The Magic Pill

The Magic Pill:  A Film Review

 

Source: Google Images

This film is about an hour and a half long.  The producer Pete Evans may be better known as one of the judges on the Australian ‘My Kitchen Rules’  series.  The film looks at the merits of the ketogenic diet. Ketogenic basically means eating a diet that is high-fat, adequate-protein and low-carbohydrate.  The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates.  The ketogenic diet was originally used by physicians in the 1920s to treat epilepsy but was largely abandoned in favour of new anticonvulsant drugs.  It is proposed that as a species this diet may better suit our biochemistry and, if done correctly, could be one way of alleviating or preventing chronic diseases and brain conditions.  Our brains are made up of 60% fat.  However, this turns the whole low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet on its head.  It pretty much turns the food pyramid up-side-down.  Governing health bodies believe the diet to be controversial, unscientific and a threat to public health.  The Health Professions Council of South Africa spent three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars prosecuting Tim Noakes, emeritus professor and scientist, with a charge of misconduct after he gave low-carbohydrate, high-fat dietary advice to a weening mother on twitter.

The film follows the progress of a group of indigenous people, the Yolngu, on a 10 day ‘Hope for Health’ retreat.   All the participants suffer from diabetes and other chronic diseases, unheard of among these people before their introduction to the western diet.  It also follows the progress of a young family with an autistic 5 year old girl, Abigail, an autistic boy, an asthmatic singer and two women moving fearfully into later life.  All the participants are on a cocktail of medications to keep their chronic conditions under control and all are ready to try the ketogenic diet. Could embracing good fats and drastically reducing carbs be the key to better health?  Is a radical re-think needed?  One woman featured, says the disappearance of her breast cancer tumour is due to the ketogenic diet.  A brave lady to declare this to a world that might not want to listen.

Easy viewing with no high-pitched drama, the film gently opens us up to the idea that perhaps we have moved away from our connection with the land, the nature of food and even our own natural instincts when it comes to eating.  Lost!!   But there is ‘Hope for Health’.  You will see that it is not easy to begin making dietary changes and that this particular approach really goes against the ‘grain’ 🙂 and the tide. You will be inspired by the results these brave people achieved in a relatively short time.  They share their personal stories to show others that they have found a way back to better health.

Abigail stole the show.  If you want to keep up with how she is doing now her dad made a blog to share their story.    You can find it by clicking here.

© AoS2018

Magnesium ‘Miracle Mineral’

In my first blog about Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, I explained that it is unusual for Nutritional Therapists to recommend a single nutrient supplement, but that Vitamin D could be the exception.  Why?   Over many years, science has shown how insufficient vitamin D levels contribute to health concerns on virtually every level and many have responded by boosting levels with supplementation or quality time in the sun.   But here is another nutrient which has a similarly wide-reaching effect in the body, which is also largely deficient in the population and could benefit from supplementation.  Magnesium!  Every known illness is associated with magnesium deficiency.  Like vitamin D, magnesium supports seemingly endless functions and bodily systems.   It is a macro-mineral, the fourth most abundant in the body and a co-factor (a molecule that assists in chemical processes in the body) for the proper functioning of 325 enzymes.  Ongoing magnesium deficiency has been linked to numbness and tingling, muscle cramps and twitches, headaches and migraines, constipation, insomnia, irregular heart rhythms, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, premenstrual syndrome, personality changes, anxiety, fatigue and weakness, fibromyalgia, vertigo, and seizures…. and that’s just for a start!   But why such widespread lack?  Historically humans met their needs for magnesium through clean spring, river or lake mineral rich water and ate food grown in mineral rich soil.  Magnesium is much more plentiful in the diet than vitamin D, provided you are including magnesium rich foods.  Even so, mineral depleted soil produces a much lower mineral content in natural foods as compared to the beginning of the last century.  Other modern day factors also contribute to its depletion in the body such as stress, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods and sugar.  In this context, deficiency is easier to fathom!  Like vitamin D, having sufficient levels of magnesium could stack the potential for many more health benefits in your favour.  If you are interested in knowing more about magnesium, the best dietary and other sources, and the best type of magnesium to supplement with, then read on!   Q. Prefer to watch a video?  I have posted a link at the end of the blog.

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Spice Aid Cabinet

Mankind has sought out plants with medicinal properties since time immemorial.  Even today when there have been great developments in the field of chemistry, pharmaceuticals and medicine, these medicinal plants have lost none of their importance.  Botanical drugs are at the birth place of the current pharmaceutical industry, for example, the ancient Egyptians used the bark of the Willow tree for the relief of aches and pains.  The willow tree yields ‘salicylic acid’ which is the active pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory component that is used to make the aspirin of today.  Probably because big pharma don’t really want you to know that some of your inexpensive household herbs and spices could be the answer to your aches, pains and other health conditions, this information has become generally suppressed and instead we are encouraged by media advertising to believe that pharmaceutical drugs are the only solution.  The general public has consequently lost trust in natural remedies while big pharma secretly know their benefits.  Plant based medical practices like traditional Chinese herbal medicine, Ayurvedic and Naturopathic medicine, for example, are often viewed as a last resort when conventional medicine offers us no solution.  Ideally the reverse would be the case, where natural remedies are used first and pharmaceutical drugs, with their known side-effects, are a last resort.  In this blog I am sharing my knowledge of some of the spices that are ‘hot’ in the world of nutrition.  You may already have them in your spice cabinet.  They offer a relatively inexpensive way of stacking some health benefits in your favour with little effort!   Mother Nature’s flavour favours. Many spices have health benefits, too many to cover here, so I have narrowed them down to some of the most popular and widely used today in the prevention and treatment of the chronic diseases.  I have checked each spice for known interactions {A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions}. There are none for those mentioned and so they are completely safe to use.  So, what are these little pots of magic dust??  Read on to find out!

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The Fat Factor

When you hear the word ‘fat’ you don’t automatically think of the macronutrient ‘fat’.   Fat can also refer to fat in the body or to someone carrying excess weight.  We can distinguish carbohydrate and protein as food groups more easily than fat.  Protein is involved in muscle growth in the body but we don’t call it ‘muscle’. Talking about fat can therefore be confusing but from this point on, I am referring to fat ‘the macronutrient’ as a constituent of food!  In college we had an information sheet for clients called ‘Fat Phobia’.  Interesting title!  Before I read it I thought it must be about ‘a fear of becoming fat’.  It turns out the phobia is a fear of eating foods containing fat.  If you are now thinking ‘isn’t that the same thing’ then I hope by the time you have finished reading this blog your perception will have changed. This assumption that fat makes you fat is outdated and untrue.  You need fat!  The right fat!  There is not just one type of fat but many, and as with all food groups there is the good and the best avoided varieties.  It is vital to know the difference.  Fat phobia is real and many people are on a mission to eliminate fat in order to lose weight, not realizing how important it is for their health.  Choosing quality over quantity and making small dietary adjustments could make a big difference to your health.  Read on to learn more about your dietary fat factors!!

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Calories – the Good, the Bad and the Make Believe

Counting calories… Yes, I have done it too!  Until I learned that there is a healthier, more sustainable way to lose weight and keep it off.   There is no doubt about it, if you restrict your calories on an ongoing basis, you will lose weight.   That said, as soon as you stop restricting calories and go back to ‘normal’ eating, you will put it all back on again and more.  As soon as you even think about restricting calories you feel hungry, right?   Did you know your body has an inbuilt physiological response to perceived and actual hunger?   The response roughly translates as ‘hold on to that fat’!   It behaves like Old Mother Hubbard, she doesn’t want the cupboard to be bare.  Is your own body working against you?  Many of our innate responses are outside of our conscious control.  You don’t need to remind your heart to beat or your hair to grow.  We are hardwired to survive for a while without eating.  If your body perceives ‘starvation’ it holds on to its fat store (stored energy) to tide you over.  Thankfully, most of us do not face food scarcity or starvation, the opposite is more likely the case.  The challenge we face today is learning to understand how our body works, what affects our appetite and how to negotiate the modern diet for a healthy weight.  It is never a simple case of counting calories.

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The Sunshine Vitamin D

As part of my Nutritional Therapy course I had to complete a scientific review of current research on the impact a single nutrient might have on a specific disease.   I chose Vitamin D and Osteoporosis [OP].  I wanted to answer the question ‘does current research show that adequate levels of Vitamin D have a positive impact on OP’?   Turns out that it does!   Not surprising I hear you say!  Most of us already know from TV commercials that Vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones and to absorb calcium.  But how much is adequate?   I discovered there are many and widely differing opinions on this and just when I thought I had this bit figured out, I learned that no vitamin works in isolation in the body anyway.   Plus, there are so many factors other than nutrients involved in disease progression.   I found out Vitamin D is not even a vitamin really!   It was designated a ‘vitamin’ based on its role as a dietary factor that aided in the cure of rickets.  It is now understood to be more ‘hormone like’ in its action.   Did you know, it is difficult to get adequate Vitamin D through diet alone?  Vitamin D is not even required in the diet if there is sufficient sunlight to allow its production from pro-Vitamin D molecules in the skin.  It is made in the body with its own Vitamin D receptors [VDRs].  For this reason it could be classified as a hormone rather than a vitamin (a vital amine).  Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide epidemic across all ages, genders and geographic locations with multiple implications on human health, due to its role in various bodily systems.   Even if you can avail of adequate year round sun-exposure on bare skin, the time of day, the colour of your skin and your age will also influence how much Vitamin D your body can produce.   A Nutritional Therapist seldom recommends a single vitamin but Vitamin D could be the exception to that rule.  Deficiency has an impact on so many body systems yet symptoms of deficiency are not very obvious.  The only way to really know if you are deficient is to take a 25(OH)D blood test.   Are you getting enough of the ‘Sunshine’ Vitamin?  Let me help you figure it out!

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