Health – What’s Paleo got to do with it?

Paleo Diet FlowchartPhoto by: NextTwentyEight

The application of evolutionary frameworks onto modern world issues has proved popular in a range of spheres with particular mention given to evolutionary medicine, psychology and even social policy. To avoid improper interpretation by non-specialists in this field, archaeologists and anthropologists should encourage knowledge and awareness to avoid stereotypical assumptions and sometimes dangerous conclusions.

Misinformation is particularly a problem in the case of the health and fitness industry. The popularity of the Stone Age Diet and ‘ancestral eating’ plans such as Neanderthin has soared over the past ten years. Eating ‘primally’ has gathered celebrity backing from actresses such as Cameron Diaz who purports in The Body Book that our bodies are still that of ‘hunter-gatherers’ and struggle to align with modern ways of eating.

The idea of attempting to eat like our ancestors did was pioneered by medical doctor Walter Voegtlin in the 1970s. The degree to which the recommendations of the diet are backed up by archaeological and ethnographic evidence, however, is debatable.

The basic principles of the diet as stipulated by Voegtlin are as follows:

  • Any type of meat
  • Any type of fish
  • Only canned or cooked vegetables allowed
  • No vegetable or fruit juice
  • Only black coffee allowed

This is all very theoretical, is there any archaeological evidence to support this?

Paleolithic diet reconstruction comes in the form of environmental reconstruction, coprolite, and isotopic analysis. The remains of some large animals that were likely hunted, such as Mammoth and big game, can also give us some clues as to the types of meat our hominid ancestors were eating. However, the pattern in which they were consuming these animals likely differed considerably to modern interpretation.

If we were consuming pure meat from muscle alone, we would quickly become malnourished, as it does not provide all the required essential nutrients. Fats and other essential nutrients are gathered through the accessing of bone marrow and the consumption of the partially digested stomach contents of the hunted animal. This is a significant shortcut to biomass that our ancestors used as a means of bypassing the need to digest difficult-to-process plant foods. In turn, humans were able to invest more energy into growing larger brains (a process known as encephalisation) and evolve a simpler digestive system that consumes significantly less energy.

This corresponds with the expensive tissue hypothesis (Aeillo and Wheeler 1995). Animals of larger size that are herbivores, such as cows, have two stomachs that are able to digest difficult-to-process resources such as grasses. Digesting plant material takes significant amounts of energy that could be directed towards brain development.

It makes sense to assert that our ancestors ate meat as it was efficient source of energy; however, the degree to which meat featured prominently within their diet is debatable. High consumption of meat is associated with a range of health conditions including heart disease and obesity. Bacon, a component of the Paleo diet which is heavily publicised, has recently been named a carcinogen and processed meat by the WHO.

References

Aiello, L.C., Wheeler, P., 1995. The Expensive-Tissue Hypothesis: The Brain and the Digestive System in Human and Primate Evolution. Current Anthropology.

Diaz, C. 2013. Hunter, Gatherer, Drive-Thru-er. In: The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, The Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body. New York: Harper Collins.

Voegtlin, W.L., 1975. The stone age diet: Based on in-depth studies of human ecology and the diet of man. New York: Vantage Press.

I got an iPhone! + Apps I dig

Yes folks, it was difficult, it was emotional, but I finally jumped ship from Blackberry to iPhone and I have to say, asides from the querty keyboard, I’m not missing it too much!

Here are a few apps that have been amusing me:

1) Yoga Studio (£1.99)

Snazzy little app that has a wide range of yoga classes from beginner to advanced – also gives audio guidance so you can practice without staring at the screen!
Peps me up for my day mah-usively.

2) Dashlane – Free (for basic)

I have the worst memory ever – stores all my passwords and login details for all my accounts and all you need is a 4-digit pin code for access! Ker-Ching!

3) 7 Minute Workout Challenge (£1.50)

I love hiIT! Classic range of high intensity interval training routines – again like Yoga Studio – provides commentary and timings aloud. Scientific study backs up its effectiveness!

4) Coffitivity (free)

For when I’m studying – provides 3 different types of background noise (morning, lunch time and university style noise?!) which has been scientifically proven to boost concentration and creativity versus studying in silence.

5) Blogilates! (Free)

Big fan of Cassey Ho – this app provides a wide range of Cassey’s workouts as well as recipes! And now has a new and improved social network with profiles!

Winter Warmers: never underestimate the power of a hot tomato soup

413059_10152302008965276_771392268_o

Brrr it’s chilly! I’m glancing glumly at my iPhone’s weather app – yep, a bleak 4 degrees blinks across the screen, but have no fear fellow Londoners, the handy cost-effective can of Heinz Tomato Soup packs more of a nutritional punch than we first thought!

5 Tomato-tastic Facts that will blow your noggin!

1) Breathe a sigh of relief: Tomatoes can actually help reverse damage caused by smoking!  Chlorogenic and coumaric acid, the two main ingredients in tomato soup, eliminate carcinogens!

2) Help for the diabetic: Tomatoes contain high levels of the element ‘chromium’ to help aid in blood glucose regulation which is important for all of us!

3) No bone to pick: Tomatoes are in abundance of vitamins C and K which are vital for bone health

4) Hearty food: Tomatoes are also rich in vitamin B and potassium: two key ingredients for lowering blood pressure

5) Cancer Fighter: Tomatoes are high in carotenoids (a type of antioxidant molecule) that protect the body from free radical damage

Confessions of a Wannabe Yogini

Yoga as a concept has always appealed to me, aspirational images of trendy and trim supermodels clad in loose fitting soft-knit pastel sweaters and leggings float into my mind when I consider the subject. Miranda Kerr is a solid devotee and practices 2 hours every morning (oms and all!) as part of her Nichiren Buddhist practice. Snickering aside, it cannot be disputed that yoga has many benefits to offer (both physical and mental) so I figured I’d try and make it a commitment for 2013 as part of my fitness schedule. Here I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and hints I’ve found from researching how to get into practicing yoga correctly and without pain.

with thanks to GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS via Creative Commons

with thanks to GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS via Creative Commons

Now, I’ve had an on-off relationship with yoga, some poses bode well for me and some I just feel pressure in all the wrong places and left me limping out of the class clinging to my hip. Note: this is NOT how one should feel when leaving a yoga class! Yes folks, I’ll admit, I was doing it all wrong.

1) Don’t over do it!

The number one thing I cannot stress more than anything when trying out yoga for the first time is not to force your body into any poses to a point where you feel pain. Getting competitive with Bendy Brigitte on the mat next to you will most likely leave you with a pulled muscle, pain and discomfort. If it begins to hurt then it is no longer yoga (so don’t pull those extreme funky backbends too soon).

2) Use the blocks

You’ll often find firm rubber blocks at the back of the practice room. In order to keep your body alignment and form in tip top shape place them under points of contact with the mat (knees when doing the candle pose or sit on them to help in the simple lotus pose). Also remember to bring a towel for head support and if you find your hips/feet are particularly bony on the mat and cause any discomfort.

3) Get to know your Chakras

Your instructor is likely to tell you what asanas (poses) your doing and where they are located. It is best to learn what these chakras are associated with to get full benefit in terms of mind-body awareness. Below is a quick summary (source: MindBodyGreen):

  1. Root Chakra: Foundation of feeling and being grounded, located at the base of the spine in the tailbone area, associated with survival issues, financial independence, money, food
  2. Sacral Chakra: Connection and ability to accept others and new experiences, located in the lower abdomen, associated with sense of abundance, well-being, pleasure, sexuality
  3. Solar Plexus Chakra: Ability to be confident and in-control of our lives, located in the upper abdomen, associated with self-worth, self-confidence, self-esteem
  4. Heart Chakra: Ability to love, located at the centre of the chest just above the heart, associated with love, joy and inner peace
  5. Throat Chakra: Ability to communicate, located in the throat, associated with communication, self-expression, feelings, truth
  6. Third Eye Chakra: Ability to focus on and see the big picture, located at the forehead, between the eyes, associated with intuition, imagination, wisdom, thought, decision-making
  7. Crown Chakra: Highest chakra, ability to be fully connected spiritually, located at the top of the head, associated with inner and outer beauty, connection to spirituality and pure bliss

4) Remember to follow the instructed inhales and exhales!

All the times I’ve gone into yoga classes and ignored this I left feeling tired. Try the breathing practices (the most common being breathe in for 6 counts, breathe out for 8) and you’ll find yourself in deeper relaxation and benefitting from greater detoxing effects on the body!

Working out with Cassey Ho of Blogilates!

Imagine my delight when Pilates guru and fitness inspiration Cassey Ho came over to London during the Olympics! I had been following her vids for about two years now and she is amazing, I came across her work by clicking on my suggested videos and never looked back, she is just so personable and motivating to work out with! It was so awesome to work out with Cassey and my fellow Popsters in London’s Hyde Park!

Navasana Pose!

Navasana Pose!

614870_10151981073795276_70600961_o

 

Sporting some super cute Sweaty Betty gear! Loved all the colours!

622562_10151981071235276_1458815336_o

5 Tips for a Successful Cardio Workout

Cardio, something new gym goers usually shy away from (well I did at least), but just like anaerobic

with thanks to Photostock at freedigitalphotos.net

with thanks to Photostock at freedigitalphotos.net

exercise, your fitness and resistance levels increase the more regularly you do it! In the interim, however, there are a few things you can do to decrease the discomfort experienced during your run or High Intensity Interval Training. These are just also pretty useful for veteran runners!

1) Find a kick-ass playlist to keep you motivated – workout music service on youtube has made some fabulous compilations to keep the pace going on my iPod and there’s research to back it up in a study at Brunel University London in 2010 it was found that music can increase endurance by 15%! This is most probably because it distracts one through the aches and pains of cardio! I don’t know where I’d be without my iPod for sure!

2) Make sure you wait an hour or so after eating a light meal or snack before hitting the treadmill, you’re more likely to experience stitches (another pain!) which could slow you down.

3) Power up with water, just water, as flavoured and energy enhancement drinks often contain high amounts of sugar which will leave you at risk of energy spikes (and slows down metabolism!) Aim to drink half a litre during your run

4) Train smarter, not harder. I initially pounded away on the treadmill for about 40-60 minutes at a steady pace, which was good for building my endurance initially, however, I’ve recently switched over to high intensity interval training style workouts in combination with long distance runs so I’m always challenging myself. High intensity interval training ‘shocks’ your body into burning more calories without muscle wastage or stress – plus the beauty of HIIT is that it only takes twenty minutes, three times a week! I tend to do 30 second sprints with one and a half minutes rest six times.

5) Up your protein intake after you exercise – this will increase your muscle recovery and potentially reduce symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS

Hanging at the Castle!

A rather snazzy climbing place I’ve discovered in London is the Castle Climbing Centre, if you’re curious about going Bouldering or indeed harnessed climbing it’s a really pleasant atmosphere and easy to navigate! There’s also a lovely sustainable cafe to fit vegetarian and vegan diets with some very comfy sofas! To find out more click here 🙂

eek! it was rather high up!

eek! it was rather high up!