Chichester Healthworks

Healthy Highlights

By Debbie Moran, Jan 31 2017 11:29AM

This great article by Dana James (for Mind, Body Green) makes some wise points about sugar. So before you force yourself off that next bar of chocolate read what she has to say. Its not about deprivation, just making the right choices:

"Most of us start the new year with a resolve to change some part of our diet, whether it's for weight loss, clearer skin, a better mood, greater vitality or resolving digestive issues—all of which often come back to ditching sugar. If you've tried to take sugar out of the diet before only to find yourself sneaking in bites of the leftover office-meeting brownies a week later, it isn't that your willpower is weak or that sugar is addictive. There are invisible forces dictating your choices on a regular basis.

Why You Can't Quit Sugar

1. You're not addressing why you crave sugar.

You can crave sugar for a multitude of reasons:

• Destabilized blood sugar levels because of a junky diet, lack of sleep, or stress

• A gut microbiome imbalance such as an overgrowth of yeast, which makes you crave more sugar because that’s how the yeast survives

• You're sad, bored, and need to reward yourself with sugar

• You've created a habit, such as eating a treat after dinner every night.

2. You know sugar is bad, but you give artificial sweeteners (including stevia!) a free pass.

Liquid sugar, like soda, is more damaging than sweet foods because it bypasses the satiety mechanisms. It doesn't send a message to the brain to say that you're full. As there's no corresponding reduction in calories; the soda simply leads to more weight gain. No surprise there, but did you know diet sodas aren't any better? In fact, noncaloric sweeteners such as aspartame, Splenda, and saccharin can change how glucose is regulated and the composition of the gut microflora for the worse, making it, ironically, even harder to lose weight. What about stevia? The research is new and mostly on animals but one group of researchers found that rats had increased weight gain when stevia was consumed. If you're drinking any form of soda or diet soda, make it your priority to drop this habit this week .

3. You believe that you're addicted to sugar.

Sugar is not addictive. The research showing that sugar is more addictive than cocaine was done with saccharin (a noncaloric sweetener), not sugar. If you feel addicted to sweet foods, it's likely that the sugar was combined with fat, like butter or coconut oil. The sweet/fat combination is much more addictive than sugar itself. Most people aren't eating sugar straight from the packets! When you say that sugar is addictive, you disempower yourself. It implies that you have no control of your intake of sugar. You do. And it's time to take your power back!

5 Steps to Quit Sugar for Good

1. Start your day with a protein-based breakfast.

Eggs, chia seed pudding, or a smoothie made with pea protein powder helps to stabilize your blood sugar levels, so you can avoid the glucose drop that causes intense hunger and sugar cravings. Pea protein has been shown to decrease the appetite more than whey protein, the traditional dairy base for smoothies, and it improves the gut microflora.

2. Don't skip fruit.

Fruit is not a string of sugar molecules that needs to be avoided.

It's rich in phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that helps rebalance your biochemistry. The trick is not to sit down and eat an entire fruit platter, as that is too much sugar. Instead, allow yourself to have two pieces of fruit per day: one in your morning smoothie and one as an afternoon or evening snack when your sugar craving kicks in. Fruit will squash a physical craving for sugar. If it doesn't, the craving is coming from your mind—i.e., it's being driven by a habit or an emotional response.

3. Get at least 7.5 hours of sleep.

Yes, sleep helps decrease sweet food cravings! When researchers asked women to reduce their sleep from their regular 7.5 hours to 4.5 hours for four consecutive nights, they craved sweet foods and ate more than 400 extra calories a day! Don't skimp on sleep. It goes against all of your wellness goals. If you can't sleep, take 300 mg of magnesium to help induce a deeper level of sleep, or check out mbg's insomnia class.

4. Ask yourself why.

Before you put those M&M's into your mouth, ask yourself why. Are you bored? Sad? Simply eating mindlessly? What's really going on? It can be helpful to keep a diary of how you feel when you reach for a sugary snack and then address the recurring underlying issue, either by stopping the things that are making you bored (do you really need that sixth Netflix episode?), meditating, or working on underlying mood issues with a professional.

5. Make peace with sugar.

Complete abstinence from sugar isn't necessary, leads to beating yourself unnecessarily if you have one tiny slip up. Instead, allow yourself to have a treat once a week, whether it's dark chocolate, coconut macaroon, or birthday cake. Make this a conscious choice and enjoy every morsel. Make it special and serve it on a plate so that the mind recognizes that you're eating it. Enjoy it with relish, then get back on track the next day. Sugar doesn't need to be avoided, just eaten wisely.

Breaking sugar cravings is complex, but I hope these tips get you started and help you trust yourself around sugary food."

By Dana James for Mind Body Green


By Debbie Moran, Jul 21 2015 10:25AM

We all know without being told that sleep is essential, we simply don't perform as well or feel as on top of things. The following article from nutritionist, health guru Patrick Holford has the latest info on why sleep is so important for our long term health and well being. Including some interesting new thinking. If your sleep concerns you - read on. Debbie Moran

The Power of Sleep by Patrick Holford

Sleep is essential ‘nourishment’ for both your body and mind and a vital part of the health equation.

According to our 100% Health Survey, 55 per cent of the population has difficulty sleeping or has restless sleep, while 43 per cent wake up feeling tired. In the Sleep Council’s 2013 Great British Bedtime survey, only 30 per cent of men and 22 per cent of women said they sleep very well. Almost half (47 per cent) said that stress and worry keep them awake at night. The majority also report getting five to six hours of sleep a night, with only 22% having the recommended seven to eight hours.

Problems sleeping are often referred to as insomnia, which can mean different things to different people. It is commonly defined as experiencing regular periods where you:

Have difficulty falling asleep (on average taking more than 30 minutes to nod off).

Wake up frequently during the night and have difficulty getting back to sleep.

Wake up too early in the morning and are unable to return to sleep.

Wake up tired or exhausted, which can persist through the day making you feel irritable, anxious or depressed.

Not only does a lack of sleep make you more prone to stress, but long term it increases your risk of poor health. For example, research shows that you’re more than twice as likely to feel anxious and depressed.1Your blood may also begin to clot abnormally, putting you at raised risk of heart attack or stroke.2 A chronic sleep debt also almost doubles your chances of being obese3 and it’s linked with diabetes too.4 As if this wasn’t enough, lack of sleep triggers the stress response and increases an inflammatory marker called CRP, which is a strong predictor of heart disease.5 Your mental health can also suffer.

Clearly, if sleep is a problem for you, it needs addressing if you want to reduce your stress, improve your health and decrease your risk of disease. But before we look at ways to enhance your slumber, let’s first understand the different stages of sleep and why it’s so valuable.

The stages of sleep

We spend just under a third of our lives asleep, but far from being unproductive downtime, sleep encompasses different stages that are vital for keeping our bodies in a good state of repair and helping our brains to process and assimilate the activity we experience in the day.

If you follow an undisturbed sleep pattern, when you first drift off, you enter a period of light sleep which deepens as you become disengaged from your surroundings. Your body temperature starts to drop a little and your brain waves slow down. All being well, after about 30 minutes, you enter a period of deep sleep when your heart rate slows, your blood pressure drops and your breathing becomes slower. This is the most restorative stage when tissue repair and regeneration occurs. After around 90 minutes, you then shift to a period of REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep, which is when most dreaming occurs – this stage is believed to be particularly important for your psychological health and wellbeing. Then you move back and forth between deep sleep, lighter sleep and REM, with the REM stage ideally accounting for around 25% of your overall sleep time.

The optimal amount of sleep associated with the longest lifespan is between seven and nine hours a night. Particularly as we get older, there is a higher correlation between too few (less than five) and too many (more than nine) hours of sleep and increased mortality. Seven hours sleep a night is linked to the lowest death rate.6

Just as important is the quality of sleep – many people, as they age, have more fragmented and lighter sleep and don’t spend enough time in deep or REM sleep. As well as causing day-time fatigue, this can impact your mood and make you more prone to depression and anxiety.

Why an eight-hour sleep may not be natural

Good news for night risers – nocturnal waking is not necessarily unnatural, nor bad for you. The American historian Roger Ekirch spent 16 years studying the sleeping habits of our ancestors and uncovered many references to segmented sleeping patterns comprising of a first and then second sleep, with a period of activity in between.7 His research suggests that it was commonplace for people to get up in the middle of the night for an hour or more to read, write, pray, have sex or talk to companions. However, this practice started to die out during the late seventeenth century, when the advent of street lighting made socialising at night safer and more fashionable, so people were no longer confined to their homes or had the time to spend so long in bed during the hours of darkness.

Many sleep psychologists concur that waking at night can be a natural part of human physiology, and that not everyone will be able to sleep concurrently for seven or eight hours. If this is the case for you, then the key is not to become anxious but to engage in some sort of relaxing or calming activity until you feel ready to go back to sleep again. Ekirch uncovered many accounts of people using the time to meditate on their dreams, for example. Reading, writing a journal or doing a HeartMath exercise could also be a positive use of your time.

Sleep and repairing the body

During the night, and especially during the deep and REM sleep phases, your brain produces higher levels of growth hormone. This hormone helps with the repair and regeneration of your body’s tissues. When you’re stressed, the subsequently high levels of the stress hormone cortisol suppress growth hormone, diverting energy away from repair into coping with the energy demands of a stressful situation. This impedes tissue repair, effectively speeding up the ageing process.

Sleep experts recommend you aim to reduce stress before you go to bed. For example, the Sleep Foundation recommends “a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or listening to soothing music”. So if you tend to work late, argue with your partner or watch thrillers or crime dramas before bed, you may want to assess if these activities are really helpful, especially if you then have problems sleeping.

Throwing a few handfuls of magnesium-rich Epsom Salts into a warm bath and wallowing for 20 minutes, or using calming essential oils such as lavender, can really aid relaxation.

Waking up

How you wake up in the morning is important too. Normally, cortisol and adrenalin levels are lower during the night. Consequently, your pulse rate and blood pressure should be lower when you wake up and increase once you get up. If you wake with a fast pulse rate or high blood pressure, and, then when you stand up there is no further increase, this is indicative of high cortisol levels during the night. (To test this, you need a blood pressure monitor to hand – has a section on how to choose the right monitor for home use under Home Monitoring.)

This kind of ‘desynchronisation’ does occur in some people and is thought to be part of the dynamics of seasonally-affected disorder (SAD) and other depressions. Under these circumstances, it is best to see a nutritional therapist who can run a 24-hour salivary hormone test to find out what’s out of sync and make recommendations to bring you back into balance.

Another cause of high blood pressure and increased pulse rate on rising is a condition called sleep apnoea8, which is thought to affect between two and four per cent of people. This is when a person’s breathing pattern becomes disturbed during the night, resulting in the improper exhalation of carbon dioxide and a deficiency of oxygen. Apnoea is more common in people who snore and can be brought on by going to sleep after drinking alcohol. Stress may also contribute to this condition which, in turn, is associated with less REM phases and therefore a less restorative sleep. There can be other factors that contribute to the condition – from being overweight to suffering with a food or chemical sensitivity – and these can vary from person to person. If sleep apnoea is an issue for you, the guidance below may help to alleviate it. But if not, seek further investigation and a tailored programme from a nutritional therapist.

Sleep and the mind

As far as the mind is concerned the most critical phases of sleep are bursts of REM sleep. These tend to last for about 30 minutes, occurring on average between three to five times a night. If a person is deprived of REM sleep, they don’t feel fully rested on waking and are more likely to get depressed. When they do get a chance to sleep they have longer periods of REM sleep, all of which suggests that our minds need to have this time while we’re asleep to process what’s been happening in our lives. Most dreams occur during REM sleep, and it’s believed these are important for mental and emotional health. Once again, high levels of the adrenal hormone cortisol result in less REM sleep. Some anti-depressants also have the effect of suppressing REM sleep, potentially creating a vicious cycle of poor quality sleep leading to low mood, with low mood then creating further need for antidepressant drugs. If you suffer from frequent low moods read my book The Feel Good Factor.

If you are suffering from insomnia read this report on how to improve your sleep The Complete Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep.

For more guidance on how to reduce stress and sleep well read The Stress Cure, co-authored with Susannah Lawson.


Jackson et al., Sleep difficulties and the development of depression and anxiety: a longitudinal study of young Australian women. Arch Womens Ment Health, June 2014

2. R von Känel et al., ‘Association Between Polysomnographic Measures of Disrupted Sleep and Prothrombotic Factors’, Chest, 2007, vol. 131, pp. 733-739.

3. F Cappuccio, Warwick Medical School (UK), ‘Sleep deprivation doubles obesity in both children and adults, Study presented at International Research Festival, 2006; J.E. Gangwisch et al, ‘Inadequate sleep as a risk factor for obesity: analyses of the NHANES I’, Sleep, 2005, vol. 28(10), pp. 1289-96

4. S Patel et al., Study presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference, May 2006

5. A. Ananthaswamy, ‘Sleep your way to a slimmer body’, New Scientist, 26 May 2006

6. C.E. Hammond, ‘Some preliminary findings on physical complaints from a prospective study of 1,064,004 men and women’, Am J Public Health 1964;54:11-23

7. A R Ekirch, ‘At Day's Close: Night in Times Past’, 2005, W W Norton & Company, New York

8. G. Parati et al.,‘Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome as a cause of resistant hypertension’, Hypertens Res, 2014, Jul;37(7):601-13. doi: 10.1038/hr.2014.80. Epub 2014 May 8.

By Debbie Moran, May 19 2015 02:12PM

Am I Deficient?

The best way to discover vitamin D deficiency is to take a blood test that will measure the level of the vitamin in your blood. You can either ask your doctor to administer the test or buy a home test kit do the test yourself. However, you are certainly vitamin D deficient if you have any of the following ailments, and you need to consult with your doctor regarding your preventive, as well as curative, options as soon as possible.

1.) The flu - In a study published in the Cambridge Journals, it was discovered that vitamin D deficiency predisposes children to respiratory diseases. An intervention study conducted showed that vitamin D reduces the incidence of respiratory infections in children.

2.) Muscle weakness - According to Michael F. Holick, a leading vitamin D expert, muscle weakness is usually caused by vitamin D deficiency because for skeletal muscles to function properly, their vitamin D receptors must be sustained by vitamin D.

3.) Psoriasis - In a study published by the UK PubMed central, it was discovered that synthetic vitamin D analogues were found useful in the treatment of psoriasis.

4.) Chronic kidney disease - According to Holick, patients with advanced chronic kidney diseases (especially those requiring dialysis) are unable to make the active form of vitamin D. These individuals need to take 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 or one of its calcemic analogues to support calcium metabolism, decrease the risk of renal bone disease and regulate parathyroid hormone levels.

5.) Diabetes - A study conducted in Finland was featured in in which 10,366 children were given 2000 international units (IU)/day of vitamin D3 per day during their first day of life. The children were monitored for 31 years and in all of them, the risk of type 1 diabetes was reduced by 80 percent.

6.) Asthma – Vitamin D may reduce the severity of asthma attacks. Research conducted in Japan revealed that asthma attacks in school children were significantly lowered in those subjects taking a daily vitamin D supplement of 1200 IU a day.

7.) Periodontal disease - Those suffering from this chronic gum disease that causes swelling and bleeding gums should consider raising their vitamin D levels to produce defensins and cathelicidin, compounds that contain microbial properties and lower the number of bacteria in the mouth.

8.) Cardiovascular disease - Congestive heart failure is associated with vitamin D deficiency. Research conducted at Harvard University among nurses found that women with low vitamin D levels (17 ng/m [42 nmol/L]) had a 67 percent increased risk of developing hypertension.

9.) Schizophrenia and Depression - These disorders have been linked to vitamin D deficiency. In a study, it was discovered that maintaining sufficient vitamin D among pregnant women and during childhood was necessary to satisfy the vitamin D receptor in the brain integral for brain development and mental function maintenance in later life.

10.) Cancer - Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington DC discovered a connection between high vitamin D intake and reduced risk of breast cancer. These findings, presented at the American Association for Cancer Research, revealed that increased doses of the sunshine vitamin were linked to a 75 percent reduction in overall cancer growth and 50 percent reduction in tumor cases among those already having the disease. Of interest was the capacity of vitamin supplementation to help control the development and growth of breast cancer specially estrogen-sensitive breast cancer.

Prevention is proactive

These various health conditions associated with vitamin D deficiency need not be something to fear. A proactive approach to prevention can assist in the avoidance of the many chronic diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency. For one, thousands of dollars can be saved, not to mention the peace of mind, simply at the cost of taking a walk under the sun. Save the umbrellas for the rainy days.

Sources for this article:,2933,510299,00.html