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Gout and the paleo diet health nutrition-min

Gout & The Paleo Diet

A common form of arthritis, Gout is a condition which can cause a lot of pain to sufferers and can have a highly negative effect on a person’s standard of life. It can be apparent in any joints of the body but is most widely found in the toe, knee and ankle. The signs of Gout are obvious as the area may become red in appearance and can be sore to tough or feel really stiff. It may be restricted to one joint in the body or may spread to other areas; Gout is an unpleasant condition in both the way it looks and feels. It can be mild or more serious and can even lead to the most simple of tasks being an uphill struggle.

The pain of Gout may disappear of its own accord after a couple of weeks, but it can return in the same area or other parts of the body. The areas where Gout appeared can become sore and red out with the attacks of Gout and it is more likely that those who suffer from Gout will also end up with kidney stones. If an area of the body become red, hot and sore, it is likely that this is an attack of Gout and it is important to seek medical attention and treatment, so it is dealt with quickly.

It is believed that Gout is caused by high levels of sugar in the body as this leads to high levels of Uric Acid in the blood stream. The best way to decrease these levels is to avoid food which has high levels of sugar. As with all forms of arthritis, it is important to look closely at the diet and make changes towards a healthier lifestyle in order to reduce the symptoms and prevent the Gout from becoming a major problem. It is much safer and more effective to concentrate on a healthy diet and lifestyle than to turn to strong painkillers and anti-inflammatory tablets as a way of combating the illness. These may only help for a short period of time and won’t really get to the root of the problem.

Gout and the paleo diet health nutrition-min

As the Paleo diet is one which restricts the intake of sugary foods in favour of those which are high in protein and vitamins, it is believed that it can help to prevent Gout or reduce the signs for those who already suffer from the condition. The uric acid has to be restricted and this can be achieved with a healthy choice of foods, including animal fat which has a positive effect on the body.

It is also thought that a diet which is low in carbohydrates, as can be the case with the Paleo diet, can be a much healthier option to minimise the risk of suffering from Gout and other painful diseases. Carbohydrates are high in sugar, which is the main cause of Gout and by restricting this food group; there is a good chance of minimising the likelihood of suffering from the painful illness.

A diet which is very low in sugar is the best way to reduce the chances of suffering from Gout or minimise the symptoms for those who already suffer from the condition. A combination of the right foods and daily exercise will ensure that the risks of suffering from Gout and other illnesses are kept to a minimum.

Do you, or have you, suffered from Gout? How did changing your diet impact it?

62 sneaky ingredients mislead sugar alternative names labelling

62 sneaky ingredients out to mislead you

It’s common knowledge that sugar is to be avoided, but if only it were that simple. Did you now there are at least 62 words food manufacturers can use, instead of simply saying sugar?

Many of the words on the list, such as Golden syrup and HFCS may be obvious no-no’s, but what about less common words, such as Ethyl maltol and Panocha. Would you immediately know that these ingredients were essentially sugar?

Agave nectar
Barbados sugar
Barley malt/ Barley malt syrup
Beet sugar
Brown sugar
Buttered syrup
Cane juice/ Cane juice crystals
Cane sugar
Caramel
Carob syrup
Castor sugar
Coconut palm sugar/ Coconut sugar
Confectioner’s sugar
Corn sweetener
Corn syrup/ Corn syrup solids

62 sneaky ingredients mislead sugar alternative names labelling
Date sugar
Dehydrated cane juice
Demerara sugar
Dextrin
Dextrose
Diastatic malt
Diatase
Ethyl maltol
Evaporated cane juice
Free Flowing Brown Sugars
Fructose
Fruit juice/ Fruit juice concentrate
Galactose
Glucose/ Glucose solids
Golden sugar
Golden syrup
Grape sugar
HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)
Honey
Icing sugar
Invert sugar
Lactose
Malt/ Malt syrup
Maltodextrin
Maltol
Maltose
Mannitol
Mannose
Maple syrup
Molasses
Muscovado
Palm sugar
Panocha
Powdered sugar
Raw sugar
Refiner’s syrup
Rice syrup
Saccharose
Sorbitol
Sorghum Syrup
Sucrose
Sugar (granulated)
Sweet Sorghum
Syrup
Treacle
Turbinado sugar
Yellow sugar

Whilst clearly it’s best to go for natural foods that don’t need labels, I can’t ever imagine a day where packaged foods aren’t commonplace. So surely those who buy them should be armed with full, honest information about the contents of these products, so they can make an informed decision?

It’s a shame manufacturers are allowed to be so misleading. Wouldn’t it be simpler if they perhaps had to use the word sugar, and follow that with the specific type of sugar? I can imagine many time-poor households trying to make good food choices – despite their best intentions, they can easily end up buying sugar laden foods.

Sugar can be a really confusing topic, especially when even healthy blogs use natural sugars in recipes (I put my hands up to this too, though in my recipes the natural sugar tends to be an optional addition). But are natural sugars actually any better for you – I’ve written the definitive guide to paleo sweeteners to help clear this up.

What’s your take on these sneaky misleading alternative words for sugar?

Are doughnuts healthier than fruit juice paleo network-min

Are doughnuts healthier than fruit juice?

I had breakfast with some friends at the weekend, and seeing some cranberry juice on the table, thought I’d try some instead of my usual tea. Now cranberries are pretty sweet on their own – but this juice was so sickly sweet, I thought my teeth were going to fall out. I looked at the ingredients (should have done that first) and saw:

Ingredients: Water, Cranberry Juice from Concentrate (25%), Sugar, Vitamin C, Flavourings

Yep, sugar and flavourings added to an already sweet and flavourful drink! And why add vitamin C to a juice made from the very fruit that contains vitamin C?

How much sugar? In a 500ml bottle a total of 53.5 grams (nearly 2 oz) of sugar. There are 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon, meaning this one little bottle contained almost 14 teaspoons of sugar! 14!

Are doughnuts healthier than fruit juice paleo network-min

For comparison an original glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut (surely everyone would agree this is most definitely not a health food) contains 10g of sugar. In fact, the most sugary Krispy Kreme doughnut I could find (Butterscotch Fudge) contains 53g of sugar – marginally less than the bottle of cranberry juice. Yet we all see doughnuts as a bad food – and amazingly many people still push fruit juices as a health food.

The sugar pushers seem to try to get around the ridiculous sugar contents, by giving nutritional information based on a 100ml serve. But how many people have you seen with a 500ml bottle divide it into five servings? None, because almost everyone absent-mindedly finishes the bottle. And how many people get a calculator out at the breakfast table?

PS these are the ingredients for the Krispy Kreme doughnut, that contains the same amount of sugar as the fruit juice (recognise many of these?!):

Doughnut: Wheat Flour, Dextrose, Vegetable Oil (Palm Oil,  Sunflower Oil), Water, Sugar, Wheat Gluten, Egg Yolks, Yeast, Skimmed Milk, Salt, Emulsififers (E471), Preservative (E282), Stabiliser (E466), Flavourings.
Kreme Filling: Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Shortening (Vegetable Oils, Emulsifier (E471)), Water, Ground Coffee Beans, Dried Glucose Syrup, Salt, Emulsifiers (E471, E435, E322, E477, E475), Flavouring.
Icing: Sugar, Water, Vegetable Oil, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder (32%), Dried Glucose Syrup, Emulsifiers (E322, E471), Salt, Flavouring
Caramel Flavour Fudge: Sugar, Full Cream Sweetened Condensed Milk, Fondant (Sugar, Glucose, Water), Glucose, Vegetable Oil, Butter Oil, Natural Flavour.

 

I quit sugar ebook Sarah Wilson give up sugar recipe book ebook paleo primal-min

Paleo Recipe Books

I used to buy so many cookbooks as it’s great to have lots of different sources when trying to put together a recipe. In the last year or two however, almost all of my cookbooks have been in ebook format.

I’m a bit of a messy cook, so in my cookbooks it’s easy to see which recipes are my favourites – those with the pages covered in ingredients! Ebooks are a great solution for me – I can find the specific recipe I want to make, print out a copy to take to the shop to refer to when I buy the ingredients – and another copy to use in the kitchen when I make the dish.

It’s so pleasing to see more Paleo friendly cook books coming out all the time.

I Quit Sugar Cook Book - Paleo Recipe Ebooks

Whilst not fully Paleo, Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar Cookbook is a great cookbook for those making the first step – giving up sugar. This book goes well with Sarah’s I Quit Sugar program, but is just as good as a cookbook in its own right. As well as Sarah Wilson contributors also include Mark Sisson and Gwyneth Paltrow. Definitely a recipe book worth trying.

Trying lots of new recipes is a great way to get used to your new way of eating, without feeling like you’re missing out on anything.

As well as Sarah Wilson’s cookbook, I also like the Simple Paleo Recipe book and the Paleo Cookbook.

Do you still prefer traditional cookbooks, or have you switched over to ebooks? Which is your favourite Paleo friendly cookbook?

The Definitive Guide to Paleo Sweeteners sugar stevia healthy agave-min

The Definitive Guide to Paleo Sweeteners

Whenever I write about sugar, I get a lot of spam comments trying to advertise brands of “natural, healthy” sweeteners that, apparently, are simply bursting with healthiness. I’m also constantly aware of people choosing artificial sweeteners to avoid sugar; as well as people choosing “natural” sweeteners over artificial, or just regular sugar.

So what is the difference between all of these types and brands of sweeteners? Are there really new natural sweeteners out there, or is it just clever marketing of an existing product, with a new brand name?

The Definitive Guide to Paleo Sweeteners sugar stevia healthy agave-min

 

Natural Sweeteners

A natural sweetener, by definition is one that is unprocessed, and naturally occurring in nature – in the same state (or requiring minimal processing that you could do yourself). A lot of sweeteners sold as natural, actually require a lot of refining and processing to get to the state they reach us in – far from natural.

Stevia

One of the most talked about sweeteners, Stevia is actually a herb. It has a natural sweet taste, but no actual sugar molecules. The green leaf Stevia plant is therefore a great alternative to sugar. Unfortunately, far more readily available than the green leaf versions, is the white powdered form of Stevia (i.e. branded as Natvia, Truvia or Sun Crystals). This is very processed, and definitely one to be avoided.

Honey

Raw Honey is a great natural sweetener. Using a local honey is even supposed to reduce hayfever. Whilst honey is natural (and in fact the only sweetener I use), it still produces an insulin effect and is definitely best suited for occasional use – as are all forms of sweeteners.

Maple Syrup, traditionally made Agave Nectar (Miel de Agave), Sorghum Syrup, Coconut Sugar, Palm Sugar, Molasses, Date Sugar, Cane Sugar, Fruit Juice, Muscovado and Sucanat are also natural sugars – but, again, no sweetener is the healthier choice, even if they are natural! Incidentally you might have seen Brown Rice Syrup in you health food shop – and whilst it too is “natural”, it contains malt and is therefore a source of gluten!

Not So Natural?

Agave Nectar is another one that seems to be thought of as another supremely healthy product. Agave is natural, in that it comes from the juice of the agave plant. It has a low glycemic profile, which means less of an insulin spike. However, this is because Agave nectar contains only 10% glucose – which means the other 90% is fructose, which comes with all sorts of health issues and is definitely to be avoided. Not only should Agave be avoided for its high fructose concentration, but it also contains saponins; toxins that have less than desirable effects on the body. Agave Nectar is produced in a not too dissimilar way to High Fructose Corn Syrup – yet at least HFCS is seldom marketed as a healthy sweetener.

Turbinado Sugar and Sugar Alcohols (i.e. xylitol and erythritol) are also not natural; but often sold with impressive health claims.

Artificial Sweeteners

The chemical sweeteners really are a no brainer. Recognised as toxins in the body – and in many cases not established enough for us to really understand their impact, I can’t see any reason why anyone would want to consume these. There is also a lot of research into the insulin response, with many suggesting that the sweet taste, even in the absence of sugar, is enough to trigger an insulin response.

Artificial sweeteners include Aspartame (sold as NutraSweet or Equal), Saccharin (Sweet n Low), Sucralose (Splenda), Acesulfame-K (Sunette or Sweet One), Sorbitol, Mannitol and Tagatose.

Sweeteners – Are They Paleo?

Whilst the natural sweeteners are without doubt less harmful than their chemical or processed alternatives, they still aren’t “Paleo”. As an occasional treat Raw Honey is the only sweetener I would suggest.

Ultimately, it’s best to give up the need for constant sweetness. Since doing so, I’ve found my taste buds have changed and I no longer crave sweet things like I used to. Try giving up sugar; after a few weeks you’ll be glad you did!

Have you given up sugar? If not, what types of sweeteners do you use?

Sugar melbourne conference event seminar quit give up-min

Melbourne Sugar

On Saturday I went across to Melbourne for a series of lectures on Sugar, Paleo and related topics given by a fantastic line-up of presenters.

Dr Rod Tayler organised the event and gave the first lecture, which was quite an eye opener into how much sugar the average Australian actually eats.  It’s quite frightening to think how much sugar most people mindlessly consume – something we have no real requirement for.

Sugar melbourne conference event seminar quit give up-min

 

Dr Ken Sikaris gave a fantastic talk about fructose metabolism, which I wish had been recorded.  He was a fantastic speaker and I learnt so much from his talk.  I really think he should speak at the Ancestral Health Symposium on Fructose this year!  I knew that fruit isn’t the wonder food that conventional wisdom would have you believe, but Dr Sikaris explain exactly why – and exactly what happens to the fructose.  I really hope the Paleo community get to hear more from Dr Sikaris.

Dr Anastasia Boulais was up next and gave a great talk about making the right food choices with a framework to guide this process.  This was a great talk, as I think a lot of people think it’s too hard to eat a Paleo diet – and that it’s an all or nothing approach – which just isn’t the case.

I really enjoyed Jamie Scott ‘s lecture about what Paleo is – and isn’t.  It was great that he also spoke about the lifestyle factors – not just what we eat, as the whole lifestyle is important, not just nutrition in isolation.

David Gillespie was next.  I read David’s book “Sweet Poison” when it first came out and found it so well written, that it became one of those books I regularly lend to interested friends and families.  It was really good to meet the man himself and to hear his talk.  David spoke about his background as a lawyer, and how he came to give up sugar – his talk linked in very well to those before and built up a compelling case.  I’m looking forward to getting started on his new book “Big Fat Lies”.

David-Gillespie melbourne sugar-min

Meeting David Gillespie

After the break, another familiar face took to the stage.  I’d met Dr Ted Arnold in LA at the Ancestral Health Symposium last year (there were a few of us from this part of the World at the AHS!).  He spoke about where we’ve come from and looked at the ever changing (but not in the right direction) nutritional advice and food pyramids.

We then heard a completely different angle from Alice Hucker, who spoke about the psychological barriers to healthy eating.  I think this is such an important topic, yet one that doesn’t get discussed very often.  I’d have like to have heard more on this topic.

Finally we heard from Dr Michael Axtens and his positive experience with changing his diet

I was so impressed to see so many people at the lecture – I bet just a couple of years ago filling the room would not have been possible.  There was a great mix of people, from those already following some sort of Paleo/ ancestral/ low-carb/ no-sugar eating plan, to those very interested in making positive changes to their diet and health.

A significant number of those in the audience were doctors, medical professionals and dieticians.  I spoke to one dietician who had been told about the event by a client and was very interested in learning as much as she could.  It’s so encouraging to see more and more of these people showing an interest in a Paleo approach.

It was so pleasing to appreciate the huge wealth of knowledge and expertise we have in Australia and New Zealand – I think we can definitely give the American Paleo folk a run for their money!  I can’t wait for more home-grown Paleo events!

Curing cancer with sugar fund raising cupcakes cake sale paleo-min

Curing Cancer With Sugar?

I’ve seen two examples of cancer charities fundraising by selling sweets, chocolates and cakes, just in the last three days.  It makes me so cross – and makes me realise how far we’ve yet to go in terms of nutritional understanding.

Cure-Cancer-With-Sugar-min

From what I understand there seem to be significant links between cancer and sugar.  Apparently cancer cells require far more glucose than normal cells to grow, and studies indicate depriving cells of glucose can be effective in killing cancerous cells.  Restricting calories, such as through intermittent fasting, also appears to be effective in starving cancer cells.  Sugar also appears to have a role to play in inflammation, oxidation and the cellular damage from which cancer originates.  I’ve also been reading a lot about the hormone IGF  1, present in milk which appears to elevate hormone levels and may increase the risk of ovarian, prostate and testicular cancers.

So why then are charities trying to cure cancer encouraging people to consume more calories and to consume these calories through processed, dairy rich, sugar-laden products?

Whilst environmental factors clearly are a factor in many cancers, I believe by having a good nutritional base (i.e. a Paleo diet being rich in anti-inflammatory foods, with a good omega 3/ omega 6 ratio and no processed or toxin containing foods) and a good lifestyle, cancer is far less likely.

Another factor that seems prevalent in some cancers is chronic stress.  Whilst in our ancestral history stress used to be severe, but short-lived (threat of attack for example), chronic, long-term stress is now common-place.  Many examples of chronic stress seem to be in the workplace – exactly the places the cancer charities are using to sell these products!  I’d also speculate that it’s stressed workers who are more likely to want the brief satisfaction of chocolates and sweets – exactly the people who shouldn’t have them!

Am I missing something, or is there something seriously wrong about trying to cure cancer with sugar?

Curing cancer with sugar fund raising cupcakes cake sale paleo-min

Vitamin water paleo healthy diet soft drinks supplements-min

Vitamin Water – Health in a Bottle?

It seems that everywhere bottled water is sold, “Vitamin Water” is sold.  Every day I see people buying it.

It annoys me that these drinks are sold as health in a bottle.  They have names like “Energy”, “Calm”, “Power”, “Essential”, “Revive”, “Recoup” and “Focus” and their bottles boast of the amazing health benefits and wealth of vitamins contained in each bottle.  I think a lot of people genuinely believe that by drinking this, they are nourishing their body with a supremely healthy product.  This belief is highly encouraged by the marketing of these drinks, which is what I take issue with.

Vitamin water paleo healthy diet soft drinks supplements-min

Instead of reaching for a “Revive” drink when feeling worn-out, I’m sure a hydrating drink of water, a healthy Paleo meal and a power nap would be far more reviving than the sugar crash that will come after drinking a bottle of “Revive”.

 

The ingredients contained in all of these Vitamin Water drinks are: –

Water, Fructose, Sucrose, Flavour, Food Acids (citric acid, mono-potassium phosphate), Vitamins (C, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, B6, B12), magnesium lactate & calcium lactate.

Depending on the flavour, these ingredients are also found too: –

Flavour (including D-Ribose), dragonfruit flavour (0.015%), Food Acids (di-potassium phosphate), Vitamins (E, A, Folate), Colour (Fruit Juice, Vegetable Juice, Beta-carotene),  Caffeine, Lutein, Guaranna & Extracts of Apple, Blueberry, Pomegranate and Acai (0.026%)

What do you think about “vitamin” drinks?  Is your low-energy solution a bottle of “energy”, or your method of concentrating a bottle of “focus”?

What's so bad about soft drinks fizzy coke paleo not healthy-min

Another Nail in the Coffin for Soft Drinks?

It’s good to see yet another study on the detrimental effects of Soft Drinks.  This time a study from the University of Oklahoma compared two groups of women over a five year period.  One group in the 4,000 strong study consumed two or more sugary soft drinks, whilst the other group drank one or less.  The participants had their weight, waist size, cholesterol & triglyceride levels measured and compared over the course of the study.  The study concludes that woman drinking two or more soft drinks a day are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

What's so bad about soft drinks fizzy coke paleo not healthy-min

The study indicates that whilst the woman’s weight didn’t necessarily increase on this soft drink regime, their risk of developing high triglycerides increased four-fold – therefore bodily fat doesn’t appear to be the sole reason for the risk.

An observational study like this has far too many variables, yet it is still useful, especially if it leads to further (ideally clinical) studies.  It’s also useful if it makes those who consume soft drinks question their nutrition.   I think it likely a woman who consumes several soft drinks a day isn’t likely to be following a healthy Paleo diet in every other aspect of her nutrition.  This makes it impossible to attribute the declining health of that group to their soft drink consumption alone.  I also have trouble with the category of “one of less” soft drinks, as I’d consider one soft drink a day to be very high use – especially where those drinks contain High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)!  I look forward to the full peer reviewed study which may address some of these points.

I think a lot of slim people consider themselves healthy and have an attitude that they can “get away” with a poor diet, including drinking regular soft drinks.  This study goes some way to challenge those views, and perhaps might help make people realise even though they may feel healthy today, they may be storing up problems for their future health.  I just hope studies like this don’t lead to diverted consumption of diet soft drinks, which in my opinion are often even more harmful.

What’s wrong with drinking water?

What do you think of observational studies like this?  Do you think they will they one day start to change nutrition en masse?

Cutting back on fruit fructose natural sugar health paleo diet-min

Cutting Back on Fruit

I’ve definitely started to notice there are a lot more Paleo friendly stories in the media recently.  Perhaps the tide is finally turning?

I used to eat a lot of fruit and was always under the impression that you could never have too much.  It’s good for you, right?  Since I’ve got more and more into Paleo I’ve drastically cut back my fruit consumption from several pieces a day – down to maybe one or two pieces a week.  Fruit contains a lot of fructose, which means it elevates blood sugar.  I limit my carbohydrate intake in my Paleo diet, so fruit doesn’t feature very often.  I’ve been feeling great since I’ve been limiting carbohydrates, so I’m definitely on the right track.

When I do have fruit, I make sure I go for something in season.  I also choose a fruit with a good nutritional profile, and a lower fructose content.  Berries are a really good choice as they contain antioxidants and relatively lower sugar than many other fruits.  Now we’re almost coming into summer fresh berries are becoming more and more abundant, so it’s definitely time to enjoy them.  I eat a wide variety of good quality grass-fed organic meat and vegetables, so I am certain I am not missing out any nutrients by omitting regular fruit from my diet.

The Sydney Morning Herald posted an article this weekend on the role of sugar in obesity, in which Dr Taylor talks about how he believes sugar, not fat is behind the rise in obesity.  Dr Taylor is running the Epworth Sweet Study in Melbourne where 100 participants are restricting carbohydrate (and fruit) intake, with positive results.

Hopefully articles like this will become more and more common place.

Have you limited your fruit intake?  Which types of fruit do you value the most?

Cutting back on fruit fructose natural sugar health paleo diet-min