Articles

From deconstructing diets, to myth busting, and everything in between, you will find it here in the articles archive. Make sure you join the newsletter to keep on top of the lates additions. 

Surprising New Discoveries Around Gut Bacteria

Uncategorized Apr 15, 2021

Research around gut flora, the bacterial tribe that dwell in our gut, is one of the hottest areas in nutritional research at this time. Kings College London, The University of Cork, UCLA, and Harvard are all blazing trails in this area right now. There are a few areas of research that have yielded some rather interesting new discoveries regarding the role these bacteria can play, some are extended way beyond the local environment, which is especially interesting.

 

Brain health and function

Now, this is one area that is really fascinating me and that I am digging further into. Some relatively recent work at UCLA  began to make surprising discoveries that gut flora can have notable influence upon how the brain works, particularly when supplementing with probiotics. The UCLA researchers used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to compare the emotional responses to pictures designed to stimulate different emotional responses. The participants were divided into two...

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Intermittent Fasting - My Discoveries and Experience So Far

Uncategorized Apr 15, 2021
Several years ago I was asked to write a piece for the Telegraph on the subject of the 5:2 diet and intermittent fasting in general. Back then I will admit that I was not exactly an avid fan back then. Roll on 4-5 years and things have changed somewhat and intermittent fasting is something I am actually experimenting with personally to great effect. I began researching it more deeply and a genuine fascination has been roused. Its early days but here is what has been reported as well as my own findings practicing this. 
 
 
Gives an added edge to weight management
So this first benefit should be quite obvious. Intermittent fasting does accelerate weight loss (within reason obviously). Now, this has nothing to do with calories, and anybody doing my ‘Diet Another Day’ programme will know how I feel about the calorie model of weight management. Intermittent fasting works on a different, and very simplistic mechanisms. What we need to remember is that our...
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3 Benefits of Dietary Fibre

Uncategorized Apr 15, 2021

We have all heard the message for years that we need to up our intake of dietary fibre, but why? What is so special about it that means we need to get more of it in. Well, there is one benefit that I am sure we are all familiar with that I wont particularly labour on - it increases digestive transit and keeps us regular and everything flowing smoothly. This is though, in my opinion, probably the least exciting benefit we get from it. There are three areas where dietary fibre can really benefit us that go far beyond just keeping things moving.

 

It increases satiety

One of the major benefits of dietary fibre is it really does help to curb our appetite and keep us full. It takes on water almost immediately. Many times its ow weight in fact and It can begin to swell. Whilst most of this happens lower down in the digestive tract, it begins to happen in the upper digestive tract too. This enlarges the stomach contents. The stomach does have stretch receptors within its walls that...

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3 Ways to reduce Sugar Cravings

Uncategorized Apr 15, 2021

Theres no escaping the fact that sugar has become the nutritional bogey man of the moment. Everywhere you look there is some mention of its many evils. Whilst some of this may well be hyperbole, it is pretty clear that reducing intake of refined sugar and excessive simple carbohydrates can benefit our health in several ways. With this in mind it is no surprise that many of you have asked me how to go about eating less, and particularly how to tackle the cravings head on. So for this piece, lets focus on that, managing cravings! These simple tools can help things along.

 

Stabilising blood sugar

Ok…I know how daft this sounds as a starting point considering the subject matter, but hear me out. Stabilising blood sugar is one of the cornerstones to nipping sugar cravings in the bud. The thing is, if we are eating a lot of high sugar foods and refined carbohydrates, then we are following a diet that pushes blood sugar up rapidly. These sugars require little digestive effort...

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Gut Bacteria and Immune Function

Uncategorized Apr 15, 2021

Gut health and gut microbiome have become massive talking points in recent years. Microbiome is another word for the bacterial colony that live in the gut synergistically with us. We provide them a safe and fertile environment in which to flourish, they provide us with a list of health benefits now becoming as long as your arm. They really do seem to deliver an effect on almost every physiological system to some degree or another.

One role that our gut flora plays that is only just becoming clear, but is looking to become a very exciting field of study indeed, is the influence that our gut flora can have upon our immunity. There certainly isn't an absolute and definitive picture of this yet as research is in its infancy, but a few key elements have become clear.

 

Our gut flora has a part  to play in immunological development

It is becoming clear hat there is a role for gut flora to play in the development of our immune system from birth. It was once thought that when we...

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Nutrition and Memory

Uncategorized Apr 15, 2021

I dont know about you, but, as the years go by, I sometimes find myself getting a little absent minded. Searching for car keys, going upstairs and completely forgetting why I went up there in the first place. These little memory lapses are one of those silly little annoyances that are harmless and no sign of any major problem. But, silliness aside, is there anything we can do for ourselves to safeguard our memory and stay sharp into older age. Well the answer is a resounding yes. Healthy lifestyle habits such as not smoking and regular exercise have been shown to offer great benefits to long term memory maintenance and the prevention of dementia. But there is of course the food that we eat, and this is one of the most powerful weapons in our arsenal. Following a healthy diet that gives a wide berth to processed food, beige refined starchy carbohydrates, hydrogenated fats, and added sugars is the obvious place to start. There are a few key nutrients however that have been widely...

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Fabulous Flavonoids

Uncategorized Apr 15, 2021

Any of you that follow my work will know that I am just a wee bit obsessed with phytochemicals. These are chemicals in plants that aren't nutrients as such, in that they aren't essential to life and we can get deficiencies of them, but they can interact with our physiology. They have been the basis of a big chunk of my work over the years.

One phytochemical group in particular that you will often hear me talking about are the flavonoids. These are one of the largest phytochemical groups. They are secondary metabolites that give very rich colour pigments in foods from deep dark purples to vivid reds.

Benefits of flavonoids:

 

Antioxidant

Flavonoids have a long standing reputation as being effective antioxidants, particularly those of the flavanol and the flavan-3-ol varieties. Exactly how flavonoids deliver their antioxidant activity is still unclear, but there are certain types of cell in the body that they seem to have an affinity for in terms of protection against free...

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What's the Deal With Turmeric

Uncategorized Apr 15, 2021

Ah turmeric, you cannot move without seeing it popping up somewhere. Get on to instagram and you will see everything from turmeric pancakes to turmeric porridge, and one of the biggest trends of the moment, turmeric latte’s (rather than than a charcoal one - yes they are a thing). Its fair to say that it has become a bit of a fad item. Its a culinary spice so using it in food isnt exactly weird, but some of the things it has made its way into has made the fad flag fly a little.

Does this mean that the claims around it are nonsense. Well, as a Herbalist I am very familiar with the traditional application of this spice. And as a nutritionist and phytochemical nerd, theres a lot going on to make this an ingredient of interest.

 

Curcuminoids

The group of compounds that are responsible for much of turmeric’s activity is the colour pigments called curcuminoids. These are responsible for the vivid orange colour of turmeric. The stuff that stains anything it comes into...

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5 Ways to Improve Gut Bacteria

Uncategorized Apr 15, 2021

Gut health certainly does seem to be the health topic of the day. Sure, its important, but I think some of the massive focus placed on it as being the single link to good health is veering towards hyperbole. But sure, there are aspects of gut health that can have huge impacts on short and long term health. One of these big keys is our gut flora.

This is the bacterial colony that naturally resides in the gut. There are up to 40 trillion bacteria living in our bodies, with most of them being in the gut. In the gut there are up to 3000 different species there, all with a role to play. It is a veritable Metropolis.

Gut flora regulate everything from the synthesis of nutrients, the digestion and absorption of food components, and also regulating our immunity. Keeping this population in good shape is important, and we are most certainly in the driving seat here. These simple steps can make a huge difference.

 

Eat a varied diet

Ok, starting with the basics, a varied diet is great for...

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Carbohydrates - What Are the Best Choices?

Uncategorized Apr 15, 2021

One of the areas of nutrition that I seem to be asked about almost on a daily basis, is carbohydrates. “Should I eat them”? “Should I cut them out”? “Should I increase them”? “what are good ones”? Etc etc. They are a part of our diet that have been hammered in the press over the years and that has lead to mass misunderstanding.

So, carbohydrates ARE an important part of our diet, and being without them can create severe problems in the long term. The real big issue in all of this is the TYPE of carbohydrates you consume, and the AMOUNT of them that you consume. This is because of the way that they influence our body in terms of the biochemical effects that they have. For so long we have always been taught to think in terms of calories, but if you recall from my piece on why we shouldn't count calories, the calorie model really doesn't tell us a lot. The items that are providing the calories in the first place can influence so many...

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