Total Pageviews

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Financial ties of principal investigators and randomized controlled trial outcomes: cross sectional study


Objective To examine the association between the presence of individual principal investigators’ financial ties to the manufacturer of the study drug and the trial’s outcomes after accounting for source of research funding.

Design Cross sectional study of randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

Setting Studies published in “core clinical” journals, as identified by Medline, between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2013.

Participants Random sample of RCTs focused on drug efficacy.

Main outcome measure Association between financial ties of principal investigators and study outcome.

Results A total of 190 papers describing 195 studies met inclusion criteria. Financial ties between principal investigators and the pharmaceutical industry were present in 132 (67.7%) studies. Of 397 principal investigators, 231 (58%) had financial ties and 166 (42%) did not. Of all principal investigators, 156 (39%) reported advisor/consultancy payments, 81 (20%) reported speakers’ fees, 81 (20%) reported unspecified financial ties, 52 (13%) reported honorariums, 52 (13%) reported employee relationships, 52 (13%) reported travel fees, 41 (10%) reported stock ownership, and 20 (5%) reported having a patent related to the study drug. The prevalence of financial ties of principal investigators was 76% (103/136) among positive studies and 49% (29/59) among negative studies. In unadjusted analyses, the presence of a financial tie was associated with a positive study outcome (odds ratio 3.23, 95% confidence interval 1.7 to 6.1). In the primary multivariate analysis, a financial tie was significantly associated with positive RCT outcome after adjustment for the study funding source (odds ratio 3.57 (1.7 to 7.7). The secondary analysis controlled for additional RCT characteristics such as study phase, sample size, country of first authors, specialty, trial registration, study design, type of analysis, comparator, and outcome measure. These characteristics did not appreciably affect the relation between financial ties and study outcomes (odds ratio 3.37, 1.4 to 7.9).

Conclusions Financial ties of principal investigators were independently associated with positive clinical trial results. These findings may be suggestive of bias in the evidence base.

Full text:


Baked beets with carrots and leeks

Roasting vegetables brings out the wonderful sweetness of beetroot, carrot and leeks and these colourful baked vegetables, not only look beautiful, but are the perfect accompaniment for a Sunday, or mid-week roast. Serve this dish with some fresh mint leaves to give your side dish an extra zing...

Serves Six
5-6 beetroot, trimmed and halved, or quartered, if large
350g (12oz) carrots (any green tops trimmed)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 baby leeks, cut into thirds
handful fresh mint, 3-4 sprigs reserved, remaining leaves roughly torn
100ml (3 1/2fl oz) hot veg stock

1. Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C.
2. Put the beetroot and carrots in a baking dish. Toss with the olive oil and season well. Roast for 20 minutes, until beginning to colour.
3. Remove from the oven and add the leeks, mint sprigs and stock. Carefully cover with foil, (using oven gloves), to seal it tightly around the edge of the dish.
4. Return to the oven for a further 20 minutes, until the leeks are tender and the stock has reduced. To serve, stir through the remaining mint.

Each Serving:
Carbohydrate 8.3g Protein 2g Fibre 4.5g Fat 4.3g

Original idea

Did you know - "Mint is known to have originated in Asia and the Mediterranean region. In many cultures, mint symbolised hospitality and was offered as a sign of welcome and friendship to guests as they arrived.

In the Middle East mint tea is still served to guests on their arrival, whilst in ancient Greece, the leaves of mint were rubbed onto the dining table, which was a sign of their warm greeting.

Mint was also often used as an air freshener and was placed in the rooms of houses, synagogues and temples to clear and freshen the air and rid the smell of unpleasant odours from the room. The Greeks and the Romans used mint as a perfume and a bath scent, as well as using it in medicine and in cooking.

Mint was so revered by the ancient Greeks that they named the plant after the mythical character Minthe. According to Greek myth, Minthe or Menthe as she is also known, was a river nymph. Hades, the God of the Underworld, fell in love with Minthe and wanted to make her his lover. However, Persephone, Hades's wife found out and in a fit of rage turned Minthe into a plant, so that everyone would walk all over her and trample her. Unable to undo the spell, Hades gave Minthe a wonderful aroma so that he could smell her and be near her when people trod on her.

Mint contains a number of vitamins and minerals, which are vital to maintain a healthy body. Mint is rich in Vitamins A and C and also contains smaller amounts of Vitamin B2. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant and may help to decrease the risk of certain cancers such as colon and rectal cancer. Although mint may be consumed in small quantities, the vital nutrients obtained are still beneficial to one's health. Mint also contains a wide range of essential minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, potassium and calcium.

The two most popular types of mint that you may use for cooking are peppermint and spearmint, with spearmint being the milder of the two. Mint is extremely popular in Middle Eastern cooking, especially Iranian and Lebanese cuisine, where it is used in an extensive range of sweet and savoury dishes.

Fresh mint can be bought from your local supermarket and should be stored in the refrigerator for the best freshness. If you buy a bunch of mint, it should be placed in a container of water, stems down, with a plastic bag loosely covering the top. Ideally change the water every two days and the mint should stay fresh for up to a week."

Read more about mint here

All the best Jan

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Elbow - Magnificent (She Says)

Finishing with a new new song from Elbow, have a good weekend folks 

Nicola Cavallaro - Fallin

A new cover of Alicia Keys fallin

Hotel California - Cubanos Acapella

As some know, I try to bring something different, in the way of music on a Saturday night. The Eagles original is a masterpiece, but this is good and very different, enjoy Eddie 

Phil Collins - Going Back

Saturday night again and music night on this blog. Well my friends, what a last couple of days eh. A new President in the White House and Prime Minister May confirms it's a hard Brexit and out of the EU. Women all over the world protesting for Women's rights, as is their right. It seems to me, the so called working class or ordinary people, are not going to be given any special favours by whoever is in power. For most of us, anything we ever had, we had to work for, very often very hard. Sounds like business as usual to me. This song takes me back to more simple times, am I looking back with rose tinted glasses? Eddie 

Natural Ways To Lower Blood Pressure

image from here

Kerri-Ann Jennings MS RD has a master's degree in Nutrition and Education and has recently written an article about fifteen natural ways to lower blood pressure - she writes:

"High blood pressure is a dangerous condition that can damage your heart. It affects one in three people in the US and 1 billion people worldwide.
If left uncontrolled, it raises your risk of heart disease and stroke.
But there’s good news. There are a number of things you can do to lower your blood pressure naturally, even without medication.

Here are 15 natural ways to combat high blood pressure.

1. Walk and Exercise Regularly
Exercise is one of the best things you can do to lower high blood pressure.
Regular exercise helps make your heart stronger and more efficient at pumping blood, which lowers the pressure in your arteries.
In fact, 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as running, per week can help lower blood pressure and improve your heart health
What’s more, doing even more exercise reduces your blood pressure even further, according to the National Walkers’ Health Study.
Bottom Line: Walking just 30 minutes a day can help lower your blood pressure. More exercise helps reduce it even further.

2. Reduce Your Sodium Intake
Salt intake is high around the world. In large part, this is due to processed and prepared foods. For this reason, many public health efforts are aimed at lowering salt in the food industry
. In many studies, salt has been linked to high blood pressure and heart events, like stroke.
However, more recent research has shown that the relationship between sodium and high blood pressure may be less clear
. One reason for this may be genetic differences between how people process sodium. About half of people with high blood pressure and a quarter of people with normal levels seem to have a sensitivity to salt.
If you already have high blood pressure, it’s worth cutting back your sodium intake to see if it makes a difference. Swap out processed foods with fresh ones and try seasoning with herbs and spices, r
ather than salt.
Bottom Line: Most guidelines for lowering blood pressure recommend lowering sodium intake. However, that recommendation might make the most sense for people who are salt-sensitive.

3. Drink Less Alcohol
Drinking alcohol c
an raise blood pressure. In fact, alcohol is linked to 16% of high blood pressure cases around the world. While some research has suggested that low-to-moderate amounts of alcohol may protect the heart, those benefits may be offset by negative effects. In the US, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as no more than one drink a day for women and two for men. If you drink more than that, cut back.
Bottom Line: Drinking alcohol in any quantity may raise your blood pressure. Limit your drinking to no more than one drink a day for women, two for men.

4. Eat More Potassium-Rich Foods
Potassium is an important mineral. It helps your body get rid of sodium and ease pressure on your blood vessels. Modern diets have increased most people’s sodium intake while decreasing potassium intake
. To get a better balance of potassium to sodium in your diet, focus on eating fewer processed foods and more fresh, whole foods.
Foods that are particularly high in potassium include:
Vegetables, especially leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes and sweet potatoes
Fruit, including melons, bananas, 
avocados, oranges and apricots
Dairy, such as milk and yogurt
Tuna and salmon
Nuts and seeds
Bottom Line: Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, which are rich in potassium, can help lower blood pressure.

5. Cut Back on Caffeine
If you’ve ever downed a cup of coffee b
efore you’ve had your blood pressure taken, you’ll know that caffeine causes an instant boost. However, there’s not a lot of evidence to suggest that drinking caffeine regularly can cause a lasting increase. In fact, people who drink caffeinated coffee and tea tend to have a lower risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure, than those who don’t. Caffeine may have a stronger effect on people who don’t consume it regularly. If you suspect you’re caffeine-sensitive, cut back to see if it lowers your blood pressure.
Bottom Line: Caffeine can cause a short-term spike in blood pressure, although for many people it does not cause a lasting increase.

6. Learn to Manage Stress
Stress is a key driver of high blood pressure. When you’re chronically stressed, your body is in a constant fight-or-flight mode. On a physical level, that means a faster heart rate and constricted blood vessels.
Bottom Line: Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure. Finding ways to manage stress can help.

7. Eat Dark Chocolate or Cocoa

Here’s a piece of advice you can really get behind. While eating massive amounts of chocolate probably won’t help your heart, small amounts may. That's because dark chocolate a
nd cocoa powder are rich in flavonoids, plant compounds that cause blood vessels to dilate. A review of studies found that flavonoid-rich cocoa improved several markers of heart health over the short term, including lowering blood pressure. For the strongest effects, use non-alkalized cocoa powder, which is especially high in flavonoids and has no added sugars.
Bottom Line: Dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain plant compounds that help relax blood vessels, lowering blood pressure.

8. Lose Weight
If you’re overweight, losing weight c
an make a big difference for your heart health. According to a 2016 study, losing 5% of your body mass could significantly lower high blood pressure. Losing weight can help your blood vessels do a better job of expanding and contracting, making it easier for the left ventricle of the heart to pump blood.
Bottom Line: Losing weight can significantly lower high blood pressure. This effect is even greater when you exercise.

9. Quit Smoking
Among the many reasons to quit smoking is that the habit is a strong risk factor for heart disease.
Bottom Line: There’s conflicting research about smoking and high blood pressure, but what is clear is that both increase the risk of heart disease.

10. Cut Added Sugar and Refined Carbs

There’s a growing body of research showing a link between added sugar a
nd high blood pressure. In the Framingham Women’s Health Study, women who drank even one soda per day had higher levels than those who drank less than one soda per day. Another study found that having one less sugar-sweetened beverage per day was linked to lower blood pressure.
And it’s not just sugar — all refined carbs, s
uch as the kind found in white flour, convert rapidly to sugar in your bloodstream and may cause problems. Some studies have shown that low-carb diets may also help reduce blood pressure.
Bottom Line: Refined carbs, especially sugar, may raise blood pressure. Some studies have shown that low-carb diets may help reduce your levels.

11. Eat Berries
Berries are full of more than just juicy flavour.
They’re also packed with polyphenols, natural plant compounds that are good for your heart. One small study had middle-aged people eat berries for eight weeks. Participants experienced improvements in different markers of heart health, including blood pressure.
Bottom Line: Berries are rich in polyphenols, which can help lower blood pressure and the overall risk of heart disease.

12. Try Meditation or Deep Breathing

While these two behaviours could also fall under “stress reduction techniques,” meditation and deep breathing deserve specific mention. Both meditation and deep breathing are thought to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This system is engaged when the body relaxes, slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.
Bottom Line: Both meditation and deep breathing can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps slow your heart rate and lower blood pressure.

13. Eat Calcium-Rich Foods

People with low calcium intake often have high blood pressure. While calcium supplements haven’t been conclusively shown to lower blood pressure, calcium-rich diets do seem linked to healthy levels.
Bottom Line: Calcium-rich diets are linked to healthy blood pressure levels. Get calcium through dark leafy greens and tofu, as well as dairy.

14. Take Natural Supplements

Some natural supplements may also help lower blood pressure" including
"Aged garlic extract: It h
as been used successfully as a stand-alone treatment and along with conventional therapies for lowering blood pressure.
Fish oil: Long credited with improving heart health, fish oil m
ay benefit people with high blood pressure the most.
Bottom Line: Several natural supplements have been investigated for their ability to lower blood pressure.

15. Eat Foods Rich in Magnesium

Magnesium is an important mineral that helps blood vessels relax. While magnesium deficiency is pretty rare, many people don’t get enough. You can incorporate magnesium into your diet with vegetables, dairy products, legumes, chicken, meat and whole grains.
Bottom Line: Magnesium is an important mineral that helps regulate blood pressure. Find it in whole foods, such as legumes and whole grains.

Take Home Message
High blood pressure affects a large proportion of the world’s population. While drugs are one way to treat the condition, there are many other natural techniques that can help. Controlling your blood pressure through the methods in this article may, ultimately, help you lower your risk of heart disease."

Kerri-Ann's full article with further information / research links is here

We bring a variety of articles, studies etc. plus recent news/views and recipe ideas to this blog, we hope something for everyone to read and enjoy. Please note, not all may be suitable for you.
If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Friday, 20 January 2017

Ten things you should know before taking statins

The statin bubble has burst….supposedly

If you hadn’t noticed that the statin bubble had burst, you were probably suffering a statin-induced fuzzy head and hadn’t managed to stay up with breaking news.

Over the past months a flurry of long-term studies have been emerging, driving the last nails into the coffin of one of the most profitable drug classes the pharmaceutical industry has yet seen. Or so it might seem.

Statins are prescribed for the purpose of reducing cholesterol levels which have long been viewed as a major risk factor for heart disease.

How many people know the long-term risks (or benefits, or otherwise) of statins before they take them?

While the scientific edifice for this assertion may largely have collapsed, major health authorities like the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) are much slower to retract their argument that high cholesterol in the bloodstream leads to clogging up of arteries and increased heart attack risk. This misinformed and greatly over-simplified view results in over-prescription of statins, with the US being the number one prescribing nation in the world and the UK the second biggest. Over a million statin prescriptions are filled each week in the UK.

Heart disease risk: so much more than high LDL

If they were talking about more sensitive measurements of C-Reactive Protein (CRP), sub-clinical low-grade inflammation, apolipoproteins profiles or oxidised fractions of very low-density lipoprotein (ox-VLDL), that would be an entirely different issue. But only doctors and practitioners really prepared to look at the totality of evidence, including emerging evidence, are presently using comprehensive cardiovascular risk profiles including some of these emerging markers. To top if off though, statin drugs themselves actually cause atherosclerosis and heart disease

Pharma won’t give up on statins (and their profits)

Big Pharma, and its servants in health and regulatory authorities, don’t give up so easily. Even the US FDA, while being forced to admit and communicate more evidence of harm, still argues that purported benefits in reducing heart disease outweigh risks, be these kidney, brain, muscle or eye damage, or increased type 2 diabetes incidence. More than that, seemingly outlandish new claims for other ‘spin-off’ benefits keep emerging, helping offset the bad publicity about side effects.

Among the headlines generated recently are:

10 things you really need to know BEFORE considering taking statins

1. There are over 500 published scientific studies showing harmful or toxic effects of statins

2. Common side effects include muscle damage, impaired heart muscle function, liver damage, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, impaired brain function, memory and cognition, loss of libido, depression, and reduced circulating levels of key nutrients such as coenzyme Q10, selenium, glutathione, these and other factors contributing to increased risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease
3. British private health insurer BUPA cites common side-effects of statins as stomach problems – pain, diarrhoea, feeling sick and vomiting, jaundice, headache, sleep disturbances, dizziness, depression and extreme tiredness

4. Cardiovascular risk is over-predicted by risk calculators used by doctor’s to prescribe statins

5. There is no compelling evidence to show any benefits of statins for the very elderly, even though these are among the group with highest rate of statin medication

6. The 2011 Cochrane Review of the evidence from 14 randomised clinical trials (RCTs) showed that only high risk groups might gain some benefit in quality of life, while “Caution should be taken in prescribing statins for primary prevention among people at low cardiovascular risk”.

7. Cochrane changed its conclusion with its review in 2014, recommending statins to all those with raised cholesterol, irrespective of risk. This revised conclusion was largely as the result of the influence of one trial headed by leading British statin advocate, Dr Rory Collins that was likely tainted by his Pharma interests. Additionally, Dr Collins has also tried his best, fortunately unsuccessfully, to bury the views of his scientific critics. The Cochrane review also discounts the importance of side effects—contrary to a gamut of evidence and clinical reporting over years, as well as the requirement to warn patients of such risks on product information leaflets.

8. The evidence that long-term use of statins significantly increases and approximately doubles the risk of type 2 diabetes is unequivocal. Brand new evidence from long-term studies also shows clear evidence that statin use increases the risk of acute and chronic kidney disease.

9. For those who have a low risk of suffering a heart attack, leading British cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra argues that a daily apple will do more to protect the heart than using statins.

10. Find out how you can reduce your heart attack risk without using statins by leading metabolic cardiologist, Dr Mark Houston, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; Director of the Hypertension Institute and Vascular Biology; and Medical Director of the Division of Human Nutrition at Saint Thomas Medical Group, Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.


Seafood Stew With Chilli and Paprika

If you are a seafood lover then I think you may enjoy this ... a warming stew made with cod and juicy king prawns. If you are not keen on fish, but may know someone who is why not consider passing on the recipe suggestion!

Serves Four
1 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, diced
600g diced swede and carrot
1 red chilli, sliced
2 tsp paprika
700ml chicken stock, made with 1 stock cube
390g carton chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato pureé with garlic
2 yellow peppers, sliced
180g raw king prawns
250g cod, cut into 2-3 cm pieces
100g (bag) baby leaf spinach
2 limes, one squeezed and one cut into wedges
1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and season, then cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the swede and carrot and sauté on a low heat for 10 minutes.

2. Add the chilli, paprika, stock, chopped tomatoes and tomato pureé. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add the peppers and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. 

3. Add the prawns and cod and place a lid on top of the pan. Cook for 5 minutes over a medium-high heat. Take off the heat and add the spinach. Allow it to wilt, stirring occasionally. Add the juice of one lime and sprinkle over the coriander. Serve with the lime wedges.

Each serving:
22.0g carbohydrate 9.7g fibre 30.7g protein 5.1g Fat

Recipe from

Coriander is one of the world's most commonly used herbs - in spite of the fact that the name comes from the Greek, koris, meaning bed bug! It is green, leafy and strong-smelling with a fresh, citrus taste that makes it an invaluable garnish and flavour enhancer. Both the fresh leaves and stalks are edible, as well as the berries, which are dried and called coriander seeds. Native to southern Europe and the Middle East, the plant is now grown worldwide. Coriander tends to be associated most with Asian and Central and South American cooking. For maximum flavour, it is best added to dishes just before serving.

Do not clean coriander with the roots still attached - instead, simply keep them wrapped in a damp paper towel inside an open plastic bag and store in the salad drawer of the fridge, where they should last five to six days.

A variety of recipe ideas is within this blog, but please note, not all may be suitable for you.

If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Food Choices : North or South Hemisphere

For those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere we may choose a delicious soup today like this cream of celeriac soup - see recipe here

However, for those who live in the Southern Hemisphere a salad may be your choice, maybe this
jewelled mushroom salad - see recipe here

Wishing all readers a happy day

All the best Jan

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Remission of pre-diabetes to normal glucose tolerance in obese adults with high protein versus high carbohydrate diet: randomized control trial


Objective Remission of pre-diabetes to normal is an important health concern which has had little success in the past. This study objective was to determine the effect on remission of pre-diabetes with a high protein (HP) versus high carbohydrate (HC) diet and effects on metabolic parameters, lean and fat body mass in prediabetic, obese subjects after 6 months of dietary intervention.

Research design and methods We recruited and randomized 24 pre-diabetes women and men to either a HP (30% protein, 30% fat, 40% carbohydrate; n=12) or HC (15% protein, 30% fat, 55% carbohydrate; n=12) diet feeding study for 6 months in this randomized controlled trial. All meals were provided to subjects for 6 months with daily food menus for HP or HC compliance with weekly food pick-up and weight measurements. At baseline and after 6 months on the respective diets oral glucose tolerance and meal tolerance tests were performed with glucose and insulin measurements and dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scans.

After 6 months on the HP diet, 100% of the subjects had remission of their pre-diabetes to normal glucose tolerance, whereas only 33.3% of subjects on the HC diet had remission of their pre-diabetes. The HP diet group exhibited significant improvement in (1) insulin sensitivity (p=0.001), (2) cardiovascular risk factors (p=0.04), (3) inflammatory cytokines (p=0.001), (4) oxidative stress (p=0.001), (5) increased percent lean body mass (p=0.001) compared with the HC diet at 6 months.

Conclusions This is the first dietary intervention feeding study, to the best of our knowledge, to report 100% remission of pre-diabetes with a HP diet and significant improvement in metabolic parameters and anti-inflammatory effects compared with a HC diet at 6 months.

Full text here:

Not low carb I know but does show reducing carbs can lead to better outcomes in pre-diabetes


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Sweetness and blight: the mounting case against sugar

My mantra was: all things in moderation. But as the evidence against sugar stacks up, I’m growing anxious. Although I won’t give up fruit…

One day earlier this month, I opened The Oxford Companion to Food, for so long a bible to me, and looked up sugar. The entry ran to several pages, taking me from its composition (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen) to the various forms it takes (dextrose, fructose and so on), and then to its sources in nature (honey, cane, beet). Finally, there was a section titled “Sugar as a Food”. This dealt, in a way that already seems rather old-fashioned (the book, edited by the late Alan Davidson, was published in 1999), with the difference between white sugar and brown. The latter, the writer stressed, is not healthier than the former; and while overconsumption of both kinds may lead to obesity, this is not the fault of sugar, but of those who eat too much of it.

It’s been a long time since I heard anyone suggest that brown sugar is healthier than white; it’s the kind of thing my granny might have said in 1979. But it wasn’t this that caught my attention. What surprised me was the writer’s firm placing of the blame for sugar-related weight gain on human beings rather than on, say, the industries that relentlessly push sugar our way in the form of fizzy drinks and ready meals. Nor had he mentioned the now well-established connection between the overconsumption of sugar and type 2 diabetes, cancer and even, it is thought, Alzheimer’s disease. Having registered this, I was then surprised by own surprise. Once, I would have read the words “the fault of the people who eat too much of it” and nodded my head. Now I was shaking it instead.

My mantra used to be: all things in moderation. But I have to accept that this is no longer the case. Thanks to the American journalist Gary Taubes, a long-time opponent of the old dietary advice that insisted healthy eating involves avoiding fat, and to those others who’ve since taken up his cause, I’ve grown, slowly but surely, ever more anxious about sugar. Thanks to my mantra, I never believed fat was bad in the first place. Even as everyone began spreading St Ivel Gold on their toast, I stuck doggedly with butter. But when, more than a decade ago, Taubes set out to prove it was sugar and refined carbohydrates that were doing people the most harm – a heresy in public health circles – it was impossible not to listen. You had only to visit a supermarket to see how bodies were changing. You had only to open a newspaper to read what a deleterious effect this mutation was having on the nation’s health.

Taubes’s latest book (the reason why I looked up sugar in the Oxford Companion) takes his argument one step further. In The Case Against Sugar, he has no time for my enduring conviction that a calorie is a calorie, irrespective of where it comes from. Sugars, he believes, have a “unique physiological, metabolic and endocrinological effect” on our bodies. They trigger “insulin resistance”, the condition that leads to diabetes and other diseases, for which reason we should avoid them. I thought about this quite a lot as I finished the last of the season’s Roses. I eat relatively few processed foods, a happy by-product of the fact that I like to cook, and I’ve never been one for fizzy drinks. Still, I’m a sucker for cake, that very British treat, and I often add sugar to things to make them taste better: a dash in salad dressing, a pinch in tomato sauce. Plus, I eat fruit, which I gather Taubes regards as an indulgent treat. (I won’t ever give up fruit: eating has as much to do with pleasure as with health.)

It’s not all about me, though, is it? I used not to be able to picture it, the white stuff that was going down people’s necks in such seemingly vast quantities. Then I began reading labels. Sugar is in everything, from stock cubes to roasted peanuts to salami (I won’t ever give up eating salami, either). If I’m eating this much hidden sugar, what are others consuming? Quite a lot, is the answer. Perhaps you had the misfortune, last week, to watch ITV’s egregious reality show, Sugar Free Farm. As the series began, one of those who was consuming the most sugar was the actor Peter Davison, a charming, sensible-seeming man who did not appear to me to be vastly overweight. He eats (or ate – we shall see) 52 kilos of sugar a year. Just imagine it. Piled up, it would fill your downstairs loo. Two days into cold turkey, it was Davison, rather than, say, Gemma Collins from Towie, who came over all dizzy. The paramedics took him away in an ambulance, just another pitiful, trembling addict.


Take Five - Health and Fitness Tips - 2017

These are my five simple health and fitness tips, but please note I am not a medical person, nor do I have any underlying health issues. I can only share my experience with you, the reader, but by following these five simple tips for more than eight years now, my health and fitness has been good.

Eddie, my husband a Type 2 diabetic reduced his HbA1c from in the 12’s (at diagnosis)  to the 5’s. By living this lifestyle, his blood sugar levels remain constant, and his only diabetic medication is metformin.  Some Type 2 Diabetics, who have also followed this lifestyle, have reduced their dependence on medication too, which surely must be beneficial.

These five markers have become a ‘lifestyle’ and I certainly would not go back to eating ’carbage’. I do not eat more than 50 carbs each day but it is balanced by the amount of fat and protein I eat. You need to work out a balance that suits you, take your lifestyle, your work patterns etc. into account. This is not difficult to do but you have to make the choice and then put your choice into action.

If you are diabetic use your meter to keep a check on your blood sugar readings. If you choose to start out on this lifestyle take it one step at a time, it’s not a race and you may find that a gradual reduction works better for you.

So to re-cap for me - keeping my body healthy is following this lifestyle:

1) Eating low carb whole foods,
2) Eating high fat natural foods,
3) Eating moderate protein foods,
4) Taking exercise, that suit’s the individual,
5) Establish a good sleep pattern.

You only have to read around the many blogs and forums, read the various articles, look at who is talking about living this low carb lifestyle, to get a good indication of the many people this has helped.

Whether you are non diabetic, a Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetic. Perhaps your family has a History of other illnesses that could benefit from living this lifestyle, if you haven’t already given it some thought I would urge you to.

As always dear reader the choice is yours ...

Thanks for reading, the picture below shows the low carb food pyramid.

If you should be interested in reading a little more about the LCHF lifestyle then why not have a look at our 'Introduction to low-carb for beginners' post here

All the best Jan

Thai Chicken with basil sizzle : Low Carb

Thai chicken does make a lovely, tasty meal. I always serve mine with cauliflower rice ...

Serves Four
4 x 150g skinless chicken breast fillets
125g chestnut mushrooms
2 hot red chillies
3 cloves garlic
2cm piece fresh root ginger
1 medium pot fresh growing basil
2tbsp groundnut oil
2tsp (10g) Thai red curry paste
100ml chicken stock
juice of 2 limes
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Slice each chicken
breast into six diagonal strips and slice the mushrooms. Set aside. Halve the chillies lengthways and de-seed then cut into very thin long strips. Peel and finely chop the garlic and ginger. Cut all the basil from the pot and discard stalks; set leaves aside.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok and stir-fry the chicken for 2 minutes, then add the chillies, garlic, ginger and stir for another minute. Add the mushrooms 
and curry paste and stir for half a minute. Pour in the chicken stock and lime juice and stir for a further minute until sizzling an the chicken is cooked through, then stir in most of the basil leaves - immediately remove from the heat and serve straight away garnished with the remaining basil leaves.

Each serving:

Carbohydrate 1.6g Protein 37.1g Fibre 1g Fat 7.8g

Recipe idea from here

I would serve this with cauliflower rice ... perfect for those living the LCHF lifestyle and for those who do not want a blood sugar spike!

All the best Jan

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Milk and dairy products: good or bad for human health? An assessment of the totality of scientific evidence



There is scepticism about health effects of dairy products in the public, which is reflected in an increasing intake of plant-based drinks, for example, from soy, rice, almond, or oat.


This review aimed to assess the scientific evidence mainly from meta-analyses of observational studies and randomised controlled trials, on dairy intake and risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, cancer, and all-cause mortality.


The most recent evidence suggested that intake of milk and dairy products was associated with reduced risk of childhood obesity. In adults, intake of dairy products was shown to improve body composition and facilitate weight loss during energy restriction. In addition, intake of milk and dairy products was associated with a neutral or reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly stroke. Furthermore, the evidence suggested a beneficial effect of milk and dairy intake on bone mineral density but no association with risk of bone fracture. Among cancers, milk and dairy intake was inversely associated with colorectal cancer, bladder cancer, gastric cancer, and breast cancer, and not associated with risk of pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, or lung cancer, while the evidence for prostate cancer risk was inconsistent. Finally, consumption of milk and dairy products was not associated with all-cause mortality. Calcium-fortified plant-based drinks have been included as an alternative to dairy products in the nutrition recommendations in several countries. However, nutritionally, cow's milk and plant-based drinks are completely different foods, and an evidence-based conclusion on the health value of the plant-based drinks requires more studies in humans.


The totality of available scientific evidence supports that intake of milk and dairy products contribute to meet nutrient recommendations, and may protect against the most prevalent chronic diseases, whereas very few adverse effects have been reported.

Creamy Fish and Broccoli Casserole : Low Carb

Are you one of those people who sit down once a week and plan your meals, or do you only look a few days ahead? Sometimes it may just be the case of 'I wonder what's in the fridge' ... oh, yes that will do!

When looking at meal plans I do think 'all-in-one-dishes' are a boon. So convenient, usually easy and a big plus - they can save on the washing up! LOL!

I saw this lovely recipe suggestion recently and thought it one to remember - if like me you are giving thought to a mid-week or even Friday night dish - how about trying this?

Serves 4
7g carb per serving
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb broccoli
6 scallions (spring onions)
2 tablespoons small capers
1 oz. butter, for greasing the casserole dish
1½ lbs white fish, in serving-sized pieces
1¼ cups heavy (double) whipping cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley
3 oz. butter

For serving
1⁄3 lb leafy greens

Useful tips!
This is a wonderful all-in-one dish that can be varied in many different ways. Use salmon instead of white fish or perhaps fresh or frozen tuna fish. Use Brussels sprouts, asparagus, zucchini (courgette) or mushrooms instead of broccoli.

Please see recipe instructions here

Should you need help with weight/measurement conversion, see chart here

Hope you may enjoy this soon

All the best Jan

Low carb diet reverses diabetes in Cats and Dogs.

If you visit any Zoo in the UK, you will see many signs saying do not feed the animals. This is for two reasons, one, these animals can be highly dangerous and two, to maintain the animals health, they are fed as near as possible on the foods they eat in the wild. Sadly, this is not the case with pet dogs and cats. Dogs and cats are carnivorous, they evolved eating meat and fat. I knew diabetes rates were increasing in domestic pets, but was stunned to read the following.

"Cases of Diabetes in Cats and Dogs has risen over 900% since 2011. We wanted to investigate the health of some of the pets on our database, and after a five-year study of almost 9000 animals, we discovered that cases of diabetes in cats and dogs has risen by over 900% since 2011. We discovered that cats are at highest risk of contracting diabetes with an 1161% increase since 2011, compared to dogs’ 850% rise" Stated here.

As reported here infinitum, the rates for type two diabetes in humans, are also going through the roof. The same reason applies to animals and humans, the wrong diet. I thought I would check out a leading premium dog food in the UK, and what do I find, the main ingredient is corn.

Below you will see some information from wiki. A low carb higher healthy fat lifestyle, is proving to be the salvation of countless diabetics and overweight people all over the world. Clearly straight thinking people are restoring their pets health in the same way. 

"Diet is a critical component of treatment, and is in many cases effective on its own. For example, a recent mini-study showed that many diabetic cats stopped needing insulin after changing to a low carbohydrate diet. The rationale is that a low-carbohydrate diet reduces the amount of insulin needed and keeps the variation in blood sugar low and easier to predict. Also, fats and proteins are metabolized slower than carbohydrates, reducing dangerous blood-sugar peaks right after meals.

Recent recommended diets are trending towards a low carbohydrate diet for cats rather than the formerly-recommended high-fiber diet. Carbohydrate levels are highest in dry cat foods made out of grains (even the expensive "prescription" types) so cats are better off with a canned diet that is protein and fat focused. Both prescription canned foods made for diabetic cats and regular brand foods are effective. Owners should aim to supply no more than 10% of the daily energy requirement of cats with carbohydrates"

Most people get very attached to their dogs and cats, I have read of people who regard their pets as almost one of the family. One of my favourite writers Hugh Falkus, expert fisherman and film maker, summed up the situation in the following way. 

Hugh Falkus: from his book “Some of it was fun”

"And the day came (so soon it seemed ) when the leg cancer spread and he couldn’t run at all. We did our best for him. There were two operations. But they didn’t work. After the second, he seemed better for a time. Then very early one morning at daybreak I heard him crying. He was in great pain, and I realised there was no hope whatever.

At that hour we had no chance of a vet, but to let him lie there suffering was unthinkable. To keep a dog is a great responsibility, and I knew that here, alas, was my moment of reckoning. So I took a spade and went down to the Square at the bottom of the Run and dug a hole. Then I got my gun and a piece of chocolate. When he saw the gun his tail twitched with pleasure and he fell silent.

“Come on doggie,” I said softly. “Let’s go and shoot some ducks.”
The magic in those well- known words roused him, and he came slowly down with me to the river. When we reached the hole I gave him the chocolate…and while he was licking it, I shot him.

I took off the old shooting coat I was wearing and spread it out. It’s weird how the mind works when wrenched with emotion. Quite silly sometimes. But I just couldn’t bear to think of the earth going into his eyes…

You will probably think me very sentimental. And perhaps I am. But I don’t care. You see, although times have changed and fishing the Run is only a memory, I can pass the place without regret. I gave that dog as good a life as I could - and when the time came, as quick a death.

I only hope that one day, if necessary, someone will do the same for me"

Hugh Falkus (born 15th May 1917, died 30th March 1996) was one of the foremost natural history film makers and angling writers of the twentieth century.

His film ‘Signals for Survival,’ made with Niko Tinbergen, Nobel Laureate and Professor of Animal behaviour at Oxford, is still the only BBC programme ever to have won both the Montreux Film Festival Italia Prize and New York Film Festival Blue Ribbon Award for documentaries.

As Hugh said "To keep a dog is a great responsibility" feeding a dog or cat a high carb diet (all carbs turn to sugar once digested) is clearly the wrong way to go. Not only for your pet, but also for you.

Wiki information here.


Saturday, 14 January 2017

King King - 'Jealousy'

Never heard this band before but they sound good to me !

Sophie Zelmani - Waiting For The Miracle To Come

Chill out time, a song with lyrics by  Leonard Cohen


Vide Cor Meum

Does music get more sublime than this track? If this does not move you, get someone to check your pulse. Eddie

Paolo Conte- Via con me (It's wonderful)

Saturday Night is here again, and it's music night on this blog. I'm starting off this evenings selection with Paolo Conte. He was born on January 6, 1937, in Asti, Piedmont, Italy. He is a singer, pianist, composer and lawyer. Perhaps known for his grainy, resonant voice, his colourful and dreamy compositions, evocative of Italian and Mediterranean sounds ... which I just love. This track always leaves me feeling happy, and the selection of photographs used in the video is also good to see. Why not click the button and see what you think. Enjoy your evening. All the best Jan

Clementines and a Clementine Almond Cake : Low Carb and Flourless

'This is a lovely everyday cake - spongy, not-too-sweet, and just a touch bitter in the absolute most perfect way possible - as it contains no flour, it is also a lovely gluten-free cake recipe,' says Alejandra.

image from here

Made using clementines, "which is a hybrid between a mandarin orange and a sweet orange, so named in 1902.The exterior is a deep orange colour with a smooth, glossy appearance. Clementines can be separated into 7 to 14 segments. Similarly to tangerines, they tend to be easy to peel. They are almost always seedless when grown commercially, and therefore are also known as seedless tangerines. The clementine is also occasionally referred to as the Moroccan clementine. They are typically juicy and sweet, with less acid than oranges.

Most sources say that the clementine came to exist because of accidental hybridization, with the first fruits discovered by Brother Clement Rodier (after whom the fruit was named in French and then English) in the garden of his orphanage in Misserghin, Algeria. However, there are claims it originated in China much earlier; one source describes it as nearly identical to the Canton mandarin widely grown in the Guangxi and Guangdong provinces in China.

The clementine is not always easy to distinguish from varieties of mandarin oranges. As such, it should not be confused with similar fruit such as the satsuma or honey sweet orange, or other popular varieties.

It is best to choose Clementines that have a uniform orange colour, shinny skin with no blemishes or wrinkles, and they should feel soft

If stored at room temperature they should last 2/3 days ... but may be placed in a fridge if you do not intend using them within this time

Clemetines are an excellent source of Vitamin C"

The above words from here and here

Now onto the delicious recipe, for which you will need these ingredients, serves 10.

4 clementines (about 13 oz)
6 large eggs
1/2 cup erythritol + 1/2 cup granulated Splenda OR 1 cup Swerve sweetener
2 1/4 cups of ground almond meal (or 9oz of almonds finely ground)
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1/2 teaspoon (kosher) salt
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder

Nutritional Info:
Calories: 220
Fat: 16.3g
Protein: 10.4g
Carbs (using Swerve): 10g (total) and 6g (net)
Carbs (using Splenda): 13g (total) and 9g (net)
Fiber: 4g

Please see full recipe instructions here
If you should need help with measurement conversion see here

Please note this should be made using a Springform pan

A cake that can also provide a touch of Vitamin C - hope you may enjoy a slice soon.

All the best Jan

Friday, 13 January 2017

Beyond the Higgs Boson the low carb anti.

Scientists have announced, they may have discovered a previously unknown level of low carb anti, dietary knowledge incompetence.

"We have hypothesised for a long time, that a level of sound dietary knowledge so incredibly small, as to be almost undetectable could theoretically occur. But now it appears that we may be close to proving its existence" said leading researcher Professor Novro Claphanger. 

Incompetence research enjoyed its golden age in the 1990’s when the Clueless, the Useless, and the Hopeless elements were all discovered, who together created the US food pyramid, but it was probably the discovery of the Total F**kwit, just a few years ago, which revitalised the entire field and led directly to this newest breakthrough. Scientists have dubbed this latest discovery the Bonkers Particle.

The Bonkers Particle, if confirmed, will represent a level of capability several magnitudes below even the Total F**kwit’ Explained the Prof. "It really is almost impossible to overstate just how small a level of dietary knowledge we are talking about here" will it ever be thus?


Thought for the day.

Ain't that the truth.