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…]

Six ways you can start to be healthier right now

Woman with clockWhen we think about trying to be healthier it sometimes seems like it will be a hard job.

You may think of a detox or other strict diet, cutting out alcohol, running for miles, or whatever. It can seem like there’s a lot to do, so you do nothing.

But does it have to be like that?

I don’t know if you follow cycling (I don’t really), but when I was watching the cycle races at the London Olympics a couple of years ago I kept hearing the phrase “marginal gains”.

The British cycling team seemed to win more medals than anyone else and these marginal gains were said to be the key.

The idea behind this marginal gains approach is that rather than producing a big improvement in one aspect of a process, very small improvements in several areas add up to a massive overall improvement.

I’ve been thinking about this as an approach to improving health. Rather than focusing on one thing, why not just do a little better in lots of areas and let all the small health improvements add up?

So what should you be doing to produce these marginal gains in health? How can you start to be healthier today? [Read more…]

Should we drink more water?

Woman with waterMost people seem to agree that drinking more water is good for us.

In articles in print and on the web, and on television and radio, we are told to drink at least two litres of water a day, or eight cups of water a day, or some other amount.

But the main message is always that we should drink more water.

Since water makes up between three quarters and just over half of our body weight, depending on age, this water has to come from somewhere.

There is now a “Drink Up” campaign, that encourages us to drink more water, with a website that I really can’t understand. Maybe it’s just saying drinking water is cool (nothing wrong with that, of course), with it’s own #spreadthewater hashtag.

I have no reason not to believe that drinking more water is good for us. After all, everyone seems to be in agreement. But I do wonder what evidence there is to support the idea that we need to drink more water. [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…]