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Hannah Sutter

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We are all told that starch is essential for human life and indeed we have a whole food industry working towards starch being used in almost everything we eat. It is hard to buy anything that hasn’t been bulked up with starch.
Starch is fantastic for bulking up profit as it is cheap to produce but you can add on a massive margin to the consumer who has been told by the health industry that starch is essential to human life. Of course what the public aren’t told is that the studies which apparently show that starch is essential for human life are being funded by the starch companies.
Now what I can’t understand is why the nutrition profession do not make the public aware of the most basic fact of all which is that there are NO ESSENTIAL CARBS required for human life. We have essential amino acids – that is protein and we have essentially fatty acids which are fats and we have essential vitamins and minerals most of which are readily available in protein and fats. Having said that it is true that within the carbohydrate group we have leafy green vegetables which have lots of essential nutrients as do nuts seeds and some fruit.
So is it any wonder that we have health problems when the main constituent part of our diet today is based on the least essential food there is…otherwise known as STARCH. It is also not surprising to any fan of the hunter gatherer diet otherwise known as the Palaeolithic diet that guess what – if you cut out this totally unessential food you may actually improve your chances of either avoiding or minimising the risk of cancer.
Anyone that has any knowledge of early man (up till just 150,000 years ago) knows that cancer was not apparent. So to anyone with this knowledge knows that the recent study coming out of Canada showing that cancer growth can be stopped on a low carb high protein diet is not that ground breaking.
Man is quite happy living off ketones instead of glucose and what is not surprising is that certain cancer cells can only live of glucose which is the modern fuel of man. Cancer is a modern disease and will be linked to the way we live our lives today including the food we eat.
No of course the doubters out there will wave their finger at me and say “ what about all those studies showing that eating meat gives you bowel cancer ….etc. “.
Well yet again it is the food industry selling you short. Those studies are not clinical studies which mean they are making assumptions based on stats. It is true that a lot of people who eat a lot of meat will also be eating a lot of crap with their meat which is not the low carb way. Once you add in the low carb element the risk of meat – disappears.
Sad but true.
So for all you out there worrying about diabetes or cancer…go low carb and take control of your body the natural way.
The study will appear in the July issue of Cancer Research.

29 June 2011

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In May it was announced that GPs would be paid to tell their patients if they were obese.  There was the usual outcry about such schemes from either those believing that GPs are paid too much as it is or by others who had understood this to mean that GPs would be taking responsibility for the weight loss.

There is no doubt about the fact that weight loss in isolation is harder than weight loss within a proper group or network or structure. This means that you have a better chance of losing weight, whatever the method, if you have proper help.

There is also no doubt about the fact that many people are not always properly confronting their weight issues.  One
client recently admitted that even though she had been obese for many many years the trigger that made her pick up the phone to us was the moment when her doctor wrote obese in his letter to the specialist at hospital on a quite
unrelated matter. It was facing up to the reality of the situation that gave her the push to make a real change.

I think in many ways being a smoker is not so different to being obese.  Giving up the weed is not easy.  It really is about changing your habits. For many it is not going to the pub for a bit so that you break the association between alcohol and the fag.  For others it might be not going to the regular coffee break at work to stop the fag break
outside or it might be replacing the fag with the patch or the false cigarette but whatever the change
it will only work if you keep the change for life.   However, most diets  don’t really make any fundamental changes to
the way people eat or think about food. And without change – real change you can be sure that it will not last.

The low or reduced calorie diets, and boy there are a lot of them, try to make you eat less and by doing so help you lose weight. Apart from the slightly dodgy science which underpins these regimes (think metabolic rate) they also argue
that they teach you portion control. If that were true the world would be a thinner place now. We have had these diets
around for over 30 years and most fat woman today have tried them at some point.  Eating less doesn’t work in
isolation because often we will eat less but eat more often as the food we are eating is making us more hungry more regularly ( see the effect on blood sugar levels of certain foods).  Also eating less is seen as part of a diet and when the diet is over…guess what we go back to piling the food back onto our plate in abundance. Diet over ! Now let living and eating begin.  With low calorie diets the principal is that nothing is off the menu but just eat less. The Marjorie Dawes character from Little Britain is the perfect example of how to eat less but have more.  In addition this approach teaches nothing about the effects of different foods on the body. How some foods will actually stop you wanting to eat more and others will drive your body to want more.  Very salty or sweet foods will drive hunger.  Protein drives satiety. Fibre has been associated with fullness but actually performs poorly when compared with protein.

And so we see ladies on and off these well known low /reduced calorie diets blaming themselves for not losing weight and constantly paying for overpriced “diet foods” which have little or no nutrients and teach them nothing.

The next category of diet is the extreme version called the very low calorie diet or shake diet.  Their brilliant idea is
that we get you thin through starvation (think metabolic rate again but far worse) and then say, after depriving you of  food, that it  is ok but you must only ever eat up to 1200 calories a day! Well no surprises that this sort of regime
doesn’t work either. Think all of the above but now add additional problems with fear of food, deprivation and metabolic mess up!

So to really change a person’s shape you need to change what they eat and help them change for life.  This does not mean eating the same food when you were fat and when you are thin. It does not mean a little less of the same. A diet is not just for January as the famous saying goes.

 

30 May 2011

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Every day I find myself speaking to someone who is surprised
by the concept of low carb / high protein diets.  There seems to be a deep and profound belief
that we have eaten a diet low in fat and high in grains for many many years.
There is also a deep belief that somehow the low carb way of life is faddy and
weird. This deep belief is actually quite recent and we only need to go back a
short period of time to see the normality of low carb eating.

It is hard to understand how anyone would think that the
human diet is based on vegetables. It is politically safe but that should not
make it right. Actual human anthropology shows that the only food that took us
from monkeys to Homo sapiens was MEAT. And in fact it was the marrow in the
bone that really helped us develop our minds. So vegetables were not critical
to our development. I know that some experts talk about our diet being based on
tubular plants prior to our evolution into Homo sapiens but we were a different
species.

So the idea that our natural diet is based on vegetables is
a little innocent when it comes to human history. Indeed if we had stuck with
vegetables we would still be swinging from trees and living a far more primitive
life.

Even if the vegetable lover accepts the development of the
human mind was dependant on meat they appear to have a complete blank on human
history spanning over 150,000 years when we lived as hunter gatherers relying
primarily on what we could hunt and kill. Vegetables and fruit were seasonal
and grains were not even widely available. Yes for 150,000 years we were low
carbing and didn’t even know it!

But even more naïve is the idea that a high protein /low
starch diet as a means of losing fat  is
new.  We know from letters written by
Darwin that he was a great fan of what he perceived was the natural human diet –
low carb / high protein.  We also know
from The Philosopher in the Kitchen by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin first
published in 1825 that the natural solution for obesity was cutting out sugar
and starch. In addition it was also the diet of choice for the hero of Anna
Karenina, Count Vronsky which was published during the 1870s.  Leo Tolstoy recognised the use of low carb /
high protein diets for good health and obesity avoidance.

So low carb is not new or faddy. It is as old as the hills
that we walked as hunter gatherers before the industrialisation of food and
man.

9 May 2011

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Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and no doubt most of Britain will be tucking into their chocolate eggs with delight and glee to celebrate the end of lent and denial. Shortly after Easter many happy easter egg eaters will feel a little uncomfortable and decide that it is now time to lose weight for the summer or that family wedding or to fit into the mini bikini sitting at the back of the cupboard.
The first thing that many people do in their desperation to lose those extra love handles is to switch from sugar to artificial sweeteners. The shelves are now full of products stuffed with artificial sweeteners with the message that now you don’t need to miss out or sacrifice taste for your waistline.
The message that artificial sweeteners are somehow good for weight loss is one that has been around since the early days of saccharine in the 60s and 50s. Unfortunately, even though it might be an old message it is a very misleading message. The truth is that these nasty concoctions of chemists are frankly a really unpleasant side of modern food production but putting aside the issue of whether anyone should be eating complex chemical concoctions there are two critical issues which most people looking to weight are not aware of.
Firstly the body is clever but it cannot recognise sugar from sweeteners when they hit the tongue. So at the moment that your tongue picks up a sweet taste it will do what the body will always do and that is send a message to the pancreas that something sweet is about to hit the blood stream. This allows the body to prepare for a sugar hit and therefore the pancreas will release a shot of insulin to deal with the anticipated sugar in the blood stream – otherwise known as glucose. Even though there is no spike in the blood sugar levels because you have eaten a calorie free sweetener, the body has still produced insulin which is the hormone that is responsible for making us overweight. So we have the bizarre situation that insulin has been released unnecessarily and constant pressure on the pancreas can result in the over production of insulin which in turn can give rise to unnecessary fat gain and ultimately type 2 diabetes.
The second problem is that sugar is addictive and whilst it is cheaper than the other white stuff it is just as addictive. Any diet can only work if it changes the way you eat rather than simply deprives you of food for a period of time. Replacing sugar with sweeteners will not break the dependency on sweetness in your diet and that is the very issue that needs addressed. Changing this is not easy but the affects last a lifetime and not just the length of the diet.
So when you see something sweet remember that humans were only designed to eat fruit and other sweet items seasonally and frankly as a very rare treat – not an everyday affair.

23 April 2011

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Anyone who really understands human biochemistry knows that ketogenic diets are great for weight loss and in particular ketogenic diets which are natural – and by that I mean whole food – deliver the best sustainable results.  What a lot of folk don’t really understand is how ketogenic diets are also fantastic for other metabolic disorders. 

The first group of people that could really benefit from recognition of natural ketogenic diets are the diabetics and without a great deal of work we could cut the NHS bill by several hundred million and not lose a single job.  Another less well known group who are serious beneficiaries of natural ketogenic diets are epileptics. This has been well known in the US for some years now and Meryl Streep and long been a supporter of what has been defined as revised Atkins. 

The need for dieticians to become educated in ketogenic diets is desperate as they could improve the health of numerous different patients in very real and deliverable ways.  The patients they could help range from epileptics through to diabetics and now there is research that shows that cancer patients may also have real benefits from cutting out sugar and starch.

What is hard for most people wishing to live a low carb life is the lack of natural high quality products available to them to buy. Everything today is full of either sugar or starch. Indeed we find that today many companies like M and S and other well-known trusted brands are actually developing, through third party suppliers, strawberries which are extra sweet.  Too much sweet stuff makes the human body crave more and more and so the battle to lose weight becomes harder and harder. 

And for those that fear ketogenic diets do remember that the diet which man was evolved to eat is simply a ketogenic diet which has been with us for over 150,000 years and the low fat high carb option currently recommended by HM Gov has been with us for just for 20 years during which time we have got fatter than ever before….

8 April 2011

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Over last week there was a great deal of diet chat over the airways in regard to red meat and the regular returning fear of cancer.

This excitement was triggered by a recommendation by SACN (the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition) who had decided in their ultimate wisdom that notwithstanding the fact that we have evolved to eat meat in large quantities, this food is probably bad for us.

Now before we go into the studies that the SACN relied upon to make their announcement you have to remember that this same committee also announced that low fat is good for us and that eggs are bad for us.  Both these pronouncements have been quietly forgotten and no doubt in due course the latest proclamation will also be lost from the website.

When taking advice from any individual you need to look at their track record of evaluating and providing advice and the track record for SACN is poor.  The damage that the low fat message has done to the UK population is beyond calculation and there can be no doubt that the messages released by SACN have directly contributed to the obesity epidemic.

So what are these studies that tell us red meat is going to cause cancer? Are they clinical trials or are they epidemiological and if epidemiological have they been supported with smaller clinical trials…Well you can guess the answer to this.

And what adds insult to injury is that the NHS website also then recommends that we get iron from our cereal in the morning. Well let’s all be clear that the iron found in cereal packets has been added by the big cereal companies. Why don’t we just hand out vitamins and minerals in capsules to the British population to avoid eating whole unprocessed food?

Recommendation by SACN in 2011

Eat cardboard and take tablets for your minerals and vitamins

8 March 2011

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Whilst I normally restrict my ranting now to the office I have to blog on this today before I forget.

Yesterday in the US two organisations, in very different ways, announced a move to a low carb diet, Harvard Centre for Public Health and secondly American Diabetes Association, which is the US equivalent to Diabetes UK.

Harvard (a centre of excellence in public health and nutrition) announced that the US should end the low fat message.  Walter Willet, Professor of Nutrition at Harvard told the food industry that we must stop making low fat foods because they are full of carbs.

In the same week the ADA made some pretty radical changes to their dietary advice pages but did not announce anything. They simply made some significant changes.  Up till now the basic message has been the same as Diabetes UK which I attach below for all to see.  I have copied it onto my blog so that we can all remember what is and was being said to the millions of diabetics across the UK and the US for the past 15 years.

Having supported a high carb low fat message for the past 15 years, the American Diabetes Association has now decided that it is each man for himself and that there is no one diet to suit all. Indeed it emphasises that the critical issue is keeping blood glucose levels stable and refers people to one of the best known low carbers of all time, Dr Bernstein.

There is also an article called “Eating With Diabetes: 3 Approaches” lists the low-carb approach first, and then follows with “Moderate-Carb” and “Vegan/High-Carb”.  It should be highlighted that the three approaches are labelled by reference to their carb content which shows that finally the ADA has linked the illness of diabetes with the intake of carbs. Thank god – they have finally read the science.  Indeed it was re assuring to read the statement;

“Understanding the effect of carbohydrate on blood glucose levels is key to managing diabetes. The carbohydrate in food makes blood glucose levels go up.”

Finally they are getting to grips with the issue of diabetes.  But let us not forget where the problem started and who should be responsible for sorting the mess out!

8 March 2011

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Just yesterday Nora Ephron (the genius behind When Harry Met Sally and many other brilliant films) wrote a piece in the Guardian on growing old etc.  She clearly loves food and life and at the age of 70 looks pretty fantastic.

The best bit in the piece was a short rant on egg white omelettes. Nora mentions a new book on healthy diets and it is likely that she was talking about the new book by Gary Taubes which explains why low fat, high carb diets are a road to misery and poor health.  She quite rightly reminds us that food is to be enjoyed and that there is nothing enjoyable about an egg white omelette.

Most people I know that are slim after the age of 40 fall into one of the following categories:-

  • They are super fit and don’t have a day job so have bags of time to exercise intensely for 3 hours a day
  • They are naturally thin and frankly couldn’t get fat even if they tried
  • They don’t eat starch and sugar.

Life is unfair but it is good to know that Nora also knows the secret to enjoying good health in later life.

11 February 2011

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Happy New Year!

Or should I throw myself under the proverbial bus after the miserable message from the Health Minister that we are going to solve obesity in the UK by handing out money off vouchers to buy low fat high starch food?

 Dear,  oh dear. When you have the World Health Organisation actually saying that it is wrong for a government to endorse a low fat message I am even more convinced that a legal action becomes more likely. 

I had hoped after the Harvard announcement that the simple solution to obesity was cutting out sugar and starch – that someone somewhere in Whitehall might have, at very least, decided to look into this. Is it really that much to ask? 

Later on this month or in early February there will be another NHS report which will show rising obesity numbers and show that more overweight people are becoming obese. It will show that nothing appears to be working and it will blame the individuals for being lazy because that is easier than asking difficult questions.

 Let us brace ourselves for another year of eat less do more and watch Rome burn.

7 January 2011

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With every new year comes new resolutions and I am sure that many people right now are trying to work out how they are going to improve their health profile in 2011. Do they try and eat a little less and do a bit more? Perhaps the answer is to join the gym or perhaps buy a smaller plate to eat from?   What is clear is that most people will go back to the same old same old – count a few calories and hope that by some miracle that calorie counting will work.  It would be a miracle for calorie counting to work if you are several stone overweight.

But while loads of people burn cash joining the gym or calorie counting clubs it was great to hear two leading cardiologists talking about obesity and in particular the connection between carbohydrates and obesity. Finally we get some science on the radio.  If you want to listen to the interview go to:-

http://radio.theheart.org/bob-harrington-show/2010/12/10/31-atkins-diet-obesity-and-cardiovascular-disease-risk-with-dr-eric-westman

In deed if you follow this link you can listen to the conversation and you may even find that at the end of it you will agree with Dr Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health that :-

“If Americans could eliminate sugary beverages, potatoes, white bread, pasta, white rice and sugary snacks, we
would wipe out almost all the problems we have with weight and diabetes and other metabolic diseases.”

Is it not remarkable that whilst the best brains in the world all believe that the issue is starch and sugar the average person is still being told to count calories and reduce fat?

Happy New Year

30 December 2010

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