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5 a day ? No Way!

5-a-day5-a-day? No Way!

This has to be the most widely promoted well known public health campaign in the country.  And given that fact, you might be forgiven for thinking the advice was based on medical evidence and scientific fact?

Well, you’d be wrong!  Because there is no scientific evidence.  In fact, this campaign was invented in California in 1991 by the American National Cancer Institute and the Produce for Better Health Foundation who’s members comprise vegetable growers, packers and the logistics world of …..that’s right, fruit and veg growing and fruit and veg packing. Yes the very organisations that have the most to gain (financially) by convincing the world to eat more fruit and veg.

So what’s the theory?  Fruit and veg are recommended (in conventional dietary wisdom) to prevent heart disease and cancer because of their antioxidant properties: they are supposed to prevent the creation of damaging free radicals.  Interesting but is it this true?  The most recent study was published in April 2010 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.  The study involved 142,605 men and 335,873 women  for the period 1992 – 2000.  The review found that eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day had little effect on cancer risk and concluded that the very small difference observed could be attributable to other factors: giving up alcohol or smoking, obesity, exercise, taking the Pill or HRT.

There are a remarkable number of other studies which also fail to support the claims made.  For example, in 2002 the University of Helsinki studied the effects of high and low intakes of vegetables and berries and apples on oxidation in subjects consuming diets high in unsaturated fatty acids.  They found “no significant differences between the diets”

In 2003 THE CARDIO 2000  study results were published.  The study was looking at fruit and vegetable consumption in relation to heart disease.  The study found in favour of fruit and vegetable consumption and concluded that it could reduce the risk of heart disease but signficantly it did not need five portions a day to achieve this. “Consumption of two or more servings a week is associated with a 70% reduction in relative risk” the researchers concluded.  And yes, you read that right,“two or more servings a week”.

In fact,  Professor Sir Charles George (medical director of the British Heart Foundation) said during an interview with the Daily Mail about the study results and the obvious conflict with government guidelines that “there is some argument about how much you need.  I think five may be an arbitrary figure.”

So what’s the problem  and why are Paleo Works flagging this up?

Simply this: what we have is a marketing campaign with no provable significant benefit for public health.  The campaign is based on neither medical evidence nor scientific fact.

Worse still this campaign is fuelling the obesity epidemic.  Why?  Because of the high levels of fructose contained in fruit and the effect it has on our bodies (not to mention teeth – if parents knew the damaging effect fruit juice had on their children, the likes of Tropicana and Sunny Delight would be out of business by tomorrow).  Take a look at this article we wrote on the damaging effects of fructose.  In summary we state that the high sugar content of many fruits means that they are not something to emphasise in your diet if weight loss and optimal health are your goals.  This is particularly so if you do not tolerate carbohydrate well (specifically: diabetics, type 2 diabetics, those who suffer from metabolic syndrome or are insulin resistant).

If you are going to eat fruit, eat it sparingly and opt for berries which are relatively low in sugar and offer a better deal in terms of nutrient content.  Avocados are also a good choice given the high good fat content.  Every day fruit: apples; peaches; pears; plums; citrus fruits – eat these in moderation and by that we mean watch your body and how it reacts.  High sugar tropical fruits (pineapples, mangoes, paw-paws, passion fruit) : these should be avoided until you hit your weight loss targets  And don’t eat dried fruit, period!

Vegetables are a great choice on the paleo diet especially those that grow above the ground such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale.  These tend to be low in carbohydrate and highly nutritious containing folate, vitamin C, phytochemicals and soluble fibre.  If you are looking to increase calcium in your diet choose:  collard greens, spinach or turnip greens.  Vegetables that grow below the ground are richer in carbohydrate content and should be eaten less frequently: carrots, parsnips, swedes, sweet potatoes, squashes, pumpkins.  Avoid white potatoes for their effect on your insulin.   Great alternatives to mashed potato are mashed cauliflower or mashed  celeriac (mash with cream or butter or both, add seasoning) Onions are fine (impossible to overeat onions) and mushrooms are relatively low in carbohydrate and rich in vitamin D and tasty (especially in a fried breakfast)!

In summary – avoid fruit in favour of vegetables if weight loss and great health are your goals.  And be selective int he vegetables you chose.  Follow the paleo diet and in this way, your weight will continue to fall off.  Finally avoid those public health campaign messages….or at least investigate for yourself and check that the findings are based on scientific evidence and not fuelled by an industry with a vested financial interest! So the very next time you hear a food manufacturer or distributor telling you it’s part of your five-a-day, you’ll be saying No Way!

Obese: A Year to Save My Life

Did you see the show “Obese: a year to save my life”?  It aired last night on Sky 1 at 9 pm and we watched Claire – here is her story.

Claire is 32 but feels twenty years older.  She is constantly juggling a busy and stressful job with the needs of her energetic four-year-old son. And when the stress spiralled out of control, Claire took comfort in food.

Claire-obese

Name: Claire

Weight before show: 26st 7lbs

Metabolic age: 47

Actual age: 32

Since adolescence Claire would go from yo-yo dieting to extreme binges, and on a bad binge day she could pack away more than 8000 calories.  She turned to food to heal past emotional problems and even though she’s undergone therapy, she’s never been able to take control of her eating disorder. She was also at the point where she worried that she couldn’t keep up with her son.

Claire longed to break this vicious cycle and desperately wanted to get her life and her weight under control, so she could play a more active role in her young son’s life.

It’s a familiar story?  And handsome weight loss coach, Jesse Pavelka flew in from America and told Claire to eat less and exercise more.  That’s it in a nutshell really.

Claire-obese-afterAnd Claire did lose weight.  A staggering amount of weight……BUT…

What happens when the cameras leave and the attention fades?  Can you fill in the gaps?  What’s your experience of conventional dietary wisdom?  And why don’t these shows ever record a follow up 6 months, one year, two years down the line?  Because you’ve probably guessed it, Claire will have put the weight back on.  In the interim, the staggering transformation makes for perfect “fairy tale” television.

Sadly,  anyone watching this type of show with excess fat to lose can’t help but take on board the fact that to get from morbidly obese to “normal” involves getting up at 6 o’clock in the morning; putting in 2 to 4 hours of training per day and eating less that 1500 calories for each meal.  At least that’s what conventional dietary wisdom tells us.

And watching Claire’s secret diaries recording her binge eating during her diet when the stress of it all got too much for her (6 large bars of caramel chocolate in 4 hours on one occasion) suggests that things are not under “control” and that the long cycle of yo-yo dieting may well return.

jesse-pavelkaOh and did you catch Jesse Pavelka’s response when Claire fell so spectacularly off his wagon?  He blamed her and her “issues”.  This is horribly common amongst health professionals who will always blame the slimmer’s lack of will power and tend to believe that slimmers delude themselves about their eating and exercise habits and don’t stick to the rules.

At Paleo Works, we say that it’s not because people don’t work hard enough at “eating less and exercising more.” People don’t succeed because the strategy itself is based on flawed science and simply doesn’t work!  We say so called ‘healthy eating’ causes more problems than it solves and even leads to weight gain and ill health. We say “Eat More and Exercise Less!” This may go against the grain of what we’re told to believe but it’s absolutely true. If you just want to lose weight then it is entirely possible with diet alone, remember exercise is a fitness tool, diet is the weight loss tool.

Take a look at the Minnesota Starvation experiment.  Read the conclusions (and this was on a diet of 1560 calories per day)

 “Among the conclusions from the study was the confirmation that prolonged semi-starvation produces significant increases in depression, hysteria and hypochondriasis as measured using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Indeed, most of the subjects experienced periods of severe emotional distress and depression. There were extreme reactions to the psychological effects during the experiment including self-mutilation (one subject amputated three fingers of his hand with an axe, though the subject was unsure if he had done so intentionally or accidentally). Participants exhibited a preoccupation with food, both during the starvation period and the rehabilitation phase. Sexual interest was drastically reduced, and the volunteers showed signs of social withdrawal and isolation. The participants reported a decline in concentration, comprehension and judgment capabilities, although the standardized tests administered showed no actual signs of diminished capacity. There were marked declines in physiological processes indicative of decreases in each subject’s basal metabolic rate (the energy required by the body in a state of rest), reflected in reduced body temperature, respiration and heart rate. Some of the subjects exhibited edema (swelling) in their extremities, presumably due to the massive quantities of water the participants consumed attempting to fill their stomachs during the starvation period.” – Source Wikipedia

Claire needs to lose the physical addiction to sugar (and grains) and to build her diet up around good fats and protein with carbohydrates taking a back seat.  In this way, Claire will create balance and space for other good things to come into her life.  Once this process is up and running, Claire’s body will become a fat burning machine taking energy from fat stores and using the surplus fat in her body to fuel her life.

This is the basis of our diet.  A return to ancestral health.  Learning from our ancestors what drove them forward for in excess of 2.5 million years.  It’s only in the last 100 years we have turned to processed “high sugar” food.  It’s only in the last 30 years we have been told to eat less fat.  Its only in the last 20 years we have begun to develop such an intense problem with obesity….

How many more have to end up like Claire, or worse end up dying as a result of excess fat?  Well given current practices and standard dietary advice the answer perhaps is many more. However there is an alternative, a solution. So if you’ re overweight and believe you too only have a year to save your life, or simply want to improve your lifestyle and well being, take a look at what Paleo Works has to offer,  let us empower you to change your life forever.

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