Category Archives: The Science bits

Nuts may prolong life…

Recent research has found that people who snack on an oz. of nuts a day (including peanuts – technically a legume) were 20% less likely to die from any health cause, including heart disease and cancer.  Just one more reason to follow my recipes which replaces grain flours with nut flours!

Eat my granola every morning with almond milk – be healthy!!

Grapefruit – it really IS a good diet food!

The latest research, carried out by scientists at the Nutrition and Medical Research Centre at Scripps Clinic in San Diego, America, has found that the simple act of adding grapefruit and grapefruit juice to your diet, really can aid weight loss. But unlike the seriously restricted diet of the 80s, you get these results without changing what else you eat!

Even study leader Dr Fujioka seemed surprised, saying, ‘For years, people have talked about the grapefruit diet. Now we have data that grapefruit helps weight loss. Our study participants maintained their daily eating habits and slightly enhanced their exercise routine. The only dietary change was the intake of Florida grapefruit and grapefruit juice.’

The study included 100 obese people who were divided into three groups. The first group ate half a grapefruit before each meal three times a day. The second group drank grapefruit juice before each meal. The third group received no grapefruit. No other changes were made to their diets.

After 12 weeks, those participants who ate grapefruit with each meal lost, on average 3.6lb. Only a third of a pound a week, but pretty good considering they didn’t make any other changes to their diet. Meanwhile, those who drank grapefruit juice three times a day lost 3.3lb in the 12 weeks. By comparison, the grapefruit-free participants lost, on average, only 0.5lb.

But weight loss wasn’t the only health benefit seen when grapefruit or the juice was consumed. The research also found the grapefruit-consuming participants had lower levels of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels and fat metabolism, which in turn might help to reduce the risk of diabetes or stroke.

The researchers believe grapefruit contains unique plant compounds that reduce insulin levels, which in turn promotes weight loss.

The link between raised insulin levels and excess weight is complicated and multifaceted. To start with, high levels of insulin may indicate that sugar isn’t efficiently utilised for energy with the result that it’s more likely to be stored as fat. Secondly, high levels of insulin can make people feel hungry so that they eat more. And finally, high levels of insulin prevent the body from breaking down fat. Add these together, and it’s easy to see why lower levels of insulin may promote weight loss. What exactly it is in grapefruit that has this insulin-lowering effect remains unclear.

Warning! Grapefruit juice can interact with medicines

While this research might tempt you to fill up on grapefruit to boost your weight loss campaign, if you’re taking any medications you might want to speak to your GP first or check the literature that comes with your medication.

This is because a wealth of research shows that grapefruit juice can interact with a number of medications, potentially causing serious side effects. It works by inhibiting an enzyme in the intestines that’s responsible for the natural breakdown and absorption of many medications. When the action of this enzyme is blocked, blood levels of these medications increase and this can lead to potentially toxic side effects.

Research suggests that flavonoids and/or furanocoumarin compounds are the substances in grapefruit juice that block the enzyme in the intestines. Many drugs appear to be affected by grapefruit juice so if you are taking any medication, it’s essential to check whether you can safely consume grapefruit juice. In the meantime, it’s likely that grapefruit segments may also interact with certain medications so you’d be wise to consult your GP before eating lots of grapefruit. Other citrus fruits don’t seem to have any effect.


Fighting Inflammation

Most polyunsaturated vegetable oils like safflower, sunflower, corn, peanut and soy, are high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 essential fatty acid that the body converts into arachidonic acid, another omega-6 fatty acid that has a predominantly pro-inflammatory influence. These same oils contain almost no omega-3’s (found in rich supply in coldwater fish, phytoplankton, and flaxseed), which soothe inflammation. Our prehistoric ancestors ate a diet with an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 1:1. Our current ratio is anywhere between 10:1 and 25:1!
For most people, high-carb, low-protein diets are inflammatory. We’ve seen repeatedly that low-carb diets reduce inflammation for most people. But you will need to listen to your own body and carefully observe which foods fuel inflammation for you. You may also want to consider following an anti-inflammatory diet.
Refined sugar and other foods with high glycemic values jack up insulin levels and put the immune system on high alert. (The glycemic index measures the immediate impact of a food on blood sugar levels; surges of blood sugar trigger the release of insulin).

Common allergens like casein and gluten (proteins found in dairy and wheat) are quick to spark the inflammatory cascade. Anyone suffering from coeliac disease knows how inflammatory wheat can be. Foods high in trans fats create LDL’s, or “bad cholesterol”, which feeds inflammation in the arteries. Trans fats also create renegade cells called free radicals that damage healthy cells and trigger inflammation.

So the first step in cooling inflammation on a cellular level is to pay attention to your diet, in particular your glycemic load (a measure of the glycemic index and portion of a food), essential fatty acid intake, and food sensitivities. As we get older, foods that never bothered us before, like dairy and wheat, may trigger chronic low-grade indigestion or other seemingly minor symptoms that put our immune system on guard — with additional inflammatory concerns to follow. Probiotics (supplements containing the “good” bacteria that support healthy digestion) have been proven to be as effective in treating symptoms of irritable bowel as medication.

Going on a low-carbohydrate or very low glycemic diet can soothe inflammation in the body and allow healing to take place.  If you are interested I can provide low-carb, paleo and low-glycemic food combining plans as well as weight-loss guides that fit into an anti-inflammatory way of eating for improved health.  Just email me! – Kim