Sugar is on the tip of everyone’s tongue with heated arguments around regulating sugar, health warnings and taxes. But the big question is – will cutting sugar out of your diet really change your health?
There’s no doubt that sugar is big business; today’s consumption of added-sugars is 478.8g for men and 344.4g per week for women, which works out as an average of 16 to 11.7 teaspoons per day respectively.
The World Health Organisation and Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition in England advise:
Less than 9 teaspoons per day for men.
Less than 6 teaspoons per day for women.
Less than 3-6 teaspoons per day for children.
The sugar in our diets is almost exclusively from added-sugars hidden in foods, mostly sugar-sweetened beverages (e.g. soft drinks, milk drinks, energy drinks), and packaged and processed foods (especially cereals and baked goods). The prevalence of sugar in foods may be shocking, but food manufacturers use sugars with many different names, eg, corn syrup, maltodextrin, erythritol, brown rice syrup, agave nectar or syrup.
While a bit of honey in your tea may be harmless, regular consumption of foods laced with added sugars is a different matter. Large-scale studies of sugar-sweetened beverages have shown strong links to heart disease, obesity, and type-2 diabetes. In most cases the risks are similar in magnitude to smoking or not exercising.
Perhaps surprisingly, other diseases now strongly associated with sugar are gout, arthritis, autoimmune disease, fatty liver disease, depression and dementia.
Despite the popularity of sugar detox or reduction diets, only recently has light been shed on the health effects of quitting sugar. And it appears that detoxing sugar could indeed transform your health.
Sugar is now viewed as the new tobacco, with comparable health implications and controversy surrounding its regulation. The evidence clearly shows that too much is toxic, but many find it hard to quit. The problem is that modern, processed foods are sugar-coated, literally and figuratively. The taste buds become accustomed to the sweetness, and so a short, sharp sugar detox can be the most effective way to rehab from this sweet addiction.
Fortunately, there are natural supplements that can help rebalance blood sugars and make the ‘cold turkey’ period easier. Check out the new Viridian 7 Day Sugar Detox Kit, available at bodykind.
As a nutritional therapist I have recently noticed a growing number of new clients taking a particular type of heartburn medication called ‘proton pump inhibitors’ or PPIs. In my experience, PPIs are a concern because they can sometimes do more harm than good.
PPIs, such as omeprazole and lansoprazole, work by suppressing the formation of stomach acid. Contrary to popular belief, heartburn is rarely caused by excess stomach acid and we need stomach acid. It is required for the proper digestion of proteins and carbohydrates, for absorption of nutrients and for protection against harmful bacteria. Without stomach acid, our digestion and immune system is compromised. For this reason PPI use has been linked with deficiencies of nutrients such as B12 and magnesium. as well as increased risk of bone fracture and bacterial overgrowth in the digestive system (1-4).
So what really cases heartburn? Most often, the problem is caused by a problem with the Lower Esphageal Sphincter (LES) – a valve between the stomach and oesophagus which prevents stomach acid from escaping upwards. Even if our levels of stomach acid are low, we can experience heartburn if this valve is not functioning as it should. The proper functioning of this valve can be affected as we age. It can also be affected by the types of foods we eat, and our eating patterns and behaviours.
A Natural Approach to Heartburn
Those experiencing heartburn can benefit by addressing their diet. Including protein with each meal is helpful, because protein encourages the LES to close properly. On the other hand, fat has the opposite effect, and so fatty foods and meals are best avoided. Fizzy drinks, alcohol, chocolate and smoking also ‘loosen’ the LES, and so are best avoided.
Other foods can irritate the lining of the oesophagus, especially when acid reflux has already made this tissue sensitive. These foods include orange juice, tomatoes and spicy foods. Until heartburn is resolved, it can be helpful to avoid these particular foods.
Helpful foods include sources of soothing pectin such as almonds, apples, apricots plums, carrots and strawberries. A teaspoon of Manuka honey, taken twenty minutes before a meal, may also help to reduce symptoms by coating the oesophageal lining.
Simple lifestyle changes can also be beneficial. Wearing loose-fitting clothing, eating slowly and chewing thoroughly are all helpful measures. Eating small meals and remaining upright for at least three hours after eating can also eliminate symptoms of heartburn.
Nutritional supplements are often used in heartburn in order to protect and repair the delicate tissue of the digestive tract and to combat bacterial overgrowth. Supplements which coat and protect the digestive tract are known as ‘demulcent’ nutrients, and these include slippery elm, marshmallow root. Herbal preparations such as this have been found to improve symptoms of heartburn (5). In clinic I have also had success using deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) supplements as a powder or chewable tablet before meals. DGL seems to support the mucosal barrier, promoting healing of inflamed tissues. Glutamine, an amino acid used as fuel for the cells lining the digestive tract (6), may be also beneficial. Finally, a probiotic preparation can provide useful support, especially for those taking PPIs. Treatment with probiotics is believed to help the small bowel problems such as inflammation and bacterial overgrowth seen in those taking PPIs (7).
For those looking for a more natural approach, one of my favourite formulations is Patrick Holford Digest Pro, which provides glutamine, digestive enzymes and probiotics. Biocare’s Slippery Elm Intensive is another promising formulation combining marshmallow, DGL and slippery elm alongside other nutrients designed to support the health of the digestive tract. Alongside the right dietary and lifestyle choices, supportive supplements such as these may represent a sensible approach to addressing heartburn for those wishing to avoid long-term PPI use.
1. Jameson RL et al (2013) Proton Pump Inhibitor and Histamine 2 Receptor Antagonist Use and Vitamin B12 Deficiency. JAMA 310(22):2435-2442
2. MHRA (2012) Proton Pump Inhibitors in Long-Term Use: Reports of Hypomagnesia. Drug Safety Update 5:9. http://www.mhra.gov.uk/Safetyinformation/DrugSafetyUpdate/CON149774
Feeling sluggish after the excesses of the festive season? Do you have permanent fatigue, sore or achy muscles for no reason, skin breakouts, bad breath and plummeting energy levels or do you just feel less vibrant than you should?
A detoxification diet is seen as the ultimate health and beauty boost, especially during January post party season.
As far as detoxification is concerned the primary organs responsible are our liver and bowels. The liver and gut work together removing unwanted toxins from our body. Detoxification is the key function of the liver but it also known as the secondary organ of digestion, as it produces bile which is used to aid fat digestion. The liver needs to be able to detoxify toxins, so that they are ready to be released into the bile and the bowel needs to be healthy and moving regularly to enable these toxins to be excreted via a stool.
There are many food and supplements that can help support both these organs to do their job effectively. Eliminating the foods and drinks that challenge them is a good start and will help you move towards a healthier lifestyle. For example, fizzy drinks, cordials, caffeine and alcohol and cleaning up your diet by removing wheat, sugar, dairy, and processed foods and not forgetting drinking lots of water. The good news is that our liver is capable of regenerating itself so with a good diet, lifestyle and the right supplements there’s no reason we cannot maintain our liver function at any age.
Choline foods that are high in sulphur compounds such as onions, garlic, leeks and eggs are supportive for the liver. Eggs and soybeans are also rich in, a ‘lipotropic’ agent which in essence has a de-congesting effect on the liver and prevents the accumulation of fat, therefore helping to keep the liver functioning efficiently. Supplement formulas containing choline and other lipotropic agents are commonly used to help with liver detoxification. (1)
A human study in 2007 on adults given a choline deficient diet for up to 42 days proved that when deprived of dietary choline 77% of men and 80% of women developed fatty liver. (2)
Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts are rich in glucosinolates, which speed up the liver’s ability to detoxify. You may wish to juice some green vegetables, rich in chlorophyll, along with your apples and ginger or make a green breakfast smoothie and add some chlorella. Add turmeric to soups and stews and cinnamon to stewed fruit or porridge as both of these spices encourage the production and flow of bile to help excrete fats from the liver.
Also we must not forget the importance of keeping the bowels clean and regularly emptied, so as not to build up toxic waste. If you have a diet low in fibre then the muscles of the colon can become weak and lazy which over time can lead to chronic constipation. Refined sugars found in cakes and biscuits and white floury goods such as white bread can ferment quickly in the gut and lead to bloating, constipation and the formation of unhealthy bacteria which will impair your overall digestion. Try natural ‘live’ yoghurt to populate the gut with good bacteria. Red and processed meats, melted cheese and processed foods have a long transit time though the bowel and may block you up so avoid these when trying to detox. Make sure you eat a blend of soluble and insoluble fibre to keep things moving such as oats, barley, pears, apples, lentils, prunes, oat bran and pulses are good forms of soluble fibre. (3) Flaxseeds are a mix of both soluble and insoluble fibre and will therefore stimulate the bowel and bulk the stool to encourage elimination. If you break them up in a blender or grind them they are more effective. Not forgetting to drink plenty of water! This time of year is a great time to focus on revitalising our bodies for the year ahead.
Choline contributes to the maintenance of normal liver function.
Sex and menopausal status influence human dietary requirements for the nutrient choline.
Fischer LM, daCosta KA, Kwock L, Stewart PW, Lu TS, Stabler SP, Allen RH, Zeisel SH.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 May;85(5):1275-85.
Barley and Oat grain, Wheat bran and Rye fibre all contribute to an increase in faecal bulk. Also Wheat bran fibre contributes to an acceleration of intestinal transit.
Asthma sufferers may benefit from the addition of ginger to their usual medications, a new study suggests.
Asthma is a condition that affects the bronchial tubes which carry air to and from the lungs. In asthma sufferers, the bronchial tubes can become irritated and begin to constrict, making it difficult to breathe. Asthma triggers (such as environmental pollutants) can also create inflammation, causing a build up of mucous in the bronchial tubes. The numbers of asthma sufferers in the UK appears to be on the increase, and worryingly the UK has the highest prevalence of childhood asthma worldwide.
Despite the growing number of asthma sufferers in the UK, there have been few new treatment agents approved for asthma symptoms. Normally, medicines called beta-agonists are used, which work by relaxing the airways, opening them up and helping patients to breathe. In the recent study, however, scientists from Columba University found that certain compounds in ginger help to relax muscle in the airways, increasing the effectiveness of these prescribed medications.
The link between diet and asthma has a solid evidence base, and indeed dietary factors could explain the rising incidence of asthma in the UK. Previous population studies have suggested beneficial effects linked with fresh fruit and vegetables (2), oily fish (3) and full fat dairy products (4). Foods such as margarine and salt, on the other hand, have been linked with an increased risk of asthma and allergy (5-6). Alongside prescribed medications, it would certainly seem sensible for asthma sufferers to consider an anti-inflammatory diet as a supportive health measure.
This particular study, conducted by researchers at Columbia University, tested the effects of ginger on human tissue samples from the airways. The researchers caused the tissue samples to constrict by exposing them to acetylcholine, a compound known to cause constriction in the airways. They then tested the effects of asthma medication isoproterenol alone, and then together with three components of ginger – 6-gingerol, 8-ginerol and 6-shogoal. The tissue responses were then recorded and compared.
The results showed that combining ginger with the isoproterenol rendered the treatment significantly more effective than using isoproterenol alone. Lead author Elizabeth Townsend, PhD, concluded that the ginger compounds “act synergistically with the beta-agonist in relaxing (the airways), indicating that these compounds may provide additional relief of asthma symptoms when used in combination with beta-agonists.”
Although this study shows promise, it is likely to be some time before ginger is approved as an agent in the treatment of asthma. Nevertheless, ginger is a great addition to the diet, and is often used for nausea and digestive support, as well as its anti-inflammatory benefits. Incorporating ginger tea is an easy way of adding this spice into your daily diet. Fresh ginger root works well in stir-fries and vegetable soups. It also freezes well for later use – simply store it in the freezer and grate it from frozen.
1. Townsend AE et al (2013) Active Constituents Of Ginger Potentiate β-Agonist-Induced Relaxation Of Airway Smooth Muscle. ATS International Conference. May 2013.
2. Farchi S, Forastiere F, Agabiti N. et al Dietary factors associated with wheezing and allergic rhinitis in children. Eur Respir J 2003. 22772–780.780
3. Hodge L, Salome C, Peat J. et al Consumption of oily fish and childhood asthma risk. Med J Aust 1996. 164137–140.140
4. Wijga A H, Smit H A, Kerkhof M. et al Association of consumption of products containing milk fat with reduced asthma risk in pre‐school children: the PIAMA birth cohort study. Thorax 2003. 58567–572.572.
5. Bolte G, Frye C, Hoelscher B. et al Margarine consumption and allergy in children. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2001. 163277–279.279.
6. Pistelli R, Forastiere F, Corbo G. et al Respiratory symptoms and bronchial responsiveness are related to dietary salt intake and urinary potassium excretion in male children. Eur Respir J 1993. 6517–522.522.
IBS Awareness Month, observed every April, is an annual campaign aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of irritable bowel syndrome.
IBS is a functional gut disorder, which means that the bowel simply does not work as it should. Around 10% of the population suffers with this disorder, and sufferers can experience a number of intermittent symptoms including diarrhoea, constipation, gas, bloating and lower abdominal pain. While the condition is not thought to damage the bowel, it has a significant impact on quality of life (1).
Before IBS is diagnosed by your doctor it is important that he or she rules out other digestive conditions such as Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis which are inflammatory bowel diseases.
For many, treatments such as anti-spasmodics offered by the GP have limited success. Sufferers can be left feeling helpless, and do not always have the information they need to manage the condition.
IBS: Four Steps to Digestive Health
1. Optimise digestion
Chewing food thoroughly and eating in a slow and relaxed manner can help improve the first stage of digestion by increasing levels of digestive enzymes and helping them to work more effectively. Plant enzyme formulas, such as papaya enzymes in Caricol, may also be helpful in optimising digestion, and have been found to improve symptoms of IBS (2).
2. Restore gut bacteria
Many studies have drawn attention to a link between IBS and overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria in the gut. Probiotic formulas can help to crowd out these problem bacteria, improving digestion, decreasing inflammatory response and restoring proper balance in the digestive tract. Strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacter look particularly promising as natural agents aimed at improving symptoms of IBS (3,4).
Prebiotic foods, such as asparagus, garlic, leeks and bananas can also be helpful as a regular addition to the diet. Prebiotics feed the friendly bacteria in your gut helping it to proliferate.
3. Repair and protect
While IBS is not classed as an inflammatory condition. However, recent research published in the journal Gastroenterology has actually found ‘mini-inflammations’ in the gut mucosa of IBS patients. This inflammation is thought to upset the sensitive balance of the bowel and cause hypersensitity of the enteric nervous system leading to IBS symptoms. Lead researcher Prof. Schemann explains: “The irritated mucosa releases increased amounts of neuroactive substances such as serotonin, histamine and protease. This cocktail produced by the body could be the real cause of the unpleasant IBS complaints.”
Natural measures to help repair and protect the gut lining, such as supplementing glutamine or omega-3 oils could help reduce this localised inflammation, improving IBS symptoms.
4. Identify trigger foods
While food choices are not the cause of IBS, they can certainly trigger symptoms. Trigger foods can vary from person to person, but common culprits include wheat, fatty of fried foods, milk and coffee. Keeping a diary of your diet and symptoms can help to identify trigger foods. Eliminating possible trigger foods from your diet should be done in a safe and healthy way, and guidance from a nutritional therapist can be helpful for those who need support with this.
The management of IBS requires a personalised approach, as what works for your neighbour may not be the best option for you. It is important to persevere in order to find the right approach. Hopefully international campaigns such as IBS Awareness Month should encourage sufferers to find the information and help they need to manage the condition effectively.
1. Amouretti M et al (2006) Impact of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) on health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Gastroenterol Clin Biol. Feb;30(2):241-6.
2. Muss et al (2012) Papaya preparation (Caricol®) in digestive disorders. Biogenic Amines Vol. 26, issue 1 (2012), pp. 1–17.
3. Clarke G et al (2012) Review article: probiotics for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome – focus on lactic acid bacteria. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 35:4. pp. 403–413.
4. Technische Universitaet Muenchen (2010, August 20). Proof that a gut-wrenching complaint — irritable bowel syndrome — is not in your head. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100819141950.htm.
BetterYou Total Nutrition is a fantastic and popular product representing a new approach to nutrition for people of all ages. Containing pre sprouted Barley, whole Apple, Flaxseed, Barley Grass, Quinoa, Spirulina, Bilberry Fruit, Carrot, Tumeric and Kelp, BetterYou Total Nutrition is also rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
Total Nutrition benefits the body in 3 distinct ways:
1. Fast acting: Strong antioxidant qualities support the body’s cellular uptake of oxygen, giving the metabolism a boost shortly after ingestion.
2. Stable energy release: Pre-Sprouted Barley’s soluble fibre content becomes gelatinous, protecting its nutritional content and sustaining a stable energy and nutrient release. Pre-Sprouted Barley has the potential to generate 400% more energy than conventional Barley and contains a host of nutrients essential for health and well being.
3. Optimal absorption: The ratio of eight essential amino acids within BetterYou Total Nutrition virtually mirrors those essential for the human body to thrive ensuring optimal absorption and efficient energy distribution.
BetterYou’s Recipe Booklet by Dale Pinnock contains 14 delicious recipes to help inspire you to incorporate the superfood in our busy lifestyles. Here are two of the recipes from the Recipe Booklet by Dale Pinnock which comes free with every purchase of Total Nutrition from bodykind (whilst stocks last):
Mean Green Morning Smoothie
Mean Green Morning Smoothie Recipe No 1:
This smoothie takes little digestive effort, supply masses of energy, and provide more nutrition in one glass full, than most people get in a whole day. Despite its peculiar colour, it tastes only of fruit and will put a spring in your step, a glow in your skin, and a smile on your face.
300ml of fresh pressed apple juice 1 good handful of spinach Small handful of kale 1 banana 1 scoop of Total Nutrition Superfood
Add ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth. Take your time as the greens take slightly longer to blend than fruit.
Raw chocolate orange truffle torte recipe No 2:
Who doesn’t love chocolate? This version is packed with good fats, mineral rich chocolate, protein, bioflavonoids and antioxidants – healthy food has never tasted this good.
Raw chocolate orange truffle torte
250g mixed nuts (raw and unsalted) 150g cashew nuts (raw and unsalted) 2 scoops of Total Nutrition Superfood 5-6 pitted dates 3 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder 100g of cacao butter (cold pressed) 2 ripe avocados Zest of whole orange Juice of whole orange 1 tablespoon of honey 20g of coconut oil
In a mixer, blitz the mixed nuts, dates and 1 scoop of Total Nutrition Superfood to a coarse texture. Melt half the cacao butter over hot water and add to mixture. Mix together by hand. Add mixture to 10” tart base press firmly and allow cacao butter to help the base set in the fridge for half an hour. Using a blender, blend avocados, orange zest, orange juice, cashew nuts, honey and second scoop of Total Nutrition Superfood into a smooth silky paste. Melt remaining cacao butter and coconut oil together as before and add to the topping. Mix thoroughly and add to the base. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Content, recipes & images courtesy of the team at BetterYou.