Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Could Food Intolerance Be Slowing Down Your Practise?

I bet you didn’t know you could flatten your tummy, dramatically boost your energy, and inject new life into your Bikram practise in just three days?

‘Yeah, right’, I hear you scoff.

‘I’ve heard that one before!’

Well this is for real. Seriously.

Now, don’t get too excited, I don’t mean that your excess body fat will magically disappear in its entirety in just three days or that you'll be doing the standing splits in floor bow!

So what am I talking about then?

Here’s a hint – have you ever had a delicious pasta or risotto, or maybe a big cheesy pizza, only to wake up the next morning with a stomach so gassy it could just about fuel a hot air balloon?

Ever been sinus-y all day after drinking one too many lattes over breaky?

If this rings even the hint of a bell then you could have a food intolerance. Ninety percent of the people I've consulted over the years have some form of food intolerance, and recent research shows that up to sixty-five percent of our population could have undiagnosed food intolerances. That's plural. Given those stats, it's probably worth looking into - wouldn't you say?

The most common intolerances are wheat, gluten (a protein that is found in wheat and some other grains), and dairy, but it is conceivable that any food – including fruits, vegetables and any form of protein, animal or vegetable – could be causing you some major gut disruption, zapping your energy both in and out of the Bikram room, and causing a host of other complaints from headaches, to mood swings, to increased body fat.

So What Is a Food Intolerance?
• A food intolerance is not the same as an allergy. An allergy can severely incapacitate you, even to the point of death in some cases, whereas an intolerance shows up with low-level symptoms such as bloating, sinus problems, digestive disorders and general discomfort. This is why many intolerances often go unnoticed for years.

• Despite the low level symptoms caused by food intolerance, they can – over time – result in some pretty serious outcomes, including (but by no means limited to!) a poorly functioning colon, chronic low back pain, chronic sinus problems, and increased fat storage as a result of poor metabolism and digestion of food. On top of this, that bloated look just ain’t pretty, and it sure don't feel good!

The good news is that eliminating a food that you are intolerant to from your diet will immediately improve your digestion, ridding you of uncomfortable symptoms and resulting in a visibly flatter and more comfortable stomach in as little as two or three days.

How To Determine If YOU Have a Food Intolerance
Well, the chances are that if you think a food isn’t agreeing with you, you’re probably on the right track. But here’s what you can do to be sure:

• Keep track of the symptoms you think are related. This may include bloating or gas, headaches, blurry vision, mental fogginess, and clogged sinuses. If you notice that you experience one or more of these every time you eat a certain food, you are most likely intolerant to that food.

• Take the pulse test. Measure your heart rate before you eat the offending food item. The simplest way to do this is sit down, find your pulse and count the beats for 60 seconds. Next, eat the food, and then after one minute, re-measure your heart rate. If it has raised or lowered by more than 4 beats p/minute, you may be intolerant to that food.

• The most conclusive way to know if you are intolerant to a certain food, is to be tested. Testing can be done through an allergist, a kinesiologist, a naturopath, or a nutritionist. Each will have their own methods of testing. Before booking in with someone, I’d recommend chatting with them over the phone.

Solving the Problem
From here it’s a simple process of cutting out the food in question. To really see a difference, I’d recommend doing this for at least two weeks. Having said that, if a food has been really wreaking havoc with your system, cutting it out will create noticeable change in as little as two or three days. Not only will you enjoy the aesthetic benefits of a flatter belly, you’ll be improving your health, energy and mental focus - not to mention taking your body to places you never thought you'd go in the Yoga room!

Not just Food for Yoga - Food for Life

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Eat Fat, Lose Fat

Eat fat to lose fat.

Sounds kinda crazy at first, doesn’t it?

Some years back a friend tried to get me off the low-fat bandwagon. I told him there was no way! I had a hard enough time as losing that last layer and thought he must be mad to suggest the solution was to eat more fat!

As I’m sure you guessed from the title of this post, I came around. And as much as I know that most avid Bikram devotees practice for health reasons, for injury rehabilitation, or just because we love it so much, I also know that many people hope to lose body fat through Bikram. Achieving an ideal level of body fat is just one aspect of good health (yes, it's not just about looking a certain way), but it's one that cause ongoing stress and turmoil for many people.

So let me save you some heartache. Coming back to that friend of mine ... to cut a long story short, let me tell you that these days, after years of my own research and testing, I advise many of my clients to increase their intake of good fats – even saturated fat and cholesterol.

I’m not insane, I’m not trying to kill you, and I’m certainly not the first person to sing the praises of fat. In fact, a recent article will explain for you in eye-opening detail just how and when fat suddenly started getting such a bad rap. Some of this information might be quite shocking – for example, there was actually never any conclusive evidence showing that saturated fat causes heart disease.

So how can eating fat help you lose fat?

Let’s start with the health facts
The article I referred to does a great job of allaying concerns about heart disease and diabetes. I’ll throw my two cents worth in with a few more fat facts.

1. Your body will use carbohydrates to make saturated fat – even if you don’t eat any fat.
2. This is because you need fat for cell stiffness, to protect your liver and vital organs, and to enhance immune function.
3. You hormonal system cannot work efficiently without sufficient fat and cholesterol. This could lower your metabolism, decrease your sex drive and contribute to bad moods and poor energy.

How About the Weight Loss Part?
One of the roles of fat is to act as a sustainable energy source, helping you to perform at your best both mentally and physically. For this reason, quality fat (see below) will be stored as a ‘use-soon’ energy source. It won’t get shipped to your fat cells. Replacing sugary and starchy foods like white bread, pasta, rice and potatoes and even excess fruit with quality fats will balance your hormonal system and allow your body to release existing toxins and stored fats. It will also kick-start your metabolism, increase your satiety, and reduce cravings. Pretty cool, huh?!

So Which Fats are we Talking About? And How Much?
It’s not a long or complicated list. I start by recommending each client take a quality, mercury-free Salmon or Fish Oil supplement each day. Any health food or supplement store will be able to point you to a good one. Next, I recommend increasing fats like extra virgin olive oil, avocado, olives, and organic meat and poultry – including the rind or skin. I say organic because the fat of conventional animals stores toxins. Nuts and seeds (raw) can be a great source of fat but I do find people tend to indulge with these!

Lastly, I recommend switching from olive or vegetable oil to coconut oil for all cooking. Coconut oil is 92% saturated fat and goes straight to your liver for energy. It will improve digestion, up your metabolism, has anti-inflammatory properties and has even been said to help with cellulite!

How much? As a very general rule I would say that most people need a minimum of 20% good fats in their diet. This is a general guideline and you should speak to a qualified nutritionist or Metabolic Typing adviser for more specific information. As an example, use a few teaspoons of coconut oil to cook, try to incorporate some animal fat daily, and add a little avocado or oil to your main meals..

Until next time – eat fat to lose fat, and enjoy the bonus energy boost!

Not just Food for Yoga. Food for Life.