when we reflect on blame, we find that it’s not always as satisfying as we expect, even though in many cases, it might be our first impulse.

Fat people.

The last acceptable bias in society.

Free game for laughter, shaming and bullying.

Most people will tell you that a fat person is an acceptable object of abuse because they can change their habits, they can become thin.

And they would be right. It is definitely possible to become thin when you started out fat, but we aren’t looking at the bigger picture.

Over the last few centuries, people have been getting bigger.

Obesity is the single largest (forgive me) health crisis in the west. We are spending astounding amounts of money on the end stage results of fatness.

Roll it back 2-300 years and almost nobody was fat. It just didn’t happen.

So, if society as a whole was thinner a century a go, is it fair to blame the fat individual for their weight? Do fat people just not try hard enough to eat well?

Based on everything we’ve seen so far, with rising obesity levels throughout the entire population, that would imply that society is losing its willpower? That every subsequent generation is just that little bit lazier, more sluggish and weak minded. Does anyone really believe that? I don’t think there is any evidence for it. So why do you say that about the individual fat person? Why is the onus on them to be thin, when all of society is wider than ever? It just doesn’t make sense to bash fat people in light of the scientific trend toward obesity documented copiously in the medical corpus.

This is where we come to the title of this article. Pointing fingers at individuals is never helpful and completely misplaced. We are facing an obesity epidemic because society is FAT.

Let me explain.

Antibiotics are pumped into all of our meat and dairy, pesticides, growth hormones and a myriad of synthetic fertilisers engorge our plants and make them grow to monstrous proportions. Our fruits and vegetables are genetically tweaked to include MORE sugar, to yield MORE oil and to stay fresher for longer. Our water is flooded with flouride, hormones and even antibiotics. SUGAR, the number one substance contributing to this epidemic, is cheaper than ever and in more of our foods.

When we head to a shop, everywhere we are bombarded by snacks filled with inflammatory oils like canola, sunflower and palm, added sugar, which goes by names so exotic you’d need a masters in food production to decode a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup, and preservatives of such abundance and diversity as to make jelly belly beans corp… well… jelly.

We are drowning in chemicals. Seemingly harmless products like yogurt and prepackaged salads contain teaspoons of sugar while claiming to support health. The food industry is deceitful to a fault, and if they were not regulated, we would be even worse off than we are now.

And what is it doing to us? Our digestive system cannot handle the abundance of damaging foods which are put on us unknowingly. Those of us who have become overweight have been the first to fall. Thin people, thank your good genetics amongst other things for your ability to stave off the fat, but eventually, even good genes will fail if we continue on this path.

Studies of the microbiome of the intestinal tract of obsese mice present some astounding findings. The most important of all being that in these mice, the microbiota are less diverse. Fat intestines are emaciated digestive landscapes. We are blaming fat people for the forest in their abdomen, but while they suffer with a digestive wildfire, their thin counterparts have stronger and more diverse intestinal landscapes.

When the gut biome fails, it makes room for pathogenic bacteria and glutinous carb/ sugar loving organisms. These bacteria, as described in GUT, could theoretically influence the host’s satiety and hunger levels, forcing them to eat more sugar by signalling the body to crave them. This reminds me of the cordyceps mushroom which takes over the host ant and makes it climb the canopies of trees to give the mushroom lots of light, to grow our of the dead ants HEAD (yuck). In this respect, we should treat the microbiome as something which can work in our favour to promote health, or against us, parasitically influencing us to gobble down more sugary fuel for their benefit.

Again, should we blame obese people for their fat bodies when we are only beginning to learn that our own intestinal tract, populated by a range of influential bacteria, can influence what we want to eat? And, that our society, pumping us full of the things which promote pathogens, is not at least somewhat to blame for fat people becoming fat?

What about fat children? You might say it was the parents. But, what about in cases where the child is fat, but not the parents? Children don’t actively attempt to gain weight and if their parents are not always fat as well, how can we blame them for their own obesity? Something else is at play here and it is not fat people’s unbridled gluttony.

So, fat people, unburden yourself from the shame which has been levied against you. You are not to blame for your weight (you probably already knew that anyway).

That doesn’t mean that you should continue to do the same thing. There are many ways you can start to improve you health. Two posts I created recently on fermentation and intermittent fasting can help you begin to regain some control over FAT SOCIETY.

At any rate, don’t forget that there are still whole foods, and cooking from scratch/ eating fruits, vegetables and free range meats and dairy are the best options in fat society. Go for foods that you know are single label. I’m talking bananas, cabbage, carrots, lettuce. Anything that comes with a list of ingredients is probably doing your body a disservice. Make it from scratch and claim back your health!

FAT SOCIETY WILL NOT WIN.

Leave a comment, like or share this with a friend!

J

 

 

 

Fermentation – An easy way to store veg and promote gut health.

It has been my pleasure in recent weeks to soak up the art of fermentation.

This involves something close to pickling a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but not quite.

Lacto-fermentation does not involve added sugar, so many products are more savoury once they ferment. Nevertheless, the range of foods that you can use in fermentation are staggering, each blend unique. The process is quick and simple, yielding probiotic pickles that help support your gut biome.

I had dabbled in this for a while, reading about it online and researching recipes for a range of fermented foods like Kefir, Kimchi and Saurkraut, but I took a dive and bought The Noma Guide To Fermentation on Amazon, plunging into it’s passionate and informative manual of frothy foods and drinks.

This is a wondrous book which provides all the central theory on fermenting your own foods, and the best bit, the lack of prescription. Noma advises us to play around with fermentation, finding blends of fruits, vegetables and spices which create exceptional flavours and unique taste bud experiences.

The key is salt.

Salting your foods in a correct ratio, somewhere at about 2% of the biomass of fruit and veg, will yield a fermented product in 3-5 days.

You can also try adding spices and herbs to these ferments to bring flavours together.

Kimchi blends cabbage, chilli, garlic and ginger with salt, creating a delicious gut friendly addition. I did in fact have some of this today with my lunch. It makes a delicious accompaniment to an omelette or scrambled eggs, as well as with a sandwich, maybe even as an addition to your healthy salad.

Fermented fruits and vegetables, touting all of the above qualities of ease, health and flavour are also among some of the most versatile foods in the world. What savoury dish does not benefit from the tart fizz of fermented foods? I challenge you to come up with one! You can add fermented foods to almost any dish to enhance flavour. The juices can help to build up a stock or gravy, can be poured over a prepared meal for some added zing, and can even added to deserts to make them pop! Fermented fruits and veggies are literally oozing complexity and utility from simplicity.

Aside from Kimchi, I plan to use my monstrously fertile rhubarb plants (seriously, these ancient garden stalks are like a hydra, they cannot be killed and grow back stronger when you cut them down) for a lacto-fermented rhubarb recipe which I found here. What I love about this is the blend of fragrant cardamom and fiery ginger with a seriously unique use for a tart vegetable (yes, rhubarb is a vegetable! hard to believe, I know). Some of the most fascinating ferments involve salted fruits and veggies which you might normally find in sweet dishes. One of Noma’s most famous ferments involves the gooseberry, a sour green hairy grape that pairs beautifully with fermentation. Sour fruits and vegetables shine in this process. The natural sourness of these fruits and vegetables can create beautifully tart surprises.

To boot, fermented fruits and vegetables can last months in the fridge. They don’t really go off, if prepared correctly, but be warned, the taste can become pretty intense the longer you leave them! Nevertheless, if everything else I’ve said on the subject hasn’t swayed you, what will you do with all your greens and colourful fruits come winter (the gardeners among you especially will want to make the most of your painstakingly raised produce)? At the end of the summer season, when you harvest your garden’s bounty, what better way to pay homage to your labour, than to preserve and pickle your hard work, letting it give back to you all through the winter!

Fermentation provides a literally endless supply of opportunities for us humans. It allows us to venture into a weakly explored territory of new flavours and culinary experiences (arguably something our ancestors understood well, but largely forgotten in a modern setting). It can add something special to almost any meal you make. Every blend produces a new and exciting flavour combination, influenced by the type of bacteria growing on the fruits and vegetables you use (all the more reason to grow your own!). It naturally aids our digestive tracts, which are constantly bombarded by unnatural chemical soups and processed junk. And finally, it lasts, giving you the benefit of your hard work all through the winter!

What more could you possibly want? It’s a no brainer to get into fermentation!

Keep well and enjoy learning, and if you liked this article, please share it with a friend or loved one who can benefit!

J