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2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 9,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 16 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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There’s plenty of people who at some time in your life will inform you that a certain food is bad for you. God knows, I have been one of those people (sorry I was wrong)! When you learn from organisations or gurus’s, you are often taking a view of someone else who has had a said experience, combined with a review of anecdotal and scientifically reviewed literature.  Well, I certainly wouldn’t call myself a guru, but here’s my slant on coffee and caffeine and consumption. Take it for what you will!                   

Why people often think caffeine is bad for you.

When people consume caffeine (in particularly without sugar) some, can often experience, shaking, anxiety, euphoria, increased energy followed by decreased energy and a host of other unwanted symptoms. In my experience anecdotally of course, myself and many of clients have experienced these issues when the body was in fact hypoglycaemic. This may have been brought on by intensive exercise programs, eating a high protein paleo type diet which often exposes the liver to low levels of glucose stores and other stressful situations. Coffee causes adrenal! Blood sugar dysregulation can affect cortisol responses!

The caffeine surge releases a large amount of cortisol and if blood sugar levels are not well maintained a release of triglycerides ensues and a subsequent peak in insulin levels. Then comes the crash and the unwanted symptoms that were stated above. The work of Ray Peat compelled me to go back and review my understanding of caffeine, cortisol  and other biochemical and hormone responses, for  which I have to thank him for and suggest, that reading his work a must for all. It’s a great place to start from combined with a solid grasp of physiology, I don’t think it is the be all and end all, but for me it’s been very useful.

So, how to manage those hormonal responses? Well how about a simple spoonful of sugar (no sugar does not cause cancer!), maple syrup or coconut oil or both? The point is that if you manage you blood sugar levels appropriately then avoiding these uneccessary hormonal fluctuations is easy as expresso…. I mean espresso of course!  Especially, when most people (unless you have a genuine sensitivity to caffeine) should be consuming caffeine.

Caffeine is awesome, fact! Here’s why!  (ps there are many compounds with scientific names that are not discussed as part of this article, buts lets just agree that coffee has a number of substances as well as caffeine that are beneficial!)

Caffeine has scientifically been proven to lower the risks of:

  • Alzheimers
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Oxidation of fats or lipids
  • Diabetes and improves blood glucose levels

It also improves exercise performance, focus, increases body temperature, acts as an antioxidant yet many health experts state that can caffeine is detrimental to the thyroid gland. So how can a compound that raises metabolic rate and improve performance be the same compound that surpresses the thyroid gland and slows down metabolism. Me thinks that people to look closer at the mechanisms of caffeine as there are plenty of studies that show that caffeine decreases TSH levels, if that’s the marker that you determine thyroid function by?

Let’s be clear, I am not stating that large amounts of caffeine daily should be ingested but it is clear that 1-2 cups of coffee per day are beneficial.  Unless your a Costa Rican and carry the gene rs762551(C) which is suggestive of slow caffeine metabolism. This gene has been shown to increase the risk of heart attack, which is a bit of a bummer as Costa Rica produces some really good coffee!

Want some references?  (there are thousands!)

In vitro antioxidant activity of coffee compounds and their metabolites.

  1. Choi HK; Willett W; Curhan G. Coffee consumption and risk of incident gout in men: a prospective study. Arthritis Rheum.  2007; 56(6):2049-55 (ISSN: 0004-3591)
  2. Gómez-Ruiz JA; Leake DS; Ames J Agric Food Chem.  2007; 55(17):6962-9 (ISSN: 0021-8561)
  3. Modi AA; Feld JJ; Park Y; Kleiner DE; Everhart JE; Liang TJ; Hoofnagle JHIncreased caffeine consumption is associated with reduced hepatic fibrosis. Hepatology.  2010; 51(1):201-9 (ISSN: 1527-3350)
  4. Turati F; Galeone C; La Vecchia C; Garavello W; Tavani A. Coffee and cancers of the upper digestive and respiratory tracts: meta-analyses of observational studies. Ann Oncol.  2011; 22(3):536-44 (ISSN: 1569-8041)
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Adrenal Stress, Exercise and Cholesterol a Single case study review.

My experience with understanding nutrition really started when I was at University when I studied sports nutrition as part of my Fitness and Health degree but over the last few years I have entertained the philosophies of the CHEK Institute, Metabolic Typing, Institute of Functional Medicine and Ray Peat PhD. Many of them have contrasting methods and I have to say I cherry pick between them as I have never felt that each one provides the definitive answer. This is especially so when you consider biochemical and emotional individuality.

So for each client, I consider, what will bring them the quickest resolve with nutrient rich foods and minimal amount of supplements.  This is usually done by filling in my intake forms and recommending a functional medicine lab test based upon the clients history, current symptoms and goals. So here is the overview for this client:

CEO of medical supply company, no perceived health complaints.

Goals weight loss, and cholesterol reduction- client had undertaken regular exercise for many years with a committed approach to boot camp for the last 6 months -3 x per week plus a relatively healthy diet.

Weight: 91 kgs                   Serum Cholesterol: 238 mg/dL                 LDL: 151 mg/dL  C Reactive Protein: 6

Other bloods such as thyroid were conducted but were unremarkable. His body temperature was consistently low at 36 degrees suggesting a thyroid/adrenal metabolic inefficiency.

Given that he was a driven individual, I often find that these type of people, often fill my intake forms and show very little, in the way of systems dysfunction such as gut, thyroid, adrenals etc. Given there was little weight loss and  inflammation in the form of elevated cholesterol and C reactive protein I decided to run an adrenal stress test and here is the result.

The interpretation was one of hypo-cortisolemia in the morning but what was it being driven by? Work ethic  plus the combination of stressful exercise were my thoughts.

Now boot camps and circuit training and modalities such as cross fit often try to squeeze many different types of exercise into their sessions. Strength, power, cardio, strength endurance cannot be trained in one session with significant results and inappropriate rest periods contribute to the stress. The net effect of training like this increases cortisol, lactic acid, structural wear and tear and instead of being a positive stress, has most likely contributed to the inflammatory process, raising cholesterol levels, waistline and visceral fat.

My approach.

Exercise: Client conducted 2-3 corrective exercise sessions per week that focused on quality of movement, breathing pattern work and postural reconditioning with homework of stretching and mobilisation.

Nutrition: Increased saturated fat intake of coconut oil, protein and carbohydrates. Increased carbohydrate in the form of liberal amounts of fresh orange juice and fruit. Eggs, gelatin, good quality meats.  Removed gluten for a 3 month period. No calorific restrictions.

Supplements: Quantum B max- vitamin B, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Korean Ginseng to support adrenals.

And the results…well here is the latest batch of blood work.

The client was quite happy as he also lost 6.5 kg’s in the process, all from eating more and doing less exercise. The results speak for themselves but could it have been the reduction of overload and increase in quality in exercise, the nutrition or the supplement plan that created the change. Probably a bit of each, not scientifically valid in some people eyes but the client has got what he wanted and is now moving into a strength and conditioning phase without increasing inflammation and tissue breakdown. To sum up I think the question  ‘Should Hormones dictate exercise selection,’ be asked?  Or should someone who wants to lose weight and adjust key markers that influence key markers such as cholesterol just throw themselves into any old form of exercise?

In this case a review of hormones did dictate exercise selection with fantastic results.

Do you know anyone with high cholesterol that would like to address why they have high cholesterol or an inflammatory process, then please send them my way.

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Please note that all of the blogs are now hosted on

Please note that all of the blogs are now hosted on 

Thank you


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Aspirin- Another mis-understood anti-oxidant?

Conventional nutrition teaches us that our diet should be abundant with antioxidants or the re-classified redox molecules such Vitamin B, C, E glutathione and the like. And it’s not a bad idea too, especially as the body is bombarded with insults on a daily basis in the form of xenoestrogens, toxins, soot in the air, dirty water and all sorts of complex chemicals hidden in our foods. A healthy diet and high nutrient consumption is essential in preventing damage to our DNA through reactive oxygen species or ROS which can contribute to oxidation of fats and other compounds, which contributes to the aging process and exposure to disease development.

Aspirin is one such compound that is often overlooked in the fight against cancer and aging and was a target of the pharmaceutical companies marketing campaign to discredit its benefits, when they decided to bring out a COX 2inhibitor. COX 2 inhibitors help to supress the production of prostaglandins that can be responsible for inflammation, cell degradation, pain and the like. It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that Aspirin which is salicylic and ascetic acid is a natural product that cannot be patented. Therefore it has often been the goal of business lead institutions to discredit many natural substances that cannot be lucratively pursued.

One of the many benefits of Aspirin is its ability to supress lipid peroxidation which is usually mediated by consumption and storage of polyunsaturated fatty acids. When these are stored as body fat in the form of triglycerides and then released in an attempt to stabilise blood sugar levels large amounts of oxidative stress can occur and the use of Asprin, vitamin C and vitamin E can help suppress this form of stress that is heavily linked to heart disease and cancers.  Some of the many unwanted effects of Aspirin such as gastrointestinal stress have been recorded when exceptionally high doses of aspirin have been used in laboratory experiments.

The use of Aspirin shouldn’t be discounted in the fight against disease prevention, however supplementing with Vitamin K would also prove to be beneficial.  To find out more about aging and disease prevention get in touch.


2. Ascorbic acid enhances the inhibitory effect of aspirin on neuronal cyclooxygenase-2-mediated prostaglandin E2 production.

Candelario-Jalil, Eduardo and Akundi, Ravi S. and Bhatia, Harsharan S. and Lieb, Klaus and Appel, Kurt and Munoz, Eduardo and Hull, Michael and Fiebich, Bernd L. (2006) Ascorbic acid enhances the inhibitory effect of aspirin on neuronal cyclooxygenase-2-mediated prostaglandin E2 production. [Journal (Paginated)]

Peat, R. Nutrition For Women. 1993.


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Why are polyunsaturated oils so dangerous?

PUFA’ s or poly-unsaturated fatty acids have been suggested as being a safe food source for many years and many have even touted as being protective for the heart. Saturated fats have been outcast as the villain as the marketing purse of seed manufacturers often outweighed the gain that could be had by the protective more stable fats of coconut and palm oils.

Because the molecular structure of PUFA’s are less stable than saturated fats when heated they become carcinogenic.  Many studies favoured by the seed industry have favoured the analysis of so called good and bad cholesterol or LDL’s and HDL’s as a marker for the so called healthy effect of vegetable and seed oils.  A factor overlooked as part of this education is that high HDL levels can be interpreted as an auto immune process in action and cancerous states can be correlated with high HDL levels.  Heat alone will not cause PUFA’s to become unstable, overtime these oils can become rancid and when consumed cause lipid peroxidation . Think of all those warehouses of nuts that have been sitting around for months or years before being consumed, which are then often roasted and the PUFA’s within them oxidised.

The problem is that when all of these oils are consumed they cause the production of Reactive Oxygen Species or ROS and lipid peroxidation which causes large amounts of stress to cellular DNA which can be responsible for genetic mutations which can lead to aging, cell destruction and cancers. Ray Peats work on the damage caused by PUFA’s is very well documented.

Many commercially consumed foods such as tortilla chips (which mostly are derived from genetically engineered crops that have been covered in harmful pesticides) have been fried in these oils causing a dabble whammy of oxidative stress and insult to the human organism. People often think that by eating healthily they are able to not worry about small details such as fats and have often been falsely convinced that butter/ghee/ coconut and palm oils and that, high fat diets are the causative link in heart disease and heart attacks.

Dealing with ridding the body of dangerous PUFA’s stored in body fat stores can be achieved with the right diet plan and ameliorating the dangerous effects of lipid peroxidation can be achieved with supplementation such as Vitamin E, B’s,  Asprin  and others.   Below I have highlighted a list of oils  that are ideal for cooking with and the others should be avoided.  To find out more about restoring your body to optimal health please get in touch. Balanced Body Mind

Approximate PUFA content of various oils and fats:  (taken from Integrative/med)

Evening Primrose oil (81% PUFA)
Hemp oil (80% PUFA)
Flax oil (72% PUFA)
Grapeseed oil (71% PUFA)
Chia oil (70% PUFA)
Safflower oil (75% PUFA)
Sunflower oil (65% PUFA)
Perilla oil (63% PUFA)
Corn oil (59% PUFA)
Soybean oil (58% PUFA)
Pumpkin oil (57% PUFA)
Walnut oil (55-63% PUFA)
Cottonseed oil (50% PUFA)
Sesame oil (41-45% PUFA)
Canola oil (30-37% PUFA)
Rice bran oil (36% PUFA)
Beech nut oil (32% PUFA)
Peanut oil (29-32% PUFA)
Pecan oil (29% PUFA)
Brazil nut oil (24-36% PUFA, 24% SAFA)
Pistachio oil (19% PUFA)
Cashew oil (17% PUFA, 20% SAFA)
Almond oil (17% PUFA, 8% SAFA)
Duck fat (13% PUFA, 1% cholesterol)                 Use but try to go for safer oils below
Lard (12% PUFA, 41% SAFA, 1% cholesterol)  Use but try to go for safer oils below
Filbert oil (10-16% PUFA)
Avocado oil (10% PUFA)
Macadamia oil (10% PUFA, 15% SAFA)

Safe cooking oils
Goose fat (10% PUFA, 1% cholesterol)
Palm oil (8% PUFA, 50% SAFA)
Olive oil (8% PUFA, 14% SAFA)
Butter (4% PUFA, 50% SAFA)
Ghee (4% PUFA, 48% SAFA, 2% cholesterol)
Cocoa Butter (3% PUFA, 60% SAFA)
Coconut oil (2-3% PUFA, 92% SAFA, 0% cholesterol)
Palm kernel oil (2% PUFA, 82% SAFA)

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