Why is sugar bad for you?

coffee cup and sugar dispenserWhen I was a child the only bad thing I ever remember hearing about eating sugar was that it would give you bad teeth. Occasionally someone might say you would get fat if you ate too much, but not very often.

Now it seems that sugar is about the worst thing you can eat. We constantly hear about how toxic sugar is, and how it can cause all kinds of health problems, including diabetes, liver disease and cancer.

So what is it about sugar that is so bad for you? Let’s start with a look at some different types of sugar. [Read more…]

Digestive system basics

Digestive system cartoonA big part of a healthy lifestyle is eating the right things, and avoiding the wrong things.

When talking about diet and nutrition the digestive system is mentioned a lot. So I thought I would provide a brief summary of what happens in the various parts of the digestive system.

At its simplest, you can think of the digestive system as a tube. You put food in one end of the tube.

All the nutrients your body needs are extracted from the food as it passes through, and the waste comes out the other end. [Read more…]

Vitamin B3 (niacin) health benefits

B3 imageI recently found some health-related documentaries on Netflix that are pretty good. You may already know some of them, like “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”, “Food, Inc”, and “Hungry for Change”, all of which are excellent.

Check them out if you haven’t already.

The one that really caught my attention though, is called “Food Matters”. It’s a little more laid-back in approach than the others, with mostly experts talking.

The theme of the film is how much your health could be improved by eating more healthy food, and not relying on the standard drugs and surgery approach to healthcare.

I was aware of several of the topics covered, such as mega-dose vitamin C to prevent and treat various illnesses and infections.

The thing that I hadn’t really heard about before was that Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, can be used to treat depression and lower your blood cholesterol. [Read more…]

High blood cholesterol – why is it bad for you?

burger with stethoscopeWhat is cholesterol anyway?

Cholesterol is a kind of fat that you eat as a normal part of the diet. You also produce your own cholesterol in your liver.

Cholesterol is essential in your body. It is used to produce steroid hormones (testosterone, estrogen, aldosterone, cortisol, and so on), and it is important to make our body cells flexible.

So why does cholesterol get such a bad press?

High levels of cholesterol in the blood, also known as hypercholesterolemia, has been linked with all sorts of health problems, mostly due to blood vessel damage.

You may have heard about “good” cholesterol and “bad cholesterol”, but really there is only one kind of cholesterol (a bit of an oversimplification but we don’t want to go mad here). It is where the cholesterol is found that makes it good or bad, and how much of it there is.

You may also have heard of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, dietary cholesterol, endogenous cholesterol, and so on. What I thought I might do here is try to make some sense of cholesterol and why too much of it can be bad for you. [Read more…]

Nine popular weight-loss diets and how they work

weight-loss diets doctor with appleI’m always intrigued by the names of the various weight-loss diets that come along from time to time.

You usually hear about them at the beginning of January when everyone is trying to lose a few pounds as one of their new year resolutions, or in late spring/early summer when everyone is trying to squeeze into their swimsuits.

I suppose the intriguing names are designed to draw us in, and make us think that maybe this time it will be different. Maybe this time you will lose weight, and keep the weight off.

Making weight-loss diets less boring

I’m a firm believer that if you want to lose weight you just need to eat less and exercise more, but that’s a bit boring isn’t it? Following a diet with a catchy name and a clear philosophy behind it must help to motivate us. [Read more…]

Dietary fiber – what are the health benefits?

dietary fiber - bowl of high-fiber cerealI often hear people saying that we should all have more fiber in our diet. They also tell us what types of food are high in dietary fiber.

What they don’t usually do is explain what dietary fiber is or why we should have more of it in our diet. So I thought I would look into it. [Read more…]