Lifestyle and Dietary Revelations Part III

Avoid Drinking Water From Plastic

Plastic has thalates which seep into your water.

I’ve recently switched to glass and have started using a glass jug.

But I’ve also started to boil my water and let it cool as this gets rid of the toxins in tap water. Plus it actually tastes better.

Watch Out For “0 Trans-Fats”

Take a close look at trans-fat content on the labels on your food.

Dr Hyman emphasises that food companies are allowed to state that there is 0 trans fats in a food as long as there is less than 0.5mg of trans fats per serving. Crazy, huh?

Be mindful that there is more than one serving in a, say, 450g pack of chicken kievs.

Are “Health Bars” Really Healthy?

I recently travelled to Barcelona for a few days and swung by to a few “health bars.”

In one of them I ordered eggs Benedict with a black creme cheese waffle and hollandaise sauce.

All of this was great until I got so jacked up on sugar that I couldn’t finish the rest of my waffle. The creme cheese waffles had such a high Glycaemic Index that I ended up being jacked up on sugar and slumped an hour later.

My friend on the other hand ordered an acai bowl. He too felt really, really stimulated after it and I wasn’t surprised. Granola – a key ingredient in these bowls – is oftentimes so loaded with sugar.

Anyway, in short: our breakfasts were loaded with hidden sugar giving way to our respective pancreatic onslaughts, leaving us temporarily jacked up but lethargic and sleepy shortly afterwards. Not a healthy start to the day and definitely not a “health bar.”

 

Three Ways to Improve Your Sleep

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The Ultramind Solution, here are his tips on how to improve your sleep:

  1. Avoid stimulants like caffeine, sugar, alcohol, nicotine before bed.
  2. Try to go to bed at the same time everyday, ideally before midnight.
  3. Don’t watch TV or use your phone or laptop two hours before sleep.

Melatonin is a sleep hormone which is excreted by the pituitary gland when it is dark.

This hormone makes you sleepy, especially when you’re chilling in a dimly lit room.

However, if you watch TV or use your phone or laptop, you’re stopping the natural melatonin secretion from happening.

Vitamin C, Iron bioavailability & Potatoes

It’s interesting how cultures started pairing ingredients to maximise nutrient absorption from the foods they were eating.

The food pairings on your plate aren’t all that accidental – these pairings are actually the end product of generations and generations of accumulated dietary knowledge.

Through trial and error, cultures figured out that vitamin C increases iron bioavailability.

This is why hot peppers (high vitamin C) are paired with meat (high iron) because you’ll maximise iron absorption this way, getting a better nutritional bang for your buck.

For this same very reason, it is common to add dairy to potatoes. Potatoes have high levels of vitamin C and aid iron absorption.

Caffeine as a poison

It’s interesting how fruits and flowers have evolved to increase their chances of survival.

You know how roses have thorns at their sides?

Well, it’s a defensive survival mechanism to keep animals from eating them.

And the seeds in apples?

Apparently, just one apple seed has enough toxins in it to kill ants on an exponential scale (harmless for humans, though.)

And coffee beans?

The survival mechanism in coffee beans is caffeine.

To insects, caffeine is poisonous whereas for humans it gives us a nice buzz.

In fact, coffee mimics the same effects as dopamine, which explains that sense of euphoria we’ve come to know and love.

Is caffeine really harmless for us?

I love caffeine but short answer: it can be.

It’s a diuretic which means it flushes out water from your body, along with essential minerals like magnesium. Which is why if you drink too much coffee, you might notice that you’re eye or pinky finger might start twitching.

So replenish that magnesium init. Cause magnesium deficiency prevents your body from making serotonin.

It dehydrates you so replenish that water init.

But also, it causes your body to release stress hormones in your body.

When you ingest caffeine, it stimulates your nervous system in the same way that a lion charging at you to eat you would stimulate your nervous system (just on a smaller scale…)

If you’re an avid coffee-drinker, you might not feel the effects of caffeine but your body definitely does because it’s still producing stress hormones to fuel your body.

Caffeine also contributes to the premature ageing and damaging of the brain if not consumed in moderation.

P.S. Thanks for reading and feel free to subscribe to my email list.

 

Lifestyle and Dietary Revelations Part II

In this bi-weekly newsletter, I share with you lifestyle- and diet-related things that just blew my mind when I first found out about them.

Low blood sugar = Nightmares

If you eat something sugary or a big carb-heavy meal before going to sleep, in all likelihood your blood sugar will drop in the middle of the night.

This is because the carbohydrates in your meal spike your insulin levels which in turn lower your blood glucose/sugar levels because the insulin is taking the glucose from your bloodstream and feeding it into your cells.

But after a carb heavy meal or even after a lot of sweets, there is way too much sugar in your bloodstream and hence a huge insulin secretion follows.

What ends up happening is the insulin pushes the glucose into your cells but if you’re asleep and you’re not eating (i.e. supplying glucose to your bloodstream) then your running out of sugar in your blood meaning you end up with low blood sugar.

From experience, I’ve realised that this leads to some really weird dreams and nightmares.

These dreams tire your mind out and upon waking up you don’t feel as well-rested.

How to avoid nightmares caused by low blood sugar?

The body doesn’t process carbs well at night so it is wise to lower your carb intake after 6pm if you don’t need the energy. If you eat too many carbs in the evening, you end up stocking up on energy/calories which, if not used, end up turning into fat.

Dr Mark Hyman, author of The Ultramind Solution, suggests you don’t eat for up to 3 hours before going to sleep.

In case you get hungry or are in the mood for a snack, the best way to go is to choose a low-glycaemic carbohydrate with protein and/or some form of fibre that will slow the digestion of the carb and will release glucose into your bloodstream at a slow and steady pace.

A common night snack is a handful of almonds, egg whites, Greek yoghurt etc. Cottage cheese has casein which slows carb absorption.

Side note: Aspirin lowers blood sugar! I had some pretty scary nightmares on the two nights that I took aspirin when I wasn’t feeling too well.

High Pressure Processing (HPP)

HPP is a form of pasteurisation that uses high pressure to pasteurise food.

I learnt a lot about HPP from this pretty cool website.

Here are the key takeaways from it:

HPP heats juices
High pressure creates heat that changes enzyme and protein structure of the juice.

HPP reduces microbial content
Pasteurising food kills bad bacteria to increase food shelf life.

With HPP, even the good bacteria (a.k.a probiotics/ commensal microflora) is killed off. Which is a shame because commensal microflora safeguards us against pathogenic microorganisms.

Some nutrients in juices just aren’t shelf-stable
HPP is used to extend the shelf-life of juices but some nutrients in juices aren’t shelf-stable so anything beyond 3 days and the nutritional value of juices are affected considerably.

Antioxidant, enzyme, and vitamin content degrade as juice is allowed to sit.

Which nicely leads us into the next point:

Be wary of nutrition labels on HPP juices

Why?

Because the vitamin content for the nutrition label was determined shortly after juice extraction.

Which means that the nutritional value on these labels are no longer valid information the longer the juice has been sitting around.

Know where to buy your juices

All juices available in gyms, supermarkets, and spas are required to be pasteurised.

You won’t be getting the best nutritional bang for your buck if you buy these.

How to drink juice

Having read all that about HPP you might be wondering well how should I drink juice to make sure I’m getting all the health and cleansing benefits?

According to this website, cold-pressed juice is the way to go:

“When drinking juice for cleansing, cold-pressed juice is the gold standard when the juice is fresh, organic, and consumed within 5 days of being pressed (…)

Cold pressing extracts juice from fruits and vegetables to retain more of the phytonutrients, vitamins, enzymes but only for a certain amount of time.”

To ensure your juice is as nutrient dense as possible, cold press raw organic fruits and/or vegetables as soon as you can.

P.S. Thanks for reading and feel free to subscribe to my email list.