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Sunday Shutdown Series

#39 A1 & A2 MILK

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #39 A1 & A2 MILK

What is it?

A1 and A2 refers to the type of casein found in milk. Casein is one of the main groups of proteins.

A1 casein is typically found in breeds of cows from Northern Europe – think Holstein Fresian (which is also most common in Australia and America)
A2 casein is typically found in breeds of cows from the Channel Islands, France and in Asia.

The milk we regularly consume contains both types of casein as the domestication of cows caused them to mix. However there are still cattle with only the A2 casein which produce pure A2 milk.

What are the claimed health benefits?

It has been claimed that regular milk (with both A1 and A2) has less health benefits than pure A2 milk. The main claims state that the consumption dairy with both A1 and A2 casein is linked to the development of type 1 diabetes, digestive discomfort, cardiovascular disease and many others too. The primary point being that A1 casein is the problem.

To date there have been no clinical studies in humans testing the effect of A1 casein on type 1 diabetes.

The evidence supporting the statements that consuming A2 milk will be preventative in developing non-communicable diseases (like cardiovascular disease) is unfounded. And when you dig a little deeper it seems these claims are mostly made by the companies selling A2 milk. Funny that isn’t it.

What do we know?

Firstly there may be a benefit for those who experience digestive discomfort after consuming standard dairy milk to switch to A2 milk. There is moderate evidence to suggest that A2 milk may be beneficial for these individuals.
However not all individuals.
And not all the time.
This means it will be a bit of trial and error.

If you don’t have any digestive issues then there is no reason for you to change your chosen milk.

In the UK A2 milk has recently been removed from many supermarkets shopping aisles due to it not being purchased. It is still available but may just require a bit more looking.

So we aren’t solely shutting A2 milk down, just partly.

#38 THE VEGAN DIET

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #38 THE VEGAN DIET

I was asked by one of my high school friends to cover this. And with good reason too. I have previously discussed it in my post on The Gamechangers movie on Netflix if you’d like some further reading.

The vegan diet gets hailed as the be all and end all of healthy eating sometimes. And whilst there are elements of it we can all take into our current lifestyle I wanted to set the record straight.

The main things to think about

  • Excluding all animal products from the human diet isn’t suitable for most people, it can leave the diet lacking vital nutrients and also be a form of controlled obsessive eating masking other problems like eating disorders.
  • Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient which only comes from animals. We cannot make it in our own body. Therefore if we don’t consume animal products we must take a supplement. This is fine in principal, we do it for other nutrients too. However it’s worth noting that when we obtain nutrients from food we get other nutrients too. So in this instance, we get B12 from animal sources but we can also get protein, dietary fats, iron and zinc to name a few.
  • Dairy is the main source of iodine for the human population. It can also be obtained from things such as seaweed however not in the same quantities. To date we have no data on how iodine deficiency may or may not affect those adopting a vegan diet. Iodine is important for brain development, particularly for pregnant women and their babies.
  • From an environmental perspective, yes consuming less meat is advisable. But if we all just stopped consuming animal products, we’d be in a bit of a pickle too. Take the current state of affairs in the UK.
  • Dairies are having to throw away excess milk because it’s not in demand as much as it was. This is because the hospitality sector has near on closed down. Imagine if everyone stopped consuming milk. That’s just one example.
  • What about for losing weight. There is no superior diet for losing weight. It comes down to consistently being a in a calorie deficit.
  • You can safely consume a vegan diet, I’d just ensure you get some advice to ensure you aren’t lacking any macro or micro nutrients. .

So my advice….

Consume less meat. Consume less dairy. Don’t exclude them completely unless its for a medical or ethical reason.

#37 Soya

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #37 SOYA

I get this question all the time – “but I heard soya isn’t good for you is it because of the estrogen?” Let’s debunk this shall we.

What is soya?

Soya is a legume and popular nowadays as a milk alternative. It is also consumed as soya beans (edamame) and tofu.

Why do people think soya is “bad”?

The majority of the evidence around soya being “bad” for you comes from animal studies and those conducted in a lab. We know that the findings from these studies cannot be applied to humans as we are a different species all together and how something affects animals is different to how it can affect humans (I’ve discussed this before). Soy contains phytoestrogens. These are different to the hormone estrogen found in the body. Even though they both contain the word estrogen, the way they function is very different.

Soy consumption in Asian populations and cardiovascular disease

The body of thought existing around soy consumption in Asian population groups and a lower rate of cardiovascular disease has never been proven. Whilst, Asian populations consume a large volume of soy based products and yes there is a lower rate of cardiovascular disease, research has failed to show this is the cause. This population group also consume a wide variety of other foods (think fruit and veggies) which we don’t in the western world. They are also less stressed, they live in sunnier climates and are far more social than we are. This all plays a role in health and cannot be excluded from the conversation.

Soy consumption and bone health

Bone health, particularly in post-menopausal women. This has been well researched and concluded that there is a positive association with soy consumption and increased bone mineral density. This means it’s good for your bone health. However it’s not known if this is because of the protein and calcium content of soy which is similar to cows milk or because of the isoflavones (a compound found in soy). It certainly hasn’t been shown to be detrimental though. (Messina. M. 2016)

A few studies have reported a reduction in blood pressure although this wasn’t the main aim of those studies, therefore further research is needed here.

Soy consumption and breast cancer

Finally, when looking at the evidence on soy consumption and breast cancer a review in 2010 (Hilakivi-Clarke et al) concluded that soy consumption throughout your life can have a protective effect. This is also the case when discussing menopausal symptoms and bone loss. This doesn’t mean you should only consume soy, it means consuming it as part of your diet is safe, encouraged and actually starting it in your youth may have benefits when you are older.

My advice….

…if you cannot consume dairy and need a milk alternative then soya is a good choice. Actually out of all the milk alternatives soys protein content is highest in comparison to dairy, the others don’t stand a chance. And anyone who’s preaching that soy consumption is detrimental to your health…I’d be asking for the studies proving it.

#36 SKINNY JABS

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #36 SKINNY JABS

I simply had to write about this after sharing a post on it earlier this week and getting quite a few DM’s.

Celebrities endorse products they quite often don’t understand. This prays on the vulnerable and can be unsafe for short term health but also dangerous for long term relationships with food.

Skinny Jab (SJ) is a weight loss programme. Just like any other it works on the basis of reducing your calorie consumption. But it doesn’t overly advertise that, of course not. In fact their website doesn’t really tell you what the product is at all. It’s a daily injection of liraglutide which claims to melt fat away.

SJ also claim to remove hunger using a tried and tested revolution. That they are not like any other very low calorie diet. Their site also refers to starvation mode 🙄 (refer to SS #19)

Their “Detox Box” does no such thing. As we know, our bodies have their on detox system called a liver and kidneys that no food, juice or cleanse can replicate.

SJ report an average weight loss of 12-20lbs in the first month, which might I add is very unsustainable. It is not a magic product, there is no special ingredient which makes it special. If there was such a product we wouldn’t have an obesity crisis across the developed world, would we?

Finally it’s daylight robbery at £250 for 4 weeks of injections and remember you still have to buy food on top of that. Spend your money on nutritious food, exercise and support from someone who knows what they are talking about.

#35 Milk and dairy (Part II)

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #35 MILK AND DAIRY (PART II)⠀

This is a question I get asked at almost every workshop or talk I run, via my social media and from friends too. Is dairy harmful for human health? I have written a Sunday Shutdown on it already (check my website) however I wanted to elaborate further.⠀

Summary of the evidence

In 2016, a review (Thorning et al.) was published summarising all the evidence on milk and dairy products and their impact on human health. The analysis looked at obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, cancer and all-cause mortality. It’s important to note that butter was not included in the overview, and given its nutritional profile is very different to other dairy products it’s quite good it’s been left off.⠀

Some important findings from the overview were:⠀

  • Magnesium is important for bone health, and in children pretty much all their intake comes from dairy. This is also true for calcium. Whilst plant based milks have calcium added into them it isn’t organic to the product and there is limited research on how this reacts in the human body. Does it work in the same way or not? The products are so new it’s impossible to tell.⠀
  • There is still very limited evidence on dairy and some cancers. A 2011 World Cancer Research Fund report concluded that dairy consumption probably reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. This was further shown in a 2014 meta-analysis (Ralston et al) particularly in adult males, yet not females. However, other than this type in particular, most studies are inconclusive or indicate a positive effect. There are none which indicate a negative effect.⠀

Plant based alternatives

Whilst plant based alternatives may be trendy they tend to have a very low protein content compared to dairy which is high (this is good). This is with the exception of soy which is comparable. We know that the protein content in many peoples diets currently may just meet the UK Governments recommendation. Yet we also know this is no where near enough for optimum health. I advise all my clients to be consuming in excess of 1g/kg of body weight as good practice.

Summary

All in all there are very few adverse effects which have been proven about consuming milk and dairy. And prior to the introduction of plant milks on the market there were no other alternatives. My fear with removing dairy completely is the long term health effects of reduced protein, calcium, magnesium and iodine intake. We can certainly all consume less, just not remove completely unless for medical reasons.

#34 Mushroom supplements

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #34 MUSHROOM SUPPLEMENTS have hit the headlines and I’ve been asked about them a few times recently. Last year, there was even a mushroom latte released from a London coffee chain claiming to improve immunity. I mean please.

There is no doubt that mushrooms themselves have great dietary properties, they are a brilliant food, low in calories, a source of fibre and a plant. Something the majority of us should be including more of in our diets.

The back story

Mushrooms have been used in traditional herbal medicine for centuries. And that’s about as far as it goes. Herbal medicine, which isn’t based on science but moreso on the natural elements of plants and traditions doesn’t have much if any clinical evidence to support its claims. One of the main issues is that many herbal remedies aren’t regulated, you don’t need a licence to sell or produce them yet some can have the same side effects as regulated drugs and medicines. But you never hear those stories, do you? Just about the miracle cures. Would you buy conventional medicine from Jane who lives down the road rather than your pharmacist or doctor?

Claims include supporting the immune system, enhancing mood, being anti-aging, increasing endurance and more scarily helping to fight cancer growth.

Supplements

Supplement forms are available as powders, tablets, broths, teas, coffee and even shower gels. Yet there is no evidence to supports any of these claims being true in humans. The majority of evidence for immune support exists in rodents where high doses have been used. You cannot compare injecting mushroom supplements into mice with drinking a herbal tea or orally taking a capsule.

Any effect you see is likely to be a placebo, which if that helps your symptoms then great. But also think about if you made any other changes at the same time you started taking these and could that have been the reason you feel better?

#33 New years resolutions

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #33 NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS: because they will be across your feed for the next few weeks.⠀

The truth is…

it’s estimated that around 80% of NY resolutions fail. Why. Quite simply because for most of us we want to do everything at once.⠀
❗️We are all or nothing.⠀
❗️Which means we do everything or we do nothing.⠀
❗️Which means when we miss one thing, we deem ourselves a failure.⠀
❗️Why does New Year = New You?⠀
❗️And even moreso why do you need a new you?⠀

So yes I’m shutting down the new years resolution because you can make a change at any time. And I’d urge you to ask yourself if the new year is the right time as more than likely you’ll be starting a whole host of other things too.⠀

If it is, then great but it’s best to start with one thing, just one.

If it’s related to eating better perhaps aiming for 5 portions of fruit & veg a day is a good place to start, or having a meat free day per week, meal prepping for one extra dinner or just being more conscious around your food choices and journalling to reflect that.⠀
If it’s related to exercise and movement, start with one or two sessions a week, then move to three and maybe four. Not everyday.⠀

Also, perhaps don’t tackle both food and exercise at once. Just a thought.⠀

Finally, don’t forget to make note of what you’ve changed. Be accountable to yourself that you will do what you’ve set out. Have clear goals, clear intentions and review them. Just like you would for a meeting at work.⠀

On that note, Sunday shutdowns will return in the new year, and we’ve got a pretty good line up.⠀

#32 Collagen

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #32 Collagen

Collagen supplements are relatively new to the market and claims about health include maintaining a healthy gut, glowing skin, improved mood as well as promoting healthy hair, nails and skin. It comes in the form of tablets, drinks, topical creams, bars and powders.

With our skin starting to age from our mid 20’s onwards, many are actively freaking out about lines and wrinkles and will do anything to stop it.

Studies…

There are many studies showing collagen works in a laboratory environment but move away from there and into the real world and there is pretty much no evidence for its positive use in humans on any of the health claims listed above. Once you consume collagen, it has to survive being digested (the stomach is very acidic) get into your blood and then be transfused into your skin before it can be used. Collagen is once again cleverly used to pray on our insecurities.

However, the good news is taking collagen supplements is unlikely to be harmful due to the minimal doses being consumed within these supplements. Personally I wouldn’t recommend spending your hard earned cash on something that’s not proven to work. However, that’s up to you. Some of the best things you can do to protect your skin is stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, eat lots of fruit and veg, exercise regularly and don’t smoke or consume alcohol excessively.

There is a little bit of research into the positive effects of collagen hydrolysate supplementation on bone density and joint health, however you ain’t gonna get this from a drink with collagen added to it. Yet again these studies were a mix of animal, lab and human studies with doses of up to 12g per day and the effects were short term. For perspective, in a tablet you’ll get about 1 gram. (Porfirio, E 2016 and Liu et al 2018)

What do the the experts say?

Whilst on the topic of skincare and the effect ingesting collagen can have on your skin, I’d recommend taking a look at Anjali Mahto on Instagram. Clear cut evidence for your skin who also supports that the science here is sketchy at best.

#31 BCAA’s

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #31 BCAA’S

What are they?

Branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) have been big business in the health and fitness industry for a while now. That being said I still get asked about them and I still know people taking them. It makes me angry sometimes.

Out of the nine amino acids that make up protein, three of them are of the branched chain variety:
Leucine
Isoleucine
Valine

The most important of the three in terms of muscle gain and maintenance is leucine, the other two have no added benefit. So here’s your first hurdle, you are paying for those extra two for no reason. No benefit, nada.

Why do people take them?

Most individuals currently taking or considering taking BCAA’s are those who actually give a sh*t about training and nutrition. They will already be taking on additional protein and be conscious of what they consume throughout the day. They will also be easy to market new products to. The thing is, if you are hitting your protein target/threshold per day then there is absolutely no benefit in taking these. The only time they may be beneficial is in super low protein meals, which you are unlikely to be eating.

The science?

An in depth review of the science conducted by Wolfe in 2017 found no human studies that showed an increase in muscle protein synthesis after taking BCAA supplements orally. And when taken intravenously it actually resulted in muscle breakdown and less muscle synthesis.

A time when they may be useful are for those participating in ultra-endurance events, think #ironman. And this is due to the severe carbohydrate depletion towards the end of the exercise period, we are talking like 6 hours in. Once your carbohydrate stores are gone, your body will start to breakdown protein to use for fuel, not ideal, but by taking BCAA’s this can limit the amount of protein broken down which is going to assist with your performance right to the end and also your recovery too.

If you are an avid BCAA user, try investing your money elsewhere and perhaps think about other areas of your diet and or nutrition which may have got you those results. #justsayin

#30 Manuka Honey

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SUNDAY SHUTDOWN #30 MANUKA HONEY, is it worth the price tag?⠀

What is it?

Manuka honey is native to New Zealand and is a product of the manuka tree where bees collect their honey from. In recent years it has landed on the shelves of many health food stores and even supermarkets with a price tag upwards of £20, some even coming in at £70. Health claims on manuka honey (and any products containing it) include it’s positive effects on your gut health, treating cancer and diabetes, boosting your immune system and generally being good for oral hygiene. It is both marketed for external or topical use and for ingestion as well.⠀

All types of honey have been praised for thousands of years on their antibacterial properties and have been used for wounds and burns. Manuka honey has a special chemical called methylglyoxal which has specific antimicrobial properties, this compound is not found in standard honey and is what makes it different. However, the benefits of methylglyoxal found in Manuka honey is not quite known just yet. In general terms for wound care there is medical grade honey which is licensed around the world. Manuka honey is not medical grade. And you should not use any honey purchased from a supermarket to heal your wounds at home.⠀

What does the science say?

Most people will see manuka honey and buy it for ailments such as a sore throat and because it costs more and has a fancy rating system on it then surely it must work, right? False. Despite all the claims you read about manuka honey there are no large scale human trials that have looked at its effect on cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol or gut health (or anything for that matter). Most of the limited research conducted using manuka honey has been done in a lab or in animals therefore it cannot be applied to humans.⠀

And finally…

So whilst a well known remedy for a sore throat is a hot cup of water with lemon and honey, the standard stuff will do just fine. And a side note from a sustainability perspective, our bees are in danger so plant some bee loving varieties in your garden next spring or buy some bee bombs, the kids will love them.⠀