Monthly Archives: April 2015

Could it be FODMAP ?

From my initial diagnosis of CD, I soon realised that the NHS recommended protocol wasn’t going to cut it, so I searched the net for a more wholesome alternative. It wasn’t long before I found out about Candida overgrowth. This appeared to me to be the root of all my ills. The diet that came recommended via various online ‘experts’ seemed to be a bit overly restrictive, unshaken, I persevered for a while. With more searching, I thankfully found the GAPS diet – which seemed to make more sense. Soon afterwards, I came across the Selective Carbohydrate Diet, then PALEO was not far behind. Initially, I followed the premise that carbohydrates, and particularly high glycemic foods were to be avoided. This wasn’t too bad, and so I created some very tasty, wholesome meals.

The disappointing aspect of all this effort is my burping hasn’t relinquished hardly at all. My bloated stomach is still annoyingly bloated, and i’m still constipated. So after a year or so on this Paleo-ish diet, my symptoms are still there. Albeit not as bad, as I do not feel the need to take ant acids any longer, but all my annoying little symptoms still irritate me. Along with this diet, I have been taking Betaine HCL tablets with most meals – sort of experimenting with differing quantities and times etc. As I have low stomach acid, then this would appear to be the way to go. I have also experimented with enzymes, various makes, types, quantities etc. I am annoyed to say, I havn’t noticed any difference.

This has made me wonder about other conditions that may be affecting me, such as parasites, SIBO, or food intolerances. FODMAP intolerance is one such condition I have considered. I found that after eating a meal heavy with onions I had more belching than at other times. As onions are one of the main culprits to the FODMAP list, then I should maybe cut them out. So, I cut out onions for two weeks, and I can’t say I noticed much difference. I made curry using celery instead of onion, which tasted just as good I have to say. I also used the green only part of spring onions to provide a base for soups. It really wasn’t too difficult to reduce FODMAP’s significantly from my diet anyway, given that I am on a low glycemic diet, and do not eat too many fruits either.

I have also recently noticed a tingling inside my mouth every now and again. At the moment I am unsure as to which foods are triggering this reaction. I do know for definite that Chamomile tea triggers it. This appears to be a Histamine reaction, but as yet I don’t think it’s a serious problem.

I have ordered breath tests for Fructose, and Lactulose.

Can Red Wine Be Healthy?

Just like countless others, I like to drink red wine. For a long time it has been my favourite tipple. Not particularly the Californian brands – they’re far too sweet, I prefer a Spanish Vino Tinto. Occasionally, a fuller bodied Rioja, but i’m quite partial to ordinary Vino de Mesa, which tends to have a more earthy genuine flavour. Over the past few years it’s become my alcoholic drink of choice. Pity that recently, I have developed gut problems which has made me question all my food intake.  So, having heard of Red Wine being the most healthy alcoholic option, I decided to do a bit of research to find out exactly whether the drink can be consumed on my extreme diet, and if there is any truth to the rumour of it being healthy.

Throughout history, there have been many instances of red wine being used for it’s health benefits. Most notably, for use as an antiseptic or a digestive aid.

But, it was when a report  for an American TV show called 60 Minutes identified that French People lived longer that really got a buzz going. Not only living longer, but were generally more healthy than their western counterparts. The search was on to find the elixir of health, and it didn’t take long before scientists came to the conclusion that a compound called Resveratrol was the key. Resveratrol is a polyphenol, the supposedly beneficial compound found in grape skins that had the health community excited. In 1990, the phrase ‘French Paradox’ was first coined by Serge Renaud. The chemical is found in abundance within the skins of Red grapes, and as Resveratrol is dissolved easily within alcohol, it makes Red Wine the ideal medium for consuming this apparently beneficial antioxidant.

Unfortunately, the claims have been discounted by various doctors and scientists with numerous experiments. A more realistic explanation to the French people’s good health could be that their tap water is filtered, so doesn’t have chlorine added to it like so many western authorities see the need to.

This hasn’t stopped the flow of numerous stories reporting of how good red wine is for you. It appears to be a great headline grabber. I am very dubious over these reports, as they are no doubt sponsored by the industry. Claims of drinking wine to cure everything from colds, to cancer is just plain irresponsible.

One study declared that the polyphenols in de-alcoholized red wine found that there was a definite growth in a select group of beneficial gut microbiota (source). Shame it was de-alcoholized.

If you’re wondering just how many polyphenols there are in red wine, see this article.

Additives

I believe the key to red wine being healthy or not is all down to additives. The disappointing fact is that the more expensive wines have more ingredients added after production takes place, i’e just before bottling. Have you ever wondered why a Californian wine always has that same exact taste, doesn’t matter which year the grapes were picked – a practical impossibility, if it wasn’t for a specific formula of sugar and flavourings. So, cross all Californian wines off your healthy red wine list.

On this site, you can see a list of all permitted additives for wine.

Organic Wine

Grapes which have been grown organically can provide a wine that is far healthier due to the lack of harmful chemicals. Not only are the grapes grown using organic farming methods, but typically, these wines do not contain sulfites (used as a preservative), so they will not hold flavour for an extended period, i.e, you will have to drink the wine within a year.

Naturally Occuring Substances in Red Wine

I chose red wine over white because the health claims are directly from the grapes’ skin, and to make red wine you use the skins, whereas you do not use them with making white wine. White wine is the more processed, and with anything over processed, it’s best to avoid.

See Self.com for the vitamin and mineral analysis of red wine.

Tannins

Tannins which occur naturally in grape skin help give the wine a sharp flavour. Extra Tannins are also added, depending on how the producer feels the wine should taste. Tannins are a polyphenol which act as an enzyme inhibitor, this means they inhibit the absorption of vitamins and minerals from food. However, another polyphenol in red wine known as proanthocyanidin has been linked to Human longevity, and general health. This may be due to proanthocyanidins being an anti fungal, and is the grapes natural defense mechanism against pathogens which may seek to destroy the grape before full maturity.

Antioxidents

Apart from the previously mentioned resveratrol, there are other substances in red wine which have reported health benefits. One is quercetin, which is thought to block histamine actions. Quercetin may be difficult to digest though, so the benefits may be mooted. Another antioxident are catechins. Antioxidents are controversial as many of the promoted benefits used by supplement manufacturers are widely optimistic, and studies have shown that too much of certain vitamins can lead to negative reactions, and even cancer. However, I believe that naturally occuring compounds in minimally processed foods are good for you.

Sulfites

Sulfites are added to the grapes during fermentation in order to suppress mould growth. Some people believe they are sensitive to sulfites, and for this reason should not drink wine. Bottled wine usually has 3 to 5 parts per million (ppm) sulfite at most. As sulfites deteriorate over time and eventually disappear, bottled wines can have 0 ppm. Compare this to bacon which has 600 to 800 ppm sulfites, raisins and dried apricots have over 1000 ppm and canned foods have varying amounts from 250 ppm on up. Sulfites can be detrimental to your health in large quantities, especially if you have a deficiency in sulfite oxidase, which is the enzyme required to break down sulfites.

Wine Sensitivity

Receiving a reaction to drinking wine, whether an itchy rash, or hives. Maybe you get a head ache (not attributable to a hangover), or you feel dizzy, or flushed. These conditions are not thought to be a reaction to wine per see, it is more than likely a histamine reaction, which is your body telling you that you have a gut imbalance. The trigger in wine could be one of the polyphenol’s that make up the grapes natural defence mechanism, or the sulfites. In fact, as I have discovered through months of research and experimentation, any intolerance you may have is caused by a gut imbalance. A program of gut flora correction is the only way to permanently deal with allergies and intolerances.

So there you were having a nice drink with your meal thinking you were doing something inoquous, when in fact, you were doing yourself harm.

Conclusion

Do not drink red wine because you think it’s a healthy.

The mere fact that alcohol is in the drink by definition makes it unhealthy, but as far as alcoholic drinks go, red wine is not too bad, especially if you drink organic red wine.

 

 

 

 

 

Cadbury vs Lindt

Cadbury vs Lindt Chocolate

Cadbury vs Lindt

Cadbury vs Lindt

How many people do you know who could say no to chocolate – not many I bet. It is a well known fact that chocolate is very addictive, and woman are more prone to this addiction than men. The thing is with chocolate addiction as opposed to alcohol, or even recreational drugs, is people do not seem to mind being addicted. They may even find it funny, or even relish in it. “Death by chocolate” is a title that accompanies many a chocolate cake for instance. So what if chocolate was really killing you, would you still find it funny? I would hazard a guess that chocoholics would not care, they would no doubt accept their fate – as living without chocolate would be a life not worth living.

What is it that makes chocolate so addictive?

It’s basically a perfect storm of compounds and enzymes.

magic combination of sugar and fat

First of all, there is the magic combination of sugar and fat. If you get this right, then any food will be irresistible. Manufacturers know this, and pay attention to the exact characteristics. The British traditional chocolate, made by Cadburys of course relies heavily on the sugar/fat ratio, and only a little on actual cocoa. Cocoa coincidentally is the expensive part of chocolate, which explains why Cadbury chocolate is much cheaper thank Lindt. These days, there is a shift towards so called “healthy chocolate”. Whether it is any healthier is arguable, but the stronger chocolate contains more cocoa, that’s for sure. With the better brands containing as fewer added ingredients – unlike Cadburys – who bulk their bars out with all manner of preservatives, and flavourings. There is an argument of whether Cadbury chocolate can be called chocolate as aficionados argue there is not enough cocoa.

addictive chemical compounds

Secondly, there are a multitude of addictive compounds (approximately 300) that make up the cocoa bean; As the exact composition depends on when the bean is picked, and how the cocoa bean is processed, this list can only be a guide to the major elements.

Tryptophan - is the chemical that the brain uses to make a neurotransmitter called serotonin. High levels of serotonin can produce feelings of elation, even ecstasy – hence the name of the designer drug that also works by increasing serotonin levels.

Phenylethylamine (PEA) - High levels of this neurotransmitter help promote feelings of attraction, excitement, giddiness and apprehension. Phenyl- ethylamine works by stimulating the brain’s pleasure centres. This chemical is responsible for chocolate being thought of as an aphrodisiac.

Theobromine is another stimulant compound found in chocolate; in fact, it comes from the same family of compounds as caffeine, and its structure is very similar. It also acts in a similar manner to caffeine, blocking adenosine receptors in the brain and reducing sleepiness. There is 600mg per 100g of this potentially deadly compound in dark chocolate. It is dangerous if eaten in large amounts, but you would have to eat 1000mg per 1kg of your body weight in order for it to do you any harm. This, even for the most ardent choco-holic would be an enormous feat. The story is a little different for dogs, as they need only 300mg per kilo gram of weight for toxicity to occur.

Chocolate as a drug

Cocoa was not named ‘the food of the gods’ for nothing by the Aztecs. It is believed that in their search for substances that could give them higher states of well being, Cocoa (or Theobroma Cacoa) fitted the bill. After all, the seed from any fruit is not usually deemed edible, but it appears the Aztecs were determined to extract the hidden secrets of this bean. Cocoa was given high regard and was drunk in large amounts at religious festivals. The drink they would have consumed would bare no resemblance to our beloved hot chocolate, this was very strong and not sweet at all. It was used as a stimulant. The stimulant qualities coming mainly from Caffeine, and Theobromine.

discussion here gives anecdotal evidence of how chocolate can cause hallucinogenic effects. I have personal experience.

Why are Woman more addicted than Men?

The consensus of opinion is that a womans’ hormonal level drops in the days leading to their menstrual periods. This maybe too simplistic, as the effect on a woman is quite complex. For instance, some woman may have a severe craving for two to three days leading up to the period, and not want to eat chocolate at all during any other time. Whereas, other woman need a chocolate fix every single day. This extreme addiction can be attributed to more of an addiction to the  thought of eating chocolate, a process that no doubt started during a hormonal imbalance. The thought of “as long as I can eat chocolate I will feel better” becomes self fulfilling. It may be a case that blood sugar levels are low, and chocolate is a quick fix. Then there is the guilty pleasure effect, as denying yourself something because it is wrong, or bad for you only makes you want it more.

Health Benefits

Q. Are there any health benefits from eating chocolate?

A. Not really.

Q. Not even dark chocolate?

A. No.

There are obviously some vitamins and minerals contained within the various ingredients. It is plain to see though, that the multitude of claims purporting the benefits to your health are no doubt sponsored by manufacturers in this multi million pound business. In fact, any health benefits are out weighed by the debilitating side effects.

For the sake of balance, let’s look at Flavanols.

Flavanols

Recently, we have seen a lot of press purporting the great advantages of this wonderful antioxidant. A recent study into how pigs can benefit from flavanols, found that there was an increase in certain healthy microbiota activity. This leads researchers to believe Cocoa is good for your gut health.

Phytates;  Cocoa powder is high in Phytates at around 1700mg per 100 grams. Phytates are an anti-nutrient, which means they prevent beneficial nutrients from being absorbed by your digestive processes. This is a concern for the people who eat raw Cacoa. Not only is raw Cacoa high in anti-nutrients, but there is also a higher level of live disease spreading bacteria and mould due to animal feces.

In the raw state, the Cacoa seed is full of vitamins, minerals, and healthy anti-oxidants. All the purported health benefits are derived from this. Unfortunately, when the seeds are processed (roasted), thus creating Cocoa powder and Cocoa butter, much of the nutrition is lost. Fortunately, so are most of the phytates and nasty bugs.

Feel Good Factor

The way I see it, the best and most pronounced health benefit from Chocolate is the mere fact that it makes you feel good. As long as you do not over indulge, then this little extravagance can give you multiple health benefits simply because of that. Feeling good helps your immune system, which in turn helps fights off infection, helps healing and so forth.

Lets take the ingredients of two typical chocolate bars;

Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate.

(as there are many variations, this is just a typical bar)

Sugar; Refined sugar is known to be extremely stressful for your immune system, and directly feeds parasites and other pathogens.

Milk; There are various substances in milk that can be harmful to humans. Only 5% of the population can actually digest milk fully.

Lactose; A constituent of milk which is difficult to digest, and known to cause bloating.

Cocoa butter; Fat which is processed from the cocoa bean. As this fat is cold pressed, it appears to be beneficial to some degree. There is a good spread of the different fats. Including a small percentage being Omega 3, and some lauric acid thrown in for good measure.

Cocoa Mass; This is a substance derived from the Cacoa bean where the fat has been removed. Essentially it’s Cocoa powder. Cadbury reckon that there is 26% pure cocoa powder in Dairy Milk.

Vegetable fat; This is no doubt a hydrogenated fat of some description – very difficult to digest, and toxic in large quantities.

Emulsifiers (E442, E476); Ammonium Pophatides, Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate (PGPR) are by-products of refined vegetable fats. These are added in order to help the chocolate melt in your mouth. These chemicals are toxic if eaten in large quantities.

Soy lecithin; Another emulsifier which is made by processing the soya bean until all you are left with is a chemical gunk.

Natural and artificial flavours; These terms hide a multi tude of sins. One of them is MSG – the immune system grinder. Don’t be conned into thinking that natural flavouring means you are eating a natural product. It may start off as something quite naturally occurring, but by the time it ends up in your chocolate, it’s anything but. Artificial flavours are worse, as the base can be crude oil, or coal tar, which when refined produces pleasing tastes and smells – mmm.

Lindt Excellence Chocolate 70%.

Lindt is known for it’s dark chocolate, so does this mean it’s healthier? As you can see the list of ingredients is much shorter, so technically Lindt is healthier. This doesn’t mean it’s a healthy choice, just that it is less harmful than poorer quality chocolate.

Cocoa mass; Or cocoa liquor which is a liquid form, processed from cocoa nibs. This is the purest form of chocolate, and is very bitter.

Sugar; See Above. It appears as though Lindt chocolate does not use as much sugar as Cadbury.

Cocoa Butter; See above.

Cocoa; See above.

Conclusion

Eat chocolate by all means – but only as a special treat. Do not be fooled by all the hype surrounding this popular food, as there’s big money involved. So, therefore many a doctor, or scientist would be tempted to take the shilling and voice the incredible health benefits. Given all this info though, there is still a fascination for me with chocolate, especially as my wife is addicted. I am experimenting with making my own chocolate using organic ingredients.