Archived posts from this Category

How Healthy is Your Diet? Part 1: Soda Bad!

Posted by on 11 Aug 2011 | Tagged as: diet

So you think you eat a healthy diet, do you? Well, if you can place your hand on your heart and say in all honesty that you are at your correct weight and you are healthy, fit and feel good, then we can believe you. But… if you are overweight and not so fit or healthy, there might be some underlying cause. That cause is more often than not diet related. So let’s look at what you might need to be avoiding in your diet even if you think its okay to include it.

Soda is Bad for You

It is quite amazing how many people go to great lengths to ensure they eat lots of fresh, healthy food, then go ahead and wreck all their good work by pouring what amounts to fizzy poison down their throats to quench their thirst. If you thought that its okay to drink soda as long as you eat right, then you could be doing your health a disservice. There are some really compelling reasons why soda is bad for you, not least of all it will add several inches to your waistline even if what you are eating does not.

There are the two main varieties of soda from our viewpoint. One has copious amounts of refined sugars and the other uses artificial sweeteners. Dieters will be quick to point out that the sugar-laden variety are definite no-no’s when it comes to losing weight. But what they may not realize is that even the so-called diet sodas are just as bad, if not worse than their sugar toting counterparts.

Sugar Sweet and Deadly

It is common knowledge that sugar is just empty calories and the body will store them as fat if it can’t use them right away, which is often the case. Recent medical research has linked a high intake of refined sugar (sucrose and high fructose corn syrup) to cell damage leading to more rapid aging, as well as uncovering links to the formation of cancer cells.

Too much refined sugar in your diet can also lead to a variety of other health problems in the long term. Even some forms of arthritis may be linked to a high level of sugar consumption and the resulting excess of visceral fat.

So what about the artificially sweetened variety of soda?

Artificial Sweets

The chief artificial sweetener of choice is aspartame, which is many times sweeter than refined sugar, cheaper to manufacture and therefore a cheap alternative that has the benefit if creating a low calorie drink for dieters. You might think that this is the solution, but you would be wrong. Very wrong. The first thing dieters need to know about aspartame is that it has been shown in studies to stimulate hunger and cravings for high calorie or high carb snacks. This can lead to snacking on things that will bust your carefully crafted diet when you are between meals.

But it gets worse. Aspartame is made up of three main components, none of which are good for you. About 10% of aspartame is methanol, better known as wood alcohol that is a poison. It is the substance that was responsible for killing or blinding skid-row alcoholics. Methanol becomes unstable at temperatures above 86 degrees Fahrenheit to form free methanol that is easily absorbed by the body. Free methanol breaks down in the body to form formic acid and formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a neurotoxin and is carcinogenic, causes retinal damage, interferes with DNA replication and causes birth defects. You can read more about the “dangers of Aspartame” by Googling that term, or visiting

What about the fizz itself?

Fizz is…

The carbonated water that characterizes soda is also detrimental to health in a number of ways, especially dental health. Excessive amounts of the carbonic acid in soda can corrode the enamel protection of teeth, which will gradually dissolve them over time. This damage cannot be reversed. There have been scares about bone density loss and stomach excessive lining wear, but these have been debunked by more recent studies. However, if you suffer from a gastric ulcer, your doctor will probably recommend that you do not drink soda as this can inflame it.

Still want that cold, refreshing can of soda?

Terry Didcott

How Healthy is Milk?

Posted by on 19 Jul 2011 | Tagged as: diet

In my last post in this mini series of looking at how healthy certain foods are in our diet, The Health of Our Meat, I took the meat industry by the horns and spoke a few home truths! Well, now its the turn of the dairy industry, as if you aren’t still reeling from all this stunning knowledge!

Most of us in the West have grown up on cow’s milk and its derivatives such as yoghurt, cream, butter and cheese, but is it as good for you as the so-called experts keep telling us? Well, not to deflate you any more after learning that meat and vegetables are not up to scratch, but there are one or two thing you need to know about cow’s milk and what use it is in our daily diet. After reading this, you might change your own views on the need to even continue consuming dairy produce in adulthood.

First out of the gate is the well documented fact that we humans, as adults actually can’t metabolize cow’s milk and the lactose it contains very well. In fact many of us are actually lactose intolerant, meaning those people can’t metabolize it at all and when they consume it, they suffer with quite debilitating symptoms. This causes a variety of health problems in people who often have no idea why they are getting sick.

But we hear from the industry that promotes it that drinking milk is necessary to enrich our diet with much needed calcium. Is this true, or is the industry just trying to keep us buying their product?

The fact that we need calcium for strong healthy teeth and bones is true, but we don’t get it from cow’s milk, because we can’t metabolize it very well, remember? The truth is that we derive most of our calcium from green leafy vegetables. We can metabolize them perfectly well and get all the nutrients we need easily, because that’s the way our bodies are designed to work.

It gets worse. If you’re squeamish, look away now…

The cows that provide the milk are pumped full of steroids, growth hormones and antibiotics, as you will have gleaned from my last post. Well, those nasties find their way into the cow’s milk, and are not destroyed during the pasteurization process. So we get to consume these hormones and antibiotics which of course reduce the effectiveness of our own natural immune system’s defenses.

So there are just a few reasons not to consume dairy products, or at least cut down on them drastically. A glimmer of hope lies in the organic food industry as organically reared dairy cows are not fed all these antibiotics and hormones, but access to organic dairy produce is still not as widespread as it could be, but it is improving.

Even so, omitting cows milk from the diet altogether is not such a bad thing. There are way too many reasons for doing it against a very few. mostly habit-based reason for continuing to consume it. Remember, one billion Chinese have practically no dairy produce in their diets and they’re pretty healthy despite its absence!

Terry Didcott

The Health of Our Meat

Posted by on 14 Jul 2011 | Tagged as: diet

The last post here, The Health of Our Crops, looked at the crop farming industry and how organic farming can turn things around with regards our health and wellness. So here, I’ll look at the benefits of eating organically produced meat and poultry and the downside to intensively reared and farmed meat.

First, let’s look at what we already know about intensively farmed livestock. Knowing exactly what is in your food can make a big difference to your overall health. Cows and pigs, which are herbivores, are fed with protein rich feed that can also contain ground up flesh and bones of dead farmyard animals. Many people simply don’t know this, or if they do they choose to ignore it because the idea is pretty disgusting to have to think about. If this isn’t bad enough, these poor abused animals are also regularly fed a diet rich in growth hormones and antibiotics which make the animals reach maturity much faster than they would naturally.

These force-grown animals see little of the beautiful fields that we associate with grazing animals. They spend nearly all of their miserable and thankfully short lives in small pens where their movements are restricted to prevent them from harming themselves and others. Of course the true reason for this is to avoid damaging the supermarket shrink wrapped and neatly packaged meat they are destined to become.

Another common misconception is the image of cute little chickens scratching around the grounds of the farm house for seeds and worms and scattering as the farmer walks past on his way to go to work. If you think the life of those cute little birds is really like that, think again. Poultry are kept in tiny cages for similar reasons (to prevent them hurting each other) and their beaks are cut to stop them pecking each other. They are also fed steroids, growth hormones and a cocktail of antibiotics to prevent the infections that would surely wipe out so many birds kept in such close quarters.

Okay, if this running commentary is staring to sound a little like an animal rights tirade, I apologize. It’s just the plain old truth. And no one really likes to hear that, do they!

Well guess what their organically raised cousins get as a lifestyle? Yep, they get to roam around the farmyard and graze in those fields, at least having a life before being shipped off to the abattoir. They also are not pumped full of hormones and antibiotics as they lead a more healthy lifestyle and enjoy more freedom of movement around their home.

Now which meat would you rather take home from the supermarket and feed to your family? The cheaper stuff that still contains residues of all those hormones and antibiotics, knowing how those animals were treated before their miserable existences were snuffed out? Or the more expensive organic stuff that is just meat?

Not only that, but which do you imagine might be the more healthy choice for your family’s diet?

Oh yeah, no contest! In my next post I’ll ruffle a few more feathers with a look at how healthy the dairy industry is.

Terry Didcott

The Health of Our Crops

Posted by on 09 Jul 2011 | Tagged as: diet

The last post, Healthy Despite It All, took a swipe at what is wrong with the farming industry and the food that is produced for our tables. It also looked at solutions that are available in organic farming practices. So in this post, let’s carry this subject further by taking a look at the way in which our crops are farmed organically.

With better soil to grow in and far fewer chemicals to leech into their flesh, organically grown vegetables herald in an era where slowly but surely, farmers are realizing that they can return to traditional farming methods whilst still employing modern technology to make it all easier. Make no mistake, it is hard work making this transformation and comes at a dollar cost, but in most cases that cost can be offset by higher profits down the line.

Intensive to Organic

Transforming previously intensively farmed land back to organic methods takes time and several years may need to pass before it can certified organic. This is because chemicals that used to be sprayed on the crops and were therefore dissolved into the soil have to dissipate either with rainfall or being naturally broken down by the re-introduction of organic matter and good bacteria and fauna. But in the interim, the farmer can still work the soil and gradually produce better and healthier crops year upon year.

Does Organic Food Taste Better?

Organically grown fruit and vegetables not only contain more nutrients than their starved intensively grown cousins, but they also taste better as there is no chemical residue to taint the flavor. That makes them better for us and our general health. Of course, the agriculture industry are swift to counter any claims that their produce does contain any chemical residues, but come on, we are intelligent human beings and we know what our own common sense tells us. We know that organic food is far healthier for us and our families, there can be no argument about that!

In the past, the farming industry was able to keep doing what they were doing without having to worry about what consumers thought, because they had most of them fooled into thinking that the intensive model was the best because it enabled farms to produce the maximum yield for the available acre of arable land. The truth of course was that in order to maintain that yield, a lethal cocktail of chemicals had to be sprayed onto the soil and the crops.

Chemical Poisons of Intensive Farming

In the first instance, spraying fungicides and herbicides onto the soil was necessary to prevent soil borne bacteria from building up and damaging the crop from below, while preventing weeds from growing and choking out the main crop. In the second instance, the crops themselves had to be strayed with chemical fertilizers to make then grow fast along with fungicides to prevent fungal damage and pesticides to kill any insects or other pets from eating and damaging the crop. A periodic spray of selective weedkillers kept new weeds from growing during the main growing season for the crop.

Chemical Free Organic Farming

On the other side of the coin, organic farming does not rely on the use of chemicals to maintain a healthy crop and a decent yield. Plants grow better in soil enriched by organic matter such as compost as this natural soil conditioner enriches and feeds the growing medium while suppressing soil borne diseases and reducing the levels of pests that live in the soil.

The technique of companion planting helps to reduce attacks by pests while a percentage of the crop can handle some slight damage. All in all, this is such a friendlier way of growing our food, its crazy that it was ever forsaken for the intensive farming method.

But there is also organically farmed meat and poultry to consider in this healthy equation, and it is that which I’ll be looking at in my next post.

Terry Didcott

How Convenient is Your Diet?

Posted by on 13 May 2011 | Tagged as: diet

It is an aspect of modern life that many people want to take the easy way out whatever the task at hand may be. When it is a case of having to lose weight, then they look for the simplest diet they can find and look upon exercise as something that they will avoid at all costs. So they turn to what are often referred to as convenience diets, or those diets where a company makes all your food and ships it to your home.

There are several different weight loss diet companies that provide their customers with convenience diets that are designed to make the dieters’ lives as easy as it is possible to be. At least as easy as life can be when you are on a calorie controlled and often portion restricted diet that is designed to help you lose weight. Which you choose is often down to either personal preference or in many cases as far as your bank or credit card account will allow you to spend on one.

There are several benefits to making use of this kind of diet. They are mainly aimed at people who lead busy lifestyles, often working long hours or spending little time at home. Having to mess around with preparing and then cooking specially measured and proportioned meals is something that people with this kind of lifestyle simply do not have the time to devote to. So the lure of having all your meals prepared and delivered to your door is a tempting option, especially when the alternative is to have pizza or another high calorie, weight gaining meal delivered to your home.

So the likes of Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, Bistro MD, eDiets and Diet-to-Go (among others) are all queuing up for the business of the busy person who needs to lose weight but doesn’t have the time to lose it in the conventional way. This is a perfect solution for them, but they are not the only people who turn to these diet meal delivery programs to help them achieve their weight loss goals.

These diets also attract the attention of people who cannot (or will not) cook, busy moms who don’t seem to have the time to cook and people who just want an easy life. Funny how it gets back to wanting that easy life and being prepared to pay a little extra to get it. It’s not that we’re opposed to people trying to get it as easy as they can, as an easy life is often a desirable situation to be in. The bottom line is that if this kind of diet helps you to lose weight, then it has done its job and you have gained what you set out to do.

Do We Really Need Alkaline Diet Supplements?

Posted by on 29 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: diet

If you have done any research into the alkaline diet then you will have learned that it is in essence a fairly simple dietary protocol. The idea behind it is that over the centuries, Western diets have continued to move away from the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and towards a more processed acidic diet. These days we consume more empty calories than ever in soft drinks and fast foods. The alkaline diet simply proposes consuming more fruit and vegetables as part of our daily diet. This is really just common sense with some supporting scientific evidence.

Acid forming and base (alkaline) forming foods are classified based upon the nutrient and mineral content of the foods not the actual pH of the foods themselves. A typical example is oranges. These are of course acidic but when eaten exert a base effect upon the human body. This is due to the relatively high potassium content.

The rationale that advocates of this way of eating propose is that pH balance is important. The pH of human blood normally falls within the range of 7.35 to 7.45. Quite a narrow spectrum, I am sure you would agree. We are in big trouble if our blood becomes more acidic or alkaline than this. So does the food we eat really have much of an effect on the pH balance of our body?

The fact of the matter is that the things that we consume do not cause too much of a shift in the pH of our blood. This is because our bodies have systems designed to cope with the consumption of too great a proportion of acid or alkaline forming foods. But it is upon these protection systems that following an alkali food eating regime has a positive effect.

For example, the consumption of carbonated soft drinks has an acidifying effect upon the human body. To get rid of this acidity, calcium salts from bone are used to neutralize the acids before they are excreted. A study in the Journal of Nutrition concludes that:

excessive dietary protein from [acidic foods] adversely affects bone, unless buffered by the consumption of alkali-rich foods or supplements.

This backs up what we believe to be true, as well as the premise of a diet based on alkali-based foods, that eating lots of fruit and vegetables is good for our health. At health food stores and on the internet you can find what might be considered scam products such as pH balancing capsules and powders.

Would in not be cheaper just to eat more fruits and vegetables instead? You can read more about this topic in this alkaline diet scam review. This way of eating is supported by abundant scientific evidence. But spending a lot of money on alkalizing products is of questionable benefit.

The simple message seems to be, cut down on carbonated soft drinks while also increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables that we eat. If you want to use alkalizing supplements then you may well derive some benefit but the fact of the matter is that compared to fresh fruit and vegetables, they are often very expensive.

« Previous PageNext Page »