If you want to be lean and burn fat, have a lie-in.

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“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” was an advertising slogan created in 1944 by General Foods, makers of the breakfast cereal Grape Nuts, based on no evidence whatsoever.

Still, it was catchy and memorable, so it got picked up by nutrition experts who decided to run with it and are still out there running with it down through the decades.

As a nutrition consultant, I hear people regularly say that they have no appetite first thing in the morning. Yet they feel they should eat something anyway.

Oh, the irony. So many people overeat and snack constantly…


Three key strategies to raise your energy levels

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Tired all the time, wiped out, exhausted, fatigued… my clients all have different ways of saying it, but the problem is essentially the same. As a nutrition consultant, I encounter the same health issues time and again. Top of that list, by a mile, is low energy, or however you prefer to put it.

Most of these people are fairly young — usually in their 30s or 40s. Sometimes they are only in their 20s. “You should be bouncing off the walls!” I occasionally comment, and they always agree.

I sometimes think of my clients as perfectly healthy, but not…


Brain permeability is linked to depression and other mental health problems. How to mend the gaps.

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Your brain is like a powerful command centre, surrounded by a wall to prevent enemy elements from breaching security. Damage to the wall undermines the strength of the command centre. The blood brain barrier is that wall. If compromised, the brain is left vulnerable to assault and subsequent mental health problems.

“Leaky brain” may sound comically implausible, but increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a well-known phenomenon in neuroscience.

The role of the blood-brain barrier

You may be familiar with leaky gut syndrome. This is where the gut lining becomes damaged, and all sorts of undesirables — toxins, undigested food particles, bacteria — are…


Yes, it’s what you’re thinking it is. And yes, it‘s effective.

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One of the most exciting recent developments in modern medicine is fecal microbiota transplant (FMT). This is where fecal matter is collected from a healthy donor (it’s ok; it’s very well screened) and implanted into the colon of the recipient, via the most obvious direct route.

FMT is highly effective in the treatment of antibiotic-resistant gastrointestinal infection caused by the bacterium Clostridium difficile, or C. diff. C. diff frequently arises after a course of antibiotics and is often fatal. FMT works by altering the patient’s microbiome, the collection of living microorganisms in the gut.

The success rate for FMT as…


Acne, eczema, psoriasis, itchy scalp… Is your gut trying to tell you something?

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Is that problem skin you see in the mirror, or the reflection of a problem gut? If you have tried pills, potions, and lotions, all to no effect, perhaps you’re looking at the problem from the wrong end.

You may not always love the skin you’re in, but there are countless microorganisms that do and are happy to make it their home. Just as the gut houses its own microbiome — colonies of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and others — the skin has its own living microbiome.

Cumulative evidence” shows that there is bidirectional communication between gut and skin and that…


And how to put a stop to it

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Feeding potato chips to rats makes them want more, even when they are already full. Humans are remarkably similar. Open that bag and you know how it will end. Even so, go easy on yourself; you’re not weak, you’re normal. Your brain is responding the way it is programmed to respond. The trick is to short-circuit the system — the brain’s reward system.

Potato chips (or crisps, depending on where you live) are a typical snack food, one of many available to purchase at an outlet near you. The permutations of bagged snacks are boundless, but in essence they are…


It also sharpens your memory. Keep moving

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You exercise to keep your muscles strong and your stamina high, along with your buff ratings. Perhaps you also exercise for your cardiovascular fitness. Now here’s further motivation to move that body: exercise changes your brain chemistry to promote better mood and memory.

Exercise works, and not just because of the buzz you get from having gone out and done something. Yes, exercise triggers the release of endorphins, chemicals that create a sense of euphoria. But there is much more to it than that.

Beyond the runner’s high lies a biochemical process that is part of the brain’s growth and…


From anxiety to depression — why you should hold that cake.

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Sugar makes you fat, which is bad enough. But can it really make you depressed? Clinically depressed, even? The evidence is compelling, and it’s a journey that starts with a mild blood sugar imbalance and can end with serious mental illness.

Each step of that journey is fuelled by sugar, or more specifically, glucose.

How it begins: blood sugar imbalance

Blood sugar imbalance (aka dysglycemia) is a common health problem, one that may be familiar to you. Ask yourself: How do you feel if you eat no food for three or more hours? Does the mere thought induce a sense of mild panic? …


Here’s what you need to know about the role of vitamin D.

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There is good news and there is bad news, regarding the latest Covid-19 developments. The good news is that a vaccine to protect against infection is looking highly promising, with preliminary analysis revealing 90% success rate in trials.

The bad news is that for the vast majority of people, the vaccine won’t be available for quite some time. And winter’s coming. But here’s more good news: trials on the efficacy of vitamin D are also looking very promising, and it’s something you don’t have to wait for.

Vitamin D can’t stop you from getting infected, but it can mitigate the…


Smart weight loss is about knowledge, not willpower

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What makes you want to eat? However complex your motivations may seem, the hunger game is essentially a game of hormones. Don’t turn it into a power struggle — you can learn how to trigger or suppress the hormones involved in the desire to eat, and stay in control of your appetite.

These hormones were forged during the evolution of our species. Evolution is about survival. That’s why, when you reduce your food intake, you automatically trigger a cascade of hormones whose mission it is to break your will and force you to eat, in order to prevent starvation. …

Maria Cross

MSc. Registered nutritionist, specialising in diet, gut, and mental health. Visit AllYouCanEat.Org.UK for free brain food guide, or to book a consultation

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