Cook with coconut and stop those sugar cravings

The Food Life

 

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Having been a health and fitness expert for over 13 years, it is critical to attain and share the real facts on foods that can enhance your health.

One tropical trooper that can assist you tremendously is coconut oil. It boasts a vast range of health benefits, inclusive of beating sugar cravings to aiding weight loss. There are so many nourishing properties contained in coconut oil than most of us may realise and here are my top 8 reasons to love coconut oil:

1. Great fat properties

Coconut oil contains short-term, medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs), which is a “healthy” form saturated fat compared to trans fat. Trans fatty acid consumption is linked with heart problems, depression and increased cholesterol levels. What does consuming MCFA fats in coconut oil mean for your body? It means that your body metabolises these fats in the liver, immediately converting this into energy…

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Have you ever tried Coffee made from Elephant dung?

You read that correctly and people go to extraordinary lengths to find their perfect cup of coffee.  In Northern Thailand the Black Ivory Company Ltd collect coffee beans from Elephant’s feces, which is influenced by the elephant’s stomach acid breaking down the coffee’s protein.   Its been described as “very smooth without the bitterness of regular coffee” but it comes at a hefty price at USD50 in some luxury hotels for a single cup!

In places such as Sumatra, Indonesia you’ll find Kopi Luwak where coffee beans are ingested by Civets and egested.  Producers claim that Civets only chooses the best beans to which then the digestive mechanisms improve the flavour of the coffee.
World-coffee-consumption-infographic
With coffee being the world’s most widely traded tropical agricultural commodity it’s no wonder that poeple/organisations are looking for the most unique flavour.  However i would love to meet the person that came up with the idea of having coffee pass through and animal before grinding it and drinking the beans.

Coffee is such a big part of some peoples lives, it sparks arguments of which coffee is the best.  When people choose a particular coffee, what does it say about them?
– Cafe Latte with skim milk
– Double Espresso
– Flat White
– Decaffinated
– and so many more options

For many many years coffee has been criticized for a lot of things such as, “It will stunt your growth”, “It can cause heart disease and cancer”.  But research now shows that there may be some real health benefits.

Depending on the research or person you’re speaking to, caffeine is shown to have no effect on cancer but to actually have a greater benefit to your health.  In Scandinavian countries that have a high consumption of caffeine from coffee, research doesn’t support any links between the risk of cancer from caffeine (coffee). (ref:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20512657)

Coffee is high in antioxidants and can actually improve total cholesterol by lowering inflammation and raising HDL or better known ‘good cholesterol’.

There are even more reported benefits of coffee being:

  • Improved health of your blood vessels
  • Decreases Metabolic Syndrome Risk
  • Reduced risk of death attributed to inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases
  • Elevates Fat Burning by increasing your metabolic rate
  • Increases Power & Strength Performance
  • Can speed recovery and reduce post-workout muscle soreness by up to 48 percent
  • Increases Motivation & Reaction Time

Long term coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of type-2 diabetes.  (ref: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14706966)

Be careful what you eat when you’re drinking your coffee.  Drinking coffee along with carbohydrates increases insulin resistance and blood sugar levels, so if you are going to have a cup of coffee, enjoy it by itself without any muffins, toast or fruit.

It’s not all great news about coffee as there are some health experts that believe caffeine exacerbates polycystic ovarian syndrome by increasing the body’s normal estrogen level and although the link is not fully understood or universal to all women with PCOS, physicians advisze to cut down or eliminate caffeine to see if doing so lessens symptoms and improves fertility.

It is also very important to know the type of coffee and the toxicity in the coffee beans, which effect people in very different ways.

I am particular about the type of coffee I have and I do love my morning coffee.  I add some grass fed butter and MCT oil to mine, or just a teaspoon of coconut oil to a cup of black organic coffee.  If I’m after some sweetness I’ll occasionally add half a teaspoon of Xylitol.

Whichever way you have it, just be sure that you’re having a good clean sourced coffee from low toxin coffee beans and it doesn’t have an adverse effect on you.   Even if it does come out of an Elephant.

Enjoy

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BBC Horizon – Sugar v Fat. Who is the winner?

BBC showed a story of twin’s who embarked on an experiment to better understand who is the enemy to the human body…..Fat or Sugar.

It’s a common question with many different opinions of course and this story, by using twins, could be used as a fair experiment because the two were identical. Sounded reasonable and as it was introduced to me by family, I thought I’d watch it. It is shown above, so if you have a spare hour, take the time to watch it.

For the record, I am bias towards fat, so you will see that reflected below. But that’s not to say that I don’t like sweet tasting food. It’s just that now that I’ve cut refined processed sugar from my diet, my interpretation of ‘sweet’ has changed.

A really quick brief: The twins live in separate countries, England and the USA, where one eats a diet with very high levels of fat (no carbs, no sugar, no veg or fruit) and the other only sugar (refined sugar, carbs, fruit but no fat). The experiment was done for 1 month.

Watch the video for the finer details, but here’s my take. i focus below primarily on fat as I think this is the biggest misunderstanding amongst the wider population. Whereas everyone knows sugar is bad for you and I particular mean refined sugars.

After decades of bashing saturated fat throughout the 80’s & 90’s we were told to cut the fat from our diets. Low fat this, fat free that but the result was the complete opposite and we’re now fatter than ever before!

Fat makes us feel full more so than carbs so we eat less. That could be one contributing factor the twin on the fat diet lost weight. But some of that weight was also muscle which we want to protect. A few minutes of exercise each week would help that.

Once they introduced what they were eating, I almost switch it off, because it was completely flawed. There was no detail as to where the food came from.
– is the fruit organic?
– is the meat grass fed (and grass finished) or grain fed
– what are they cooking in? Vegetable oil?
– processed meat included? WHAT!?!?!?!?!
– the fat eater had no vegetables or carbs at all…who would ever promote this!?

It speaks of the brain requiring glucose to function properly and also of ketones being made available as an energy source. It took me almost 6 weeks to become fat adaptive so to create an experiment of only 1 month and expect the human body to change what it has used primarily as an energy source for decades is unrealistic. The thing that gets me is that the twins are themselves scientists!

I agree in that the brain gets most of it’s energy from glucose, but it also uses ketones as an alternative source and the ability for the brain to use this energy source takes some training.

AT a really high level, a ketogenic diet is similar to starvation, so that the body enters a metabolic state called ketosis. Most of us humans burn sugar; carbs are converted to glucose then transported and used as energy or stored as glycogen in liver and muscle tissue. When carbs are limited, generally less than 50 grams / day, the backup is the liver becomes the sole provider of glucose to the body including the brain.   The brain cannot utilise fat directly so the liver, as a backup, derives ketones from fatty acid in your diet or body fat.  These ketones are released into the bloodstream and used by the brain as fuel (amongst the body’s other organs).  The other thing to note about glucose is that excess protein is also converted to glucose is made out of the liver & kidneys called gluconeogenesis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluconeogenesis).

Having no carbs at all iss crazy and not what us ‘fat lovers’ would ever claim to do. What we do state is that you don’t need as many carbs in the diet as what is generally consumed on average today and you don’t need a lot for the body to transform them into glucose for the ‘brain to use’. Even for exercise I have some carbs, but it is all dependant on timing too. I eat most of my carbs before & after my workouts and not the same amount of food every day either.

Too many times we hear claims to eat a certain number of calories per day, but that doesn’t make any sense. Why would I eat the same amount of food on days when I’m exercising with a high energy output compared to days when I’m less active? Also where are my calories coming from? Cola has about 140 calories yet an avocado over 200…should I just have cans of cola instead!? I digress, but you get my point.

During the bike challenge in the movie, it was shown that the sugar burner had much more energy than the fat burner – this was always going to be the case in such a short time of being on the eating plans. As mentioned earlier, to become fat adaptive requires a lot longer than just a couple of weeks and to have zero carbs when exercising at a high intensity is just crazy! Sugar won…..obviously!

What I found when I burned sugar/glucose for energy, was that I generally needed to eat every few hours to maintain my blood glucose levels and I was disciplined to do it too. Now I eat only to maintain energy and sometimes go over 6 hours without eating with no problem at all.  It’s so much easier to get through a day when I don’t have to worry about eating every few hours, I don’t get tired in the afternoon nor do I have sugar cravings any more.

The first 2 weeks of removing all refined sugar from my diet were tough. The thing is I wasn’t previously unhealthy, well I didn’t look unhealthy, but as I got older (I’m almost 40) I could feel my body breaking down. That was also a result of other things which included overtraining, but the thing is when I started the higher fat plan about 8 months ago, I am now 2 kgs heavier, 3% less body fat and feeling great.

Not all fat is created equal.

Our bodies require Essential Fats (EF) and are named this because our body cannot produce them and we need to get them from food. All good fats are a blend of different types being saturated and unsaturated.

Unsaturated fats include mono & polyunsaturated fats where omega-6 & omega-3 are types of polyunsaturated fats. These are your essential fats.  Omega-6 is a proinflammatory and found in vegetable oils hence the reason to stay away from industrialised vegetable based oils.

Scientific experiments have shown that a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 should not exceed 4:1 to avoid health problems. So here’s the scoop as to why I almost switched off the tv because it is so important to know where your fat is coming from. Omega 6 & 3 are important components of almost all cell membranes therefore unsaturated fat in the human body is greatly dependant on the food we eat

As an example of animal fat of Omega 6 & 3 ratios:  Grain fed beef can have ratios that exceed 20:1, whereas grass-fed (and grass finished) beef is around 3:1.

Now the ratio of fat between saturated and monounsaturated is about 40-50% for each and approximately 10% of polyunsaturated, all of which doesn’t really change between grass or grain fed beef. The difference is that the fat contains so much of the nutrients from what the cow ingests, it’s unfair to simply have the twin eating any type of fat, without knowing how the meat was produced?!

Grass fed beef has more antioxidants, vitamins and minerals amongst other benefits of Conjugated Lineoleic Acid (CLA). CLA has strong antioxidant traits and has been claimed to protective against heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Chickens fed vegetables, insects, fresh green grass and dried fruit (not GMO!) have high levels of omega 3 with ratios of omega 6 & 3 of 1.5:1 whereas supermarket eggs have approximately 20:1!!!! It shouldn’t be a surprise then that our farmers are pressured to increase production in order to create a cost effective process at the detriment of nutrition!

There was a really surprising result form the test in the show and that was the twin who was eating primarily fat, was showing signs of being pre-diabetic. This was the complete opposite of what I and most thought would occur.

I do love that they finished with it isn’t just one thing… and the episode at least got that right.

The summary was pretty good:
* Avoid the processed food.
* Exercise/move

I hope by now you can see that fat cannot be classified just as fat, which is why this story from the BBC almost didn’t make it past the first 10 minutes on my tv. For me I run a 50% fat, 20% carbs and 20% protein ratio, on average, but on days of high energy output, the carb ratio increases.

I make sure I eat plenty of vegetables and is the staple for where I get carbs. A big bowl of vegetables, cooked in coconut oil is amazing! I try to get as much sleep as I can, as sleep is such a contributing factor to energy levels, recovery and overall health, that there isn’t enough importance given to it.

I don’t measure my food, but I’m fairly well in tune with my body that I know what does and doesn’t work and I eat purely on being satisfied. One things for sure though, REFINED sugar is nasty. Everyone agrees with that.

Enjoy

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Unconventional But Effective Therapy for Alzheimer’s Treatment

I am going to beat this up until everybody is adding Coconut Oil to their daily nutritional intake. This is a great talk by Mary T. Newport, M.D. discussing her experience of her husband – Steve – and the effect of using MCT oil (derived from coconut oil) that on his Alzheimer’s.

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The not so healthy ‘Australian Guide to Healthy Eating’

The Australian government releases the guidelines for how we’re supposed to be eating to live a long and healthy life.   The guide has some great suggestions of what to include in the standard Australian diet and the ratios are getting better, but still so very far from what I believe is truly healthy.

What confuses me is whether this guide is focusing on ‘health’ or just trying to please the masses.   I’m fine with the latter, but what I’m not fine with is releasing information that it is ok to eat unhealthy food, just as long as it is in moderation.

More than 60% of the Australian population is overweight!  Something is not right!

So lets highlight a few things from the “Guide”:

– What is the health benefit of canola oil?    (made from rape seeds but it wouldn’t be a great name if taken from the actual seed from which is was derived.  So it was a clever marketing name combining Canada and Oil).  Thing is almost all canola oil is genetically modified and processed to the point it is so rancid that deodorisers are added to mask the smell. Erucic acid constitutes 40-50% and ingestion of large amounts have been linked to heart damage – it’s toxic to humans so why even consider it when there are so many better options?.   Look it up and make up your own mind.

– Margarine instead of butter (grass fed of course)?  Why?  Butter is full of vitamins and nutritional content as opposed to a container with something manufactured to appear the colour yellow – butter has 3 ingredients:  cream, water, salt (although I have unsalted butter).  A well known Australian brand contains : 65% vegetable oil (52% canola oil and sunflower oil), water, salt, emulsifiers, preservative 202, food acid (lactic), milk solids, maltodextrin, natural colour, vitamins A & D, flavour – hmm sounds great!  Although Australia differs in that most soft margarines have the lowest trans fat content in the world it’s just not natural so just choose Grass fed butter.

– Fat reduced dairy.  Now I’m not going to go on about dairy as some are more tolerable than others, but it misses the fundamental ingredient that makes this such an error.  Most marketed low fat products are high in sugar content to give it flavour.  You’re much better off having full fat if at all.

– Soft drinks (or soda in other parts of the world) provide absolutely no nutritional benefit whatsoever.  How can this be an inclusion in a ‘health guide’?

– One of the greatest sources of energy and fat is from coconut oil – cold pressed unsweetened virgin coconut oil, yet it doesn’t get a mention in the graph, but it does get a cameo appearance under saturated fats to avoid!  The problem is fat has been given a bad name, but the truth is only certain types of fat should be avoided.

Although there is mention of meats and veggies, there is no guideline on the sources and quality of the food.   Grass-fed beef is far superior in nutritional content and not to mention flavour than the large supermarket sold meats.   Don’t be fooled by the claim of these stores that their beef is grass fed….the question to ask ‘is the cow roaming free, grass fed AND grass finished from grass in the ground, out in the pastures?’.  I’m not a vegetarian as I love meat too much, but there is a distinct quality in grass fed and grass finished beef.

As much as the guideline seems to be giving direction on what most people are able to achieve every day, it is just irresponsible to say that it is ok to eat some of the foods that are listed in the chart.

Stop sitting on the fence and give a guideline that is the truth.  If you want a guideline that pleases the masses, then call it something else.   The Australian Guide on How to have an Obese Epidemic’….because whatever guidelines have been given, is not working.

aus health guide

If you want to see more information check out http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/

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Raw Cocomo Bar

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For the base:

1 cup of soaked dates (soaked for at least an hour)
1/2 cup of cacao powder
1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup of almonds

For the middle layer:

1 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup of coconut oil
1/4 cup of coconut nectar (or agave)
2 tbsp of coconut flour

For the top chocolate layer:

1/4 cup of cacao powder
2 tbsp of coconut oil
1/4 tsp of vanilla powder

Methods/steps
For the base:

1) Process the above in your food processor until it all comes together…about thirty to forty five seconds.

2) Press the mixture into your lined loaf pan, flatten the top and set aside.

For the middle layer:

1) Process the first four ingredients in your food processor until smooth, remove the blade and stir in your coconut flour.

2) Now you’re thinking…turmeric? Yep. A little goes a long way and it will help you achieve the yellowy look, similar to a ‘traditional’ nanaimo bar. And I personally think it levels out the sweetness a bit. Yay!

The mixture will seem a bit moist, that’s only because the coconut oil has melted from the heat of the food processor.

Don’t worry, it all works out.

3) Pour the mixture over your base and smooth out the top.

4) Place it all in the freezer for about thirty minutes.

For the top chocolate layer:

1) Place the ingredients into a stainless steel bowl and rest the bowl over a pot of simmering water just long enough for the oil to melt.

2) Give it all a good stir and drizzle it over the top of the first two layers. Because the first to layers have been in the freezer, you’ll want to spread the chocolate fairly quickly so that it doesn’t harden unevenly.

And that’s it folks!

Serve:
Slice with a cool, dry knife and store the bars in the fridge

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Bulletproof coffee in Australia

If you’re reading this you’ve most likely heard of “bulletproof coffee” and the art of adding butter and oil to the mix, so here is my version that works for me.  It took me a month before I found the right ratios of butter & oil so be prepared for some visits to the toilet when you first start as your body gets used to the new found goodness you’re feeding it.

I travel on planes a lot and this is the perfect morning breakfast for me, but that doesn’t mean it is the only time I have it.   Gone are the days of crashing out on the plane even after a good nights sleep, getting hungry and stressing about the next meal in an airport that doesn’t have anything truly healthy at all.

I can relax, be charged with energy and power through the morning.   I’m up at 5am without the need to worry about food until around 1:30p.

For the record I’m 5’10 (although I’ve been telling people for years I’m 5’11),  weigh 83kgs with approx 11% BF.  My wife has exactly half of this mix below, is 5’3 & less than 2/3 my weight.   For sake of my health and safety, I’m not including her BF percentages.    Not a smart move for any man…. she looks amazing….Happy Days!!!!!!

So here’s my ratio mix and equipment I use.

Kettle
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French Press: Grind coffee beans and……
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and add 2 scoops into French Press with 2 cups boiled water – I let it sit for 4 minutes.

Add 50g grass fed butter, 2tbs MCT oil together into an aluminium cup.

Plunge coffee (slowly).  I do it twice- my preference – pour it into the aluminium cup.

I wait for the butter to melt slightly.  I'm sure it doesn't really matter though as the blending will smooth it out.

I use a Bodum hand blender.
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I blend on the highest speed (only has 2) for 20 seconds.  You'll start to see it all blend beautifully together half way through. Hold the cup or it will start spinning, but note that the cup gets very warm.

it's still really hot so be careful.

Tastes amazing and this mix is perfect for me.   As a tip, when I travel I sometimes take the big hand blender or I have a mini blender which is pretty powerful with full battery charge. Easier to carry when I'm in transit. I got mine on eBay.

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