Tuesday, 5 April 2011

How does fish oil help fat loss?

There are 5 different ways that fish oil helps you lose weight:

One: by turning off the fat storage genes and turning on the fat burning genes. When you are healthy, 80% of your food intake gets burned off as energy, 15% goes to your liver and 5% is stored as fat. However, the typical high carb diet - combined with poor quality fats - means that 80% of your food gets converted to body fat, 15% goes as energy and 5% goes to the liver. Taking a heavy dose of fish oil for a few month helps reverse this.

Two: by increasing serotonin in the brain, making you feel calmer, leading to fewer cravings. Cravings for food are caused by brain imbalance due to various stressors – poor diet, excessive exercise, not enough exercise, poor lifestyle and stress.
Serotonin is just one of many neurotransmitters in the brain – and is probably the best known. Fish oils are a good source of tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin and is found in some foods, so taking a good dose of fish oil will not only improve your mood, it will also help gain control over food choices.

Three: by inhibiting the adrenal activation of the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol.

Most stress we meet on a day-to-day basis is hardly life threatening – but, due to our unrelieved stress, a huge problem we have is that the body over reacts to quite simple stresses, blowing them out of all proportion. When the body perceives it is highly stressed, it can drive you to eat excessive amounts of carbohydrate. High carbs increase serotonin – that calming neurotransmitter. So by modulating the activation of the stress hormones you will cope with stress better and, again, have more control over food choices.

Four: by turning on the carnitine enzymes. Now these wonderful things are responsible for the metabolism of fat – they burn it up. So taking fish oils with something like acetyl-L-carnitine really gets that body burning up its stores of body fat like billy-o.

Five: They also block sugar absorption. When you eat a meal, your blood sugar rises. High blood sugar is dangerous for the brain, so the body produces insulin to rapidly reduce the blood sugar. Insulin is extremely good at its job, so after a little while, your blood sugar has dropped so low - which is also bad for the brain – that you are driven to eat something sugary (and this can be a bag of crisps or a sandwich as well as the more obvious sugary things) to rapidly raise blood sugar. And so the seesaw goes on. By taking fish oils and blocking sugar absorption, your blood sugar does not rise as much leaving you less hungry and satisfied for longer. Also when you do come to eat, you will make a better food choice because your blood sugar is not driven so low by excessive insulin. Therefore you eat less and you eat well.

What is interesting is that a high carb diet raises serotonin, which makes you feel very happy. But by constantly pushing the body to produce large amounts of insulin, eventually type 2 diabetes will develop (if other diseases don’t get there first caused by the poor nutrition of a high carb diet) and then the person is unhappy. So with a little will power and the aid of fish oils, it is possible to turn away from the sugar high that the high carb meal/snack gives again gaining real control over food choices.

But before you rush off to Boots to go and buy some fish oil it is important to consider why the government quite rightly recommends restricting the consumption of oily fish.


Genes: when we are born we all have different genes and not all of them are good genes. It is a common misconception that just because you have inherited, for example, one of the breast cancer genes you are going to go on to develop breast cancer. These problem genes have to be triggered by things like poor lifestyle, poor food choices, unrelieved stress, toxicity caused by exposure to heavy metals/pesticides/plastics etc. Now someone with very good genes may well live to a ripe old age having smoked, drunk, never exercised in their life and lived on tuna fish sandwiches. Another person living like this will be lucky to get to 50. So it is that some people have a predisposition to gain more body fat than others– and current food fashions (and the sheer easy availability of food) lead these people to trigger the gene that leads to gaining excessive body fat. Fish oils help reverse this gene. So not only can genes be triggered, they can also be turned off again.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Why the government is right to recommend restricting the intake of oily fish.

Toxicity is a huge subject because it is so omnipresent in our lives. And it is injurious to good health. But here the subject is fish oil, oily fish and just why they can be so toxic. Oily fish is sort of good for you and certainly is a very good source of omega 3. However since toxins are stored in fat, some oily fish are best avoided. These are tuna, swordfish and shark. They very big fish and are highly contaminated. The smaller the oily fish, the lower the levels of contamination, so essentially any oily fish salmon sized or smaller is OK. If salmon is to be eaten for the omega 3 content, however, source wild salmon since farmed salmon is not eating its natural food and so is not a good source.

To get enough omega 3 from the diet would entail eating an awful lot of fish, so it is easier to take a fish oil supplement. The problem is that it is very expensive to clean it properly and most companies take short cuts. Currently there are some big companies being sued for having PCBs in their fish oil (more on PCBs soon). To be sure your fish oil has been fully cleaned with non-toxic cleaners, check that the country of origin is either Norway or California. In these places, the oil has to be good by law. If there is no country of origin on the label, it is very advisable not to buy it until that is found out.

A common measure for baseline toxicity in studies is to analyse the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies and this shows that a newly born baby is born with 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in place. Studies of the Eskimo/Inuit people show high levels of toxicity (particularly heavy metals, eg mercury) – yet they live in the most pristine environment. Their toxicity is coming from the diet they live on which has a large amount of whale and seal blubber in it.

So here is a brief tour of some of the pollutants found in the seas. The list is far from entire as that would entail talking about 200 pollutants.

Heavy metals, eg lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury – which is the most poisonous of the heavy metals. There are at least 643 scientific papers linking mercury toxicity to cardiovascular disease (heart attacks, strokes, angina et al). There are at least 1,445 linking mercury to neurodegenerative diseases (eg alzheimers, parkinsons, dementia). The brain has no defence against any toxin that is fat-soluble – it crosses the blood/brain barrier.

Research has found that all cancer cells have mercury in them. And mercury leads to cancer by depleting the immune system – anything doing this increases the chances of cancer. It also increases oxidative stress (oxidisation – the simplest and best explanation is oxidisation makes things rust) while damaging DNA, which results in mutations that promote cancer. It disrupts apoptosis which is programmed cell death leading to the safe removal of sick or unhealthy (e.g. cancerous) cells. Mercury also binds with haemoglobin (the oxygen transport system in the tissues) so there is less oxygen reaching the tissues.

Another group of toxins found in the seas are the PCBs and Dioxins. There are 209 different PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) also known as congeners. They have no smell or taste and there are no natural sources. They were first used in the 1920s and production stopped in 1977 because they are so toxic. They were used in old fluorescent lighting, as coolants, in hydraulic fluids, as lubricants and flame-retardants. They were not well disposed of and get concentrated in the food chain, principally in fish. Studies in the 1970s showed they harm the neurological development of children; they are also harmful to the reproductive system and the thyroid; they harm the immune system (and are therefore carcinogenic).

Dioxins are also chlorinated chemicals with a high affinity for fats. There are 75. They are mainly man made, but are also the product of forest fires and volcanic activity (i.e. they are found in smoke). They are formed as a by-product of incomplete combustion e.g. waste incineration, cigarette smoke, car exhausts and also in the chlorine bleaching of pulp and paper and in the production of chlorinated pesticides. They are released into the wastewater where they are non soluble, so settle on plants and plankton, so working their way up the food chain.

A dioxin binds strongly to the intra cellular receptors in the nuclei of the cells throughout the body – so it easily gets to the DNA and damages it. Causing the similar disruption as the mercury does. Dioxins are known carcinogens. They are particularly bad for children and the developing foetus, causing problems in the reproductive, nervous and immune system.

To get a dioxin out of your body completely is impossible – it has a half-life of 7 years. So in 7 years, half of it has gone. 7 years later half of that half has gone. And so on. So I suppose if you stop ingesting dioxins as a child, you would clear most them from the body – but you have to be sure you are not ingesting any more!

The final group of toxins to think about is the plastics. Plastic bottles, bags, food packaging, floor coverings, furniture, car seats. These have clearly been shown to be oestrogenic in wildlife. Oestrogenic = acting on the body like female hormones do, feminising men and leading to health problems in females- eg PMS, menopausal problems, weight gain. Signs of oestrogen toxicity are fat bottoms and/or thighs. The proper term is xenoestrogens (foreign oestrogens). Their effects upon humans are only being fully studied now – and industry is busy down playing their effects, insisting that they do not pose a problem to our health.

Plastics are slow to break down and found in swirling masses in the oceans. One mass the size of Texas is found in the North Pacific gyre. Another place a large mass of floating plastic has been found is in the Amundsen Sea. This is in the Pacific sector of Antarctica thousands of miles away from the nearest urban centre. In these masses, the plastics slowly break down into smaller and smaller pieces and the birds and fishes eat them in mistake for their normal food. And so by this way plastics find their way into fish oils.

There are many other pollutants in the seas. Solvents, APEs (main source is detergents), herbicides, pesticides. The list goes on. All of them cause disease and dysfunction. So fish oils have to be cleaned of these things. What is really worrying is that some companies use Hexane to clean the oil because it is cheap. Now hexane is itself a solvent that can have neuropsychiatric effects by slowing down the impulses from the spinal chord to the arms and legs and it causes headaches.

So it is best to make sure that the country of origin is either Norway or California!


1. Oily fish are tuna, swordfish, salmon, herrings, sardines, anchovies etc. Cod, plaice or whiting, for example are white fish so are not such good sources of omega 3 – and are less toxic than some of the oily fish.
2. Most toxins are fat-soluble. Ideally the liver converts them to water-soluble form so they can be excreted. But the liver gets very overloaded by the sheer quantity of toxins in the environment alone. Never mind the other daily insults of pharmaceuticals, poor food choices, excessive alchohol etc. Another factor lies in the genes. The various toxins are rendered harmless by the liver through different pathways and genetically this capability varies from person to person. So some people have a much harder time neutralising heavy metals, for example, than others. Genetic testing is a growing market. Once the problem gene(s) are known, wise supplementation and good nutrition is vital for good detoxification.

Friday, 25 March 2011

A simple way of making yourself much healthier

Take fish oils.

We are designed to run on a good balance of the essential oils: omegas 3, 6 and 9. In the wild, our natural diet provided this. But because our diet is now heavily skewed towards the omega 6 oils (sunflower, grain fed animals etc), which are pro-inflammatory, we are no longer running on what we are genetically designed for - and so weak genes can be triggered.

So what is fish oil? It is the Omega 3 oils EPA and DHA and ALA. EPA is the part of the omega 3 oil that reduces inflammation. DHA is the part of the omega 3 oil that is in the brain and eyes and improves their function. The brain is about 60% fat – and that fat is mostly DHA. See appendix for ALA.

Here are 7 ways that fish oils are good for you:

Omega 3 oils keep the walls of the cell flexible. There are more than 100 trillion cells in the human body (!) and each cell could be viewed of as a mini factory – nutrients and messengers go in and waste goes out. With a diet full of transfats, rancid fat and skewed towards the omega 6 oils, the cells harden and cannot function efficiently. So on an individual basis, the shortage of Omega 3 in the body may have a different expressions: weight gain in some, skin problems in another (eg eczema), sleep disorders, circulation problems, brain disorders, immune dysfunction (ie leading to auto-immune conditions). The list is as long as people; hence the statement all disease known to man is improved by the addition of high quality fish oil.

The second way fish oils improve health is by balancing out eicosanoid production. Eicosanoids are signalling molecules produced throughout the body and similar to hormones, exerting complex control over many bodily functions. The family of eicosanoids most heard about is probably the prostaglandins. Eicosanoids are produced from both omega 3 and omega 6 oils and counter balance each other:

So for the body to function effectively, there needs to be an equal balance of omega 3:6 in the diet. And today’s diet makes this very difficult to achieve, resulting in a dangerous imbalance towards the problems on the right hand side column. The excess of omega 6 type eicosanoids is further exacerbated by high insulin levels, which, by a different pathway, also produces the omega 6 type of eicosanoids.

The third way fish oils improve health is by lowering C-Reactive Proteins (CRP). This is a group of proteins that increase rapidly in the blood as a response to infections and inflammation. High CRP levels damage the walls of the blood vessels and form blood clots and so can lead to heart attacks and strokes. High CRP levels are a good predictor of a recurrence of heart attacks and strokes or of an artery reclosing after being opened. People with colon cancer were found to have higher levels of CRP in their blood than those without. It seems that elevated CRP is a predictor of a high risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. So the addition of fish oil to the diet is a safe and effective way of lowering CRP levels.

Fourth way: by positively impacting upon cholesterol by lowering VLDL (very low density lipoproteins – these are the dreadful things that fur up the arteries) and raising HDLs (high density lipoproteins – a simplistic description is that these act like pan scrubbers to the arteries, clearing away plaque build up). Plaque in the arteries leads to heart attacks/strokes. Taking fish oils is a fabulous way of reducing the plaque without risking the side effects of pharmaceuticals.

Fifth way: fish oils are adaptogenic to the blood. An adaptogen is something that improves something as needed. So in this case if the blood is thin, it helps thicken it and if it is too thick, it thins it. If the blood is of good quality, it has no effect upon it, neither thickening nor thinning it. It will help reduce blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide, which helps dilate the blood vessels (the tubes in the body that carry the blood either away from or to the heart) and reduces inflammation in them.

Finally, DHA has a good effect upon the brain and the eyes . The membranes (cell walls) of the brain cells are composed of a thin double layer of fatty acid molecules - principally DHA. DHA is also the fatty acid of the retina of the eye. As previously stated, EPA and DHA are vital to keep cell walls fluid so they can function properly. DHA is used in all parts of the brain, so low levels affect motor control, memory, cognition, nervous system development (this does continue with age) and the actual function of the brain. Low levels are also associated with psychiatric disorders such as depression, anger, hostility, suicide and they are also associated with the development of Alzheimers disease and general age related decline.

Good DHA levels are absolutely critical for a pregnant or nursing mother. The placenta preferentially selects DHA from the diet to feed the growing baby’s brain and eyes. And where DHA intake is inadequate, the first child gets the best of the mother’s supplies. For subsequent children, the supply is increasingly inadequate leading to impaired intelligence/behavioural problems etc.

There is also the importance of DHA in sperm. DHA is found in the tail of the sperm. Again, its importance lies in the cell fluidity and, because it is found in the tail, good DHA levels are vital for good motility so the sperm moves both fast and strongly.

The good news is that increasing DHA levels reverses these problems – usually completely in children, sadly not always completely in adults – but always significantly.

The next blog explains why it is vital that the oil is manufactured in Norway or California to avoid toxicants. It is a fat lot of good taking fish oil that is laced with solvents!


ALA. This is the variation of omega 3 found in vegetables – for example hemp or flax. It does convert to EPA and DHA in the body. There is disagreement about the importance of ALA in brain function. At issue is the conversion of ALA to DHA (or EPA in the body). Children lack the ability to do this conversion at all. This apart, remember all omega 3 oils are very fragile and there is a real problem with rancidity with all these oils. They will not take any heat, have to be used quickly once opened and kept refrigerated – but, obviously, fish oil in capsules does not need refrigeration.. Also, just as with fish oils, you have find a source you completely trust to risk taking ALA as a supplement to avoid rancidity or toxicity.

Transfats interfere with the production of eicosanoids generally. The above is further insulted by taking NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatorys), eg Ibuprofen and Aspirin. These things work by inhibiting the production of omega 6 eicosanoids. They do reduce inflammation and pain but they seriously disrupt eicosanoid balance leading to bleeding, usually in the guts. So if, instead of reaching for a pain killer, a high quality fish oil was taken regularly, then inflammation and pain would reduce in the body making you healthier and not weaker.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Why do Polyunsaturated fats cause heart attacks?

Polyunsaturated fats, like those found in sunflower spreads, are marketed as a good thing. Crisps cooked in sunflower oil are sold as superior to others, and there are frequent quotes that ‘a diet rich in polyunsaturates improves health’ - lowering heart attack risk, reducing the incidence of cancer and cholesterol.

These fats are also known as Omega 6. The commonest are in oil form - sunflower, hemp, safflower, grapeseed, corn, soy and pumkinseed oils. What makes these oils different to monounsaturated fats or saturated fats are their chemical structure. They have a double bond between 2 or more carbon chains, hence the ‘poly’ bit. The effect of this is that they are liquid at room temperature.

There are four problems polyunsaturated fats. The first: as long as they are cold
pressed and eaten as a salad dressing or finishing oil, they aren’t quite so bad. A big problem comes when you heat them up. Because of the double bond, they are unstable oils at higher temperatures and quickly go rancid. A rancid fat is a fat chemically altered, in this case by heat - becoming full of free radicals, the toxic compounds that cause mayhem in cells and DNA, leading to mutation and therefore many horrible diseases: heart attacks and strokes, diabetes types 1 and 2, cancer, fibromyalgia, and arthiritis. The bag of crisps cooked in sunflower oil gets worse. Do you think they change the oil between heatings? Oil that is repeatedly heated and cooled becomes a transfat.

The second problem: in its natural state, a polyunsaturated fat should be liquid at room temperature. Yet we can buy sunflower oil as a spread. Something must have happened to the original oil to cause this. To make a liquid oil spread, it is heated to a high temperature and hydrogen is added, which changes its molecular structure. It becomes known as a hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat. The other name is a transfat.

Our digestive system does not have an
enzyme to digest transfats, so they wander about the blood stream undigested. And because of their new nature given to them by mankind, they leave debris (known as plaque) that clogs up the cells and fur up your arteries - leading to further risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Problem number three: both omega 3 and omega 9 oils are anti-inflammatory. Omega 6 is pro-inflammatory. This wouldn’t be a problem if the ratio between omega 3 to omega 6 was balanced between 1:4 and 1:1. These days, however, our ratio of omega 3: 6 is 1:20 or worse. One of the by-products of subsequent inflammation in the body is raised cholesterol. It is also arthritis, diabetes, asthma, allergies and all degenerative diseases - and you can only develop cancer in the presence of inflammation.

Food manufacturers make a lot of money with these products. So does the pharmaceutical industry, since doctors prescribe various drugs to counteract the effects of eating a diet rich in these fats - statins being the prime example.

Fourth problem: storage. Because they are inherently unstable, once opened they should be stored away from heat, light and exposure to air or they go rancid. And they should be used within 6 months of opening. The other types of oil – omega 9 and saturated fats are more stable and have less storage problems.

So polyunsaturated fat being good for you is patently a myth. If eaten cold it overwhelms the ratio of omega 3:6 and so, because it is pro-inflammatory, increases inflammation in the body. If it is heated, it rapidly goes rancid leading to all degenerative diseases. If it is not stored well it also goes rancid. If it is made into a spread or turned into a high-oleic oil, it is just completely and utterly bad for you. But it does make nice profits for food and pharmaceutical companies. And indeed causes heart attacks and cancer.



A good oil is oleic acid – this is found in the monounsaturated oils such as Olive oil.

In order to cash in on the health benefits of olive oil, a way has been found to
change sunflower or safflower oil into High-Oleic Sunflower or Safflower oil. These oils are as awful as transfats. When man fiddles with food, the results are very rarely good for our health – but they are exceedingly good for profits.

Vitamin E is a very good anti-oxidant to dodgy oil. But the Vitamin E must be of natural sources and not man made. The container will have such words as ‘Natural Tocopherols’ (the posh name for Vitamin E) printed on it. And you are looking for D-Delta Tocopherol, D-Gamma tocopherol etc. If the container only has D Alpha tocopherol written on it, then do not take it since this is the man made version and damaging to health. (As an aside, natural vitamin E is also very good for the uterus).

Finishing on a good note. There is one form of polyunsaturated oil which is in short supply in the diet and is very good for you and this is Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA). It is found in borage seeds or, but only feebly, in evening primrose oil (you have to take a bucket load of this to get any result). Taken with a high quality fish oil, it will reduce inflammation in the body. It may help with pre-menstrual tension and menopausal symptoms.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Can Eating Fat Aid Weight Loss??

To think that all fats are fattening and to be avoided at all costs is just not true.

Fats – well these are what you find in butter, cheese, oils and, of course animal fats and fish fats.

It is constantly drilled into us that fat is bad for us, fat is fattening and is to be eaten in as small a quantity as is possible.

However if you stop and think, the story isn’t quite so clear.

There are various types of fat. Saturated fat (evil), polyunsaturated fat (good), omega 3 (good). However, using this knowledge, people end up thinking that these tubs of Just Like Butter stuff are actually better for you than butter itself. On the other hand, it is also increasingly known that omega 3 fats are a good thing. So what I want to do is break down some of this confusion and talk a little about the various fats and, indeed, fat itself and fight its corner.

So let’s start with something simple. Some people need more fat than others. Fat is not an inherently bad thing. Fat in a meal makes you feel satisfied with the meal. The amount of fat you need to achieve this does vary from person to person (and from the amount of stress they are currently enduring – more stress = more fat needed). And so if you eat a very low fat meal, feeling very virtuous, it is a sure fire thing that you will be assailed by cravings after the meal. Some nights you will be able to resist, feel herioc and in control of your destiny; on other nights you will end up bingeing which leads to you feeling fat and guilty. So if you want to lose or maintain weight, then you need to accept your need of fat and stop beating yourself up about binges if you ignore this!

Point of fact. Blood sugar. Fat stabilises blood sugar. When your blood sugar drops, you have to rush to the biscuit barrel/bag of crisps/ snarf a fruit juice and all these things do make you fat. Stable blood sugar is a binge preventer.

All fats are not equal. It has been generally thought that fats that are liquid at room temperature are better for you than those that are solid. But, surprise, this is way too simplistic.

Let’s take butter – a saturated fat. But something very very important first:


So it is very very sensible to buy organic butter. Otherwise you will also be consuming in your butter pesticides and fungicides and chemical fertilizers. Yum yum I think not.

Now butter is a good source of Butyric acid. This scary sounding stuff is needed by the body (it is vital in maintaining the integrity of the gastro-intestinal wall. It helps suppress tumours in the colon and helps the beneficial bacteria to establish themselves) and if you do any endurance form of cardio-vascular work, then butyric acid gets very depleted. If your guts are unhealthy then this can lead to a chain reaction of events going wrong throughout the body and brain. So the Reader’s Digest version = Organic Butter is very good for you. And don’t mess about with the pretentenders!

What about Coconut oil? Another saturated fat. Well this a great source of Lauric Acid. Well Lauric acid is a bit of a wonder food. It is found in abundance in coconut oil and in breast milk.. So amongst other claims to fame it is anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, increases the immune system, speeds up metabolism (ie helps weight-loss), helps the metabolism of glucose so is good for diabetics. So perhaps rushing off to get some coconut oil right now would be an excellent idea (I’m not sure I’m allowed to say this, but I have found the Tiana brand to taste the best).

Let’s look at the dreaded animal fats. As I blarted out earlier, toxins are stored in fat. And this goes for all fat – whether it is in vegetables, fishes, animals or humans. So if you eat meat the animal of which had a short horrible life stuffed full of growth promoters never seeing the light of day, then the fat of that animal will be pretty toxic. Cheap food does come at a high price to health – both yours and the animals. However the fat of a grass fed cow, whilst not so healthy as coconut oil is still fine – if it was slaughtered in early summer it will be a good source of Omega 3 oil – and this is a very good thing indeed.

To put it another way. Man was designed to eat dead things since man was man – but the dead things we are designed to eat should have a natural life, eating things that are natural to the animal. Cows, sheep and hens are not meat eaters!

The animals that eat the best diet for them are the wild ones, so wild meats are without doubt the best. As it happens, they are low in fat. You virtually have to add fat to a wild duck! After the wild animals come organically reared ones and grass fed ones (well, not grass fed hens!). Cheaply reared meat is awful.

Having sorted out meat and birds, let’s look at fish. Let’s face it. We’ve made a right mess of the oceans, so much so that the government recommends eating oily fish only twice a week. And they talk of the huge amount of plastic waste in the oceans which pollute all fish. I repeat: toxins are stored in fat. The bigger the oily fish, the older it is and the more toxins it will have stored in it. So fish like tuna, swordfish and shark are heavily polluted. And not only with heavy metals but also with solvents, PCBs, dioxins and other contaminants. Therefore the advice is to eat oily fish salmon sized and smaller (sardines, herrings, whitebait etc). Why am I babbling on about fish? Because oily fish is an excellent source of Omega 3. But oily fish is also a good source of mercury, which is a dangerous thing.

Omega 3.. The most important fat we should eat is omega 3. When we were cave men and only ate wild things, they reckon that our intake of omega 3 roughly equalled our intake of omega 6 ie a ratio of 1:1. These days the ratio of omega 3:6 is 1:20 or even higher. This is immensely damaging to health. In point of fact, all diseases known to man are mitigated by supplementing with Omega 3 – and this is because it helps to restore the ratio of omega 3:6 to more natural levels, the ratio that we evolved to need.

Does eating fat aid weightloss? Well, you have already learnt that coconut .speeds up metabolism. Now Omega 3 switches off the fat storage genes and turns on the fat burning genes. This is a most wonderful thing! Omega 3 melts body fat. Hurrah. And boosts health.

But before you zip onto Google to buy some fish oils (for this is the other name for omega 3) just remember – all toxins are stored in fat.
And fish oils are no exception. You really do have to know the provenance of the fish oil to know if it is safe. If a fish oil was manufactured in Norway, then you will be fine.
In that country, by law, the oil has to be not only clean of heavy metals, PCBs, solvents etc but the cleaning agent has to be non-carcinogenic. If that doesn’t scare you then you are not concentrating. So I’m afraid that giving your children fish oils bought from any old shop is running a heavy risk of giving them heavy metal poisoning etc.

Assuming you have a good clean source of fish oil there are other benefits than fat loss. Fish oil is good for blood density. If your blood is too thick it thins it (ie lowers blood pressure), if it is too thin, it thickens it (ie raises very low blood pressure. This has to be a good thing. Those of you with low blood pressure – how would it be if you didn’t go dizzy everytime you stood up quickly?). The technical term for this is adaptagenic – ie it does what it needs to and does no harm if it is not needed in that department.

There are 2 sorts of fish oil = EPA and DHA. In short EPA is for inflammation in the body (high cholesterol is the result of inflammation in the body, for example), DHA is for the brain. Children need high DHA – but adults can benefit from it too.

The reliable brands of fish oil that I currently know of are Poliquin, Metagenics, Thorne. Eskimo is very variable so not trustworthy.

To gain some benefit from fish oil, you do need to take more than 1gm a day.

Readers Digest: Fish oils are fantastically good for everybody and everybody needs them and will benefit from them. They are a staple. But you must be careful of your source.

Omega 6. Well things could get very very confusing now. But rather than going down that street, I’ll just talk about what really matters.

Problem number 1 = the ratio of omega 3:6 is hopelessly skewed. So if you eat the omega 6s such as sunflower oil you further worsen the ratio. This is partly why OLIVE OIL is such a good thing. It is an omega 9 oil.

Problem number 2 = what happens when you heat oils up. This is when things turn nasty. The term is RANCIDITY. Rancid fat is as bad for you as transfats. It is the speed with which oils turn rancid with the addition of heat that matters.

So Flax and Hemp Seed Oil should not be heated at all.

Sunflower, safflower and pumpkin can be heated but only to 100° - ie use in baking.

Sesame, hazelnut and olive oil can go up to 163° = light sauteing.

Coconut (what else!!) Ghee (clarified butter, hooray), Palm oil and Lard can be used at high heat for frying or browning.

Even these fats will turn rancid if you reheat them. Repeated heating and cooling of fat changes the chemical structure to something closer to plastic.

There you are. If nothing else, just avoiding fat doesn’t help weightloss. Eating horrible fat is an unworthy thing to do. Eating good fat is a most wonderful thing to do.

So, can eating fat aid weightloss? A most emphatic YES IT CAN.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

B Vitamins

There has been quite alot of excitement in the press recently when researchers at Oxford University discovered a link between Vitamin B and Alzheimers. It is good that this is coming into the public domain. As we are about to discover, the body needs the B group of Vitamins for prevention of many of the major diseases prevalent today – and, for many of us, uptake of these B vitamins is compromised.

The B Vitamins used in the research were B6, 9 (folic acid) and 12. The latter is interesting since its main dietary sources are clams and mussels, liver, red meat, oily fish and some dairy - which puts vegans at a distinct disadvantage.

These 3 varieties of B vitamins reduce something called homocysteine in the body.

It has been known for quite a while that homocysteine is the best predictor of heart attacks and diabetes. And, to lower homocysteine you take B vitamins. These, of course cannot be patented as Statins can be. (or - unlike Statins, these cannot be patented and sold by the drugs companies).

So what is homocysteine? Well, when you eat protein, the body breaks it down and uses the methionine which whizzes about the blood stream to be used in various ways.

It is all very complex, and the following is vastly simplified. It is all about methylation, which is a bio-chemical term for the body adding or subtracting a methyl group (=1 carbon plus 3 hydrogen atoms) to all the various systems of the body to keep things running – eg it is how noradrenaline gets turned into the adrenaline that you need when that sabre toothed tiger jumps out at you.

As the body goes endlessly through this methylation process, during the conversions homocysteine is produced. Homocysteine is a poison to the body. So the body rapidly changes it to either SAMe or Glutathione using long named things like homocysteine methyltransferase, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (thankfully shortened to MTHFR) PLUS B6,9, 12 , zinc, magnesium and something else called TMG (trimethylglycine).

Well, all these chemical terms bring me out in the heebie geebies. However, I’ll batter on because it is about to get rather interesting.

What is SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine)? It is a natural anti-depressant, anti-arthritic and liver protecting agent. Glutathione is a powerful anti-aging antioxidant and detoxifying agent – ie critical in the immune system.

Also methyl groups are added to and taken away from our DNA. When not enough methylation is happening the DNA cannot properly repair itself, leaving us at higher risk from cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Unless you are a vegan, all this seems interesting, but why should it be relevant? Well, certain things reduce the methylation process in the body. The most important of which is if your pee smells if you eat asparagus. Now this is argued about. All I will say is that no, not everybody’s pee smells if they eat asparagus. And if yours does, it is extremely noticeable. Apparently is it a gene that comes from the Romans and it is dominant, so it is on the increase. This gene is called the MTHFR gene (shortened by industry insiders to The Mother Fucker Gene). So 3 paragraphs ago I said that this stuff, MTHFR, is a critical player in methylation. And if you have the gene, this pathway is broken so the body cannot use the B vitamins to complete the cycle. Eek. Also if you are on the pill, methylation is compromised.

There is good news and that is that you can take B vitamins as a supplement – but they must be in methylated form. So rushing down to Holland and Barrett to buy B Vitamins will not necessarily help (in fact if B6 is not methylated, it can cause nerve damage. Even more eeeks.) More good news: the B group of vitamins are all water soluble, like vitamin C, so if you have too many in a day, you will simply wee them away.

Bad news; here are some of the medical conditions associated with high homocysteine:

Pregnancy problems (inc miscarriages, pre-eclampsia, premature birth, infertility)



Birth defects

Cancers (breast, colon, thyroid, leukaemia etc)

Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)

Coeliac disease

H Pylori


Pernicious anaemia



Heart Attacks

Polycystic ovary disease

The list is long – the above is a small sample. And it all happens because the body is lacking the pathway to make those vital substances to keep these horrible things at bay. Yes, people get ill for genetic reasons. But there is more choice in this than the drug companies would have us believe. You do not have to get these diseases even if they are in your genes.

Avoiding genetic diseases (and cancer) is a long and inevitably complex subject – but as you see from the subject matter of this blog, sorting out your B vitamins is 1 answer. I want to finish with a very favorite quote of mine that I first heard from Jonny Bowden (who wrote books like Living the Low Carb Life): Genetics Loads the Gun. Environment Pulls the Trigger. Environment = how we live, eat, drink, breathe, rest and detoxify.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


Man is an omnivore. We are designed to eat meat, fish, fowl and vegetables. We neeeed fat. The vitamins A,D,E and K are all fat based. The most important fat in the brain is DHA (the oil omega 3, commonly known as fish oil, has 2 components, EPA and DHA).

Barely a week goes by without us being warned not to eat red meat more than twice a week. Ditto with oily fish. We are constantly told to avoid saturated fat. And this is found in the fat of animals and butter – and other natural things like coconut.

Before I get onto the subject of protein, for some mysterious reason, manufacturers are now trumpeting that they are taking transfats out of their products. Since saturated fat is apparently public enemy number one, why should this matter??? Could it be that transfats are actually more dangerous to our health than saturated fat?? (The answer, if you are in any doubt, is a most emphatic YES, transfats are far far more dangerous to health than saturated fat).

What does protein do in the body? Well it builds and repairs muscles and connective tissue. It also does other things and one of those is its use by the liver as part of the detoxification process.

A constant problem I encounter is that because people can’t see something, they assume it doesn’t matter. It is rather like the men that go to the gym and just exercise the ‘beach muscles’ = chest, biceps, quads and abs. These are the muscles they can see in the mirror. The muscles the can’t see – the back muscles, the triceps, the hamstrings are ignored. So it is with the air we breathe and the food we eat and the water we drink. Pesticides cannot be seen. Fumes from aeroplanes/cars and their tyres cannot be seen. A shortage of vital minerals and vitamins cannot be seen (well sometimes they can in the form of skin disorders, for example). The damage you do to your liver by excessive alchohol, painkiller intake or inadequate protein intake cannot be seen. What you cannot see cannot harm you. Would that this were true.

The truth of the matter is that our liver in under constant assault from a cocktail of chemicals that we breathe in, rub on ourselves, eat or drink. In the past liver detox diets that excluded protein and involved fasting were succesful. Now the liver is under such assault that to undertake such a detox is very dangerous.

So the liver deals with the myriad of toxins it encounters on a daily basis in a 2 stage process to turn that toxin into a water soluble form that can be excreted by the body in the urine, sweat or faeces. The second stage is heavily amino acid dependant. Amino acids are what proteins are made of – the body breaks down protein in the stomach and then utilises the 20 amino acids it releases.

My point is that most people start their day with grains – in the form of cereals, porridge (or) toast. Protein is eaten rarely at breakfast on a regular basis. Lunch these days is frequently a sandwich – and how much of anything can you get in a sandwich? A sliver of ham, a leaf of lettuce, a couple of slices of tomato. Instead of eating a sandwich, what if you were to eat, say, a starch-free salad ? If this were to be satisfying it would have to contain rather more than the contents of a sandwich! Then comes dinner – and for most people this is the only time of the day that they eat an appreciable amount of protein. Poor old liver.

Another all too common problem I encounter is that people can no longer tolerate all forms of protein. I frequently hear ‘I only eat chicken and salmon; I can’t stand red meat – it is the smell that puts me off!!’. Many are vegetarians. And such is the misinformation given out that all this is seen as quite acceptable – if not desirable.

So what is going on? Why does the government recommend eating red meat only twice a week? Well protein is broken down in the stomach. For this to happen the stomach needs to make hydrochloric acid (HCL) – a highly corrosive acid. One of the main building blocks of HCL is zinc. In order to function properly the body needs about 42 vitamins and minerals everyday, a plant needs 17. Chemical fertilizers rely on just 3: NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Were we to farm naturally – and this means putting rotted compost that contains vegetable matter and waste products from mammals back on the soil, we wouldn’t have a problem. But for many years farmers have been encouraged to use agro-chemicals and so most of the vital minerals are being progressively leached from the soil. The principal ones in this case are zinc, magnesium and selenium. I run a very simple test for zinc levels in the body. And I have never ever had anyone come anywhere near passing this. Zinc is one of the unseens. What I find even more amazing is people don’t seem to be bothered by a catastrophic fail. Anyway, I digress. So with a lack of zinc comes a low level of HCL production. Sometimes people produce absolutely none whatsoever. So when they eat red meat, which does require HCL to break it down, the meat enters the stomach which bashes it about a bit but the lack of HCL means it stays in there for some time before reluctantly passing through and into the small intestine and on to the large intestine. The guts are a nice, warm, bacteria rich environment. Just right to make the undigested protein rot as it passes through. Now the brain is not stupid. It knows this is happening and it will discourage you from eating first red meats and then ultimately all forms of protein of animal/fowl/fish origin.

So rotting meat passing through the digestive tract is not healthy. Neither is a lack of fibre in the diet. This means people need to eat far more vegetables than they do. Different coloured vegetables. Lots of them. Rather more at lunchtime than a sandwich will provide. Unless, of course, you have the dislocating jaw of a snake and can eat a simply huge sarnie...

So I would argue that instead of avoiding red meat, which the government apparently urges, we need to sort out why we can’t eat it. This means restoring zinc levels, healing the guts and restoring optimal HCL levels. I have also yet to meet anyone with optimal HCL levels.

HCL in the stomach is highly corrosive, and its other job, apart from breaking down protein into it’s constituent amino acids is to bathe the other foods we eat in HCL which will kill off most of the bacteria living there. This is a good thing.

Other useful things found in animal proteins are vitamin B12 and carnitines. Now carnitines are fat burning enzymes – so not all parts of food are fattening. Hurrah. BUT you do need to break the protein down to access the fat burning potential.

More good news: meat protein is what they call thermogenic. This means the body has to work quite hard to break it down and this tends to raise metabolic rate. Starchy carbs are easily broken down – bread can be digested in the mouth. So no thermogenesis from your pasta with tomato sauce or pizza marguerita.

So Eat More Dead Things - they are surprisingly good for you. And those Dead Things you currently can't eat - if you sort out why, you will become an awful lot healthier on the inside.