04 August 2014

The good oil on food; recent research and how it affects you

Confused by all the conflicting food messages? This week something of a smorgasbord of research on nutrition – for those who like the facts with their breakfast. What prevents a heart attack and cancer? What you can eat to extend life and help the planet, problems with the “paleo” diet and even why green juice makes sense! And then some inspiring feedback, but first

Thought for the day

Above all else, we need to nourish our true self
For so often we make the fatal mistake 
Of identifying with our confusion
And then using it to judge and condemn ourselves
Which feeds the lack of self-love 
That so many of us suffer from today

                 Sogyal Rinpoche

There is so much exciting research coming out these days that focuses on nutrition. By taking account of it, we really can have more confidence in what to do.

Want to reduce your risk of dying by 20% and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 29%?
Then eat like vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists. According to a recent study even modest reductions of animal product consumption potentially provide significant health and environmental benefits. While non-vegetarians experienced a 20 percent higher mortality rate than vegetarians even a semi-vegetarian diet reduced emissions by 22 percent, compared with non-vegetarian diets.

Soret S, et al. Climate change mitigation and health effects of varied dietary patterns in real-life settings throughout North America. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100:490S–495S.

Green juice. To quote Crocodile Dundee, “You can live off it, but it tastes like sh..!”
I drank heaps of green juice during my own cancer recovery even though I struggled with the taste. Some people tell me they actually enjoy the drink; but either way, new evidence makes the benefits clearer.

Researchers in the USA compiled a list of 41 "powerhouse" fruits and vegetables based on their public health importance for reducing the risk of chronic diseases. They examined nutrient density and bioavailability and tested for potassium, fibre, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K.

While berries were not included in the study at all, when it came to the vegetables, the table below highlights the green ones. Put them through a juicer and you have a powerhouse drink!


Watercress 100.00
Chinese cabbage 91.99
Chard or silverbeet 89.27
Beet green 87.08
Spinach 86.43
Chicory or curly endive 73.36
Leaf lettuce 70.73
Romaine lettuce or cos 63.48

For the full list, CLICK HERE 

Di Noia J. Defining Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables: A Nutrient Density Approach. Prev Chronic Dis 2014;11:130390.

Avoid cancer with caution
A group of researchers has recommended applying the precautionary principle to food choices that probably, if not conclusively, increase cancer risk. The precautionary principle is typically applied to toxins that are likely harmful to health, but where evidence is not yet complete.

The researchers conclude that based on this approach, it is best to limit or avoid alcohol, dairy products, red and processed meat products, and meats cooked at high temperatures.

Conversely, they encourage the consumption of soy products, fruits, and vegetables.

Gonzales JF, Barnard ND, Jenkins DJ, et al. Applying the precautionary principle to nutrition and cancer. J Am Coll Nutr. Published ahead of print May 28, 2014.

How to get pesticides out of your system
This seems almost too good to be true! Research from RMIT has found eating an organic diet for a week can cause pesticide levels to drop by almost 90% in adults! However, it does make sense as most pesticides come to you through your food (although some can come through inhalation and skin absorption).

The study, led by Dr Liza Oates found participants' urinary dialkylphosphates (DAPs) measurements were 89% lower when they ate an organic diet for seven days compared to a conventional diet for the same amount of time. DAPs make up 70% to 80% of organophosphate pesticides.

The researchers noted that there is some emerging research suggesting links between chronic low-dose exposure to OPs and problems with the nervous system. They also stated that the activities of these agents are toxic to the nervous system and that “A lot of these agents were initially developed as nerve gases for chemical warfare”. Another good reason to go organic!

Oates, L et al. Reduction in urinary organophosphate pesticide metabolites in adults after a week-long organic diet. Environmental Research, July 2014, Vol 132, 105–111

The iron in meat is different to the iron in vegetables. One is significantly more likely to produce a heart attack than the other!

According to a new meta-analysis published in the Journal of Nutrition, heme iron (found in meat)

increased the risk of heart disease by 57 percent.

Researchers analyzed data from 21 international studies, which included 292,454 participants, for an average of 10 years and found that non-heme iron found in vegetables showed no relationship to risk or mortality from heart disease.

Hunnicutt J,et al. Dietary iron intake and body iron stores are associated with risk of coronary heart disease in a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. J Nutr. Published online January 8, 2014.

Fiber is far more than simple padding! It reduces the risk of dying after a heart attack

Fiber, especially fiber from grains, decreases systemic inflammation, lowers bad cholesterol, improves insulin sensitivity, and enhances healthy gut flora. High-fiber foods are also high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals -- all nutrients that are beneficial to health. 

Investigating over 4,000 people who survived a heart attack, the researchers found that a high-fiber diet was associated with a 31 percent reduction in dying from all causes and a 35 percent reduction in death from heart disease specifically.

Li S, Flint A, Pai JK, et al. Dietary fiber intake and mortality among survivors of myocardial infarction: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2014;348:2659-2671.

"Paleo" diet leads to worsening cholesterol
I have consistently spoken out suggesting the “Paleo” diet is not a good choice. A new study shows it actually worsens cholesterol levels.

After ten weeks on the Paleo diet as well as circuit training, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol increased by 12.5 mg/dL and total cholesterol by 10.1 mg/dL. Triglycerides also increased slightly. The worst outcomes were seen among the subgroup that had been the healthiest before starting the diet.

The authors noted that any improvements from the exercise program may be negated by the “Paleo” diet.

Smith MM et al. Unrestricted Paleolithic diet is associated with unfavorable changes to blood lipids in healthy subjects. Int J Exerc Sci. 2014;7:128-139.

Inspiration is the turning point that propels many people’s lives into a whole new world of recovery and good health. There is nothing like shared personal experience to provide such inspiration and it is a feature of travelling and speaking that Ruth and I are treated to meet up with many inspiring people who have amazing stories to share.

While there is always the risk of sounding egocentric in sharing positive feedback, the real wish is that it does inspire others. Both people below wrote to me personally, and when asked, were keen to share their feedback.

Finding hope and direction

I attended Ian's talk in Coffs Harbour last night in the company of my sister, my father and my father's partner. My father is seriously ill with advanced small cell carcinoma and is essentially restricted to his bed, in lots of pain with very little energy and does not currently have a good prognosis.

He was initially feeling that he would be unable to attend Ian's talk for much longer than about an hour, but because of the incredibly engaging, compelling and important messages that Ian delivered, my father stayed for the full 3 hours (an absolute miracle!).

He is now inspired to apply Ian's techniques and to pursue his valuable advice in fighting his illness. Ian has inspired and offered hope where previously little existed.

I really admired the way Ian presented and the content you covered in your talk (and gained greatly from the guided meditation). I am a scientist and I was highly impressed by the currency of the material that you presented, it gives great weight to the advice you give and the practices that you advocate. You obviously keep a very close watch on the medical literature.

On a more personal level I must compliment Ian on the 2 guided meditation sessions of the evening - they were the most powerful and rewarding that I have ever been involved in! They have inspired and motivated me to pursue further meditative practice.

Thanks so much,

Mark Graham
Coffs Harbour

Finding a new life; a new business

I attended with Gawler Foundation 5 years ago and was lucky enough to have you both (Ian and Ruth) leading most of the sessions as your live in leaders where on holiday.

Since attending the Life and Living retreat I have immersed myself in plant based foods, studied plant based nutrition and trained as a wholefoods vegan chef.  More recently I have started my own business teaching people how to cook nourishing whole foods, writing for local magazines and running in home wellness food coaching. You can check it out on my website - www.nourishfull.com 

Maddy Bellcroft (Nelson, NZ) also has published a new cookbook, The Nourishful Kitchen, that you can check out : CLICK HERE  


  1. Is there any truth in the idea that Blood type A is more suited to a vegetarian diet, while Blood Type O's are better to have meat in the diet

    1. Depends what type of illness you prefer?!
      If you want to be illness free, the evidence is pretty strong - the more fruit and vegetables, the less meat, dairy and processed foods the better. The Blood type diet is to me like the paleo diet - off the mark. A whole food, plant based diet makes sense from the literature and matches my 30 years of clinical experience.

  2. Are different blood types suited to different diets, eg Type A better vegetarian, Type O needs some meat in diet. Yes I am confused by all the different information on diets. I have hashimoto's disease and am trying to eat the right foods. Can someone help?

    1. Hashimotos is basically an autoimmune reaction. Get tested for food allergies and as Ian says go vegetarian or at least cut out red and all processed meat , junk food has to go. So does anything refined.. Exercise ,fresh air sunshine, filtered water, prayer/meditation. Get rid of known stress. Plenty of sleep.You will have 'leaky gut'. See a good Naturopath and heal it. You can recover. I widh you well. Debbi. Naturopath.

    2. Hashimotos is basically an autoimmune reaction. Get tested for food allergies and as Ian says go vegetarian or at least cut out red and all processed meat , junk food has to go. So does anything refined.. Exercise ,fresh air sunshine, filtered water, prayer/meditation. Get rid of known stress. Plenty of sleep.You will have 'leaky gut'. See a good Naturopath and heal it. You can recover. I wish you well. Debbie. Naturopath.