25 April 2016

To snack or not to snack, that is the question

To snack or not to snack, that is the question. 

Whether 'tis nobler in the tummy to suffer

The slings and arrows of snacking regularly,

Or to take arms against a sea of temptations,

And, by opposing, end them. 

In loving awe of the Bard
 – 400 years dead this year - RIP

Do you eat regularly through the day, or stay with 3 main meals? 
With apologies to Mr. Shakespeare, strong new evidence indicates which is the better choice for everyone, and even to how overnight “fasting” for long enough can reduce breast cancer recurrences.

This week, a guest blog from Greg Fitzgerald explains what to do and why, but first

              Thought for the day

I am perfectly happy with all the people 
Who are walking around and just staring at the clouds. 
But I am looking at the ground, 
And I want to fix the pothole 

That is right in front of me before I fall in.

       Linus Torvalds – who transformed technology twice by developing Linux and Git

People today eat more food than ever and eat more frequently than ever
Despite (or because of) this, the problems of metabolism, overweight and blood sugar irregularities are worse than ever. The rates of obesity are climbing, diabetes is epidemic and chronic tiredness is universal.

It is no exaggeration to say that western society is eating itself into a stupor, chronic illness and an early grave, in that order.

Understanding Metabolism: Anabolism and Catabolism
Metabolism is the balance between two biological processes within the body called anabolism and catabolism.

On the one hand the body has to be continually renewed. New tissues, including the skin, the gut, bones and so on are continually rebuilding. This process is called anabolism. Bodybuilders are notorious for taking anabolic steroids to build bigger muscles. Well this is where the word finds its context.

Anabolism means building up and as part of this building up process, the body stores energy. Through anabolism, when food is plentiful, energy is stored in fatty tissues in a way that means it can be drawn upon later if food becomes scarce.

The second process is called catabolism. This is where the body breaks down old tissue, removes waste products and excretes them, a process closely linked to detoxification. Also, during catabolism, the body can release stored energy from those fatty tissues; a vital function when food is scarce.

For example, let us examine the metabolism of healthy bones. One type of bone cell, the osteoclast, clears away old, mottled bone - catabolism. This process is then followed by the second type of bone cell called an osteoblast, which builds new bone - anabolism. All body tissues undergo these processes, some more quickly than others. Thus the entire body replaces itself every few years.

The Importance of Catabolism
If our catabolic processes are compromised or inefficient, the cellular wastes and old, used tissue and materials are not efficiently removed, they accumulate in different parts of the body and we become toxic. What is called toxaemia results. This is where these waste products accumulate within the body tissues, fat and blood.

Toxaemia was officially accepted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in the United States in 2001. It is linked to inflammation, to premature ageing and to many chronic, degenerative diseases. It is an important thing to avoid if we wish to live a healthier, more energetic, disease-free, and of course, long life.

So what Does Snacking Have to Do with Catabolism?

When we eat, and this includes snacking, we promote anabolism, or building up, and we temporarily inhibit the process of catabolism. We divert energy away from the catabolic or clearing processes of the body and focus the body’s energy on building up.

When we do not eat, we rest our digestive system and promote detoxification and catabolism. This helps keep our bodies cleaner and less toxic, allowing our bodies to remove wastes and detoxify materials which otherwise could cause unwanted health issues.

To further illustrate this, catabolism explains why we often might notice a slightly off breath upon arising in the morning. This is because we have spent a number of hours not eating while asleep, and this has allowed the body the necessary rest to initiate its catabolic and detoxification processes. Not only is our breath stronger, but our urine is also a little darker in colour, a result of the kidneys having extra energy to help detoxify our blood.

It is also why we lose our appetite when sick, feverish, very stressed or exhausted. This is called anorexia, meaning lack of appetite. It has important survival value. Animals and young children automatically do it, but many adults and doctors encourage the opposite, which is to eat “to keep your strength up”.

Eat, fast and be merry
It is best to eat and then go without for a while. No snacking. The few hours away from all food allows our bodies to detoxify or clean the system. The body becomes less toxic, cleaner and lighter. Our normal and healthy weight is more easily attained.

Toxic hunger
Many people are on an “eat-all-day” diet. They are forever eating and drinking. Snacking is engaged in frequently. The problem is that rather than being truly hungry, they are governed by what Dr Joel Fuhrman calls “toxic hunger” in his books Eat to Live and Fasting and Eating for Health.

Toxic hunger is not true hunger, but is characterised by feelings of weakness or discomfort, headaches, light-headedness, tummy rumblings and emptiness, which the person mistakenly interprets as hunger. Toxic hunger is really a symphony of withdrawal symptoms from food addiction. Eating relieves the discomfort only briefly, but then toxic hunger reasserts itself shortly after, and more eating is engaged in perpetuating a cycle which is ruinous to health.

To eat and snack regularly this way is to invite trouble: indigestion, reflux, overweight, headaches, fatigue, nausea and later on more serious problems.

True Hunger

True hunger is felt in the mouth and throat, not in the stomach. It is associated with salivation. It is not accompanied by any form of pain or discomfort.

Those in excellent health can miss a meal completely and still feel neutral - not incapacitated by discomfort or weakness. They just feel “hungry”. They go to their meal feeling energetic but “ready to eat”.

In fact, the Native American Indians had a saying: “the hungry dog hunts best!” When hungry, it had great energy and alertness, necessary for its continued survival.

The message? 
Wait until the next meal and enjoy that meal with a genuine hunger. Then you will relish the food.

Science Proves Snacking Shortens Life (at least in Rats):
The National Institutes on Ageing conducted a study published in Science Magazine in 2002, where they fed 2 groups of rats 7,500 calories of the same each per week. One group was fed regularly throughout the day (snacking), while the other was fed only 3 times per day (non-snacking).

At the end of the study, the non-snacking rats significantly outlived the snacking ones.

If Not Hungry, Do Not Eat
When we are not hungry, it simply means our body has no need for food. Pretty obvious really! To eat because of someone else’s opinion that we need to eat a particular amount, at a particular time, or with a particular frequency, is to risk overburdening the body and increasing toxaemia.
There is no adverse consequence to missing a meal when not hungry. The opposite is true. There is great benefit. You will set in motion catabolism, thereby enhancing detoxification.

One Exception
Elite athletes engaging in high-intensity or ultra-endurance sports and training might need to modify this principle, as their routines may require the judicious use of high-nutrient snacks. However, such athletes represent only a fraction of the population.

For the average person not engaged in ultra-endurance sport, it is best to eat and then go without eating. Your health will only improve. Of course, the occasional transgression is not a problem; the problems come when snacking is a routine, habitual part of our lifestyle.

Prolonged Nightly Fasting Reduces Breast Cancer Recurrence
A new study has found that for women with early-stage breast cancer, fasting less than 13 hours per night was associated with a 36% higher risk for disease recurrence as compared with fasting 13 or more hours per night.

A nonsignificant 22% higher risk for mortality from any cause was also observed among women who fasted for shorter periods in comparison with those who fasted for 13 hours or more overnight.

"Prolonging the overnight fasting interval may be a simple, non-pharmacological strategy for reducing a person's risk of breast cancer recurrence and even other cancers," said author Catherine Marinac.

Reference: Marinac CR et al, JAMA Oncol. Published online March 31, 2016.

My Comments
While the usual cautions are being expressed given this breast cancer study is the first of its type (maybe it is not correct???), eating this way has no known risks. Given what Greg has offered above, it seems to make good sense and it is relatively easily to do.

Additional evidence suggests this pattern of night fasting might also help some people with sleep, metabolic health, weight management, or chronic disease risks – it could also be a significant part of a prevention or a wellness plan.

Night fasting does seem to be a relatively simple and useful thing women with breast cancer could do, and it does also seem to make sense for people with other cancers – no risk, quite possibly a good gain.

What to do?

Early dinner, late breakfast. For example, finish eating at 7pm, nothing to eat before 8am; or 6pm and
7am. You need a 13 hour break from food overnight. Most nights. Be gentle with yourself, but do what is ideal mostly. Or all the time if you can manage full on diligent

Early dinner, late breakfast and the job is done. An easy win for the body and good health generally.

Greg Fitzgerald is a highly qualified dual registered osteopath and chiropractor, as well as naturopath working in Southern Sydney. Greg has many years experience supervising fasting.

Link to his website; his phone number is (02) 95440445.




A unique opportunity to experience 
the deep natural peace and clarity of profound meditation

5 Day Meditation Immersion with Ian and Ruth Gawler

JUNE 2016 – Monday 6th to Friday the 10th

While this retreat will include ample instruction, the focus will be upon direct experience; finding and immersing ourselves in the deep inner peace, the regenerative power and the clarity of our own stillness.

For details CLICK HERE

18 April 2016

Do today’s veggies have less nutrients than Granny’s?

My love of gardening really began with my Grandmother. While my mother was a keen gardener and I grew up amidst suburban gardens, my Granny had her backyard filled with veggies, fruit trees and quite a few ornamentals. Helping her as a teenager was a delight; and the veggies tasted terrific.

So how do today’s commercial crops compare? Is the sense many of us have that they are not so good, actually true? This week we examine the evidence and what we can do to ensure we are getting the nutrients we need from our food, but first

           Thought for the Day

       Let yourself be silently drawn 
      By the strange pull of what you really love. 
      It will not lead you astray.


                         My favourite photo with produce                            from our summer garden

Most of us will be aware of the steady rise in the chronic degenerative diseases and the fact that more and more younger people are affected. Many ask me “is it because our food is becoming depleted or denatured by modern farming practices? Have modern farming practices affected the mineral and vitamin content of what we eat?

The raw facts
In 2011, Donald Davis, then a biochemist at the University of Texas compared the nutrients in US crops from 1950 and 2009. 

Davis found notable declines in five nutrients in various fruits, including tomatoes, eggplants and squash. For example, there was a 43 % drop in iron and a 12 % decline in calcium. This was in line with his 1999 study — mainly of vegetables — which found a 15 % drop in vitamin C and a 38 % fall in vitamin B2.

Other studies have shown similar depletions.

A 1997 comparison of data from the 1930s and 1980s found that calcium in fresh vegetables appeared to drop by 19 %, and iron by 22 %.

A reanalysis of the data in 2005 concluded that 1980s vegetables had less copper, magnesium and sodium, and fruit less copper, iron and potassium.

Tomatoes grown by organic methods have been shown to contain more phenolic compounds than those grown using commercial standards. One study compared the phenolic profiles of tomatoes grown using ‘conventional’ as opposed to organic methods. Those grown under organic conditions contained significantly higher levels of phenolic compounds.

The introduction of semi-dwarf, higher-yielding varieties of wheat in the green revolution of the 1960s means that modern crops contain lower levels of iron and zinc than old-fashioned varieties.

Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that organically produced apples have a 15 % higher antioxidant capacity than conventionally produced apples.

Storage is a big factor
Another study evaluated the nutritional content of broccoli kept in conditions that simulated commercial transport and distribution: film-wrapped and stored for seven days at 1°C, followed by three days at 15°C to replicate a retail environment. By the end, the broccoli had lost between 71 and 80 % of its glucosinolates — sulphur-containing compounds shown to have cancer-fighting properties — and around 60 % of its flavonoid antioxidants.

What is causing the decline?
Part of it may well be related to the broad-spectrum systemic herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) that shall be discussed more in a coming post (that is still being researched).

Also, contrary to what we often read - that there is no evidence of dangers to health from GM foods and crops - peer-reviewed studies have found harmful effects on the health of laboratory and livestock animals fed GMOs. Effects include toxic and allergenic effects and altered nutritional value.

Speed of growth
Davis and others offer a simpler explanation. They assert that high-yielding crops produce more food, more rapidly, but these fast growing plants cannot make or absorb nutrients at the same pace, so the nutrition is diluted.

To test this notion, researchers measured the concentrations of 11 minerals in 14 commercial varieties of broccoli launched between 1950 and 2004. They grew old and new varieties of broccoli side-by-side.

The year that a particular cultivar was released made no difference, however, there was a dilution effect: the varieties with bigger heads – as favoured today - had lower levels of some minerals relative to the 1950 variety called Waltham 29.

But, as the study also noted, Waltham 29 is less tough than modern cultivars and so would be unlikely to succeed if grown in the same way.

The dilemma
So here is the problem. While modern agricultural methods may mean that our vegetables contain less nutrients than those of our grandparents, they have led to a huge increase in food supply. If you are hungry, this is a distinct advantage. For putting food on the table, modern practices are very efficient; there is just a question regarding the long-term cost.

“There is a chance that ready prepared vegetables may have a lower content of some vitamins,” says Judy Buttriss, director general of the British Nutrition Foundation in London. “But if their availability means that such vegetables are consumed in greater quantities, then the net effect is beneficial.“

“The most important thing you can do is eat more fruit, vegetables and wholegrains, and cut down on highly refined, human-made foods, vegetable oils and added sugars,” says Davis. “If you’re worrying about nutrient losses from cooking or whether your food is straight from the farm — those differences are minor compared to the differences you’d get from eating unprocessed foods."

Our choice
So how fortunate are we. So many of us have the possibility of growing much of our own food in our own veggie gardens – like my Granny really did do! And if not, we can afford to buy organic produce… A wise choice it would seem. And great for our home – this planet we all live upon.




A unique opportunity to experience 
the deep natural peace and clarity of profound meditation

5 Day Meditation Immersion with Ian and Ruth Gawler

JUNE 2016 – Monday 6th to Friday the 10th

While this retreat will include ample instruction, the focus will be upon direct experience; finding and immersing ourselves in the deep inner peace, the regenerative power and the clarity of our own stillness.

For details CLICK HERE