The Main Reasons Why Fish Is Not A Health Food

The Main Reasons Why Fish Is Not A Health Food

There is a common misconception that fish is a healthier alternative to meat and that it actually promotes health in the human body. In reality this couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are many reasons why fish is not healthy I have listed the main four below.

 

Proteins & IGF-1

 

Regardless of whether you eat fish, meat, eggs or dairy you will run into problems at some point in your life due to the higher concentrations of essential amino acids contained in these foods. One of the main reasons these amino acids are so detrimental in the body is that they increase the levels of IGF-1 (an insulin-like growth hormone) (study, study, study)

The knock-on effect of this is that IGF-1 speeds up the process of cell division in the body. This extra stimulation of cell multiplication has been heavily linked with cancer proliferation for many years. The science is very clear in this area and we know with certainty that animal proteins increase IGF-1 levels in the body and raised IGF-1 levels cause cancer (study, study, study, study).

 

Saturated Fats And Cholesterol

 

If you ask most people why they consume fish the standard response is that it’s heart healthy as it contains omega-3 fatty acids. So let me clear this area up for you:

  • While SOME fish do indeed contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), the vast majority of fatty acids derived from fish is actually in the form saturated fats. Fish also generally contains high levels of cholesterol. Both cholesterol and saturated fats are among the main risk factors for heart disease.
  • To give you an idea of how much cholesterol is contained in fish – in both a 3 ounce portion of bass and beef there is the same amount of cholesterol (approx. 75 milligrams). Yet most people don’t associate fish with cholesterol.
  • The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish is derived from the plants they eat in the sea. Fish do not make omega-3’s. You can get omega-3’s by eating plant based foods like nuts, seeds, beans, vegetables and fruits. These foods provide ALA (fatty acid) which then gets converted in the body to the longer chain fatty acids EPA and DHA (both of which protect us from heart disease).
  • We only need the 1000mg of cholesterol our bodies make every day for optimal health. We DO NOT NEED ANY dietary cholesterol in our bodies. The more dietary cholesterol we load the body with the more we increase our risk of heart disease.

 

Chemicals & Pollutants

 

Most health authorities around the world have advisories around the amount of fish people consume. The reason for these advisories is that most oceans are heavily contaminated with metals such as mercury, chemicals such as PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls) and insecticides and pesticides such as DDT and chlordane (See sample advisory). In this recent study by the United States Department of Agriculture 84% of all fish sampled from around the world contained unsafe levels of mercury. And why is mercury so bad for the body? Well mercury is neurotoxin (kills brain cells). When you eat foods that contain mercury it is very difficult for your body to remove it. It can then accumulate in the heart (for example) and inhibit normal heart function as well as causing causing central nervous system damage in foetus’s during pregnancy (study, study)

 

What Fish Is Lacking

 

So we know that fish today contains dangerous levels of mercury, hazardous chemicals and high amounts of saturated fats and cholesterol. So lets also talk about what healthy nutrients fish doesn’t contain. Fish contains no carbohydrates (essential for optimal health). It also contains no fiber, essential for healthy bowel movements and the prevention of digestive cancers. It also lacks any real amounts of antioxidants, phytochemicals and other macronutrients essential for health promotion. So in reality people are eating fish for perceived health benefits when in reality its a pretty poor dietary choice.

 

Surely Fish Is Better Than Meat Right?

 

This is a ridiculous notion that we humans love to use. Just because fish is slightly less damaging in the body compared to meat, we classify it as a “health food”. While the science supports fish eaters being healthier than meat eaters in terms of parameters such as diabetes, weight and other important health factors, lets not be under any illusion. Fish eaters still have very high rates of disease and illness compared to those on plant based diets. So yes, you might be slightly healthier than a meat eater, but if you want to live a long and healthy life then avoid both fish and meat (and dairy for that matter!).

 

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Preventing And Reversing Migraine Headaches

Preventing And Reversing Migraine Headaches

It is estimated that between six and eight million people in the UK suffer from regular migraines. And women are twice as likely as men to suffer from them. These figures are only rough estimates though as it is believed that as many as 50-60% of people who suffer from migraines never visit their GP. The average migraine sufferer (if there is such a creature) will have approximately 13-15 attacks a year.

 

Staggeringly, migraines cost the NHS more than £1 billion per year. And what is particularly frustrating is that in the vast majority of these cases simple dietary modifications can prevent them from ever occurring again.

 

The condition can be absolutely debilitating for sufferers. Symptoms range from seeing flashing lights, vomiting, severe headaches (usually down one side of the head) and even partial loss of sight in severe cases. These attacks can last for a few hours or even for days on end.

 

The vast majority of migraines can be directly linked to food intolerances. The main two culprits are wheat and milk. These may account for approximately 80-90% of cases. What is also interesting is that in a large proportion of migraine sufferers (40-50%) they have the bacteria helicobacter pylori living in their stomach and intestines. Other fairly common triggers for migraines are a poorly functioning liver as a result of alcohol consumption, too much caffeine, too much saturated fat in your diet and a lack of water (you should aim for approximately 2 litres a day – more if exercising). The weather, high stress levels and poor sleeping patterns can also exacerbate the condition.

 

Below is a list of some of the worst and best foods to eat if you are a migraine sufferer. Just keep in mind though that everyone is different. A food that triggers a migraine in you may not cause symptoms in somebody else. I suggest that as well as modifying your diet around the below foods, you also keep a diary of the foods you are eating until your symptoms are completely eradicated.

 

Common Migraine Triggers

 

  • Cheese, dairy, milk and wheat are among the most common triggers. Many sufferers also report migraines developing after consuming citrus fruits, peanuts, crisps, biscuits, corn and chocolate.
  • Avoid all processed and refined sugars – found in all processed foods!
  • Avoid artificial flavours, colours, preservatives and anything else that is not natural.
  • Avoid or limit animal fats and other foods that contain hydrogenated fats.
  • Reduce the amount of animal proteins and meats that you consume (and also eggs). We know from lots of research that those who eat dramatically fewer saturated fats experience dramatically fewer migraine attacks.
  • Another common trigger that people don’t know about is associated to infrequent bowel movements. When food is sat in the intestines, certain bacteria can easily convert tyrosine to tyramine. Tyramine can then circulate in the body and trigger migraine attacks.

 

Avoiding Migraines

 

  • Two great fruits to eat on a regular basis are papaya and pineapples. Both have enzymes that help the body digest foods. This will help keep you regular and prevent tyramine build-up.
  • Incorporate more turmeric into your foods. It is one of the most potent anti-inflammatories in the world and known to reduce the symptoms of migraine attacks.
  • Try and aim for at least nine portions of fruit and vegetables a day (opt for organic if you can). This will ensure your fibre intake is above 35 grams a day and that the amount of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds circulating in the body are greatly increased.
  • Dehydration massively exacerbates migraines. Ensure you drink a minimum of two litres a day. More if you are exercising.
  • Make your own wheat free bread.
  • Drink more herbal teas.
  • Stress less (try yoga) or listening to relaxing music.
  • Try green juices if you aren’t already.

 

 

The Health Benefits Of Cucumbers

The Health Benefits Of Cucumbers

Cucumbers are one of those “go to” salad ingredients that everyone enjoys. They are refreshing to eat and will help rehydrate the body. They have good amounts of vitamin K, C, B, manganese, potassium and copper. Below I have put together a list of their main benefits and why you should eat them on a regular basis.

 

Pinky And The Brains

 

One of the main benefits of cucumbers is that they contain antioxidants called fisteins. Fisteins are vitally important for brain health as they prevent inflammation. It is also great for improving memory and preventing damage to nerves in the brain, one of the leading causes of degenerative diseases like alzheimer’s.

 

Further Antioxidants

 

As well as fisteins, cucumbers are packed full of other essential antioxidants incusing beta-carotene and vitamin C. Flavonoids are also abundant in the form of kaempferol, apigentin, luteolin and quercetin. Quercetin is great for people who have hay-fever and other allergies as it helps prevent histamine being released in the body, making it a great natural antihistamine. Kaempferol has been shown to protect you from the two leading causes of death (cancer and heart disease).

 

They Help Prevent Inflammation

 

A really cool thing about cucumbers is that they target enzymes that cause inflammation in the body after they have carried out their roles. This is particularly great if you are already suffering from inflammatory diseases, which most people are!

 

They Help Prevent Cancer

 

Cucumbers are packed with lignans, a type of polyphenol (or an antioxidant). Many leading studies have demonstrated that people who regularly consume foods that contain lignans had a much lower risk of developing prostate, breast and ovarian cancers. Cucumbers are also loaded with cucurbitacins, a chemical compound contained in plants that also helps ward of cancer growth.

 

Healthy Gut

 

To have a healthy gut you need to provide it with an abundant supply of fibre and water. Cucumbers provide a rich source of both. The water helps hydrate the digestive tract and the fibre adds bulk to your stools and speeds up transit times. They are also great for relieving the symptoms associated with IBS and acid reflux.

 

Avoid Dog Breath

 

If you are struggling with bad breath then it is probably caused by a poor diet. Having said that, some people are often afflicted with bad breath as a result of conditions such as tonsil stones. Cucumbers can help reduce the odours produced by bacteria. Simply place a slice of cucumber in your mouth and swish it around while it dissolves. By doing this it will help remove some of those unwanted odours!

 

Avoid The Stress

 

People who have low levels of certain B vitamins are generally more prone to mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and stress. Cucumbers contain a good amount of B1, B5 and B7 that will help reduce some of the symptoms associated with these conditions.

 

Maintain A Healthy Weight

 

There are basically no calories in cucumbers. But their fibre content will make you feel fuller for longer, making them a great snaking food throughout the day. Cucumbers also break down into a gel-like texture as the body digests them. This texture slows down the digestive process slightly, making your feel fuller for longer.

 

A Healthy Heart

 

To maintain a healthy heart function you need a diet rich in potassium. Potassium helps maintain a regular beat as well as maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Potassium is also an electrolyte and interacts and regulates sodium in the body. This process is essential for a healthy heart contractions and overall heart health.

 

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Top Foods For Brain Health

Top Foods For Brain Health

Turmeric

 

This favourite curry ingredient is a potent antioxidant. It contains the antioxidant curcumin which makes it one of the most effective natural anti-inflammatories around.

 
From a number of leading studies we know that curcumin is able to pass into the blood stream (not destroyed by stomach acids as once thought) and also across the blood-brain barrier. It is for this very reason why many research teams around the world have been looking into the benefits of turmeric/curcumin on neurological disorders (Alzheimers, dementias and even MS) because initial research has revealed how effective the compunds are as a neuroprotective agent.

 
This leading study demonstrated that curcumin was able to slow, break up and prevent harmful beta amyloids (plaques) on the brain of those with Alzheimer’s. Amazingly, curcumin has also been shown to help with neurogenesis, the process by which the compound facilitates the production of new brain cells.
When purchasing turmeric also opt for straight turmeric powder as many curry powder have been shown to contain very low levels of curcumin.

 

Cauliflower And Broccoli

 

One of the most important B vitamins that promote brain health and function is choline. Both cauliflower and broccoli are great sources.

 
A number of promising studies have demonstrated that choline is an essential nutrient during pregnancy (possibly as essential as folic acid). Children who were only exposed to very low levels of choline during pregnancy generally had lower cognitive function as they aged.

 
As well as providing good sources of choline, broccoli also acts as a great anti-inflammatory for the brain. The anti-inflammatory compounds come in the form of three glucosinolates (gives certain plants its pungency: mustard, cabbage etc) and kaempferol – a powerful flavonoid (antioxidant). These compounds are also great for removing toxins from the body. See my recent article: What’s The Best Way To Detoxify The Body?

 

Blueberries

 

Everyone knows that one of the main health benefits of blueberries is the antioxidants they provide. Many of these antioxidants reduce the amount of oxidative stress present in the body (one of the main catalysts for cancer proliferation). Oxidative stress in the brain has been shown to dramatically increase your risks associated with neurodegenerative brain diseases. Therefore if you consume blueberries regularly you can help to minimise these risks.

 
Blueberries, because of their high anthocyanin levels (the pigments that give blueberries their vivid colour), have also been shown to protect and prevent many neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s.
For more information on the health benefits of blueberries see my recent article: The Health Benefits Of Blueberries

 

Walnuts

 

One of the healthiest sources of omega-3 fats on the planet. Not only do omega-3’s provide anti-inflammatory properties in the body (great for protecting the heart), but omega-3’s are also vital for brain function and promoting overall brain health.

 
Like blueberries, walnuts also provide many different antioxidants. Antioxidants like melatonin (essential for healthy sleep and recovery), folate and vitamin E. These and other anti-oxidant compounds have been shown in this leading study to improve and promote brain health by reducing the prevalence of oxidative stress.

 

Celery

 

One of the main benefits which celery has on the brain is that it provides a good source of luteolin (potent antioxidant) which has a very anti-inflammatory effect on the brain. While there is only a handful of studies that have looked at luteolin and specifically its effects on the brain, it has been demonstrated that those with higher levels of the compound in their diet had a better capacity to remember information. Carrots and peppers are also very good sources of luteolin.

 

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