Monday, 24 September 2012

Sufficient sleep is essential to fuel weight loss efforts



We all understand the importance of sleeping seven to nine hours each night to allow for adequate cellular housekeeping, as the body metabolizes and synthesizes enzymes and proteins that are critical to our survival. In the past, a sound sleep has been shown to lower incidence of heart disease, diabetes and dementia in direct relationship to the number of hours slept each evening.

Canadian researchers publishing the Canadian Medical Association Journal have released the result of a study showing that adequate sleep is an important part of a weight loss plan and should be added to the recommended mix of diet and exercise. In addition to lowering caloric intake and increasing physical activity, the research team led by Dr. Jean-Phillippe Chaput of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa has provided sufficient evidence to show that inadequate sleep is an independent risk factor for overweight and obesity.

Scientists determined that lack of sleep increases the stimulus to consume more food and increases appetite-regulating hormones. Dr. Chaput explained "The solution to weight loss is not as simple as eat less, move more, sleep more... however, an accumulating body of evidence suggests that sleeping habits should not be overlooked when prescribing a weight-reduction program to a patient with obesity."

Seven to nine hours of sleep are needed daily to aid weight loss efforts
Many different factors affect body weight including predisposition to handling stress, depression and genetic individuality. Adequate and sound sleep can improve or eliminate each of these risk factors, and can also regulate the hormones leptin and ghrelin to lower food cravings and naturally promote a normal weight range. Naturally, reducing or eliminating insulin-producing processed carbohydrate foods and cutting sugar from the diet are necessary to stimulate weight loss in many people.

The authors of this study did not provide an exact mechanism to explain how adequate sleep assists weight loss, but they did explain that a lack of sleep affects the parts of the brain that control pleasure eating. Further, the scientists indicate that levels of the hormones leptin, ghrelin, cortisol and orexin, all of which are involved in appetite or eating, are affected by lack of sleep.

Dr. Chaput concluded "An accumulating body of evidence suggests that sleeping habits should not be overlooked when prescribing a weight-reduction program to a patient with obesity." Continuing research studies validate the critical importance of a sound night's sleep of between seven and nine hours each night to protect against chronic disease and to aid weight management efforts.

Learn more:

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Is Your Kettle Poisoning You?

In light of recent research that shows overweight women with PCOS have higher levels of BPA in their blood than overweight women without PCOS, I thought I should bring to fore one of the 'hidden' sources of BPA commonly found in our kitchens. I'm talking about electric plastic kettles. Could they be contributing to the BPA burden in women with PCOS?

It's common knowledge that some plastics leech into food particularly when heated or when they come in contact with acidic or oily foods. So, imagine drinking several cups of tea a day using water that's heated in a plastic kettle. Perhaps you've decided to up your green tea intake because you read it contains beneficial phenols, or even spearmint tea because it helps lowers testosterone levels. But then you stopped because it wasn't working or your symptoms actually worsened.

Sometimes when women with PCOS say a particular lifestyle change or dietary modification doesn't work,  it's important to examine why and investigate possible saboteurs rather than throwing it away entirely. In this case the saboteur would be boiling the water used to drink said teas in plastic kettles that leach BPA.

Replace plastic kettles with stainless steel or use the good 'ol pot/pan to boil water.

Read more on the safety of different plastics here. Although, generally, you want to avoid plastics number 3, 6 and 7; especially 7!


Inspired by Natural Health Solutions for PCOS

Friday, 7 September 2012

Fats That Can Help or Hinder Your PCOS

Thought I'd share this. 



Did you know that consuming the right fats can actually help to improve the symptoms of your PCOS?

As we discussed last week, bad fats can play a key role in the build-up of PCOS-linked androgens (male hormones) through excess androgen production by your adrenal glands. But replacing bad fats in your diet with good ones could bring about a significant improvement in your condition.

Like carbohydrates and protein in moderate amounts, fat is an essential nutrient, required by your body for key functions such as absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It's also an important energy source and vital for keeping skin and hair healthy and smooth.

Consuming the right fats can also actually lower your risk of PCOS-linked conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity while improving your cholesterol levels at the same time. That's because all fats are not created equal. In fact, it's not the total amount of fat in your diet that affects how much you weigh and makes you vulnerable to a host of diseases. What matters is the type of fats you choose (and, when it comes to shedding pounds, the total number of calories you eat).

Here's a breakdown of fats:


Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs): Found in plant foods like nuts, avocados, olive oil and canola oil, as well as poultry

MUFAs can actually lower cholesterol levels, and your risk of heart disease. A Journal of the American Medical Association study showed that replacing a carb-rich diet with one high in monounsaturated fats can do both ... and reduce blood pressure, too.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs): Found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, as well as corn and soybean oils

Like MUFAs, PUFAs have been shown to improve cholesterol levels and reduce heart disease risk. One type is omega-3 fatty acid, which is plentiful in some kinds of fish and not to be confused with omega-6 fatty acids, found in meats, corn oil and soybean oil. Research has found that Americans eat about 20 times more omega-6 than omega-3. Closer to four times as much is a healthier target. Substitute fish for meat whenever you can.


Artery-clogging saturated fats come from meat and dairy products. Saturated fats have been shown to directly raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Conventional advice has been to avoid them as much as possible.

However, a meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in early 2010 found no link between saturated-fat intake and increased risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease. Still, the Harvard School of Public Health, in a study published in March 2010, found that replacing saturated fats with an equal amount of polyunsaturated fats did indeed reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 19%.

Nevertheless, moderate amounts of saturated fats may not be so bad after all and they are certainly an important source of vitamins and minerals. Plus, some argue that coconut oil and palm fruit oil, which are plant-based sources of saturated fats, may actually be beneficial because their particular fatty-acid make-up means they are metabolized differently in the body. Stearic acid, found in animal products and in some foods such as chocolate, gets a pass because much of it is converted by the body into oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat.

Thus, saturated fats may be more neutral than we think. Yet although there are more and more scientific studies suggesting this is the case, there is, paradoxically, no broad consensus on this yet, especially among those designing dietary guidelines. The advisory committee for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests a reduction of saturated-fat intake to no more than 7% of daily intake.


This variety of fat is double trouble for your heart health.

Trans fat is the worst type of fat. Unlike other varieties, trans fat - also called trans-fatty acids - both raises your "bad" (LDL) cholesterol and lowers your "good" (HDL) cholesterol. High LDL in combination with low HDL increases your risk of heart disease, the leading killer of women as well as men. It's made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation, leaving the oil less likely to spoil. Using trans fats in the manufacture of foods helps the foods stay fresh longer, have a longer shelf life and have a less greasy feel. Commercial baked goods - such as crackers, cookies and cakes - and many fried foods, such as doughnuts and french fries - may contain trans fats. Shortenings and some margarines can be high in trans fat, which used to be more common. However, in recent years it has been used less frequently because of concerns over the health effects.

Food manufacturers in the United States and many other countries list the trans fat content on nutrition labels, but be careful. In the U.S. A government loophole allows food packagers to label anything with .5 grams of trans fat or less as "0g trans fat". When serving sizes listed are small, and you therefore eat several servings by their definition, this can be a big problem. Look for the words "partially hydrogenated" vegetable oil on the actual ingredients label. That's another term for trans fat.

It sounds counterintuitive, but "fully" or "completely" hydrogenated oil has no trans fat. Unlike partially hydrogenated oil, the process used to make fully or completely hydrogenated oil doesn't result in trans fat. Check your food labels.

Christine DeZarn

Sunday, 19 August 2012

5 Foods That Kill Fertility

Eating the right foods is essential to fertility, but these won't do any good if you keep on eating foods that damage your chances of pregnancy. Conceiving is a delicate process that involves environmental cues, hormonal balance, and physiology. It's so easy for the wrong foods to disrupt these events and prevent the union of an egg and a sperm. By avoiding these five foods, you can boost the fertility of yourself and your partner and increase your own chances of a healthy pregnancy too.


Sugar and refined carbohydrates are a big no-no for fertility, especially if you are suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). According to the Nurses' Health Study, the largest study on nutrition and female fertility, women who eat more refined sugar are more likely to suffer from fertility problems. Our body's glucose levels rise whenever we eat refined carbohydrates or sugar. As the glucose levels rise, the body produces the hormone insulin so the cells can use the glucose for energy. Foods with a low glycemic index allow the body to go through the glucose slowly, but refined sugar (foods with high glycemic index) causes the blood glucose levels to rise too quickly. This makes your insulin levels stretch out too thinly and adds stress to your body. If you keep a regular diet of refined sugar, your body will eventually become insulin resistant. This means that your cells will no longer respond to the insulin produced by your body, skewing the hormonal production required for timely ovulation and interfering with your chances of conceiving. Research shows that up to 70% of women with PCOS are insulin-resistant.
Chips and fries may be crispy and satisfying snacks, but they're also rich in an industrially created fat called trans-fat (trans-fatty acids or partially hydrogenated oils). Trans-fats are found in packaged goods, fried fast food, microwaved popcorn, or vegetable shortening in order to extend their shelf-life. Any commercial good that has "partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil" or "shortening" in the ingredients label probably has trans-fats. The Nurses' Health Study found out that women who ate more trans-fats were suffered from more ovulatory problems than women who did not. In fact, just a 2% increase in trans-fat consumption makes a woman 73% more likely to suffer from ovulation-related infertility. Trans-fats affect fertility by making the body more insulin-resistant and causing inflammation. In men, high trans-fat levels make the membrane of the sperm cell less flexible, decreasing its ability to successfully penetrate an egg cell.
Reports show that too much soy protein can decrease male and female fertility. A study published in Human Reproduction looked at the sperm samples and soy intake of 99 men with unexplained infertility. Researchers discovered that over half of the men had poor sperm motility and low sperm count. The researchers also observed that the men with higher sperm count and better sperm quality had lower soy intake.
Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that high soy consumption can decrease the levels of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), and increase menstrual cycle length.
Like most hardworking people, you probably like starting your day with a strong cup of coffee. But you might want to cut back on this and other caffeine-laden drinks. According to the Nurses' Health Study, women who consume over 400mg of caffeine a day (one eight-ounce cup of coffee has 100-300 mg caffeine) are more likely to be infertile. Caffeine causes the fallopian tubes to tense up and slow down the movement of a fertilized egg towards the uterus. Once the egg finally reaches the uterus, the endometrium may not be healthy enough to receive it.
You can keep your morning cup of coffee and your fertility too; as long as you consume less than 300mg of caffeine a day, you should be fine. Do take note that soda is also laden with caffeine; the Nurses' Health Study notes that women are 50% more likely to experience ovulation problems if they drink two or more cans of soda a day.
Aspartame and artificial sweeteners
Here's another reason to avoid soda, especially diet soda: they contain an artificial sweetener called aspartame that affects fertility. According to Pediatrician and Professor Dr Louis Elsas, consuming aspartame before conceiving increases the likelihood of neurological problems in the child. When aspartame enters the intestines, it gets broken down into a chemical called phenylalanine and becomes concentrated in the placenta, causing developmental problems in the growing baby. Dr. Maledon Price of the University of Washington also notes that aspartame destroys the neurons that regulate the release of hormones, causing low levels of the FSH, LH, and gonadotropins. Aspartame is also known to impact sperm production and egg quality.

Article Source:

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Ramblings of A Lazy Blogger

My laptop developed a seizure and decided not to regain consciousness. Now that it's dead - though not yet buried - it's been even harder mustering up the motivation to blog. I tried blogging from my phone, but that's just pointless suffering.


For the past 3 months I've had early pregnancy symptoms. My nipples hurt, bbs swolen and tender even after Bob had been sucking away for 20 minutes, extreme fatigue, bloating, bleeding gums/nose, tender lower abs - however I was still having my periods, though lasting only 4 days. I knew the last time I was preggers my period completely stopped, but then I still thought there was that possibility. Now I know I'm not. All the tests came out negative and weirdly enough last month I took an OPK got a BFP and 14 days later AF showed up. So I'm still OV, Yey!!!

My iron levels were borderline which may have been responsible for the fatigue. I'm eating healthy, I've reduced my calories despite BF and still NOT losing any weight. I'm clearly not one of those lucky bastards women who use up 300-500 calories breastfeeding thus losing all their baby weight in the process.

Anyway, I have to confess, the prospect of being pregnant so soon scared the beshittles out of me. Deep down I wanted to be, and at the same time I didn't want to be. I initially wanted us to start trying when Bob turned 6 months so our kids could be close in age, now, however, I'd rather we wait till he's 1 year before we start trying again (9 months if I notice I'm no longer ovulating regularly). He's such a handful!!!!! That's one reason. The other being I want to love him and savor each moment before another kid comes into the picture. Finally memories of my emergency c-section are still so raw I want to do whatever is within my power to avoid another one. Which may include waiting for up yo a year on order to qualify for a VBAC if I have to.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

I know I Should Be Writing More

as opposed to copying and pasting articles I come across during my internet ramblings. I know, I know. I've been naughty with my blog. Bob is only now settled into a predictable routine so it's easier for me to sneak in some blogging time into my schedule. I'll try and make this quick because I fractured my left wrist and am mostly typing with one hand.

Dealing with PCOS post baby is very different to pre-baby because your main motivator has been achieved. I'm still trying to eat as healthily as I can. Slowly working up my fitness up to where I can do my aerobics every other day. I gave myself 6 months because that's meant to be how long you exclusively breastfeed for. And God knows breast feeding on demand is no piece of cake. I'm introducing solids gradually, like every other day. But his sole source of nutrient is still breast milk at the moment.

Lately though I've been having a host of symptoms (which I'll rant about in my next post) that suggest pregnancy or PCOS returning full force. Test came out negative so I'm keeping calm and carrying on. Started taking my multivitamins both to stem PCOS onslaught and not be caught unawares if I am pregnant.

I'll test again on Sunday, making it precisely a week later. If and this is a big fat IF I am preggers, there are a lot of things to consider.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Stay away from men to get pregnant

I couldn't wait share this:

Unbelievable yet true. Socially isolating a woman for three to six days from any male contact except her husband, after she has undergone in vitro fertilisation treatment or intercourse, increases the chances of conceiving from the usual 30 per cent to more than 50 per cent!
This is the finding of a research by fertility experts and geneticists from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and the Indian Statistical Institute.

It is based on the fact that pheromones or smell hormones make all the difference and olfactory signals from too many males block implantation.

This bit of Indian research is a milestone in fertility treatment. Dr P.M. Bhargava, former founder-director of CCMB, who led the research, said, “This trait of social isolation affecting fertility was first observed in mice (Bruce Effect) in the 1960s. In the last few years, we carried out experiments on human beings and it turned out to be successful."

"Post IVF treatment, for three days, a woman should isolate herself from any kind of interaction with the opposite sex, except her husband."

"She shouldn’t meet, speak, touch or come in contact with any other man, not even blood relatives, during this period till the embryo is implanted in the wall of the uterus. The logic behind isolation is to avoid olfactory incompatibility with other men, which hampers implantation of the embryo and brings down fertility rate.”

Dr Kamini Rao, award winning fertility expert, who conducted the experiment on 1,700 women at the Bangalore Assisted Concep-tion Centre, said, “We isolated some women in hospital for three days, advised some to isolate themselves at home, which was easier to do in nuclear families.

The results were quite encouraging and even women who earlier had failed IVFs were able to conceive. Except the husband’s, pheromones from other males interfere with the implantation process and, therefore, the isolation is recommended.”


I wouldn't just limit it to women who have undergone IVF but just women, generally, if you think you've OV it might help to stay away from other men.

Thanks to Beth Kiley  for sharing this new information. Make of it what you will, but when you are ttc, every little thing can make a world of difference. Check out her video here -

I subscribe to her Newsletter and would highly recommend you do so if you are TTC.

Good luck. 

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Best Weight Loss Advice You've Never Heard - WebMD

Weight Loss Tip No. 1: Variety Is Overrated

Who hasn't heard the advice to "just take a bite of everything" if you're at a buffet?
But as it turns out, variety doesn't deserve its good reputation, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a Chicago dietitian and author of The Flexitarian Diet.
 "We know that variety makes you eat more," she says, citing several published studies and her own experience in counseling weight loss patients.
For example, researchers in France found that study participants ate more french fries when they were offered catsup and mayonnaise along with them. And when they were given the option of having cream or whipped cream with their brownies, they ate more than when the brownies were offered plain.
Other researchers have found that people who have been able to maintain weight loss tend to eat diets with limited variety.

Weight Loss Tip No. 2: Have Barley for Breakfast

"Barley is the new oatmeal," says Jackson Blatner.
Barley got its hunger-fighting reputation after Swedish researchers found that eating barley or rye kernels for breakfast kept blood sugar on an even keel. That's because the carbs in barley and rye kernels are "low glycemic index," meaning they raise blood sugar more slowly than some other carbohydrate foods. This helps you avoid a spike, and then a drop, in blood sugar, which can leave you feeling famished.
One caveat: "Buy hulled barely, not pearl barley," Jackson Blatner says. The Swedish researchers used minimally processed hull barley, and they can't vouch for the same effects for more processed forms, such as pearl barley.

Weight Loss Tip No. 3: Beef Up Your Lunch Salad

One of the most common mistakes dieters make is to eat a vegetable salad with little or no dressing for lunch, says Joan Salge Blake, RD, professor of nutrition at Boston University and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "Then they are starving by mid-afternoon," she says.
A salad is a great choice, she says, if you add some protein and a little fat to help keep you feeling full longer.
Top your greens with a 3 oz piece of chicken breast, and you've added about 26 grams of protein but just 140 calories. Add about two tablespoons of light salad dressing, and your salad may be filling enough to get you through the 3 p.m. hunger slump without hitting the vending machine.

Weight Loss Tip No. 4: Stock Up on Frozen Vegetables

Sure, fresh vegetables are delicious and nutritious. But faced with the need to scrape a carrot, wash and slice a zucchini, or cut broccoli into florets, many of us say, "Too much trouble!" and reach for chips  instead.
To make things easier, stock your freezer with frozen vegetables, Blake tells dieters.
"They are already clean, chopped and ready to cook in the microwave,"* she says. "It's like having Rachael Ray in the freezer."
An even better way to be sure you eat more vegetables: Cook the frozen veggies ahead of time. Microwave the whole bag of green beans, for instance. Then keep them in the refrigerator, ready to dump into canned soups, add to a salad, or just eat by the handful.

Weight Loss Tip No. 5: Make Yourself a Party Tray

The type of party tray Jackson Blatner is talking about is a big vegetable platter, maybe with some low-fat dip on the site -- the kind you put on the buffet for weight-conscious guests. 
But this one is just for you and any interested family members. Keep it in the fridge at eye level, encouraging you to snack healthy and avoid the higher-calorie contents of your refrigerator. 
Several studies have found that we tend to eat more when food is within easy reach. Secretaries who placed candy on their desks ate about 48% more than when the candy was 6 feet away, according to research by Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University.

Weight Loss Tip No. 6: Turn Down the Thermostat

Spending time in a chilly house -- about 61 degrees Fahrenheit -- may boost the fat-burning power of the "brown fat" in your body.
Brown fat is considered "good" fat, as opposed to regular or white fat, which stores calories and tends to accumulate. Researchers believe that lean people have more of the brown type of fat, and that the amount of brown fat a person has declines with age.
Scandinavian researchers found that exposure to these chilly temperatures boosted the metabolic rate of brown fat 15-fold, helping burn more calories.
But Jackson Blatner cautions not to expect too much: "It's not going to be any kind of a miracle," she says. And beware if you're the type who eats more when you feel cold.

Weight Loss Tip No. 7: Downsize Your Dinnerware

Experts say they've seen it again and again: The larger your plate, the more you're likely to put on it. So serving your meals on smaller plates can help you eat less.
But don't throw out those dinner plates, Blake suggests. Use the smaller, lunch-size plates to serve dinner, and use the dinner plates for salads.

Weight Loss Tip No. 8: Go Out for Treats**

If you're the type who overdoes it on sweets and snacks, Jackson Blatner suggests, make yourself work a little for your favorite indulgences. Don't keep them in the house, but give yourself permission to go out and get them when you really need to.
Want a brownie? You have to go to the bakery. Craving a frozen yogurt? You must find the nearest frozen yogurt shop.
"The more hassle tasty treats are, the less likely you are to eat them," says Jackson Blatner, who does this herself and finds her sweets consumption has declined without making her feel deprived.

Weight Loss Tip No. 9: Try on Your Skinny Jeans Every Friday
Find a pair of pants that is tight, but not impossible to zip, Blake suggests to her weight loss patients.  "Every Friday morning, try them on," she says.
Why Friday? Weekends are typically a tougher time to stay on diets, she says. And the Friday morning try-on will motivate you to watch your eating during the weekend.
 "If they are loose, you will say to yourself 'I am making progress, I am staying on track during the weekend,''' she says.
And if they're snug? That will provide motivation to stick to your diet so they'll fit better next week, she says.


* Personally, I wouldn't recommend cooking food in the microwave. I try to limit my usage of the microwave oven to just warming up foods and even than, to no more then one meal a day. In addition to that, what I would do is take it out of the fridge and let it sit in room temperature for about 15 minutes. This cuts down on the amount of time it spends in the microwave.

** On treats, the best thing you can do is not buy them. If you absolutely have to have them, by no more than you can eat in one seating. I've heard people say they can't live without eating certain foods, but when you have PCOS you just have to learn to know what you body NEEDS and what it can do without. It's all about maintaining that balance. 

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

What Do PCOS and Alzheimer's Disease Have in Common?

I'll bet the last thing you're thinking about is Alzheimer's Disease (also called "AD". After all, that's something for old people to worry about, not you.
There is a higher risk of sporadic AD in people with Type 2 diabetes, and AD patients are more prone to Type 2 diabetes.I've been mostly silent on this issue since 2008, when I wrote a couple of newsletter articles about it. I always feel a little uncomfortable when I go far out on a limb. But I'm going to speak out anyway. In doing my research for the upcoming hair loss prevention e-book, I've come across some evidence I hadn't seen before:
  • Being obese or overweight in midlife is a possible risk factor of AD in later life.
  • People with AD exhibit impaired glucose metabolism, abnormally high insulin levels and insulin resistance. (So do the majority of women with PCOS.)
OK, given there might be a future risk for you, what can you do to reduce it?
One thing you can do is review your diet. Are you being careful about the amount and types of fat you're consuming? In studies of mice, it appears that a high-fat diet induces insulin resistance, which in turn encourages the creation of a protein thought to be a probably cause of Alzheimer's.
Kings College in the UK has reported that 68% of women with PCOS consume a diet that is more than 35% fat calories. Roughly 1/3 of those fat calories come from saturated fat. Based on this research, it looks like there is some room for modifying your consumption of fats.
If you have a copy of the PCOS diet ebook, review the section on Fats & Oils. Supplemental fish oil is also highly advisable. And take a good, hard look at the amount of saturated fats you're consuming.
Second, eat at least five servings of vegetables every day. You're probably tired of hearing me say it. I only say it because there is convincing medical evidence showing that you can minimize ALL of your future risks if you do this.
And third, do anything you can to consistently exercise and be physically active. Imagine what it would be like if you were a physically fit person. Exercise is almost miraculous in terms of how it helps your body, your self-esteem, and ward off future degenerative diseases.
It's all basic stuff…just good health practices. It's well proven that good health practices are the best health insurance you could possibly have.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

The 7 foods experts won't eat

1. Canned Tomatoes
The expert: Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A
The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people's body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. "You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that's a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young," says vom Saal. "I won't go near canned tomatoes."
The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe's and Pomi.

2. Corn-Fed Beef
The expert: Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farms and author of half a dozen books on sustainable farming
The problem: Cattle evolved to eat grass, not grains. But farmers today feed their animals corn and soybeans, which fatten up the animals faster for slaughter. More money for cattle farmers (and lower prices at the grocery store) means a lot less nutrition for us. A recent comprehensive study conducted by the USDA and researchers from Clemson University found that compared with corn-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E, omega-3s, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), calcium, magnesium, and potassium; lower in inflammatory omega-6s; and lower in saturated fats that have been linked to heart disease. "We need to respect the fact that cows are herbivores, and that does not mean feeding them corn and chicken manure," says Salatin.
The solution: Buy grass-fed beef, which can be found at specialty grocers, farmers' markets, and nationally at Whole Foods. It's usually labeled because it demands a premium, but if you don't see it, ask your butcher.

3. Microwave Popcorn
The expert: Olga Naidenko, PhD, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group,
The problem: Chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of the bag, are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, according to a recent study from UCLA. In animal testing, the chemicals cause liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancer. Studies show that microwaving causes the chemicals to vaporize-and migrate into your popcorn. "They stay in your body for years and accumulate there," says Naidenko, which is why researchers worry that levels in humans could approach the amounts causing cancers in laboratory animals. DuPont and other manufacturers have promised to phase out PFOA by 2015 under a voluntary EPA plan, but millions of bags of popcorn will be sold between now and then.
The solution: Pop natural kernels the old-fashioned way: in a skillet. For flavorings, you can add real butter or dried seasonings, such as dillweed, vegetable flakes, or soup mix.

4. Nonorganic Potatoes
The expert: Jeffrey Moyer, chair of the National Organic Standards Board
The problem: Root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that wind up in soil. In the case of potatoes-the nation's most popular vegetable-they're treated with fungicides during the growing season, then sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines before harvesting. After they're dug up, the potatoes are treated yet again to prevent them from sprouting. "Try this experiment: Buy a conventional potato in a store, and try to get it to sprout. It won't," says Moyer, who is also farm director of the Rodale Institute (also owned by Rodale Inc., the publisher ofPrevention). "I've talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals."
The solution: Buy organic potatoes. Washing isn't good enough if you're trying to remove chemicals that have been absorbed into the flesh.

5. Farmed Salmon
The expert: David Carpenter, MD, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany and publisher of a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish.
The problem: Nature didn't intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. "You can only safely eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer," says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. "It's that bad." Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.
The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it's farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.

6. Milk Produced with Artificial Hormones
The expert: Rick North, project director of the Campaign for Safe Food at the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and former CEO of the Oregon division of the American Cancer Society
The problem: Milk producers treat their dairy cattle with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST, as it is also known) to boost milk production. But rBGH also increases udder infections and even pus in the milk. It also leads to higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor in milk. In people, high levels of IGF-1 may contribute to breast, prostate, and colon cancers. "When the government approved rBGH, it was thought that IGF-1 from milk would be broken down in the human digestive tract," says North. As it turns out, the casein in milk protects most of it, according to several independent studies. "There's not 100% proof that this is increasing cancer in humans," admits North. "However, it's banned in most industrialized countries."
The solution: Check labels for rBGH-freerBST-freeproduced without artificial hormones, ororganic milk. These phrases indicate rBGH-free products.

7. Conventional Apples
The expert: Mark Kastel, former executive for agribusiness and codirector of the Cornucopia Institute, a farm-policy research group that supports organic foods
The problem: If fall fruits held a "most doused in pesticides contest," apples would win. Why? They are individually grafted (descended from a single tree) so that each variety maintains its distinctive flavor. As such, apples don't develop resistance to pests and are sprayed frequently. The industry maintains that these residues are not harmful. But Kastel counters that it's just common sense to minimize exposure by avoiding the most doused produce, like apples. "Farm workers have higher rates of many cancers," he says. And increasing numbers of studies are starting to link a higher body burden of pesticides (from all sources) with Parkinson's disease.
The solution: Buy organic apples. If you can't afford organic, be sure to wash and peel them first.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Nigerian Cysters and Tinned/Canned Tomatoes

Tinned/Canned Tomatoes

I've blogged in the past about foods that should be avoided if you have PCOS and more so if you're trying to conceive. I thought I'd make this post to reiterate that point with particular regard to the Nigerian diet. 

We consume a lot of tomatoes in Nigerian cooking. Nowadays more and more people rely on tinned/canned tomatoes for convenience and to save time cooking. Looking back several years, it's occurred to me that one of the changes I made that may have caused my PCOS to flare up was consuming more tinned tomatoes. Stews and jollof rice were made using tinned tomatoes and I ate one or the other EVERY SINGLE DAY. 

Not just plum peeled tomatoes, or chopped tomatoes but tomato puree as well. Any form of canned/tinned tomatoes is bad because the acid in tomatoes causes the chemicals in the tin to leach into the tomatoes. BPA is a chemical commonly found in the plastics used to line the tins to create a barrier between the product and the tins to prevent rust. It is a well known and scientifically established hormone disruptor. It has been banned in baby bottles in some countries and has been said to be responsible for the escalation of metabolic syndrome. 

Needless to say, if you consume tinned tomatoes on a regular basis it will accumulate in the body and wreak havoc on your system. By extension, in my opinion, the same would go for other canned foods with high acidity, such as canned fruits. In addition to reducing - if not eliminating - the intake of canned foods, one should also avoid microwaving foods in plastic containers. 

The expert: Fredrick vom Saal, PhD, an endocrinologist at the University of Missouri who studies bisphenol-A
The problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people's body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. "You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that's a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young," says vom Saal. "I won't go near canned tomatoes."
The solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe's and Pomi.
I'm not going to give a 'balanced' view on canned tomatoes. The fact that when I didn't eat it and was better off hormonal is sufficient for me to cut it off completely. Interestingly back then I opted for tomatoes packaged in tetra paks because they were cheaper without knowing they were relatively healthier. Even then I wasn't eating it on a daily basis. 
If you are looking for a BPA free alternative to tinned/canned tomatoes, look out for those packaged in tetra paks such as shown above.

Still worth further reading on the safety of tetra paks is the following article -

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Bread: why it can be worse than pure sugar

 Most people are surprised when they first hear that a white bread has more of a sugar hit than sugar itself! Fluffy, soft white bread made with finely processed flour has long been considered a delicacy, and certainly tastes great! Unfortunately, it is very high GI – in the order of 70-100 depending on how it is processed, cooked, and how fresh it is, and also influenced by what it is eaten with.
However, bread doesn’t have to be bad for you. Finding yourself a good sourdough bakery that uses wholegrain flours is half the battle!
In NSW we love Morpeth sourdough bread, whose bakery and restaurant are located in Morpeth Village in the Hunter Valley region – and whose bread is stocked in most Harris Farm Markets stores in Sydney. We also enjoy Phillippa’s Bread and Irrewarra Sourdough in Melbourne (available at cafes and gourmet supermarkets).  Recently we found a wonderful sourdough bakery cafe in Melbourne – their bread is pictured above! The bakery is called Knead Bakers, in Burwood Road, Hawthorn. If you know any great sourdough bakeries, let us know and we will link them here for our other readers!
If you go to the GI data tables published by the Sydney University site dedicated to GI, and type bread, you will come up with a list of breads which have been tested for GI. When going through these tables, I have summarised for you what I take as the main principles in choosing bread that is lower GI. Remember, just because a fluffy white loaf has the label “sourdough” does not mean it is low GI. It may have a very small amount of sourdough added.
Jennie Brand Miller explains much better than I can some of the reasons why grain products prepared in different ways can have such different values, including particle size, starch gelatinisation, physical entrapment, quantity of amylose starch, and the type of fibre in the grain. In her article “going the WHOLE grain” she explains that just because something is labelled “wholegrain” it is not necessarily low GI. We encourage you to subscribe to the official GI websites GI News, which publishes monthly articles explaining GI principles.
We think the best idea is to look for breads with a GI symbol on them, and keep in mind the following principles if no GI symbol is yet available:


Denser bread (less air, more substance) will feel heavier when you hold it. If you tap the side of a loaf, it will also make a sound more like a “thud” (more solid). If you are buying it, feel it’s weight, and leave it on the shelf if it feels like a light, fluffy loaf. If you make your own bread, consider the following values published on the GI website:
White bread, prepared with a 10 min prove and a second 2 min proving (low loaf volume)
-GI:38, GL:5
White bread, prepared with a 30 min prove and a second 12 min proving (moderate loaf volume)
-GI:72, GL:9
White bread, prepared with a 60 min prove and a second 30 min proving (moderate loaf volume)
-GI:86, GL:11
White bread, prepared with a 40 min prove, a second 25 min proving and a third 50 min proving (large loaf volume) -GI:100, GL:13
Source: GI database,
It is clear that the longer the yeast is allowed to take effect prior to cooking, or the higher the loaf rises, the higher the GI value will be! My guess is that the science behind this involves the yeast spreading out, taking effect, and doing its work to make the bread easier for us to digest. Following these principles, un-leaven bread should also be lower in GI value.


Rye and barley breads have lower GI values than plain wheat bread, as do breads with seeds added, such as oat flakes, soy and linseed, and multigrain varieties. Stoneground wholewheat flour breads are also lower GI. The principle here to understand is that the more fibrous chunks there are in the bread (such as the larger, coarser grains of stoneground flour), the more work the body has to do to break down and access the starches.
Pumpernickel rye bread with coarse rye kernels has a particularly low GI of 41 with a GL of 5.


As well as grains, sourdough is the most well known additive to lower GI. Sourdough wheat bread has variable GI values, depending on other factors, but seems on average a GI value around 50-60, and a GL value of around 7-8.
People have also added other things to bread to see the effect on GI, such as insoluble fibre, or enzyme inhibitors. These both lower the GI quite significantly. Here an example of what happens to GI when fibre is added in the form of beans:
White bread with 3 g Sunfibre (Cyamoposis tetragonolobus) (Indian cluster guar beans), viscosity 1 (Taiyo Kagaku Co., Ltd, Yokaichi Mie, Japan) GI:53 GL:8
White bread with 5 g Sunfibre (Cyamoposis tetragonolobus) (Indian cluster guar beans), viscosity 1 (Taiyo Kagaku Co., Ltd, Yokaichi Mie, Japan) GI:49, GL:8
White bread with 10 g Sunfibre (Cyamoposis tetragonolobus) (Indian cluster guar beans), viscosity 1 (Taiyo Kagaku Co., Ltd, Yokaichi Mie, Japan) GI:47, GL:8
White bread with 15 g Sunfibre (Cyamoposis tetragonolobus) (Indian cluster guar beans), viscosity 1 (Taiyo Kagaku Co., Ltd, Yokaichi Mie, Japan) GI:37, GL:6
Source: GI database,

Cooking method

One of the interesting values I noticed among the various GI values for bread published was a comparison between barley bread made with 70% barley flour and 40% wheat flour cooked at different rates. The same bread mix had a lower GI when baked more slowly and at a low temperature. GI:70/GL:9 compared to GI:49/GL:6

What it is eaten with

The artificial thing about knowing the GI values of bread is that we don’t just eat bread, we eat it with things, usually in the form of sandwiches. Interestingly, an almond manufacturer measured the effect of consuming various amounts of almonds along with white bread. The GI values were dramatically reduced by consuming more almonds with the bread. If 60g of almonds was eaten, GI value dropped to 44, GL 23, whereas if 30g of almonds were eaten, GI value was 74, GL 37.

In summary…

There is no need to be obsessional, which is why we wanted to explain the principles to you. Overall, choose a heavier, denser loaf, multigrain or sourdough, and eat it with low GI foods. Have a lovely salad sandwich, and follow it with a handful of almonds, and you’ll know you are on the right track!!

Source: (Please aubscribe to the blog feed or bookmark. Lots of great tips for low GI eating)

Monday, 9 April 2012

Foods That Make PCOS Worse

Did you know that what you eat can make your PCOS problems better -- or worse? There are dozens and dozens of medical studies to bear this out. 

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and confusion about what foods you should be eating or avoiding. As we see it, medical research is one of the best ways to separate fact from fiction, and thus discover the best way forward. That's why we talk a lot about medical research in this newsletter. 

Today, I want to share what I think is a very important observation about diet. It's a bit technical but try to follow along. This is very important. 

First some background. It seems that most doctors believe that PCOS is a problem of excessive amounts of androgens, which are male hormones produced by your ovaries and adrenal glands. That is why they prescribe pharmaceuticals like birth control pills or spironolactone. 

The purpose of these medications is to reduce androgens and thus make your symptoms go away. (PCOS is actually a disorder that is much more than a problem with male hormones. But that's a topic for another time.) 

If we assume that androgens are causing the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome, what is causing the excessive androgens in the first place? 

There are many possible answers to this question. A very interesting study just released from Universit√© de Sherbrooke in Canada sheds some light on this confusing issue. 

In a laboratory setting, researchers analyzed androgen-producing adrenal gland cells. When the cells were exposed to high amounts of a saturated fat, they were stimulated to produce more androgens (male hormones). 

Based on this research, could it be that you are consuming too much of the wrong kinds of fat and thus forcing your adrenal glands to produce more androgens? 

The researchers conclude: "This study is the first to demonstrate that lipotoxicity can directly trigger androgen overproduction in vitro, in addition to its well-described impact on [insulin resistance], which strongly supports a central role of lipotoxicity in PCOS pathophysiology." 

"Lipotoxicity" is defined as the "the pathologic changes in organs resultant from elevated fat levels in blood or tissues". One pathological change appears to be that adrenal gland cells start producing excessive amounts of androgens. These androgens contribute to your symptoms of PCOS. 

Essentially, the problem is that you have too much of the wrong kind of fats floating around in your body. 

OK, so what causes this fatty buildup in your tissues? Some of it comes from the fat you eat, especially saturated fat. 

Some of it comes from the refined carbohydrates and convenience foods you eat. For example, high fructose corn syrup is a substance that induces your liver to manufacture fat. This contributes to fatty liver degeneration, which is present in nearly one-half of women with PCOS. 

A third source of the fatty buildup is your inability to efficiently burn fat. Fat-burning is a complex process beyond the scope of this article. But increased exercise would help. 

Bottom Line: 
1) "Lipotoxicity" is a major cause of your PCOS symptoms. 
2) You must distinguish between dietary fats you should be avoiding and those you actually need. 
3) You must understand that consumption of refined carbohydrates and sweeteners makes your fat problem worse. 
4) Excessive undesirable fats in your body increase your symptoms and damage your organs. Even your brain can be adversely affected! 

Your diet is the #1 key to solving your PCOS problems. If you have a copy of "The Natural Diet Solution for PCOS and Infertility" ebook, please review the section on Fats and Oils. Also take a look at the section on Carbohydrates. You need to apply this information if you are to make progress against PCOS.