Unlocking Potential: A Blueprint for Your Child’s Success in 2024 and Beyond

As we step into the year 2024, the landscape of parenting continues to evolve. Amidst the ever-changing world, setting realistic expectations for your child is crucial for their well-being and development. Balancing encouragement and realism create a foundation for growth, resilience, and a positive mindset. Here’s a guide to setting achievable expectations for your child in the year ahead:

Embrace Individuality:

Recognise and celebrate your child’s unique qualities, talents, and interests. Each child is different, and setting expectations that align with their individual strengths fosters a sense of self-worth and confidence. Encourage them to explore their passions and develop their own identity.

Promote a Growth Mindset:

Cultivate a growth mindset by emphasizing the value of effort, perseverance, and learning from mistakes. Teach your child that challenges are opportunities for growth rather than insurmountable obstacles (Dweck, 2006). This mindset fosters resilience and a positive attitude toward learning.

Focus on Effort, Not Just Results:

While achievements are important, placing undue emphasis on outcomes can create unnecessary pressure. Encourage your child to put effort into their endeavours and celebrate the journey of growth rather than solely focusing on the end result.

Set Age-Appropriate Goals:

Tailor expectations to your child’s age and developmental stage. Setting age-appropriate goals ensures that your child’s capabilities align with the expectations you’ve set. This approach encourages a sense of accomplishment and prevents feelings of inadequacy.

Encourage Open Communication:

Foster an environment where your child feels comfortable expressing their thoughts and concerns. Open communication allows you to understand their perspective, address unrealistic expectations, and collaboratively set achievable goals.

Establish a Realistic Academic Plan:

Academic success is important, but it’s essential to set realistic expectations based on your child’s abilities and learning style. Work with teachers to understand your child’s academic strengths and challenges, and develop a realistic plan that supports their educational journey.

Balance Extracurricular Activities:

Extracurricular activities play a vital role in a child’s development. However, overloading their schedule with too many activities can lead to stress and burnout. Strike a balance that allows them to explore interests while leaving room for relaxation and downtime.

Teach Time Management:

Time management is a valuable skill that contributes to achieving realistic goals. Teach your child how to prioritize tasks, set manageable deadlines, and allocate time effectively. These skills will serve them well in both academic and personal pursuits.

Celebrate Progress, Big and Small:

Acknowledge and celebrate your child’s progress, no matter how small. Recognizing their efforts and achievements boosts confidence and reinforces a positive attitude toward personal growth.

Seek Professional Guidance:

If your child is facing challenges beyond your expertise, don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance. Teachers, counselors, and other experts can provide insights and support tailored to your child’s needs.

Support their mental and brain development with proven Phytochemicals supplement.

In the fast-paced world of 2024, where demands on our cognitive abilities are higher than ever, giving your brain the support it needs is essential. Enter NeuroVance from MNI, a proven solution developed to optimise and support healthy brain function. This unique supplement contains a blend of plant-derived phytochemical ingredients, providing your brain with a physiological advantage during times of stress.

NeuroVance stands out for its commitment to harnessing the power of nature without resorting to sedatives or stimulants. The plant-derived ingredients work synergistically to enhance cognitive performance, providing a natural and sustainable solution for those seeking to unlock their cognitive potential.

Your brain, often the unsung hero in the story of overall well-being, can succumb to neglect. The symptoms of a neglected mind may manifest in various ways, such as difficulty concentrating, fatigue, tension headaches, and burnout. NeuroVance, from MNI,  steps in as a proactive measure to counteract these symptoms, offering a tailored approach to brain health.

The unique blend of phytochemicals in NeuroVance serves as a support system for your child’s brain, promoting optimal function even during challenging times. By addressing the root causes of cognitive fatigue and stress, NeuroVance empowers you child to face the demands of daily life with renewed focus and resilience.

In a world where the mind often takes a back seat to other priorities, NeuroVance encourages a shift in perspective. It recognizes the hard work of your child’s brain—the tireless orchestrator of their daily activities—and provides the support it needs to thrive.

As you navigate the complexities of 2024, consider NeuroVance as your ally in revitalising your child’s mind. Say goodbye to the struggles of difficulty concentrating and fatigue, and hello to a renewed ‘sense of cognitive vitality. It’s time to prioritise your child’s brain health and unlock the potential within. With NeuroVance, give your child’s mind the care it deserves, and embrace the journey of cognitive empowerment in the years ahead.

In conclusion, setting realistic expectations for your child in 2024 involves a thoughtful and adaptable approach. By embracing their individuality, promoting a growth mindset, and fostering open communication, you create an environment that encourages them to thrive and embrace the opportunities that the new year brings.

Improved and approved weight loss solution

Fighting the fat is a daily battle for many of us (recent stats suggest up to a third of South Africans are overweight or even medically obese) The fight is a source of constant torment. Not just because of feelings of low self-worth, but because we all know that being overweight can lead to all sorts of health issues including type 2 diabetes.

Lifestyle changes are always recommended to regain a healthier weight, but in the modern world, let’s face it, not all of us have the time or the capability of exercising more frequently or planning healthy regular meals. Some of us could use a little help.

At MNI, we carried out extensive research into the underlying causes of weight gain and the reason so many of us find it difficult to successfully lose weight sustainably, management of our blood sugar metabolism and levels of insulin production or resistance. We researched quality ingredients with proven proficiency in managing blood sugar levels and to combat insulin resistance. Then we researched and developed the perfect blend of these ingredients to perfect a unique formula that is a scientifically- proven and trusted aid to weight loss.



And now we’ve made AntaGolin more effective than ever. We’ve made that unique blend even stronger by adding Phlorodene to enhance glucose metabolism. Phlorodene is a propriety formulation prepared from the bark of apple trees which is proven to help block the reabsorption of glucose in the kidney. This in turn and in combination with our other quality ingredients, helps lower blood sugar and combats insulin resistance which assists with bodyweight reduction and blood sugar control.

Taken in conjunction with lifestyle changes, AntaGolin could help take the weight off your patient’s minds as well as their bodies.

Available without a prescription, AntaGolin’s can be used from the age of 12years old and now comes in a thirty-day pack.

We provide additional information and useful lifestyle advice on managing weight loss at https://www.mnilifestyle.co.za/metabolic-syndrome/insulin-resistance/  and detailed AntaGolin product information at https://www.mnilifestyle.co.za/antagolin/ There are also meal plan guides available. For any additional questions please feel free to use the ‘ask our expert’ facility, also available at www.mnilifestyle.co.za

It is also worth remembering that high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance can be a trigger factor for Metabolic Syndrome.

AntaGolin from MNI.

Proven Healthcare Solutions Providers


A stronger approach to cholesterol management

We all know that living with high cholesterol can lead to all sorts of anxiety and stress about the potential health repercussions. Repercussions that can be very real. Real, but manageable, and hopefully avoidable.

That is after all why the Medicinal Nutrition Institute invested so heavily in researching plant-based ingredients, establishing the optimal blends of Continue reading “A stronger approach to cholesterol management”

AntaGolin and insulin resistance

Insulin is natural hormone which plays a major role in regulating your use of energy. Its primary role is as a signal which tells cells what to do with glucose, a form of sugar and the main fuel substance in your body. When you eat, your food is broken down into micronutrients, amino acids and glucose. After a meal, the amount of glucose in your blood stream rises, which leads to insulin production by an organ called the pancreas. Upon receiving this signal, body parts such as your liver, fat cells and muscles begin to absorb the excess glucose and use it as energy. They do this through receptors on their cell surface, which bind to insulin and promptly activate a cascade of events that change the metabolism of the affected cells. As a result, blood glucose levels remain stable, allowing your body’s energy equilibrium to stay in place.

If you do not use much energy, eat too much, or have a diet based around energy rich food stuffs, such as fats and simple carbohydrates, it is more difficult for your body to use all the glucose as energy. Your blood glucose therefore rises rapidly after a meal. This causes your pancreas to increase the amount of insulin produced. As this continues, your cells start to become resistant to insulin, forcing your pancreas to produce even more. If this carries on, your cells continue to become resistant, and eventually your pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to keep glucose levels stable. Blood sugar then begins to rise above what can be considered normal. At first this happens in the early morning (which is why fasting glucose is measured), and then progresses to become too high after every meal (impaired glucose tolerance). At the last stage of insulin resistance, your glucose levels become raised throughout the day, leading to type 2 diabetes.

Because insulin controls how the body stores excess glucose, it also controls how the body creates adipose tissue (fat). In an insulin resistant state, your body is programmed to convert glucose to abdominal adipose tissue and to ensure the body does not use fat for energy. Insulin resistance therefore increases your weight, and weight gain makes you more insulin resistant. Insulin resistance can be reversed, and this is why early intervention and treatment is paramount.

In order to treat insulin resistance, lifestyle changes are necessary, and a healthier lifestyle should be adopted. There are also a number of medications and supplements which can help restore insulin sensitivity. MNI seeks to address insulin resistance on both fronts, through our insulin friendly, scientifically formulated Insulin-friendly (C.A.P.E.) meal plan, and through AntaGolin. AntaGolin is formulated to combat insulin resistance through a unique combination of plant based ingredients, which have been shown by research to improve insulin sensitivity and control blood glucose levels. Use AntaGolin to improve insulin sensitivity and to assist in maintaining normal blood glucose levels.

Read more about AntaGolin Click here.
To purchase AntaGolin online: Click Here.
Download your FREE Insulin-friendly (C.A.P.E) meal plan: Click Here.

Inactivity and your health – Sitting could be just as bad as smoking

Why is sitting bad for you?
It is not only sitting, but inactivity (sedentary behaviour) in general that is bad for you. Until about 200 years ago, people were not inactive for more than 5 hours a day (excluding sleeping), and most periods of inactivity were broken up relatively often with movement. These days, our work environment, how we spend leisure time (watching TV, spending time on the computer or phone) and how we travel, can lead to some of us remaining inactive for up to 15 hours a day.
This lack of movement is one of the main reasons that so many chronic diseases have become more common. Physical inactivity is bad for us – surprisingly even for our brains – resulting in reduced muscle mass and strength, metabolic problems, and lower fitness. In fact, some reports suggest that sitting could be killing even more people than smoking. Specifically, sedentary behaviour, including sitting and TV watching, has been associated with increased all-cause mortality, reduced heath in general, and over 35 chronic diseases and conditions.

What counts as a sedentary lifestyle?
Inactivity is defined as any activity where we our metabolic rate is less than 1.5 times of that when we are resting and we are in a sitting or reclining position. Light physical activity, classified as strolling, cleaning the house, or cooking food, does not fall under this definition. In general, inactivity while standing, or even squatting, does not seem to be as detrimental – most likely due to the fact that major muscle groups are still active. In order to be sedentary, you need to be inactive for long periods of time – typically over an hour. In order to be classified as living a sedentary lifestyle, these bouts of inactivity need to add up to more than 6 hours a day – the point where studies have suggested that a significant risk for disease begins developing.

What happens when I’m inactive?
It is important to note that all of the following are independent of the amount of exercise you get, and therefore you might be at risk even if you exercise regularly. When you are sedentary, your muscles, especially the big ones in the lower part of your body, bear less weight and experience abnormal activation patterns. This leads to stress and strain on the back, neck and shoulders, as well as less blood flow to muscles. In addition to strain, your muscles switch off, decreasing your metabolic rate, and leading to metabolic changes, such as decreased sugar and fat metabolism.
These changes resulting from inactivity set in rapidly, and even a day of inactivity can reduce insulin sensitivity by 39%. Immediately after becoming sedentary, calorie burning processes slow down to about 1 calorie per minute (5% above basal energy expenditure). After an hour inactivity, enzymes involved in fat and glucose metabolism lose activity, resulting in fat deposition instead of metabolism. Within a week of adopting a sedentary lifestyle, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides begin to rise. Within two weeks of sitting muscle degeneration begins to set in, even if you work out. After a year of inactivity (while still exercising), effects such as weight gain, bone degeneration and high cholesterol, become noticeable.

What specific diseases are caused by a sedentary lifestyle?
A sedentary lifestyle has been associated with at least 35 chronic diseases, many of which you will recognise as being caused by other unhealthy habits imposed through our modern lifestyles. Prolonged inactivity has also been linked to chronic and increased inflammation, which can lead to numerous diseases, including those following, and has been heavily linked to metabolic syndrome (MetS).

Metabolic syndrome (MetS)
Metabolic syndrome has been widely associated with inactivity, as sedentary behaviour results in widespread changes in metabolism. Indeed, each extra hour of sitting may be associated with up to 19% increased risk of developing type II diabetes, and if you are inactive for most of your day, your risk of developing metabolic syndrome may be as much as 75% higher than if you weren’t.

Inactivity leads to worsened blood glucose management and insulin resistance. This happens rapidly after becoming sedentary, and insulin resistance has been one of the most significant conditions related to inactivity. In fact, people who sit the most have double the risk of developing type II diabetes, and a gain an additional 10% for each hour of inactivity.

Obesity or weight gain is most likely linked to a sedentary lifestyle for two main reasons. Firstly, due to less energy use and metabolic changes, and secondly, due to habits that are often associated with sedentary pursuits, such as snacking while watching TV. Not only is fat storage increased while sedentary, but its deposition is also altered. Most of this fat is deposited around the organs, such as the heart and liver, or is abdominal, which is extremely dangerous and further leads to MetS and other health issues.

Cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease is one of the most well supported disease areas associated with prolonged inactivity. Indeed, the risk of cardiovascular mortality increases by at least 5% for each two hours of sitting time, and some reports state that people who sit the most are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
Specific conditions associated with sedentary time include heart attack, increased blood pressure, pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis, venous thromboembolism, as well as increased cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

A number of cancers have been associated with inactivity, including colorectal, breast, endometrial, ovary, and prostate cancer. Research suggests that inactivity for at least 7 hours a day may result in at least 13% likelihood of dying from cancer. A main determining factor may be weight gain, leading to insulin resistance, chronic inflammation and hormonal disruptions, all of which are known to lead to cancer.

Impaired mental health
While research is still unclear in some cases, a sedentary lifestyle has been associated with a number of mental conditions. It has been reported that the risk for developing a mental disorder is increased by up to 31% in adults who watch more than 6 hours of TV per day compared to those who watch less than one and a half hours. This is likely due to both physical factors and psychological factors. Physical activity stimulates numerous biological pathways linked to mental function, maintenance and growth of neurons, reduced inflammation, release of mood modulating chemicals, and is often associated with better mental stimulation). Psychological factors related to inactivity, especially in terms of leisure time pursuits, include impaired social relationships and isolation in general. Of course, in this context, the type of sedentary behaviour is important, and activities, such as reading, playing board games, and crafts, that stimulate mental function are encouraged, especially in the elderly.
Specific conditions which have some evidence of being linked to a sedentary lifestyle include depression, anxiety, reduced academic performance and IQ, impaired memory and concentration, poor social performance, and low self-esteem. Sedentary behaviour has also been linked to worse mental aging (of up to 43%).

Musculoskeletal disorders
Our bodies are not designed to spend long periods of time in a sitting posture, and only use as much energy as is needed. Prolonged inactivity can therefore result in unusual neck and back curvature, back pain, neck and shoulder pain, and other issues such as carpel tunnel syndrome, muscle degeneration and osteoporosis.

Reduced sleep quality
Poor sleep patterns and quality are associated with many detrimental health impacts, including metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and poor mental health. Increased inactivity has in turn been associated with poor sleep quality, duration, frequent waking and apnoea, further adding to the risk of a sedentary lifestyle.

Will doing exercise help?
Exercise can result in improvements in many areas of health, but it appears that many bodily changes during inactivity are independent of the level of exercise – so even if you work out every day, sitting for the rest of it can put you at higher risk of developing this range of diseases

How can I reduce my risk?
The best way is to move as much as possible. Even a minor improvement is better than nothing, so stand up, walk, move your limbs, and change posture as often as possible. Breaks as short as a few minutes every hour can lead to a major improvement in the body’s metabolism and risk reduction, not only improving your health, but also your comfort, work performance, and concentration

It is suggested that at least 2 to 4 cumulative hours of light activity in place of sitting should remove most of the risk associated with a sedentary lifestyle. This would be best implemented as breaks of a few minutes every half an hour, where light to moderate activity is undertaken, although even just standing up can help.
Although standing can help to reduce the effect of inactivity, don’t overdo it. Movement is more important. Standing still for too long can result in discomfort, and a number of cardiovascular disease risks. The most important rule to remember is “everything in moderation”, extremes are bad.

Some simple suggestions to become more active include:

  • Stand up and do something whenever your job or leisure time allows it – while eating lunch or taking a phone call, during the advertisements on TV, while your game is loading, take walking meetings, or walk to your colleague’s office instead of emailing.
  • Some people might like to use a standing desk, with a highchair to sit at for brief periods when you become tired.
  • Park further away from the office or mall, or use the bathroom on the next floor.
  • Use the stairs whenever you can.
  • Move your limbs around while sitting.

Read more about AntaGolin Click here.
To purchase AntaGolin online: Click Here.
Download your FREE Insulin-friendly (C.A.P.E) meal plan: Click Here.

Breast cancer versus heart disease – woman perilously misguided

Key points:

  • Women don’t seem to realise that they are nine times more at risk of developing a heart condition than breast cancer.
  • Women are also notoriously bad at getting their cholesterol checked.

As cholesterol-related deaths continue to rise, South Africans need to start managing their cholesterol levels far more proactively if they wish to extend their lifespan. Women are particularly bad at checking their cholesterol levels, in part because they tend to be under the erroneous impression that heart disease is predominantly a ‘male’ condition. Of concern is that, according to The Department of Health (DoH), one in four South African women will develop some form of heart condition before the age of 60[1]. As the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA (HSFSA) points out, many South African women don’t seem to realise that they are nine times more likely to develop a heart condition than breast cancer [2].

It’s a dire situation that is getting worse! The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that cardiovascular disease is the largest single cause of mortality among women, accounting for a third of all deaths in women worldwide every year [3]. The HSFSA’s analysis of recent trends has also led them to predict that premature deaths due to heart and blood vessel diseases among South Africans of working age (35 – 64 years) will increase by 41% between 2007 and 2030 [4].

Screening is crucial

While breast cancer screening is important for all women in South Africa, a high risk of heart disease raises the importance of cholesterol checks too. And, with a high prevalence of familial high blood cholesterol in some local communities, everyone should have their cholesterol checked at least in early adulthood, with the latest US guidelines even suggesting that children should be checked.

The good news is that blood cholesterol tests no longer need to be done after fasting. Various studies have demonstrated that lipid profiles change minimally in response to normal food intake, rendering the concept now obsolete.

Supplements to help lower your cholesterol

RyChol contains a blend of plant-derived (phytochemical) ingredients all shown to help reduce  blood cholesterol levels in a unique and individual manner. Its multi-modal pharmaceutical action is through the selective blocking of various biochemical pathways that are involved in saturated fat digestion and cholesterol absorption, as well as cholesterol excretion.

Whilst there is little scientific evidence to prove, for example, that by taking vitamins each day you can make a measurable difference to your health and life expectancy, overwhelming statistical evidence proves that by lowering your cholesterol, you can extend your life expectancy significantly. Besides stopping smoking, this basic step should therefore be viewed as one of the ultimate anti-ageing strategies that you could possibly invest in. Read more about RyChol

1. The South African Department of Health (DoH). 1998. -www.heartfoundation.co.za/health/women
2. World Health Organization (WHO). The world health report, 2004: changing history. WHO, Geneva,  2004. bb

Help Your Child Break Tasks Into Small Manageable Sections Or Parts

Large tasks often seem overwhelming before starting. The sheer amount if work and lack of structure can make them seem like they cannot be completed. This anxiety often leads to procrastination, as children fret about how to get started. Depending on a child’s concentration levels, tasks viewed as overwhelming can include anything from getting ready for school to a complex multi-part assignment. The following strategies can be applied to large or small tasks, and adapted according to your child’s preferred style of working, learning and concentration levels.

Goal setting is a teachable skill, as is the ability to breakdown tasks into smaller goals. This form of organisation, called “chunking”, involves starting an assignment, task or homework through first deciding what needs to be done, identifying each small step involved, and then assigning a timeline/deadline to each goal.

Through tackling smaller goals, anxiety will be reduced, instructions made clearer and motivation increased as a sense of accomplishment can be felt when each small step is completed, rather than only at the end of the assignment. Children are also more likely to stick to smaller deadlines which require less time and concentration. Teaching them these skills is essential to helping them stay organised and deal with the increasingly busy and demanding world as they grow up.

Which exact method, how much time should be allocated to tasks, how far they should be broken down and how to represent deadlines will depend on your child’s personality, learning style, concentration ability and motivations. Use the following as an overall guide, and experiment with the above factors to see what they do best with.

Step 1: Define the task/Identify the problem

A simple example of what would be household chores:

What am I supposed to do?

  • Feed the dog
  • Clean my room

A more complex example would be when presented with an assignment, decision or task. Exactly what should be done is not always obvious. The first step to completing the task is identifying and explicitly stating the larger or overall goals and questions.

This step is especially important for more complex, larger assignments and activities. Help your child understand exactly what it is they need to do, or what the end goal of the assignment is. Jot down and have them give quick answers to questions like:

  1. What am I supposed to do?
  2. What are the questions that are being asked?
  3. What type and how much information do I need?
  4. What should my finished work look like?

For example, if your child receives a multiple part assignment such as:

You have learned about some of the people who changed science so that we can live in the world we do today. Your assignment is to write about one of these people, their discovery and how their discovery is used in our daily lives. Your essay should be 3 pages long. You will then be required to present this to the class in a 5-minute presentation, using a visual aid of your choice (like a model, experiment, drawing or poster) in a mini science fair.

Essay due date: 2 weeks time
Science fair: 4 weeks time

What am I supposed to do?

  • Write a 3 page essay about a scientist, their discovery and how it helps us today
  • Write a speech about a scientist and their discovery using a visual aid

What are the questions that are being asked?

  • What is the history of the scientist?
  • What did they discover?
  • Where/how is the discovery used in my life?

What should my finished project look like?

  • The essay should be
    • Introduction (one paragraph)
    • Body (2 and a half pages)
    • Conclusion (one paragraph)
  •  The speech should be
    • Introduction (1 minute)
    • Discussion (3 minutes)
    • Conclusion (1 minute)
    • The visual aid should be
      • A model
      • An experiment
      • A drawing
      • A poster

What type and how much information do I need?

  • Information on their life (2 paragraphs)
  • Information on their discovery (2 paragraphs)
  • Information on its modern uses (2 paragraphs)

Or if they need to do chores:

What am I supposed to do?

  • Feed the dog
  • Clean my room

Step 2: Break down the task/problem into smaller goals

Once it is clear what should be done, the next step is to break down each major goal into smaller chunks. This can be done over and over until each small piece is manageable and achievable. Depending on your child’s ability to focus or work schedule, the size of each piece of work will vary, but should each be something they can manage in a normal day.

As they become older or more used to tackling tasks in this manner, the size of each can be increased according to what they feel they can handle, and perhaps a single chunk might span over an entire week or month. Helping them do this part themselves will aid them in understanding what is feasible and how to identify smaller questions leading to a bigger goal.

Following the example of the essay from above, smaller questions and goals might be:

Which scientist do I want to choose?

  1. Which discovery did I like most?
  2. Can I think of how it relates to one of my hobbies or interests?

What questions do I want to ask?

  • Is there any information on their life before they went into science?
  • When and where was he/she was born?
  • Where did they go to school?
  • Were there any events that happened that inspired them?
  • How did they get into their field?

What was their major discovery?

  • What does it actually mean?
  • What did other scientists think about it at the time?
  • Why was it so important?

How did this discovery make a difference in the world?

  • Did the discovery lead on to more discoveries?
  • What did the discovery get used for?
  • Are there any examples of its use in things that I do/see/use every day?

3. Find information on each question
4. Put this together in an essay

  • Write about their life
  • Write about their discovery
  • Write about how their discovery changed the world
  • Write introduction
  • Write conclusion

5. Revise and review

  • Mark errors or where changes or details are needed
  • Correct these
  • Reread and repeat

6. Hand in

In terms of homework or chores, it might be best to schedule a daily routine, based around what subjects or tasks your child does best in and enjoys, what they find difficult to concentrate on and what they might need the most help with. Depending on the type and amount of homework or activity it could also be useful to use some of the techniques for larger assignments discussed above, like defining the problem and breaking it down into smaller goals first. Try and place the different subjects at times when it best suits their concentration levels, and alternate between subjects they find interesting and do well in with ones they don’t.

Taking homework as an example:
1. Start with maths homework
2. English homework

  1. What should my poem be about?
  2. What words does the teacher want me to use?
  3. What words rhyme with these words?

3. Science homework
4. Art homework
5. History homework

  1. Read the background material and make notes
  2. Do the worksheet

Or for chores:
What am I supposed to do?

  • Feed the dog
  • Clean dogs bowl
  • Open a can of food
  • Put half the can in the bowl
  • Put the other half in the fridge
  • Clean my room
  • Take dishes to the kitchen
  • Put toys back in the toy box
  • Make bed

Step 3: Define these chunks as individual tasks and give them a timeline/deadlines:

By doing this, your child can focus their energy on tackling one specific question or goal at a time. It will also give them a sense of achievement and progress toward the goal, and keep them focused. It is important to take into account your child’s strengths and weaknesses in helping set deadlines or deciding on the length of time allowed for each task.

If your child is good at remembering or looking for information, but has trouble writing, they will need more time for writing the actual essay than doing research. If they have concentration difficulties, they may need to spend more time on each goal. Most importantly, things almost always take longer than you think they will. Rather schedule too much time, both to ensure deadlines are met, as missing deadlines can be very demotivating, while finishing early is often accompanied by a greater sense of achievement.

Depending on your child’s preferred style, these could be represented on a mind-map, checklist (this can give younger children a great sense of achievement as they check off the tasks they have completed), calendar or any other form that your child might like.

Once again, taking the assignment as an example:
1. Choose the scientist (day 1, 15 minutes)
2. Find information on each question

  • Is there any information on their life before they went into science? (day 2, 1 hour)
  • What was their major discovery? (day 3 and 4, 1 hour)
  • How did this discovery make a difference in the world? (day 5 and 6, 1 hour)

3. Put this together in an essay

  • Write about their life (day 7, 1 hour)
  • Write about their discovery (day 8, 1 hour)
  • Write about how their discovery changed the world (day 9, 1 hour)
  • Write introduction (day 10, 30 mins)
  • Write conclusion (day 10, 30 mins)

4. Revise and review (day 11 and 12, 1 hour)
5. Hand in (day 14)

In terms of homework:
1. Start with maths homework

  • Do 5 questions (or every 20 minutes) and then have a short break until you are done

2. English homework

  • Work for half an hour and then take a 5 minute break

3. Science homework

  • Do 5 questions (or every 20 minutes) and then have a short break until you are done

4. Art homework

  • Take a 5 minute break every 30 minutes

5. History homework

  • Read the background material and make notes
  • Take a break
  • Do the worksheet

Step 4: Help your child stick to these deadlines, and revise whether the exact strategy is working

This will especially be necessary at the beginning, while your child learns to stick to their timeline and before they begin to feel more motivated and focussed as a result of meeting deadlines and feeling less anxious. They will also begin to learn what works best for them in tackling these goals, but bear in mind that this will be a period of experimentation, and may still be accompanied by some difficulty if a particular strategy is not working.

Check in with them regularly for the first few tasks. Ask them what they like about how their work is structured and what they don’t. Perhaps they are having difficulty using a calendar, but feel their times between breaks are perfect. Adjust according to your child’s needs, and allow them to start leading the process. After a while, give them more space, until they are able to complete the whole process by themselves.

View our Neurovance products or ask our experts any questions!

How to boost your metabolism

Key points:

  • In the presence of insulin resistance your metabolism in effect slows down.
  • With the world-wide increase in obesity, insulin resistance has become an important new therapeutic target.

Refusing to eat during a hunger protest, Bobby Sands, the famous IRA hunger striker, died in a prison hospital after 66 days from self-imposed starvation. During the summer of 1981, another nine of his compatriots protesting the same cause died in the same manner. On average, each striker survived for 61 days without any food, quite an amazing feat if one considers that they had very little stored energy, since most of them were skinny to start with, having had to endure repetitive periods of punitive prison rationing before they started their strike.

Man the machine

In order to survive periods of famine, humans have become so efficient at storing energy that an averagely built individual can virtually run an entire marathon by burning glycogen only, the body’s stored form of glucose, without needing to burn a single molecule of fat. The hormone that to a large degree enables us to become so astonishingly energy efficient is insulin.

When food supplies were unreliable and periods of famine posed a genuine threat, insulin protected our forefathers from starvation by helping them stockpile energy reserves in the form of body fat. Besides having a highly efficient biochemical system to absorb and distribute energy, we also have a highly effective container to store energy in, namely the fat cell or ‘adipocyte’. Starting life as a diminutive microscopic structure, fat cells can easily expand thorough the progressive accumulation of fat to reach massive proportions by cellular standards.

Metabolism – the body’s energy furnace

All biochemical processes that take place in the body are initiated and controlled by a complex communication system that relies on a variety of different messenger molecules. These convey a myriad of biochemical instructions to every part of the body. Hormones and neurotransmitters, for example, fulfil this function. In addition, various other chemicals contained within pharmaceutical drugs or medicinal plants also achieve their therapeutic effect results through the same mechanism.

Depending on their design, messenger molecules deliver their biochemical instruction either broadly to a large ‘audience’, or more selectively focused at a very specific level. They can also either overrule and cancel another’s instruction, or amplify and strengthen it. Of importance to health is that equilibrium is maintained at all times, since many disease processes such as diabetes and heart disease arise from either a disruption or defect in one or more of these pathways.

Metabolism is a complex process which involves the regulatory activity of various different messenger molecules. It is often assumed that the thyroid gland is in charge of metabolism. This is far from correct, since the numerous regulatory tasks that insulin performs relating to carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, as well the ability to overrule virtually all other messenger molecules involved in the process, makes insulin the single dominant regulator of metabolism.

The biology of survival
Insulin performs several different functions that may lead to the accumulation of excess body fat. Firstly, insulin regulates fat production. After a meal, when the quantity of glucose that enters the system is more than what can be used for immediate energy requirements, insulin promotes the conversion of excess sugar into fatty acids. These are subsequently grouped as larger molecules called triglycerides and then transported to the fatty tissue for storage.

Within the environment of the fat cell, insulin fulfils the role of storeroom manager. By biological design, insulin’s tasks are firstly to fill each storeroom to maximum capacity, and then to keep stock levels as high as possible by actively blocking the release of fat. Inside each fat cell another messenger molecule called ‘hormone-sensitive lipase’ (HSL) plays an opposing role to insulin. Acting as the dispatch manager of the warehouse, HSL has the sole task of releasing as much fat from the fat cell as possible so that it can be shipped off to fuel the body’s metabolic furnace. In the presence of insulin, however, this biochemical function is overruled and fat therefore effectively stays trapped. Only once insulin leaves the warehouse, so to speak, can HSL perform its duty.

The bottom line is that insulin not only helps you to gain weight if you consume too many calories, but when levels are chronically elevated as in the case of insulin resistance, a biological defect is created which makes it more difficult to lose weight.

The revenge of the fat cells

Two major mechanisms contribute towards weight gain. Not only do existing fat cells increase their fat content, but new fat cells or adipocytes are continuously being generated through a proliferation process called adipogenesis. Individually, newly formed fat cells also start accumulating fat within their interior which collectively leads to accelerated weight-gain and the slow but progressive enlargement of the total fat mass. In a more advanced state, this process leads to the distortion of normal fatty tissue, commonly referred to as cellulite.

In the past, fat cells were accredited with only two main functions, namely that of storing calories for later use and preserving body temperature via improved insulation. However, in the presence of excess body fat, fat cells also assume a new biochemical communication role by starting to produce and release various messenger molecules called ‘adipokines’ and ‘cytokines’. These messenger molecules have a detrimental effect on many other tissue types and ultimately start to interfere with the normal biochemical regulations that take place within the body. Some adipokines initiate the process of new fat cell formation, whilst others cause insulin resistance.

By releasing adipokines and cytokines fat cells in essence assume the role of an endocrine organ that is almost like certain cancerous processes starts to function independently from the body. The end result is that you are virtually held hostage by your own fat cells. A vicious cycle ensues during which you become increasingly more biochemically as well as physiologically altered.

Could you perhaps be insulin resistant?

According to US guidelines males with waistlines over 102cm in diameter and females over 88cm are highly likely to have some degree of insulin resistance, especially if they are struggling to control their weight. European guidelines, however, are more stringent and predict that males over 93cm and females over 79cm are statistically more prone to insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance can be managed

Do not underestimate the biological consequences of insulin resistance. If your ambition is to lose weight, we suggest that you follow a therapeutic goal which will enhance your metabolism during which your body’s biochemical processes are optimised in such a manner that it simultaneously alleviates insulin resistance, suppresses the storage capabilities of fat by existing fat cells and also prevents the continual formation of new fat cells. Therapies able to regulate both the size and number of fat cells over the long term have therefore become a new therapeutic approach to help treat overweight and obese individuals.

AntaGolin is a natural product that helps to combat insulin resistance by assisting your body to regulate blood sugar more efficiently. When taken at a supplementary dosage over the long term, AntaGolin helps to control your body fat level more effectively. When taken at a higher dosage (see dosage instructions), studies have shown that AntaGolin in conjunction with a structured weight-loss programme can help you to lose weight more effectively. Because of its blood sugar regulation ability, AntaGolin is an ideal long term supplement for pre-diabetic and type 2 diabetic subjects. Read more about AntaGolin

Download your FREE Insulin-friendly (C.A.P.E) meal plan: click here

Backache – novel options to help you manage pain


Key points:

  • Pain warns you that inflammation is at work in your spine
  • The damage caused by inflammation may be worse than the pain.

It is estimated that nine out of ten adults experience back pain at some stage of life, and five out of ten working adults suffer from back pain every year. Lower back pain is responsible for 40% of the sick leave taken in the United States and is considered the single leading cause of disability globally.

Back and neck pain are often due to inflammation and muscle spasm, caused by injuries to the joints, discs and ligaments of the spine. Degeneration of the discs between the vertebral bones of the back from ageing, injury, wear and tear, is a leading cause of chronic and debilitating pain. Besides back ache, disc damage also causes referred pain via the nerve roots. ‘Sciatica’ is a term used for a set of symptoms caused by the compression or irritation of one of the spinal nerve roots in the lower back. Symptoms include lower back or buttock pain, as well as a dull, nagging ache that radiates to various parts of the legs and feet as part of a referred pain syndrome. Numbness and pins-and-needles may also be present. If the disc damage occurs in the neck, similar symptoms may arise in the shoulders, arms and hands.

The role of inflammation

If you crush a grape by standing on it, the outer casing will rupture and the innards will spill out. The same thing happens to the rubbery discs that join the vertebral bones of the spine. Once squashed or ‘prolapsed’, it applies a direct pressure to the nerve roots housed in the body cave that contains the spinal cord. To explain pain through this mechanism makes perfect sense.

However, research has demonstrated that the pain produced by a prolapsed disc is significantly more complex than just mechanical forces. In experiments conducted, scientists have found that simply by introducing herniated disc material to a healthy nerve without any pressure involved, inflammation of the actual nerve tissue rapidly ensues. This causes more swelling of the nerve, leading to even more pressure.

The biochemistry of backache

Research has shown that a powerful pain-producing inflammatory trigger called ‘Tumour Necrosis Factor alpha’ (TNF-alpha) plays a dominant role in causing back ache. Once a disk prolapses, its internal structure becomes disrupted. In accordance with the rules of healing, any injury leads to the immediate release of a cascade of biochemical reactions, collectively called inflammation. Not only does this process cause acute inflammation within the disc itself, but the chemical drivers of inflammation released by this process also rapidly spreads to surrounding healthy tissues and activates a secondary inflammatory process there as well.

Besides the nerves, the muscles, blood vessels and vertebral bones of the spine also become affected. As a consequence of this train of events, various other biochemical agents are released, including an enzyme called Cathepsin G (Cat G), not only a trigger for pain, but for substantial tissue destruction too.

Why inflammation eventually destroys the spine

The integrity and health of connective tissue such as cartilage, intervertebral discs, ligaments and bones plays an integral part in a highly dynamic process that requires resisting mechanical strain and recovering from the friction that is caused by constant movement. Cathepsin G (Cat G) is a protein cleaving (photolytic) enzyme responsible for the breakdown of proteins though a process called proteolysis. Whilst the process of proteolysis serves many beneficial purposes during the healing process, such as the removal of damaged tissue, the unregulated cleavage of protein-based structures also causes significant structural damage to healthy tissue.

Once activated by inflammation, CatG cleaves numerous structural proteins such as collagen, elastin and laminin, the building blocks of cartilage, intervertebral discs, ligaments and bones. In doing so, CatG plays a dominant role in both the repair and destruction of connective tissue at sites of injury or inflammation. Unfortunately, the rate of damage caused by the inflammatory process outweighs the rate of repair. The end result over years is a spine that looks damaged, distorted and somewhat weather-beaten on X-ray, even to the untrained eye.

Treatment options

Since the vast majority of disc-related back ache is inflammatory in origin, it should ideally be treated medically. Surgery should only be an option when a large disc causes compression of the nerve roots, particularly when it leads to muscle weakness and urinary or bowel incontinence.

Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and steroids work because they broadly block key inflammatory enzymes at a high level in the inflammatory cascade. Although highly effective for helping to reduce inflammation and secondary pain, this also explains their high side effect profile, which extends to many organs, especially the stomach and the kidneys. All anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are also strongly implicated in the development of heart disease and stroke, with some being worse than others. For example, in 2004, the drug Rofecoxib caused between 88 000 and 140 000 cases of serious heart disease and was subsequently withdrawn from the market.

Novel approaches to manage inflammatory pain

Since the unwanted side-effects of the regular usage of anti-inflammatory drugs, especially over the long term, may outweigh the benefit, scientists have started looking for effective alternative sources, but with a lower side effect profile.  Extracts from Indian Frankincense, contained within RheumaLin, have been used in traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic and Middle Eastern medicine as an anti-inflammatory and pain relieving agent for centuries. Accumulating evidence in scientific literature from both animal and human studies supports the use of frankincense resin for a variety of inflammatory disorders including osteoarthritis.

The effects of frankincense resin are biochemically attributed to a group of chemical compounds called boswellic acids.  Research has demonstrated that these acids are powerful inhibitors of CatG. During automated, molecular docking experiments, boswellic acids tightly bound to the active centre of CatG and, as a result, strongly suppressed the proteolytic activity of CatG. This indicates their potential to help alleviate inflammatory pain and preserve joint health by helping to prevent the enzymatic degradation of cartilage and surrounding soft tissues. View our full health product range

Mortality reduction – Apples compete with Statins

Key points:

  • Science formally proves a 150-year old health proverb true.
  • Compounds in apples have significant health benefits.

Healthy lifestyle choices like regular exercise and proper nutrition are generally considered the first steps toward a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, many physicians also prescribe statins, a class of drugs that lower cholesterol levels and protect against hardening of the arteries. Previous studies have found a clear correlation between these drugs and a general reduction in mortality from vascular causes.

Proverb measured against science

‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ has been a public health message delivered by parents and teachers since the 19th century. Apples, a rich source of phytochemicals such as polyphenols, are widely consumed and epidemiological studies have linked the consumption of apples with a reduced risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, asthma and diabetes. In the laboratory, apples have been found to inhibit cancer cell proliferation, decrease the oxidation of fats and lower cholesterol.

In a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), researchers from the University of Oxford released their findings on whether the proverbial Victorian wisdom of an apple a day could compare with the more widespread use of statins in primary prevention.

To determine whether a daily apple can have a similar protective effect against vascular mortality as statins, adults over 50 years old in the UK were prescribed either a statin or an apple a day. In a surprise finding, apples managed to rival statins in preventative medicine when it comes to lowering the burden of cardiovascular disease. With a similar reduction in mortality, it was found that a 150-year old health promotion message is truly able to match modern medicine and is likely to have fewer side effects.

Apple-polyphenol supplements

RyChol, a natural product developed to help combat high blood cholesterol levels and help you to reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, contains a blend of various plant-derived (phytochemical) ingredients that have each been recognised to help lower blood cholesterol levels in a unique and individual manner. Its multi-modal pharmaceutical action is achieved through the selective blocking of various biochemical pathways that are involved in saturated fat digestion, cholesterol absorption as well as cholesterol excretion. Taken at the recommended daily dosage, RyChol delivers the equivalent of apple polyphenols that will equate to that contained in apples. Read more about RyChol


  1. Briggs ADM, Mizdrak A, Scarborough P. A statin a day keeps the doctor away: comparative proverb assessment modelling study. BMJ 2013;347:f7267 doi: 10.1136/bmj.f7267 (Published 17 December 2013)
  2. Boyer J, Liu RH. Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutr J. 2004 May 12;3:5.
  3. Nagasako-Akazome Y, Kanda T, Ohtake Y, Shimasaki H, Kobayashi T. Apple polyphenols influence cholesterol metabolism in healthy subjects with relatively high body mass index. J Oleo Sci. 2007;56(8):417-28
  4. Pandey KB, Rizvi SI. Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2009 Nov-Dec;2(5):270-8.

The best weight-loss diet

Key points:

  • Meal-plan or diet. What’s the difference?
  • Some diets make you more efficient at storing fat over the long term

Which diet will give you the best short term results? Will these results be sustainable over the long term? Can any harm be done in the process?

This topic has received intense debate and no medical condition has generated as many proposed dietary solutions as obesity. Hundreds of different diets are available and opposing opinions are quite common. Not surprisingly, for anyone without a science degree in dietetics, this topic can be become somewhat bewildering.

Basically, the term ‘diet’, ‘meal-plan’ and ‘eating style’ all mean the same thing. Essentially, they are all attempts to help you eat in a more structured manner. Whilst many meal plans are based on sound dietetic principles, some are veiled in pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo. To assist you with unravelling the mystery element, we examine the basic principles behind some of the more popular concepts.

Mono food diets
There are many versions, examples being the ‘soup diet’, ‘grape diet’, ‘grapefruit diet’, ‘maple syrup diet’, etc. Besides being painfully boring, they are mostly nutritionally deficient since they often exclude essential food groups. Except for the ‘orange food diet’ that allows you to eat salmon with your carrots, oranges and pumpkin, they are mostly too low in protein. This will cause you to use some of your own muscle as a protein source. Since muscle burns the most energy in your body, this will ultimately lower your metabolic rate.

Our Verdict: – most of these diets can probably be used as a “detox” process by those who are interested in the concept. We do not recommend any.

Very low kilojoule diets (Less than 1000 Calories / 4200 KJ per day)
These are based on the assumption that the less you eat the more you lose. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple, since your body will respond by lowering your metabolic rate, thereby making you lose less. In addition, starvation may also cause your body to ‘burn’ its own muscle.

Our Verdict: – should only be used under extreme conditions, for instance, in the case of a morbidly ill, severely obese patient immobilised by a hip fracture, for example, in urgent need of surgery.

Very low fat diets
These diets are based on the assumption that fat makes you fat and the less fat you eat the more you lose. Not quite, since when fat is burnt in the body’s energy furnace, small quantities of fat are actually required to assist with the process. Taste is also determined by the fat content of food. Numerous taste molecules are only fat soluble and therefore embedded in fat. Without these, food tastes rather bland.

Our Verdict: – extremely health-conscious individuals will take to this diet like a duck to water. We think it’s far too Spartan. In addition, many prior beliefs about fat are now obsolete.

Food combining
This diet is based on a school of thought that for various purported digestive reasons, protein and carbohydrate should not be consumed at the same meal. Most medical scientists do not agree.

Our Verdict: – food combining often works because of a more structured eating pattern and energy restriction, rather than better digestion. This eating style does have the potential to offer relief from digestive ailments such as heartburn and bloating.

Blood group diet
This concept is based on the idea that you should eat according to your blood group, which is determined by the genetic makeup that you inherited from your prehistoric forefathers. It is founded upon the notion that over time, humans slowly became conditioned and therefore dependent on the available food items available in the region where they originally lived in before they started migrating all over the world. This theory is not supported by the larger scientific community.

Our Verdict: – it may be useful if you suffer from a medical condition, such as migraine, for example, that will warrant an explorative process of food elimination in order to identify a possible food allergens or intolerance. Personally, we do not agree with the science and find this diet far too impractical to sustain, especially if you live in a family unit or group with members that all have different blood groups. Imagine you are responsible for meal preparation when each member needs to eat differently?

High protein, low carb diet.
This concept was originally popularised by the late Dr Atkins in the early seventies. At the height of its popularity, it was estimated that almost 10% of Northern American adults were following his diet. Dr Atkins’ influence became so immense that he was singlehandedly blamed for causing a decline in the sales of carbohydrate based food items such as pasta (- 8.2%) and rice (-4.6%) in 2003. Not surprisingly, the financial consequences thereof on the food industry caused quite a backlash, who counter-attacked by funding some of his most vociferous critics.

Actually, the original idea is generally accredited to William Banting (1796 –1878), a prominent English undertaker. Suffering from obesity, Banting decided to remedy his situation by reducing his intake of carbohydrates. Since it worked for him and he was well connected to the upper echelon of society, the concept started to spread. Since the 18th century, numerous versions of the same concept, albeit with some variations, have been re-invented, re-interpreted and re-released at regular intervals. Examples are South Beach, Zone, Dukan, Paleo (Caveman diet) and Banting diet.

All these diets restrict carbohydrate intake. Others increase fat intake, often quite considerably. The reason this eating style is effective is because it basically switches your body’s metabolism for various biochemical reasons from ‘sugar (glucose) burning’ to ‘fat burning’ mode. ‘Lipolysis’ is the medical term for ‘fat-breakdown’. During lipolysis small carbon-containing molecules called ‘ketones’ are produced. The process is therefore called ‘ketogenesis’, the reason these diets are collectively often referred to as ‘ketogenic diets’. Ketones contain minute amounts of ‘chemical energy’. These, with their energy, pass through the kidneys and are lost to the body. This is why some of these diets require you to check your urine at regular intervals for the presence of ketones.

Our Verdict: – like so many others, we like many of the basic principles behind this concept. However, we do not agree with the substantial increase in fat that some of these diets recommend. This seems to be in line with the majority of world’s dietetic association who advise that one should control the intake of fat to a certain degree.

MNI’s Insulin-friendly meal plan (C.A.P.E) meal plan:
When we eat certain foods, especially too many refined carbohydrates, we are sending a hormonal message via insulin to the fat cells of the body. That message is “STORE FAT!” In fact, it’s actually a bit worse than that, because increased insulin levels also tell the body “DO NOT RELEASE STORED FAT!” This makes it rather difficult to lose weight and therefore counterproductive.

We therefore designed our own basic meal-plan and tried to keep it as simple as possible so that anyone can get going with minimal effort. The Insulin-friendly meal plan (C.A.P.E meal plan), an acronym for ‘Carbohydrate Adjusted, Protein Enriched’, has been designed to maximise your weight-loss results by helping to optimise your metabolism.

Our Verdict: – we liked the model a lot. After doing our own research, we based the Insulin-friendly meal plan (C.A.P.E meal plan), our own meal-plan, on this concept.

Heart-healthy foods outperform a low-saturated-fat diet

Key points:

  • Focussing on your saturated fat intake alone may not be in your best health interest.
  • Additional health benefits can be obtained from a slight change in current thinking.

Combining foods with recognised cholesterol-lowering properties has proven highly effective in lowering total serum cholesterol and reducing ‘bad cholesterol’ (LDL) levels by as much as 35%. Unknown, however, was how effective this diet would be in a real-world situation or how advantageous it would be compared to a standard diet low in saturated fat.

Low fat versus heart-healthy foods
To find out, researchers in Canada conducted a study on participants with known high cholesterol. The two groups were assigned to eating either a reduced saturated fat diet, or a diet rich in foods that the Food and Drug Administration has recognised as being able to carry a heart-healthy claim for their ability to lower serum cholesterol levels. These are plants rich in ‘phytosterols’ or natural plant fats, structurally similar to cholesterol, or sticky fibres like oats, barley and psyllium.

After 6 months, foods with recognised cholesterol-lowering properties resulted in a significantly greater LDL-cholesterol reduction compared to the low-saturated fat diet, and almost equalled the reduction in cholesterol levels that were observed in some of the earliest trials on statins, prescription drugs which lower cholesterol.

Heart-healthy foods
Plant- or phytosterols are present in all vegetable food sources, especially oils and nuts, as well as in minute amounts in food products from animal or fish origin. Although phytosterols and cholesterol have similar chemical structures, phytosterols are poorly absorbed, which explains why the levels of phytosterols found in plant-eating fish and animals are naturally low.

By competing with cholesterol for intestinal absorption, phytosterols naturally reduces the intake of cholesterol absorption, leading to decreased blood LDL-cholesterol levels and thereby lowering cardiovascular disease risk.

However, results from recent research have now recognised numerous other biological roles for plant sterols and stanols, including the protective effects and mechanisms of action of phytosterols on certain forms of cancer. Phytosterols seem to act through multiple mechanisms of action, including inhibition of carcinogen production, cancer-cell growth and through the promotion of ‘apoptosis’ or natural cell death of cancerous cells. Moreover, the consumption of phytosterols by healthy humans at level of up to 2 g per day does not cause any major health risks.

Phytosterol supplements
RyChol, a natural product developed to help combat high blood cholesterol levels and help you to reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, contains a blend of various plant-derived (phytochemical) ingredients that have each been recognised to help lower blood cholesterol levels in a unique and individual manner. This includes a rich source of phytosterols. Its multi-modal pharmaceutical action is through the selective blocking of various biochemical pathways that are involved in saturated fat digestion, cholesterol absorption as well as cholesterol excretion. Read more about RyChol here or download your free copy our Cholesterol-lowering guidelines here.

Related articles:
Breast cancer versus heart disease. Woman perilously misguided.
Mortality reduction – Apples compete with Statins.


  1. Jenkins DJ, Jones PJ, Lamarche B, et al. Effect of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods given at two levels of intensity of dietary advice on serum lipids in hyperlipidemia. JAMA 2011; 306:831-839.
  2. Katan MB, Grundy SM, Jones P, Law M, Miettinen T, Paoletti R. Efficacy and safety of plant stanols and sterols in the management of blood cholesterol levels. Mayo Clin Proc. 2003 Aug;78(8):965-78.
  3. Nguyen TT. The cholesterol-lowering action of plant stanol esters. J Nutr. 1999 Dec;129(12):2109-12.
  4. Woyengo TA. Anticancer effects of phytosterols. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul;63(7):813-

The Slimming Food Hoax

Key points:

  • “Sugar free” may be the ultimate marketing con
  • “Energy rich” most likely means “calorie-rich”

To study the effects of cave-man dwelling on modern man’s body, scientists in a science fiction type scenario somehow “trans-pond” a group of overweight individuals back in time to live with a colony of cavemen. It would be fair to assume that they would lose weight if they followed the average caveman diet, presumably low in calorie value.

Now let’s imagine the opposite. A group of cavemen are “trans-ponded” forwards in time and allowed to set up camp outside a fast food outlet like Burger King or MacDonald’s. If they had unlimited access to the trash cans and dumpsters filled with discarded food, what would leftover burgers, fries, ice cream and soda do to their bodies?

Actually, this experiment has already been conducted and even better, recorded on film. The idea came to Morgan Spurlock whilst he was watching a news story about a lawsuit brought against McDonald’s by two teenage girls who blamed the fast food chain for their obesity predicament. In Super-Size Me, he films his experiment by eating three McDonald’s meals a day, every day, and nothing else for 30 days. After one month Spurlock gains 11 kg and develops liver dysfunction, high cholesterol and a nasty bout of depression. The worst part, however, is that it took Spurlock 14 months to undo the damage.

Tweaked by the nose

Professor Kelly Brownell, Director of the Rudd Centre for Food Policy and Obesity, thinks that the world is overlooking the real cause of its ever-expanding waistline. “The problem isn’t so much people’s lack of self-control…” he says, “…as the toxic food environment in the form of fast-food restaurants lining our main roads, the barrage of burger advertising on television and the rows of candies and sweets at the checkout counter.” Genetics loads the gun, but environment pulls the trigger.

Of particular concern to Brownell is the world’s passive acceptance of unhealthy food. People fail to recognise, for example, the possible damage done by fast-food icons such as McDonald’s. “We take Joe Camel off the billboard because it’s marketing bad products to our children, but Ronald McDonald is considered cute.” In his book on the topic he analyses the two passionately divided sides of the current food debate, aptly referred to as the “food fight”.

The one side argues that obesity, like smoking, is a public health crisis that that the government should use its legislative power to regulate the food industry and minimise the extent of junk food advertising, especially to children. This includes various ideas on how to subsidise the production of healthier foods and how to reward food manufacturers for cutting calories with tax incentives.

In contrast, the other side argues that weight is a matter of personal responsibility and that food choice should not be regulated in any form or capacity by government.  While food producers provide an array of unhealthy produce, how, what and when we eat are personal choices. The real enemy is the number of excess calories that are consumed. The role of the food industry in contributing to obesity certainly has some merit, but predominantly because so many consumers make so many poor dietary choices.

The shopper’s dilemma

Mrs Savvy Shopper walks down the food aisle of the local supermarket. Her agenda for the day is to lose weight. She scours the rows of food products for clues. The word “Lite” suddenly pokes her in the eye.
Lite”surely means low in kilojoules, doesn’t it? Actually, not always. Lite could also mean light in colour (often used for olive oil), lighter in salt, lighter in flavour or weight and may have nothing to do with the actual calorie content of food. Marketing gurus, after all, are master illusionists who choose words with great finesse. In a society where it is common to feel tired and depleted, products are often cleverly described as “energy rich” when they are actually just “calorie-rich”. This includes smokescreen tactics such as “rich in fibre”, “vitamin enriched” and “artificially flavoured” to distract you from “fattening”. The famous line “slimmer’s choice”, a description frequently used by marketers more interested in their sales than your health, often falls into this category. The European Commission, for example, has recently planned a project to ban lollipops that are composed of more than 90% sugar, but sold under the guise of “fat free”. This level of cunning is often extended to dairy products which are touted as “rich in calcium”, which they no doubt are, but without the inconvenient warning to consumers that they are also “rich in fat”.

‘Sugar free’ can most certainly mean that the product contains no table sugar (called sucrose). It may, however, still be laced with large quantities of sugar in the basic form of glucose contained in larger molecules under the guise of technical terms such as ‘dextrose’, ‘maltose’, or ‘maltodextrin’. These agents that may potentially be more detrimental to your health than sucrose. The sugar alcohols ‘sorbitol’, ‘lactitol’ and ‘maltitol’ are other examples and may cause gastrointestinal upset. The excessive intake of fruit sugar (fructose) is highly fattening and has now been implicated in the development of insulin resistance, a condition that makes you increasingly more prone to gaining weight.

Also often misleading is the term ‘Diabetic product’. This trades on the antiquated concept that diabetics may never allow sugar in the form of sucrose to pass their lips. Diabetic products, especially some ‘diabetic biscuits’, are sometimes extremely high in GI value, because of sugars like maltose, and are often also very high in saturated fat content. This, for obvious reasons, is conveniently hardly mentioned, a bad idea when it comes to diabetes, since this condition also makes you more prone to heart disease and stroke.

‘Fat reduced by 30%’ can also be misleading if one asks:  reduced from what? Cheese, for example, contains approximately 30% fat. Reducing it by 30% means that it now contains 20% fat, which is still high in fat content. ‘Cholesterol free’ – may be true regarding the molecule cholesterol, but it may contain many other molecules of fat, including trans or saturated fat. ‘Healthy choice’ is another rather ambiguous term. The food industry has become so expert in adding synthetic flavourings and colourants to make food taste, smell and look better, that a ‘health’ product like fruit yogurt is usually no more than an artificial illusion, frequently not containing a single particle of real fruit. Once your taste buds are used to this artificially-created flavour, it may be quite a disappointment for them to sample real yogurt containing real fruit.

The curious case of portion perception

Research has repeatedly demonstrated that if we are served a portion, we usually consume every morsel. Studies, for example, have shown that after infancy, our appetites adapt according to the size of the portion on our plate. If, for instance, adults are given four different portion sizes of macaroni cheese, their calorie intake would increase by 30% if they ate a 1 kg portion, rather than an already sizeable portion that weighs 500g. Even worse, when interviewed after committing the deed, the test subjects who ate the largest portions felt no more ‘full’ than those who ate the smallest portion. Interestingly, it transpired that test subjects hardly notice a difference in portion size. The truth is that without knowing it, you can fill a stomach that’s already creaking at the seams with food, quite comfortably with a few additional servings. After all, has anybody ever met that naughty boy in real life who, according to your mother, “burst his stomach” from eating too much food?

Besides macaroni cheese, portion-size studies have repeatedly been carried out with other food items, including different sized sandwiches, packets of crisps, popcorn, etc. Research therefore concludes that consumers tend to eat as much as what is placed in front of them.

In the caveman experiment it is easy to assume that cavemen would find sufficient leftover food in the dumpster to become obese. Actually, it would be more likely that they will only survive off the ‘crumbs fallen from the table’. Camping outside the dumpster, caveman’s survival may be more dependent on food parcels from the Salvation Army, rather than leftover food.

More is less

Who’s to blame for the concept of modern portion size? In the 1960s, for example, McDonald consumers in the US were quite happy with one small portion of fries and seldom ordered a second serving. For marketers, fuelled by profit incentive, this was somewhat of a stagnant business case and a plan had to be hatched. The bright spark of an idea was to lure or seduce a customer into the illusion that by buying an extra portion for a nominal additional fee, the consumer was in fact a savvy spender with the ability to ‘invest money wisely’.

Once this idea sunk root, serving size began to flourish, at first incrementally, but once the dust had settled and fast food producers vied to outperform each other, it became quite reckless. The end result is that on average, fast food portions in the US are now five times larger than they were 20 years ago. Of course, the truth is that by doubling the portion size, the food producers hardly ever double their costs. In fact, the increase in cost to the manufacturer can be as little as an extra 5%.

Super-size portions lead to super-sized people. If you consider the additional healthcare cost occurred by obesity, which includes the increased risk of premature death from stroke, cancer and heart attacks, this could easily be the worst investment ever made by man.

A taste to die for

Thousands of years of famine and food shortages have conditioned us to crave energy-rich food. Our passion for sugar is ancient and powerful. If you wet a baby’s lips with sweetened water, for example, a smile follows almost immediately. Since our brains only burn sugar, some anthropologists have postulated that our persuasive craving for sugar has led to the accelerated development of the human brain. The same goes for fat and salt, to which we, like many other animals, are irresistibly drawn to.

Do not underestimate the temptation of the modern food environment – food is abundant, quite fattening and then of course, also rather delicious.

Download your FREE Insulin-friendly (C.A.P.E) meal plan: Click Here

Burnout looming?

Burnout is an advanced state of physical and mental exhaustion commonly triggered by the long-term involvement in emotionally-demanding situations. It occurs when committed, enthusiastic or devoted individuals become disillusioned or disheartened with a career, a cause or a relationship from which they used to derive a significant portion of their identity. Burnout leads to a complex set of emotions which include resentment, a sense of futility, feeling trapped and seeing no future. Although stress plays a role in its development, burnout differs in the sense that it lowers levels of hope, optimism and confidence. Burnout can take you past the point of caring what happens, not a good place to be for many reasons.

Identify the causes

Burnout is not caused solely by too much work or too many responsibilities. An assortment of complex dynamics plays a role. These include personality traits, lifestyle, poor communication channels, working within a dysfunctional team / system and being in conflict with the ethics / values / integrity of an organisation / team / partner. Being in the regular presence of demanding and ungrateful, self-centred individuals, especially when they themselves are under pressure, can easily become a potential boiling pot for disaster.

Revaluate your goals and priorities

Burnout is a sure sign that some key aspects of your life have become dysfunctional. These obviously require some correctional action. Start by re-establishing your original goals, desires and objectives in life. Are these still as important to you and how do they fit into your hierarchy of needs? Which have you been neglecting and does it really matter? Try to avoid sentimentality when considering these issues. Be practical and realistic in your judgement. Compare your input (contribution and sacrifice) with the output (financial and personal rewards) that you receive. Is it still a worthwhile investment, especially if you take a long-term view? Can your situation be improved, or is it perhaps time to quit and move on to a new beginning?

Think strategically

With any advanced state of despair, a condition called ‘emotional flooding’ sets in where desperation takes over and logic flies out the window. In a frantic attempt to alleviate your immediate anguish, you may tend to act somewhat irrationally or impulsively. Be aware of this and proceed with caution – you need to keep your eye on the baby as well as the bath water. Make sure that you give yourself sufficient time to formulate your thoughts in a logical manner before you act. It is crucial that you manage your stress levels during this period.

Use a supplement that assists with neurological function

People are quick to resort to a multivitamin during times of mental or physical exhaustion. The benefits of these, however, are not supported by medical science with many large trials not being able to demonstrate a measurable benefit. There are, however, some botanical and biological agents that can be used as a supplement with the significant potential to make a real difference. Roseroot (Rhodiola rosea), also known as “arctic root” or “golden root”, is a perennial plant that grows at high altitudes in the arctic regions of Europe and Asia. Extracts of the roots have been used in traditional Western medicine in Scandinavian and European countries to combat fatigue, reduce the effects of stress and to aid convalescence during illness. Preparations containing roseroot extract are typically used to increase concentration and enhance mental performance during times of emotional and physical hardship. NeuroVance, containing roseroot extract, has been designed to help you stay cool, calm and collected. Its multi-modal pharmaceutical action is achieved through its ability to enhance separate but interconnected components of brain function, thereby giving your brain a physiological advantage during demanding and stressful periods.

Take ownership

We are quick to want others to change. We also often want situations to alter so that we can be accommodated as individuals. Unfortunately, this is often unrealistic. A more practical approach may be to see if one can change one’s own attitude in order to bring about positive change. This will take effort and planning. Reactive individuals wait for opportunities or solutions to come to them. Proactive individuals, on the other hand, strive to create their own opportunities or solutions. The difference between taking the initiative and responsibility for bringing about change, rather than waiting for change to happen, is like chalk and cheese, especially when measured over a lifespan. Heading towards a state of burnout will virtually always prove a catalyst for change. It is also an opportunity to rediscover what works for you and what does now, ideally before your reach meltdown. This process will require courage and effort. Believe in yourself.

NeuroVance contains a blend of plant-derived phytochemical ingredients that optimise and support healthy brain function by giving your brain a physiological advantage during times of stress without acting as a sedative or stimulant.
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How Conflict Causes Stress


Why proper techniques can save the day.

Key points:

  • Conflict is a leading contributor to elevated stress levels
  • Everyone can improve the manner in which they deal with conflict and be better off

Some people go to great lengths to avoid conflict. They suppress their own opinions, hide information from others or avoid contact. Whilst this strategy may work at the workplace where you can manage to fly under the radar, it’s very difficult to achieve in a close relationship. By constantly evading conflict, one slowly starts to develop feelings of resentment and bitterness, which slowly starts escalating. Over time, unresolved conflict, especially in a close relationship, inevitably leads to a significantly increased level of stress.

On the other side of the scale, there are individuals who easily engage in conflict at the drop of a hat. This is because they are not intimidated by others and are used to function in a volatile or hostile environment. In the process they benefit by blowing off steam. This helps them to vent their anger and get rid of frustration. However, in the process they often damage interpersonal relationships, especially with individuals more inclined to avoid conflict. Whilst initially being totally unaware of this happening, the long term consequences eventually become obvious when partnerships and relations turn pear shaped, causing stress.

Unless you are a recluse who lives in isolation, accept that conflict is a part of everyday life. In principle, conflict is simply a process of negotiation by means of communication. For a moment, let’s compare it to a game.

The players

Killman uses the following metaphors to illustrate how different personalities approach conflict:


These individuals believe it is easier to hide. They therefore deliberately steer clear of issues or situations that may cause potential tension. They also often avoid individuals that they are in conflict with. In essences, turtles are poorly equipped to deal with hostile emotions. Turtles tend to believe that it’s hopeless to try to resolve an issue, even if this means abandoning a close relationship, a career or a personal ambition. This approach is self-limiting and stumps career, income and personal development.


Sharks believe it is easier to attack. Their style is therefore to threaten or bully their opponents. They consider their own goals significantly more important than the task of preserving relationships. Their ambition is to achieve their own objective at any cost, without any real concern for someone else’s opinion or situation. Sharks often don’t mind if other people dislike or even despise them. In their worlds this is a minor inconvenience.

Teddy Bears

They value interpersonal relationships as significantly more important than achieving their own personal goals. To be liked and accepted by others is of great importance. They believe that conflict cannot really be discussed in a productive manner without harming a relationship and will therefore rather avoid it just so that they can live in harmony with others. To preserve a relationship, Teddy Bears will easily abandon their own personal goals, often at their own disadvantage.


They are concerned about their own goals as well as their relationship with other people. They are therefore more strategic and diplomatic in their approach and will naturally seek a compromise with others. With a bigger picture in mind, foxes are quite willing to sacrifice some of their goals and will try and persuade the other party to do the same.


Like foxes, they place a high value on their goals as well as their relationships, but are more philosophical in their approach. They differ from foxes in the sense that they often regard conflict as an opportunity to strengthen relationships. This trait makes owls more empathetic and nurturing.

The game

Besides the players, the game is also important. This is where strategy becomes important. Steven Covey describes the following strategic outcomes:


This authoritarian type approach is unfortunately the most common conflict-resolution style. It originates from the way we have been conditioned by society, our parents and our peers. It is based on the binary belief of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, as defined by ‘either’ ‘or’ idea. If I am ‘right’, it therefore means that you must be ‘wrong’. The legal system takes this one step further. According to “fairness” principles, the party that is “right” must be rewarded, whilst the party that is “wrong” must be punished. This leads to the rather simplistic view that one can only achieve your goal at the expense of another.

To prove that you are “right”, especially when in reality, many versions, possibilities and interpretations of the real facts exist, can be rather tricky. Any technique to prove a point is therefore used. This includes aggression, intimidation, criticism, pulling rank and sarcasm, all highly ineffective forms of communication. Since the “losing” party’s needs are not addressed, win-lose conflict resolution within a relationship is frequently superficial and short term. For the “winner”, it may prove a hollow victory over the long term in the sense that it almost always has a negative effect on a relationship. In fact, win-lose usually paves the way for far worse conflict at a later stage.


This is the subservient, opposite of win–lose. Based on their conditioning, lose-win individuals naturally believe they will not get their way and that it is easier to give up and accept defeat in order to avoid more tension or hostility. These individuals are easily intimidated by more forceful or aggressive personalities, and often lack the courage to express themselves in company. In many ways, lose–win outcomes are worse than win–lose, as individuals tend to bury multiple emotions of disappointment, resentment and disillusionment. As a consequence, this may lead to cynicism and fragility, making lose–win individuals quick to resort to the “victim” role whilst accusing their opponents of being “bullies”. These suppressed feelings rarely disappear, usually bubbling up at some later stage in life to either ruin a new relationship, or present as a psychosomatic illness.


When two win-lose players become gridlocked and cannot achieve their personal goals at the other’s cost, wounded egos unleash a highly destructive consequence which results in dissatisfaction, anger or resentment. This is because both parties see the outcome as a personal loss, triggering the desire to get even by taking revenge, even if it requires costing more money, time and effort. Lose-lose is the philosophy of destruction. It often comes at significant personal cost as well as the potential to lose even more in future.


When both parties have a sincere and firm commitment to find a mutually-satisfying agreement, they are able to focus on a solution that will satisfy both parties. In the process emotions calm down and cognitive processes become more active. The ideal solution is usually shaped by three sets of needs, namely ‘yours’, ‘mine’ and ‘ours’. As a result, the future relationship is strengthened and respect is maintained. Win-win seeks mutual benefit in a cooperative, rather than a competitive arena. ‘Our’ solution is better than ‘mine’ or ‘yours’. Win-win is based on the abundance mentality, namely that there is enough for everyone to share.

No deal

If win-win fails, no-deal becomes the next best option. This is where both parties agree to disagree without judgement, resentment or anger. Disappointment may be present, but as a singular emotion, is not dominant enough to damage a relationship.

Applying the game to real life

We live in a world filled with hatred, suspicion and anger. Yet, all around us, various admirable and inspirational deeds are done by individuals who improve the world and the lives of others with kindness, compassion and understanding. This requires emotional control. Through the many daily hardships, we face at the coalface of life, we become stressed, overwhelmed and over-reactionary. Feeling cornered and pressurised, we get ready to take up arms and fight for our rights. Eventually the process blows out of proportion, facts become distorted and emotion escalates out of control. This all leads to significant stress.

With advanced conflict situations, especially with a romantic partner or spouse, a condition called ‘emotional flooding’ occurs as a result of the severe emotional turmoil suffered by both parties. When this happens, reason and hope fly out the window and conflict reaches a point of no return. Research has indicated that the majority of relationships at this stage of decay will inevitably dissolve. In such cases, the best possible solution is a ‘no-deal’. Unfortunately, this often results in ‘lose-lose’.

On the other hand, if there is still some hope, it is will always prove worth your while to try and resolve conflict by taking some proactive steps toward a ‘win-win’ solution. If this cannot be achieved, opt for the second best option, namely ‘no-deal’. Avoid ‘win-lose’ and ‘lose-win’, if you can, and ‘lose-lose’ like the plague.

Conflict is predominantly an emotional process. This means that if you think, rather that act, you will have a significant competitive advantage. To do so, you need to plan and speak properly. Like with any emotional skill, this will require some practice.

Strategic guidelines

Take charge

Always remember that you are the master of your own destiny, not the hapless victim of circumstances.

Consider your objective as well as the degree to which you want to preserve a relationship. What are the consequences of harming or perhaps totally ruining the relationship in question? Stay rational and objective. Consider the ideal outcome. Once this has been decided, proceed to the next step. All this will require is to have a conversation. This will require appropriate timing. Poor timing, or a conversation that may lead to confrontation in an inappropriate setting or in presence of others, can make the process unpredictable and may therefore be a recipe for a disaster.

Control your emotions

During any form of communication, it is important to prevent emotional escalation and avoid aggression. A conversation is no different. Accept the responsibility for managing your own emotions. If you remain calm, the other person will most likely also remain calm. If your intention is to be productive, this simple strategy will make it significantly easier for you to achieve your objective.

Control the other party’s emotions

Most people totally underestimate the role they play in influencing other people’s emotions. Just as one can easily provoke the other party, one can also help control their emotions. A good place to start is to mind your manners. Minimise the other party’s defensiveness by not saying anything personal or derogatory. Do not blame or accuse the other party, and do not to plead innocence, even if you believe that you are blameless (a rare occurrence). These highly ineffective communication techniques usually prove to be rather destructive.

Control the conversation

Listen to the other person point of view without interrupting or criticising them, no matter how exasperated or frustrated you may feel. If at any stage of the conversation the other party gets the notion that you are not listening or not getting their point, pattern interrupt will ensue. This means that the conversation may rewind back to start at the beginning. A good technique to reassure the other party that you are getting their point of view is to ask questions, rather than make premature assumptions or insinuations. Afterwards, verbally summarise all the main issues as accurately as possible by repeating what they have told you. Although this process may seem irritating and repetitive, it is crucial to a positive outcome, so pay attention to it. Communicate your thoughts and feelings about issues, rather than people. Remain calm at all times by keeping the ‘bigger picture’ in mind. Focus on achieving a positive outcome.

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” Marie Curie

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