Sunday, December 16, 2012

Eating less is the key to staying young, claims Russian Doctor.

Fauja Singh completed this year’s London Marathon in seven hours and forty-nine minutes. By no means a winning time, yet Fauja Singh, affectionately dubbed the “turbaned tornado” is 101 years old. He took up long distance running after moving to the UK from his native India; post his wife’s death in 1992.
He attributes his long and healthy life to healthy eating habits. Like most Punjabis he is a strict vegetarian, existing on a diet of lentils, vegetables flavored with ginger, brown bread, fruit and natural yoghurt. It’s not so much what he eats, but how much! He restricts himself to small, child-sized portions which are reflected in his weight. He is 173 centimeters tall and yet weighs only 53 kilos.
According to Russian born Dr. Arcady Economo there is nothing new here. Scientists have known for 80 years that a calorie restricted food intake can prolong life. Dr. Clive McCay claimed during the 1930s that such diets could extend life expectancy by up to 50%. Fauja Singh’s success in covering the 42 kilometer London Marathon course attests to these claims.
Koh Samui is home to approximately 20 so called “detox resorts”. They range from the good to the bad and indifferent. They all promote fasting and inner cleansing. People flock from across the globe to these establishments. Some come to embrace better health practices, but most come to lose weight. Dr. Economo runs a group of similar facilities in Hungary and Croatia; his emphasis is on the fasting component of the program. In Budapest and elsewhere his nutritional experts design specific diets for his clients. They are expected to follow these eating programs when they return home after completing their one or two week detox plan. The most popular of these divides the year into four, thirteen week blocks. Each chunk comprises one fasting week, with a near zero calorific intake, one recovery week when food is gradually introduced where consumption is limited to  5,200 kilo calories and eleven ordinary weeks. The normal weeks comprise six feeding days calculated at 2,000 calories per day. The seventh day is a fasting day with 0 calories permitted. This formula yields 72 fasting days in the year; it averages out at a usual food input of 1,500 calories per day. It appears Fauja Singh is obtaining the same result simply by eating less on an ongoing basis.
Professor Valter Longo of the University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute explains the connection between fasting and increased life span is the hormone “Insulin Growth Factor-1”. This hormone causes children to develop, but when they reach adulthood it stresses the body and appears to cause aging. His evidence is the genetically engineered Laron mouse, which does not produce IGF-1. These creatures can live up to five years much longer than the 2 year life expectancy of a normal mouse. They seem to be immune to cancer and heart disease, and when they die it’s because the heart just stops.
Longo goes on to explain that fasting lowers IGF-1 levels, and when we stop eating the body switches from growth to repair mode when several DNA healing genes switch-on. Dr. Economo feels that eating cessation also reduces damaging free radical levels. The result is a reduction in blood pressure, a decrease in high blood sugar levels, which are in themselves a prelude to diabetes and metabolic levels decrease as the body slow down to conserve its energy resources.
Fasting, especially for the first timer can be difficult. Toxins which are a natural bi-product of today’s lifestyle release and these can cause headaches, dizziness and an general feeling of unwellness, but stick with it and experience extraordinary results. Both Professor Longo and Dr. Economo suggest a prolonged fast is best accomplished under supervision and probably in a quality detox resort, such as Dr. Economo’s European clinics or in one or two of the recommended facilities in Koh Samui. That’s it for this week. Catch you again next week; if you would like advice and recommendations about fasting and detoxing make contact via the website.
Alister Bredee
Koh Samui
November 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Greek style yoghurt, a natural source of probiotics:

Probiotics was a question we covered   a few weeks ago. Maybe now is an excellent place to define the term probiotic, so everyone is clear as to the definition. The international description says that probiotics are organisms living within the host’s bio system that confer health benefits. The human gut, for example, contains somewhere in the region of 2 kilograms of live bacteria. Some of these bacteria are good, and some are bad. For potent digestive health to happen we require the beneficial bacteria to outweigh the detrimental. Remember, too, that superior digestive health is the key to complete nutritional health. To achieve this end, we recommend you include a substantial percentage of friendly bacteria in your diet.
Where do you get this? The first place to look is within the realms of fermented foods. In times, past people ate more fermented food because this was an ideal means of preserving food before the days of refrigeration. In those times, drinking water came from wells where the bacterial overgrowth provided a plentiful supply of humic acid, another good source of probiotics. Today, many of these older natural links to healthful bacteria have been replaced by supposed new and better ways of doing things. Now, we have to go out of our way to sustain ourselves with these living organisms. We need to eat fermented foods, and for those who can tolerate dairy products, yoghurt provides an ideal answer, or does it? Many yoghurt brands claim they are plentifully stocked with probiotics, but they are not! Most commercial brands found in supermarkets are chock full of added sugar. Bacteria are living matter and they die off because of the toxicity of the sugar. Today, sugar is growing more expensive, so food producers turn to artificial sweeteners to offset costs. The worst of these is controversial aspartame, which hides behind well-known brand names like NutraSweet. US alternative medicine researcher and publicist Dr. Joe Mercola claims it to be “the most dangerous food additive on the market”. He bases his claims on several studies that have been conducted over the years. Dr. Russell Blaylock, a retired neurosurgeon brands the sweetener an excitotoxin and further claims, "Excitotoxins have been found to dramatically promote cancer growth and metastasis. In fact, one aspartame researcher noticed that, when cancer cells were exposed to aspartame, they became more mobile … “All compelling reasons to avoid commercially produced yoghurts that say they are a terrific source of probiotics.
Greek yoghurt is free of added sugar, but milk contains its own sugar, called lactose. When they come to make this kind of yoghurt, they strain off the liquid whey and with it goes a lot of the lactose. This is then a remarkably healthy environment for natural probiotics to develop. This leaves a creamy, thick substance which is extremely high in protein. The content is 16 protein Gms per 100 Gms of weight. The human need for protein is another modern day fable. We don’t require massive amounts of protein to promote cell growth. Calculate the daily requirement as being 1Gm of protein per 1 kilo of body weight. A man weighing 70 kilos requires approximately 70 Gms of protein intake per day. This is not a huge amount; it will fit comfortably in the palm of your hand. Greek yoghurt makes an excellent protein source, being much easier to digest than meat, for example.
Christos Panidimos is a long time resident of Koh Samui and is now the patron of the “Fi” Restaurant, located on the road leading up to Tesco-Lotus in Bophut.  Here they make 30 to 40 kilos of probiotic rich Greek yoghurt daily. His uncle Evagalos Polyhropoulos teaches food sciences at the Haropio University in Athens. He attests to the nutritional value of this product. Both men urge everybody to use it instead of mayonnaise or butter and suggest the yoghurt provides the basis of a mouthwatering breakfast when mixed with fresh fruit. 
Alister Bredee
This article first appeared in "The Southern Times" of 1st December 2012