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A few years ago I was at a health and fitness expo, it was in the very early days of me starting Schkinny Maninny and I had a stand to exhibit, give taste samples and help people learn about the benefits. I will never forget that weekend as I was harassed and harassed by personal trainers telling me that doing a juice cleanse would do nothing but slow your metabolism down. It was horrible. And they were at least partially right. So I spent most of the weekend trying to say ,”but…”
Prolonged periods of fasting does put our bodies into “starvation mode”, our bodies start to prioritise the feeding of internal organs and hold onto whatever calories may be consumed to keep us alive rather than keeping us looking svelte. But I guess there was a bit of mystique around what “prolonged” meant.
Fast forward a few years and now we know that prolonged is exactly what it means, like 2 years. So a period of 3-7 days is not “prolonged” and can’t really be deemed to impact the body in the same way. Now we have seen clinical studies that show when you fast your body actually burns FAT stores first to help fuel your body, so concerns about losing significant amounts of muscle whilst short term fasting are simply untrue. When you expose yourself to long term full time calorie restriction, then starvation mode is a real phenomenon and your body will start to do things like burning muscle for fuel. But on the short term it is a great way to help burn up those fat stores, but just make sure when you start eating again, eat lots of fresh whole nutritious foods rather than smashing burgers.
Winter has wound up, but that doesn’t minimise the need for some comfort food every now and then. Big carby meals filled with pasta or mash potatoe is a great way to satisfy the comfort eating monkey on your back. But it also a great way to spike your blood glucose and send you into a sleepy food coma, as well as triggering the production of fat cells. What if there was a way that you could eat your starchy foods and avoid the blood glucose hit? There might actually be a way you can have your cake and eat it too….
It’s called Resistant Starch. It’s a starch that resists digestion by regular digestive enzymes, so it passed through the colon for fermentation by gut flora. Resistant starch is a PREBIOTIC, not to be confused with a PROBIOTIC. The difference between these two is that the prebiotic is the fertiliser for the probiotic, which is the bacteria. The reason that resistant starch is important is because it is very beneficial for your digestive system to help maintain colorectal health. In men and women in Australia, bowel cancer is the most easily preventable cancer and yet it is out 3rd biggest cancer killer. By not breaking down in the stomach (which is where the digestive enzymes are), it means it can pass further down the chain of the colon and to help to feed the good bacteria AS WELL as cleaning the colon.
Resistant starch is found in things like grain, beans, legumes, rice, pasta, etc. But the tricky thing is that the level changes depending on the TEMPERATURE of the food. So it is much higher in things like raw potato, raw grains, and raw beans, although a lot of those things aren’t healthy to eat raw, but a steaming bowl of fresh pasta holds almost no resistant starch. Although I am no scientist, I believe the heating bursts the cells of the resistant starch. HOWEVER, once the food is cooled, the resistant starch kind of crytsalises and forms a different type (but still very good for you) of resistant starch.
This also has big implications for the levels of blood glucose in your body. Typically we are told to avoid big bowls of pasta and rice as your body will convert carbs to sugar and your blood glucose will spike, releasing insuling and converting to fat. And this is true of the regular cooked pasta, fresh off the stove, however, once it has cooled and resistant starch is present again, the impact on your blood glucose is also reduced. Which means that rather than your body breaking it down in the stomach, releasing to the blood stream, etc, more of the pasta passes through your digestive system undigested. Allowing you to enjoy the comfort food and avoid the post pasta coma. Interesting huh!
What does this mean for you?
A lot more research needs to be done about the cooking, cooling, reheating process to determine the impact on resistant starches, but it seems to be a growing topic of interest. In the meantime, a few studies have shown the following:
- Freezing, defrosting and then toasting bread favourably alters the glucose response to breads. (http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v62/n5/full/1602746a.html)
- Cooking, cooling and lightly reheating pasta can also have a better impact on resistant starch (http://www.medicaldaily.com/healthy-meal-cooking-and-cooling-pasta-changes-starch-quality-cut-calories-fat-307300)
- Adding potato starch to your cooled mashed potatoes, is a great way to boost the resistant starch and reduce the impact on blood glucose.
I think there is some misconception about what exactly a whole grain is. Whole grains are definitely better for you and there are some great whole grain products out there. But what is a good whole grain product and what isn’t. Are all these “whole grain” products really whole grain? Let’s take a look.
A whole grain contains the 3 edible parts of the grain – the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran is the outer skin with lots of fibre and antioxidants. The germ is the embryo to sprout into a new plant and the endosperm is the food supply for the germ, so the germ can send roots down for water and nutrients and sprouts for sunlight. The endosperm is the largest portion and contains starchy carbohydrates, some proteins and a little bit of vitamin and minerals.
So why are whole grains healthier? Refining a grain normally just leaves the endosperm, Without the bran and germ, about 25% of the protein is lost as well as a significant reduction in other nutrients. The bran and germ also provide extra fibre and phtyochemicals that the endosperm does not contain.
Great wholegrains to include in your diet are: oats, quinoa, brown rice, barley, corn. Just be careful of food labelling! Bread may be labelled “Wholegrain” but not actually be comprised of a majority of whole grain flour as there are no requirements under Australia labelling laws, so be sure to check the ingredients to make sure it is made from a majority of wholly or wholegrains.
There is an old wive's tale that you shouldn’t drink water with your meal. Like a lot of old wive's tales, there is sometimes some truth behind it. Its not something I have ever believed. I have always drunk lots of water with my food, as well as before and after meals. Staying hydrated is of particular importance before eating so you aren’t overeating, thinking you are responding to hunger cues which are in fact thirsty cues. But could there be any truth to it?
There seems to be competing schools of thought on whether it is actually bad for you or completely harmless. The bad for you school says that excessive liquids during meals can lead to bloating, indigestion and even nutrient malabsorption. This can happen due to the “dilution” of the enzymes and acids in the stomach to help break down the foods.
On the opposite side of the argument there are studies that have been completed in hospitals on patients prepping for surgery to test this theory of “diluted stomach acid and enzymes” and it appears that it isn’t true. Although these types of studies haven’t been conducted on a mass scale, the evidence is still convincing that water during meals may not be as harmful as others believe.
Drinking water before meals has been shown to help increase weight loss in obese people. Two groups of obese people were studied and the group that drank 2 glasses of water before each meal lost more weight than a group told to imagine they were full before each meal (this “imagine” group was even exercising more than the water drinkers).
The best advice is to drink up to 3 litres per day and listen to your body. If you tend to get bloated when drinking water with your meal, then try to only drink water to help you swallow. But otherwise if you are a fish like me and can’t help yourself, then drink away! And if weight loss is your objective then a pretty simple strategy of drinking 2 glasses before each meal looks like a pretty simple and easy way to get started.
I just finished reading a book called The Power. It’s a follow up to The Secret. Whilst some may poo poo anything about the Law of attraction, like I wish for a Lamborghini and it appeared! But the I really liked the message of you get what you give. It resonated with me that to get positivity happiness and love from people around you, you must first be a shining light for all of those things. If you want people around you to be happy, your relationship to be better, then becoming what you wish will return to you. I loved this message and it is so true. Here are our tips for getiing everything you want from life:
Think about the things you that love, like really really love. It might be your kids, your partner, a hobby, or something else. It might be a skirt that makes you look fantastic, it might be an eye shadow that makes your eyes really pop. It could just be seeing the sun shine on a lovely warm spring day. Just take some time to think about ALL the things you love.
Amplify that feeling. Imagine that feeling of love inside you is like a ball of light, just growing and getting more powerful, lighter and brighter with every little thing that you add into the ball. The ball is right in your middle of your chest and it is just glowing like crazy you feel like it might actually fly right out of your body.
Carry this ball of light around with you every moment of every day. Whenever you speak to someone, in person or over the phone, picture that you are sharing a little piece of your ball with them. It is a tiny unique light of love that you are willing to give to them, with no thought of return. You want to give it because you have so much to give!
Fibre! Come on, get your mind out of the gutter (although I have been known to use the other F word a bit too frequently). Fibre could be one of the most important things in your diet for long term weight management and health.
The basic answer is that fibre makes you feel fuller and you are less inclined to overeat. But the actual benefit if eating more fibre could run a lot deeper than that. A study in the US looked a group of pre-diabetic people (whose blood sugar is abnormally high but not yet at diabetes level) and assigned two different diets (but no exercise). One was a traditional diet with a reduction in calories and saturated fats and the other was no change but simply adding in 30g of fibre per day from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. After a year, BOTH diets lost the SAME amount of weight, both groups improved their cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. Which is an impressive result when you consider one diet was restricted intact and the other diet added more food.
So what is the best fibre for you? You know there is soluble and insoluble fibre.
Soluble fibre dissolves into a gel form and helps to slow digestion, this is the form that helps you feel fuller for longer. Insoluble fibre is the stuff that adds bulk to your stool and help move waste through your digestive tract, like a sweep. It is best to go for foods with BOTH on these fibres. Grains might be high in insoluble fibre, but they can also promote insulin. But fruits and vegetables are the key as they naturally contain both types of fibre. Here are the best ones to chose:
Have you ever done a cleanse with a friend or partner and wonder why they don’t have the same horrible headaches when they drink the same amount of coffee as you?
Turns out, its genetic.
Caffeine is a natural alkaloid and also a stimulant, which can cause dependence or addiction. Most coffee drinkers (or tea, or anything else caffeinated) will identify the foggy feeling, dull headache that accompanies the absence of your morning cup. I quit coffee a few years ago. I hated the dependence on it. I really hated knowing that if I missed my daily dose, then I would feel rubbish and feel like I was unable to “function”, so I quit. I miss the habit, but not the actual stimulant. I have drunk it a handful of times since have officially quit, and have regretted it almost every time (once was a long drive and I knew I needed something to really buzz me). It left me feeling very jittery, incredible anxious, and I literally could not sit still. And yet, my partner can drink it right before bed and still sleep very soundly….
So why do some people feel it more than others?
We all carry a gene that metabolises caffeine called the CYP1A2 gene. Individuals who are homozygous for the CYP1A2-1A allele are "rapid" caffeine metabolisers, whereas carriers of the variant CYP1A2-1F are "slow" caffeine metabolisers.
There are lab tests for this gene, but basically, if you can drink caffeine in the evening and still go to bed, you are a rapid metabolizer. On the other hand, some people have a cup of coffee and have the jitters for the rest of the day.
So it seems that those with a slow metabolisers are more inclined to feel the “withdrawal” effects when they stop drinking coffee. Severe headaches, nausea, inability to focus are all the symptoms when the body quits an addiction, but some are more likely to feel the pain than others. If you are planning on either quitting coffee or just doing a cleanse with no coffee for a week, then if you are one of the slow metabolisers, my best advice is to try and cut down the caffeine before your cleanse. Start by dropping from full strength to half shot, then to decaf (this still has a small amount of caffeine in it), then to green tea, then very diluted green tea and then non caffeinated tea (like rooibos, or herbal). Your head will thank you!