Correlation does not equal causation, I know, but…

The evidence is compelling. See for yourself here.

I was never a believer in the low-fat diet. It just did not sit well with me. While sugar, well, don’t get me started on this subject. Check out the graphs, especially number 2, 4 and 6.

Comparing the metabolism of fat versus carbohydrates, you can see that they take very different paths. Carbohydrates convert to glucose and the body uses it for energy with help of insulin. Insulin is a hormone manufactured in the body in proportion to carbohydrate intake. To cut the long story short, overconsumption of carbs, can lead to insulin resistance, obesity and diabetes.

Fat can also be used for energy by the body. The mechanism is different, though. Body will convert it to ketones and use that for energy. However, you need bile to break down the fatty acids. Bile is produced by liver in small quantities and stored in the gall bladder. If you eat more fat than you can metabolise, it will pass out with the feces. This is easily checked – the poo will float. So you can’t really overdose on it.

This is a very simplistic explanation, but it works for me. Now, where’s my butter gone?

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Marketing to kids

I am so glad that my son is immune to this kind of brainwash! He’s been sugar and junk-food free for over a year now. And, no, I did not force him into this 🙂

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To tax or not to tax, fat that is.

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The fat tax is in the media again. Denmark’s experiment has failed miserably after 1 year – people have revolted and shopped across the border. Unfortunately, if it happened in Australia people would not have that luxury. By the way, Aussies are still reeling from the carbon tax and now possible debt tax is hanging over them. Not sure if they could take another tax…

Denmark has taken one approach and taxed the product, kind of like what happened with tobacco. Unlike tobacco, though, which is one product one ingredient, they taxed food products containing certain levels of sugar and/or saturated fat. This, as we can imagine, has created a bit of an administrative hell for companies. Greece should learn from this…

By the way, since McDonalds has switched to Canola oil, they could probably avoid paying the saturated fat component, but fat chance about sugar! Nearly all items on their menu are loaded with it.

The other approach would be to tax the individuals who choose this lifestyle. Of course, safeguards should be in place for people with genetic disorders, or other afflictions that are not their fault. Not sure how people who lost their gall bladder would fare as many have complained about weight gain after the surgery. Would they have a claim?

Apparently, nearly 40% of Americans would support taxing the obese. This is a big surprise in a country where 75% of people are heavier than they should be. So even fat people agree with this. Strange. After all, airlines do charge people for excess baggage…

The question is not if, but when and how. It is inevitable. In America, the annual medical cost of obesity is estimated to be $190 billion. This is a staggering amount, but would the medical industry let go of the golden goose without a fight? Well, the government might as well jump in for a ride on the gravy train. I’m sure that medical and food industry “experts” will help shape the policies.

The fat tax is not going to change anything as far the obesity epidemic goes. As we have seen from the tax on cigarettes, smokers keep on smoking. Whoever is addicted to sugar will have their cake and eat it, too. First time I visited Max Brenner Chocolate Bar, I could not believe that they were selling slices of cake for $12 each, but there were plenty of customers. A slice of similar cake could have been purchased for a fraction of this just around the corner. Saturated fat is not a cause of obesity as can be seen from the French paradox and Sweden. So this part is a scam in my view.

Taxing the individual is risky. Politicians would be shooting themselves in the foot as majority of voters fall into that category. However, some countries are sneaking this tax on certain products already. It’s called discounts. Health insurance companies can easily afford to lower the premiums for people with healthy weight. After all, this is a shrinking minority and won’t hurt the bottom line.

In summary, I dare to say that we will see fat tax shortly. Most likely it will be a combination of the different methods and somewhat diguised by clever marketing. Will it make a difference? It will financially hit the poorer population the most, since junk food is the cheapest and the cost of other food will probably rise in proportion. However, I don’t think that anyone will get healthier because of it.

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Can we live without sugar?

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Short answer is yes, but life won’t be very sweet 🙂

Sugar, or sucrose, is made up of 2 different parts. There’s a molecule of glucose chemically bonded with a molecule of fructose. Once ingested, an enzyme called sucrase breaks the bond and seperates glucose from fructose.

Human body converts carbohydrates into glucose and uses it for energy. Apparently, fructose is poorly absorbed but ends up converted to triglycerides by the liver and contributes to blood cholesterol and obesity. Also, new research links it with Alzheimers. This is not desirable. Glucose is not that bad, but why eat it when the body makes it? Why mess with the natural process? After all, glucose spikes the insulin and too much of it can lead to diabetes.

Well, sugar is addictive. Now, I am talking from experience. I used to finish the whole block of chocolate while intending only to eat a couple of pieces. I have given up sugar over a year ago, however, still get some cravings every now and then. I have never been addicted to drugs, so I can’t compare, but this seems pretty bad. My 11 year old son has also given up sugar at the same time and it was much easier for him – he only had 10 years as addict while I had 44. Bit of a difference.

Is it worth it? Definitely! Both of us have not caught any colds or flus in that time, even though we’ve been around people sneezing and coughing. I no longer get those moments during the day when it’s hard to keep the eyes open and the only way to fix it is with a doughnut and coffee. These went gradually and subtly away over first few months. I have also lost about 7kg not intending to, and doing much less exercise then before. These benefits are similar with reports from others who have also given up sugar.

Now, the most important question – what do I do about the sweetness? I use a bit of xylitol with my coffee. I also make ice-cream using xylitol – my son loves it. Xylitol is a tooth and gut-friendly sugar alcohol, but unfortunately, is bout 25 times more expensive than good old sucrose. Stevia, erythritol or D-mannitol can also be safely used. Even though xylitol tastes like sugar, and unlike stevia, has no after-taste, not everyone likes it. My mum, for example, is used to the sugar rush and consequent insulin response from conventional sugar. I guess, that’s one reason why it is so addictive.

However, more and more people are waking up to the fact that sugar (and not fat) is the bad guy. Sweden has now become the first western nation to ditch the low fat/high carb diet. More to come…

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How to stay healthy

Although it starts like a conspiracy, with disastrous results, it shows how to avoid most drugs by following simple diet/lifestyle guidelines. Just go to the bottom of the article. There are 8 simple, common-sense points that anyone can incorporate into their life in order to stay healthy.

Dr Mercola, who published this article, is a leading health innovator as well as best-selling author. He’s trained in both traditional and natural medicine. What I like about him, is that he’s asking the most important question when it comes to any cure or treatment – that is: what is the motivation behind it?

Because, let’s face it, most of the drugs on the market, as well as therapies, do nothing for the patient (at best) but put a lot of money into the pushers’ pockets. Beta-blockers (according to his reasearch) have killed a lot of people. That’s probably an ugly example of profit over benefit. Sadly, it’s not the only one.

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Changed my mind again…

You just can’t win. One day it’s good for you, then bad, then good again…

I’m talking about coffee. Yes, I like it and I drink a lot of the brown sludge (actually, just having one while writing this post) as you probably know from my other posts. But what really gets me is that there are so many conflicting studies.

Here’s an example of a study that’s saying coffee (or too much of it) is bad. And here’s an article saying that caffeine is more toxic than drugs. Just makes you want to give up. And now there’s this – saying that drinking coffee can give you a long and happy life.

I guess, you can’t just take any of this at face value. First of all, for any study proving something, there will be another one disproving it. And secondly, there is no mention in any of these articles how was the coffee made or consumed. Was it black or with milk, with sugar or some other sweeteners? These things will affect the results, and not too many people will drink black coffee.

The same will apply to any article you read about some beneficial aspect of some food. You just have to do your own research and make up your own mind. There are some questions you may ask and see if you can answer them from the article itself or its source. Like, “Who sponsored this particular study?”, or, “Who will benefit the most if people accept the views that are presented?”. Otherwise you’ll be flipping back and forth just like me with the coffee 🙂

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istayinshape as a matter of choice

Merry Christmas everyone! There is something I want to mention during this festive season.

I want to recall a couple of people I’ve met recently that are perfect examples of what I am talking about.

First one, let’s call him Jim (not his real name) is about 50 years old and looks fit even though he eats a lot of junk food and drinks a lot of soft drinks loaded with sugar. He has just gone through a painful procedure to zap his kidney stones. Not the first time, I have to mention. When I hinted that all this soda and bad diet is contributing to his misery, he agreed with me but hten he just reached for a can of coke saying that he was advised to get his fluid intake up and he can’t drink just water. No taste…

Well, the other man, let’s call him Pat, is a bit older, at about 65, with diabetes, heart problems (2 by-pass surgeries), nearly total blindness in one eye and a myriad of other issues. I saw him scoffing down McDonalds food followed by chocolate bars and later in the day, drinking beer. Not the best diet for a diabetic. When I asked why does he do it to himself, his answer was: “I’ve gotta live!”. Well, let’s just say his definition of living differs from mine.

When it comes to eating, many people will choose instant gratification over long term health and fitness. It’s ok to have a chocolate or coke every now and then, even McDonalds, but when it’s affecting one’s life, there’s a choice to be made. Either continue and pay for it later, or stop and think about the consequences.

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