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  • posted by Verano

    I just had a light bulb moment and wanted to share for those who haven’t had it yet. My OH brought me back a copy of Optimum Nutrition. You can get a free emagazine online at http://www.ion.ac.uk There is a very interesting article “Why calories are “irrelevant” to human health. For those of you familiar with Robert Lustig this will not come as any surprise but I wasn’t particularly and have found the article fascinating. Hope the links work.

  • posted by MerryMelba

    Thank you Verano – very interesting article. I’ve subscribed so I can read the back issues.

  • posted by JGwen

    An interesting article in the Times, on the 23rd Jan 2021.


    Comfort eating has become a national sport during lockdown. More than a third of us snack at least once a day on items laden with sugar, fat and salt, a Public Health England survey revealed this month.

    Psychologists call it “emotional eating”. The more we worry about Covid-19 and its consequences, the more we raid the biscuit tin, according to a Norwegian study of 25,000 people in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health last month. Women are more likely to eat high-sugar foods in an attempt to salve the distress, the University of Bergen researchers add.

    Self-medicating one’s mood with fondant fancies is not, of course, mere harmless fun. Evidence now shows that obese people who catch Covid-19 are significantly more likely to become seriously ill compared with people with a lower body mass index. And the irony is that studies show how comfort eating doesn’t lift mood. Instead it can make us far glummer. Disturbingly, other new evidence also shows that comfort eating renders us more prone to Covid infection and negates all the good dietary habits that we’ve been striving to maintain.

    If comfort foods really did boost mood, the effect should be easy to prove. However, independent studies (that is, not sponsored by food conglomerates) have failed to find such evidence.

    What we are doing when we eat sugar, cakes, chocolate and junk food is giving ourselves a very short-term drug-like kick, says Sandra Sünram-Lea, a professor of biological psychology at Lancaster University. “Eating processed comfort foods can make you feel briefly better about yourself. The sugar, fat and salt they contain can affect the brain’s mesolimbic reward system, giving you a nice sensation.

    “But the mood improvement is only brief because your body will quickly release insulin, which takes sugar out of your bloodstream and causes a slump,” she adds. “If you try to stop the slump by repeating the cake or biscuit dose your weight will spiral, which is not good for mood.”

    Still more depressingly, vainly trying to boost mood with comfort food also trashes our best lockdown efforts to eat healthily, from Veganuary to home-cooked meals based on wholesome approaches such as the Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables, fruit, fish and wholegrains.

    Last week American researchers concluded that the brain-bolstering benefits of the Mediterranean diet are negated by eating unhealthy foods. Nutritional epidemiologists at Rush University in Illinois say that healthy regimens such as a Mediterranean diet are associated with slower rates of cognitive decline in older adults. But when they tracked 5,000 people following this regimen from midlife onwards for 20 years they discovered that the more people mixed it with processed high-sugar, high-fat foods, the faster they declined mentally.

    Diet may also play another crucial role in lockdown — helping to determine how sick we become if infected with Covid-19. It’s all down to our gut bacteria.

    Our guts carry about 500 species of bacteria, carrying two million genes. The composition of this teeming population is unique to each of us. It plays a variety of crucial roles, not only in digesting food, but also in our response to infections.

    Last week South Korean microbiologists reported that people with a poor balance of beneficial and toxic gut bacteria are more likely to develop severe Covid-19.

    In badly balanced guts high levels of toxic bacteria are blamed for causing “leaky guts”, where the digestive tract’s mucous lining is eaten through, allowing pathogens to escape into the body.

    In the journal mBio Dr Stanley Kim from Korea University’s Laboratory for Human-Microbial Interactions says that this leakage may enable Covid-19 to infect the surface of the digestive tract and internal organs. These are vulnerable because their surfaces carry widespread ACE2 receptors, the portals that the coronavirus uses to invade us.

    Kim blames western eating habits for the fact that western Europe and America have been hit so hard by Covid-19. “There seems to be a clear connection between the altered gut microbiome and severe Covid-19,” he says. The problem with the western diet is that it’s low in fibre, and “a fibre-deficient diet is one of the main causes of altered gut microbiomes”.

    Sugary processed food may also be a culprit — a 2019 report in the journal PNAS by researchers at Yale Microbial Sciences Institute in the US has warned that hefty doses of fructose and glucose, the building blocks of sugar, inhibit the growth of beneficial bacterial species often found in lean, healthy people.

    Keeping a healthily balanced gut biome that swims with beneficial bacteria seems essential. But how do we make sure the good bugs win?

    The answer again is diet, according to Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London. He is the lead scientist for the UK Covid Symptom Study app, which gathers patients’ experiences into a huge database and identified loss of smell as a telltale sign.

    He is also a leading gut microbiome investigator. This week he reported in the journal Nature Medicine how his team has established the first links between specific foods, gut bacteria and health.

    “There is no doubt now that you can manipulate the microbiome with food — and that is linked to better outcomes,” he says. One of these outcomes is our level of happiness.

    “Some ten studies have shown that people with depression and anxiety have less diverse microbiomes than are found in healthier people’s guts,” he explains. “Most recently a number of studies have given probiotics to boost levels of beneficial gut bacteria in people with depression. These have found that the benefits are about the same level as with antidepressant drugs.

    “You can improve your gut microbes by eating a diverse range of plant food, including nuts and herbs. Fermented foods also seem important, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha tea and coconut kefir [coconut water that has been fermented with kefir grains].

    “Also try to eat less often, to give your gut bacteria a chance to recover their equilibrium between meals.”

    As for the worst thing to eat, that will enable mood-depressing gut bugs to proliferate, he says: highly processed diets.

    Along with bad bacteria, chronic body-wide inflammation is increasingly linked with many cases of clinical depression. This dangerously overactive immune response can again be sparked by poor diet, a review of research in the British Medical Journal last year says — in particular high-calorie treat foods high in trans fats, refined carbs such as sugar, and saturated fats from dairy products.

    One of the review’s co-authors, Dr Alessandra Borsini, a neuroscientist at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London, says: “Recent evidence confirms that individuals experiencing mental illness have substantially higher levels of ‘dietary inflammation’ and lower intakes of anti-inflammatory nutrients, which come primarily from whole foods and plants.”

    So much for comfort foods cheering us up. Our best edible morale-boosters may be unglamorous vegetables and fruit. So say German psychologists at the University of Konstanz who asked study participants to keep food-and-mood diaries over eight-day periods and found that those who ate more fruit and veg had consistently higher morale than sweet-eaters.

    According to Sünram-Lea this makes sense because such natural foods “foster stable mood through a stable supply of glucose in the blood, rather than giving people brief sugar highs followed by crashes”.

    She blames ubiquitous “go on, you deserve it” junk-food advertising for giving us the wrong idea about truly mood-lifting fare. “There’s a placebo effect in all that packaging and promotion that primes us to believe, wrongly, that we’re getting comforting treats that will make us feel more alert and happier,” she says. “We’d be better off eating a banana.”

    Foods such as asparagus that contain prebiotics are kind to your gut
    Foods such as asparagus that contain prebiotics are kind to your gut
    The real good mood foods
    A study in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2007 says that the intestines of people who eat plain natural yoghurt have more beneficial lactobacilli and fewer toxic enterobacteriaceae, which are associated with chronic inflammation.

    High-fibre foods
    High-fibre foods including apples, artichokes, blueberries, almonds and pistachios have been shown in human trials to increase bifidobacteria, which are believed to prevent intestinal inflammation and enhance gut health.

    Fermented foods
    Many fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir, are rich in the gut-beneficial bacteria lactobacilli. Tests show that products such as fermented soya bean milk may promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, while depleting disease-causing bacteria.

    Apples, asparagus, peas, beans and all kinds of berries contain prebiotics that can’t be digested by human cells, so reach the lower gut where they support beneficial bacteria that break them down for food.

    Wholegrains such as wheat, barley and brown rice are high in fibre and non-digestible carbs, such as beta-glucan, that are not absorbed in the small intestine and instead make their way to the large intestine to support good bacteria.

    Polyphenols are plant compounds whose health benefits include lowering blood pressure, inflammation and cholesterol. They are found in red wine, cocoa and dark chocolate, green tea and onions.

    Probiotic supplements
    In 2015 Dutch psychologists reported in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity that 20 volunteers’ moods became more buoyant after a month of taking gut bacteria-boosting probiotic good-quality supplements containing strains of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus.

  • posted by Tulip1

    Thank you JGwen, what an informative article!!

  • posted by Olive_1

    Hi JGwen, very interesting reading. Thanks for posting. A great reminder why this way of life has benefits way beyond weight loss.

  • posted by Patricia1066

    Really good reminder of the foods that are good for us. No mention of meat and fish though

  • posted by Riccoh

    Thank you JGwen.

  • posted by skittle

    Hi everyone
    I found this today and thought it was incredibly helpful for mindset when working through this WOE especially if you have goals you want to reach. Putting it here so it doesn’t get lost on a weekly thread. Hope it helps someone get through the low days and meh days!

    ‘My Olympic coach told me after a particularly challenging workout where I could not hit my splits before going to the Rio Olympics, that that was okay – it was the rule of thirds. And he was an Olympian so I always soaked in everything he said and I was like what’s the rule of thirds? And he said that when you’re chasing a dream or doing anything hard you’re meant to feel good a third of the time, OK a third of the time, and crappy a third of the time, and if the ratio is roughly in that range then you’re doing fine. So today was the crappy day along your dream chasing. And if the ratio is awful, you feel too good all the time or too bad, then you gotta look at whether you’re fatiguing or not trying hard enough or pushing yourself. So I think with those days that you’re talking about where creativity doesn’t come or doesn’t feel great, you still show up because maybe that’s your crappy day. But it doesn’t mean that you quit the goal. It doesn’t mean you freak out. It means that you show up and live through that dip because you’re chasing a dream and you’re doing something hard.’

    Video here: https://twitter.com/richroll/status/1359193534713143297

  • posted by JustKeepFasting

    Hi everyone, hope it’s ok to share this here…
    After reading through lots of the amazing posts on many of the different threads, I wanted to share this article on being an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). Since discovering it is a ‘real’ trait and that up to 20% of the population is highly sensitive, it has helped me to understand a lot about myself, and even to think positively about my sensitivity.
    I thought it’d be worth a share in case it resonates with any of you lovely people.


    Also, I’m sure it’s probably been mentioned on this thread, but I love the book “Carbs & Cals” by Chris Cheyette for checking nutritional info…just can’t seem to get on with my fitness pal etc and prefer a physical book and pen and paper. 😊

    Take care all. X

  • posted by sunshine-girl

    Hi all, thought it might be useful to bump this up to the leaderboard in threads, especially for newbies who might not have come across it before.
    While I am here. I have just watched Dr Becky Gillespy who has a site called Dr Becky Fitness and covers all sorts of dietary advice. The one I watched was called HbA1c, What Is It, How Can I Lower It. My interest was about glucose sticking to red blood cells and how they shed around every 3 months which explains why the HbA1c measures a 12 week (3 month) blood health. Not happy that she only considers reducing the 3 C’s , cakes, cookies and candies and doesnt give any time to the other C, carbs in general although she does go into these in other posts. I do like her idea of the perfect diet or exercise plan that it should be the 3 E’s, easy, enjoyable and effective. Take a look, she and her husband have both been overweight and he has some health problems around diet, I think diabetes too.

  • posted by Patricia1066

    Love the articles JGwen and skittle.

    I was wondering how BDA approach may have altered re T2D and low carb diets.
    They recognise (in first paragraph) that low carb diets are successful in reducing blood sugar, but believe this is a side effect of weight reduction.
    Their final statement is
    As yet, the data from research into low carbohydrate diets do not show that low carbohydrate diets can result in remission from type 2 diabetes. More research needs to be done in this area. 


    How convenient, waiting for further research, when the preferred weight reduction diet high of their members (high carb) causes raised blood sugar. They don’t have to retrain anyone with that strategy do they!

  • posted by AnnieW

    Just bumping this again (I had an enjoyable time looking at some of the older posts). I’ve attached a couple of links, an older one from Dr Paul Mason: low carb from a drs perspective. Many of us know a lot of it but he does explain things well. And a new one from Ken Berry MD: the American Heart Association caves on the low carb diet, another interesting one.


  • posted by Verano

    Can bread be healthy?
    I know several people find giving up bread really difficult. I’ve not found giving up bread a huge problem and I do occasionally enjoy a couple of slices of Livlife. I’ve just listened to this podcast and found it really interesting ( there’s a transcript as well). It may just help put ‘bread’ into perspective.


  • posted by sunshine-girl

    Just watched it Verano. The opening grabs you – bread resembles a sugary drink – so true. The chap Tim does some of the FutureLearn courses on nutrition.

  • posted by Verano

    Glad you watched it s-g. I only know Tim from the ZOE Covid study but will take another look at the Future Learn nutrition courses.
    I found it really interesting that they actually called beer ‘liquid bread’. Of course I had to check the bread we do eat occasionally to see what the ratio of carbs to fibre is and was delighted to find Vogel had a ratio of 2.5:1 carbs to fibre and Livlife actually has more fibre than carbs per 100g! So win win! I also selected random breads from a supermarket website and some have a frighteningly high, often 25+ ratio of carbs to fibre. I must admit I no longer see ‘bread’, per se, as the ‘devil’ carb. I think with a little bit of thought there are breads that will fit in with our lifestyle when eaten occasionally.

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