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


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

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.

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Obesity… a Growing Epidemic

5 Causes of Weight Gain

Obesity is on the rise and experts predict that by 2030 a third of the world’s population will be considered to be overweight or obese, bringing with it some serious health risks. It is estimated that at least 2.8 million people die every year from weight related diseases such as heart disease, strokes and diabetes and the number is growing year on year. But what has caused this epidemic?

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a medical condition in which a person is carrying at least 20% more weight than what is considered to be normal for optimal health. It is when a person has a body mass index of 30 or more and the excess fat usually gathers around the waist.

 Causes of Obesity

The most common cause of obesity is an energy imbalance in the body which occurs when more calories are taken in than needed. The body needs calories for activities such as simply breathing, digesting, exercising and regulating body temperature. However, if a person eats more calories than they burn up, the extra calories are stored in the body and the person gains weight. Therefore, the most common causes of obesity are poor diet and lack of physical activity but other factors such as genetics, hormonal imbalances and certain medications can also play a key role.

  1. Diet and overeating

It is clear that overeating leads to weight gain but it is not simply eating too much but the type of foods consumed that tip the balance. Interestingly, when a country adopts the Western diet of cheap fast foods and processed products, people quickly become obese. Our modern diets are largely processed foods containing highly palatable ingredients, making people just keep coming back for more. These junk foods can sometimes lead to obessive overeating because of the powerful feel-good response they give. Processed foods are often high in calories with the main ingredients being unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates, sugar and artificial substances and are often very low in nutrients.

  1. Lack of exercise

Physical inactivity is one of the biggest downsides of our modern lifestyles as machines now do the work people used to do and technology is keeping most people sitting all day. The truth is even if people eat healthy foods, if they lead sedentary lifestyles fewer calories will be burned and a weight gain may result.

  1. How does Genetics play a role?

Science has shown that genetics can play a role and several genetic syndromes are associated with obesity including Bardet-Biedl syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome. However, genes don’t always predict a person’s health and often it is combination of genes and behaviour that result in obesity.

  1. How do Endocrine Disorders play a role?

The body’s endocrine system produces hormones that regulate important bodily functions. Common endocrine disorders associated with weight gain include Hypothyroidism in which thyroid hormone levels are too low and Cushing’s Syndrome where excessive levels of the stress hormone cortisol are produced.

  1. Why you need to be aware of some Medications:

It is important to be aware of the side effects of some pharmaceutical drugs as weight gain is possible when taking antipsychotics, antidepressants, antiepileptics and antihyperglycemics.

What are the Health Risks?

Carrying excessive weight brings with it many potential health problems including higher risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and type 2 diabetes. This kind of diabetes often starts as a condition called insulin resistance which occurs when the cells no longer respond properly to insulin and the body tries to cope by producing more insulin. If allowed to continue, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes. The good news is that this condition can often be reversed through an insulin friendly diet, supplements and lifestyle changes to shed excess kilos.



Insulin Resistance

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Obesity/Pages/Causes.aspWhat are the Health

Overweight? The Risk of Developing Osteoarthritis

Obesity leads to many health problems and it has long been established as the number one preventable risk factor for the development of osteoarthritis. Many recent studies on knee osteoarthritis illustrate this and research has shown that the need for knee replacement steadily increases with weight gain.[1] The reason for this has generally been assumed to be due to the additional load on the joints that carry weight but is this the complete picture or is there more to the link between obesity and osteoarthritis?

Wear and Tear

It is true that a high body mass index causes increased strain on the knee and other load-bearing joints.[2] In addition, overweight people tend to have an abnormal posture and gait which puts additional stress on joints leading to wearing of articular cartilage (the tissue that covers and protects the joints).[3] The subchondral bone is also affected by the additional mechanical stress of weight gain and thickening of the bone results.

Unhealthy Lipid Balance

Since obese people often also have osteoarthritis in non-load-bearing joints such as the hands, medical researchers began to wonder whether there were more mechanisms at play than simply excessive joint load. Lipid metabolism then came under the spotlight as a possible cause. Obese individuals often have abnormal lipid levels in the blood, these being high plasma levels of triglycerides, high levels of free fatty acids and low levels of HDL cholesterol which scavenges unhealthy cholesterol and other lipids from the body. These imbalances can lead to heart disease but various studies have shown that lipid balance can play a role in the development of osteoarthritis as well.[4] High serum total cholesterol has been associated with painful bone marrow lesions which can lead to cartilage loss in knee osteoarthritis, in particular.[5] Another finding is that arthritic cartilage tends to accumulate lipids and the more severe the case of osteoarthritis the higher the incidence of these lipids, throwing out lipid balance.[6]

Tissue Inflammation

Another common characteristic of those with obesity is high levels of inflammation of adipose tissue which is the connective tissue used to produce and store fat in the body. Adipose tissue in obese individuals tends to secrete high levels pro-inflammatory adipokines and cytokines (immune proteins) that can induce low grade chronic inflammation throughout the body. This environment can have a detrimental effect on joint tissue, aiding the development of osteoarthritis.[7]

 Treatment of Osteoarthritis

With these new findings in mind, it is more clear than ever that losing weight can have a direct and positive impact on the progression of osteoarthritis. Among people with osteoarthritis, weight reduction strategies can potentially reduce the need for operations such as knee replacements and slow down the worsening of painful symptoms.[8]
Therefore, an osteoarthritis management plan for overweight individuals should always include weight loss through lifestyle changes.  An improved diet is needed that cuts back on dietary fat and total calories as well as a commitment to moderate, regular exercise that will not only assist with weight loss but help with joint mobility as well. Other treatment options to aid pain relief are physical therapy, application of heat or cold in affected areas, pain killers and supplements that are proven to reduce joint inflammation.

RheumaLin is a unique natural blend that targets the enzymes that cause inflammation and can be used in conjunction with most pain relieving medications. Find out more

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  1. Anderson JJ, Felson DT. Factors associated with osteoarthritis of the knee in the first national Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (HANES I). Evidence for an association with overweight, race, and physical demands of work. Am J Epidemiol 1988;179_89.
  2. Widmyer MR, Utturkar GM, Leddy HA et al. High body mass index is associated with increased diurnal strains in the articular cartilage of the knee. Arthritis Rheum 2013;65:2615_22.
  3. Radin EL, Paul IL, Rose RM. Role of mechanical factors in pathogenesis of primary osteoarthritis. Lancet 1972;1:519_22.
  4. Sturmer T, Sun Y, Sauerland S et al. Serum cholesterol and osteoarthritis. The baseline examination of the Ulm
  5. Osteoarthritis Study. J Rheumatol 1998;25:1827_32. Davies-Tuck ML, Hanna F, Davis SR et al. Total cholesterol and triglycerides are associated with the development of new bone marrow lesions in asymptomatic middle-aged women _ a prospective cohort study. Arthritis Res Ther 2009;11:R181.
  6. Lippiello L, Walsh T, Fienhold M. The association of lipid abnormalities with tissue pathology in human osteoarthritic articular cartilage. Metabolism 1991;40:571_6.
  7. Lumeng CN, Bodzin JL, Saltiel AR. Obesity induces a phenotypic switch in adipose tissue macrophage polarization. J Clin Invest 2007;117:175_84.
  8. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/863805