Thursday, 31 December 2009

My Healthy Predictions For 2010

In keeping with blogging tradition, I feel compelled to write something scintillating about where I see the industry going this coming year. After all, it is New Year's Eve!

I'll start by referring you to a post I just completed on my brand new blog Body Mind Freedom.

My girlfriend read it and remarked that it contained little that was upbeat.

So, feeling a little like Scrooge Mac Duck saying "Bah Humbug" to the Christmas fairy, I started to ponder why I was such a sour puss and whether it was time to get excited again.

And before too long it came to me.

I think the health, fitness and weight-loss industries need a major wake-up call.

If you've read even a smattering of my posts over the last year, you'll already know that I am saddened at the lot of personal fitness trainers and nutrition professionals.

These well-intentioned individuals are little more than low-level cogs in the antiquated machinery or our respective health care systems (USA and UK).

And I make no apologies for the fact that I think these systems are operating on borrowed time. People are getting sick from a host of preventable diseases and our solution is to plug them in, medicate ... and foster further dependance, suffering and inbalance.

All of which needs to be paid for by someone. Increasing load, less bucks ... something has to give.

But I digress.

Here is a quick summary of what might change in 2010: Nothing! Nix! Zippo! Not a thing.

If it is broke ... don't fix it!

We will continue to get sicker, sooner. But actuaries will refute this with statistical proof that average age expectancy is up, so nothing is rotten in the state of Denmark.

We will continue to abrogate our responsibility to ourselves for our own state of well-being. After all what are health care systems and insurance companies for?

We will continue to ignore the obvious benefits of organic foods in spite of the science. Science, like accounting, is malleable ... and money always talks.

Besides, no-one likes to feel naive, so the dissidents have an easy sell in a recession.

We will continue searching for magic bullets, quick fixes and super-foods. Isolation will lose none of its lustre. People will not see that a supplement is the ultimate refined food.

And the formal status quo will continue to endorse its existing set of sacred cows.

Then we will wring our hands in frustration that our kids are becoming fat and diabetic. We will endorse hugely expensive programs to show them how to get outside and play again.

But health and safety fears will still encourage kids to wear helmuts and check for allergies first before using sticking plasters (elastoplast). Really!

We may rue that politics and legislation trump common sense and foster paranoia ... but we will do nothing. Except tell people to participate in the process, so they too can change the world (or at least have a licence to complain).

On a positive note (see, I listen to my most ardent critics), some people will keep digging and refuse to succumb to the inexorable tide of media conditioning.

These enlightened souls will relish responsibility and choose to embrace the notion that the best health insurance is getting healthy and living a healthy lifestyle.

These special people will be my inspiration.

Thanks for all your kind support in 2009. May this next decade bring you the happiness you deserve.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Reframe your Nutrition Paradigm

I must apologize for not updating this blog for such a long time.

I have been working on a new project that I will reveal before the end of the post. Because my technical skills are quite limited and because I am a frustrated perfectionist, getting everything "just right" took far longer than I had initially envisioned.

Today, I thought I'd chat about the way we view nutrition. Quite simply, we have been conditioned to such a degree that we no longer even understand what constitutes appropriate food for a human being.

I'll give you some examples. How many times does one hear that we should learn how to read labels ... or that we should be taking "this supplement" or "that" superfood?

Or, if we only learn to eat less food, more often ... then somehow we will gain back control of our cravings and "balance our sugar". Blah, blah, blah ...

What hog wash!

The reason we have lost our way is very simple actually. For years and years, in fact millennia, we foraged for what we could get. That was, pretty much, fruit and vegetables, berries and seeds. And roots and tubers if you really want to get down and dirty.

In the last 10,000 years or so we "discovered" fire and learnt how cooking can enhance the flavor of food. We also learnt how to domesticate grains which allowed us to settle in one place and really concentrate on breeding.

And of course cooking meant we now could eat animals and enjoy them, something I'm not sure any self-respecting Neanderthal would have seriously considered prior to that mythical lightening strike.

In the last few decades, maybe a little longer, we also became quite skilled at manufacturing "food" and so ushered in the age of convenience consumption. And this, in turn, negated the need to expend energy foraging for sustenance growing in the wild.

What these developments also meant was that we now eat according to modern dictate, rather than Nature's design.

So we consume calorie-dense, nutrient-deficient food ... and we become fat, slow, sore and ultimately diseased. Symptoms yielding inevitably to condition.

Of course, some people will say that we have adapted to tolerate grains and no doubt will adapt to our sedentary lifestyles and concentrated calories. But it would appear the scientists among us feel there's strong evidence that the human genome could not possibly change that radically, so fast.

Whatever the real truth, I am utterly convinced through personal experimentation, that we respond best to the following:

- living, fresh food versus dead, cooked, or manufactured food. Mother Nature beats mankind's best food chemists hands down, every time.

- plant food versus animal products (which need to be cooked and contain surplus saturated fat, cholesterol and protein).

- organically grown versus commercially farmed fruit and vegetables ... which are theoretically free of chemical residues and, if fresh, are far more nutritious because they come from living soils.

- "low" fat versus "high" fat. By this I mean that no more than 10% of your calories should come from fat (not just "fatty" foods).

- ripe fruit and tender, young greens versus immature fruit and overly mature greens ... because these criteria facilitate digestion that is less energy-expensive.

So ... start your days with fresh, ripe, seasonal fruit so you get a variety over the course of a year. Then, sometime in the afternoon, have some more fruit and/or tender, young, fresh greens. Occasionally eat minimal amounts of avocados, olives, nuts and seeds.

Eat this way and you will feel infinitely better. You will think clearer, articulate yourself better and even appear more intelligent to your slower peers who are no doubt weighed down by the burden of animal products and cooked delights.

You will also be free of addictions (though we prefer to call these "cravings" or "an appetite"), which is an added bonus that should not be under-estimated.

Earlier, I promised to reveal my new project to you, so here goes: you can find a rather snappy landing page here.

Because I am a trust-worthy guy who would not dream of compromising your privacy, I strongly suggest you opt-in to my list and grab yourself a free copy of my report "10 Fat Loss Tips". This will also take you to an information (sales) page that explains everything you need to know about my stunning new book.

Who knows, you might find it quite an eye-opener ...

Friday, 20 November 2009

Green Light For Boozers?

The BBC has reported that research conducted in Spain over the last 10 years suggests three startling conclusions:

- first ... drinking a little alcohol (1 x shot/day) reduces your risk of heart disease by about a third. We've heard that before, haven't we?

- second ... drinking 3-11 shots/day further reduces this risk to around 50%! Go on, seriously?

- and finally ... bad news girls, this only seems to apply to men. We must legislate against that!

The study involved more than 40 000 individuals aged between 29 and 69 and claims to have eliminated factors that previously skewed studies such as these by differentiating, for example, between teetotallers and those who no longer drank because ill health had forced them to quit.

Huh? Relevance? OK, sorry ... I missed taking statistics at school. Sounds like another case of baffling with (horsefeathers)!

It has been postulated (another big word used by scientists) that alcohol consumption actually increases HDL ("good") cholesterol in the blood, which effectively negates, or at least offsets to a degree, the harmful effects of LDL ("bad") cholesterol.

It is also thought that the impact was not material on females because they are thought to metabolise alcohol differently from men. I told you they were different!

And of course spokespeople for various interest groups such as the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have been quick to say that the results of this research should not be seen as encouragement to drink more.

Of course not. Thank you for pointing that out. Now we know.

Studies in the past that suggest small amounts of alcohol reduce the risk of Coronary Heart Disease (CAD) in men over 40 have been viewed by some optimists as vindication that drinking is a healthful practice.

The overall take-out of the report suggests that as long as drinkers exercise "moderation" by limiting themselves to the requisite daily allowance of units (and taking a break for 2 days a week) then everything will be okay.

Here's my view:

Drinking "in moderation" is seen as absolutely healthful because it is legal ... and it suggests that people are still in control. As long as this culture exists, people will continue to kid themselves that they are not alcoholics.

I don't care what anybody says: if you have to drink 5 days a week, then you have a problem. Of course, you'll say you do so out of choice and that you could take it or leave it.

Of course you can ... you're just bored. Anyway, why should you stop if the authorities say it's cool?

I don't suggest for a minute that people stop drinking completely. But moderation is surely "an occasional light indulgence" rather than a daily ritual with a informal two-day abstinence mandate (that feels like a whole week)?

We all know that alcohol is a cytoplasmic poison that erodes our liver, pancreas and brain. We all know that regular consumption makes us fat because it introduces calories without any nutritional value whatsoever.

We'd all like to drink for the stress-reducing benefits of social lubrication and a good laugh with friends and family. I completely applaud that logic.

But moderation is a pipe dream.

We are living in cloud cuckoo land if we honestly believe that one is only an alcoholic if you repeatedly lose control and get fall-down drunk on a regular and systematic basis.

So all I'm saying is "people ... please, get real about your addictions".

Just because we live in times where daily consumption is deemed both legal and healthful does not make it so.

The real reasons we enjoy drinking so much is that it allows us to let rip and forget our inhibitions. This makes us appear more fun amongst our peers, which in turn is gratifying to us. Sorry creatures that we are.

And when we feel that yearning when we don't drink, that's the siren call of addiction ... our body's physiological mechanism for attempting to reduce the discomfort of withdrawal.

Even if you have the discipline to moderate your consumption to a nightly tipple, eventually you will wake up one day and your body will say "no mas". Eventually your body will get the message.

But let's cross that bridge when we get to it. Maybe it'll be a good time to stop smoking too?

Monday, 16 November 2009

Balance The Sugar For Our Kids

This morning's report on BBC Breakfast about the added sugar in snacks targeted for childrens' lunch boxes really got my attention.

Interestingly enough, the discussion did not appear on the Breakfast website ... which begs one question.


What could be more relevant to the health of the nation than the garbage we are feeding our kids? (Ok, that's more than one Don!)

Two people were being interviewed ... one suggesting that it was an outrage that manufacturers persisted in coming up with products containing added sugar. The other interviewee represented the interests of retailers and food manufacturers and actually had the gall to say that the selected items were being taken out of context and that generally products of this nature had a more healthy balance of less sugar.

He also tried telling us that the two reasons food manufacturers did this was for "taste" and "technology". Uhh ... what technology please? Oh, the technology of addiction. Or can't we say that?

What surprised me was that this particular gentleman appeared to genuinely feel that products with less sugar could be referred to as "healthy" and that the industries he represented were actually operating in the best interests of parents and children alike.

Which tells me two things: either he has been totally brainwashed like the rest of the British public and thinks that Frosted Flakes and juice concentrates with added sugar and preservatives are part of a "balanced diet" because levels of these toxic substances have been reduced.

Or ... he knows exactly what he's doing and is not only tolerated, but highly remunerated for so eloquently distorting the truth.

Hmmm ... I wonder, do you think?

As long as food manufacturers are allowed to peddle artificial "foods" under the guise of a "healthy, balanced diet" the population will continue to get fatter and sicker. This of course will benefit those peddling drugs to control the behaviour of kids eating this rubbish ... as well as all those people standing in line to cash in on the growing problem of childhood obesity (including the tax man).

And well-intentioned mothers will continue to think that nothing is rotten in the State of Denmark.

The words "healthy, balanced diet" are rapidly becoming the most misused words in the modern lexicon.

People, please ... the lessor of two known evils does not constitute a healthy choice. Or are we now saying that a little added sugar never hurt anyone because the scientific evidence is inconclusive?

How convenient.

Stop whining Don and pass the chocolate-coated, frosted sugar bombs. Tasted great. Less calories. Why thank you Hobbes!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Aspirin No Longer In Vogue

Researchers for the Drugs nad Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB) have now come out to say that aspirin can cause serious internal bleeding and does not prevent deaths from cardiovascular disease.

"Based on this new evidence" the Royal College of GP's support these findings and are against the use of aspirin as a prophylactic. On the BBC Dr Rosemary herself has also confirmed that it is no longer recommended to take 75mg/day to stave off heart attacks, stroke and thrombosis. It can irritate the stomach, causing bleeding ulcers which may ultimately lead to anaemia.

In fact, so too do other magic bullets like ginkgo biloba and high dose garlic.

Fancy that ... what a revelation. Even better, the polypill I have blogged about mercilessly in the past contains ... drum roll please ... aspirin. So it's no longer recommended either.

Ah, the sweet smell of toll free vindication.

But it still keeps getting better. Guess what is now in favour? You got it ... diet and exercise, 5-a-day. And our friends hosting BBC breakfast, on learning this, described this massive breakthrough in medical perspicacity as "sage advice".

Come on!

Does it take the Royal College of GP's and BBC's own intrepid "in-house" doctor to say all this before people get that magic bullets aren't a substitute for healthy living? Nor are they an insurance policy that buys you time so you can abuse yourself just that little bit longer.

That wasn't a rhetorical question! The short answer, sadly, is "no".

What is it with people that they just will not accept this? Stop trying to medicate yourself into good health. Nature didn't design medications (amazing though this may be for the pharmaceutical industry to believe).

Doctors aren't God either, nor will they ever be.

Your best insurance against heart disease includes a diet that predominates in fresh, whole, ripe, raw, organic fruit and vegetables. Guess who designed those?


Add to this simple diet sufficient daily exercise, a bouyant disposition, generous amounts of fresh air, sunshine, genuine relaxation and quality sleep and a mindset that moves on from unresolved conflicts.

Really folks. It's that simple.

And no, smoking, drinking and drugging are not good for you ... even if you have an auntie who smoked 20-a-day, drank like a dolphin and lived to the ripe old age of 86.

Believe me, her system was a mess. And her last few years were hell on earth. Don't think otherwise. Get real. Go simple. Stop looking for ways to cheat nature.

And stop trying to blame your genes!

Monday, 26 October 2009

NHS Moral Dilemma

More need, less available resources ... the NHS continues to be painted into a corner with a new round of confusion that underscores the inevitabilty of viability problems in the future.

A decision will be made by NICE in two weeks on whether local health authorities will have to fund the cancer drug Nexobar. This drug is touted to extend the lives of people with terminal cancer, adding an optimistically-estimated 6 months to 2 years ... all at a cost of about GBP3000 per month! (Cost shouldn't matter, should it?)

As a result, the NHS has made the decision to spend 1 million GBP over the next three years on a kwango to spell out to NICE, the implications of approving new expensive drugs!

And this, of course, raises a whole littany of issues!

First, for those who stand to benefit from access to a drug of this nature...

The view of one patient interviewed by the BBC was that the NHS is putting cost before peoples' lives, effectively consigning him and others in a similar situation to the "scrap heap". Why spend money on a kwango when peoples' lives hang in the balance?

Good point ... if you raise an expectation level it sets a precedent. And that's exactly what has been done. In an attempt to be all things to all people, the system has become inefficient and the result is that even more people suffer.

Then, what about NHS managers who are given a budget to work with? The money has to come from somewhere, so which initiatives "matter less" and get the axe?

People watching BBC Breakfast were quick to mention a wide variety of supposedly gratuitous beneficiaries, ranging from IVF treatments to the care of those who abuse their bodies and take "unreasonable" risks.

But I thought morality was objective in a civilized world.

Then, there's NICE who is ultimately responsible for the viability of the whole system. Where do they draw the lines without creating anger and disparity? Simple ... screw everybody, just a little.

And then there are the drug companies who create these miracles but need a malleable system to maintain the viabilities of the profit train. That's a lovely tie you have there Sir ... thank you for your cheque.

So ... as this whole scenario is inextricably linked with morality, I thought I'd indulge myself and play agent provocateur for the day. And please, before anyone actually takes me seriously and believes this to be anything more than the harmless musings of a dyed-in-the-wool cynic ... relax!

I am just a mere devil's advocate. And an underpaid one at that!

So, here goes. Reality check!

If you are terminally ill and there is no reasonable chance of cure, expecting the tax payer to fund a life extension drug is completely unreasonable. The drug has no chance of curing you.

Sorry. That's the hard truth. I wish things were different, but money is tight.

Once a precedent is set, drug companies will continue to pressure the system for the opportunity to supply more exensive band aid solutions. And they can get away with that because no-one likes to see people suffer in any situation.

Again, the hard truth. On a clinical (callous) macro level, all these chemicals do is skew the life expectancy statistics exactly as I pointed out in my previous post. I realize it's virtual heresy to say that.

But it's also the truth.

The NHS does not have the money, so why is it even going down the road. You can't make promises you are not in a position to honor.

Get real!

The fact that it needs to blow a million pounds that will add absolutely no value to the quality of anyones' lives in order to effectively lobby for common sense to prevail ... only serves to prove the system is light years away from achieving it's broad objectives.

Why doesn't someone step in and stem the bleeding. Where is the leadership and the fiscal sanity?

Fix it before the cheque is written. Oh, but that would horse up the unemployment statistics and impinge on other budgeted revenue streams.

Why are we perpetuating an environment where drug companies actually have us feeling like we are beholden to them? If we stop indulging them they will quickly change their strategy and develop products that add more value for the bucks available.

Economics 101?

Of course, the real answer is to rechannel our energies into preventative measures that are not profitable, but actually work.

Perhaps even the man on the street may eventually grasp the wisdom of such an obvious soultion.

We are dependant on the drug companies because we have been brainwashed at a profound level to think that they are improving our health and making us all live longer.

Wake up folks!

Of course they aren't. Our health is not declining because of a shortage of drugs. It's because we have no idea how to take care of ourselves or our children and have abrogated all responsibility to a sytem that profits by supplying symptom mitigation, not solutions.

And because we cry for relief, we actually think they are the good guys. That's a brilliant business model!

But it's actually so efficient at creaming money from us that it will be the architect of it's own undoing. Hows that for irony?


Because we will continue to fuel a growing organism with money we don't have. Like the global economy, something has to give. Just do the math. Expectations and reckless promises don't pay the bills.

Kwangos, management mentality and oceans of rhetoric will not make things better. What is needed is true leadership and no-one is willing (or able at this point) to step up to the plate.

What would they even say?

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Health Or Medical?

I decided to visit the BBC Breakfast website this morning for some inspiration.

So I clicked on "Health" expecting to see at least one article about health! As I write this, there's not even one.

Yes, there is an article on fibroids, paracetamol, foetal kick charts, chlamydia and the old standby, swine flu! And a headline announcing that "it is up to doctors to fight for the future of the NHS".

That's "medical" not "health"! All of it. Every single one.

We have successfully conditioned the entire population to see "health" as "a lack of health". Which is quite brilliant because it then means that there is a captive market for all those drugs and all those technological advancements we are so proud of.

This would be perfectly acceptable if the drugs and technology were making us all healthier. But they're not. All the health system does is manage the fallout.

For life!

Then we are told we are living longer and we should be delighted that we are fortunate enough to live at a time in history when all this is possible through the marvels of modern medicine. Strike that ... I mean modern health care.

If "average life expectancy" has increased (and that's what we are told, so it must be true), then why are people getting Alzheimer's in middle age? And why are young kids getting type 2 diabetes?

Was there a shortage of drugs? Or could it be that people are getting sicker, earlier and the powers that be are showing us numbers that are actually misleading?

That couldn't happen, could it?

I am not an actuary and I'm too lazy to dig long enough to get to the bottom of all this, but here's what I think.

Hygiene standards have improved over the last 100 years, which means that infant mortality has been reduced. This, I would think, is the major factor.

Added to this, sick people that would have died quicker 100 years ago, are now being kept alive by expensive drugs and expensive life support equipment.

And yes, these two things are good. Of course they are. Good, because we can cheat the grim reaper for longer, which keeps the immediate families a lot happier and the doctors firmly committed to the hypocratic oath.

And good for business too ... dare I say it.

Imagine if those same beautiful people lived longer because they led healthier lives and did not spend their twilight years dependant on a plethora of medications.

Imagine if our health care systems focused on getting people off drugs, outside in the fresh air and sunlight and eating foods that their bodies were actually designed for ... then going to sleep without the assistance of pills or a late night tipple.

But hold on, that would be bad for business.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Personal Training? No Wonder We are Fat!

I must admit I have been incredibly frustrated over the last 18 months or so.

You see, I qualified as a personal fitness trainer in my mid-40's after a successful career in corporate business. Like every other new trainer, I was convinced I could make a huge impact in other peoples' lives.

But after decades in the entrepreneurial trenches my instincts were quick to prickle!

Something didn't feel right.

And it had nothing to do with the fact that most gym bunnies are paid a pittance for being little more than glorified rep counters.

Of course, everyone around me said "what are you waiting for?" Just get on with it. It's what you love ... isn't it? And to be honest, I've had that same conversation with myself many times over.

I have never been one for half measures and I quickly came to see personal training as a very small part of a much larger equation ... that of optimum health.

So I started to teach myself about other aspects of health and physical fitness. To me it seemed pointless working with someone in a gym for an hour or two every week just because that's what trainers do ... and expecting to make an appreciable difference to their knowledge of how to live a healthy lifestyle.

Come on ... not everyone wants to spent time in a gym. And what's the point if you can't also work with them on their other lifestyle habits? And when I looked at what others were doing to solve this obvious basic system flaw, I became progressively more disenchanted.

Lots of trainers sense that somehow they are near the bottom of the food chain in terms of professional respect and capabilities. So those of us driven to improve start to invest in our continuing education.

And I took courses in anatomy, physiology, body work, Gyrotonics, Pilates, Feldenkrais, fascial tensegrity, more anatomy ...

It just never seems to end. A personal trainer can always keep specializing. And one can always keep paying out money to hear the same stuff recycled in different ways, so we can develop more insight and get another gold star.

That's all well and good, I suppose ... but what's the point if we only ever keep sharpening our lazer focus on a tiny piece of the health puzzle? I also kept my eyes and ears open and one thing became increasingly evident.

No matter how many bootcamps, or celebrity experts, or new grades of qualification the industry came up with ... people were still getting fatter and more unhealthy!

So what was the point? What value were we adding? I always gauge a business by the value it brings to the table. All I was seeing was more and more opportunities to spend money gathering qualifications that gave me alleged credibility.

But where was the real value?

Funny thing, any trainer in the industry who reads this will either agree with me totally ... or get all flustered and defensive. But nothing changes.

So here's proof of what a crock this industry has become. And no, I'm not going to have a go at the "Biggest Loser". The rest of the industry seems to have finally sorted out where they stand on that one. Well done lads!

I received an industry newsletter from a well known and highly respected certifying body. Globally revered, in fact. I will not say who, because that would be unprofessional and of course I wouldn't want to jeopardize my career. But, from what I've been seeing lately, you can throw a dart and pick just about anyone of these industry authorities and they'll all be droning on about the same tired garbage.

Here's what caught my eye ... and got my goat even more than usual!

In amongst all the articles by "Mr PhD this" and "Mrs. clinical specialist that" was a recipe for "marbled pumpkin cheesecake".

This got my attention as I already was well versed in the anatgonistic reciprocators of the rectus chuck norris-imus minor and could always learn more about healthy eating.

Under "nutrition profile" (how's that for the grand-daddy of oxymoronic implication?) ... was a pronouncement of all the benefits. "Healthy weight, low calorie, low cholesterol and low sodium". Wow, hows that for ticking some boxes?

Perhaps some lab has figured out how to improve on mother nature?

So I read on ...

Ginger snap cookie crumbs, canola oil, low fat cottage cheese, softened reduced-fat cream cheese, sugar, egg, cornstarch, salt and vanilla extract!

Unsulfured molasses, dark brown sugar, ... I'll stop now! The list carries on with nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon and unseasoned pumpkin puree. For taste, I presume.

Oh ... and some lemon juice. Must be for the vitamin C. Wonder if that counts as part of our 5-a-day?

I defy any nutritionist or professional body to stake their reputation on the nutritional value of the ingredients above. But this is being touted as "healthy" by the same respected industry leader that wants an application fee from me just so I can prove that I am continuing to invest in my education ... and am deserving of a professional association with their illustrious credentials!

And this is precisely why I cringe at the thought of paying out more money for the privilege of being insurable for another year. Just in case I want to rush out and show some nervous housewife the finer points of a body building split routine. Or how to "burn calories" with 45 minutes on the treadmill (remember your iPod luv).

Ladies and gentlemen ... this is a shocker!

And it's typical. In fact every day you can pick up a magazine, log on to a website with massive page rank, or listen to another self-proclaimed expert with bogus qualifications.

Until the industry wakes up and realizes it has very little to offer beyond motivation, clients will continue to be woefully short-changed.

And I want no part in that!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

10 Weight Loss Tips

In my last post I discussed my experiences regarding a 3-day water fast I undertook as an experiment.

While my comments box did not overflow, the feedback I got was much appreciated. I also had a number of friends ask me whether I had lost weight as a result.

This surprised me because I had never really intended for the fast to be a weight loss tool. Yes, I did lose about 4 or 5kg's, but that weight loss was temporary and within a week of returning to "normal" my weight had again stabilized close to where it was prior to fasting.

My intention was to raise my own awareness of the effect of food and drink on my body ... and to go outside my comfort zone for a few days longer than any previous fasting experience. I guess I was also just a little bit curious to see if I could really do it in the first place. A small test of will power.

Anyway, all this talk of weight loss got me thinking that this was something that people are truly fascinated about. So I decided to do a post off the top of my head called "10 weight loss tips".

Here they are in no particular order.

1. Try to minimise emotional stress. Very often we turn to food as a way to numb our feelings. When we over-eat, so much of our energy is diverted towards digestion that we are left with very little to invest elsewhere. And of course, emotional stress also places a huge demand on our energy reserves too.

2. Clean house ... and kitchen. Decluttering is always a good idea. But throwing out any food that we know is energy-sapping gives one even more satisfaction. Processed foods are a source of chemically-altered fats and refined sugars. In short they are "empty" calories, providing the drawback of excess calories without the attendant benefit of nutrients essential to proper cellular function.

This results in imbalance ... and ultimately symptoms of this imbalance, such as excess body fat. Left unchecked, we become increasingly more at risk of serious illness such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

3. Go shopping every few days. Human beings were designed to respond best to a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables. And the only way to get these fresh is to buy them as close to harvest as you can get ... and consume them quickly.

4. Daily activity. Just about every program on the internet today suggests we can get everything we need from 20 minutes or less of vigorous resistance exercise or interval training, maybe 3 times a week. This may be an efficient way of increasing your calorie burn post exercise ... but it's not enough to keep you physically fit.

And if you're not physically fit, you can't be that healthy. And if you're not that healthy you are exposed to manifestations of this such as excess body fat.

5. Retire earlier. No, I don't mean stop working. I mean go to bed earlier than you normally do. We spend our nights trying to de-stress in front of the computer or the TV. By the time we go to bed we are wired and our systems are full of the stress hormone cortisol. This works against melatonin, a natural sleep-inducing hormone ... and we end up getting short-changed.

So go to bed earlier, read and gently wind down. When you close your eyes, learn to leave your day behind. When you sleep you recuperate. If you don't get enough, fat loss will be virtually impossible.

6. Stop going out to eat ... and ordering in. You always end up eating calorie-dense, nutrient depleted high-fat cooked "addiction" food. This may taste great, but it will set you back in your efforts to lose weight. Instead, make this an occasional treat so you still keep a healthy state of mind.

7. Social support. If your family aren't with you when it comes to healthy eating initiatives, then you are fighting a losing battle. It's just that simple. But don't impose your regime on your family either. It all comes down to the art of negotiation. Don't blow it, because fat loss doesn't happen in a domestic war zone.

8. If you buy it, you will consume it. That goes for the booze you buy in case your friends pop over for a visit. And it goes for the chocolate you buy just for the occasional treat. When the addiction monster raises its ugly head, all resistance will crumble. Better not to have anything "on tap" in the first place. Temptation is much easier to resist that way.

9. Keep your head. If you have a blow out, don't compound it. Dust yourself off and get back on track ... and learn what you can for next time. Berating yourself will only make you feel worse and you want to keep your emotions on an even keel.

10. Finally, keep learning. Keep an open mind and never stop experimenting. But don't become an information hound. Dig until you find someone who you think you can trust, then learn what you can from them while keeping an open mind. Don't blow with the wind.

Until next time, my svelte little friends!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Water Fast Complete

I completed my fast as scheduled and can now relate my experience.

Before I start I would again refer you to my words of caution mentioned in my last post. There are always risks involved, so please do the responsible thing and seek medical advice and supervision as a matter of preference.

I decided to undertake a short-term water fast (no food, only water) in order to learn more about this intriguing practice. Apparently when a body is not burdened with the necessity to digest, absorb and assimilate food ... it can then use all available resources to repair, rejuvenate and regenerate.

Most people are generally terrified of the idea of going without food for even a few hours. My friends were horrified. Why are you doing that? Why would you do that to yourself? Why stress yourself so severely? Are you mad? Will you be OK?

These were a few of the comments made. The assumption being that I was doing something highly dangerous and verging on the insane. People are afraid of what they don't understand, so these reactions are not surprising. I was quite relaxed.

Even my more enlightened friends were apprehensive. What about your blood sugar? Why don't you just start with a day? Isn't four days too long? Why do you want to do this?

Of course I had done my homework, reading books, articles and accounts of people who had fasted ... and lived to tell the tale. All were enlightening. All were filled with fascinating data that was quite unexpected.

It would seem that fasting is an amazingly effective healing protocol. But in this world of medical obsession and litigation, honest information was always shrouded with statements of caution.

I decided I was ready to fast and wanted, as an informed adult, to exercise my right to learn more the best way I knew how ... first hand experience.

I started on the Wednesday before my trip to London. I simply had a light, early dinner ... then stopped eating and went to bed at my normal time. Totally painless! The next morning I jumped on the train to London, got settled, shopped, walked and attended a three hour seminar. By 5pm Thursday I was still not that hungry or uncomfortable. I'd been too busy.

Walking the few miles back to the hotel that evening was the first time I felt noticeably hungry. Every street corner exuded the smell of curry, or pizza or some exotic treat. Every smell seemed to beckon me.

This exercise was rapidly becoming a huge feat of restraint.

It would have been so easy to say I'd gone 24 hours and just pack it in ... but I remained determined. I'd fasted 24 hours on numerous occasions. I was ready for unchartered territory. So I retired to my hotel to read, drink water and pretend not to notice the plethora of odours that wafted from everywhere.

London smells delicious!

Friday was easier. I had found my rhythm, renewed my resolve and survived my first night. I had slept well, but woken at 3am with the feeling that I was mildly nauseous. The walk to my seminars was uneventful, but I did notice all the Japanese restaurants and wood-fired pizza nooks.

This was not going to be easy.

My research indicated that once I had exhausted my body's reserves of stored carbohydrate (glycogen) it would enter a period of "gluconeogenesis" where it would break down protein to create the sugar needed to feed my brain. This would continue only long enough for it to sense that this was potentially destructive, whereupon it would then change gear and enter "protein sparing".

In this phase of gluconeogenesis, fats would be broken down creating more glucose, as well as some alcohol-like molecules called ketones. I'm no scientist, so please accept that my grasp of the supporting science may be somewhat limited.

Once past protein-sparing, appetite would theoretically disappear (it didn't for me) and a "normal" human could conceivably continue for far longer than most would imagine. Experienced fasters under supervision are known to fast for more than a month with no apparent harmful consequence.

I was just trying to survive 4 days without chewing my own arm off!

Friday night was hard. I felt worse than during the day and seemed to feel different every six hours or so. My hunger was dulled by a mild headache and I could definitely feel the toxins being released from my body fat reserves.

By Saturday morning, I felt brilliant. I had remained committed to monitoring the colour (and odour) of my urine and drinking water fairly consistently without going overboard. I was consuming at least three litres each 24 hours and for me this felt about right. Again, you may be different, so consult a professional if you want to know more. I was also careful to stand up slowly, as blood pressure tends to come down.

Saturday was a great day. I was clear-headed, went for a lovely walk in the sun and had energy to spare. Vigorous exercise is contraindicated during a fast, but I felt quite comfortable with mobility exercises and regular walks. I also appreciated the extra rest and sleep. While I was hungry, I was also feeling a sense of achievement.

I also decided that I would break my fast with a small helping of fruit on Sunday morning at around 9am. A formal lunch was planned for 1pm, so I wanted to introduce my system to something gently some hours in advance. Again, everyone is different and professional supervision may suggest a different strategy. The important thing is to respect your body and be gentle. Common sense should guide your actions.

Saturday night was a pleasure. No headache. A deep, relaxed, rejuvenating sleep ... and a clear head on rising.

My Sunday fruit was watermelon and grapes. They were nothing short of divine and I ate everything as if I would never eat again. The taste was exquisite. The perfect food for a body that felt "new". I was not tired, or grumpy, or sore. I was alert, relaxed and clear-headed. I ate slowly feeling no urge to gulp. My intention was only to savour.

The lunch was also a treat and I probably ate too much. In the few days since then, I have been aware of the load that food imposes on the body and have instinctively chosen to eat less. Any mistakes are immediately evident.

In the process I am closer to my goals of eating more responsibly. It is an experience I will definitely repeat. Most importantly I feel I am developing a better idea of my body's own unique nutritional requirements and learning better long-term consumption habits.

I feel considerably richer for the experience.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Water Fast Planned

In a total departure from my usual slightly sour observations I thought I would try an experiment.

I'm planning on doing a short term water fast, from tonight (Wednesday) until Sunday afternoon. I have done several one day/two night fasts, but this will be new territory for me.

In case anyone decides to duplicate this, please be advised that it is always recommended you do some homework first and undertake any fasting "under medical supervision". Fasting is not for everyone, so please ... always be responsible.

Why am I doing this?

Because I am genuinely curious to see what effect it will have on my body and mind. I will be in a relaxed, low key environment and will stop running for the duration. I will however walk ... and I will definitely sleep.

But I'm really looking forward to it. It's all part of my overall plan to clean, declutter and heal.

I will describe my experience next time I post.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

NHS Painting Itself Into A Corner

Government has rejected a proposal by a management consulting firm to cut 137,000 jobs in the NHS over the next 5 years in order to save GBP20 billion by 2014.

Both clinical and administrative positions were under threat, representing roughly 10% of the Health Service's workforce. This of course is only one chapter in the continuing saga over the future of the NHS and once again raises the question "are cuts really necessary to protect it?"

A discussion about the subject on BBC breakfast raised some interesting thought processes. The three reasons given by people opposed to cuts and used to justify additional spending on the NHS are:

- we're all living longer
- patient expectations are higher
- more drugs are coming onto the market

Keep in mind that NHS spending already accounts for about 20% of total government expenditure.

The discussion also pointed out that the cuts proposed were for doctors and nurses ... and should have been focused on better efficiencies. More clinical staff, less "pen pushing" middle-management administrators. This appeared to echo the sentiment of most of the people who e-mailed in to join the fray.

And of course, being that the NHS is a business, mention was also made of "productivity" ... essentially shorter lengths of stay with better outcomes. How slick!

I listened with interest and make the following observations.

Here goes:

1. We are not all living longer. That is a misleading statistic that is rolled out whenever people feel the need to justify continued investment in a system that quite clearly is against the ropes. The statistics show an apparent increase in average life span primarily because of less infant mortality (as hygiene standards have improved over the last 100 years).

The reality hidden in these numbers is that we are getting sicker sooner, then lingering on in a state of dependance. Hardly something to crow about ... but then there is always this moral imperative to measure "success" purely in terms of life extension. Surely quality of life is ultimately more meaningful?

And why pretend that things are better for us now when they actually are not?

Although people flinch from the truth, it is very profitable for the medical and pharmaceutical industries to sustain life at any cost. But we have no provision in our existing paradigm for an answer to that one any time soon.

2. Patient expectations are higher. That's interesting. Are we becoming more discerning, or simply more spoilt? Or are we believing the rhetoric that says that we should demand more from those in charge.

Personally, I feel it's totally unrealsitic to think that the system in its current state can even continue to tread water.

Again more lies. People should perhaps rethink ... and downgrade their expectations in line with reality. Or learn to live a healthier lifestyle.

3. More drugs are coming on the market. Finally, the truth! That is why we should be spending more folks. How else can we keep launching new drugs and keep this gravy train moving?

Onwards and upwards old chap ... let's increase government expenditure to 25% of total budget. Why show people how to get healthy and reduce a growing market? After all, it's what the market wants to hear.

My prediction ... sledgehammer cuts, many tears and people crying foul ... and more lies until the whole system becomes completely unsustainable. I wonder if my postcode will be fortuitous or detrimental?

How can we continue to miss that our focus should shift from picking up the pieces to prevention in the first place? We have an entire economy that depends on people getting sick and dependant.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Our Health Paradigm

I watched with interest a TV show yesterday that looked at two sides of the UK benefits system.

Ordinarily, this would not be something that I would have much interest in as I am not a big fan of the concept and avoid shows that wallow in such matters on principle. What probably held my attention long enough to get me watching was a story about an elderly couple who had defrauded the system of over 2.5 million pounds.

I was fascinated to see whether anything would be done about it. This soon became secondary to me.

There was also a story about a middle-aged lady who had her 10 year-old daughter dressing her, bathing her and tending to her every need. You see, this lady suffered from osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia and needed her daughter to help her with the daily basics we take for granted.

She also felt extremely guilty about being what she perceived as an imposition on her own young child. When asked how she felt, the child bravely confessed that the situation was difficult as her mother squirmed with embarrassment.

Basically, some concerned citizen helped her fill out the necessary paperwork, leading to a monthly cash entitlement that allowed her to fund a full-time adult carer ... and free up her daughter so she could enjoy life like any "normal" ten year old.

On the surface, a lovely story. This mum was so touched that she was no longer a burden on her daughter. And State funds had come to the rescue of someone truly in need.

This poignant tale also saddened me on a number of other levels.

First, the sick lady's doctor had told her her condition was irreversable. She related this "fact" with a degree of grim stoicism. Now our friend was quite a large lady (as was her young daughter) which got me thinking that her woes were largely diet related. But I'm not a doctor, so how inappropriate of me to make such an assumption.

This possibility of diet as a potential causative factor also quite clearly never even entered the equation, or it would surely have been mentioned. Why not? I can only speculate.

The State obviously didn't see it as an issue. Why not? Perhaps because her doctor didn't. Again, speculation on my behalf.

Or do we just not talk about something that personal?

Here were two people, a mother and a daughter, who quite obviously were dreadfully unhappy with their lot. Their doctor had given them no hope. Nor had he/she raised diet as a factor, in spite of their physical appearance. At least not to the degree where it was at all worthy of comment.

And the state was perfectly happy to continue funding this sorry situation to its inevitable conclusion. More dependance. More cost. Continued perpetuation of a paradigm that is becoming more and more deep-seated in today's benefit-dependent culture.

And with all the millions at its disposal, not one expert will step forward to raise the issue of diet. In fact, more and more money will be spent trying to find a cure, or at least a mitigator to control the ever-increasing burden on State resources.

Doctors. Dieticians. Panels of highly qualified experts and legislators. All will conveniently ignore the two truths most fundamental to this most serious of issues.

First, consumption habits are the cause of the lion's share of this suffering ... and people like this sweet lady and her smiling daughter will never know the truth.

And second, her diagnosis of "hopelessly dependant for life with things getting progressively worse" virtually ensures that these two individuals (and millions more now and in the future) will continue to deplete the finite resources of a system that fosters more lies and more wretched dependance.

What a tragic waste of potentially productive lives! When will someone finally come to their senses and stop the rot. That 10 year-old child is likely to end up just like her mother. Riddled with pain. Unaware of her true options. Dependant for life. And convinced that she is a victim of her own bad genetics or random misfortune.

Is there no-one else out there who sees this? Maybe not.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Usain Bolt Redeems Himself

Yeah, yeah, I know ... he's the world's premier sporting supernova and gets 5 million bucks just for showing up these days (and so he should, probably even more).

And yes, of course, he does not care one iota what some pimply little punk in rural England (me) thinks about his antics. Who am I to have an opinion?

But it's all becoming clear to me now.

Yesterday was Usain Bolt's 23rd birthday. He got a standing ovation from the entire Berlin stadium. How cool was that? Then he clowned around with the Berlin mascot ... and his two fellow competitors on the podium. Spontaneous, unscripted ... and utterly charming. I felt like I knew who he really was.

Why? Because he was being himself. And, by all apearances, he seems like a stand-up guy. Relaxed, fresh faced, beautifully constructed, genuine ... and completely at ease in his own skin.

After watching the whole medal presentation and the way he handled himself, I actually felt pretty bad that I had even thought to criticise his showboating in the past. He is who he is. People love him. And that's obviously enough.

Then the media started to milk the occasion and show footage that they felt would really whip the masses into a frenzy. Usain Bolt doing his jig. Usain Bolt wiping his fingers across his face and leering at the camera. Usain Bolt strutting around like a big, proud rooster.

And then I got it. I finally realised that there are two people.

The one is Usain Bolt, the man. He over-delivers on performance and fulfills the fantasies of any human being who appreciates human movement at its most elegant. He is also unique, serendipidous, confident, self-deprecating and endearing. A genuinely lovely human being without any arrogance to detract from his appeal. Hey, I'd even shake his hand.

Then there's Usain Bolt, the media darling. He's a clown. With that same overblown edge that all clowns have. You know, that wierd thing that makes adults think clowns must be funny to kids, when actually they are scary. Adults just don't get that. And neither does the media.

This "Usain Bolt" is an imposter. A fabrication. A commercial product designed to titillate the baying masses. This is something totally incongruent with Usain Bolt, the enduring legend. And there will come a time when people will realise that the memories that will last are not those that are crass ... but those that are genuine, humble and understated.

A perfect backdrop to majestic magnificence. A man who, in full flight, is cocaine to the senses. But whose smile and instinctive, natural flamboyance makes the media's larger-than-life concoction redundant.

That mascot is proving to be far more special than I could have hoped for.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Usain Bolt - Beyond Superlatives

Readers of this blog will know that I have been outspoken in the past about the antics of Usain Bolt.

Because I am instinctively opposed to criticism without substance, I have also spent a fair bit of time trying to learn more about this extraordinary athlete. I figure that irrespective of whether or not I appreciate his signature style, at the end of the day how this 22 year-old phenomenon redefines his sport, is what really matters.

This weekend in Berlin Usain Bolt again proved that action speaks so much louder than words. In the final of the mens' 100m, he proved once more that what we are seeing is a whole new era of human performance.

Usian Bolt ran 9.58 seconds to win the World Championship title as fastest man alive. He obliterated his own world mark of 9.69 seconds, set at the Olympic Games last year. From start to finish he was in a class of his own. People will talk of this achievement 100 years from now.

Tyson Gay, running a remarkable 9.71 seconds, finished a distant runner-up, with ex-world record holder Osafa Powell coming in third with 9.84 seconds ... still respectable by any standard. But hardly noticed on the night.

Gay ran the third fastest time in history, but had to content himself with "only" the American record. This must seem vaguely reminiscent of the historical relationship between Mohammed Ali and Joe Frazier. Ali will for many be remembered as "the greatest", while Frazier will be remembered only as a credible opponent.

In another time, he too would have been king. And so it is with the soft-spoken Tyson Gay.

Perhaps Bolt will never again break a world record - his world record, so comprehensively. But then again, it would seem that the world has not seen the full extent of this young man's masterful potential. One can only fantasize.

I'd also like to say that, although I probably will never like the show-boating, it really is of no consequence in light of such a sublime performance. I also acknowledge that Usain Bolt could well have become arrogant beyond belief ... and he hasn't. So I can only take my hat off to him and respect him as a supreme athlete, eclipsing even the superhuman feats of my own personal favourite, Michael Jordon.

And I never thought I'd see that day when I could say that and mean it!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Organic Food ... A Tax on the Gullible!

Followers of my other blog will know that yesterday Lynne and I travelled to the Forest of Dean in search of some good old-fashioned spontaneous relaxation.

On the way home we pulled in to have a light meal and I was struck by a headline in the Sunday Times newspaper ... "Organic food is a tax on the gullible", written by a rather smug individual by the name of Dominic Lawson.

I got a wonderful response on Facebook regarding my previous post on this subject ... and it immediately became clear to me why I had waited an entire week to post again. I whizzed through the article as we ate, then surrupticiously nicked it for future reference. I can only hope I do this justice.

It's tough to know where to start with three columns of fine print brimming with potential.

Our Mr Lawson was of course referring to fallout received by nutritionist Alan Dangour who wrote a "peer-reviewed meta-study" (sounds important!) concluding that organically-grown food was not materially healthier than conventionally farmed produce.

What made this particularly unpalatable to some people was that this paper was funded by Britain's Food Standards Agency ... and therefore had a potentially enormous impact on prevailing sentiment. Not only that, mainstream media were crowing about this development as if God himself had spoken.

Apparently a storm of invective followed, only serving as proof (according to Lawson) that anyone outspoken in their disagreement with the findings of this particular study were now exposed as dissidents of the foulest order.

"They are cults masquerading as science rather like the creationists of America's Bible Belt ..." Lawson says. This after quoting NHS doctor Ben Goldacre "In my experience the (comments of the) organic food, anti-vaccine and homeopathy movements are unusually hateful and generally revolve around bizarre allegations that you covertly represent some financial or corporate interest".

The generalizations continue with quotes from French philosopher, Luc Ferry who infers that rhetoric against civilization is evidence of a broader "hatred" of humanity.

These must be the same evil people who advocate the occasional water fast, or who dare to suggest that pasteurized milk may not do a body good ... for more than just the obvious reasons.

Me thinks thou protesteth ...

Lawson goes on to state "The more rational among the organic movement long ago stopped claiming as scientific fact that their products are better for human beings". More semantic juggling ... "fact" is empirical, "better" is subjective. We get it, OK!

Apparently he deems himself somewhat of an expert in these things having nearly become "a fatal casualty of the organic movement" because he got sick from the spores of his wife's ill-fated pidgeon dropping organic vegetable garden (I kid you not!).

Regrettably, he contracted "atypical" pneumonia which was resistent to conventional medical intervention.

Oh, the terrible irony of it all. How his "gullible" (his word, not mine) wife must have got it in the neck!

Sorry ... it's a long and ponderous column, though well worth reading, if only for the rare insight it provides into the mentality of those among us that obviously do love humanity.

Our intrepid patient/journalist even goes on to conclude that pesticides must be safe otherwise how else would you explain research pointing to the comparative health of farmers relative to the rest of the population. Unassailable logic, don't you agree?

Finally, he rounds off his article by referring to the "organic balloon bursting" after making the point that common sense dictates "that diet, rather than whether food is produced 'organically' or not, is the key to healthy eating."

So that's it then folks ... conclusive evidence now in. Keep getting your nutrition from dairy, meat and plants grown in soils fortified by artificial nitrogen, phosporus and potassium.

Don't worry about chemical pesticides ... us humans are a hardy bunch (except when it comes to those dreaded, antibiotic-resistant bacteria in those "dirty" soils made by them hippies).

Have a nice day Mr Lawson.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Organic Lies?

Ever since I started researching about living a healthy lifestyle, I realised that food was always going to be a "tough nut to crack". I'm talking about sifting through all the red herrings, emotions and agendas (political and economic) to get to the truth.

During the past 5 years I've come to realise two things: most food available is far from nutritious ... and there is no easy way to distinguish fact from fiction. I can only read plenty, keep an open mind and go with my gut instincts.

Trial and error, and personal experimentation are far more useful than 95% of the written word.

So, when I saw a report today by BBC Breakfast proclaiming "Organic 'has no health benefits'", I was instantly provoked. Why? Because a lot was at stake: the sanctity of peoples' spending logics, continued freedom of choice, animal welfare, sustainablity ...

The benefits of "organic" as I understand them are straight forward: reduced exposure to toxic chemicals, access to nutrients essential for continued robust health and more sustainable and palatable methods of harvest and distribution. Oh ... and better taste, if you still have any functional taste-buds remaining.


In exchange for the relative peace of mind that comes with all this, there is a premium to pay. Why? Because economies of scale don't yet exist because people don't understand the implications of toxic, nutritionally-deficient, environmentally-irresponsible choices to their long term health and well-being.

Any perceived benefits fall outside the category of immediate gratification. "Enlightened" consumers want to hear that cheaper is also more prudent.

So now our illustrious Food Standards Agency (FSA) has commisioned an "independant" report under the guise of helping people make "informed decisions".

And the waters are further muddied by "experts" debating whether "57% more beta carotene is statistically significant to health".

Another contentious issue appears to be the timing of this report, which comes before a similar EU report, drawing supposedly different conclusions, could be released.

If it's research, then it must be true. My report is bigger than yours! Please.

So a definitive authority on national television now vindicates the cynics who rail against the idea of paying a premium for anything, by implying that "organic" is nothing more than a cleverly-marketed brand. According to this report, there "is little, if any, nutritional difference between organic and conventionally produced foods". So we are all just suckers.

Thank you folks, the damage is done. Please would all conventional commercial farmers make their cheques payable to ...!

How do I feel about this?

Sick to my stomach. Honestly, I don't even know where to start with this one! I'll say this: I think a report like this is reckless and that any discussion about it only serves to confuse issues to the detriment of anything meaningful.

I also think that when an agency comes out with statements such as "there is not sufficient research on the long-term effect of pesticides on human health" it is fence-sitting and backside-covering on a reprehensible scale.

One can only hope that there are sufficient people who will see all this for what it is and will remain undeterred in their personal pursuit of more responsible choices.

Next week ... research shows no clear relationship between obesity and your consumption habits and sedentary lives. Don't worry tax payers ... we've got you covered.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Usain Bolt ... What Might Have Been.

Today's post is going to be different.

I'm not going to discuss anything related to health, but rather I'm going to express my opinion on something that disturbed me recently. Flat out got my goat!

You see, I had the privilege of watching Usain Bolt in action on the track, doing what he does best. And that of course is showing people just how beautifully a human being can run when everything comes together in one package.

Here's a man who is noticeably larger than his competitors, yet far more graceful. He's stronger, yet less bulky. More powerful ... with less apparent effort.

He just flows ... and it's a joy to behold.

Ever watched a cheetah in slow-motion? Usain Bolt is more majestic. His win at last year's Olympics was 9.69 seconds of undiluted fantasy. What athlete has not dreamed of having an extra gear and obliterating the competition while barely letting the tiger out the bag? Throttling down as you exceed all previous known boundaries of human performance.

No journalist was able to find adequate superlatives to describe what no-one had ever seen before. I still get chills remembering the moment when he cut the afterburners and coasted into territory no man had dreamed of before. No words seemed appropriate, or even necessary. Pure, sweet emotion.

A moment that transcended all sport. Sublime dominance tempered with animal grace. A Tyson uppercut. A Federer passing shot. Phelps a body length ahead of that red line. A Jordanesque display that eclipsed all else that had been seen before by us mere mortals.

Surely no moment in sport would ever match those brief seconds?

And then the showboating started. Not content to savour the perfection of the moment, the press wanted more. The "Lightening Bolt". The wiggling hips. The two fingers to the face thing. The in-the-blocks God-given talent thing. It never stops!

Over-indulgence to the point where I cringe when they replay that most sacred moment in track and field. Like an over-blown orgy. Foreplay forgotten. Romance turned to porn. Exquisite taste perverted to nausea.

For me, what should forever be remembered as perfection, has now morphed into another fairly average, fairly crude, totally uninteresting commodity. A heroin addict wretching in a strange silence.

I used to drop everything to relive those moments. Now, it's like watching an ad for online bingo. Loud. Crude. Missable. Because I know, along with the magic, I am going to be subjected to the rest of it.

How sad is that?

When will we learn that less is more? When will we be content to savour the moment? How I wish that Osafa Powell had been blessed instead. How I wish he had the magic dust to go sub 9.5!

To me, he's the man. Kind. Mishievious. Unassuming. Breathtaking. How it breaks my heart to see him play second fiddle with such dignity.

I actually feel sorry for Usain Bolt. I watch him wiggle and perform as the faceless crowds writhe before him, eating up his crassness, baying for more, bleeding him dry.

When he's interviewed he actually seems like a really nice guy. An authentic human being. A dedicated athlete who trains hard and smart. Maybe even an inspiration for aspiring athletes? Down-to-earth. Humble. Out of character in his role as court jester.

While we're on the subject ... let's hope the "bullet from a gun" that Alberto Contador's PR team seems to be spawning following his Tour De France victory won't diminish another great talent.

At the end of the day they are still human.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Pressure On Health Service

For years now the NHS has been used to significant increases above inflation, year on year since its inception in 1948.

The demands keep going up: more elderly people, more technology ... and more preventable illness.

But no-one sees it that way. The success of the NHS continues to be measured purely in terms of increased longevity. Quality of life would seem largely irrelevant. If more people are living longer, then someone must be doing something right.

Now the money is drying up, despite what politicians promise. But the problem will only get progressively worse. More people are getting sicker, sooner.

Possible solutions tabled are for the services to offer less and get more efficient. Bottom line is plenty of rhetoric, but a proven inability to save money. Experts are blaming the "fact" that people are living "healthier" into old age ... despite the apparent contradiction.

People may be living longer statistically, but they are increasingly dependant on medication and attention ... and this costs money. More and more. So compromise has to come ... which means some people will lose out.

Experts proudly proclaim that "all rich countries are having the same problem" ... but yet nobody does anything except identify that eventually this will all become completely unsustainable.

The expectations of more and more people will not be met, which means that an increasing number of promises will become meaningless.

The obvious solution lies in facing reality and being honest about the facts. There is not enough money and more people are getting more dependant. This means the money has to come from somewhere and we simply can't afford to keep everybody happy. This raises the big taboo of co-payments and the possibility of "premium" services leaving those without means out in the cold.

In short we will need to shift from a system that places the burden on those that are ill as opposed to those that are healthy.

And we couldn't have that now, could we?

Friday, 10 July 2009

Stop Smoking Now!

This may be one of the most important posts I have made so far in my brief foray into blogging.

Recently I had a very good friend of mine move to the USA to "find herself". A Pilates teacher for over 5 years, she wanted to learn more about anatomy and just get exposure from a different perspective. I think that what she has undertaken is incredibly courageous and proactive ... and I am guilty of giving her tons of unsolicited advice.

Why? Because I really want to see her take things to the next level ... and because I know she won't take offense when I am direct. She knows me well enough to know I don't ever try to run for mayor!

You see, my friend is a seasoned trainer who really knows her stuff. But she is a smoker. The two are not congruent. I have always maintained that we can only help others in our industry properly if we strive to be authentic. Deep down inside, we all know this.

I salute anyone in our industry who invests in becoming a better, more complete, more competent trainer. That for me, is truly exciting.

So here is an excerpt from a conversation I had with her by email recently.

"Re: your smoking. I'll talk straight with you 'cause you are the kind of person who will appreciate that and I think I know you well enough that you won't get pissed off at me. So here goes:

You can't build a business in the health profession if you smoke. That simple. It's like me trying to be a credible trainer when I am 120kg's. Ludicrous!

You (and all of us in the industry) have to be authentic. You have to quit ... cold turkey ... no chemical (medical) "assistance" ... and accept that you will never smoke again in this lifetime. That, I'm sure, is terrifying. I know, trust me, I've been there ... with interest!

But that's the nature of addiction. I had withdrawals for years, not weeks. But now I am free I realise that it was crucial for me on every level.

When you go through this you will realise you can't possibly help other people if you haven't internalised the wisdom of what I'm saying here.

Health can only exist in the absence of non-contributing stressors. Smoking only loads your body ... it contributes nothing. It's like over-training. Just costs too much with zero benefit."

The rest of my letter was far more innocuous.

I hope that there are other people out there who may read this and be touched enough to quit for life. Just one person will make a difference. I'm sure people may think my approach is harsh or impractical. It's not. It's just how it is. Sorry.

I also fully accept that it is not the only way to quit smoking.

Have a wonderful week ... and please, let me know your opinions. I always value feedback and will do my best to respond honestly and comprehensively.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Sperm Grown In Lab

At what point will we as human beings realise we have overstepped all boundaries?

The big news over the last few days is the "achievement" by scientists in a Newcastle lab to grow sperm from stem cells. The idea is that down the road infertile men may be able to still have kids.

Funny, isn't infertility Nature's way of telling us we are not reproductively viable? People honestly believe they can ignore fundamental natural laws because, as a human being, they have the right to reproduce.

How incredibly selfish!

At what point in time will we as a species do the math and realise that 6 billion humans reproducing recklessly will mean 9 billion, then 15, 25 etc ... exponentially adding to the mess we have already created?

And will these people be independant contributors?

I'm 47 years old. I cannot imagine the chaos I will live in if I am "lucky" enough to make it to 80 years. Pollution. Crime. And even more bogus regulations than we have today.

And more people refusing to take responsibility for anything. All on a planet designed for no more than 3 million human inhabitants (and that's generous).

I can't wait!

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Federer Wins 15th Major Title

After over 4 hours of gutwrenching struggle against a tenacious Andy Roddick, Roger Federer made history this afternoon, winning his 15th Major tennis title.

In so doing he eclipsed the seemingly unassailable record of 14 wins, set by tennis icon "Pistol" Pete Sampras.

Roger Federer is again number one in the world, though the victory was probably bitter-sweet as his nemisis Rafael Nadal was unable to defend his title due to injury.

Andy Roddick came agonisingly close, losing a string of rallies in the second set tie-breaker. Had Roddick held his nerve at this crucial stage, he would in all likelihood have spoilt the Federer party.

But he didn't and can hold his head up high. Roddick hopefully will still have his day. Certainly he proved he has both the skills and the character to compete with the game's very best.

Tennis fans can now rest a few months until the US Open. Hopefully Rafa will have returned, Roddick will have recouped, Jokovitch will have found his rhythm again ... and Murray will have continued his meteoric rise in pedigree!

On the ladies' side, Serena triumphed over sister Venus, who appeared injured and only luke warm. The dominance of the Williams sisters continues as both Dementieva and Safina were made to look almost pedestrian in the semis.

Safina may have number one ranking ... but Serena is unquestionably the current queen of ladies tennis.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Quit Smoking And Get Paid

I must apologize to my legions of fans (all 3 of you) for not posting recently.

I know, it's inexcusable. I have violated the unspoken code of professional blogging ... and inconvenienced people. I'm truly sorry.

My instincts tell me never to make excuses, so I won't.

I thought I'd rejoin the fray with a commentary on a clip I came across on BBC Breakfast.

Our illustrious NHS is now using public money to incentivise people to quit smoking in Dundee. That's right folks ... 12.50 GBP per week for twelve weeks if you can prove you haven't succumbed to temptation ... at a weekly "smoking cessation group" no less.

And how is this justified? Well we are all supposed to feel sorry for the poor souls who are battling to meet bills, daily commitments and responsibilities (that dirty word again) and who are therefore unable to prioritise quiting smoking. Twenty first century mathematicians have then extrapolated that ultimately this saves the NHS money down the road.

Why don't we just start situating parasite pods in every major city so that people can abrogate all responsibility and just plug in to the support they so richly deserve? We can feed them, clothe them, keep them entertained and medicated. And we can give them money on demand when the lifestyle becomes too onerous.

I was also fascinated to see that some of these iron-willed gladiators were spending their windfall bucks on white bread, soft drinks and processed meats. A sure-fire recipe for longevity and quality of life! And a curve ball for the statisticians, no doubt.

Add in the sage words of a local doctor who points out that this is working better than other approaches and who knows, maybe we can adopt it nationwide.

This has to be about as bizarre as the concept of mandatory polypills!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Depression Soars As Recession Bites

This morning's post will be short and maybe not so sweet.

The Observer reported today that the recession has led to an increase of 2.1 million prescriptions for anti-depressants!

Surprisingly some have voiced the concern that doctors are prescribing chemicals as a quick fix without considering the underlying cause or the potential for long term dependance. Fancy that?

The article even quotes some moron (sorry, gentleman) who shall be nameless ... who says he has "every sympathy" for doctors under pressure to succumb to needy patients because they want to "be liked" ... but what was really needed was "tough love".

Come on!!!

This is the most prolific industry human kind has ever spawned (with a longer shelf-life than petrochemicals), not a flipping popularity contest. Doctors prescribing medications "under pressure" that relieve in the short term and add stress in the long term are part of the problem.

The bigger picture is that, not only do we tolerate this absurdity, we actually hold this part of the machine in great esteem. Any donkey that knows his place will accept the wise counsel of a doctor blindly and without reservation. Doctors are, after all, on the cutting edge of civilized technology. We revere their judgement. And why not? When we are in trouble, they are there to magically make things better.

What makes me even sadder is that people like Oprah, who dare to suggest that prevention is better than cure, are attacked for their alleged ignorance. Why? Because it hurts business. There's less money in prevention than cure. And Oprah galvanises opinion by the million.

What would be nice is if we stopped pretending this wasn't actually the case and just accepted that that's how it is and people don't actually give two hoots about long term health. They just want relief in a painful, imperfect world.

For anybody who hasn't yet figured out the thrust of this post (and just about every other post on this blog) ... chemicals kill. They accumulate. They cause stress ... and you don't need a medical degree to correlate this with increases in disease. And everyone keeps pretending this isn't the case because it's what doctors do!

And, even worse, this is preventable with a simple reassessment of strategic direction. But there's just too much money in not fixing things!

What? Still don't get it? Medications are chemicals our bodies need precious energy to metabolise. This adds further burden to sick people. Even if these remedies come from someone with accepted credibility.

If you "need" Viagra, nature is telling you that your reproductive health sucks! If you "need" a laxative, nature is telling you that your digestion/elimination system is dysfunctional. If you "need" an anti-inflammatory, nature is telling you that something is out of whack. Something is causing these problems, so why just cover them up?

We don't need pills for diarrhoea ... or libido ... or weight loss ... or heartburn ... or any number of ailments. These are all symptoms of declining health. Doctors know this.

Neither do we need botox ... or plastic surgery ... or diets ... or HRT. These are all perceived magic bullets that fill holes in out own wretched lives. And any person that dares to call it like it is ... will be attacked as an under-qualified modern day heretic. We even have to qualify benign advice to drink clean water instead of synthetic garbage as "information", not intended to take the place of medical wah, wah, wah.

Just in case someone decided to take back responsibility for their own health and ceased to be dependant!

We have appointed custodians of our health who are caught up in a machine without even realising it. And if they do, why don't more of them speak up? God knows they have a keener appreciation of the issues at hand.

Why is this left to people without a real voice? There is surely something more sinister going on right under our noses.

And this my friends, is that we are being misinformed by industries that have a vested interest in keeping us in the dark.

Properly informed governments genuinely invested in reducing obesity, heart disease, premature aging, stroke, diabetes, depession, mental illness and the like will move far more aggressively towards education, prevention and enlightenment ... not mandated polypills and more regulations to muzzle outspoken people with brains, but limited recognised qualifications!

Of course, this is unlikely because there is too much money in the current system which creates patients that remain dependant for life.

But please ... can't someone stop all the meaningless drivel and just call it like it is?

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

NHS Needs Fresh Thinking Now!

Hats off to Andy Burnham MP, the newly appointed Secretary of State for Health, who finally acknowledged that just perhaps ... the NHS should be looking at preventative measures.

This is in stark contrast to the typical approach which waits for people to get progressively sicker, then offers palliative measures to people in certain postcodes.

The NHS is already in a serious predicament with forecasted shortfalls due to come through by 2011 to the tune of between 8 and 10 billion pounds! Yes, waiting lists for surgery have fallen from 18 months to virtually nothing. But long term sustainability is surely an issue that we can't keep sweeping under the rug.

Extrapolating current trends leads any sane person to realise that 10 years from now the NHS will be completely ineffective because it just won't be able to cope with the volume of sick people. And many of these could have been prevented by changing the existing paradigm rather than coming out with schemes like polypills which are nothing more than stop gap measures.

Most of the illnesses that will burden the NHS of the future are preventable by educating people on improving their health today ... not telling them to eat less pork sausages and bacon and "get active"!

Mr Burnham seems like a breath of fresh air during a particularly sordid time for MP's. Let's see if he can actually make a difference.

When prime time television isn't filled with ads for tasty baked chocolate treats for kids, then perhaps we will have made progress. When supermarket trolleys aren't laden with cheap processed meat, dairy, low fat garbage, refined carbohydrates and booze ... then just maybe the NHS will have a glimmer of hope with respect to long term viability.

Until then, drink up and stock up your pantries with dead food. You can always go on another diet in the new year. When things really get bad you can then get the excess lard surgically removed. Assuming you're in the right postcode.

Or people can wake up and start to learn how to consume food that nourishes them.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Weight Loss Insights

Every one is always searching for immediate gratification.

The problem is that something as complex as weight management is never going to be addressed by any magic bullet. But people remain hopeful that they can get something for nothing!

Essentially, a human being starts putting on excess weight (fat) when their internal physiology becomes unbalanced as a result of either a shortfall of essential nutrients ... or various excesses that reach toxic levels. Overtraining, overeating, pollution, you name it. We are constantly inundated.

Our fixation with "empty" addictive calories only creates more chaos ... nutitional shortfall, toxic excess. We are overfed and undernourished. So we become unhealthier and fatter.

This results in hormonal imbalance which creates an environment where metabolism slows down and apetite increases. And we get fat!

When this imbalance is corrected, the symptom of excess body fat starts to disappear and the individual returns to a healthier body fat percentage (and consequently a "normal" body weight).

For an optimal hormonal environment to be restored, the individual must pay attention to the following key factors affecting health:

- consumption habits (less processed "food", more living, organic, whole foods ... plus more clean water, less artificial beverages)

- exercise habits (regular activity combined with carefully targeted resistance and/or interval training that depletes muscle glycogen, restores insulin sensitivity and stimulates progressive strength gains)

- recovery habits (regular, adequate, deep sleep and sufficient relaxation)

- mindset (a buoyant attitude, reinforced by positive thinking and emotionally-fulfilling social interactions)

- lifestyle (sustainable habits that promote, rather than degrade health)

When these start to fall into place, a caloric deficit can be maintained. Without this, fat loss won't happen.

Depriving yourself of nutritious food only reinforces imbalance. Likewise, hammering your body with high impact exercise only creates toxic stress ... again resulting in health compromise.

By getting healthier you get your hormones on sides. This will make a consistent calorie deficit achievable.

Stop looking for shortcuts. Start investing in your health. You will look better, feel better ... and be so much happier.

This process takes time and determination ... and may involve risk. Consult your physician first before making any changes in diet, exercise or lifestyle. Then get real and stop those silly deprivation diets and ponderous, high-impact "cardio" workouts.

You are responsible for your health!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Daniel Hauser: Safe At Last?

After the comments I got about my first post, I decided to see if perhaps I was being delusional and went searching for updates.

The sad thing is that this paricular situation is muddied by the mother's new-found religious affiliation.

So any meaningful discussion is quickly distorted by the red haze of reaction.

People keep talking about the motive for Daniel's mum bolting. The implication is that Daniel was frightened after his first chemo dose. This was exacerbated by the fact that his aunt had died after under-going chemo in different circumstances.

Well, of course he was frightened. Chemo is a poison. Sure, modern methods are far less brutal than the chemo of 20 years ago ... but it still boils down to massive additional stress on an already-compromised immune system.

But what I don't fully understand is why it is inconceivable to the majority of sentient people out there that any other option could be valid. Why is every other non-medical protocol "quackery" or "unscientific"?

There are numerous documented cases of successful non-medical treatments using gentler methods, in many cases overseen by highly qualified, dedicated and passionate individuals with brains, scruples and respected reputations. And medical qualifications!

Why does "non-medical" immediately equate to "dubious" in the eyes of so many?

Perhaps if we weren't so quick to crucify people for trying to think outside the box in desperate situations, we may have a better chance of securing our own sorry futures.

The sad thing is that Daniel's mum has been written off as a cult-embracing criminal without anyone knowing, or caring, whether there was real substance behind her actions. We will never know whether she was just protecting her boy from something he was obviously afraid of ... or whether she truly believed there might just be a better way.

It appears charges against her have been dropped because the boy is now safe in hospital. Let's hope Daniel survives and flourishes.

But anger and mis-directed emotion has left an indelible mark on our collective psyche. Parents are no longer deemed fit to take full responsibility for their children if they fall outside "socially acceptable" parameters. No wonder they look to the state instead of in the mirror when the wheels fall off.

And millions will continue to suffer because of closed minds and ingrained prejudices.

And now to a different subject ... I saw an interesting clip this morning talking about the increased incidence of type 1 diabetes in under-5's with projected cases set to double between 2005 and 2020.

What makes this so interesting is that this type of diabetes has always been considered to be caused by genetics. Now the Lancet suggests that lifestyle factors may play a part. And people are panicking about the projected costs to the NHS because this problem is even more pronounced in the UK than in Europe.

Fancy that ... more that our "real" scientists just don't have a clue about.

And finally, some good news! It appears that the sentence for the creature that raped a toddler, then killed Baby Peter, is under review. Apparently someone else thinks that 10 years is insufficient for repeated crimes of this magnitude.

Or maybe he should be released into state care and monitored in a hospital facility? After all, it's not his fault.

OK ... I'm done!

Friday, 22 May 2009

I Keep Just Shaking My Head!

Today's post is about a story that really upset me.

I don't expect many people will support my view, but here goes anyway. I'm not planning on running for mayor any time soon.

The report cites the case of a 13 year-old American boy suffering from Hodgkin's lymphoma ... a cancer that attacks the lymph system and is considered rare in children.

Doctors say time is running out and they want to try chemotherapy. His mum wants to try a more natural route first. In her words " give us some time to heal our son and if it does not work the door is still open on both ends".

Now here's the catch. The courts are forcing the parents to surrender the child for mandated treatment!

And in response, the mum has taken off, supposedly heading towards Mexico with the child. Dad is stuck at home appealing to his wife to reconsider her action.

What a situation!

How screwed up is it when parents have no say in something as critical, or as controversial, as healing their own son ... and a mother is forced to break the law in order to do what she feels is right?

Of course, she is citing religious grounds. And when I heard that I, like many of you too I expect, felt my shutters go down instinctively too.

But then I thought, with everything I have learnt over the last 35 years, that she was absolutely right! This is her child's life we're talking about, not some government statistic.

If I was told I had cancer and had doctors baying for a chance to pump me full of chemicals ... I would also look to try a natural strategy of healing as my first port of call. I would do this even if my back was against the wall and I knew my time was limited.

Why? Because modern medicine does not have all the answers and just maybe there is a better way. We are so quick to pump people full of chemicals, even when their resistance is already greatly diminished.

I would also spend every waking moment I had getting informed and making contact with people who had beaten cancer going this route. I would talk to doctors and survivors. I would think outside the box. I would try with every fibre of my being to find something that may work. It sounds like this is pretty much what this woman was wanting to do too.

And I can hear you baying for my blood already, saying "but it's a child who has no say". We must protect our children.


The fact that parents are over-ruled in a situation where a) their course of proposed action is not unreasonable and b) she was still not closing any doors if the natural route was obviously a dead end ... meant she was a mother, not a zealot.

Now we'll never know, because that poor mother, whose own child is dying, won't even have the luxury of going on-line and getting more information. She'll be stressed out and running for her life. And what impact will that have on her child's health?

She was following her instincts. And she was frightened. Her husband figured that out and seems like a gentle soul on the brink.

And she was just asking for some time to get informed and try something that made sense to her. Stranger things have happened.

How dare our society over-ride the reasonable wishes of a parent and presume to play God?

But when this poor kid dies, we'll hear sage men in white coats or grey suits say "I told you so". Where was their emotional investment?

My heart goes out to this woman. I wish her and her child a miracle ... because her hand has been forced and that's exactly what it's going to take now.

By the way, I also support Jack Kervorkian. All governments should stay out of private matters! What could be more private than a terminal patient with all their faculties who's ready to die ... or a mother on the threshold of losing her own child.

Back off Big Brother ... don't you have some sheep to clone somewhere, or a distant galaxy to befoul with space debris or something?

And while I'm in rant mode and going far beyong the usual scope of this blog, I thought I'd comment on something that's going on right here in the UK. We have a government who also professes to care about the rights of children.

Strange then that the creature that killed baby Peter got 10 years in gaol. Ten years!!!! ...The child died from systematic abuse. He had a broken back and ribs.

And this was the perpetrator's second offense. Oh yeah, the first time he raped a two year old child!

And we have a system that looks out for kids!

Surely if you rape a two year old, you don't get a chance to destroy another child's life ... because you are in gaol for the rest of your existence?

But perhaps he had a harsh upbringing and society is to blame.

Yes folks ... after today I really could just howl at the moon. Please tell me I'm not alone on this one.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Why Do We Overeat?

I thought I'd take a closer look at some of the reasons we overeat.

People who follow my other blog will know that I strongly believe that those of us that overeat are food addicts.

Many people who overeat do so because they are slaves to dopamine and get their strongest dopamine response from calorie-dense foods. Food manufacturers exploit this mercilessly by adding flour, oil and sugar to processed foods ... then banging in one final nail with the addition of salt (for taste, of course).

For those of you unfamiliar with dopamine, this is the chemical responsible for pleasure. It is released when we eat and when we have sex. We have also become pretty adept at artificially inducing dopamine release with the recreational drugs that the underground chemists amongst us have so cleverly cooked up.

And of course, for the more law-abiding, you can always settle for good old-fashioned booze, coffee or cigarettes.

Dopamine release obviously happens for a reason. Our population growth, for example, may not have been quite so prolific without this wondrous chemical working its magic. In fact, if you stop to think about it, why would anyone go to all that bother, if there wasn't a dopamine bone at the end of the rainbow?

But, as is usually the case with us humans, we have gone to extremes in our zeal to over-indulge our senses.

Which brings me back to over-eating. We eat too much because that is the way we have evolved. Years ago, in millenia gone by, food wasn't perhaps quite so conveniently abundant as it is today. So you pretty much had to grab what you could get, when you could get it. If you didn't, then maybe you might have been prejudicing your survival and we couldn't have that.

So we adapted to this inconsistency of food supply by ensuring that, when food was available, we got our fill with interest! Human calorie camels!

Today the only thing that's changed is scarcity ... there is none. For most people in developed countries, food is available, inexpensive and convenient. And loaded with empty calories! And as a result, we just keep flooding our little brains with as much dopamine as we can.

I think we might even be oblivious to this biological imperative. Sharks are not the only creature known for feeding frenzies.

But it could also be argued that addiction is not the only driver of over-indulgence. What about emotional eating? Most of us have issues ... and food provides temporary comfort. OK, maybe that's our old friend dopamine weaving her magic again.

Or how about boredom? Or habit? Maybe. After all when we catch ourselves over-eating it does seem pretty mindless.

Maybe it's "true" physiological hunger. We may be overfed, but we're also probably undernourished because, for some of us at least, what nutrition do we get from icecream, chocolate, biscuits and Mickey-D's?

What I have observed in myself has nothing to do with real hunger, or lack of nutrients. I eat a wide variety of organic foods and my habits aren't particularly quirky, although I won't go near liver!

But I eat plenty of veg, fruits, nuts, fish, berries, unprocessed grains ... as well as the odd chicken breast, steak, or omelette. Grass-fed, free-range, organic everything ... it can't possibly be malnutrition for me.

But I still have moments where I could eat an entire wild salmon, or a whole bag of organic carrots, or 6 pears at a sitting!

That's narrows things down for me to "emotional" eating and flat-out addiction.

And discipline and moderation seem like ridiculous concepts for me in my battle to combat the siren call of dopamine.

I know I'm not alone in feeling this way ... so tell me how it is for you. What are your thoughts? Are you "addicted" to nutritious "healthy" food, or just calorie-dense rubbish with no nutritional value whatsoever?

Go ahead ... post a comment and let us know your own insight into this universal affliction. Food addicts need more direction than just moderation, discipline and restraint.

Or are we just weak and pathetic?

Your views please?