• Chapter 1 – Why this book?

    BooksThousands of books. Billions of dollars. But society is continuing to get fatter, more un-healthy, and what to do about it stumped me. Personally. 10kg over my desired weight, but just within the healthy BMI range. At 24.9 I had another 0.1 before I was officially overweight. I was doing some exercise, restraining from too much food, too often.  But over the last 5 years was unable to make any difference at all to my weight, and I knew that skinny worms lived longer than fat ones.  That was the sum of my knowledge.

    I was about to turn 60, and I had been telling family and friends that I was going to live to 120. So something needed to change if I did not wind up dribbling to a room full of strangers in my mid- nineties. Or worse not speaking to the intensive care unit nurse at the age of 65 due to a cardiovascular “incident”. I knew looking after yourself was necessary, but what was based on good science, what was poor or compromised science, and what was fiction. Could one take steps to be more healthy and live for another 60 years? Come with me to discover some simple science, evidence based truths.

  • Chapter 2 – Low hanging fruit?

    Low hanging fruitThis book will deal with over 55 topics. Some topics are multiple chapters – for some there is much science to cover. Most will be 2 to 3 pages. Enough to present, but not too much to confuse. Some good science but a lot of “mythology” and dogma. I have tried to not use references earlier than 2008 if possible, as advances in genetic research, in endocrinology and molecular biochemistry and computer technology allow us to do things and see things that just were not possible 5 years ago.

    My conclusion from books, science publications, and a lifetime of business is there are 6 things to do. These are the first chapters, and then the evidence for this is spread out over the book.

    I call these six the “low hanging fruit”. Low hanging fruit are those easily captured benefits which require very little effort. Some things are actually very hard to do long term because they require consistent and persistent effort. Some call these “life-style” changes, but most life-style changes take a lot of effort or you need financial resources, and that is just not there for most.

     

  • Chapter 3 – Six Steps to Health

    Chapter 3 Six Steps1
    I’ve concluded from the hundreds of science papers read, there are really less than 6 things to achieve 80% of our health potential. (Using the 80/20 rule – 20% of what you do will give you 80% of the benefits. The other 80% effort will only give you 20% of the benefits. I.e. Poor marginal return on your time and dollars.) We can do something about lots of other things, but do we have the time and inclination? I don’t. You could have dozens of rules, fuss about all sorts of things, which impact us very little. Whether is complex fad diets; additives, avoidances, exercise, ancient crafts revisited: most probably constitute less than 20% of our health potential. Further, much of this has limited or poor science basis, but form most of the billion dollar diet and alternative medicine industry. Will most people stop spending money on the products from this industry? Unlikely. But you can. That’s the basis for this book. Let us start on the things that will make a surprising difference.

  • Chapter 4 – Complexity Rules

    3LeggedStoolHumans are complex. Health is a interaction between biochemistry, Brain and mental, and our social  and human behaviours.

    Science is  compartmentalised and regrettably health recommendations today fail to take account of the compartmentalisation.  Biochemists probably do not talk to a psychologist and medical researchers don’t seem to talk to anthropologists, and they probably don’t talk to dentists or population biologists. Worse still, research carries on in each of these areas, and it is clear that science results are confounded. Why do 80% of diets fail? Something is not working. Diets are not based on integration of the data from each area. . E.g. “Don’t eat added sugar” and popularised by researchers or authors such as Prof Lustig, or David Gillespie of “Sweet Poison” says exclude added sugar from your diet. The basis of this recommendation is the scientific evidence from biochemistry, endocrinology and genetics and in particular the role of insulin. But sugar has been added to most processed food, and unless you want to abandon socialising; stop eating “treats”; abandon years of behaviour you will fail.

    With my science background I have struggled to put these different science and “soft science” areas together to understand the interaction. But it is critical if you want to be healthier, and it does explain the seemingly contrary advice from all sorts of specialists.

10 tips for effective science based dieting are explained by the BBC documentary team in 2009. Michael Mosley is the test subject, and they visit researchers who have a range of tactics to diet effectively. Make sure you eat more protein; keep moving; eat more dairy product; understand food calories to make informed decisions; count calories; don’t skip meals; use smaller dinner plates; don’t go to buffets; eat soup, and swap higher energy calorie foods for equivalent tasty foods. Simple tactics that are scientifically proven to work.

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We have outsourced responsibility for our health. We don’t want to change the way we live despite documentation that lifestyle is one of the most powerful determinants of health. Vitamins are necessary to convert food into energy and when people don’t get enough vitamins, they suffer diseases. The question isn’t whether people need vitamins. They do. The questions are how much do they need, and do they get enough in foods?
But I’m very sceptical of anyone who has a pill to cure the man-made epidemics of our time, and it turns out scientists know large quantities of supplemental vitamins can be quite harmful indeed. But sales are good.

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These six things are all part of the 20% of things to give us 80% of our health.
- Kill sugar and reduce carbohydrates.
- Restrict food (fasting) 1 or 2 days per week. But no counting calories on other days.
- Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
- Eliminate seed oils and transfats from your diet.
- Get some form of exercise: don’t sit for more than 30 minutes at a time.
- Mental attitude. Change is challenging. Understand why diets fail. But can succeed.

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If you are under 40 – most are overweight, but you still keep on slowly but surely over 40 – you become obese.. It is what you eat. Not your resolution for diets, exercise. Unless you make a change in food intake, you will put on about 1% of your weight each year.
If you do make a change, you can lose that weight and the easiest way is cut out carbohydrates, starting with added sugar

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