Spirulina and Vitamin B12 – Know The Risks

Spirulina and Vitamin B12 – Know The Risks

Let’s talk spirulina and vitamin B12.

I was someone who used to hoover up spirulina at least about 3 times a week. You really cannot blame me.

It was one of those superfoods that blitzed into our lives. After all, I wanted to be healthy. I was seeking good health.

Show me a superfood with nice health benefits and I will be all over it like a rash.

Spirulina was one of those foods just like dried purple laver (Nori). I used it because it’s an algae food.

At the time, I was strictly vegan and I wasn’t using any vitamin B12 supplements. But my dalliance with spirulina came to an end when I found out a shocking truth regarding spirulina and vitamin B12.

Why did my relationship with spirulina end?

Keep reading to find out…

Old thinking

Plant sources of Vitamin B12 are rare. Quite rare.

Spirulina was one of those foods that was considered a viable plant source of Vitamin B12.
That was old thinking.

The thing about science and nutrition is that the landscape keeps changing.
And that’s a good thing.

What was true yesterday will not be considered true today. And that’s because research does uncover new grounds, new discoveries.

You have to be prepared to change your position as science evolves around you. Otherwise you’ll be left behind.

Sometimes with devastating consequences.
And that’s the case with spirulina and vitamin B12.

spirulina vitamin b12


New thinking about Spirulina and Vitamin B12

Spirulina is not a good source of vitamin B12. Period.

Yes, it is true that spirulina does contain vitamin B12. But recent research has shown that the vitamin B12 in spirulina is not the genuine vitamin B12.

The vitamin B12 in spirulina is a pseudovitamin. Pseudovitamin B12 is the B12 in spirulina. This is not the real vitamin B12. This is a vitamin B12 analogue.

Some people will describe the vitamin B12 in spirulina as a fake vitamin B12. “Fake” is a strong word to use but it sort of fits the descriptive purpose of spirulina vitamin B12.


What is wrong with the vitamin B12 in spirulina?

Here’s what’s wrong with the vitamin B12 in spirulina. The pseudovitamin B12 in spirulina is a competitor to the real vitamin B12.

It will compete for the receptor sites with the real vitamin B12. And that competition happens at the level of the small intestine meaning the real vitamin B12 will not get absorbed into the bloodstream.

Because the pesudovitamin B12 will take up the receptor sites responsible for transporting the real vitamin b12 from the small intestine into the bloodstream.

The reason for this competition is the pseudovitamin B12 in spirulina being an analogue means the structure of both the pesudovitamin B12 and the real vitamin B12 are similar.

The competition for receptor sites doesn’t end there. Even in target sites in tissues where vitamin B12 is needed, there will still be competition between the two vitamin B12 molecules.


What are the consequences of using spirulina for your vitamin B12 needs?

Competition between the pseudovitamin B12 in spirulina and the real vitamin B12 means you’ll end up with vitamin B12 deficiency.

What if I take vitamin B12 supplements along with my spirulina?

Taking vitamin B12 with your spirulina will be a complete waste of time and money.

Because the pseudo-vitamin B12 in spirulina will still compete with vitamin B12 in your supplement for receptor sites.

That will reduce the bioavailability of the vitamin B12 from your supplements.

You’ll still end up with all the consequences of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Don’t forget vitamin B12 from really good sources is poorly absorbed anyway.

Only a small percentage of the vitamin B12 that we consume is absorbed. Taking a food that provides a competitor for the genuine vitamin B12 will simply make the already precarious situation worse.

spirulina b12


Why won’t the vitamin B12 in spirulina do the work of the real vitamin B12?

Well despite the similarity of the structures of the pseudovitamin B12 in spirulina and the real vitamin B12, the pseudovitamin B12 in spirulina is not effective in humans.

The pseudovitamin B12 in spirulina is inactive in humans.
Spirulina vitamin B12 is not bioavailable.

Hence, it does not perform the same functions in the human body as the real vitamin B12 from animal sources or supplements.

Bottom line is:
You should stop using spirulina as a food product forthwith unless of course you’d like to have the consequences of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Consequences like megaloblastic anaemia, significant neurological effects like degeneration of your spinal cord (which may be irreversible), psychiatric effects, cardiovascular effects like heart attacks and strokes etc.

As for spirulina, it is best left on the shelf, folks. Don’t bother with it.

Get your vitamin B12 either from animal sources or from vitamin B12 supplements.

Those sources are your best bet as far as fulfilling your Vitamin B12 needs.

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7 Steps To Lower Colon Cancer Risk

7 Steps To Lower Colon Cancer Risk

Colon cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in the US and it’s the 4th most common in the UK.

So, being so high up in the cancer leader board means taking steps to reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer can only be a good thing.

In this article you are going to get 7 ways to lower your colon cancer risk.


Is colon cancer preventable?

The answer to that question is; yes it is. Colon cancer is preventable. In fact, of all the cancers that afflict the human race, colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers out there.

The reason colon cancer is quite preventable is because of the nature of its beginnings.

Most colon cancers usually start of as little growths (what we call polyps) on the inner lining of the large bowel (colon).

And that’s a good thing because if you catch the growth early enough, you can prevent the polyp from becoming cancerous.


prevent colon cancer


So, how can I prevent colon cancer or colorectal cancer?

I will give you 7 steps you can employ to reduce your risk of developing colon cancer. And the good news is that the steps are not that hard.

The measures to reduce colorectal cancer risks are simple strategies. It just takes a little effort and dedication on your part.

Let’s go…

Colon cancer prevention strategy #1

Screening – By far the best thing you can do to prevent colorectal cancer is screening.

You need to submit yourself to the screening available in your locality.

Screening for colorectal cancer comes in 2 forms:

  • Non-invasive
  • Invasive

By invasiveness we mean the degree to which a test intrudes your biological being.

How a test invades your physical body. Any test that requires medical instruments being inserted inside your body in one form or another is an invasive test.

On the other hand any test where the diagnostic instrument does not involve insertion of a medical instrument is a non-invasive test.

So, submitting urine for testing, for instance, is non-invasive because you simply pee into a pot and you hand it over to the Nurse and your test is processed.

But if you have to undergo say, laparoscopy (key hole investigative operation), that is an invasive test because an instrument is being inserted into your body cavity.

Anyway back to the screening tests for colon cancer.

Non-invasive colon cancer screening tests:

1. Stool test – simply submit your stool for lab testing. If it is negative for occult blood, you are fine. If it is positive, further testing will be required.

2. Virtual Colonography – also called CT Colonoscopy. This is a simple test where you have a CT scan of your colon and any polyps seen will require further investigation. It is very important that your bowel is well prepared for this test to avoid false positives. This means your bowel must be thoroughly cleansed prior to the procedure being undertaken.

Invasive colon cancer screening tests:

When any of the non-invasive tests are performed and are positive, this will usually lead to invasive testing.

I refer to the non-invasive tests as testing for further testing. A positive non-invasive test should trigger further testing by invasive test.

What are the invasive screening tests for colon cancer?

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy – a flexible instrument called sigmoidoscope is inserted into your lower bowel through the anus and that area up to the upper part of the lower colon is thoroughly inspected.

If any polyps are seen, they are resected.

Colonoscopy – this is similar to the flexible sigmoidoscopy but in colonoscopy, the entire colon is inspected from the anus to the earlier part of the large bowel (colon).

See video below on this page for description.

As usual, any polyps seen during the inspection are resected. Any resected polyp is sent to the lab for testing to exclude cancer in the lesion.

Why do I say screening is the best thing you can do to prevent colon cancer?

It is because cancers of the colon start off as small polyps and they are usually benign at the beginning. They gradually turn cancerous over time.

However, the progression from benign to cancer is not immediate. There is a progression scale. And this is from benign to precancerous before becoming cancerous.

So, to prevent colon cancer is to catch them at the stage before they become cancerous. Because once you resect the polyps at that stage, they stand no chance of becoming cancerous.

You have resected a potentially cancerous polyp. End of story.

Catching them early is key to survival.

And the only way to catch them early is to screen early. Opinion is divided as to what age screening should start.

how to prevent colon cancer

Some countries start screening at the age of 55. Some others 50.

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening from 50 up to age 75. Beyond 75, that would have to be a decision between your doctor and yourself.

In the UK, the screening age appears to be 55 according to the NHS website.

However I know one or two people who are 55 and over and are yet to be invited for colon cancer screening test in the UK. There’s probably some sort of Post Code lottery involved.

Will it be more beneficial to screen people for bowel cancer before their 50th birthday?

Yes, there’s certainly an argument for that. This study from Austria seems to suggest that bringing the screening age down to 40 is a good idea, at least for men anyway.

Because the ‘Number Needed to Screen’ and detect Advanced Adenomas (precancerous changes) among men aged 40 to 49 years was similar to that of women aged 50 to 59 years.

So, bringing down the screening age for men to 40 was beneficial. It remains for the Health Authorities to listen and pay attention to this important finding in the study involving 44,350 participants.

Are you beginning to see the importance of screening in whatever form as being the best colorectal cancer preventative strategy out there?

Colon cancer prevention strategy #2

Use of daily low-dose Aspirin.

Aspirin is a blood thinning agent. It is usually prescribed as a daily pill to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Some studies suggest that in individuals who are at risk of cardiovascular disease, using a low-dose aspirin daily reduces their risk of developing colorectal cancer.

However, not everyone qualifies for this. The age group 50 – 59 are best suited for the use of aspirin for prevention of colon cancer.

This is the age group that the US Preventive Services Task Force feels the benefits of taking daily low-dose aspirin (also called baby aspirin) outweighs the risk.

Users of daily dose aspirin for colon cancer must however commit to taking it daily and for 10 continuous years to see the benefits.

Some research like this one suggests that aspirin use prevents cancer more in the proximal colon (the earlier part of the colon) than the later part which is the rectal area.

The importance of aspirin use in colo-rectal cancer prevention goes beyond primary prevention.

Aspirin is also useful for secondary prevention of colorectal cancer. This research concludes that regular daily aspirin use is associated with lower risk of recurrence of the cancer and a lower risk of dying from the cancer.

Have a conversation with your doctor to see if you’ll be a suitable candidate for daily aspirin use.

Colon Cancer prevention strategy #3

Eat a high fiber diet

Fiber is generally good for your health and that includes prevention of colorectal cancer. Having a high fiber diet prevents constipation. Moving your bowel regularly is a cleansing action in itself.

Nitrosamines are carcinogenic. The longer toxins like nitrosamines hang around your large bowel in particular, the distal part of the large bowel (colon) the higher the likelihood of harm.

So, getting rid of toxins in your stool regularly will potentially prevent nitrosamines and other toxins from inducing cell changes that can lead to polyps and cancers later on.

One way to do achieve regular bowel movement is by eating a high fiber diet. This study supports the view that a high fiber diet reduces the incidence of colorectal cancer in the later part of the bowel.

Colon cancer prevention strategy #4

Avoiding processed meat and red meat

If you cannot avoid processed meat and red neat, you should at least reduce your consumption of both. Processed meat in particular is usually impregnated with nitrates to preserve the meat and to enhance their flavour.

The nitrates in the processed meat get converted to Nitroso-N-compounds with nitrosamines being the most common.

In the presence of the heme factor in processed meats like salami, bacon, chorizos, sausages, hot dogs etc and red meat too, there’s an upregulation of the nitrosamines produced from these animal products.

The net result is an avalanche of nitrosamines in the colon. This is potentially carcinogenic.

Best avoided. If you can’t, you must reduce your consumption of processed or red meat to less than 50 gm per day or at worst 70 gm per day

Harm is more likely if you exceed that threshold.

Colon cancer prevention strategy #5

Avoid tobacco

Is there any cancer that tobacco has not been implicated in?
This is just sensible advice. Tobacco does you no good and using tobacco does not certainly do you any good in colon cancer prevention. Avoid!

Colon cancer prevention strategy #6

Limit consumption of alcohol

I know you love your drink. Excessive alcohol consumption is bad news all round.
How about you limit your drinking to less than moderate levels.

Doing so will reduce or lower your colon cancer risk amongst other benefits.
Going teetotal is even better.

Colon cancer prevention strategy #7

Regular exercise.

The concept of doing 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week is one way of reducing your colorectal cancer risk.

Or doing 75 minutes of vigorous exercise.

Either way you’ll be doing your health a whole bunch of good including reducing your risk of colon cancer.

If anything, regular exercise will keep your weight in check. Lean body mass will be preserved. Excess body fat is a cancer risk all round.

Hopefully you got some benefit from reading this piece.

Leave your comments below if you can. Remember to get yourself screened. The best thing you can do to help yourself prevent colorectal cancer.


Does Peppermint Tea Break a Fast?

Does Peppermint Tea Break a Fast?

With the surge in popularity of herbal teas, lots of people wonder if using peppermint tea does break a fast.

Maybe you have just recently embraced intermittent fasting. You approached it with trepidation and you’re gradually finding your feet.
And probably loving the art of fasting as a way of regulating your metabolism.

And maybe loving the results you are getting from your intermittent fasting.
But it bothers you that you’d like to drink something else other than water. You’d like to dink some tea or even coffee.

Yes, water fasting or should I call it ‘fluid fasting’ is the way to go. Dry fasting is not an advisable thing to do.

So, you want to consider adding peppermint to your intermittent fasting plan. Having chosen peppermint tea out of all the herbal teas, you are now wondering if drinking peppermint tea will break your fast.

Let’s answer this question that is bothering you then?


Will drinking peppermint tea break my fast?

Truth be told. No, using peppermint tea will not break your fast.

If you love your intermittent fasting regime and you love your peppermint tea, then both are actually a good combination.

Drink your peppermint tea to your heart’s content during your fast and you should still be fine.
Your fast will not be broken. Your results will not be broken either.

peppermint tea


Why won’t peppermint tea break my fast?

The answer is simple. Peppermint tea as aromatic as it is, does not have any significant calories.

Why did I say: “peppermint tea does not have any significant calories”?
Why didn’t I say, it doesn’t have calories at all?

Here’s why.

If you want me to be very specific about the calorie content of peppermint tea, then I shall reveal the real calories in peppermint tea to you…

…but only if you care to know.

Peppermint tea does have calories. Well sort of.
You will be glad to know that peppermint tea has just 1 calorie.

Yes, peppermint tea has just 1 calorie. So, it’s not exactly zero calorie but if you want to split hairs, then that’s your answer.

Will 1 calorie break your fast? Not really.

As far as weight loss is concerned (if that’s the reason) you are doing intermittent fasting, 1 calorie from a cup of peppermint tea will do nothing to affect your weight loss efforts.

You can drink as many cups of peppermint tea during your 16-hour, 20-hour, 24-hour, 36-hour, 48-hour or even 72-hour fast without derailing your weight loss efforts.

You’ll still lose fat drinking peppermint tea during your fast.

Another reason why peppermint tea is good for intermittent fasting is that, peppermint tea helps curb hunger cravings and even sugar cravings.

One problem you have to deal with during intermittent fasting is hunger pangs. And it can be quite tempting to give up your fast long before you were scheduled to break your fast on account of pesky hunger pangs.

Well drinking peppermint tea will help you suppress hunger which means you are more likely to succeed with your intermittent fasting plans.

Besides when you eventually break your fast, have a cup of peppermint tea with your meal. Why?

Well peppermint tea helps with digestion and bloating too.

There are anecdotal reports that peppermint tea may actually help burn belly fat as it helps with fat metabolism.
After all, you’d like to burn belly fat, don’t you?

All the more reason why peppermint tea makes a good complement to intermittent fasting.

Peppermint tea helps you in more ways than one when you drink it during your fast and be rest assured that peppermint tea will not break your fast.
Rather, peppermint tea complements and helps your intermittent fasting instead.

Tried using peppermint tea during your fast?
Leave your comments below. Tell us about your experience below.

How To Increase Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

How To Increase Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

Amish lifestyleBy Dr Joe

“To my generation, technology is second nature, while yours fumbles through it. Makes you kinda jealous, eh?

These were the words a Cartoon character, Curtis told his dad in one of the episodes.

In return Curtis’ dad brought out his yo-yo and performed some amazing tricks on it. Curtis retorted by telling his dad that the tricks he performed on his yo-yo a short while earlier were “child’s play”.

Curtis’ dad then handed the yo-yo to Curtis to see if he could replicate the yo-yo tricks seeing as he felt they were easy peasy.

Curtis began playing with the yo-yo but got increasingly frustrated. He could neither duplicate none of the tricks his father pulled off earlier nor get the yo-yo to swing up and down harmoniously.

Curtis’ father got some satisfaction from watching his son’s frustration and lack of patience.

It’s obvious there are generational differences. What one generation might be very sleek at, another may find it challenging.

Obesity generational differences

In historical terms, obesity as a phenomenon has undergone such generational transformation. Obesity has become increasingly worse in this generation than it was generations earlier.

Want evidence?

Just have a look at those black and white photographs from the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. You will notice something stark. You may have missed it. But I should remind you to pay attention next time you look at those black and white photographs.

What you will find is that; our great great gandparents were noticeably thinner compared to images on photographs today. Obesity rates were in the region of 2% in the time period I’m talking about.

What is the explanation for the obesity generational differences?

 I believe the difference lies in what is now being described as NEAT.

non exercise activity thermogenesis


What does NEAT energy expenditure mean?

NEAT refers to Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Long name, I know.

But its meaning can transform the way you look at obesity and it’s associated problems.

Losing fat doesn’t have to mean doing a lot outside of your routine physical activities.

Still wondering what Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis actually means?

Well, it’s any physical activity that you do in your everyday existence that is not deemed as voluntary workout.

So, as I type this article now, I am engaging in a NEAT energy expenditure. So is cooking, gardening, mowing the lawn, picking up the remote control, cleaning the house, vacuum cleaning the floor…

…mopping your kitchen floor, driving, walking around the mall shopping, climbing the stairs in your house or the office, talking to your boss, husband, wife, kids, scratching your head, running after the toddler, scrubbing your feet…you get the drift.

Any movement that you make that is outside of a regular work out is deemed as NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis).

Why is NEAT important?

These activities may look insignificant or minor at first glance, but they all add up over the course of the day and it is the cumulative effect of all of these activities that constitute Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.

And the Thermogenesis refers to the calories we burn by virtue of these activities.

James A. Levine, MD, PhD, of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, and Nutrition at Mayo Clinic Rochester, has been studying the concept of NEAT.

James is of the view that NEAT or the lack of it; is a huge contributor to the obesity epidemic in the US and does not think the blame lies squarely on the doorsteps of increased calorie intake only.

Dr Levine explains:

“Exercise is defined as ‘bodily exertion for the sake of developing and maintaining physical fitness,’ for example, participating in a sport or visiting the gym. The vast majority of the world’s population do not participate in exercise, as so defined, and for them, exercise activity thermogenesis is zero.

Even for the minority of people who do exercise, for most of them, exercise accounts for an energy expenditure of 100 calories per day. Thus, NEAT explains why an active person can expend 2,000 calories per day more than an inactive person of the same size.

NEAT is the energy expenditure of all physical activities other than volitional sport-ing-like exercise. NEAT includes all those activities that render us vibrant, unique, and independent beings.”



How do you burn calories everyday?

Perhaps this will be a good time to talk about how we burn calories daily as we lead our lives.

Energy expenditure (how we burn calories) is accounted for by 3 mechanisms:

  • Basal metabolic rate – 60%
  • Thermic effect of food – 10%
  • Activity Thermogenesis – 30%

Now let’s talk about all of the 3 ways we burn calories everyday.


Basal metabolic rate

What is basal metabolic rate?
Basal metabolic rate is energy spent by basically being alive. If you are wondering how you burn calories doing absolutely nothing, well this how.

Your basal metabolic rate accounts for how you burn calories when we are sleeping. Yes, even we are asleep doing nothing at all, the metabolic processes going on in your body do use up energy to keep you alive.

When you are awake and doing nothing, you still burn calories through activities breathing, blinking your eyelids, talking, your heart beating etc. Involuntary activities that have to happen to keep us alive like your breating and heart beating use up energy whether we like it or not.

Energy expenditure from these involuntary activities and bodily functions constitute basal metabolic rate.


Thermic effect of food

Thermic effect of food is the energy used up by the process of food consumption to energy conversion i.e eating, digestion and food metabolism. It is a small fraction of energy expenditure and equates to only about 10%.


Activity Thermogenesis

Activity thermogenesis makes up the rest of the energy expenditure. Activity thermogenesis constitutes 30% of the calories we burn everyday.

Activity thermogenesis is split up in 2 – Exercise and Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.

Exercise activity thermogenesis is energy expenditure that occurs from voluntary aerobic and non-aerobic exercise undertaken by an individual.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) which is what we are discussing right here.

Non-Exercise Activity thermogenesis can be sub-divided into Occupational activity thermogenesis and Leisure activity thermogenesis.

Occupational activity thermogenesis (Occupational NEAT) is made up of all exercise activity related to what you do for a living. Exercise activity related to your job.

A post-man will have a higher occupational activity thermogenesis than an office worker who sits in front of a computer all day.

Same goes for someone who does agricultural work. Working in the fields ploughing, planting, harvesting will burn a lot more calories compared to the bank counter clerk.

Table below adapted from this study and published by the Mayo Clinic gives some idea of how NEAT from occupational activity may differ significantly between types of jobs.

Occupational Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

Occupation TypeNEAT Calories/day
Seated work (no option of moving)700
Seated work (discretion and requirement to move)1,000
Standing work (eg, homemaker, cashier)1,400
Strenuous work (eg, farming)2,300


Leisure activity thermogenesis (Leisure NEAT) is the energy you burn doing regular stuff in and around the house.

Without being offensive (people get offended easily these days, don’t they), I would hazard a guess that women will have a higher leisure activity thermogenesis than men in and around the house. Of course this wouldn’t be true across the board, I should add.

James Levine from his research believes that NEAT may vary as much as 2000 Calories per day between individuals. Lots of short little movements is what constitutes your NEAT (non exeercise activity thermogenesis).

Overweight people tend to have low NEAT and their slimmer cousins tend to have high NEAT (within reason).

 Our great great grandparents definitely had very high NEAT(non exercise activity thermogenesis) compared to our current level of NEAT today.

Obesity is not a problem confined to the West as most people think. The nations of the Eastern hemisphere are having their own little battle of obesity.

Obesity is a burgeoning problem of even smaller nations in the pacific.

China is having its own little crisis with obesity and an alarming increase in the rate of heart disease compared to the earlier periods of the 20th century.

Urbanisation and industrialisation are huge contributory factors. Availability of foods rich in processed foods complicated by a wave of sedentary lifestyle, both in the workplace and at home.

I talked about generational differences earlier on in this article. I strongly believe this is a factor in the obesity epidemic the world over.

We have become too sedentary in our lifestyles. Gone are the days when walking, for instance, was actually a necessity because there weren’t many cars as we have today.

Obesity is a serious problem in America. But the rates of obesity is proportionately worse amongst American Indians such that obesity prevention programs are now being targeted at children to save their future. Nice strategy!

how to increase your non exercise activity thermogenesis


Psmag reports:

 “Over 80% of American Indian and Alaska Native adults are overweight or obese; about half of American Indian children are at an unhealthy weight; and it’s estimated 30% of American Indians and Alaska Natives have pre-diabetes. Compare those statistics to American adults in general, two-thirds of whom are overweight or obese, and 27% of whom are estimated to have pre-diabetes”

This is the same American Indians who had an obesity rate that was less than 2% when they were doing their thing before colonisation took place.

The typical American Indian before colonisation had a very high NEAT.

 They farmed. They hunted. They made tools. They cooked. They made their own shelters. They even participated in warfare (not encouraged by this article).

The American Indians developed their own sports, the Native American Stickball, apparently not too dissimilar to Lacrosse. They were ingenious enough to use their developed games to settle scores between communities as a substitute to going to war.

Their agricultural practices were very basic. Totally unmechanised farming that required physical labour. The American Indian woman grew her own food whilst the men went hunting and fishing.

When it was time for harvest, they knew they will get abundance of berries, roots, fruits, mushrooms, nuts, and eggs.

They ate when food was available and did without when there was scarcity.

But in all of these, you will notice a consistent trend – a very high NEAT.

 Having a high NEAT helps you keep energy balance negative. Weight increase is more likely when energy balance is in the positive realm.


What we can learn from the Amish Community.

The Old Order Amish community. The Amish shun modern conveniences. They probably see them as “evil”.  Just like the American Indians used to do. Their farming methods remain labour-intensive.

The result – obesity rates amongst the Amish is still 4%. Even the Amish who have the obesity gene have managed to override it by just having a very high NEAT in their daily routines.

This study of the Old Order Amish showed Amish men complete an average of 18,425 steps a day and walked an average of 12-hour week whilst the women put in a shift of 14,196 daily steps with an average walking of 5.7 hours.

The average person in the Western hemisphere struggles to get in 4000 steps a day. Something surprising in that study is the Amish diet is not strictly healthy.

The Amish diet was neither low fat nor low carb.

More succinctly, the study stated “The Amish diet is typical of the pre-World War II rural diet. It includes meat, potatoes, gravy, eggs, vegetables, bread, pies, cakes, and is quite high in fat and refined sugar”

The men in the cohort had an obesity rate of 0%.

The Amish seem to be overriding their dietary indiscretions by ramping up their NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) and it is working. They have obesity rate that puts the rest of the developed world to shame.

The conclusion from the study being that the high NEAT levels is the reason the Amish community have a low rate of obesity.

 There is no doubt that communities with high NEAT routines do better in terms of obesity and its related complications like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes and cancer.

With this knowledge to hand, you have no excuse now not to improve what I would describe as your NEAT ratings.

Simply increasing your NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) routines will do a lot for your waistline. All of it could stem from Leisure non exercise activity thermogenesis (leisure NEAT) routines as well as Occupational non exercise activity thermogenesis (Occupational NEAT) routines.

Of course, if you add some formal workout to your NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) routines, then you will ramp up the negativity of your energy balance.

Remember, this is all about increasing your energy expenditure thereby tilting your energy balance into a calorie deficit daily. Doing that on a daily basis is a surefire way of burning fat…

…even if you do not undertake formal exercise work out.

Holding that thought, what can you do to increase your NEAT?


How to increase non exercise activity thermogenesis

Increasing non exercise activity thermogenesis is not rocket science. All you need is a little imagination and creativity.

The non exercise activity thermogenesis examples below will give you some ideas about how to increase or boost your NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) without trying too hard or embarking on a diet.

  1. Doing your gardening a lot more vigorously.
  2. Become keen to undertake doing the household chores – washing, ironing, vacuum cleaning, mopping the floor, cleaning the bathrooms. You don’t need a paid domestic cleaner!
  3. Get a lightweight kettlebell or dumb bell like a 3-lb one and do a low-level no-sweat workout whilst watching TV.
  4. Use the stairs at work. The higher the floor your office is, the more you will get from this non exercise activity thermogenesis example.
  5. Have walking meetings instead of boardroom-style meetings.
  6. Wash the car yourself manually instead of using the automatic car wash.
  7. Walk to post your letters instead of driving there.
  8. Walk to do light shopping where all your shopping will fit into one bag instead of driving.
  9. Walk to work if your office is within 5-mile radius to your residence. Doing this will give you a return mileage of 10 miles every working day. How cool is that.
  10. Walk to the hair salon for your hair cut or hair grooming and back.
  11. If you use public transport to work, how about coming off at least a mile or two before your usual bus stop. Do the same on your way back home. Come off the bus early.
  12. Use the rake to gather leaves in the garden in autumn instead of using the leaf blower.
  13. Install tools on your PC or Mac like exertime which forces you to exit your computer after pre-set intervals and do some physical activity which must be logged before you can resume your previous task.
  14. Have an office re-design with treadmill desks where the tasks undertaken allows for this. It doesn’t have to be on every desk. Workers can elect to use those treadmill desks in turns, but they are there for everyone to use when they so please.

When you consider the fact that NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) routines are activities that you do in between workouts which could be days apart, revving them up supplements whatever else you are doing to maintain your weight.

This is not about dieting. This is about doing little non-formal exercise things better. Amplifying your NEAT may not sound like much, but cumulatively it adds up and complements any fat burning measures you already have on the map.

All it takes is a little imagination and motivation to keep going and doing more.

If you ramp up your NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis), maybe you never have to worry too much about what you eat any longer…just like the Amish.

Suggested further reading:
1 Obscure Trick To Make ANY Exercise Program More Effective





Shoul I Worry About My High Cholesterol?

Shoul I Worry About My High Cholesterol?

By Dr Joe

My cholesterol is high. Help!
Should I worry about my high cholesterol? With all the conflicting messages on you tube, blogs, twitter and facebook, it’s not surprising that people get confused about cholesterol levels.

You go to your doctor who requests lipid profile on your behalf or you order some blood tests online (you know you can do that now, don’t you?). Results come back. And voilla, your cholesterol level is high and you are not sure what to do.

You’re confused. Worse still, your doctor is not giving you straight advice because he too is confused about the significance of high cholesterol.

Why is your doctor confused?

It’s because there’s so much conflicting medical publications out there that it just gets even more confusing for us in the medical world.

Well, relax. Because on this page I am going to try and clear the confusion for you. At the end of this article, you should know what to do. Hopefully feel more reassured too.

I will give you an explanation as to why some folks have heart attacks despite normal cholesterol levels. The last word on cholesterol on the basic level…

should i worry about my high cholesterol


So, should I worry about my high cholesterol?

Good question. Now it’s not a straight Yes or No answer. It’s a little more nuanced than that.

It’s high cholesterol level concern a myth?

First of all, where’s the high cholesterol concern coming from. It’s mainly from the potential damage that high cholesterol can cause on the walls of our arteries.

The ultimate damage being atherosclerosis and plaque formation on the arteries. That’s the concern. And with heart disease and stroke causing so much deaths and disability, it makes sense to know what to do with your cholesterol numbers.

But that is not always an easy thing to do. In fact, it is a challenge in itself.


The Challenge of the Cholesterol confusion

Everyone is an expert these days. Even more worrying is everyone is an expert on cholesterol these days. That’s fine.

What is not fine is; how everyone is chest-puffing about how much they know about cholesterol. The cholesterol fight has become inextricably tied to the polarity of the diet world.

In one corner, we have the meat-lovers. These folks are transfixed on hovering up as many animal products as possible.

On the other corner are the vegans. Naturally, these are plant-based eaters. It’s just that veganism is an extreme form of plant eating.

What is clear is that in the majority of meat lovers, there seem to be a problem with their bodies handling cholesterol in one form or another. Either they have problems with Total cholesterol, or problems with LDL Cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) or even their triglycerides or a combination of those parameters.

The vegans on the other hand seem to do fairly well, within reason, that is. Because not all vegans are healthy eaters.
There’s a perception out there that all vegans are healthy. Nope.

There are lots of unhealthy vegans about and some of them do have issues with cholesterol too.

Yes, both groups may end up with cholesterol issues but the meat lovers win hands down in the poor cholesterol performance stakes.

So, to defend their corner, the animal food loving Gurus tell their crowd not to worry about their cholesterol numbers. They reassure their followers that cholesterol does not cause heart disease or strokes. They should go to bed and sleep well. Nice!

The only group that seem to point out a cautious message to their followers are are the vegans. If your cholesterol numbers are abnormal, do something about it. Seems reasonable to me…

Obviously those in the middle between veganism and carnivorism would want to pay attention to that warning too.

But is it right to tell people not to worry about your cholesterol numbers?
Would that be an ethical thing to do?


Some Cholesterol background information

Okay let’s delve into some background information regarding cholesterol because it will help us understand where we stand better.

The concern is; atherosclerosis, right? Yes, it is.

The truth is; there are many factors involved in the development of atherosclerosis. One of them is cholesterol.  That should not be in question.

What is in question is whether cholesterol is there in the beginning, the orginator, an active participant or just there as a byestander.
What’s cholesterol’s contribution to the development of atherosclerosis?

Few facts:

1. Not everyone with high cholesterol will develop atherosclerosis and consequent build up of plaque. Meaning not everyone with high cholesterol will suffer a heart attack and or a stroke.

2. On the flipside, people with life long very low cholesterol levels hardly develop plaques in their arteries leading to heart attack and strokes.

Those 2 facts do leave you with a conundrum, right?


Some Basic Cholesterol Biochemistry

Okay, let’s do some basic biochemistry as it relates to cholesterol.

Fats are insoluble in water. I’m sure you know that from your kitchen dealings already.

Unfortunately, blood is 90% water. But we need to move our cholesterol from one part of the body to another.

To do that knowing that cholesterol is fat and it wouldn’t dissolve in water i.e blood, then, we are going to need a transport system. We need a solution…fast.

Cue, Proteins. Hurray!

Yes, proteins are going help us move our cholesterol fats in blood from one place to another. Around the body, that is. Proteins are going to be the “taxi” that will ferry our cholesterol from one tissue to another. I like that.

These proteins are called carrier proteins. These proteins will be moving fats like Cholesterol, Triglycerides and Phospholipids around the body for us. Perfect.

So, the combination of Fat plus its carrier protein is called Lipoprotein.

And Lipoproteins are what’s going to interest us when it comes to cholesterol and it’s potential problems.

why are lipoproteins important


Why do the Lipoproteins interest us?

Here’s the reason why lipoproteins are significant to us. It’s because lipoproteins may have their greasy hands in the causation of these killer diseases.

Lipoproteins (remember they are a combination of fat and proteins) are the molecules that interact with the walls of our arteries to trigger a cascade of events that cause inflammation.

Finally, that word. Inflammation. I know you have been waiting to hear it. Or should I say, read it.

Yes, inflammation is what leads to atherosclerosis and subsequent plaque build up.

And lipoproteins carrying cholesterol are involved in that inflammatory process. Cholesterol is not alone in that inflammatory process. there other agents too – white blood cells, macrophages, inflammatory mediators, platelets, T-cells etc.

Where opinion is divided is whether the presence of the cholesterol kicks the whole inflammatory process off or cholesterol comes in later on in the process.

That debate will go on for a while. Some of us believe that small particle dense cholesterol is the trigger for the inflammation.

Some other people believe in theory that, there some microtears or physical injury that occur on the arterial wall and cholesterol latches on to the tears and it all kicks off after that.

Yet, there are also the animal lovers who believe that just because cholesterol is there doesn’t mean it was involved. These folks believe cholesterol is just a byestander in that ‘scene of crime’. Interesting concept, huh?

It is these individuals that will tell you not to worry about your cholesterol numbers. Because cholesterol is an innocent byestander. Of course they hold on to the argument that not veryone with high cholesterol ends up having a heart attack or stroke.

That’s true but they are mistaken and I shall give you an explanation as to why shortly.


Back To Cholesterol Biochemistry

Okay, I went off on a tangent there. But an important one, you have to admit.

So, where was I? Oh, yes, I was talking about Lipoproteins.

You know 2 of them already because we never stop talking about them. There are actually 5 different types of lipoproteins. And they are:

  1. High Density Lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol) – The Good cholesterol
  2. Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) – The Bad cholesterol
  3. Intermediate Density Lipoprotein
  4. Chylomicrons
  5. Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL cholesterol) – carries Triglycerides

The 2 most popular ones are the bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and the good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol). Popular because everyone keeps talking about them. That’s a good thing because the awareness is there.

Of the other 3 lipoproteins that aren’t so popular, the most important one is the VLDL cholesterol. You can ignore the chylomicrons and intermediate density lipoproteins because they aren’t so important clinically.

But VLDL cholesterol is one you need to be familiar with because this is the lipoprotein that carries triglyceride fats. And this is very important.

As for the HDL cholesterol, the so-called Good Cholesterol, it is named that for a reason. The HDL cholesterol is a scavenger cholesterol. It carts away cholesterol from the walls of our arteries. Takes it to the liver for processing and possible excretion.

what type of cholesterol should be treated


So, what cholesterol should you worry about?

Now that we are done with our basic knowledge of cholesterol and their carrier proteins. Let’s turn our attention to the cholesterol that should concern you and your health.

Should you worry about your cholesterol numbers?

Here’s the truth.

Your total cholesterol (the sum total of your cholesterol parameters) only gives you an overview of your cholesterol status. It is okay to look at this cholesterol figure but note this:

Your total cholesterol is a poor predictor of your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. High or Low Total cholesterol doesn’t mean a lot in terms of predicting if you are at risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Interesting, right?

So, if your total cholesterol doesn’t tell you a lot, what does?

How about we talk about the bad cholesterol i.e LDL cholesterol. They don’t call it “bad” for nothing.

This one is important but even then LDL cholesterol is only important up to a point.
What do I mean by that? I’ll tell you now.


Does Cholesterol size matter?

Oh yes, the old well worn out debate. Does size really matter? Actually it does when it comes to LDL cholesterol.
Cholesterol particle size matters…a lot.

Here is the thing:

LDL cholesterol comes in 2 different sizes – Large particle LDL cholesterol and Small particle LDL cholesterol.

The large particle LDL cholesterol is fluffy and cotton wool-like whilst the small particle LDL cholesterol is dense.

Studies have shown that the small dense particle LDL cholesterol is one cholesterol to worry about. Because people whose cholesterol is predominantly small particle dense cholesterol are 3 times more likely to have Coronary Heart Disease.

And guess what. There’s a suggestion that the large particle LDL cholesterol could be protective of Coronary Heart Disease. Are you following?

So, LDL cholesterol can be harmful or beneficial at the same time. But which way it swings depends largely on whether you have a predominance of small particle LDL or large particle LDL.

The predictive value of LDL cholesterol giving a heart attack or stroke is poor unless you break it down to small or large particle. Makes sense?


Can I have a heart attack with normal Cholesterol numbers?

Answer to that question: Yes, you can.

Let me explain:

The reason some people with normal Total cholesterol and normal LDL cholesterol numbers end up having a heart attack is because of the their small particle dense cholesterol concentration.

Oh yes. You can have a normal range of bad cholesterol but if within that normal range, you have a relatively high small dense LDL cholesterol, your risk of a heart attack goes through the roof.

If your risk is high (and you do nothing about it), then it is a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’.

Does that explain why that happens and tends to make people feel bewildered when it happens.

It’s all about how much small dense LDL cholesterol you have. That matters a huge deal.


How about that Pesky VLDL cholesterol?

Should you worry about your VLDL cholesterol?

I’m glad you asked.

Yes, that VLDL cholesterol (remember it carries the Triglycerides) is another cholesterol that should concern us. Why?

The reason is this:

High Triglycerides levels in your blood correlates with a high Small particle dense LDL cholesterol. In the same vein, low levels of Triglycerides floating around correlates with high levels of large fluffy LDL cholesterol.

Meaning your blood Triglyceride level can be a window to knowing your small particle LDL or large particle LDL cholesterol status. Especially in individuals who cannot access Lipoprotein Sub-fraction testing which I shall be talking about shortly.


So, what should you do if you are worried about your cholesterol numbers?

Here’s what you need to do if your cholesterol numbers on the standard lipid panel come back as abnormal.

Do not worry too much about your Total cholesterol number. Poor predictor, remember?

Look at the LDL cholesterol and the Triglycerides. If they are abnormal, request lipoproetin sub-fraction testing from your doctor. It’s called LDL-P testing. Whilst you are at it, also ask for Apolipoprotein B.

LDL-P and Apolipoprotein B are better predictors of your risk of coronary heart disease or stroke. They are way better markers than your LDL cholesterol alone.

Remember LDL cholesterol number is just the total concentration of cholesterol in the LDL. It does not tell you the differential particle concentration within the LDL molecule. That’s why sub-fraction testing which breaks down the particle concentration is the way to go.

Of course, if you want to take things to the next level, then Calcium scanning of your coronary arteries will be a reasonable step too.

Having said that, I also know that there are readers of this article who may not have access to those specialised tests either for reason of cost or test availability in their locality.

If you are one of those people, then you should take your VLDL cholesterol result on the standard lipid panel seriously because of it’s correlation with small particle LDL.

Also in the absence of specialised subfraction testing, you should assume your risk of heart disease to be high if your LDL cholesterol is high especially if your Triglyceride is high too.


Can I have the LDL-P Reference range?

To round up, I feel I should let you have a reference range for LDL-P testing if you can access the test through your doctor.

Remember, we are using this test to assess our risk of heart disease and or stroke. So it makes sense to know what the result you get back means.

Here’s how to interprete your LDL-P result:

<1000 – Your Risk is Low
1000-1299 – Your Risk is Moderate
1300-1599 – Your Risk is Borderline High
>1600 – Your Risk is High, Buddy.

Now how was that. I told you this was going to be your last word on your cholesterol concerns. Did I deliver on that promise? Let me know below please…if you can.

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