Pass on the pasta sauce…

In my work as an osteopath I am forever asking people about their diets. Food is so critical to your health that we should all be looking for the right diet for ourselves. Unfortunately we are bombarded by conflicting information and powerful and misleading advertising. As well as subliminal messages about what is good to eat.

A case in point about the sly way we are manipulated by food companies is to watch any generic American teen drama…remember ‘Saved by the Bell’?

Where do all those beautiful, slim, attractive teenagers all inevitably meet up to talk? The diner! What are they eating? Burgers, fries, milk shakes and sodas.

Yet I can guarantee that those slim, beautiful people hardly ever touch those foods in real life – the problem being they put across an image that makes it seem like they do. So we think it’s okay to follow suit.

The same is true of our supermarket shelves – rows and rows of processed foods wrapped up as family recipe pasta sauces or home cooked curry. When we look at all this food on the shelves we, quite understandably, assume that because they are allowed to sell it and it’s there in front of us, it is perfectly fine to eat. It must be safe because it’s there.

However, the only criteria for it being on the shelf is from the food safety aspect of toxic bacteria such as salmonella and e coli (there are others). As long as it is free from such dangers it can be sold. Yet its nutritional content may be so poor that it should be labelled as dangerous to eat, because not only does it have precious little goodness in it, it is laden with weird chemicals, sugar, salt and cheap, bad fats.

A case in point is this pasta sauce:

Notice how it is labelled ‘per 100g’ rather than the entire contents of the jar. This is so at a quick glance we think the amounts of bad stuff in it are small, after all, 5.8g of sugar is only a little over a teaspoon so we can dismiss that as almost irrelevant.

The problem being that most people, most of the time, will not measure out a 100g portion but will chuck the entire jar on their pasta which means they have effectively sprinkled six teaspoons of sugar on their meal! There is also almost an entire teaspoon of salt. Who EVER puts an entire teaspoon of salt in such a small amount of food when they cook for themselves.

So a family sit down to what they think is a healthy, low fat, meal of pasta (carbohydrate heavy) and tomato sauce (Carbohydrate heavy) not realising they’re only getting one macronutrient in their body – that of carbohydrates, which causes blood sugar spikes which effectively mean their body rapidly converts all the carbohydrates to fat. Yes folks, your body makes fat from a low fat meal.

Here is an even worse example:

Notice how they give you the percentages of all the vegetables but not the sugar? Even though this sauce is 13% sugar! Which is over ten teaspoons of sugar in one jar! This is horrific.

And do you know why all this sugar is added? I’ll take the pasta sauce as a case in point: The tomatoes are cooked to a very high temperature to pasteurise them. This is to ensure they will have a long shelf life – the fact it destroys the goodness of the tomatoes is irrelevant to the manufacturer.

Next lemon juice is added as a preservative. This creates an unpalatable, bitter sauce.

At this point let us draw breath and take stock: The expert chefs at this company have worked out how to create a vile tasting, inedible, overcooked tomato mush. At this point you and I would be throwing whatever was in the pan in the bin and starting again.

However, our friendly processed food manufacturer has a trick up their sleeve – add sugar! The sugar makes it taste nice again. Hurray for sugar. So you get a product with a long shelf life that tastes like a tomato sauce – it’s simple trickery to fool us into buying it.

The criteria it meets allow it to be sold – you will not get a bout of acute food poisoning from this jar. You will, however, get long term, slow food poisoning and chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and even arthritis from such horror products. You will also become obese.

Yet all the time we are thinking we’re eating a balanced diet and being healthy. WRONG.

Cook your food from scratch. Never trust a processed food manufacturer to provide your one and only body with any form of good nutrition.

Ensure each meal you have has some fat, some carb and some protein in it – THAT, is a balanced diet.

The snow, wind, ice and rain is well and truly upon us in the wintry north! So as we hunker down to chestnuts roasting on an open fire, twinkly Christmas lights and the festive season my thoughts turn to maintaining good health when the darkness and cold challenge us the most.

Do make sure you wear appropriate clothing, wherever you may be in the world – the saying ‘there is no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothes’ is very true. Getting too cold weakens your immune system leaving you vulnerable.

In the north we also suffer from a lack of sunlight right now so make sure you are getting some Vitamin D from a supplement.

If you really must overindulge (nobody actually needs to) then you can aid recovery by taking milk thistle extract which is great for cleansing the liver – I hesitate to say it is a hangover cure because I’m not here to encourage hangovers in the first place….however, I am realistic enough to realise it goes on – so before you go to the office party take some milk thistle extract and take some the next morning and make sure for every alcoholic drink you have you also have an equivalent drink of water which can work wonders.

Upping your intake of garlic is also a good idea, either in your cooking or with a supplement like Allicinmax which is a superb quality garlic product which does not leave any garlic smell afterwards.

Many people also take echinacea which you can get as a tincture, tablets or as a throat spray. Take daily through the winter OR when you feel a cold coming on start taking it and research shows it shortens the length of a cold and can even nip it in the bud.

We must also throw CBD into the mix too which, because of the widespread nature of the endocannabinoid system, has a very beneficial effect on your whole system – so take a little every day for preventative purposes. I call it Vitamin CBD (it is NOT a vitamin!) because I firmly believe we should all take it just like we would take a vitamin supplement – daily.

If you’re feeling a little rundown opt for the nicely energising effects of our Absorb range – if you’re stressed out and anxious then go for the gently calming Signature blends.

Health Confusions – A thought…

I stopped by my local coffee shop this morning to grab a Flat White before my working day began. Whilst I was waiting for it to be made I couldn’t help overhearing a conversation at a nearby table.

An elderly gentleman was explaining to his friends at the table that he had read in the paper last week that drinking up to six cups of coffee a day are good for you and can help prevent cancer and heart disease amongst other things.

What struck me about this was not the subject matter he was talking about – though if I had six cups of coffee a day I’d be zipping around faster than roadrunner – but the fact he had garnered this snippet of information from a newspaper.

These little gems of health information are drip fed to us regularly in the media – presumably because they have nothing important to write about and to my mind they are responsible for confusing people about how to maintain health.

In the last few months in my health food shop in Garstang I have seen demand suddenly rise then fall after a while for kefir (it is good for your gut and immune system) and inulin (it helps you sleep) – we had inulin last year too as it helps burn off brown fat! I won’t bore you with the details about that but the information is out there if you want to find it.

Before that it was raspberry ketones for weight loss! All these trends come and go over a few months as people look for a magic bullet to help their health improve. It is human nature to look for the easy options and a magic pill is so tempting to many of us but I have news for you….there is no magic bullet. There is no magic pill that will give you extraordinary good health all your life.

In my opinion much of this idea stems from the pharmaceutical industry who by stealth have brainwashed us into thinking our health is maintained by taking pills. It is not. They have bought up our healthcare systems and turned them into massive dispensing systems for countless drugs handed out without thought or logic.

A simple example of this is that millions of people are given anti inflammatory drugs when they have an injury. So let’s unravel the almost pavlovian response from many people to take such a drug when they have pain:

First of all, what is acute inflammation? It is a rapid response by your body to an injury – it causes swelling, immobility, redness, heat and pain – but why does it do this? Simple – the acute inflammatory response happens to heal your injury, yes, that’s right, it is a HEALING response. Which begs the question…if acute inflammation heals you why on earth would you take an anti inflammatory that actually suppresses your body’s attempts at fixing you. There is no logic in doing this and in my experience, repeatedly suppressing your body in this way leads to worse trouble down the line such as damaged joints, weakened soft tissues and chronic pain. However, it is inconvenient to think of it like this so we are fed the message that pain is bad so get rid of the pain with a pill.

Yet pain is our friend…just look at the terrible condition called Congenital Insensitivity to Pain (CIP) where children with this problem will eat scalding hot food or bite off their own tongue! Pain protects us so look for WHY you have pain and get it fixed if you can.

Sadly, because of media bombardments and misleading advertising along with a medical system that focuses on disease, we are left without any sense of how to maintain health and look for snippets of miracle cures in the media.

But good health is not a pill – it is a way of life – actually a pleasurable way of life. Take joy in cooking real food from raw, high quality organic ingredients. Ensure you have a balanced diet (and yes, CBD undoubtedly has a role to play in a balanced diet) Exercise and stretch your body every day and laugh a lot! Ensure your relationships are based on mutual respect and love and live in a clean environment. You own the keys to your health, not snippets in newspapers or pills from drug companies.

Enjoy your days

Nick Tofalos

Helping anxiety…

Through my years in practice as an osteopath, working in the natural healthcare field I’ve noticed more and more of my patients are taking antidepressants and other medication for anxiety.

One of the commonest questions I get about CBD is whether it will help a person who is experiencing anxiety and panic attacks.

Therefore, I thought I’d take a quick look at WHY so many people are suffering with this problem.

I suspect our modern world is actually completely out of sync with what we need to live a fulfilled, simple life. The western world runs at a very fast pace, governed by the clock. Yet our body works according to nature’s rhythms – the seasons, the rising and setting of the sun and of course throughout the year this is always changing.

So we have a modern world demanding our attention whilst our body may be asking us to rest. We’re still expected to function at the same pace in the short winter days as in the long summer days.

Artificial light throws off our circadian rhythms, the natural rhythms that govern our sleep and wakefulness, as does the need to be at work or at an appointment when our body is craving rest.

Perhaps all this out of kilter activity is disorientating to our body. We also have complex modern stresses such as debts, threats to our job security or relationship problems. The primitive stress response of our body cannot be fully expressed towards these type of stressors (our body demands ‘fight or flight’) so we have a subtle build up of stress hormones in our body which can start to cause bizarre physical symptoms such as skin problems, chronic pain and a myriad other problems. Of course, none of this shows up on scans or blood tests so whilst you are experiencing dis-ease the medics find no obvious causes. This is because your body is not functioning correctly but is not in any structural way damaged or broken.

With all this going on, along with the modern pressures of how we have to look, big chests thrust forwards to the world regardless of gender, one of the first problems that is often unnoticed is a change in our breathing pattern.

We start to breathe using our shoulder and neck muscles instead of our diaphragm, and our breathing rhythm increases so we take faster, shallow breaths.

This kind of breathing can lead to a panic attack which may be a one off event in a person’s life or may settle into an incredibly distressing vicious circle, crippling the sufferer with fear, phobias and a sense of dread and feeling of being ill at ease.

The two areas I always suggest people begin to address when they have such problems are their breathing patterns and ensuring they are exercising their body regularly. Neither of these changes can fix you overnight but in time they begin to help your body adjust and find it’s balance point again.

There are lots of breathing exercises out there, many of which can be off putting in complexity but I have found one simple one that is easy to do and effective:

When you practice this exercise you may find yourself getting light headed to begin with. If this happens then simply stop. Return to the exercise later and bit by bit you will find this sensation fades away.

All you have to do is take a deep breath in then slowly breathe out through pursed lips (almost as if you are whistling) for as long as you can. When you run out of breath, pause for a second then inhale. Do not worry about the inhaling part, your body will make sure you breathe in! Then repeat the breathing out through pursed lips. To start with only do this five times, gradually increasing to be able to do it 30 times without getting light headed. At this point you will be retraining your breathing muscles to a more healthy pattern of movement. Using pursed lips gently encourages the main breathing muscle (your diaphragm) to reactivate.

There are plenty of useful supplements they may also help anxiety and panic attacks – and CBD may have a role to play here since scientists at the University of San Paulo in Brazil and King’s College in London have done research into CBD and the neural correlates of anxiety. They have found that CBD may well have an anti anxiety effect. Fortunately it is very safe to take and so is a low risk strategy for potentially getting good gains.

Please keep an eye out for more information about this distressing area in future blogs. I wish you all well for 2018.

Nick Tofalos

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I’m worried about trying CBD…

I speak to many people who are genuinely concerned and worried about trying CBD – mainly because it comes connected to the name Cannabis.

We have been educated to believe that Cannabis is dangerous, bad for us and is an introductory drug into a whole world of trouble and addiction. In the media you do not have to look very far to find scary headlines such as “cannabis killed my son” (it did not when you read the full story) and ‘dangerous drug linked to dozens of deaths’ (actually an article pointing out that synthetic cannabis may help sleep problems).

Stepping aside from this controversial topic it must be pointed out that CBD is NOT psychoactive and you cannot get high or stoned from it. The cannabinoid THC that gets you high has been removed so there is less than 0.2% in the legal CBD sold in the UK.

This means that when you take CBD there is no change in your state of mind – except perhaps feeling pleasantly relaxed and de stressed!

It is non addictive and is also not a cure all for living an unhealthy lifestyle.

I have encountered people who are curious about CBD and keen to try it all the way through to people who get very angry and dismissive when cannabis is mentioned.

However, I would say that if you are in anyway worried about trying CBD but have heard it may be of some benefit to you, rest assured there really is nothing to worry about. It is incredibly safe as it is a plant extract and such food supplements tend to be gentle acting. Hence their effects may take more time but their risks are far less than a modern pharmaceutical.

I would be more worried about taking an Ibuprofen tablet over CBD – thousands die every year taking ibuprofen – there are no such figures for CBD.

So it is safe.

You cannot get high on it.

It is non addictive.

If you do not know where to start – do send me a message via our healthcare advice page and I’ll do my best to help.

Have a great day,

Nick Tofalos

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