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The Big Cholesterol Myth

Posted on December 27, 2016 at 12:33 PM Comments comments (2604)
Cholesterol has been cited as the key reason behind heart disease, it has led people to eschew eating fat for fear that it will clog their arteries and have them keeling over dead in ten minutes. They religiously go to the doctors to get their levels monitored and feel relieved when they are told their cholesterol is low or normal.

Well, I am here to tell's all total cobblers.

I was first introduced to the myth of cholesterol by legendary Olympic strength Coach, Charles Poliquin, during a Biosignature course I attended, Needless to say I was shocked when he stated what a minor player it was in heart disease and that the greatest cardiovascular risk factor came from having high levels of the dangerous amino acid, homocysteine (this is an issue I will address in another article).

This view was concurred by hormonal optimization expert, Mike Mahler, who stated in a course I undertook with him, that:

Adequate cholesterol is critical for sex hormone production as cholesterol is the building block for all hormones. If cholesterol levels go too low (such as when you take statin drugs such as Lipitor) then sex hormone production will plummet. This is why loss of sex drive is common side effect with statin drugs. Loss of memory as well as cholesterol is needed for brain health.

Recently I was fortunate enough to listen to a talk by eminent nutritionist, Dr Jonny Bowden, and he confirmed all this and more.

So why did we get this so wrong? Well, in the same way that  the war about what caused fat gain pitted sugar vs fat was a major battle in the 1970's and 1980's (and fat wrongly got to take the wrap), the same can be said of the whole, "what causes heart disease" argument. 

The ramifications of this are HUGE, effectively the whole food Pyramid espoused by the Government is completely wrong.

It all boils down to poor science winning, and the result has been deeply concerning. There are potentially millions of people taking statins that should absolutely not, and the risk factors on their hormonal profiles and general health is shocking !

Common issues I see with clients on statins are joint pain, poor sex drive and memory issues, to name but a few. And did you know that statins destroy your bodies endogenous supply of Coq10, that is the spark plug of your energy producing cells, your mitochondria !!! In fact in some, more forward thinking, countries, a doctor can be struck off for NOT prescribing Coq10 when he gives out statins. If you are taking statins and feel completely lethargic...that is why !

Dr Bowden categorically states that if you are over 60 you have no business being on statins as cholesterol is CARDIO PROTECTIVE ! (a recent Japanese study backed this up)

Remember that cholesterol is the building block of all hormones...reduce this and you will have an adverse effect on the production of key hormones, for men, testosterone, for women, estrogen.

In fact Bowden has an interesting working hypothesis that posits that men in their forties are complaining more and more about erectile dysfunction, could this be the result that this is the demographic most likely to be taking statins? Less cholesterol resulting in poorer testosterone production = asking for a prescription for Viagra?

These theories are not mine, I am relating what I have learned...the key players are people like Dr Stephen Sinatra who was a darling of the pharmaceutical world till he started to doubt the linkeage between heart disease and high cholesterol. And just for the record, he is a Board Certified Cardiologist.

Other doctors to blow the whistle on the myth were the likes of Dr Mark Houston of the Nashville Hypertension Institute, and once again,  he felt it was high levels of homocysteine that were the real culprit, NOT cholesterol.

But what about "good cholesterol" and "bad" cholesterol, I hear you ask?

Well it is infinitely more complicated than having such a simplistic approach - there are sub fractions of LDL ("bad") cholesterol, that are totally harmless, like LDL A. So theoretically you could have really high levels of this and it is indicator of  no increased risk factors at all, but LDL B is highly oxidised and causes inflammatio. LDL (a) is really inflammatory, so unless you know what exact ratio you have, your doctor, to quote Bowden, "is treating a number and not a patient".
So see if you can get the Particle Test.

So what are the real key players?

Well here they are in no particular order....

1. Stress - no surprises here. You can have all sorts of issues in your body, but add stress to the bodies physiology and now you have an increased risk of any illness. Stress is a killer. 

2. High Homocysteine levels. This can be tested easily, if you eat asparagus and your wee stinks of asparagus then there is a high chance your homocysteine levels could be dangerously elevated. This is a far greater concern and I would recommend having a chat with your doctor. Normal levels should be 1-10.

3. Inflammation. "Acute inflammation hurts, chronic inflammation kills" - basically low grade ongoing inflammation is one of the key factors in your cardiovascular risk. Oxidative particles get attracted to the arterial walls as a result.

4. Glycation. Yup, its not the bugbear that is cholesterol that is sticking up your arteries and clogging your body, it is sugar! Enough of that metabolic barrelling down the arterial walls and sticking to the sides is a perfect storm for now attracting the less desirable aspects of cholesterol to add insult to hopefully you can see, there are other major players at work here well before cholesterol (as a minor player) has any negative impact whatsoever.

5. Oxidation. Too many free radicals in your body (the cancer promoting cells) and too little of the foods and drinks that mop them up and now your heart disease risk factors are going to dramatically increase.

So, here are some take home facts:

If you are concerned about your heart risk factors ask your doctor for a homocysteine test, if he is current with the literature he will know why

The ratio of triglycerides to cholesterol is a far more telling ratio. 
If it is under 2 you are safe.

Cholesterol is NOT dangerous at all until it becomes oxidised.

Do not be concerned about dietary fat and cholesterol causing arterial disease. The results of some studies of Polynesian peoples for whom coconut is the chief source of energy should put your mind at rest according to Dr Sarah Myhill, one of the leading lights in the field of chronic fatigue. She posits that statins, by reducing cholesterol (that the brain LOVES) are contributing to the epidemic of Alzheimers, 

Freely add fish oil, MCT oil, coconut oil, olive oil (unheated), organic butter (Yeo Valley or Kerry Gold) to your diet, safe in the knowledge that you are fuelling your brain, as it improves fuel supply and membrane function, and is also highly cardio-protective.

Jonny Bowden has a book available on Amazon called the Great Cholesterol Myth, I highly recommend you buy it if you are concerned about cholesterol or your cardiovascular risk factors.

What is your hip pain telling you?

Posted on November 18, 2016 at 6:14 PM Comments comments (991)
An issue close to my heart is what causes chronic illness and how to resolve it

 Along my inquiries I encountered the remarkable concept of Meta Health, the theory that all chronic dis-ease is caused by unresolved trauma locked into the body. The body is constantly trying to clear this but is sometimes locked into a negative feedback loop.

So for todays subject we will look at something VERY close to home ~hip pain and disorders.

What is the metaphor at work here and how can we help resolve it?

The hip's movement as a ball and socket joint is highly complex, complicated further by the fact that it I crossed by the Psoas muscle, which in Yogic theory houses a lot of Spiritual Emotion and can hold a lot of stress, specifically the fight or flight mechanism . A little known anatomical aspect of this muscle is that as well as being a HIP FLEXOR it is also a spinal compressor - think of bracing yourself for a frontal attack. 

When we get hip pain, it can be as a traumatic result of feeling, at some stage, not strong enough to withstand something or stand our ground. 

Bear in mind, according to Meta Health theory, the pain and  discomfort comes once we have  resolved the emotional trauma, think of it as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) of the soul ! If you have ever trained you know about the stiffness that can ensue two days after, We understand and accept that this is a natural part of the stress/repair process  - well it works exactly the same with emotions. The discomfort is evidence that you have resolved and issue, embrace it. What we want to avoid is an unnecessary re-triggering of this trauma and the ensuing stress/repair phase, because this becomes chronic dis-ease.

When we are in the stressed phase our body is ready for action ~ during this period we aren't feeling any pain because the body is perceiving its very survival as being at risk, its only afterwards, once the threat has gone and the learning has been established, that we enter the healing phase. 

This phase has distinct patterns and runs concurrently with the length of the stress phase. So stressed for 5 days, well you will be ill for 5 days with a "peaking" of symptoms at Day two and a half. The body is that scientific!

What happens when you are in a prolonged period of stress and that stress gets resolved, then re-triggered? Well that is when we start talking about chronic dis-ease.

The body is designed to have a linear processing of trauma, but sometimes our subconscious mind "sees" things it likens to the original issue ~ sometimes these triggers can be as simple as a sound , smell or sight that was present in the original trauma (remember, at that moment your brain downloaded EVERYTHING that was happening for future reference).

At this stage we re-enter the stress phase, resolve the issue, and then go into the repair phase. 

So, how can we help resolve these issues?

Well, Emotional Freedom Technique is a phenomenal way of releasing negative, limiting and traumatic events..ask yourself, when did you first feel "standing your ground" was a good strategy? Some time between 3 and 7 years of age?
If you are lacking flexibility in movement, maybe that is running in tandem with a lack of mental flexibility? 
Maybe you are ingrained with patterns of behaviour that no longer serve you. What movement does your hip need? What would it take to make you"flow" rather than stand your ground? 

Why do you feel you need to stand your ground? What would it mean for you if you weren't withstanding something?

The more you let go of emotions that no longer serve you, specifically fear, anger and frustration the more you will see your body free of corrosive and negative energies that prevent the full expression of its amazing potential.


Butter in your coffee?

Posted on April 27, 2015 at 8:17 AM Comments comments (412)
This idea has become all the rage and I have to admit, its one fad that is actually based on good science.

Why? ... As a PT I am always asked which energy drink is the best. The answer is simple...none of them.
They are all caffeine and sugar laden rubbish.

However caffeine has been scientifically proven to improve sports performance, insulin management and digestion (its one of the few bitter herbs we consume).

Butter is rich in CLA (a fat that helps you burn fat) and the fat contained is rich in butyric acid which is anti viral and anticancer. It also acts as a constituent of the fat which protects the myelin sheath in our brains (nerves are coated in fat, much like an electrical lead is protected in plastic - protect that and your "leads" don't Alzheimers or other examples of cognitive decline)

Last in the mix: MCT oil. This is a fat derived from coconut oil and is much more liquid than its coconut cousin. It mixes better with coffee and is rich in a liver friendly fat is more readily used as fuel for exercise/life than stored around your belly.

Another benefit of adding these smart fats to your coffee is that they delay the uptake of caffeine giving you a sustained release of energy rather than a short sharp burst, leaving you craving more.

The Recipe:

1 tablespoon of organic coffee per person (I use Cafe Directs Machu Picchu)

1 tablespoon of MCT oil (build up to 2, gradually!)

1 sliver of grass fed butter (unsalted)

I use Kerry Gold

Pop in a cafetiere, pour on boiling water, stir vigorously , steep for 5 minutes and enjoy!

What on earth is a UDIN ?

Posted on November 18, 2014 at 12:24 PM Comments comments (446)

In Meta-Medicine, the stimulus to the entire disease process is the UDIN or Specific Emotional Event.

It starts the whole illness process off. How long it lasts, whether it becomes chronic or life threatening depends on whether we are able to avoid it being re-triggered or whether we are able to  resolve the underlying problem in its entirety,

So what is a UDIN, and how does it come about?

A UDIN is Unexpected, Dramatic, Isolating and there is No Strategy for it.

If you find yourself suddenly involved in an unexpected dramatic situation, we go automatically into the COLD phase, we are stressed. Thoughts become obsessive, our sleep suffers, we have a degree of hyperactivity.

We may feel isolated, that there is no one to talk to and for the situation to qualify as a UDIN we have no strategy - this is a situation in we have no previous point of reference.

At the moment of this trauma, our brain takes a photo of everything going on at that moment...the sound, sights, smells,taste, sounds,everything. Why? Because the brain is recording this as a potential threat to our existence. It is storing this so that we DO have a strategy next time, once we have processed this event. In the same way as your bodies internal immunity spots problems and "marks" them so they can be dealt with appropriately, so does the brain (and more importantly the heart centre) evaluate external threats to our survival.

So, here is an example:

Someone says something terrible to you, out of the blue and deeply hurtful.

You cannot physically digest it. Your body holds onto the information as a "chunk" that it is working on, trying to absorb. You are in the stressed or "cold" phase.Your sleep is disrupted as the conversation plays over in your head, again and again.

A few days later this person apologises profusely, explaining that they had been in a foul mood, should never have taken it out on you, and asking your forgiveness.

The body, which has been attempting to process this information, now has no further need to hold on to it. You have achieved a reversal of the stressor. So the body releases all the food it has been holding as it releases this "chunk" of information. There is fluid build up, and this physically manifests itself as diarrhea.

So now we have gone into the rest and repair phase.

This may be a situation you are familiar with...stress causing an upset stomach is not rocket science, but it is interesting that in the Meta Health model the the body is taking a very literal interpretation of events - it cannot "digest" information and treats it as a physical entity.

When the body has no other mechanism of approach it will draw information in thru the heart centre, into the main control mechanism of the brain where the trauma is stored, and then a decision is made as to which part of which specific organ is going to be most appropriate to deal with the problem.

Where this gets really fascinating is that the part of the brain that deals with the problem is based on evolutionary adapatations - so obviously anything we perceive as threatening our very survival hits the brainstem, our most primal portion. If it is to do with protection it goes to the next brain layer, the cerebellum. If the issue or theme is perceived as territorial in nature the cerebral cortex deals with it, and if it is an issue of self-worth the cerebral medulla houses it.

The bodies intelligence is simply amazing!

Therefore illness, bugs, microbes viruses, and chronic problems are NOT a mistake, nor a fault or a weakness, but an epigenetically determined set of events that are completely understandable and therefore...solvable! When you are feeling the effects of illness, as my Master Trainer Sam Thorpe pointed out, CELEBRATE ! You have resolved something difficult in your life and moved on.

The key, and I cannot emphasize this enough, is that the process is a one-way line of traffic - trauma goes in, gets resolved, illness occurs to release the trapped energy, full health is restored.

From a physical training standpoint this entire model stands up to scrutiny and makes complete sense - when we train clients we deliberately put them under a degree of cardiovascular or muscular "stress". It needs to be a little bit more than they can handle - they need to be either "out of puff" or hitting "failure" with a lift. The musculature has small microtrauma. Now, when do we get stronger? In the session? No! It is during the recovery phase that our cardio or muscular strength improves - and this is the point when all those squats make you wince when you sit down, or your arms hurt just holding a phone. But people who train LOVE this time, the DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is a mark of improvement, of a good workout - the growth comes from the discomfort.
Meta Health sees illness like DOMS, for the soul !

So, this digestive issue, in our example, is related to the brainstem. The brainstem has determined that the stomach is the best organ suited to work on it, hence the digestive issues.

But what about people who get chronic conditions, who get repeated bouts of digestive problems (or IBS - not really a "diagnosis", just a flash way of telling the patient what they already know, you have a bowel, it is irritated by things, and we don't really have a clue what is causing it. Here, take some antacids....")

This is because we never completely cleared the emotional blockage at source and the snapshot our brain took of the situation is constantly re-triggered; maybe by your bosses tone of voice, a look someone gives you, a smell, a texture. And then we enter a phase where we are re-triggered into the stress phase, resolve the issue, re-trigger, resolve. Often the repair phase itself will ironically remind you of the initial problem and this in itself can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This is only a very brief overview of the Meta Health model, and will form part of my ongoing professional development. I aim to give some themes and issues from time to time, that may, hopefully, resonate with you - because when you can look beyond the immediate externals into the deeper emotional themes that are busy playing themselves out in our physicality, you are far better prepared to deal with them with a degree of self-understanding that sadly seems to have eluded our current medical model.

What Is Meta-Medicine?

Posted on November 14, 2014 at 11:18 AM Comments comments (840)
I am proud to announce that I have begun a new process in my Personal Training developement - Meta Medicine. Under the tutelage of Master Coach, Sam Thorpe, this promises to be a new paradigm in assessing and diagnosing client illnesses and injuries. Called Meta-Medicine, it is an integrative approach to the Spiritual, Environmental, Diet, Physical, Psychological and Emotional realms.

Here is a thought - if you became ill, and the situation persisted, what if...your body DIDN'T make a mistake....

1. Symptoms are Meaningful

Symptoms are seen as part of a natural process which is an intelligent adaptive response to a perceived threat to life

2. There is a Synchronous Unity of Body, Mind, Spirit, and Social Experience

The perceptions of the social environments and situations (such as work, family life, school, etc) are constantly having an impact on your physical body and brain. When there is a change on any level (body, mind (psyche), environment, spiritual) it instantly alters the state of the other levels.

3. Traumatic Life Events as Triggers

Significant emotional events and experiences (otherwise known as biological shocks) are the beginning, and causal to, dis-ease processes.

4. Brain as an over-determined relay system

The brain is the central interface and biological computer relay system of our entire organism where thoughts and perceptions meet physiology. Through its connection to the unconscious mind, the brain determines the way specific stressful life events impact the physiology and psychology.

5. Disease is a process

Disease is a journey with specific points and phases where biologically meaningful reactions take place. Symptoms can be mapped out, predicted and reversed through intervention.

6. Meaningful Symptoms

All psychological and physiological symptoms, whether that be behaviour or illness, have a deeper meaning hidden inside that, when identified, guide the healing journey.

7. Evolution

There is a specific evolutionary development of organs and their reactions to specific life stressors.

8. Microbes

Viruses, bacteria and fungus are involved in an intelligent healing response and are actually biologically helpful in trying to keep the body in, or bring it back to, homoeostasis.

9. Self-healing Abilities

Using an integrative approach to health using analysis, transformative approaches, coaching, therapies, nutrition and movement, human beings have an innate self-healing ability.

10. Spiritual: Body, Mind, Social Health

When you take full responsibility, and grow in your knowledge, you make conscious decisions to achieve complete holistic health and well-being or as we call it – META-Health.

What is your body telling you about your life?

Posted on March 7, 2014 at 8:11 AM Comments comments (582)
My first yoga instructor told me that our body is a locked in history of our emotional state. Biosignature  modulation, pioneered by Charles Poliquin states that hormonal imbalances make you store fat in certain specific places (ie. Stress makes you fat around your stomach) and Traditional Chinese medicine states that the internal organs can house negative emotions (kidneys - fear, lungs - grief, liver - anger, spleen - worry, heart - sadness).

So what is YOUR body telling you right now about your emotional state? Shoulder pain? Maybe you are carrying the weight of the world?

Back pain? Do you feel there is a lack of support in your life?

Knee pain? Have you taken on too much in your life?

Hip pain? Are you afraid to move forward in life?

Your body speaks in metaphors all the time. Its your choice if you choose to listen to those messages!

What is Emotional Freedom Technique?

Posted on September 8, 2013 at 5:57 AM Comments comments (546)
EFT works in the same way as clearing an obstacle to clear running water does.
Energy flows through us in much the same way as a river flows cross country. However, over time, debris, stones and rubbish accumulate(negative emotions, limiting or damaging beliefs in the Energy Body).
Eventually the river may find itself blocked or dammed up and its gentle flow disrupted, stagnated or its path altered.
EFT seeks simply to remove these blockages, the beauty being that this process often doesn’t require much work – once the boulders of emotional pain, negative self-talk and limiting beliefs are removed the river will flow to the full power of its remarkable potential.
EFT is a very straightforward and highly effective method of energy work that involves tapping on specific meridian points that increase energy flow throughout the body. It has been successfully used in cases of severe emotional trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (in the US),performance anxiety, sports performance and weight loss. It is an outstanding method of removing limiting beliefs and negative emotions, is phenomenally easy to learn and once mastered can be applied to literally every aspect of your life!

Fish Oil And Prostate Cancer

Posted on August 4, 2013 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (449)
There was a recent media feeding frenzy over the "revelation" that fish oil could cause prostate cancer. However the problem was that even the people who conducted the study conceded that there was no empirical link! This was because the study was an epidemiological one which attempts to show CORRELATION and not CAUSATION. There is a huge difference (this is discussed entertainingly in the link at the bottom of this article by nutrition expert Dr John Berardi).
Why do these studies make it into the media? Because they are alarmist and attention grabbing - thousands of people consume fish oil so it is fair to say that anyone who values their health would be drawn to this article and (rightly) concerned.
On a more balanced level it is true that fish oil decreases inflamation - so far, so good - however, decreasing inflamation too much is a bad thing. We need a degree of inflamation to catabolise free radicals etc. So in theory TOO MUCH fish oil could ramp down inflamation too much and leave you open to potential problems. However this would have to be Omega 3's, and, as our diet is so badly deficient in this type of fish oil this would be unlikely. Secondly, to rebalance the ratio we just need to consume more Omega 6 and 9, and as these are more than abundant in our diet (too much so, many would argue), once again this would not be a problem.
The truth is, that the huge benefits of fish oil on cardiovascular health, eye health, joint health and brain health far outweigh any negatives, with the caveat being that you must look to purchasing one that is PHARMACEUTICAL GRADE. These are the only type that have been sufficiently purified of PCB's, mercury and other toxins. If you want to see real research on fish oil visit the medical directories website for a broad range of excellently researched publications.
For an entertaining article on the difference between types of studies check out this excellent article by Dr John Berardi, a strong advocate of the many benefits of fish oil.

The Red Meat Controversy

Posted on April 28, 2013 at 10:59 AM Comments comments (223)
There is a lot of controversy surrounding a diet high in red meat content. This started with the cholesterol controversy (which has been resoundingly debunked by guys a lot smarter than me - Dr Jonny Bowden, Dr Mercola, Dr Briffa, Coach Charles Poliquin and a number of pharmaceutical "whistle blowers" in the USA who confirm what a lot of us fear - that cholesterol is vital for body function and that reducing it could actually be counterproductive to good health!)
This is an argument for another day - but what is obvious from the research out there is that the old LDL = bad, HDL = good paradigm is a gross oversimplification of a far more complex issue. What we need to worry about is oxidisded cholesterol, that is the stuff that "sticks" to arterial walls and forms the plaques that obviously have serious cardiovascular risk properties. So hard cheeses are often rich in that type, which is why I always recommend to my clients that they eat more mozarrella or feta if they do like cheese.
So, let us, for the sake of argument, put aside the cholesterol issue. Then there is the highly controversial "China Study" which is often cited as a classic in "poor science". It was published by a vegetarian who sought to railroad his own views into the study. As an epidemiological study it seeks to jam cause and effect together. Tim Ferriss, excellent author of the exceptional "Four Hour Body" compared this kind of study to saying that there are less pirates on the planet now than hundreds of years ago, and that in that time the global climate has got warmer. Therefore a lack of pirates is responsible for Global get the jist! The idea that people who eat red meat are more prone to coronary heart disease is also a myth, albeit one that has resoundingly stuck in peoples conciousness.
What I would say is this - red meat often has more fat. Fat is a great storage sight for toxins (hence the reason you feel rubbish on a fat loss diet often - the toxins released from the fat stores enter the blood stream). So, what do we do? Well I think the only way forward is to eat as organically as we conceivably can. It is better from a sustainable ethos, an ethical basis and a health perspective.
"Ah, alright for you to say!" I hear you shout, "but its so bloody expensive!". Well try and get down to your Farmers Market (plenty around these parts - and supportive of local business), and if does cost more - than buy organic where you can, and just eat less of it!
This was a brilliant tip given by Mike Mahler (a vegetarian who, rightly, abhors the horrendous practices of some factory farming practices.)
The crux is, eat red meat, in moderation but ensure that the source is good.
One additional thing I would add, which people often neglect when they waffle on about eating more red meat is...balance it with plenty of alkalizing drinks or green vegetables. It is highly acidic so you do need to get the PH balance right in your body.

FREE Geoff Thompson e-book

Posted on April 16, 2013 at 5:56 AM Comments comments (229)
TheFormula.pdf (PDF — 173 KB)
One of the greatest individuals that I have had the pleasure of personally meeting on a number of occasions is Geoff Thompson.
A fearsome martial artist with a remarkable life story, what makes him such a compelling and charismatic person is that he is a fine example that we can create our own lives in the image that we choose.
His is a story of abuse, violence, divorce, fear and yet this tough and unrelenting journey has forged a man who is gentle, kind, compassionate, considerate and who is living a life that most people from his background would have deemed "impossible".
A BAFTA award winning film maker and author of much repute I can highly recommend everything he has ever written, the overwhelming message behind all of his writings is that you are the captain of your fate, and that fear truly is the friend of exceptional people.
An example of this act of generosity is demonstrated here - an email I received from him with a book I read years ago, "The Formula". It changed my life, now I hope it changes yours.