Monthly Archives: June 2012

diet myths debunked

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Everything you think you know about healthy eating is wrong!

By MARIA LALLY

PUBLISHED: 21:10 GMT, 24 June 2012 | UPDATED: 08:19 GMT, 25 June 2012

Low-fat salad dressing is better than mayonnaise, fat makes you fat and you can’t eat enough fruit, right? Wrong, according to the latest research.

‘When a new client comes to see me, they nearly always reel off the list of “good” things they’re doing diet-wise,’ says James Duigan, author of Clean & Lean, and personal trainer to the stars, including Elle Macpherson.

‘Each time, I shake my head and tell them these so-called “good” diet traits are sabotaging their efforts to slim.’

So if you’re trying to eat well, here’s everything you need to know (but probably didn’t)…

You should add fat to your diet: Your body absorbs nutrients better when you eat a little fat with themYou should add fat to your diet: Your body absorbs nutrients better when you eat a little fat with them

Myth: Low-fat salad dressing is good for you

Drizzling a fat-free dressing over your salad isn’t as healthy as it seems, or so says a study.

Scientists found that eating your salad alongside a little fat helps your body absorb the nutrients from the vegetables more efficiently.

‘Certain foods become healthier when eaten together,’ says nutritionist Vicki Edgson.

‘Many vegetables are fat-soluble, which means your body absorbs their nutrients better when you eat a little fat with them.’

In fact, trainer James argues you should never have a fat-free salad. ‘The more nutrients your body absorbs, the less hungry it feels, plus you’ll get fewer sugar cravings. Adding a little goat’s cheese, olive oil, avocado or nuts to your salad will make you healthier and slimmer.’

Myth: Skimmed milk is healthier

Studies show the health-boosting vitamins in full-fat milk — including vitamins A, D, E and K — are fat soluble, meaning your body absorbs them more efficiently when taken with fat. ‘It’s also worth remembering that full-fat milk isn’t even that high in fat,’ says James Duigan.

‘It only contains around four per cent of fat compared with, say, cream, which is almost 50 per cent.’

Cocoa a go-go!

Dark chocolate relaxes your blood vessels, improving bloodflow to your heart

So unless you’re drinking pints of milk every day, you’re better off sticking to full-fat milk. Vitamins A, D, E and K have been shown to keep teeth and bones healthy, and boost your immunity.

A study from Cardiff University found full-fat milk can help keep your metabolism fired up and your risk of heart disease down.

Myth: Margarine is better than butter

For years we’ve been buying margarine for its butter-like taste but with less fat and calories. Have we been wasting our time?

‘Margarine is highly processed and contains hydrogenated fats which the body can’t break down through the digestive tract and liver,’ says Vicki.

‘These types of fats are stored in the fat cells of our body, interfering with the way in which we hold on to or lose fat. Butter, on the other hand, is a natural product with barely any additives.’

‘Butter contains a natural fatty acid called CLA, which studies show helps reduce your risk of heart disease if you have a small amount each day,’ adds James.

‘CLA also enhances the flavour of your food and satisfies your appetite in a way that a bland processed spread never will.’

Myth: Only sweets contain sugar

Hold the sugar: We should be more conscious of our sugar intake than fatHold the sugar: We should be more conscious of our sugar intake than fat

‘Many women know the fat content of everything, especially if they’ve struggled with their weight,’ says James. ‘What they don’t know is the sugar content of foods.’

And, according to James, this is where the problem lies. ‘Traditionally, sugar is seen as a harmless treat, whereas fat is seen as the enemy,’ he says. ‘Our consumption of sugar has risen dramatically because as well as the obvious culprits, it’s also found in many everyday foods including yoghurts, pasta sauces and even bread.

‘Sugar is more fattening. For a start, fat really fills you up. If you eat a bowl of creamy pasta or a fry-up, you’ll become very full. Whereas you can keep eating sugar — in the form of sweets, fizzy drinks and biscuits — and never feel properly full, so it’s easy to overeat.’

Sugar is bad news for our health, too. A study from Harvard University in the U.S. found that drinking a sugary drink every day increases your risk of heart disease. Another study found a high sugar diet is linked to heart disease.

‘Sugar makes you fat because it’s the most refined form of carbohydrate,’ says Vicki. ‘It rapidly raises blood sugar levels, which affects insulin production and the rate at which the body lays down extra fat.’

Myth: Count calories to lose weight

‘Technically calories do count when it comes to keeping slim,’ says James. ‘The calories you put in (what you eat) versus calories out (how much you move around) determine weight loss or gain. However, in reality, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Take, for example, salmon and avocado.’

Both foods are high in fat (the good, heart-healthy kind) and calories. An avocado contains 275 calories and a salmon steak contains around 170 calories (compared with around 90 in a cod fillet).

‘But you’ll never get fat eating avocado and salmon,’ says James. ‘For a start, they contain omega 3 fatty acids, which as well as being heart-friendly, also help your body to burn fat more efficiently.

‘And a low-calorie diet doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy diet. Plenty of low-calorie diets are made up of nutritionally-deficient foods such as bland cereal and processed, tinned food.

‘This type of diet will leave you sluggish, unable to concentrate and craving sugar. In time, this can set up a binge/diet cycle that ruins your metabolism.’

James’s advice? ‘Just eat nutritious, wholesome foods that are as unprocessed as possible and forget about how many calories they contain.’

Myth: You can’t eat too much fruit

‘Lastly, most people assume the five-a-day message just applies to fruit, but try to eat more vegetables than fruit,’ says James.

‘Fruit is high in natural sugars, especially tropical varieties like bananas and mango and over-ripened fruit. Go for thin-skinned fruit — such as berries, pears and apples — because they contain more antioxidants.

Stock up on veg: You can have more than five-a-day Stock up on veg: You can have more than five-a-day

‘And always eat it with a little fat (such as nuts) because this will slow down the speed at which the sugar hits your bloodstream. This will keep blood sugar levels steady — sugary foods raise them rapidly causing them to crash, which leads to tiredness and cravings for more sweet food.’

Vicki adds: ‘Many people are sensitive to fruits and fruit sugars and experience bloating, wind and abdominal pain after eating too much of them. I recommend people eat more vegetables than fruit, yet most of us do it the other way around.’

Find James Duigan’s Clean & Lean cookbook at his website www.bodyism.com

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2164071/Everything-think-know-healthy-eating-wrong.html#ixzz1yneqtjoS

diet that might beat breast cancer

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A breast cancer patient refused to take powerful drugs she  was offered to stop the disease returning – and chose to depend on a spicy low-fat diet instead.

Following surgery, Vicky Sewart, 44, was worried about possible side-effects from taking the medication.

So instead, she launched herself into a health regime of exercise and specially chosen foods, including turmeric, which she claims ‘makes cancer cells commit suicide’.

Experts have warned there is little scientific evidence to back up her claims.

But Miss Sewart believes that the diet she followed after undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery was a vital part of her recovery from the disease.

Her experience will now form part of an academic study into how lifestyle can affect the body’s response to cancer.

After she was diagnosed, Miss Sewart did her own research into which foods might have a positive impact on her recovery.

And following an operation to remove a breast and lymph node four years ago, she told doctors she would not take Tamoxifen during remission but would be following her own ‘anti-cancer’ diet instead.

She said: ‘It’s very unusual for breast cancer patients not to take the drug.

‘When I told the doctors I didn’t want to take it, they just advised me to keep oestrogen out of my body, which is basically what the drug does.

 ‘The doctors absolutely will not say that the diet is going to do anything to help the cancer in any way, other than to say a healthy diet is going to help in the fight against any disease.
Recovering: A picture of Vicky in Antigua, 2008. Concerned about the side-effects of medical drug Tamoxifen Ms Sewart, 44, designed a vegan, diary free diet which included a range of superfoods from frozen berries to curry spicesRecovering: A picture of Vicky in Antigua, 2008. Concerned about the side-effects of medical drug Tamoxifen Miss Sewart, 44, designed a vegan, diary free diet which included a range of superfoods from frozen berries to curry spices

This was four years ago and I think attitudes are changing a bit now so that these ideas are running alongside the more usual treatments.

‘I believe absolutely enormously that my diet has assisted my recovery.’

Explaining her decision not to take Tamoxifen, she went on: ‘It was the worry  of the drugs and the side effects, I didn’t want to have to worry about it, I wanted  to be free.’

Turmeric, a spice used when making curry dishesTurmeric, a spice used when making curry dishes

The jewellery designer and gallery owner started her health regime with a mostly organic vegan diet, cutting out all dairy products, adding plenty of ‘super-foods’, and taking moderate exercise.

She said: ‘Fresh fruit, vegetables and juices are great, and frozen berries are fantastic as a super-food. Turmeric kind of makes cancer cells commit suicide and ginger and garlic are great to cook with.’ 

For the past four years, Miss Sewart has provided blood and urine samples and filled in regular questionnaires as part of national research into how lifestyle can help prevent the recurrence of breast cancer after surgery.

The largest study of its kind in the world, it involves 56 hospitals around the UK and 3,400 patients who have had the disease.

The full results will be published next year.

Meanwhile, Miss Sewart, from Plymouth, is hoping to mark her five-year remission next summer and is due to marry later this year.

Describing her experience of cancer, she added: ‘People can die, or come back from it and enjoy life.

‘You’ve just got to be thankful you’re still around.’

Strawberries is a superfood
Ms Sweart used ginger root in her diet

Vicky Sweart used both frozen berries like strawberries and ginger root in her diet which she claims has helped recovery from breast cancer

However, experts urged other cancer sufferers not to abandon conventional treatments.

Sara Hiom, of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘It’s not recommended that alternative therapies are  used in place of conventional medical therapy.

‘There is little scientific or medical evidence to indicate that alternative therapies are more effective than the proven treatments used by cancer specialists on the NHS.

‘We would urge anyone to talk to their specialist if they’re contemplating them.’

Dr Steve Kelly, who specialises  in breast cancer at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, said: ‘Breast cancer deaths have been going down steadily for over 20 years thanks to surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

‘But there are three things patients can do to help themselves. It doesn’t guarantee survival, but it does help.

‘The first is to exercise for 30 minutes, three days a week. The second is to not gain any weight, and the third is to reduce fat intake.

‘These things help to reduce the chance of cancer coming back. For this patient, four years on now, it is still early days.’

He added: ‘My job is not to make people have Tamoxifen, but advise people of the risks and benefits.

‘Treatment comes down to a patient, and height, weight and exercise levels are helpful in making a decision.’

Tamoxifen is Britain’s most widely-used breast cancer drug,  given to more than half of patients to stop tumours from returning after surgery.

The tablets, which cost as little as aspirin and are taken for up to five years, also prevent the development of new tumours in an unaffected breast.

The drug, originally developed as a contraceptive, is the gold standard treatment for breast cancer and has been given to millions around the world since the 1980s.

It works by blocking the female sex hormone oestrogen from fuelling the growth of tumours.

Used after surgery, it cuts the odds of the tumour returning by around 30 per cent. However, it does not work in all cases.

In contrast, the evidence for curry spices such as turmeric beating cancer mainly comes from the study of cells in a dish – while evidence from the treatment of actual patients is sparse.

In laboratory studies it seems to be able to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing, particularly in breast, bowel, stomach and skin cancers.

It has also been shown to appear to stop the spread of breast cancer cells to other parts of the body in mice

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2164034/Vicky-Sewart-The-woman-says-beating-breast-cancer-thanks-low-fat-diet-including-curry-spices–claiming-make-cancer-cells-commit-suicide.html#ixzz1ynWlAJzn

mindfulness for healthy eating

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Change your mind to change your figure: Fed up with failed diets? A new book says the key to weight-loss is learning to think differently about food

By LOUISE ATKINSON

PUBLISHED: 22:00 GMT, 17 June 2012 | UPDATED: 22:01 GMT, 17 June 2012

Whether it’s cake, cheese, crisps or biscuits, women think about food more than 200 times a day.

From ‘I’ve been so good today I deserve a chocolate’ to ‘I’m miserable and only ice cream will make me feel better’, research shows it pops into our minds twice as often as sex does.

‘For many women, food is the first thing they think of in the morning and the effect that food has had on their bodies is the last thing they think of at night,’ says meditation expert Andy Puddicombe, author of a new book called The Headspace Diet, which claims to be able to change the way you think about food — and therefore help you lose weight — in just ten days.

According to research women think about food more than 200 times a dayAccording to research women think about food more than 200 times a day

Puddicombe believes this negative chatter, much of which is learned in childhood, developed through adolescence and reinforced in adulthood, lies at the heart of our warped relationship with food. It’s the reason we’re so often unhappy with our bodies, and why diets rarely work.

The key to changing the way we think about food lies in harnessing the power of meditation to make us more ‘mindful’. Puddicombe says we need to clear the brain of unhelpful, unhealthy messages, impulses and drives surrounding food and ‘re-set’ ourselves and our mentality.

Puddicombe’s methods are based on the concept of learning to ‘observe’ your thoughts and acknowledge them — but not act on them. Through simple exercises, he promises you can escape the tyranny of emotional cravings for food. In some cases, it’s as simple as taking a little time to think before you shop, cook and eat, or just counting to ten before putting something in your mouth.

Puddicombe says before you walk into a shop you should be clear about what you are going to buy to avoid making impulse purchasesPuddicombe says before you walk into a shop you should be clear about what you are going to buy to avoid making impulse purchases

To start with, we need to identify what type of food thinker we are. Only when we recognise and acknowledge our negative thought and related eating patterns can we begin to use mindfulness to overcome them. So what sort of food thinker are you?

THE NIBBLER

You snack, nibble and graze throughout the day — whether you’re hungry or not. You reject formal diet plans because you think your way of eating is better,  but never seem to lose weight.

THE PROBLEM: You’re constantly thinking about the next snack. You’re in danger of eating too much, too often.

THE SOLUTION: Stick to three meals a day plus two healthy snacks (such as fruit, carrot sticks or oat cakes with hummus), and eat nothing else in between.

THE GORGER

The Headspace Diet claims to be able to help you lose weight in just ten daysThe Headspace Diet claims to be able to help you lose weight in just ten days

though you are desperate to lose weight, you find yourself eating in a self-destructive way, consuming large volumes of junk food or ready meals. For you, diets never last  or work.

THE PROBLEM: This pattern is driven by emotional triggers — you gorge if you feel lonely, anxious or annoyed, but by giving in to it you’ll only perpetuate self-loathing.

THE SOLUTION: Exercise to boost your self-esteem and use mindfulness skills to train your brain to regard food as sustenance, not a reward.

THE DIET JUNKIE

Atkins, Dukan, cabbage soup — you try every new diet going. Not bothered by nutritional content, you view food (or the lack of it) as the only vehicle to weight loss so you’re constantly diet-hopping.

THE PROBLEM: The lack of nutrients in your diet puts your body in ‘protective mode’ holding on to every last ounce of fat, and leaving you feeling dissatisfied and guilty.

THE SOLUTION: Stop thinking extreme dieting will help you achieve physical perfection — it won’t. Switch to a balanced diet and smaller portions.

THE BINGER

You have steely willpower and follow strict diet rules, eating healthily 90 per cent of the time, but can swing from extreme control to a moment of madness with self-destructive high-sugar binges.

TAKE TIME TO TAKE A BREATHER

Take a breather

Calm your mind. Get into the habit of setting aside ten minutes every day for a short mind-clearing exercise: sit quietly and breathe deeply, concentrating on your breathing.

Let your mind scan your body for tension and your brain for mood — be aware of everything that comes up, but don’t make any judgments.

Focus on your breathing, allowing your mind to be free and clear. This is your treat, your chance to relax and unwind — and you’ll get better at it with practise.

With time, this has been shown to increase emotional stability (so you’re less likely to comfort eat), increase body awareness (so you’ll be quicker to notice when you’re full or not really hungry), reduce stress, cravings and boost the self-regulating and decision-making areas of the brain — making your new healthy-eating plan much more likely to work.

THE PROBLEM: Binges derail all your good intentions and can have an addictive effect. This style of eating comes with emotional baggage, often including strong feelings of guilt and shame.

THE SOLUTION: Relax your strict rules and allow yourself regular treats of ‘forbidden’ foods to stop the desire for massive binges.

THE ZOMBIE

You eat out of habit and routine, barely conscious of what goes in to your mouth. Your diet is likely to be monotonous.

THE PROBLEM: You’re likely to eat highly processed, refined foods that lack nutritional value, but give you a quick fix.

THE SOLUTION: Stop eating in front of the TV or at your desk and take the time to think about what you’re putting in your mouth. Eat good food and savour every mouthful.

THE COMFORT EATER

You eat for emotional reasons, using food to fill an emotional void and distract you from painful or difficult feelings. Food makes you feel better — but only for a while.

THE PROBLEM: You’re out of touch with your hunger signals. You deny yourself good, healthy balanced meals at the expense of processed —and calorific — foods.

THE SOLUTION: Mindfulness exercises (such as pausing for ten seconds before you eat anything to allow your mind to settle) will help you to ignore the brain chatter urging you to eat when you’re not really hungry.

NOW TRY THE CHOCOLATE MEDITATION

Switch off your phone, the radio or TV — this is your opportunity to get back in touch with the food you eat rather than feeling distracted, stressed or overwhelmed.

Concentrate on the textures, smells and even the sounds as you chop, boil and sizzle. Sit at a table, take a couple of deep breaths and appreciate the food you are eating.

Curb temptations: Get back in touch with the food you eat and you might find one piece of chocolate is enoughCurb temptations: Get back in touch with the food you eat and you might find one piece of chocolate is enough

Eat slowly, chew every mouthful fully and make sure you take note of how your mind responds to the food. When you finish, instead of jumping up, stay seated for a minute or two. It’s important to do this even when you’re having a snack, so you can apply mindfulness to everything you put in your mouth.

When eating your favourite food, enjoy it with focus.If there’s a type of food (let’s say chocolate) that you really love, but struggle to eat in moderation, try this: sit quietly without distractions and think about the chocolate in front of you.

Notice how you’re feeling, pause, then slowly unwrap it and take a minute to explore it with your eyes, nose and hands and notice whether your emotions change. Put a small piece in your mouth — don’t chew! Notice the temperature and texture and savour it. This way you’ll derive more satisfaction from smaller quantities — and you may find that one piece is enough.

MAKE A LIST TO RESIST CRAVINGS

Clear your cupboards of anything that may conflict with your goals. Then write a list of healthy foods you enjoy. Before you walk into a shop, be clear you are going to buy only from the list — so no impulse purchases.

Every time you pick up something, ask yourself: ‘Is this going to help me achieve my ideal size, shape, and weight?’ If you get distracted by a craving, chose a neutral place of focus (your feet, your palms resting on the shopping trolley) and breathe deeply.

Before leaving the store, pause briefly and pat yourself on the back for making good food choices — this affirmation will seal the new neural pathways you have created  by making these different decisions.

THE HEADSPACE DIET: 10 Days To Finding Your Ideal Weight by Andy Puddicombe (Hodder & Stoughton, £12.99).

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2160660/Change-mind-change-figure.html#ixzz1y8Ti1Ail

kapha dosha weight loss

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Weight Management: Kapha

The most common type of weight gain is caused by having a slow metabolism. This is common for a person who is a classic Kapha type. Kapha dosha is comprised of the earth and water elements, so this type of individual will reflect those qualities. A Kapha person will be structurally bigger, with bigger bones and a more easy-going, stable, gentle personality.

For a Kapha person, being skinny is usually not a healthy goal. If you are prone to gain weight, and are always five to ten pounds overweight no matter how little you eat, it would go against your nature to ever be really thin. Rather, it would be better to balance your metabolism, increase your ability to digest sugars and carbohydrates by adopting a Kapha balancing diet and lifestyle, and allow your body to naturally find its ideal weight. You may not be skinny, you may always weigh five to ten pounds more than average, but you will feel better and look healthier, and you will lose most of your excess weight.

Balancing Kapha Dosha through diet

The main principle for balancing Kapha is to introduce some of the fire element into your food and lifestyle. This will balance the earthen and watery elements of Kapha dosha.

Flavor your vegetables and dhal soups with spices that are mildly pungent, such as black pepper, fresh ginger, and turmeric

Other tastes to balance Kapha dosha are the bitter and astringent tastes. These include green leafy vegetables, split mung dhal soup and other bean soups, and astringent vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. It’s important to cook your vegetables and eat them warm, rather than relying on raw vegetables. Raw vegetables are difficult to digest, whereas to balance Kapha dosha you want to eat warm, light, cooked foods.

Quinoa is an excellent grain for managing weight, as it has high protein and zinc content (4 mg of zinc per cup). But it should be cooked with a bit of ghee or olive oil, as otherwise it may be too drying.

Basmati rice is also a good grain for Kapha dosha, because it has a more drying quality than other types of rice, but quinoa is better because it has the intelligence of fire to support weight loss.

The fire element can even be added to the water you drink. If you boil your water for five minutes on the stove, you are adding the intelligence of fire to your drinking water. If you sip the water throughout the day, the intelligence of fire will permeate the molecules of water, and thus permeate your body. You won’t notice anything right away, but if you continue with this routine, in time you will feel less fatigue. This is because Kapha dosha tends to create a feeling of lethargy, and by introducing the fire element in the water, you’ll gradually feel more energetic.

If you are Kapha by nature, you’ll want to stay away from heavy, cold desserts such as ice cream and cheesecake, as these will only slow your metabolism and increase the cold, heavy qualities of Kapha in your body. Rich desserts, fried foods, foods made with refined sugar and refined flour, cold foods and drinks – all of these should be avoided if you want to balance Kapha and your weight.

Lifestyle tips for balancing Kapha

Regular exercise is the most important change you can make to improve your metabolism. The problem is that people with excessive Kapha dosha often feel somewhat complacent or even lethargic, and they might have to push themselves a little to exercise every day. Usually Kapha types need more vigorous exercise for a longer period to have the same effect as milder exercise would have on a Vata person.

Even making a habit of breathing more deeply can help charge the metabolism with more of the fire element. When Kapha dosha is out of balance, one of the first things that happens is that the person becomes a shallow breather. Deeper breathing is healthy for all body types, but especially for Kapha dosha, because deeper breathing helps wake up the body’s metabolism. When the metabolism is lower and breathing is shallow, the body’s channels get blocked and cause even more lethargy, which becomes a vicious cycle.

Don’t try to force your breathing, but just easily make a habit of breathing more deeply. Pranayama is the yogic breathing exercise that prepares the mind and body for meditation. These gentle exercises cultivate deeper breathing and help cleanse the pathways of prana, or life breath, in the body, removing obstructions and enhancing metabolism.

People with more Kapha dosha need to be sure to eat their main meal when the sun is strongest, right at noon. This is because the body’s internal digestive fire, called agni, is also strongest at noon. If you eat your main meal then, you’ll digest it more easily and create less of the waste product of digestion, the toxic ama, which blocks the channels and slows metabolism.

The digestive fire is weaker in the morning when you wake up and in the evening before bed, so breakfast and dinner should be lighter meals. An excellent breakfast for balancing metabolism for all three body-types is a cooked apple or pear with cooked prunes and figs. This breakfast choice is light and sustains most people until noon, when they can eat their heaviest meal. A healthy supper for a Kapha person might be soup made with vegetables, grains and dhal and flavored with spices such as cumin, fresh ginger, black pepper, and turmeric. Or kitcheri, a light meal made with rice and split mung dhal, is also a light Kapha-reducing meal Kapha Churna is an excellent spice mixture for balancing Kapha dosha.