Tag Archives: health

How Intermittent Fasting Reset My Habits

And how it can do the same for you

Intermittent fasting has been touted as one of the most miraculous health changes you can make. It’s trending everywhere. Seriously, everyone is doing it. You’re not doing it? Not very cool of you. Are you one of those uncool people? You are? My condolences.

They say it’s good for reducing insulin resistance, combating cravings, and burning visceral fat, but less is said about the habitual side of this activity.

Setting a definitive time to start eating — this is usually 12, noon — has really revolutionised my eating habits. Let’s dive in (no, not with you fork) below.

Brings Structure

For those of us who struggle with snacking (my hand is up, believe me), having some routine to the times we can and cannot eat is really important. Knowing when it’s ok to eat, and when it’s not, in my personal experience, gives me enough structure to eat less often. Paradoxically, structure helps free you from the whims of your cravings and appetite. If you know when to eat, you’re less likely to eat outside of these times. Pair that with your now improving insulin sensitivity and shrinking stomach (the stomach will change as you eat less frequently and in smaller portions), and structured eating has the potential to improve your health dramatically.

Made Me Choose Healthier Options

When your eating window is reduced, you’re more likely to eat better, knowing that you need the nutrition to get on with the day. Now, whenever I break my fast, I scream ‘HEALTH!’ as I blitz an assortment of fruits and veggies for a nutritional feast. My neighbors, they do not speak to me anymore.

Not only this, coffee, which I used to drench in full-fat milk, has to be black during your fasting period. No room on this one. You have to ditch the cream and milk and go black. Sooner than you realise, however, it’s like you never even missed it (unlike your housemate’s repeated heckling to ‘take out the trash’, which you miss repeatedly, even defiantly). Coffee still brings that delicious bitterness and satisfying buzz that it’s always done, just with less calories, and without the anti-inflammatory contribution of dairy.

I also increased my water intake (I am about 99% water now, like a sea-jelly), which, as the science suggests, can reduce dehydration and aid digestion — result! I try to go for filtered water, mainly for the taste (it can filter out impurities, like the yoga you do to block out Becky’s negativity at work). Even if you’re drinking more nasty tap water, it’s still a move in the right direction — well done!

Easier to Say ‘No’

Repeat after me:

‘No.’

‘No, thank you.’

‘Good day sir!’

‘Not today, Satan.’

‘Oh helllll no.’

‘Not even if you were the Dalai Lama.’

Seriously, you’re going to become an angel of divine declination. You’re going to get so good at saying ‘no’ to people, they’ll write to ‘scrooge-watch’ to have you visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future! When they get there, you’ll say ‘no’ to them too!

It’s actually a really good habit to get into with people. If you’re taking your health seriously and fasting properly, you’re going to say that word a lot, and people will get the message eventually. When it gets through, your life will get easier and healthier as a result.

The Takeaway (No, You Are Not Ordering Takeaway)

Aside from the obvious health benefits you can get from fasting, the habits it helps you form can give you a boost towards a healthier lifestyle. You’re given some structure to your eating schedule, you can make healthier choices during your fast, and you’re going to get better at saying ‘no’ to people. These are essential to turning your health around. You’ll thank me later. I am a genius. Very clever. It’s because of all the fasting I do, and the daily health-scream as I blitz my vegetables. That kind of primal energy really gives you vitality. You should try it — it’s great.

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Dieting Is Restrictive and That’s Exactly How It Needs to Be

‘Dieting’, as a term, gets a bad wrap these days. 

You hear the usual bombastic responses from people:

‘Dieting is restrictive.’

‘Dieting can lead to eating disorders.’

‘Dieting can create unhealthy relationships with food.’

The problem is, we’re already past the stage where we get to have a healthy relationship with food. The food we are given, except for the very basic wholefoods that we can buy, are laced with destructive toxins, like hormones, additives, preservatives, pesticides, and antibiotics. These chemicals are already wreaking havoc on our digestion, causing systemic toxicity, which then leads to inflammation. Sustained inflammation feeds into the development of chronic illnesses, like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. 

When we tell someone that they have an ‘eating disorder’ because they choose to be selective about their eating habits, we are often making an unfair, uninformed, and unsubstantiated comment about somebodies lifestyle choices. 

The fact of the matter is, our food has never been so poisonous. Sweeteners cause weight gain. Preservatives have been shown to exacerbate behavioural problems. Sugar (abundantly present in a wide range of shop-bought foods) definitively increases risk for obesity, leading to other chronic health conditions. Poisonous produce is abundant, poorly understood, and often advertised as ‘health promoting’. 

Is it any wonder some of us feel the need to restrict in order to survive — even thrive — under these conditions? 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not in any way saying that eating disorders do not exist — they unequivocally do, but the negative value judgements that the typical person imbues on dieters is unfounded, and even, ignorant. 

I think dieters and any person who is on the road to a healthier life, should reclaim the term. Yes, dieting is restrictive, and, unfortunately, as food corps pump more and more toxic junk into our foods, a healthy diet will have to be.

We have got to completely re-frame the way that we view dieting or lifestyle changes in society. Did you know that the American Diabetic Association is funded by coca cola? What does that statement say to you? Can you read between the lines? Big food companies do not want to help you, they want to control the information which is being given. This is a game of damage limitation, and big food companies have their fingers in all the pies. 

It is up to dieters, and those who take it upon themselves to reform their eating through big lifestyle changes, to do their research, and find a diet which works to make them feel healthier and happier. 

About a year ago, following a particularly stressful period, I started to develop symptoms. These symptoms ranged from hip, knee and ankle pain, to drastic mood swings and even periodic, uncontrollable crying and laughter. My symptoms were disconcerting. I was determined to find the root cause. 

On that journey, I discovered a lot about my particular dietary needs. I learned about lactose and gluten sensitivity, and I learned about the effects of a highly westernised diet on conditions of chronic pain and neurological disorders. My conclusion? Certain foods had to go. These are foods that I had grown up with as a child, foods that were deemed to be fine, even good for you. They were doing me harm, and I wish I’d had the courage to intervene and improve my life sooner. 

I spent years with serious mood swings and emerging chronic pain, to my mind, the beginnings of arthritis. I am only 28 years old. To be in that position at my age was devastating, but I had to act. I needed research and fundamental changes in perspective to find a way to heal. 

It’s still a process. I still eat foods that I have learned are bad for me from time to time, but the key is, I’ve significantly reduced this intake. I think a diet might cross into the eating disorder territory when it gets to the black and white elimination of an ever increasing range of foods. In contrast, a healthy tapering of some known allergens is a good route to a more sustainable and healthy life. 

I’ve cut out milk. I was intolerant to cows milk as a baby, before allergies were properly understood, but somehow, as I grew older, I lost touch with that understanding. This was the first to go, and you wouldn’t believe how easy it was. I only had milk in my coffee. As soon as I accepted black coffee as a delicious alternative, I never needed milk again, and my health began to improve. Boom, one busted, a few more to go. 

Gluten, now this is a bit more tricky. How do you get rid of something that is a staple in the western diet? The answer is, ‘with a great deal more difficulty’. Tapering has been the most effective thing in this instance. Just gradually getting rid of bread. For lunch, I’ll try a salad, or maybe a smoothie instead. More wholefoods, less gluten. It’s not easy, but it is doable with time. 

I also cut out soda — all kinds. I just drink water, coffee, and herbal teas. Sometimes this is hard, as water can get a bit dull, but to be honest, as long as I have my coffee, I don’t miss soda too much. I’m pretty happy not to touch it, and my urge to drink it is non-existent. 

My point is this, if you need to cut foods from your diet to feel healthier and happier, do it. Please. You need to look out for yourself first. If ‘restrictive’ dieting helps you feel more like yourself, more like the you you always knew you could be, then just do it. Peer pressure, judgement, and outdated views about food are not your problem. Your problem is figuring out how to make your life more enjoyable. If you’re like me, you’ve probably felt sluggish, run down, and low in mood. You may even be suffering from something like fibromyalgia, arthritis or MS. These lethargic and painful states require you to rethink your nutrition plan. Some of that may well involve restricting certain foods, and that’s ok. 

This is not a drill. Not all food is your friend, and your ‘friends’ may not support that view. Just tell them that you’re not doing it for them, this is for you. We need to start reclaiming the word ‘dieter’. We’re restricting because the food industry is no longer supporting our health in the ways that they claim to be. We have a duty to restrict where this can save us from foods that harm us. For those of you battling food intolerances, mood swings, and chronic physical pain, ‘dieting’ is not a bad word. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Dieting is restrictive, yes, but that restriction is about preservation, not obsession. Keep doing what makes you feel better. 

When it comes to your health, diet for you, for your preservation, for your livelihood, and for your well being. Never let the people around you talk you down. Trust your instincts, work out what feels right, and follow it relentlessly. ‘Restriction’ is not a bad word. ‘Dieting’ is not a bad word. Claim them back, then claim your health as well. 

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.

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

Can Big Food Corporations Really Claim To Care About Us?

Coca Cola and other big brand names are pulling ad funding for Facebook due to some novel kind of ‘moral obligation’ to themselves and the general public.

Yet Coca Cola is one of the largest funding bodies for the American Diabetes Association, who’s CEO’s are paid hundreds of thousands of pounds for leading a ‘non-profit’ organisation.

Just think about that for a second. The largest advisory board for diabetes health is also taking huge sums of money from Coca Cola et al, to give advice to people suffering with the condition.

Does that sound very moral to you?

Coca Cola, both full fat and fat free, are seriously contributing to diabetes and obesity in America. Both the added sugar and the artificial sweeteners have DEFINITIVELY been implicated in rising obesity and diabetes numbers.

Do you really think coca cola and friends have any kind of moral obligation to anyone, least of all you, the every day man or woman, to avoid platforms or products which are causing division and disease?

Facebook has been involved in a number of data breaches and security scandals, it is also run on algorithms which thrive on negativity (please take a look at this article where I talk more about that), and it’s losing ground to more popular visual platforms like snapchat and instagram (but it still owns these companies, so be aware).

It’s much more likely that big corporations are sensitive to these aspects of Facebook’s recent behaviour which can potentially harm their image, than due to any arbitrary sense of ‘moral obligation’ to the public.

All I’m asking is that people remain vigilant and alert to language which takes on a moral tone, when it’s coming from large multi-national companies. The likelihood that morality plays any part in choice is low to none in most cases. Where you see language like ‘we care’, or ‘we have a duty’, or virtue signalling regarding current world affairs, you would be safest to take that language with a pinch of salt.

As always, do your research, listen to all sides of the argument, and never dismiss the idea that businesses may not be working to make your life better.

It’s not out of the question that they might not be rooting for you in the way that they say they are.

Stay safe and aware, and please like, comment, and subscribe for more information on digestive health, diet and society.

Julian

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.

Preachy – When Health Blogging Gets Ugly

As health bloggers, we want what’s best for our subscribers.

We want to make sure that we’re bringing good content which can help readers achieve their goals because we’re passionate about living healthier and happier lives.

Spreading the joy of a healthier life is good.

Well, yes and no…

We’re treading a fine line between what can help people and what can come across as bossy, preachy or overly invasive lifestyle advice.

When you become a preachy writer, you’ve reached the end of the road. It implies there is no more to learn about your subject. You’ve reached the pinnacle of enlightenment, which we know is impossible in the world of health.

New research and data crashes through the internet every single day. Scientists and health professionals are only just beginning to tap the potential of the human body for self-healing through diet and exercise. We barely understand the basic process by which our bodies function. How could we ever say to the people we write to: ‘I know it all, that’s it amigo, just follow me and you’re cured!’.

But how do you avoid that trap?

Can we go back to the place it all began? Why are we doing this? What did we want to achieve in the beginning? Even asking some of the harder questions we might be avoiding. Do we still care the same way that we did when we started? If we don’t, can we find a way back to caring?

When we look back on our starting point, we can come home to roost on our values and desires.

I started to tackle my own health issues which had become too pressing to ignore. I remember that feeling of helplessness, of not knowing what to do and the depression that followed. I was begging for someone to help me, to show me some compassion.

More doctors visits, more half-mumbled explanations, more anxiety and fear. Nobody felt the need to explain anything to me properly. They either didn’t feel it necessary, or they couldn’t be bothered. I’m the sort of person who likes to know how something works before I use it. Why should health be any different? Don’t we all deserve a clearer explanation?

I never wanted anyone to feel the way that I did. To suffer in silence and to be so paralysed by the sheer spread of information as to have no clue where to start, who to follow, and what health problem to target first.

We health bloggers need to keep in mind why we started blogging. Remind ourselves that we’re on a journey with our subscribers to better overall health, and that we don’t have all the answers, but we’re doing our best to find out what works. We’re trying to connect with the reader, demonstrate our driving values, our origin story, and walk with our audience arm in arm on a road to better understanding.

When we’re preachy, we’ve taken a wrong turn. We’ve shirked our responsibility for self-development, and we’re letting our followers down by giving up. That’s not fair to us or them. Never stop learning, growing and developing your ideas. And most importantly, take your readers with you from ignorance, to less ignorance, but never to full knowledge.

One more thing.

There’s a certain irony in this post that I think some may pick up on. ‘Well, Julian, this all seems a little bit like you’re telling us, rather than joining with us.’, and you would be right. I am telling. But the difference lies in what you’re trying to achieve. This is kinda autobiographical. I’m telling you, so that I can remind myself. This medium lends itself to telling. Telling stories, facts, opinions or the events of inspirational lives. We have to tell people things because that’s what we’re doing. We’re writing to people all over the world about how to improve their health.

As long as we remember that we’re teaching ourselves as well as others in the process, we’re not going to end up preachy. That’s the important bit. Listen to your voice and make sure it’s authentic, insightful and self-reflective.

We’re going somewhere. We don’t know all the answers, but we’re trying our best to get some clarity on some life-changing topics. We’re telling people what we’ve learned, but we’re not preaching that we have all the answers. We’re discovering together, and that’s what makes this whole thing so much fun.

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

 

 

 

Intermittent Fasting – An easy, simple and powerful aid to better health.

As with many trends in the dieting industry, us seasoned veterans apply a liberal amount of scepticism to new and rising health fads.

We know, for instance, that you’ll often only hear the good, when there are certainly hidden consequences or trade-offs that come with making these drastic changes.

It’s our job to cut the wheat (yuck) from the chaff, and make sure that we make informed decisions based on a thorough understanding of both the pros and cons.

Keto has become a massively popular dietary trend in America, and has genuinely helped epileptic patients when drugs fail, and anecdotal evidence is growing that it can help diabetics shut down a cycle of sugar dependency, lose weight and become healthier.

All well and good, but the research is up in the air.

Studies suggest that long-term, the diet is hard to stick to, and when it fails, many dieters end up back where they started. Also, what are the side-effects of a long-term high-fat, high-salt diet? Some research suggests kidney damage, dangerous blood lipid profiles, and in some cases, death. In the short term, many users can experience horrible side-effect such as serious constipation and diarrhoea, palpitations, cramping, thirst, hypoglycemia, orthostatic hypotension and low-blood pressure.

It’s all too easy to find a new diet that touts extraordinary health benefits, wrap yourself up in the concepts and notions which support it, and turn a blind eye to the criticisms. More so when we consider that the internet is an echo chamber. Youtube’s algorithms show you what you want to see. Re-affirming what you watch. It’s force feeding you a truth that you want to hear. We must remain vigilant to the comforting cotton-wool like nature of social media and video sites which wrap us up in a cosy spool of ignorance.

So, what can we do? Remain critical of dietary trends, absolutely. Search google for literature on the efficacy of Keto for example. Search for side-effects, long term success rates, dangers and limitations of current data. This will give you a much more impartial attitude to your health and hopefully lead you to some safe and healthy middle grounds.

And of course, the best way to know how effective a diet or lifestyle change is, is to try it. We perpetually offer ourselves up as lab rats, eating the latest health food and documenting the effects. Thankfully, being in an age of relative enlightenment, we usually find either something doesn’t help at all, or it helps a little, or even a lot. We’re not usually faced with things which can really make us seriously ill. Thank you ancestors for poisoning yourselves for our gain!

With that in mind, I have been trying Intermittent Fasting, which displays promising evidence for being achievable every day, simplifying a busy lifestyle, and most importantly, reducing insulin sensitivity and promoting cognitive focus!

As I said earlier, we need to be careful with these kinds of changes. Intermittent Fasting can put the body into starvation mode, slowing the metabolism and destroying the bodies ability to deliver appropriate nutrition and energy to vital organs. The impact of this can range from fatigue, brain fog and low mood, to severe eating disorders and systemic organ failure. However, this tends to become a problem when people reduce their caloric intake as well as fast and continue to do this for long periods of time – not my approach!

So I’ve been fasting for two weeks on a 16:8 plan, which means that I fast for 16 hours a day and eat in an 8 hour window. It usually means I eat at 12 and stop eating at 8, with a little give and take here and there. I usually eat 2 meals a day of a relatively good size, with my first meal containing almost no carbs from wheat, potato or rice etc and my last meal of the day may contain a moderate amount of these carbs (though I try to avoid wheat and potato as both gluten and nightshades may irritate a sensitive digestive system). This actually prevents my body from going into ketosis, which it does not tolerate well, for all of the short term side-effects already listed above.

So, what has it been like?

Well, I have been really happy with the results!

As someone who has a big sweet tooth and is a bit of an emotional eater, fasting has completely curtailed my need for sweets. I just don’t feel a craving for them anymore. I haven’t had any chocolate the whole time and I haven’t wanted any! Miraculous and probably one of my favourite things about this change. This shows that my blood sugar is more controlled and that’s really important in staving off chronic illnesses like diabetes.

My blood pressure has also come down from about 140/90 which is just about borderline high blood pressure, to anywhere from 120/ 80 – 130 -80. This is an incredible reduction in just two weeks. I tried a lot of things prior to this to bring that number down, but very little I did seemed to work. This has been such a simple change to implement and is already significantly impacting my health and well being.

My skin has cleared up. I suffered from moderate acne all of my life. I still have the occasional spot, but the number of breakouts has reduced significantly. I’m losing weight. My trousers are baggier and my stomach is flatter. I have Sebhorrheic Dermatitis which is a more severe form of dandruff, which flairs up from time to time in a very bad way. This has also reduced, though not fully disappeared yet. Joint pain had begun to set in. Periodic sharp pain in my hip and knees became less noticeable and problematic. Asthma, which I acquired recently has been barely a concern since I made this change.

Overall, I am very pleased with the progress I have been making with this change, which has also simplified my lifestyle and is really quick and easy to implement. I’m seeing real, tangible health benefits which are not coming with nasty side-effects. It almost seems too good to be true!

We’re still in the early period at the moment and the proof in how effective this change is will come after I can say I’ve managed to stick with it long-term, but so far, it’s an exciting start to better health!

Join me if you can and try it out for a week, maybe it will help you as well!

Keep safe and well,

J

The Commercialisation of Veganism

As I said in my last vegan related post, veganism has had such a warped presence in the media lately. It’s become a sign of political deviancy (definitely not always a bad thing), it’s become a trend or social statement amongst certain subcultures, but probably the most disturbing aspect of it’s image, and what has the most potential to destroy its benefits, are its aggressive commercialisation.

I believe the commercialisation of veganism is a slippery slope that takes the diet away from its root values.

Sure, it’s great that we have so many options now a days. For instance, we can get alternative milk products nearly anywhere – great for someone like me who has eliminated dairy. I can make sure I have something other than water to add to my porridge, and it means I don’t have to drink my hot drinks black all the time (though I don’t mind black coffee at all). There are so many types of tofu and other alternative meat products, and they’re getting cheaper. Even the dreaded vegan cheese is improving and I am seriously impressed with some of these options, no doubt attained through well meaning and dedicated research. All wonderful stuff.

However, I am falling into the convenience trap. I can go to any local store these days and pick up a vegan sandwich. It’s probably still healthier than the meat filled alternative, but the list of additives and preservatives in these meal deal sandwiches is, or can be, astonishing.

I am primarily a vegan for my health and secondarily for the planet and its animals. When I eat these easy-to-grab meals, I’m making a sacrifice in this aspect. These chemicals are not good for our bodies, and I now have to fend off the ever growing number of unhealthy vegan options available. This is fine if you’re not in it for the health reasons, but for me, it’s a shame to see more and more of this ‘technically vegan but not very nutritious’ commercial food being brought into our near view and within arm’s reach.

Macdonalds, the kings of convenience food, even launched a vegan meal just the other day. Again, it’s technically vegan, but it’s also deep fried. Is the market now going to become saturated with unhealthy vegan foods at the expense of one of its core tenets, health? As with most things that become popular, they tend to lose their roots, their original purpose and human benefits.

So, how do we combat this change? Campaigning is one thing, but we aren’t all into that, and many of us are using veganism as a way to recover from mental and physical illness.  We don’t have the time or energy yet to face the political and business side of commercialisation.

On the ground level, the individual only has two choices. To join groups where knowledge of healthy, free from additives foods can be found. We deserve to gain information from our like-minded peers on places that do nutritious vegan food that can still be enjoyed without cooking from scratch. Convenience doesn’t actually have to cut corners on health, but often it does and we must scan our local towns and cities intently to find those hidden gems, restaurants, diners and sandwich stores, that make the effort to produce good, nutritious food.

The other branch of focus is pretty straight forward and we attempt to do it all the time. We must try to organise our time so that we can cook healthy vegan food that we know will give us energy and help us recover from our ailments. We need to try hard to bring our enjoyment of cooking and preparation to life and to find ways to make food at home which is nutritious, simple and easy. It can be done, and like anything worth doing in life, persistence and practice makes it possible.

Well-being for the planet and the individual should remain the core focus of veganism going forward, and we can achieve this by drawing on our collective knowledge through local groups and working on our relationship with cooking and food preparation. Remember why eating vegan is important to you, perhaps even meditate and reflect on it a bit every day, so that you can focus on your goals and prepare yourself for daily success.

Good eating, cooking and learning friends,

J