Against the grain


One of the strangest ideas I came across when I first started researching nutrition a few years ago, was that humans could be perfectly healthy whilst not consuming cereal grains. I was puzzled and surprised. I had eaten grains nearly every day for most of my life: cereal and toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, the occasional biscuit as a snack, maybe pasta for dinner. It had never occurred to me to not eat products made from wheat, oats, rye, etc., nor that these foods could be in any way unhealthy. I had heard of celiac disease, which I assumed affected very few people who were unable to eat gluten-containing foods. Continue reading “Against the grain”

All change


It can be hard for a human being to change. Sure, we can all do something different, just like that, but when we’re talking about human change what we usually mean is change in behaviour that is sustained over a long time. Of course, this can be done; just consider how many people have successfully given up smoking. However, what about all the people who consistently fail to give up, time and again? Continue reading “All change”

Modern lifestyle and stress

We hear so much about how stress is ‘bad’ for us that we sometimes forget about its upside. As humans, we are well adapted to certain kinds of stress. For example, when we exercise, we are deliberately causing our bodies to become stressed because we know that by doing so, and then recovering, we will become better adapted at handling that level of stress in future. For example, we will become stronger, more flexible or have greater endurance. Science calls this process hormesis. In other words, moderately intensive stress, such as regular exercise, is beneficial. Continue reading “Modern lifestyle and stress”

Run for your life?

Human beings need to move. Just about everybody, except perhaps the dedicated couch potato, would agree to that statement. However, what is the best kind of exercise? Should we be devoted joggers, running every morning before our day begins and signing up for marathons? Is walking the dog a couple of times a day good enough? What about joining the bodybuilders at the local gym (if we’re not too intimidated by the tattoos and grunts)? How about yoga or Pilates, or an aerobics class? Continue reading “Run for your life?”