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 supportsfish 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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Many people around the world suffer from acne and it is one of the most common skin conditions in the western world. It can happen at any time during your life but is most common during teenage years. It can lead to terrible scarring, low confidence, social and anxiety related problems and depression. Acne is caused by a combination of too much oil production, bacteria, inflammation in the upper layers of the skin and skin cells that divide and grow too quickly.
Acne is usually facilitated when dead skin cells block the pores. Add in some excess skin oil and bacteria and you have a perfect environment for the proliferation of the skin condition. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle. The more dead skin you have the more bacteria that will be present. The more bacteria you have present the greater the inflammatory response will be. The more inflammation you have then the greater impact the condition will have on your quality of life.
There are still some people (who probably believe the earth is flat) that will still not accept that diet plays an important factor in skin health. But we know that if you have a particularly poor diet, or eat foods that are known to exacerbate the condition, then these foods will interfere with hormone levels in the body and cause excessive oil production. The worst two food types by a clear mile are dairy products and refined sugars.
But it’s not just sugar and dairy that are to blame. The dietary intake of oils (particularly vegetable oils) will also cause an exacerbation of oil production in the body. In an ideal world you would have an omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of 4:1 in the body. Think of omega-3’s as ant-inflammatory and omega-6’s as inflammatory. When you consume foods that contain vegetables oils (and other inflammatory compounds such as saturated fats) and you are not offsetting these with omega-3’s, then you are creating a perfect environment for acne to thrive. Conversely, eating a diet with high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids is known to prevent and reverse the disease.
Follow These 3 Tips To Prevent And Reverse Acne
Simply Avoid Dairy: We know that those who eat more dairy protein have higher circulating levels of IGF-1 and insulin (IGF-1 and insulin are the two main hormonal antagonists for acne). For example, in this leading study, the researchers found that those who drank 2 or more servings of milk per day had a 20% more likely chance of developing acne. The type of milk drank made no impact on the outcome (skimmed or semi-skimmed). But these are obviously isolated studies. If you need conclusive evidence demonstrating cause and effect then you have only got to look at the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study (one of the largest ever studies on diet and disease- well over 100,000 participants). This study shows a significant increase in acne occurrence in boys, girls, men and women who ate and drank higher amounts of dairy proteins.
Avoid Blood Sugar Spiking Foods: You may have heard the term glycemic load before (or GL)? So the GL is a measurement of how much a food will impact your blood glucose levels. Processed and refined carbohydrates are among the worst foods for causing blood sugar spikes as well as causing high levels of insulin in the blood. People who have long-term high glucose and insulin levels are at a significantly higher risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, strokes and various cancers (study, study). High insulin levels are inflammatory in the body as well as a trigger for increased IGF-1 levels. Both of these, as we know, increase the prevalence of acne. If you want to prevent or reverse acne then you need to focus on eating low glycemic foods.
Eat Foods High In Antioxidants, Vitamins And Minerals: We know from lots of leading studies that those who have acne tend to have low levels of vitamin E, zinc and carotenoids (study, study) This suggests that by maintaining essential nutrients levels in the body you can dramatically reduce your risks of developing acne. If you are wondering which foods contain these nutrients then see below:
Carotenoids – Any fruits and vegetables that are green or orange are usually abundant in carotenoids.
Vitamin E – Abundant in nuts and seeds.
Zinc – Pumpkin or hemp seeds are usually a good source.
We know that when people transform their diets their acne usually disappears and their skin becomes abundantly healthier looking. By eating more fruits and vegetables you will increase your antioxidant intake which will help protect the skin from acne, skin damage, and also help give your skin a younger healthier glow!
A great video by Dr Michael Greger on the acne promoting effects of milk
If you want to analyse the best foods that repair DNA in humans then the best place to start is by looking at people with lots of DNA damage. And the people with the most DNA damage are smokers.
Repairing DNA damage is imperative as any damage to your DNA can lead to mutations and eventually cancer growth.
From lots of recent studies, it appears that broccoli is one of the best foods around. How do we know this? Well, in this study a group of regular smokers had their DNA analysed before and after eating a stalk of broccoli a day for ten days. The study revealed that this group of smokers had approx. 30% less damage to their DNA compared to those who continued to smoke without eating the stalk of broccoli each day (see below).
At first they thought this might have been a fluke and that those who were eating the broccoli were just getting a boost to their liver detoxifying enzymes and these enzymes were simply preventing the toxic chemicals from ever reaching their DNA. So they tested this too. They removed DNA from the participants and placed it in a test tube. They then added known DNA damaging chemicals and watched what happened. The results again showed that those who ate the single stalk of broccoli a day had dramatically less DNA damage than those who ate no broccoli at all (see below).
The problem with Body Mass Index (BMI) measurements is that they fail to suggest where the fat is located on the body. Weight-lifters can have very high BMI’s, for example, but does this mean that they are overweight or obese?
It is now widely accepted in the medical community that the distribution of fat is what determines your risk factors for disease, not just the accumulated total mass. So in simple terms, if you have lots of visceral or abdominal fats (particularly surrounding your organs) then it will be this type of fat that will dramatically increase your risks of living a shorter life. You can have men and women with exactly the same BMI, but it will be those with “apple shaped” bodies who live the shortest lives.
The new waist to height ratio (being rolled out to many healthcare providers) addresses the problems associated with BMI measurements. In simple terms you need to keep your waist circumference to less than half your height. Lots of studies have shown that those who manage to adhere to this guidance have dramatically fewer cardiovascular events as well as fewer incidences of cancer and diabetes.
How to Measure Your Waist to Height Ratio:
Stand Up Straight
Measure your waist circumference (halfway between the top of the hips and the bottom of the rib cage) after exhaling.
If your waist circumference is more than half your height then you know you need to take action and lose weight.
Anyone who is interested in nutritional science and fitness would have heard about the large number of studies done on beets and their effects on physical performance. Beets contain an array of essential nutrients and compounds, but the one that is getting most attention is Nitric Oxide.
Nitric Oxide improves blood flow around the body and in particular, the vascular system. Much in the same way that nitroglycerine pills work for people who have angina. They help open up blood flow.
Improving physical performance is great for athletes but how can this translate into health benefits for the average person? Well, recent studies have shown that people who regularly eat beets have dramatically lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Just look at the below graph showing what happens to blood pressure after a glass of beet juice. The effects were still being seen the following day:
We have known for decades that increased fruit and vegetable intake is associated with a decreased risk in heart disease. But until recently we haven’t been entirely sure why. What these beet experiments show is that it is probably the nitrates contained in fruit and vegetables that is providing the beneficial heart effects.
Other Benefits of Beets:
Beets are high in Vitamins & Minerals: Particularly: folic acid, magnesium, fibre, iron, vitamins A, B & C, beta-carotene, phosphorous, potassium and beta-cyanine
Beets help detoxify the body: They assist the liver in eliminating toxins and free-radicals from the body.
High source of energy: Beets are low in calories but fairly high in sugar. Fear not, the sugars are slow release sugars and wont leave you with a 4 o’clock sugar crash! Those who drink or eat beets 2 hours before exercising can generally exercise for 16% longer than those who don’t.
They fight inflammation: Beets produce a lot of betaine. Betaine is very anti-inflammatory and helps protect your vital organs from damage.
The documentary film Super Juice Me (by Jason Vale) is a great documentary for anyone who wants to learn about the health benefits of juicing. Jason takes eight people with 22 chronic diseases and puts them on a juice diet for 28 days. The results are nothing less than astounding.
When the participants start the juice they all suffer from withdrawal symptoms and hunger. They also suffer from detoxification symptoms as their bodies began to remove the toxins that had been accumulating for many years. Then within 3 days something remarkable starts to happen. They start feeling more energised than they have ever felt in their lives. The weight begins to drop off and they appear to get drastic reductions in the symptoms from their various illnesses. By the end of the 28 days the results are startling.
One man in the documentary went from over 50 prescription pills a day to just 2. His type 2 diabetes also disappeared. One woman who had suffered from years of chronic pain became pain free in less than 20 days. Other participants suffering from: sleep apnea, colitis, asthma, depression and high blood pressure all enjoyed a dramatic reduction in symptoms.