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Jane's Blog

By Jane, Apr 27 2018 11:05AM

What do you see? Unfair or just fast?
What do you see? Unfair or just fast?

The recent ruling on hyperandrogenism from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) which Lord Coe heads is perhaps racist, it is perhaps stupid, but more importantly it appears to be saying that sport (and in particular middle distance running) is no longer about being the best male or female, instead we have to level out the natural advantages that some humans have over others, particularly if we feel the particular trait to be more male or female than we are comfortable with.


The ruling says that women with high testosterone levels should take drugs to reduce them or be forced to compete with men.


All women are not the same; nor are all men. Some women are better suited to being high jumpers or better at tennis; some men have a natural disposition to be able to run fast, some are better at playing computer games.


It has been shown that women who have more testosterone are at a slight advantage in some sports. This should not be a surprise to anyone. Just as those with long legs are at an advantage when it comes to the high jump and netball, and those who are 5’ 6” and of a slight build appear to be at an advantage as marathon runners, but a distinct disadvantage on the basketball court.


If we start to categorise people in terms of their testosterone levels (or any other trait) then gender will become irrelevant. Should men with low testosterone levels be allowed to take supplements (currently this is illegal), or should they be allowed to compete against women? How level would that playing field look?


The ruling appears at first sight to be aimed at one athlete, Caster Semenya. Research quoted by the IAAF suggests that throwing events and the pole vault might be affected more than running, so why limit the ruling to track events from 400m to 1500m? If the ruling goes ahead in this sport surely before long it will need to apply to football, rugby….. in fact any sport where being stronger or faster is an advantage.


All top level women runners athletes will now be forced to have their testosterone levels monitored. This "male shaming" could drive many women out of sport just as we are trying to achieve gender equality. And what is a “high level” anyway? Where should we draw the line? Should women with particularly low testosterone be allowed to take some for fairer competition?


Or is it that Coe and the IAAF have their own notions of what being female means? This in itself is most worrying, this ruling has been cited as racist but I don’t see it that way at all, I see it as women being told how they should be in order to to be a proper woman; they want their track and field stars to be feminine. It’s old-school sexism, bullying and vilification and it is not nice.


"Sport For All” meant that everyone should be encouraged to run out onto the field and play sport. In trying to create a level playing field the IAAF are actually levelling the players instead.

Surely the biggest result of this ruling is that less people will want to come out to play!





By Jane, Jan 4 2018 10:16AM

These days everyone in my industry likes to claim that their ideas are "evidence-based", and yet so often the evidence that they refer to is either anecdotal or from their own poor quality research, often ignoring years of respected research that states the opposite view.


I don't like to refer to scientific evidence unless it is clear, well presented and comes from a source with no conflict of interest. And in the field of nutrition this is very rare!


Each year, the London-based analytics company Altmetric releases a ranking of the 100 most popular research articles that year, across all scientific diciplines.


Here is their report from last year. Take a look at number 1. Here is the summary:


"1. Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study


Yet another piece from The Lancet with a catchy title, this study compared the diets of 135,000 people from 18 countries. The result? Low-fat diets were associated with a higher likelihood of heart attacks and heart disease.


Meanwhile, low-carb diets appeared to be significantly healthier, just once more affirming the notion that dietary fat is not the enemy, while excess sugar definitely causes harm.


Global dietary guidelines should be reconsidered in light of these findings, the researchers wrote in the paper."


I agree. This is why I support the Public Health Collaboration in our attempts to do just that.


By Jane, Dec 19 2017 12:36PM


I read an annoying article on the BBC website last week and it has been stuck in my mind ever since. So I hoped that venting my feelings here might get rid of them in time for Christmas!


The article's title was "Top five celeb diets to avoid in 2018, according to dieticians". So it started with a spelling mistake; read on to see if it got any better.


The diets included the Raw Vegan, Alkaline, Pioppi and Ketogenic diets, as well as Katie Price's Nutritional Supplements. So only one celebrity there then!


What we got was actually a glossed-over review of a report from the British Dietetic Association, who seem to want to have a pop at celebrities who, just like the rest of us, want to loose weight. Apart from one exception, the report just listed the diets under review and found some celebs who happen to use those diets. I suspect that this was the main draw of the BBC article, a picture of Katie Price. I was so impressed that I copied it for my post.


The treatment of the Vegan diet was strange, it actually sounded rather good to me, and apart from saying that potatoes shouldn't be eaten raw it gave little to explain why you should avoid such a diet.


The Alkaline diet got a slightly fuller review, in particular the statement that "according to Cancer Research UK, while eating more fruit and vegetables may help you lose weight, the pH of your food will not impact the pH of your blood". I was underwhelmed by the list of celebrities endorsing the diet: Tom Brady and the Duchess of York; oh, and Gwyneth Paltrow, which reminds me - diet means a way of eating, not a weight loss plan. The BDA clearly do not agree with me here!


With Katie Price Nutritional Supplements the article hit its target market at last. There was a great picture of Katie (wouldn’t we all like to look like her?) and the diet promises rapid weight loss. Katie’s shakes are much like any other meal replacement shakes, if you can stand them you will lose weight but are they nutritionaly balanced and how long can you seriously keep it up for?


Now we moved on to the Pioppi Diet, and I have to admit that this is the reason I started reading the article in the first place. The BDA accused the authors of "hijacking" the Mediterranean diet with their agenda, saying it was "ridiculous" to include coconut oil or cauliflower for a pizza base as one of their suggestions.


Let's be clear here, the BDA are saying that it is ridiculous to replace an unhealthy ingredient, Flour, with a healthy one, Cauliflower. The diet is aiming to reduce the carbohydrate content of our diets, it does this by suggesting that we eat healthy vegetables as replacements for nutrient-free fattening carbohydrates; Cauli-rice for rice, Courgetti for spagetti. What is ridiculous about this? No this is not typical Mediterranean food but the book clearly states that it is an approach that combines the best of historical evidence and new science. It does not say that this is what the people of Pioppi eat every day.


And then the BBC article quotes the the British Nutrition Foundation who state here that:


"The advice to cut out starchy carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and rice is inconsistent with a Mediterranean dietary pattern, which typically includes these foods (mostly wholegrains) at every meal".


Perhaps I eat in the wrong resteraunts but as far as I am aware in traditional Italian meals pasta tends to be used in small quantities as a starter sometimes and the main course is typicaly meat or fish with veg. Puddings are rarely sweet. When Registered Dietitians say things like this it makes you wonder where they get their cherished certificates from - Pizza Hut perhaps?


The BBC then redeem themselves by giving the author a chance to respond:


"The Pioppi Diet is an independent evaluation that marries the secrets of one of the world's healthiest villages with the latest medical, nutrition and exercise research to bust many myths prevalent in today's weight loss and health industries. It has received endorsements from a number of eminent international doctors, dieticians, Cochrane researchers and sports scientists."


Just one thing missing here - Celebrities! Unless, like the BDA, you count Keith Vaz and Andy Burnham, whose job it is to try and reduce the burden on the NHS caused by poor nutritional advice. Other then these C-list celebs there is just a bunch of doctors and scientists trying to help people make healthy choices.


Lastly we get the Ketogenic Diet. The BDA report actually makes this diet sound rather good: "If you're cutting out carbs, such as pasta, you're cutting out creamy sauce. If you're cutting out bread, you're cutting out butter. If you're cutting out biscuits, you're cutting out sugar." - Yes, that is the whole point, well nearly; the mention of butter suggests that they still prefer the bread in the sarny not the butter,


The list of side-effects is disengenuous, they are not common and they quickly go away - unlike the diseases the diet is trying to prevent! They mention deprivation of vitamins and minerals, but they don't mention which ones they are referring to. Is there something good in pasta that we don't get from vegetables and natural fats? No, there is not.


They also state that most of the initial weight loss seen is often associated with water/fluid losses; this is a schoolboy/girl error; of course it is! Initially you loose the glycogen (and water) that you used to rely on, then you start burning fat. Either they are trying to misslead or they are just playing stupid! Yes this diet takes careful planning to maintain, but that is bound to be true of all successful diets, if it were not then we wouldn't need the BDA, would we?


I actually think that the "problem" with the Keto and Pioppi diets (they are almost the same thing of course) is that you do not need a Dietitian to help you adopt them. Just a friendly web site written by doctors trying to help you live longer.


It is clear from the outset that the the BDA are a bit miffed. They don't like the fact that doctors and celebrities might dissagree with some of the things that they say. According to their website this report was "eagerly anticipated" , I expect that this is because Dietitians like to indulge in a bit of character assassination at this happy time of year.


The article started with these wise words from Sian Porter of the BDA: "If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is."


Well Sian, the Pioppi diet does not sound too good to be true. It just sounds like wise advice from a rather clever cardiologist who is just trying to keep as many of us as possible off his operating table.


And lastly the BDA proudly state this at the foot of their report:

" Uniquely, dietitians use the most up-to-date public health and scientific research on food, health and disease, which they translate into practical guidance to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices."


Perhaps this is what pisses me off the most. This arrogant sense of natural superiority is probably part of the reason that our dietary guidelines have remained so badly wrong for such a long time. The notion that only a registered dietition can read a scientific report and disseminate the contents to the wider public is preposterous.



By Jane, Oct 4 2016 10:20AM

We watched a very interesting pair of programmes on BBC1 last night discussing the epidemics of Obesity and Diebetes.


Firstly Fat vs Carbs took a brief look at the low-carb high-fat diet. Secondly Panorama's Diabetes the Hidden Killer provided an overview of the impact that diabetes is having on individuals, families, the NHS and the country.


In the first programme Jamie Owen took a balanced but brief look at LCHF. The NHS are still unable to embrace this diet as a realistic choice, despite the evidence that it is working for many people who are taking their health into their own hands. There are a few doctors willing to discuss the diet with their clients, but they appear to be taking a risk to their own careers by doing so.


It's a shame that Jamie only experimented with the diet for 3 weeks. After making such a good start and suprising his doctor with the results (his cholesterol levels came down and he lost 6KG) it would have been interesting to see if the progress he had made continued into the longer term as it has done for so many others.


I was appauled by the doctor who runs a weight loss clinic in the middle of an area with the highest obesity in the country and certainly does not recommend the diet to any clients. He talked about high risk and low adherance and yet his clients all suffer from exactly these issues. This sums up the scale of the problem perfectly. He considers high fat to be a risk but is not affected by the heaps of new scientific data to the contrary. And even if high fat were a risk that risk would pale into insignificance compared to risk and cost of type 2 diabetes afecting his neighbours.


There was also a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, she was priceless; especially after listening to Sam Feltham describe an analysis of all the available randomised control data comparing low-fat vs high-fat diets. Without referring to any evidence of the government's guidlines being based on any science at all she said that her job was to weigh up all the information and advise the best approach. I looked at their website and aparently they did do some reseach costing just £16,000 in 2009 and so she is not entirely wrong here! She would not recommend LCHF, apparently there is not enough long-term data on its safety or efficacy (to which Jamie should have replied "but humans have been eating this way for millions of years"). Well, we have the data for her recommended diet and it is an unmitigated disaster. She has her head in the sand and it is people like her that advise our government.


The Panorama programme was scary. The scale of the problem of type 2 diebetes is vast. Up to 10% of the NHS budget is spent on it and it effects twice the number of people than all cancers do. Living with diabetes is dreadfull, and dying of it is gruesome for all concerned. Graphic pictures of a leg amputation made me shudder, but this is happening every day.


Someone gets diagnosed with diabetes in this country every 2 minutes!


I was saddened to see so many diabetics sat at home or in hospital eating cereals, potatoes and sweet drinks, or following a prescribed diet based on carbohydrates, the very thing that has caused their disease in the first place. If you have a disease that is caused by insulin in-sensitivity and high blood-glucose levels then why on earth would you choose to eat more and more carbs, which turn to glucose in the blink of an eye as soon as you eat them? And the answer is that this is the diet recommended by Dieticians, the NHS and their sponsored charity www.diabetes.org.uk.


We were told that the only 'cure' for type 2 diabetes is bariatric surgery. This may be the case for someone who has had the disease for many years and now had a high risk of death, but there are alternatives for everyone else.


Panorama did not mention the success that some GPs have been having recommending their patients adopt a LCHF diet, a natural dietary intervention as aposed to ripping out 70% of your stomach. People who had watched the fat vs carbs programme would have been left wondering why.



By Jane, Sep 16 2016 04:49PM

When you consider the way that dietary fat has been portrayed for decades as a principle cause of heart disease it might surprise you to learn that there is actually no good scientific data to support this theory. It has become received wisdom; repeated to many times by so many people that up until recently no one would have dared to challenge it. Top scientists insist that it is true, so surely it must be true!


We all ‘know’ that fat clogs up your arteries and causes heart attacks, don’t we?


Well as you know a good number of people including myself have been challenging this belief recently and a friend and colleague of mine on the Public Health Collaboration team Zoe Harcombe and some colleagues have recently completed a meta-analysis of all the available data from randomized control trials on the subject over the last 40 years, and the findings of the study are conclusive – there is no proven relationship between dietary fat and heart disease!


There was no evidence to support the dietary guidelines first made back in 1983 and there has been no study since to support the fact that these guidelines have remained largely unchanged ever since.


Here is Zoe's report, published recently in the British Medical Journal.


Just think how many people have been advised by their doctor to eat less fat in order to lower the risk of heart disease. You would think that there must be some scientific data behind such a far-reaching policy. But there is not.


What does this mean to you and me?


• It means that the NHS advice on healthy eating is wrong.


• It means that there is no reason to worry about your cholesterol levels, dispite what the makers

of statins might tell you high cholesterol has no impact on heart disease.


• It means that food marketed as “low-fat” should not be at the heart of your diet. It is mostly

made palatable only by the addition of sugar! How crazy is that?


• It means that food containing healthy fats can be added to your diet in place of the un-healthy

refined carbohydrates that are so common in processed foods.


• It means that we need to lose our fear of fat and think in a more knowledgeable way about

what should be on our plates.


I am not saying that you can eat as much fat as you like or stuff your face with donuts! This so often tends to be the inferrence when the low-carb high-fat diet is discussed in the media; usually with a headline image of a burger or a pile of pastries.


What we find with our clients at Aspire is that when we switch to a diet based on energy from natural fats instead of carbohydrates then we feel hungry less often, and as a result we eat less food; we also feel more energized and more healthy.


If you are overweight or following a diet based on low-fat food then discuss this report with your doctor. Then ask them why the NHS recommends getting your energy from carbohydrates, which are mostly empty of nutrients and can lead to insulin insensitivity, ill health and weight gain and not from natural fats which are nutritious and healthy.


If you would like to read more about the relationship between fats and dietary health then please read more from this blog.



By Jane, Sep 13 2016 04:09PM

For a few years now I have been telling my clients and friends that the whole move towards low-fat eating was a big mistake. In the 70s and 80s the world needed to know what was responsible for rising levels of cardiovascular disease and despite the lack of decent evidence the worlds leaders decided that the culprit was saturated fat, not sugar, or tobacco. They relied on top scientists for this advice but their trust was mis-placed.


This decision drove a massive change to the way we ate, and the consequences are only recently coming to light. The shelves in the supermarkets are now full of low-fat foods only made palatable by adding lots of sugar, and the global epidemics in obesity and type 2 diabetes are, I believe, a direct consequence in this change of dietary advice.


Many people simply refuse to believe that the best scientists could have got things so completely wrong.


Now at last we have direct evidence of how this deception was achieved. This New York Times article explains just how Harvard scientists were paid to tell the story that the sugar companies wanted to hear; and it was their influence that drove the shift in US government dietary advice towards the low-fat culture that has shaped the way that we eat for the last 30 years.


And it is still going on. Sweet manufacurers somehow manage to produce "evidence" that their sweets are healthy. Coca Cola fund research that suggests that their drinks have little effect on obesity.


The UK government is shamefully dragging its heels as it says it has to rely on the best available advice from its top scientists, most of whom are heavily subsidised by the food and drugs industries and all of whom are stuck in the un-enviable position of either closing their eyes to the truth or admitting that they were wrong. The recent climb-down on changes that were promised in the Childhood Obesity Report is clear evidence of this. David Cameron (cheered even by Jamie Oliver) promised to make sweeping changes the the way foods containing added sugar could be marketed, and Theresa May has swept them all into the bin.


This news coincides with the Aspire "no-sugar September" challenge. Rather timely I think.




Hello

 

I'm Jane Roweth, owner of Aspire Fitness Solutions (I'm the one wearing red) and in this blog I'll be leaving day-to-day business behind and commenting on some of the wider issues in the health and fitness industry.

 

I've been around this industry for 20 years now and I have a lot of experience and opinions to share.

 

I'll also be sharing some of the stories that have been making Aspire such an inspiring place to work for the last 9 years.

 

Jane

 

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