Here’s my latest Jersey Evening Post article – on how to stay away from the doctor (and save money):
‘Forty quid? You pay £40 to see a doctor?’ said my English friend. ‘Great incentive not to get ill, eh?’ Well, you’d think so, but I know my own doctors’ surgery finds it hard to keep up with demand, and I believe it is the same Island-wide. How can we keep out of the surgeries, saving ourselves money and decreasing the strain on our health service?
The good news is, many people can cut the amount of times they go to see the doctor. Of course, I’m not talking about acute conditions here, but largely preventable ones, many of which are caused in big part by a diet that is wrong for that person.
We know that there are five healthy behaviours that can make a significant difference to both life expectancy and healthy years of life: not smoking; moving around (ie, not being sedentary); eating healthily; being a healthy weight; and drinking moderately.
However, we also know that, for a number of reasons, fewer than 1% of people follow all five healthy behaviours… and just 5% engage in four or all five of them. Interestingly, this isn’t just a phenomenon of the 2000s: the stats haven’t changed since we first looked at them in 1979.
This raises the question: should current public health prevention ‘strategies’ be scrapped? They patently don’t work – remember the plasticine characters popping around on the TV suggesting you eat/do… hmm, I can’t remember either, and nor can anyone else in the café where I’m sat writing this article: it was that effective. Here’s another: the NHS’s EatWell Plate, which, when examined closely for what it promotes, should be renamed the EatUnhealthily Plate and shown for what it really is: a path to ill-health.
There’s too much to cover in this short piece, so let’s just look at being very overweight and its associated health problems. Before I outline some thoughts please know I haven’t met anyone who is overweight or obese who has chosen to be so, and I sincerely do not believe that it’s because they are lazy or gluttonous. It is time to chuck that ‘calories in = calories out’ myth into a very deep bin.
If you are very overweight (or generally slim, but with a protruding belly), you are probably suffering with a string of problems including inflammation, ‘leaky gut’ and insulin resistance; you may well be experiencing bloating, acid reflux, sore joints, fatigue, anxiety and more. Much of this is because of the giant experiment you have been subject to thanks to the UK’s slavish following of the US’s ‘healthy rules’; Big Food and Big Pharma have also played their parts.
You may disagree with what I’m about to write, but first look at the science papers and the governments’ websites, and then we can have a good discussion over a glass of dry red or soda water. You’ll see the authorities are quietly reversing much of their advice: for example, they are now doing an about-face and acknowledging sugar is bad and saturated fats are fine! Why do they not announce these changes with the same fanfare they used when telling us the new “all carbs good, all fats bad” mantra?
Based on the best available science, some of what we currently believe is this: saturated fats and cholesterol are essential in the body; the less stable polyunsaturated fats are needed too, but should not be used for cooking with (as they turn into toxic transfats); you cannot lose fat when insulin levels are constantly raised by snacking on sugary or starchy foods; it takes many years, but grains cause inflammation and are associated with many auto-immune conditions; gut dysbiosis (ie, the wrong sort of gut bacteria) is also associated with ill health and an inability to lose weight.
There’s more of course, but what it boils down to is many of you can start to break the staying overweight, low energy cycle by not snacking on carbs, not buying packaged foods, and basing meals around fatty meats and fish, eggs, some root and plenty of leafy vegetables, cheese and bio-yoghurt. Taking probiotics for a few months, eating fermented foods (such as sauerkraut) and using soap rather than antibacterial washes will help too. As you start to gain health, you’ll find you’re spontaneously starting to move around more.
You get better and it’s all great – unless we adopt the English practice where you get struck off the list if you haven’t been to see your doctor for three years…