Katrina Pace Dietitian
Alcohol in moderation is ok, we tell our selves. That’s because ‘healthy’ alcohol intake is around 14 - 21 units, the scientists tell us.
Recent research from the UK gives weight to the argument that we can’t have a “one size fits all” approach for healthy drinking / eating. And for some, well, wine o’clock may be safer being a nice cup of tea!
The UK study followed 550 men and women (about 75% were men) over 30 years. Participants were about 44 years old at the start of the study. Researchers investigated the effect of alcohol on brain structure and function.
Results showed some interesting things:
All well and good. But what does this mean to us, and how does it support the “one size DOESN’T fit all” approach to healthy eating / drinking.
First we need to acknowledge that there’s still a lot we don’t fully understand about what is “safe” when it comes to alcohol. Different studies have shown different results – some show that small amounts of alcohol can be safe, even protective, and other studies seem to show the opposite.
Why is this? Can scientists really not agree? Is it all a conspiracy paid for by the wine and beer industry? Is it all a government cover-up?
No. Sorry. It’s usually just down to a difference in study design, what they were looking to test and how they tested it. If there was a standardised group of study questions and methods that scientists could only study, and we had more than one study per question we might see a bit more agreement between studies.
Looking at the research that has been done, we can see some trends that may help you make an informed choice about whether you drink or not … Take a look at your family ...
If you’re going to drink alcohol here’s some guidelines
But the last word is really that it’s better not to start at all – we just don’t know what’s safe.
Now ... where's my cuppa?
Recently we have been more and more encouraged to stop. Take a moment. Think. About food, what we are doing, what we are thinking. Some people call it “mindfulness” other people call it “being intuitive”. There is a lot said about the origins of “mindfulness” – some associate it with Eastern religions and yogi practises. Really, I think that being mindful is a human trait it is just that over time as our lives become more busy we have lost the focus on what we really need (i.e. being mindful).
So, what does it mean to be mindful? Well, being mindful means to be present in the moment, accepting things for exactly what they are without positive or negative influences. Sounds a bit mumbo-jumbo? Well, think about how you use the word in everyday conversation … “Well you have to mind the pennies”, “Be mindful of the time”, “Be mindful of their feelings”. Simply, it means “take care”. And that is what we often need to do with ourselves. But do we have the time?
Think of Dr Libby Weavers’ “Rushing Woman Syndrome”. Think of adrenal fatigue. Think of how you feel on Sunday night before the rush in to work on the Monday morning. The lists going on in your head; the wishing for 25 hours (or more) in the day but wishing to trade it all for a week on a beach. Life is busy. Life is getting more busy. Life will get even more busy unless you take some time out and be mindful. Be aware. Be intuitive.
Three quick ways to start
Awareness, intuition, mindfulness, and food.
1. Try to be aware of what you are eating and why you are eating it. Are you bored? Stressed? Hormonal? Distracted? Don’t read anything in to it – don’t think of it as a positive or negative thing. If you are eating because you are distracted, put away the ipad whilst you eat or move away from your computer at lunch. Focus on your food and enjoy the taste, smell and texture of what you are eating. Focus on when you start to feel full and stop eating when you feel that you have eaten enough. Just try to pay some attention to what is going on when you eat. You never know, you might just put your finger on a key that may change how you eat.
2. Be intuitive. Ask your body what it wants. Okay, so if it repeatedly replies “chocolate, chocolate, chocolate” you might want to think about your stress levels or hormones! But often if you sit quietly and ask your body what it would like for lunch or dinner, it will tell you. It may be eggs, a light broth, a hearty soup or baked potato. Listen to your body and feed it what it tells you. Eat lightly and listen to when your body tells you to stop eating. Are you craving foods?
3. Be mindful of what your body is trying to tell you. Often people will tell me that they crave sweet foods. Craving sweet foods can sometimes happen if you have gone too long without food, or missed a meal. Your blood sugars may have dropped and craving something sweet is your body’s way of saying “I NEED CARBS”. Another reason that sugar cravings can happen is often put down to low magnesium levels. Magnesium is very important in carbohydrate metabolism, but also used up by the body to process carbohydrates. If you are getting sugar cravings along with poor sleep and high anxiety try a magnesium supplement and see if it helps.
Allow yourself the time to be mindful. Pay attention to yourself and what you need in a positive way. Don't overthink this, just start to stop. Take a moment. Think about what your body is trying to tell you.
Winter officially starts here in New Zealand next month, but it's starting to feel mighty chilly already.
Every year I get asked about the best ways to keep healthy over the colder months.
So, here are my top 5 tips on keeping well this winter - and guess what? Probiotics are right at the top!
1. Top of the list is: Probiotics
Taking a probiotic capsule or eating probiotic foods are a great way to fortify your immune system.
One of the jobs that probiotics have is to keep the lining of your gut healthy. This is one way that the body can figh infection from bacteria and viruses.
Some of the Lactobacillus strains are particularly effective at reducing the impact of colds and flu's. Sauerkraut is a great source of Lactobacillus.
There's a great review of different probiotics right here. Although the brands are mainly American (and generally I don't recommend purchasing probiotics from overseas - it's a quality control thing!), the information about probiotic strains is really useful.
If you want to read the research yourself, I found two great reviews right here and here. And a nice wee blog post here.
2. Next comes: Vitamin C and zinc.
Up to 1000mg of vitamin C and 30 mg of zinc have been shown to reduce the impact of coughs, colds and the flu by boosting the immune system.
Remember that kiwifruit and oranges are great sources of vitamin C, but did you know that those end-of-season red capsicums are a great source too?
Head over to NZ Nutrition Foundation and check out the best sources of vitamin C and zinc.
3. Sick? Stay home!
Do you remember that old saying "Coughs and sneezes spread diseases"? Well, do you know what? They do! If you're sick then stay home.
Not only do you allow yourself adequate healing time, but you don't pass the infection on to people on the bus / at school / at the supermarket / at work ... Remember that you're (usually) not indispensable at work, and your colleagues will love you more if you have some time off and contain your bad bugs!
4. Fill up on great nutrition (and avoid the packets)
Although the nights may be getting colder and darker, don't reach for the take-aways when you're feeling tired. Get out the crock pot (or grab one on sale or from the op shop) and come home to a delicious smell of hot, home-made food, all ready to be savoured!
Cook up a big batch of home-made soup, with heaps of veggies and meat like the one we found from the Healthy Food Guide Magazine. Great for lunches or dinners.
Your body will love you for giving it natural, whole food meals packed full of great vitamins, minerals and other immune-boosting nutrients.
5. Finally, get enough sleep
Don't waste the longer evenings watching TV until the early hours.
Skipping a good night sleep means your immune system will pay - putting you at more risk of getting colds, coughs and flu's AND it has them hanging around for longer if you do get sick. You can have more of about how sleep might affect your immune system - have a read right here.
Tuck yourself up warm and have a good night sleep.
One of my top tips for making "healthy" a routine is to plan your meals.
Whether you write a quick list on the fridge, download a planner off the internet or use one of the many meal plans available ... planning MAKES LIFE EASY!
Bad things happen when you are tired and hungry ("tangry"). And at the end of the day "tangry" is an all too familiar state for many of us. And what does "tangry" result in? Snacks, chocolate, take aways and other less-healthy options.
So here are five of my best online sources of meal planners that can help you be less "tangry" and more healthy.
Did I miss out your favourite? Give me some more good sites, just comment below!
1. Tescos meal planner
Don't let the fact that this is a UK site put you off. OK so you can't buy their ingredients (unless you are in the UK obviously!), but it has a great meal planner builder which you can tailor your menu choices on.
2. My Recipes
Give you five recipes for a week. You can search the recipes or look at their plans for each week. The quick and easy drop down box gives you some nice options for quick meals, slow cook meals and 5 ingredient meals.
Taste Australia has a similar menu planner site as Tescos, but for those in the Southern Hemisphere it is easier to be more seasonal! The site allows you to take out or add ingredients to your meal plan.
Oh, how many hours could you waste on Pinterest! Well, don't waste those hours, instead use this lovely website to search up the 1000's of recipes and meal plans so you never eat another boring meal again
5. My Food Bag
Totally over it and need a rest? My Food Bag (for those in NZ) is an all ingredient meal delivery option. But even if you don't want to buy their product My Food Bag has a couple of nice features. Head to the website and you can view some of their recipes each week. "Like" them on Face book and you will often get their menu plan for the week. Use this along side Pinterest to source the recipes and you have a DIY My Food Bag option!
Fat is complex. You see there are lots of different types of fat. And then there are sub-types of fats. And probably sub-sub-types, and sub-sub-sub-types (you get where this is going so I'll stop there!).
What does this mean? Well, it means that not all fats are created equal. What may be true for one type of fat is not true for another.
And in all things dietary there is still an awful lot we don't know about fats.
But what we are starting to appreciate is that one of the links between dietary fat and diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, neurological disorders and degenerative eye diseases which are caused in part by inflammation is ... gut bugs!
Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) is what connects dietary fat, gut bacteria and inflammation.
LPS is found in abundance in the cell walls of bacteria in the gut. With the amount of bacteria in our gut this can work out to be a lot of LPS. Normally this isn’t an issue, however when put together with certain clinical pictures (such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, certain diets) LPS shifts out of the gut and in to the blood stream. In the blood stream LPS can trigger a chronic, low level inflammation response which can increase risk of insulin resistance and disease development.
This is basically how it works. And, as with anything there are still a lot of gaps in our knowledge.
But what is a “high fat diet” and do all fats in a “high fat diet” cause the same problems?
In New Zealand current recommendations are that we have about 20-35% energy from fat each day, with about 10% from saturated fats. Find out what this means
A study where one meal containing wholemeal bread spread with 50g butter showed that in healthy men this amount of fat increased LPS to a level which could lead to changes in inflammation over the long term.
Let’s put this in to context. 50g butter in one meal. A serving size for butter is 1 teaspoon, about the same size as the tip of your thumb to the first knuckle. 1 teaspoon is about 5g. So 50g butter in this study would be about 10 teaspoons. Most people would spread at least 2 teaspoons on a slice of toast.
Another study looked at 33g fat from mixed sources – butter, olive oil, margarine which again caused an increase in LPS level in healthy men.
A “Western” Diet where 40% of the total calories was from fat (about 100g fat a day) and of this about 51g (21%) was from saturated fat lead to an increase in inflammatory markers when compared to a diet containing 20% energy from fat (about 50g per day) and about 14g saturated fat.
Animal studies suggest different fats are dealt with differently, with emulsified fats (i.e. margarines) producing more LPS.
So where does this leave us?
What should we do?
Needless to say there will be more on this topic as we find out more!
Erridge, C., Attina, T., Spickett, C. M. & Webb, D. J. 2007. A high-fat meal induces low-grade endotoxemia: evidence of a novel mechanism of postprandial inflammation. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 86, 1286-1292.
Laugerette, F., Vors, C., Géloën, A., Chauvin, M.-A., Soulage, C., Lambert-Porcheron, S., Peretti, N., Alligier, M., Burcelin, R., Laville, M., Vidal, H. & Michalski, M.-C. 2011. Emulsified lipids increase endotoxemia: possible role in early postprandial low-grade inflammation. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 22, 53-59. Available: DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2009.11.011.
Moreira, A. P. B., Texeira, T. F. S., Ferreira, A. B., Peluzio, M. d. C. G. & Alfenas, R. d. C. G. 2012. Influence of a high-fat diet on gut microbiota, intestinal permeability and metabolic endotoxaemia. British Journal of Nutrition, 108, 801-809.
Murphy, E. A., Velazquez, K. T. & Herbert, K. M. 2015. Influence of high-fat diet on gut microbiota: a driving force for chronic disease risk. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, 18, 515-20. Available: DOI 10.1097/mco.0000000000000209.
Pendyala, S., Walker, J. M. & Holt, P. R. 2012. A High-Fat Diet Is Associated With Endotoxemia That Originates From the Gut. Gastroenterology, 142, 1100-1101.e2. Available: DOI 10.1053/j.gastro.2012.01.034 [Accessed 2016/11/22].
Not all headaches are created equal. So it's not surprising that different treatments work for different types of headaches.
Cluster headaches, tension headaches, sinus headaches and migraines. The National Headache Foundation has a great breakdown of different types of headaches here.
Recent research from Italy suggests that a low carb, ketogenic diet may help treat migraines but maybe not cluster or tension headaches.
The Huffington post recently published a lovely interview with the lead researcher. You can read the full research paper here.
What are ketones?
Ketones are produced in your liver as a source of energy when carbohydrates are in short supply. Ketones are used by the brain and heard in a different way to carbohydrate.
What is a ketogenic diet?
A ketogenic diet is a very low carbohydrate diet. Usually carbs are limited to under 20-40g a day. This forces the body to produce and use ketones for energy.
Why use a ketogenic diet?
Changing energy source to use ketones rather than glucose (from carbohydrate) is one reason why a ketogenic diet may help treat epilepsy. Now it looks like a ketogenic diet may play a part in treating migraines too.
Ketones and Diabetes
If you have diabetes you might have heard of ketones - as bad. Ketones that the body makes because your blood sugars are too high are bad. But ketones made by the body when blood sugars are in normal range do not cause the same damage to your body.
If you have diabetes and are thinking about trying a ketogenic diet, it is important to talk to your diabetes team and dietitian first. Ketogenic diets have been researched safely in people with type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes.
What do I need to know before starting a ketogenic diet?
Talk to us about the nutritional causes of headaches or ketogenic diets.
There are many different nutritional causes of headaches, as well as environmental triggers. Other causes include:
I don't know about you, but the end of winter my hair is almost as straw-like as at the end of summer. So now we are in Spring, a little bit of hair TLC is called for.
Packed with fermented goodies
This simple hair mask is packed with fermented goodies.
Here we go ...
1/2 cup coconut oil, organic extra virgin olive oil or sweet almond oil
(Optional 2 tbsp grated cocoa butter for extra richness)
2 tbsp milk kefir whey or yoghurt whey (strain your kefir or yoghurt through a coffee filter or cheese cloth and use the liquid that comes off)
2 tbsp kombucha scoby (yes! the scoby!)
What to do next
If you use coconut oil then melt it with the cocoa butter. If you're using one of the oils then melt the cocoa butter first then add it to the oil. If you're not using the cocoa butter then don't add it to either. Add the whey and scoby and blend using a stick blender or smoothie maker.
When it is all smooth put in a pottle or jar and pop in to the fridge to chill (remember to label it or it may get eaten!). If you have used coconut oil then stir it every 10-15 minutes as it will harden. If you've used the oils then you will just have a thick oil.
How to use
Rub about 3-4 tbsp through your hair and massage in to your scalp. Leave it on for at least an hour or ideally over night. Wash out in the morning - you might need 2 x shampoos. Use once or twice a week for thick lovely hair! Keep the rest of the mix in the fridge.
We are so happy that everyone is talking about fermented foods. Fermented foods are high in good bacteria that help digestion and gut health. And taste great!
Almost every culture in the world has its own traditional fermented foods. Known to have unique health properties, fermented foods started out being a way to preserve foods from harvest time over the cold days of winter.
As a fundraiser for Diabetes Auckland our October 17th 2016 workshop is all about the truth behind fermented foods. More information here!
Here are 4 truths you should know about fermented foods.
1. Lose more weight with Kimchi
Kimchi is cabbage fermented with garlic, ginger and chilli. It has a bit of a kick! Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish served at most meals.
In studies Kimchi has been shown to help weight loss. How does it do it? The bacteria in kimchi changes gut bacteria to favour bacteria common in lean (not overweight) people. These bacteria change how the body harvests energy and supports weight loss.
What can you do? Kimchi can be bought in health food stores and some supermarkets. Have a tablespoon of spicy kimchi at lunch and dinner. Delicious stirred in to soup or salad or served on the side.
Want to make your own? Click here
Support Kiwi made and buy some from Be Nourished or Living Goodness
2. Kombucha and diabetes
Kombucha is fermented black tea, traditional to Asia and Russia.
Research on animals has shown that drinking kombucha regularly can change enzyme activity that can reduce blood sugar rises after meals. It does this by reducing the amount of glucose that is absorbed during digestion.
How does it do this? Kombucha is high in antioxidants, polyphenols and organic acids that all affect digestion.
But wait. Commercially produced kombucha is often higher in sugar than kombucha you make yourself. Get the best health benefits by brewing your own.
We always have loads of kombucha cultures to give away. If you are in Auckland and would like some just get in touch.
3. Constipated? Drink kefir
Milk kefir tastes like a slightly sour, fizzy drinking yoghurt. Popular in India and the Middle East, milk is fermented using clumps of bacteria that look strangely like mini cabbages. Milk kefir contains a whole range of beneficial bacteria and yeasts.
Research from Turkey shows that drinking 500ml of milk kefir a day can help treat constipation.
Stop! Before you go sipping away on 500ml of milk kefir each day! Always start fermented foods slowly. Start with 100ml kefir and work your way up to 500ml over 10 days.
Contact us if you are in Auckland and would like some milk kefir grains
4. Cabbage! Why cabbage?
For the best bacteria you can’t go past fermented cabbage products such as Sauerkraut and Kimchi. But why is this?
Bacteria that hide in the folds of cabbage leaves convert natural sugars to lactic acid. Cabbage-based fermented foods are known to be high in Lactobacillus plantarum which is a superstar of the good-bacteria club.
The bacteria found in fermented cabbage can help improve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and reduce depression. Find it hard to digest cabbage? Don’t worry, fermentation makes cabbage easier to digest and so even the most tender tummies can manage it.
Curious about fermented foods?
Come along to one of our fermented foods workshops to learn more and taste some fermented foods.
Aloulou, A., Hamden, K., Elloumi, D., Ali, M. B., Hargafi, K., Jaouadi, B., Ayadi, F., Elfeki, A. & Ammar, E. 2012. Hypoglycemic and antilipidemic properties of kombucha tea in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 12, 63.
Bourrie, B. C., Willing, B. P. & Cotter, P. D. 2016. The Microbiota and Health Promoting Characteristics of the Fermented Beverage Kefir. Frontiers in microbiology, 7.
Chakravorty, S., Bhattacharya, S., Chatzinotas, A., Chakraborty, W., Bhattacharya, D. & Gachhui, R. 2016. Kombucha tea fermentation: Microbial and biochemical dynamics. International journal of food microbiology, 220, 63-72.
Han, K., Bose, S., Wang, J. h., Kim, B. S., Kim, M. J., Kim, E. J. & Kim, H. 2015. Contrasting effects of fresh and fermented kimchi consumption on gut microbiota composition and gene expression related to metabolic syndrome in obese Korean women. Molecular nutrition & food research, 59, 1004-1008.
Turan, İ., Dedeli, Ö., Bor, S. & İlter, T. 2014. Effects of a Kefir supplement on symptoms, colonic transit, and bowel satisfaction score in patients with chronic constipation: A pilot study. Turk J Gastroenterol, 25, 650-6.
Sometimes to move forwards we need to look backwards. Finding ‘new’ treatments for conditions is a really good example of this. Let’s look at the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Many people think of IBS as a modern condition, brought about by the lifestyle that we live in the late 20th/ early 21st century. Busy lives, stressful conditions, processed foods, too many medications – all things that are common to life now days. But did you know that IBS was identified as a condition in the 1820’s? Around the 1920’s to 1940’s this condition became a significant medical concern. In fact, in 1957 a review article by Dr Thomas P Almy M.D. states that IBS is a significant social concern, and functional bowel diseases rate second only to the common cold in lost production from work.
In the 1920’s we called IBS ‘mucous colitis’ and it was seen in many military personnel returning from the war. Research and case studies of the time thought that the condition was because of too many mucous producing cells found in the intestines or mucous being produced as a result of inflammation in the intestine lining. What was commented on time and time again was that people suffering with mucous colitis (IBS) were generally of the same personality type: highly anxious, worried and stressful. By the 1940’s another effect of IBS was seen; an alteration in the muscle function of the intestines (called spastic colon). From this time we see a description of mucous colitis. “Mucous colitis is considered to be a functional disorder of the colon neurogenic in origin, characterised by the excessive secretion of mucus in the stools, by marked irritability and spasticity of the colon, by excessive flatulence, localised or diffuse abdominal pain and diverse constitutional symptoms”. Sound familiar to what we call IBS today?
There has been little joy in finding the cause of IBS. Treatments since the 1940’s have remained remarkably similar, focusing on medications to reduce the spasms in the bowels and symptom management through diet. The only treatment that seeks to potentially address the underlying cause is psychological therapies such as counselling, relaxation and hypnotherapy. In the 1940’s the inflammation of the bowels was thought to be related to inflammation of the nervous system through stress and anxiety.
Dietary treatment of IBS has changed over the years. From a bland diet and bed rests (to reduce overall nutritional intake and therefore work of the digestive system) in the 1940’s to the 1970’s when lactose (milk sugar) was identified as a trigger to symptoms. However it was the 1980’s onwards that saw a real golden-era in understanding the dietary impact on IBS symptoms. It is in 1980 that we first see foods that we would now group together as FODMAP foods being implicated in symptom management. In the 1980’s as well we now see research showing changes in gut bacteria in people with IBS. In the 1990’s research on salicylates and amines (food chemicals) suggested that exclusion of these foods may help manage symptoms in people with IBS.
So where do we stand now? If we look back through the 2000’s we see that research on the low FODMAP diet for treatment of IBS flourished and we know now that about 75% of people with IBS will respond well to this diet. We also see that gut bacteria (microbiota) research is showing us that diet and stress can all affect our gut bacteria which can cause IBS. Can looking back show us where we need to look for treatment of people who don’t have any relief from the low FODMAP diet? Well, the good news is that the role of salicylates is now being investigated in the treatment of IBS symptoms. First identified in the 1990’s we have finally circled back to this group of foods as a possible missing-link if low FODMAP doesn’t help. Recent research has also shown that a low FODMAP diet can reduce histamine production in the gut. Too much histamine, or not being able to break down histamine or amines was also noted back in the 1990’s. And what about the psychological treatments of IBS? In the 1990’s hypnotherapy was the main treatment that worked. Now we have research showing that gut-directed hypnotherapy may be as effective as a low FODMAP diet for treating IBS.
So by looking backwards at the treatment of IBS we can see that current and future research is on the right track. After establishing a healthy whole food diet, a low FODMAP diet is perhaps the place to start and if this doesn’t help then investigating amine or salicylate trigger foods may be the next course of action.
What is IBS?
IBS is ‘irritable bowel syndrome’. We still don’t know fully why it happens but it is more likely to happen after a bout of gastroenteritis (tummy bug), antibiotics or a very stressful time of life.
How do I know if I have IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is characterised by tummy pain and may be accompanied by either constipation or diarrhoea, bloating or excess wind.
What should I do if I think I have IBS?
It is important that your doctor has ruled out any other cause, such as coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, gall stones, diverticular disease or bowel cancer. Go and discuss your symptoms with your doctor before you start any form of treatment, such as dietary changes.
What can I do if I have IBS?
Always make sure you are eating a healthy whole food diet. If that doesn’t help then come and talk to us at K Pace, Dietitian. We have just heard how a low FODMAP diet can help in 75% of people. Katrina has many years of experience working with people to help manage symptoms and resolve underlying gut damage caused by IBS. She can work with you to tailor the low FODMAP diet to your symptoms and investigate a low amine or low salicylate diet if needed.
So last night, in a flurry of “I can’t find my shoes”, running about 20 minutes late knowing I would get stuck in glorious Auckland rush hour traffic, I went to hear Dr Michael Mosley be interviewed by Kerre McIvor. I bought the ticket out of interest in his new book “the 8-week blood sugar diet”, sheer curiosity at seeing the man who at essence is responsible for the last 3 years of my research-life, and to support the fund raising activities of Diabetes Auckland. Oh, and I got a “free” copy of the blood sugar diet book.
Who is Dr Michael Mosley? Well, Dr Michael Mosley is indeed a Medical Doctor (MD) rather than a PhD doctor or a “bought at the 2-dollar store doctor”. Rather than being a practising medical doctor, he works for the BBC as a science journalist. I am not sure how many people outside of the BBC had heard of him until he made a documentary with Horizon, (see doco here) a scientific documentary series, all about fasting diets. And from this spawned a massive (sorry, did I say massive, I meant to say MASSIVE!) public interest in intermittent fasting diets. Oh, and a book called “The fast diet” which sold millions. I have to add at this point that there was another author, Dr Michelle Harvey (a PhD doctor and UK Dietitian) who wrote a book called the “2-day diet” which is very similar. I add in about Dr Harvey as she has actually published research about this type of diet, where as Dr Mosley is more like a walking systematic review on the topic!
Four years on, it’s time for another book from Dr Mosley. This time he has focused on type 2 diabetes and pre diabetes. The 8-week blood sugar diet is based on work done by Professor Roy Taylor in the UK. Professor Roy Taylor is perhaps one of THE biggest names in diabetes research. So let’s talk a wee bit about the 8-week blood sugar diet…
The diet itself is what we in nutrition-circles call a “VLCD”. In real words, a Very Low Calorie Diet. For 8 weeks you get a whole 800kcal each day to enjoy. Let’s put this in to context. You drink 4 whole milk flat whites a day? That’s 800kcal. Most women aged about 35 years old should have about 1800kcal a day. Most healthy-eating-based weight loss diets aim for about 1200-1400kcal a day (25% less than usual intake). VLCD’s have been researched for years (and I mean YEARS). They produce really fast weight loss. They can be hard to stick to – because of the restriction in calories, but the rapidly dropping numbers on the scales can be good to keep motivation going. This 800kcal restriction, although it sounds drastic, is not as few calories as you restrict to on other liquid diets or even on fasting days of the fasting diet. And he gives you menus developed by Dr Sarah Schenker (PhD) Registered UK Dietitian, which I have to say sound delicious!
So, what’s the trick? The trick is really what you do after the 8-week blood sugar diet. You see, the rapid weight loss of VLCD’s can be followed by equally rapid weight regain if you go back to eating the same old same old after you have stopped the diet. Dr Mosley recognises and lets us know in no uncertain terms that the maintenance plan is almost more important than the 8-week diet. He spends a lot of time in the book discussing this, and giving some good practical examples of what has worked for him. But there are 3 main points:
The true traditional mediterranean-style diet (as opposed to the current one which is probably just like what we have here) focuses on in-season fruits and vegetables, oily fish, meat, chicken and eggs, nuts, beans and pulses, olive oil, plain natural yoghurts and dairy, and wholegrain carbohydrates in moderate servings (certainly not >6 servings of bread a day). Avoiding the processed and focusing on the whole food.
Get active. Activity will help to burn energy but not enough to allow the extra block of chocolate that the weights machines tell you! Strength exercises have a longer effect on your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories) than walking or running). ALL exercise is good for your head, your stress levels and your blood pressure! (Running makes me a nicer mum!).
Sort out your head. Oh I can’t put enough emphasis on this! Whether you look at meditation, mindfulness, intuitive eating … all of these can help to sort out those bad voices in your head and help them become your cheer-squad. Dr Mosley’s book gives some great examples of how you can take small, simple steps to sort out your head.
And there he was, in person, with Kerre McIvor, about 4 rows in front of me. I have to say Kerre McIvor was rather funny. Having swanned in from MC-ing with Nigella Lawson, it surely must have been a day of contrasts for her! She guided the interview very well and made sure people stayed on topic (most of the time). Hearing things from the horse’s mouth as it were is always great and really Dr Mosley, whilst not a researcher he acknowledges, is a walking systematic review of all things obesity and weight loss. I am very glad I spent my money and got to hear him.
The bottom line. There are a number of “warnings” that Dr Mosley goes through in his book – and very responsible he is too. The main one is getting checked by your own doctor before you embark on this diet. Have a look at this, this, this and this link to have a good read of the diet first. It is one diet, and as we practice here at Nourished in Auckland ... it's important to find the right diet for you. This might be the one, or it might not be.
Don’t forget that Intermittent Fasting is one of the specialist areas that we have hoards of experience at here at Nourished in Auckland, Katrina Pace Dietitian. If you want to learn more and see if it is right for you then get in contact and book your appointment.
Katrina Pace, Dietitian
Gut bugs fascinate me. Diet and gut bugs intrigue me. Cooking is essential. Add them all together and you get a fairly interesting opinion on life! In my humble opinion.