Emma Nutrition

Simplifying the science through cooking and education. When I'm not on Mummy duties…


Fathers health affects offspring

Research suggests fathers diet, body weight, health at conception may contribute to obesity in offspring. If fathers have a high fat diet, diabetes and were obese their offspring have altered gene expression in the pancreas and in fat.

Finally we understand how dad’s can have a positive impact on the health of their babies!


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Fruit Restriction Proven WRONG for Type 2 Diabetes

Fruit Restriction Proven WRONG for Type 2 Diabetes

Guest post by Naturopath Case Adams

A recent study by Danish hospital researchers has disproven the efficacy of the advice given typically given by conventional doctors and nutritionists that type 2 diabetics should lay off the fruit.


The research comes from the Department of Nutrition of Denmark’s West Jutland Regional Hospital. The researchers tested fruit consumption on 63 men and women who had been recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The researchers randomized the participants into two groups. One group was given the advice to eat at least two fruits a day, while the other was given the more common conventional medicine advice to eat no more than two fruits a day. This advice accompanied the other typical medical and nutritional advice typically given to diabetics.

The participants then recorded their fruit consumption each day for three months. Before and after the trial began the patients were tested for HbA1c status, body weight and waist circumference. Because many of the patients were overweight, their diet plan also included strategies for weight loss.

The HbA1c test shows the mean glucose levels over the past three months. It illustrates glucose control among diabetics. Less than 5.6% or lower is considered normal, while 5.7 to 6.5 is considered pre-diabetic, and more than 6.5% is considered diabetic. The patients studied were all over 6.5%.

After the three months on their new diets, the patients were all re-tested, and their fruit consumption was analyzed together with their HbA1c results, weight and waist size.

The researchers found that those on the high fruit diet had little difference in their relative HbA1c levels, amount of weight loss or waist size as compared to the group that consumed less fruit.

The researchers concluded that:

“A recommendation to reduce fruit intake as part of standard medical nutrition therapy in overweight patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes resulted in eating less fruit. It [consuming less fruit] had however no effect on HbA1c, weight loss or waist circumference. We recommend that the intake of fruit should not be restricted in patients with type 2 diabetes.”

In fact, when the data is looked at more closely, those who ate more fruit had slightly more weight loss and lower ending waist circumference than those who ate less fruit.

The high-fruit diet group had an average weight reduction of 2.5 kilos while the low-fruit diet group had a 1.7 kilogram average loss in weight. Meanwhile, the high-fruit diet group had an average waistline shrinkage of 4.3 centimeters, while the low-fruit diet had an average shrinkage of 3.0 centimeters.

The reason why this nutritional advice of lower fruit consumption has been erroneous is that conventional medicine has failed to understand the importance of consuming the fibers within fruits: They have assumed the sugar levels of fruit without the fiber. Whole fruits contain a number of long-chain polysaccharides – such as pectin and others – which have been shown to reduce glycemic levels and balance blood sugar.

This reality – that fruits pose no threat to type 2 diabetics – has been in front of conventional medicine for over two decades. Research at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Minneapolis in the early nineties – published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition – tested seven diabetic men with bananas of various ripeness. Their testing illustrated that the ripeness of the bananas had no effects upon the patients’ levels of glucose, insulin, C-peptide and glucagon. This should have led to the immediate abandonment of this notion that fruit is not advisable for diabetics.

In fact, the precisely opposite is true.

Just about every whole fruit will contain both soluble and insoluble fiber – often at precisely the perfect levels for our digestive tract. Fiber levels among popular fruits range from a low of about three grams for every 100 calories to a high of seven to over eight grams per 100 calories – among raspberries, blackberries (about a cup), prunes and figs. An apple or pear will contain close to four grams each.

Fruit juices, on the other hand, present the sugar of fruits without their fiber. Thus fruit juices are a quite different thing altogether.

Most health-oriented nutritionists suggest that between 30 and 40 grams a day of fiber is best, while some suggest as low as 25 is okay. Most Americans eat between 10 and 15 grams per day. Fiber is critical to maintaining blood sugar balance.

Soluble fiber – also called water-soluble – has been shown to lower cholesterol because it prevents bile from reabsorption – as bile acids are produced from cholesterol. Fiber will attach bile acids and escort them out of the body. Soluble fiber also slows carbohydrate absorption and decreases insulin requirements. These together help balance blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber attaches to toxins and waste material in the digestive tract and escorts them out of the intestines.

Fruits make up one of the best ways to get both soluble and insoluble fiber. Other ways to add beneficial fibers to the diet include whole grains and seeds. Psyllium husks and flaxseeds are some of the best supplemental forms of fiber.


Christensen AS, Viggers L, Hasselström K, Gregersen S. Effect of fruit restriction on glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes–a randomized trial. Nutr J. 2013 Mar 5;12:29.

Ercan N, Nuttall FQ, Gannon MC, Lane JT, Burmeister LA, Westphal SA. Plasma glucose and insulin responses to bananas of varying ripeness in persons with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. J Am Coll Nutr. 1993 Dec;12(6):703-9.

Adams C. The Living Food Diet: The Ultimate Diet for Increasing Vitality, Losing Weight and Preventing Disease. Logical Books, 2011.

Case Adams is a California Naturopath and holds a Ph.D. in Natural Health Sciences. His focus is upon science-based natural health solutions. He is the author of 25 books on natural health and numerous print and internet articles. A listing and description of many of his books can be found on Realnatural.org. A new video series on low back pain can be found on Healthy-back.net. Case appreciates feedback and questions at case@caseadams.com.

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Is fructose causing obesity and metabolic syndrome? (Video)

Here is an exciting video about fructose and its effects on the body. It is long but very interesting. Enjoy!

Sugar: the bitter truth

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“Fat talk” – does it make us fatter?

Women who engage in “fat talk” (women speaking negatively about the size and shape of their bodies) face greater dissatisfaction with their bodies and are more likely to have internalized an ultra-thin body ideal than those who engage in fat talk less frequently, according to a review article from Psychology of Women Quarterly.


Study results found that while frequency of fat talk was associated with increased dissatisfaction with women’s own bodies; over half of the participants reported that they believe fat talk actually makes them feel better about their bodies. It’s concerning that women might think fat talk is a helpful coping mechanism, when it’s actually exacerbating body image disturbance. Researchers Rachel H. Salk of the University of Wisconsin and Renee Engeln-Maddox of Northwestern University found that “fat talk” is overwhelmingly common in the college-age women they studied, with more than 90 percent reporting they engaged in “fat talk.”

“The most common response to fat talk was denial that the friend was fat,” wrote Salk and Engeln-Maddox, “most typically leading to a back-and-forth conversation where each of two healthy weight peers denies the other is fat while claiming to be fat themselves.”

An additional interesting finding was that the frequency of “fat talk” was not related to a respondent’s BMI. “In other words, there was no association between a woman’s actual body size and how often she complained about her body size with peers,” Salk and Engeln-Maddox wrote.
“These results serve as a reminder,” wrote Salk and Engeln-Maddox, “that for most women, fat talk is not about being fat, but rather about feeling fat.”

This study shows a fascinating aspect of women’s personalities and exposes the core of, what I believe, to be the single most important barrier to weight loss; appreciation of our bodies. Recently I have tried to appreciate my body for what it is, what it has achieved and what it can do. For example, I could carry my two children out of a burning building, I can run as far as I need to run and I feel strong. Sure, I could lose a little weight and tone a bit more but overall I’m happy with my body. Try it for yourself; appreciate your body. It’s truly liberating!

Here’s an exercise to try:

Find an old photo of yourself from a time you felt fatter than you wanted to be. Take a good look at it…. We’re you really as fat as you felt? Did you look happy? Was your skin healthy? Mostly I find that this exercise makes me wonder why I felt fat when in reality I looked a whole lot better than I thought I did at the time. The purpose of this exercise is to hopefully highlight how beautiful your body is, and was, and how our perception of ourselves could sometimes be a little kinder.

R. H. Salk, R. Engeln-Maddox. “If You’re Fat, Then I’m Humongous!”: Frequency, Content, and Impact of Fat Talk Among College Women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 2011; 35 (1): 18 DOI: 10.1177/0361684310384107

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Genetic testing and weight loss

Have you ever wondered whether your weight is high or low due to genetics? Why you put on weight just by looking at a biscuit while your skinny friend eats all day and never gains? Could it be due to your genes? Might your parents and your grandparents be responsible for your waist size? Genetic testing weight image

Possibly! Or possibly not! Let me explain…

Weight gain is a very complicated science. If it were simple it wouldn’t be a multimillion dollar industry! People wouldn’t put themselves through extreme diets, punishing bootcamps or psychological guilt over and over again. So often I hear how simple it is to lose weight “just eat less calories than you burn”, “less input;more output” etc etc. While exercise or moving our bodies can reduce weight, it is not as simple as burning off last nights chocolate indulgence. Exercise also builds muscle which burns more energy and makes us look slimmer, it massages our internal organs promoting them to function better and increases mitochondrial production (energy at the cellular level) that has a host of important roles. It really is not a simple process.

What if I told you I can test your fat genes? Would you jump at the chance? What if I told you I could test your gastrointestinal system, your cardiovascular system, sex hormones, lipids, adrenals and more? It is possible to test all of these and quite simply too. It is not cheap though and would probably set you back well over £3k to test them all, possibly more. Last night Dr Dawn Harper presented a TV show on Channel 4 called Fat Family Tree. I’m not sure who made the decision to call it that…anyhow it claimed to “use cutting edge genetics to decode the genes of an overweight family for whom all other attempts to shed the pounds have not worked. Working out how the family’s genes have put them at risk of excessive weight gain is the first step to devising a diet to help them beat their genes. Based on the latest scientific research, the show’s ‘gene-busting’ diet also promises failsafe diet tips that could help all of us shed the pounds.”

There is excitement in the scientific world about gene polymorphisms. Many findings are clinically significant and useful. For example the study looking at the impact of weight loss and a sodium-reducing diet or the MTHFR gene studies that show how some people can’t change naturally occurring folic acid into the active form that the body requires to carry out its biochemistry and therefore store fat, have a higher predisposition to heart disease, diabetes, miscarrige and depression.

Which tests are available?

  • Digestive and stool analysis
  • Hormone profiles – women and men
  • Adrenal stress index
  • Metabolic profiles
  • Allergy profiles
  • Antibody profiles

    What can I do about it?

    Here are some examples of what you can do about it if you have had a test, have been following a healthy plant based diet, exercise regularly and are still not losing weight or putting on weight easily:

    High Adiposity Index: Remove unhealthy gut bacteria, replace with probiotics, reduce refined carbohydrates, address gastrointestinal issues.

    Gastrointestinal issues: remove pathogens (parasites, fungus, yeast etc), address intolerances, correct nutritional deficiencies, normalise transit time, supplement with enzymes, review inflammatory markers.

    Inflammatory markers: support immune function, remove pathogens, address food sensitivities if present.

    Cardiovascular markers: reduce cholesterol, increase magnesium, coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E, reduce blood pressure, review hormone status.

    Hormonal imbalances: address fatty acid deficiencies, increase B vitamins, review Krebs cycle energy production, increase Magnesium and Zinc, detoxify, address carbohydrate metabolism and insulin sensitivity, balance hormones, check MTHFR gene.

    MTHFR gene you need to take a folic acid supplement. This study showed that minimum of 400mcg per day would help although it is thought that the form of the supplement needs to be as folinic acid not folic acid

    Ultimately you want to be counselled accordingly so that you do not waste money on irrelevant testing. There are many tests you can have done. Some use blood, others use saliva or stool or urine. Where you are based, what your other symptoms are all play a part in the bigger picture. It is wise to also remember that regardless of your test results these do only show your predisposition to something; you may have a mistake in a gene coding that causes a predisposition or puts you at higher risk of something but it generally doesn’t give you a magic bullet solution. A higher risk means simply that and should encourage us to be more vigilant in how we treat our body. A good practitioner will help you to analyse your body, your health history and offer advice as to which type of intervention may be more successful for YOU!

    Should you wish to ask any questions or order any tests you can go here:

    Genova diagnostics – tests. Use the code A70GQ

    Invivo clinical – tests.

    Nutri-Link – use the code WOOL.E2 for 10% discount on supplements. Folinic acid available from this company.



    Are you addicted to food?

    Obesity is killing more Americans than AIDS, all cancers and all accidents combined! Food is todays poison. With over one third of American adults overweight or obese we do need to question whether we are actually eating ourselves to death. Ironically 700,000 NHS employees are obese. Using a research method, it is believed that being obese has risen from the 10th most important risk factor for death in 1990, to the sixth. More than three million in the UK now die from having a ‘high body mass index’.

    Food can be as addictive as cocaine with some people experiencing cravings, binging and withdrawals, says Dr Pamela Peeke author of “The hunger fix”. Some foods, particularly manufactured ones high in fat, salt and sugar are so palatable that we use these to supply our brain with ‘pleasure’ chemicals such as dopamine, endorphins and serotonin.

    Take this test to see if you may suffer from food addiction.

    Peeke believes you can combat cravings with this 3 step approach:

    1. Strengthen the mind by meditating over your food cravings (presumably by telling yourself you don’t need that particular food).

    2. Trick the mouth by eating healthy delicious foods.

    3. Move your muscles. Exercise reduces cravings (by stabilising blood sugar).

    Another way to combat cravings is by using pleasure. Fulfill your desires…
    Yoga lady
    Our brains need pleasure, we cannot function without it. Contrary to cultural belief pleasure is no bad thing. It seems we have been programmed to believe that taking pleasure in something is a mere indulgence; self gratification that only those blessed with extra time or money can really afford. Pleasure is not forbidden! The more we deny ourselves pleasurable experiences the more we will seek it out in food. So go ahead and bring some pleasure into your day – watch the sun rise, do some gentle stretching exercises, have a date with your partner, find a dance class.

    Whatever your pleasure is you will feel more fulfilled for doing it and subsequently you will have less food cravings.


    Cookery shows make us fat!

    They might sometimes cook healthy food but research suggests the wave of cookery shows makes us indulge in fatty, sugary foods.

    Research at Hobart and William Smith Colleges shows that we will eat 44% more food and we are more likely to snack on junk food while watching a cookery show.

    This is a real reminder not to eat in front of the TV.

    I also think slouching on the couch while eating doesn’t help our digestion – its an unnatural position for peristalsis (movement of food) to occur. Sitting upright with a straight back is much better. In some cultures they squat down sitting on one foot which is probably even better.

    We should sit at the table – just like we make our kids do.

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    Hormone contraceptive injection and type 2 Diabetes

    A ground breaking study by Nicole M. Bender has shown that contraceptive implants containing the hormone progestin can increase the risk of developing type 2 Diabetes in obese women.
    20131125-190658.jpg image by Armin Kübelbeck

    There was a 10 percent increase in fasting blood-glucose levels among the skin implant users, compared to a 5 percent increase among the IUD users and a 2 percent decrease among those using non-hormonal methods. The effects on sensitivity to insulin showed a similar trend.

    “All women, including overweight and obese women, need to have access to safe and effective contraception. Obese women are at increased risk for pregnancy-related complications and are sometimes warned by their doctors not to use contraceptives containing estrogen, such as the pill, patch and vaginal ring.” said Penina Segall-Gutierrez, co-investigator of the study. Oestrogen contraceptives can increase the risk of blood clots in these women.

    While contraception is important as pregnancy carries risks of it’s own for obese women, they need to consider the risk of the injection on their long term health.

    Weight loss and/or dietary or supplemental changes can have a massive effect on blood sugar levels.


    New belly fat research

    Scientists have yet again been beavering away for our benefit!


    They’ve been researching how belly fat is different to thigh fat. Interestingly they’ve discovered that genes dictate fat cell distribution ie fat cells are predetermined to where they are stored – thighs or belly.

    Given the detrimental health effects (diabetes, heart attack, osteoporosis etc) its good to know that we may not be entirely responsible for having a fat tummy!

    Of course we are responsible (excluding valid medical reasons) for being overweight, its the actual fat storage depots that we can’t dictate. Did you know that fat cells secrete hormones and proteins that control appetite and blood sugar levels? They aren’t just inert storage depots after all!

    So what do scientists advise we do about it? Frustratingly they don’t know yet!! They hope future studies can evaluate treatment methods.

    There is evidence that brown fat (active fat as opposed to white fat aka flabby fat) can be kick-started to burn more calories. This is by having more healthy gut bacteria – so eating less processed foods and more veg and legumes such as chick peas, lentils etc.

    In the meantime I’m planning my run and pilates session tomorrow as I know that helps trim and tighten my tum-especially after a cheese heavy weekend (mmm I do love Brie as a treat).

    What helps you reduce belly fat?

    Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (2013, January 11). How belly fat differs from thigh fat, and why it matters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 13, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130111092721.htm

    American Chemical Society (2010, September 2). New evidence that fat cells are not just dormant storage depots for calories. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 13, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100901121526.htm

    American Chemical Society (2012, January 12). New evidence that bacteria in large intestine have a role in obesity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 13, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111221105804.htm