Registered nutritionist (BSc mBANT rCNHC) writing about health, nutrition & my battles with chronic disease. For other blog posts
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Breathing through the nose has some surprising health benefits. Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash

It’s cheap, passive, and may improve your sleep beyond what you can imagine. It has for me.

I’ve been a mouth-breather all my life. A lifelong asthmatic, who as a child, might awaken in the middle of the night gasping and clawing for air. It was frightening. Not just for me, but for my Mum, who could only look on in horror, and pray for calm.

Since those times, I’ve managed to control my symptoms. Firstly with medications, and then with a healthy diet and lifestyle. But, I’ve never been a good breather. I remember waking up next to a new girlfriend, over twenty years ago, who half-cheerily said, “Morning Darth Vadar!”. We didn’t last long.

If you haven’t guessed already, this post is about the new craze of mouth-taping. I had avoided jumping on this bandwagon for years as one social media guru after another taped their mouths shut on video. I just scrolled on through. But I wish I’d given it a chance earlier because I absolutely love it. …

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Stay cool. Break free from the vicious cycle of poor sleep, metabolic dysfunction & weight gain. Photo by Patrick Robert Doyle on Unsplash

One simple intervention at home can improve your metabolism while you sleep, and the positive benefits don’t end there.

The quality of our sleep is declining, which is a disaster for our health. As we toss and turn our nights away, we conjure more symptoms that force us into a vicious circle of poor sleep, metabolic dysfunction and weight gain. But, there is a way we can help break out of this destructive cycle and create one that, rather than worsens dysfunction and disease, feeds back into health. The good news is, it’s simple, and you can start tonight.

“a single poor nights sleep makes people more insulin resistant — a mechanism behind metabolic and cardiovascular disease.”

The Vicious Circle

Scientists demonstrated a decade ago that a single poor nights sleep makes people more insulin resistant—a mechanism behind metabolic and cardiovascular disease. Since then, more robust research has been added to the pile confirming a restless night’s negative effect on our metabolism. But the cherry on top is that just one night tossing and turning sabotages your dietary efforts the very next day by gravitating you towards junk foods. This combination increases your chances of becoming overweight and obese, which carries with it more problems for sleep. …

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Manliness is disappearing, and that’s a serious problem for health. Photo by Gabriel on Unsplash

Stop blaming your balls for what your fat cells are doing; here’s what you can do.

If we could distill ‘manliness’ it would be the sex hormone testosterone. The fact that this critical male hormone has been steadily declining for decades, has been shrouded by a lengthened life-expectancy. As men age, their ‘manly’ hormone naturally reduces and therefore shrinks the average. However, a new study has disrobed the truth: Young men are being afflicted at a rate that will likely make you gape. Make no mistake, low testosterone in men is a grave dilemma because it spells more dysfunction, disease, and premature death.

There are theories about our drooping total testosterone (TT) levels. A lack of exercise, dietary phytoestrogens, frequent marijuana use, genetics, and environmental toxins all contributing. But, as the evidence mounts, it may well be something simpler than that lot. …

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Coffee depletes micronutrients, but is this a real cause for concern? Photo by Taylor Franz on Unsplash

5 things you can do to keep enjoying it.

We shouldn’t like coffee, but we do. Nature’s warning, bitterness, should make us reel away from it but something calls us back, day after day, flipping the alarm and triggering pleasure within us.

One day we’re told coffee is a health drink, and the next it’s something we should be cutting back on. Each day, westerners chug down between two and four cups, but your cups-per-day may be determined by DNA more than anything else. The ground black bean is the most consumed psychoactive compound on the planet; an everyday addiction many of us can become defensive about when questioned.

Coffee is associated with reduced risk across many diseases: Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, liver cancer, Parkinson’s, and even early death. Drinking coffee is also linked to reduced body fat in women. Without a doubt, coffee is full of antioxidants, providing people with more than any other single source. Antioxidants are like nano-soldiers defending our bodies from an enemy, free radicals. …

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We spend time and money on treating our skin from the outside. Perhaps we need to start from the inside. Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

We spend an insane amount of money on skincare products and forget the major culprit.

Skin diseases affect a staggering amount of people. From acne to warts and everything in between. In the U.S. more than 85 million people see their doctors for skin complaints every year. That’s more than cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and end-stage kidney disease combined. 1 in 4 Americans received treatment for skin disease in 2013 spending US$75 billion on treating and preventing flare-ups. In 2018, the global skincare product market was valued at US$124 billion projected to surpass $180 billion by 2027.

It’s said that the skin reflects our inner health and aging. I struggled with skin problems of all kinds; they preceded far greater health troubles. Red blotchy eczema all over my face, keeping me up all night and destroying my confidence during the day. Rosacea came out of nowhere minutes before a party. I turned beetroot red from my shoulders to the top of my head. I was so ruddy people couldn’t help but ask what had happened to me. I told them I was sunburnt, and we all had a laugh about it. …

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Brown Fat burning through both fats and sugars to keep you warm and metabolically healthy. Image Credit: Turku PET Centre.

But you don’t have to volunteer for a drug trial to get it working for you today.

The world is in the grip of an obesity epidemic. Since 2016, it’s accurate to state that most people are now overweight. Obesity, a chronic inflammatory state, is a major factor in the genesis of some of the most common and serious diseases that affect almost every household within developed countries; cardiovascular disease, diabetes type 2, dementia and some cancers. In 2017, 8% of all deaths globally were directly attributable to obesity.

However you look at it, the outlook is bleak. One school of thought says obesity and its related diseases will bankrupt our health services, but another says that because obese people die so much younger, the cost balances out. The sad thing about this is that it’s preventable with diet and lifestyle changes, but many people cannot engage the alterations to turn their own health around and potentially save their lives and the quality of it. …

Another objective will make a far greater difference.

A hearty feast.
A hearty feast.
Eat until you’re satisfied. Photo: Rumman Amin/Unsplash

One goal I encourage for all my clients is to feel deeply satisfied after each meal. I am a nutritionist, so that may seem surprising — aren’t I supposed to enforce meager portions? Not exactly. It turns out that being satisfied after each meal helps ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs and helps you avoid reaching for unhealthy foods when you get too hungry later.

Whether you’re trying to manage your weight or autoimmunity or improve your cardiometabolic parameters (in the unlucky case that heart disease and metabolic dysfunction have joined forces to kill you), listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues and eating until you’re satisfied, happy, and relaxed after each meal is your aim. …

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It’s inside us all, but some of us have to do insane things to access it. The ecstatic state of ‘flow’. Photo by Bret Kavanaugh on Unsplash

Why can some people do insanely dangerous things without fear, and what can they teach us about being happier and more productive than ever?

We’ve all been there, at some point, in the ecstatic state of ‘flow’. At our best, focussed and productive, our bodies forgotten and almost existing outside of time itself. The state of flow is not introspection, like classic meditation, but is focussed energy directed at a single external task while all other distractions are filtered away by the mind. Multitasking is out, flow is in. Coined by Hungarian psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, ‘flow’ has been known for thousands of years and called many different names; in the zone, runner’s high, hyperfocus, etc.

Sportspeople at the top of their games are in flow or they’re in trouble. An amateur marathon runner, uncomfortably bumping along mile after mile, is not in flow. The fear that comes with uncertainty stops it from ever developing. Students know what it’s like, for those that studied well three hours of scribbling feels like five minutes, but the opposite is true for those less prepared. Gamers are quick to enter flow, indeed this blissful state of mind may explain why so many are pathologically addicted to the virtual reality controlled with fingers and thumbs. …

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Photo by Vlad Kutepov on Unsplash

The excuses we’re looking for are built directly into our clichés; try these 3 tips to get control.

I suspect everything in moderation has been repeated throughout human history in one way or another. From the incoherent grunts above a wholly mammoth carcass to your forever-slim friend mentioning it just the other day, the words garbled by a mouthful of chips. The oldest surviving version of the saying was recorded by the Greek poet Hesoid:

Observe due measure; moderation is best in all things’ (c.700BC)

During the mid 19th century the famous writer, Oscar Wilde, gave us a clue that the clichéd saying needed a slight rejig when he added:

“Everything in moderation, including moderation”

Here’s my two…

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Exotic foods are lovely n’ all but not necessary to nourish ourselves. Image Credit.

Support your local food network and improve your chances of surviving.

No one needs exotic foods from faraway lands to nourish themselves. Nowadays, we’re encouraged to ‘eat the rainbow’, meaning a diverse array of foods, mainly plants, from all over the world. However, this nutritional advice supports the food industry, not health. Whatever environment you find yourself in, the local, seasonal foods should be enough, and pre WW2, always were. Today, our food system extends vast distances providing us with foodstuffs from everywhere, all the time. This global, food supply chain is vulnerable in a million different ways, some obvious, some not. …

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