The Historical Secrets For Athletes In A Plant-Based Vegan Diet
As the author of Go Vegan I share the age-old secrets found in a plant-based vegan diet that are helping to boost the performance of athletes all over the world.
Many of us were told at school that if you want to be an athlete, you need lots of protein in the form of meat and dairy. These food groups are not our only source; protein is prevalent in plants too, and the latest research in nutritional science has shown that veganism is a healthier and more environmentally friendly approach when performing as an athlete.
The word vegan does not come from vegetables as most people believe. It comes from the Latin word Vegetus, which means strength of mind and body. Many sports stars have grasped veganism as a way of life; meat-free athletes including tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams, Formula 1's Lewis Hamilton, footballers Jermain Defoe and Jack Wilshere and former world champion heavy-weight boxer David Haye have already proven the performance-boosting power of a plant-based vegan diet.
Vegan strongman champion Patrik Baboumian said “The strongest animals are herbivores; gorillas, cattle, elephants and me.”
Veganism throughout history
The ideas that drive the vegan approach to living are not new; veganism and athletics goes back to the times of Plato. Everyone knew then that to be an Olympian you had to eat only plant-based foods. The Ancient Greeks, including Hypocrites, advocated a plant-based diet, for health as well as philosophical reasons. Pythagoras was a vegan and many followed his example.
If we fast forward thousands of years, we see that the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Leo Tolstoy and Nobel Prize winners George Bernard Shaw and Isaac Bashevis Singer also chose to remove animal products from their diets. These great thinkers stated that consuming a plant-based diet created the best kind of mind and body. Albert Einstein said, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution of a vegetarian diet.”
So, what secrets for success are found in a plant-based diet?
Understanding amino acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and abundant in plant foods. There are nine amino acids that the body uses to build and repair muscle. Athletes and exercisers need to ensure they are getting the right balance of these, but the body cannot produce them on its own.
Many plant-based foods overlap with two or more amino acids, so it is not difficult for athletes to ensure they are getting a good mix of amino acids each day. Some vegan proteins such as quinoa, buckwheat, hemp seed and chia seed contain all the nine essential amino acids, and therefore are a quick and easy way for athletes to create and maintain that balance. These protein-rich foods help to improve cardiovascular health, overall endurance and muscle growth, while also providing more energy and reducing recovery time.
Opting for a vegan diet helps athletes to minimise inflammation in the body. During the recovery process following exercise, the body wants to reduce inflammation created from the exertion so that the muscles can properly repair and grow. Eating meat worsens inflammation as it is more taxing on your body.
The right sources of protein
There is a misconception that in order to be strong and powerful, we must eat meat, but it is a myth that is fading fast. The truth is that all plants contain protein – that is where animals get them from.
Basic nutritional needs do not change with an increase in activity. Protein is used only minimally for fuel when compared with carbohydrates, as its primary function is to build and maintain body tissue. Unlike animal sources, plant-based protein sources contain fibre and complex carbohydrates which makes it a more powerful fuel for the body. While the average adult’s recommended protein allowance is 0.8g per kilogram of body weight per day, athletes may need to consume as much as 1.7g per kilogram of body weight per day. Additional protein sources such as beans, non-daily milks, nuts, seeds and soy products and can provide an extra boost when athletes need to keep going.
Avoiding excess in an animal-based diet
Carbohydrates are the primary fuel used during high-intensity exercise. Evidence shows that adding carbohydrates to your diet improves endurance and performance. Despite what many diets say, on a per-calorie basis, an athlete’s carbohydrate needs are much like anyone else’s. While specific recommendations for athletes may be justified depending on weight and activity type (e.g. carb-loading before a marathon), extreme strategies around carbohydrate intake are unnecessary.
It will likely come as no surprise that high-fat diets are not recommended for athletes. Controlling this when eating animal products is harder than a plant-based diet. Animal products are high in saturated fat, which can lead to heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and other chronic conditions.
A plant-based vegan diet provides all the nutrients your body needs for training and competition. Because a plant-based diet is high in carbohydrates, low in fat, and rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it can support or improve athletic performance. If this is the best fuel for athletes living at the extremes of human performance, then following their example will only result in superior nutrition and health benefits for all of us and our families.
My top energy foods: Wholegrain such as short grain brown rice, beans, lentils, broccoli, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, potatoes, corn, oranges, courgettes and bananas, carbohydrates are found in significant amounts only in plant-derived foods.
Recommended reading: Adventist Health study
In good health
For A Healthy Heart - Clean Up Your Act
In the medicine of the Far East, the energy of summer nourishes the Heart
Many clients who come to Bill and I for health counselling suffer with high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, high cholesterol and atherosclerosis. They ask us how they can help themselves to renewed health. This literally does make our heart sing because at the end of the day, we are our own doctor and vascular health should be our number one priority three times a day.
When all stretched out, you have 60,000 miles of blood vessels in your body. I am sure you already know but perhaps need a gentle reminder that your diet will affect the health of every inch of every vessel from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Understanding vascular health is of paramount importance. Many diseases are caused by compromising the flow of blood to various tissues. Close the arteries to the brain and you have a stroke; to the eye, macular degeneration; to the inner ear, hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing), and vertigo (dizziness); to the heart, myocardial infarction; to the kidneys, renal failure; to the leg, gangrene; and to the penis, impotence.
When we bathe the arteries with the unhealthy blood and oils, which results from an unhealthy diet the vessel walls will stiffen within minutes. As I teach all and sundry my mantra about how food makes our blood, I wanted to share with you how simple it is to equate the health of our blood to the roots of a tree. A tree absorbs nutrients through external roots. The roots of the body are deep inside in the region of the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed. It is here that they enter the bloodstream and are distributed to the body’s cells.
So, if food makes our blood, then blood makes our cells, cells make our tissues, tissues make our organs and here we be, it’s really that simple. I sing my mantra to my students when I am teaching them how to cook. In my latest book Go Vegan you will find over 80 heart healthy recipes along with medicinal teas and lots of common sense.
Plant Based Vegan Is The Future
Over a period of time eating a diet based on animal foods and oils, streaks of fat accumulate in walls. As the disease rages on, the walls sometimes thicken enough to compromise the flow of blood and high blood pressure is the result. High blood pressure is a concern because it not only can be directly harmful on organs such as our heart and kidneys but also is often a sign of an underlying process affecting the arteries (atherosclerosis) and is associated with a higher risk of getting a heart attack or a stroke. Hypertension is often called “the silent killer” because, most typically, there are no symptoms noticed, but sometimes, very high blood pressure can cause dizziness or headaches.
As we go through the most pivotal area in nutritional history, studies show that plant-based diets are far superior to animal-based diets. The vanguard of modern nutrition now agrees with this. I teach a user-friendly common-sense approach to understanding food. We need to take charge of what we eat and adopt a wholefood plant-based vegan diet to reverse the non-communicable diseases we now see in today’s world. Heart disease is the no. 1 killer world-wide.
To ignore the bulk of literature you must ignore all the major studies that show an increase in disease and death from low carbohydrate diets (i.e. lacking in wholegrains, beans, vegetables, sea vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds etc.,)
More people might be open to changing their diet and lifestyle if they knew how little modern medicine offers for combating chronic disease. Lifestyle medicine is more important than many believe.
High Blood Pressure & Heart Disease
Heart disease is not only preventable, but it is reversible. From a Macrobiotic perspective, high blood pressure also known as hypertension, is generally caused by consumption of a combination of meat and sugar, eggs and poultry, dairy foods and use of oils and other extreme foods from both the extreme yang and extreme yin categories. Excessive salt and too much hard-baked flour products are also frequently involved. The arteries become constricted and narrowed, while the heart becomes swollen, enlarged, and expanded. With proper eating and lifestyle, normal blood pressure can usually be re-established in 3 to 4 months.
It’s also important to note here that what we eat does not magically stop at the neck but what we eat affects our brain. It is clear that hardening of the arteries inside our brain and cognitive decline travel hand in hand. It’s like a double whammy! We clog our heart and brain arteries simultaneously.
Though often benign, systolic hypertension can progress to coronary heart disease or congestive heart failure. To prevent or relieve this condition, avoid meat, dairy, poultry, eggs and other animals. Avoid hard baked flour products, and refined salt. Sugar, spices, stimulants, alcohol and other strong expansive foods commonly contribute to high blood pressure and should also be limited. A standard macrobiotic vegan diet can be observed. The most protective behaviour against heart disease is fibre consumption.
However, the bigger issue with heart disease is not just the LDL cholesterol level but the environment in the body which could make the cholesterol stickier. The plaque that builds up is a sticky substance made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Over time, the plaque hardens and narrows your arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your body. It can lead to coronary artery disease and other heart diseases. Therefore, leading to furring of arteries (atherosclerosis), which can then cause heart attacks, strokes etc.
A vital factor in the development of furring is the health of the lining of your blood vessels, called the endothelium, which protects the blood vessels.
Saturated fats, animal protein, fast/processed products, vegan junk food, and other lifestyle factors like stress, can all damage the endothelium, leading to high blood pressure, oxidation (or damage) to LDL cholesterol, thus making LDL more sticky and likely to fur up the blood vessels.
You Can't Change Your Life - Without Changing Your Life
A low fat, whole food plant based vegan diet can help reduce the inflammation and damage going on (e.g. antioxidants in plant foods which help to sweep the damaging substances), protecting and allowing the endothelium to function, providing protection from furring, high blood pressure etc, thus helping to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Beans Help Heal Your Heart - Many cultures around the world rely on beans as a primary component of their diet, without even knowing they’re a heart-healing super food. Beans help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, as well as improve circulation. For those who have had heart surgery it is even more important to remove the animal foods and oils that caused the disease.
Eat beans for a powerful heart. In a 20-year-long study published in 2001 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who consumed beans at least 4 times a week were 22% less likely to develop heart disease. Study participants were found to have lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower blood pressure than people who didn’t eat beans regularly. Why are beans so effective? Because they are packed with vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants and fibre that protect your heart.
Beans soothe and soften arteries. Beans increase levels of heart-protective nitric oxide (NO) in the body because they are high in an amino acid called arginine, a precursor to NO. Produced in the lining of the blood vessel, NO increases blood flow, keeps the arteries supple and prevents fatty deposits from sticking. In turn, this helps to lower blood pressure and reduce arterial clots, both of which contribute to cardiovascular disease and heart attack.
Other bean choices include: Black beans, White beans, Red beans, Navy beans, Green beans, Lima beans, Azduki beans, Lentils. It’s that simple. Follow all the heart healthy recipes in my book Go Vegan, on my blogs and on my website. Beans along with daily consumption of wholegrain such as short grain brown rice, millet, quinoa, and a plethora of vegetables will keep your heart in tip top condition.
As all large populations of trim, healthy people throughout verifiable human history for at least a million years have obtained the bulk of their calories from plants, ‘carbohydrates’, then we should still eat this way. They have zero heart disease.
My favourite bean recipe
White Bean Soup with Almond Pistou
A tasty white bean sweet soup seasoned with garlic and thyme that tastes even better the next day. All bean soups have forever been great for us, and this one has the powerful protein and good quality fat of almonds as the base. Make a double batch and have plenty of leftovers for the weekly dinner rush! There are many other delicious bean soup recipes in Go Vegan
1 small bunch spring onions, finely diced
3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 cups cooked cannellini beans
3 cups unsweetened almond or soy milk
2 heaped tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
1 cup hot filtered water
½ tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp sweet white miso
Although many people think that pistou is simply the French equivalent of Ligurian pesto from Italy, it’s not as simple as that. The biggest difference is that there are no pine nuts in French pistou. The basic recipe is Genovese basil and garlic. Use this pistou as a spread; on top of baked potatoes, pizza or vegetables; or added to pasta.
½ cup blanched almonds
2 cloves fresh garlic, sliced
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
2 tsp sweet white miso
1 tsp brown rice syrup
2 tbsp filtered water
Dissolve the vegetable bouillon in the hot water, and set aside. Warm a splash or two of filtered water in a heavy-based pan. Place the spring onions and garlic and a pinch of salt in the pan and sauté until the vegetables are translucent. Stir in the celery and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes. Spread the vegetables over the bottom of the pan and top with the beans. Add the almond or soy milk, vegetable stock and dried thyme. Cover and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in the sweet white miso. Makes 4–6 servings.
While the soup cooks, make the pistou. Place all the ingredients into a food processor and purée until smooth. Add more water to reach the desired consistency. To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls and top with a hearty dollop of pistou.
My favourite medicinal tea
Apple Kuzu Drink
Macrobiotic home remedies based on kuzu drinks are widely used, as they help in a number of common ailments. These are made from the starch of kuzu, a gigantic root that is bigger than an average man, typically growing to about 100 kg per root. It is widely used in both traditional Japanese and Chinese medicine. Kuzu remedies are generally used to relieve digestive problems, including poor digestion, flatulence, abdominal ache, intestinal irritation, sickness and diarrhea and IBS. In China, researchers found kuzu to reduce high blood pressure, lower cholesterol, prevent the formation of blood clots and generally protect against heart disease.
1 cup apple juice
1 tsp. kuzu
Heat the apple juice in a small pan over medium heat until bubbles from at the side. Dissolve the kuzu in a little cold water and add to the apple juice stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming. Simmer until the kuzu thickens and the colour changes from chalky white to translucent. Drink Warm.
My favourite Yoga Pose for Heart Health
Rolling out my yoga mat every morning is my favourite part of the day. Along with eating a wholefood plant based vegan diet, I know it is one of the best things I can do for my heart. The latest research finds yoga enhances cardiovascular health in a number of ways, from calming the nervous system and reducing disease-causing inflammation to taming hypertension and boosting beneficial HDL cholesterol. It also improves circulation and lung function.
When we focus on our breath while doing these gentle poses it helps our heart even more. Breathe deep to make your exhalation twice as long as your inhalation as this can be helpful to help manage hypertension. When we breathe this way, it calms our nervous system and lowers our heart and respiratory rate. This can assist in reducing blood pressure. The rule of thumb so to speak is to inhale through your nose to a count of two and exhale through your nose to a count of four. Focusing on your breath also helps you relax into each pose and deepen its benefits.
As I work at my desk most days, I have my alarm ring every hour… I step onto my yoga mat that is a permanent fixture next to my desk and take 5 minutes in Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Begin on your hands and knees, with your hands shoulder-width apart slightly in front of your shoulders, and your knees directly below your hips. Spread your palms, with your index fingers parallel. Exhale tuck your toes and straighten your legs as you lift your hips to create a modified inverted "V." Straighten your legs (but don't lock your knees) and press your heels toward the floor. Tilt your pelvis to create length in your lower back. Keep the knees slightly bent if your hamstrings are tight.
When we take care of our body, it rewards us with good health. Hydrate, exercise, eat plants, get some sun and stay safe.
In good health
How Food Has Changed
Last week, as part of their study, I was referring our students to read through Bill's latest book How To Eat Right & Save The Planet. As a society we lost control of our nutrition when we allowed industry to produce our food. Food made in a factory instead of a kitchen put the power of healthy eating in the hands of those who have profit as a motive instead of health.
We know that our food has changed over the centuries. Ever since the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago our relationship with the production and processing of food has been transforming and with it, we have changed nature. We cleared forests, claimed grassland and generally placed our distinct footprint on the face of the planet. Along with the changes in agriculture have come changes in the nutritional substance of what we eat and how we feel about our food.
Much of what we eat today would be completely foreign to our grandparents. That change is a reflection of many factors. The way we grow our food, the techniques we use to process it, the systems we use to transport it, advertise it, and sell it have all gone through a massive transformation. We also know something else. The food in the market stores and in the fast food outlets and the snacks and treats we see advertised on TV are killing us. And I do mean killing us.
The food industry will claim that these changes improved the quality of what we eat, offer longer shelf-life, and will provide us with a new era of abundant food. We are even told that it is the healthiest diet in history. As we will see, all of those statements are false and shift attention away from the price we pay in terms of public health, social justice, and environmental damage. The reasons we continue to eat the products of this bloated and corrupt industry and even feed it to our children are many.
The issues of what we eat are not only limited to the industry that produces the food but also to personal habits, medical short-sightedness, political cowardice, and imagined traditions. To see through the smoke and mirrors, I want to start in the kitchen. As you may remember, that is the room where food was stored, prepared, and for so many centuries eaten. I am going to focus on one particular period of the recent past: the years immediately before and following World War Two. It was a time when we experienced the greatest change in our food and in our relationship to what we eat.
Prior to the late 1940s, cooking generally happened at home. We knew where our food came from and who selected and cooked it. We were in control of what we ate. Usually it was a family member who prepared the family meal, most likely a mother or grandmother. Some of that food might have been from a family garden or a local provider.
After the Second World War more women started to work outside the home and time for food preparation was limited. The folk traditions that had ruled the kitchen were being replaced by advertising and more processed foods. The marketplace was also being transformed. By the mid-1950s the supermarket moved in.
The food industry was devoted to helping women out of that pesky time problem. New cookbooks showed homemakers how to use condensed soups, packaged sauces, and cheap cuts of meat to add “variety” to the table. Frozen foods, with a quick cooking time, made seasonal vegetables available all year round. The food industry promised you could make a cake in 5 minutes and promised a complete dinner in 25 minutes, what could be better?
The Cold Truth
The generation that had grown up during the Great Depression and endured the Second World War wanted an easier life. Food became a primary commercial focus in this quest. Why spend time preparing food that could be purchased ready-made? Why wait an hour for dinner when it could be served piping hot in minutes? The two-income household was on the rise, and the growing middle class wanted everything to be more “streamlined,” “modern,” and “convenient”.
In the 1920s, the Birdseye Company had developed the flash-freezing process, enabling producers to deliver seafood and some vegetables without significant loss of taste. However, most small shops lacked the equipment to keep foods frozen, and many homes did not have refrigerators with freezing compartments. Appliance makers manufactured new refrigerators with bigger freezing compartments that became symbols of status in the modern home. By the late 1930s, the popularity of home refrigerators was growing; and after the Second World War, they became more commonplace. Supermarkets quickly expanded their refrigeration and could sell everything the family needed in one location. “One-stop” food shopping was born.
Refrigeration largely erased the problem of distance between food sources and consumers. Previously foods, such as fish, were difficult for consumers living far from the coasts to purchase, and most dairy foods, especially butter would not be possible to store without refrigeration. Now meat could be slaughtered at a great distance and with industrial speed and stored for months and shipped long distances without spoilage. It also meant that producers could hold food for very long times before releasing them to the marketplace. The “freshness factor” and its inherent effect on nutrition was undermined.
With refrigeration, local and regional farming began a slow slide into oblivion. Seasonal eating went out the window. Regional and local farming were forced into a corner and could not compete with crops grown cheaply at a distant location and shipped long-distance out of season. The supermarkets, coupled with proliferating fast-food outlets, were the most dramatic first steps toward the modern diet. By the late 1950s, both had become symbolic of American food culture and was being exported to Europe. They also became international symbols of affluence and social privilege. The general public was thrilled by this “modern” quick, easy, and inexpensive food. Very few saw that there were hidden costs in these food products that would have to be paid later. Some of these costs were physical, some were environmental. Less obvious costs concerned how we perceived the value of food in our lives.
Do You Know What You Are Eating?
In our collective innocence, we assumed that the companies that made our food had our best interests in mind. Our food was no longer cooked; it was manufactured. Aside from the label, we often had no way of judging food quality. The food was canned, bottled, or otherwise concealed. Words like “natural,” “nutritious,” “healthy,” or “wholesome” lost all meaning outside of advertising. A chasm was created between our food and ourselves.
The food industry already knew it was easy to make food look good and even taste fresher through the use of chemical additives and mechanical processing. Peas that turned grey in processing could be dyed a bright green. Unsellable tomatoes could be made into ketchup and sauces, re-coloured, re-flavoured, and artificially thickened. Our manufactured food became a chemistry project. As long as the product had a long shelf life, looked good, and had an acceptable taste, it was a winner. Oh, and predictability was a plus. As McDonald’s was to discover, the consumer loves predictable.
The new supermarkets could store stock for longer periods of time. Assurances of “freshness” were impossible to verify. More chemical additives and preservatives gave us a diet with plenty of taste but not much flavour. This was a feast filled with chemicals and calories but with diminished in nutritional value.
One of the results of eating pre-packaged foods is a reduction in the nutritional density of the foods consumed. This particularly affects children. It is an everyday nutritional deficiency experienced as more and more meals are ready-to-eat, fast foods are brought home to eat. One study showed that half the food energy that children consumed was from fast foods eaten in the home. At a workshop last year, Bill showed a loaf of bread and asked the kids, where does your food come from? We then showed them some slides, with soil, growing wheat etc., and one of the kids said, my food doesn’t grow in dirt, it comes from the supermarket.
We have given away the kitchen and now have no idea what’s in the food we eat, it has been cleverly disguised. The food itself is mass produced in a factory and then frozen. Restaurants store this frozen food in large, walk-in freezers. Cooks reheat it rather than making it from scratch. The factory adds artificial and natural flavors to the food to make sure it all tastes the same. These flavours are manufactured in separate factories.
As I wander down the aisles in supermarkets and look at all the coloured packages selling ‘dead’ food, I relay to all my students and clients; you would get more nutrition from eating the cardboard box.
My latest book Go Vegan is available world-wide on amazon. Discover the incredible health benefits from 85 of my favourite recipes in this beautifully illustrated book. I incorporate the healthiest foods on the planet. The colourful photographs of each recipe will motivate while you salivate. My easy-to-follow recipes make eating vegan delicious and easy.
You will get a clear understanding of the nutritional and environmental principles for a healthy and delicious way of eating and living. Science, ancient wisdom and environmental issues are all considered in the creation of my approach. This is the only vegan cookbook that shows you the why as well as the how .
In good health
The Science Of Fighting Fat For Good
Over the past 10 years, we have seen many developments on why we are gaining weight. There are ‘silver bullet’ nutritional supplements and new diets constantly hitting the market but there has been little improvement for the long-term. Many nations continue to pile on the pounds, including our own; recent NHS research has highlighted that that 1 in 3 in the UK are obese.
Food may be our problem, but it is also our solution. Health, healing and weight loss starts in our own kitchens, where we are in charge of what we eat. One path to sustainable weight loss and good health is to eat a wholefoods plant-based vegan diet and improving our understanding of what different foods do to our bodies.
The consumption of grains is reflected in global history. Grains have fuelled the development of civilisations for centuries and are a major source of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals for billions of people worldwide. A US study has found that some cultures that have based their dietary principles on grains, beans and vegetables have no weight issues until adopting a standard western diet. Still today, grains serve as the major source of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals around the world and there is much to be learnt from this for our own food choices.
Whatever our choice of diet, we all have a special relationship with plants. They provide us with the nutrients we require to survive as well as the oxygen we need to breathe. Not only are plants the source of our existence, they are the source of medicine and healing.
Knowing your carbohydrates
Many of us know that carbohydrates are our source of energy to sustain our lives, however there is much confusion around their nutritional value. They are not bad for you – they are a macronutrient – but not all are created equal in nutritional value, as there is a difference between simple and complex carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrate refers to unprocessed forms of carbohydrates which is the way they exist in whole foods. These foods include wholegrains, beans, peas, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.
Simple carbohydrates are found in fruits and dairy products. These can also be found in sweets, fizzy drinks, cakes and biscuits, except these are made with processed and added refined sugars. Critically, this means they lack the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients and fibre that slow down the metabolism of the sugars. Once consumed, these sugars flood our systems and create an excessive spike in blood sugar – what we know as a sugar rush. Eating too many refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, pastries and sugar rich foods is another way of eating excess sugar, which can also cause a rapid rise in blood sugar.
Carbohydrates are crucial for our diet but must be absorbed at a slow rate so that they can be used effectively. This is because excess sugars are stored as fat. Normalising insulin levels is essential to stop this storage from happening and reducing or eliminating these ‘refined’ carbohydrates and increasing is the best way to accomplish this.
Achieving hormonal balance to burn fat
Hormonal balance is an important part of understanding how weight loss works and how to get sustainable results. Hormones control your fat burning switch! There are hormones that both create weight gain and hormones that keep you lean.
Eating a hormone balanced diet is the way forward to not only losing weight but also creating great health and vitality. A great example of this is insulin, the hormone responsible for allowing sugars to be used for energy. Insulin rises and falls based on blood sugar levels and is greatly influenced by what we eat.
Insulin has a sister hormone called glucagon, which is a critical component of our fat-burning biochemistry. When our bodies need more energy and there is not enough glucose, glucagon is secreted. The purpose of this hormone is the exact opposite ofinsulin’s: glucagon stimulates the release of stored fats to be used as energy.
Therefore, if we reduce our consumption of simple sugars and refined carbohydrates, the production of glucagon is stimulated which then begins the burning of stored fats. If a healthy diet is combined with even moderate exercise, the combination of less fat storage and better fat burning is promoted.
Many people across the globe have not only been able to lose weight but also keep it off and live a more health lifestyle as a result. While we can follow recommended diets or take supplements, having the knowledge of which carbohydrates should feature in our diet and a better understanding of how hormones play their part in weight loss or gain is the best way to get meaningful results that can transform your life.
My Top 3 foods to turn on your fat burning switch
Sea Vegetables: Seaweeds break down and digest slowly compared to processed foods. Seaweeds are also nutrient density, especially minerals; contribute greatly to hormonal balance too. Research has shown that seaweed speeds up weight loss by blocking fat intake and promotes fat burning.
Alginate is a natural fibre found in sea kelp that is very effective at blocking the body from absorbing fat. A 2010 study by Newcastle University demonstrated what has been known for centuries in the Far East: sea vegetables are a powerful tool for weight loss.
Shiitake Mushrooms: Dried Shiitake mushrooms have traditionally been used in macrobiotics and traditional Chinese medicine as an aid to the immune functions of the body and breaking down fatty tissue. Japanese researchers discovered that this is because of eritadenine, a substance that reduces cholesterol. Researchers S. Suzuki and Oshima found that a raw Shiitake eaten daily for one-week lowers serum cholesterol by 12%.
Daikon Radish: This is a natural diuretic with a very gentle action that is excellent for managing the fluid retention, which so often accompanies weight gain. The more fat cells we have, the more fluid we store.
In my latest book Go Vegan I educate on the importance of knowing carbohydrates and why some diet changes will enable people to keep weight off permanently.
In good health
Anxiety causes among many other issues sleeping problems, and research suggests sleep deprivation can cause an anxiety disorder. Research also shows that some form of sleep disruption is present in nearly all psychiatric disorders. Studies also show that people with chronic insomnia are at high risk of developing an anxiety disorder. I hope for those of you who are having trouble sleeping since the outbreak of COVID-19 these ideas are helpful to you.
What are Sleep Disorders?
Sleep disorders are conditions that affect how much and how well you sleep. The causes range from poor habits that keep you awake to medical problems that disrupt your sleep cycle. If you do not feel rested in the mornings then you should look at your overall health as lack of good restorative sleep deprives our immune system from re-building which keeps us strong and full of vitality.
Restorative Sleep Tips
Learning to sleep well is known as sleep hygiene. Regular exercise should be part of the plan but the timing is important. Exercise in the late afternoon can make it easier to fall and stay asleep – just don’t let it get too late. If you can fit in a quick session perhaps when you come home from work, even a ten minute yoga stretch can make a difference. However, exercise within a couple of hours of bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep.
Don't Eat For At Least Two Hours Before Going To Bed
The Food Sleep Connection
You've heard it a thousand times: if you want to fall asleep you have to give up caffeine. Caffeine is certainly a challenge but there are other dietary factors that can keep you tossing and turning in the night. In my latest book Go Vegan you will find over 80 delicious recipes that are calming to the nervous system along with some fabulous medicinal drinks that will strengthen your immune system.
Five Foods That Can Help You Sleep
- Pumpkin Seeds are a great source of magnesium, which serves to calm the body down. Magnesium helps to relieve the stress that can keep us up all night. Just 1 oz. of pumpkin seeds has 151 mg of magnesium, making it one of the most magnesium-rich foods out there.
- Soy Beans contain tryptophan, a sleep inducing amino acid that relaxes the entire body and mind.You can find tryptophan in tofu, tempeh, hummus, and lentils.
- Sesame Seeds are rich in tryptophan but they're also high in carbohydrates with a medium protein content, perfect with an evening meal as a garnish.
- Brown Rice - Whole unrefined grains like brown rice have a calming effect on the mind. They soothe the nervous system so that the mind stops moving a mile a minute and you can fall asleep.
- Dark Green Vegetables - Chlorophyll-rich foods like kale, spring greens and spinach help you get to sleep.
Five Foods That Promote Insomnia
- Refined Carbohydrates - These drain the body of vitamin B, which the body needs to release serotonin. When the body can't get enough serotonin, tension, fear, and depression can keep you up all night.
- MSG - Monosodium glutamate (MSG), often found in Chinese food causes a stimulant reaction in some people. MSG is almost always found in processed, prepared, and packaged foods and is used in Chinese restaurants.
- Bacon - Bacon contains tyramine, which increases the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant that keeps you up. Others foods that contain tyramine include chocolate, aubergine (eggplant), ham, potatoes, sauerkraut, sugar, sausage, tomatoes, and wine.
- Alcohol - While many of us drink to relax the body and mind, the fact of the matter is that wine, beer, and spirits can keep you up at night. This is especially true if you drink more than one. While alcohol can make you tired in the short run, you're likely to awaken in the middle of the night.
- Chocolate - Chocolate can elevate your energy levels with bioactive compounds like tyramine and phenylethylamine. Chocolate also contains sugar, which wakes you up as well as the other obvious culprit, caffeine.
Beyond your diet, yoga is another great way to help you sleep as is full breath mediation.
You can signal your body and mind that it’s time to sleep by creating a bedtime ritual. This may include a warm bath, reading a chapter of a book, or practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing. Vital to good health is a very important factor that many people fail to recognize - switch off your computer at least one hour before retiring for the evening.
Apple Kuzu Drink is the perfect tonic to calm and relax the body and mind which will aid you in sleeping deeply.
Valerian for Sleep - For more than 2,000 years, valerian root has been used as a sedative and anti-anxiety treatment. Although it is not a pleasant-smelling herb, valerian can be taken in capsules.
A review of 16 studies showed evidence suggesting that valerian may help sleep come more quickly -- and that it improves the quality of sleep. Valerian becomes more effective over time, so taking it nightly works best, rather than taking valerian only on random rough nights.
Since there are few adverse effects from valerian, it's safe to try as a sleep aid.
Chamomile Tea for Sleep - For thousands of years, people have used chamomile tea medicinally. The tea and essential oil have been used for their calming effects and for insomnia relief. Chamomile tea raises the body temperature and makes many people feel sleepy. Chamomile is safe as a tea, but the trick is to make sure you are brewing it properly. Use two heaped teaspoons in a pot of boiling water. Then put a lid on the pot to keep oils in the water so you get the medicinal effects of the tea.
A few cautions: If you have an allergy to ragweed, don't use chamomile. Also, don't take chamomile tea if you are pregnant as chamomile may act as a uterine stimulant.
Diffusers Aid In Sleep
You'll immediately begin to feel and smell the calming benefits. Oil diffusers emit aromatherapy vapours throughout any room. I often have a diffuser near my desk when I am writing. I would testify to the fact that you're guaranteed deep sleep! I have used one for many years and always suggest my clients do the same. There are a lot of essential oils that help the mind and body relax. My favorite essential oils that support a great night's sleep are vetiver, lavender, cedarwood, marjoram, Roman chamomile, bergamot, orange, frankincense, patchouli, and sandalwood. My personal favourite is vetiver.
Sleeping well is one of the cornerstones of optimal health, and if you ignore your poor sleeping habits, you will, in time, pay a price. In general, you will feel best and maintain optimal health when your lifestyle is in line with your circadian rhythm. It's wise to establish healthful routines of eating, exercising and sleeping, and to stick to them every day, including the weekends.
Melatonin is a chemical closely tied to your circadian rhythm. It's a pineal hormone and a very potent antioxidant, created in your brain during sleep.
Among its many functions, it slows the production of oestrogen and is well known to suppress tumour development. Melatonin also helps suppress harmful free radicals. Melatonin production can be severely disrupted simply by exposing yourself to bright light late at night. Just switching a bedside lamp on and off in an otherwise pitch-black room produces a drop in melatonin levels. This is why it's so important to turn off the lights as the evening wears on, and avoid watching TV and working on the computer late at night.
Researchers have learned that circadian rhythms—the 24-hour cycles known as your internal body clock—are involved in everything from sleep to weight gain, mood disorders, and a variety of diseases.
Your body actually has many internal clocks—in your brain, lungs, liver, heart and even your skeletal muscles—and they all work to keep your body running smoothly by controlling temperature and the release of hormones. It's well known that lack of sleep can increase your chances of getting sick.
Apple Kuzu Drink
De-acidifies and relaxes the intestines. This is a drink that I make for myself when I want to relax.
1 cup apple juice
Small pinch of sea salt
1 tsp. kuzu
Heat the apple juice and salt in a small pan over medium heat until bubbles from at the side. Dissolve the kuzu in a bit of cold water and add to the apple juice stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming. Simmer until the kuzu thickens and the colour changes from chalky white to translucent. Drink Warm.
In good health