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Eat margarine or your family will die

Eat margarine or your family will die

“Health food” commercials are getting worse and worse – and of course I’m not referring to adverts for kale or grass-fed beef. I’m talking about products with a list of unpronounceable ingredients – products I go out of my way to avoid. And given that you’re reading my blog, I suspect you do too.

There seems to have been a huge turn here. It seems to slow be becoming the norm to eat an unprocessed diet of real, whole foods. Avoiding processed carbs like bread and pasta seems to be slowly becoming mainstream, and a feat of fat is definitely starting to disappear. I get the impression the manufacturers of  all those other food-like-products are getting worried…

So which advert has been annoying me most this week?

Eat margarine or your family will die

Flora Pro-Activ

Cue upset wife that her husband has high cholesterol. He undertakes the Flora Pro-Activ challenge for three weeks, has his cholesterol re-checked. Ends with happy wife, now her husband isn’t about to drop dead due to a high cholesterol invoked heart attack.

So what is the Flora challenge? For three weeks you eat 25 g of Flora every day, make sure you eat your wholegrains, replace BAD saturated fat with healthy saturated fat and generally keep your fat as low as possible. Nooo!

And what does Flora Pro-Activ actually contain?

Ingredients: Water, Vegetable Oils (30%), Plant Sterol Esters (12.5%), Buttermilk, Modified Waxy Corn Starch, Salt (1%), Emulsifiers (Mono-and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids, Sunflower Lecithin), Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Citric Acid, Flavourings, Colour (Beta Carotene), Vitamin A and D

And evil butter? Let’s remind ourselves of the dangerous ingredients that contains: Pasteurised Cream (from Milk), Water, Salt. Three ingredients that I have in my kitchen; compared to unidentified “vegetable” oils and a host of ingredients not available at the local farmers market.

Despite a lot of research showing a higher cholesterol actually lowers the risk of heart attack, of course, these companies still like to keep us fearing cholesterol. More worrying is the margarine they want us to eat to benefit our health – so chemically processed, they are a fat that our bodies don’t recognise at all.

The other issue, is the claim that the plant sterol esters in this product actually lower our cholesterol. The adverts make it sound like a magic potion, with the ability to dramatically cut your cholesterol in a matter of days. The reality is that alone, these chemicals can supposedly only reduce cholesterol by a maximum of 10% (average results presumably a lot lower) – and of course that’s assuming reducing cholesterol is a good thing.

All in all I find the advert extremely misleading and think it’s outrageous that they come into our homes every day, suggesting that if you love your family, you need to make sure they eat 25 g of margarine a day – or risk losing them to heart disease.

What do you think about the Flora Pro-Activ challenge and the health commercials that come into your home each day?

paleo diet gut health probotics-min

It’s not just about you…

It may be a little strange to think of, but the body you inhabit isn’t strictly your own. In fact, you’re sharing it with approximately 100 trillion bacteria that colonise your gut – your own unique army of micro-organisms. But it’s not as scary as it sounds, as these tiny creatures control your health in a variety of ways. Firstly, they extract energy from food; the greater the diversity of your gut bacteria, the more effectively you are able to digest nutrients. Gut bacteria break down carbohydrates, and prevent them from being stored as fat – hence the reason there is a direct correlation between insufficient gut bacteria and obesity. They also build your immune system, and are directly linked with your emotional health; restoring gut flora has been shown to boost mood and fight depression.

In the right conditions, you can live in harmony with your gut flora and co-exist very happily. Look after them, and in turn, they look after you. But, create a troublesome environment for them (through inflammation, stress, or antibiotic use amongst other things) and they will be compromised, and in turn, so will your health. Here are a few things you may wish to consider in order to care for your gut flora.

paleo diet gut health probotics-min

Consider a high quality probiotic

The first (and most obvious) thing you can do to support your healthy gut flora is to supplement with a high quality probiotic. This will help to repopulate your digestive tract with beneficial bacteria. Opt for a probiotic with a number of different strains of bacteria, and consider rotating your supplements over time to maintain greater diversity.

If you’re wondering how our ancestors maintained healthy gut flora long before probiotic supplements hit the shelves (or the shelves were even invented) then consider the point below!

Eat Organic Produce

Thousands of years ago, our ancestors’ gastrointestinal tracts would have been teeming with a huge diversity of bacteria, taken directly from the untouched soil in which their produce grew. They wouldn’t have worried about washing their hands after digging for them, let alone washing the produce itself. Modern day agricultural methods and non-organic farming have seen our soils stripped of this bacteria; unfortunately, conventionally grown plants grow in soil that is virtually sterile. The solution? Buy organic, preferably local – and don’t worry about thoroughly washing scrubbing every vegetable. A bit of dirt will only be beneficial.

Eat Fermented Foods

Fermented foods play a large part in the diet of almost all traditional cultures, and would have further supplemented their gut biomes. Fermented foods like Kombucha, Sauerkraut and Kimchi are rich in beneficial bacteria; and they’re delicious, too. Consider making your own fermented foods, or if you have to buy them, make sure they are unpasteurised so the bacteria remains.

Eat food rich in prebiotics

Just like you, your gut bacteria need to be fed. Feed them the right foods, and they will thrive. Prebiotics are found in foods such as Chicory, Jerusalem Artichoke, Onions, Leeks and Garlic – and they stimulate and nourish the good bacteria in your gut.

Try resistant starch

Much like prebiotics, resistant starch provides optimum fuel for your gut bacteria. Resistant starch is starch that passes through the colon undigested, thus giving the bacteria an excellent food source. Paleo friendly sources of resistant starch include cooked and cooled tubers – especially arrowroot and cassava.

Avoid sugars and high GI Carbohydrates

On the other side of the coin, if you eat a diet high in sugar and other high GI carbohydrates, you are providing optimum fuel for the bad bacteria in your gut (such as Candida). Who knew there were any further reasons to give up the sugar and grains!?

Don’t Stress

Finally, the most important thing you can do to support your gut bacteria is to reduce the inflammation that makes their living environment hellish to live in. Along with a poor diet, stress causes excessive inflammation within the body. Take time to relax, exercise, perhaps meditate – so that your gut bacteria can do the same.

Paleo Diet Primal Gut Health Flora Healthy Probiotics-min

How Is Your Gut Health?

After the stress and perhaps over indulgences of the festive season – how is your gut health?

Our ancestors were surrounded by dirt – and certainly won’t have washed their hands in antibacterial soap before touching everything! Today, everyone is terrified of germs and dirt. Children aren’t allowed to get dirty – people can’t even make food without wearing those horrible blue plastic gloves – yuck!

Paleo Diet Primal Gut Health Flora Healthy Probiotics-min

So many factors in our modern lifestyle are stacked against maintaining good gut flora. The antibiotics given out by so many doctors kill off most bacteria (good as well as bad). Stress hormones also do a good job of killing of gut flora. It’s probably therefore little wonder that so many of us don’t have good gut health.

Having good gut health promotes a good immune system, which is why some people never seem to catch the germs going around the office. Healthy gut bacteria is also essential in proper, good digestion. Healthy gut flora enable you to properly absorb the nutrients in the food you’re eating (after all, we are what we absorb, rather than what we eat)

Whilst yoghurts with live cultures have become extremely popular as a method of improving gut health, they don’t appear to be the best solution, given that many people don’t tolerate dairy – and of course the pasteurisation has an significant impact on the amount of live culture left in the finished product. A lot of these yoghurts also have a lot of sugar added.

One of the better options to improve your gut health is taking probiotic supplements. When you compare the ingredients, you’ll notice huge variations between the different brands. For this reason, I like Primal Flora, as it’s been created with an ancestral diet in mind.
Primal Flora
What do you do to improve your gut health? Do you take probiotics? Please share, in the comments below!