Aug 142013

This is for all of the amazing men out there in men’s sheds across Australia.

One of the big health issues facing men in Australia is prostate cancer. This is a cancer of a small walnut shaped organ in our lower abdomen’s.

Men suffer from prostate cancer at a higher incidence than women suffer from breast cancer although, this is very rarely spoken of in little notice is taken of it.  It is, in fact, the most common cancer.

One of the most important thing is to understand is that there are essentially five groups of men in our community and one of those groups suffers from very low incidence of prostate cancer. At the other end there is a group of men who have very high incidence of prostate cancer. So today I am going to run through these five groups and explain some of what makes them different.

The first group is a ordinary man who likes his meat and often eats it either barbecued, seared, or is processed meat in the form of bacon, salami or another style of processed meat. The major problem for this group is that both processing and barbecuing causes carcinogens, that is chemicals that can cause cancer, to be present in the meat. In processed meat there are very high levels of nitrites and sulphites present. These chemicals that are used as preservatives in modern processing. They have been linked to high levels of prostate cancer. The other issue is meats that have been seared or barbecued. When meat is cooked or charred at high temperatures over an open flame, a reaction occurs that causes the formation of two chemicals: heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These chemicals have been linked to aggressive cancers throughout the body not just in the prostate.
Unfortunately, these men constitute the highest incidence of cancer amongst men including prostate. However, they also have higher levels of throat, stomach, small intestine, and colon cancers.

The next group of men to look at those of us who eat meat on a regular basis but do not tend to eat meat that is either processed or charred. These are those of us who tend to eat things like a lamb shank, meat in stews, or casseroles. This group of men still have a relatively high incidence of prostate cancer but much lower than the first group.

The third group to look at is men who do not eat red meat or who only eat things like steamed fish. These men tend to have the low levels of prostate cancer.

The fourth and fifth groups are men who are vegetarian and vegan. The difference between the two is that a vegan will not eat any animal product at all and are vegetarian may eat things like dairy products and eggs. Both of these groups have quite low incidence of cancer including prostate cancer with vegan’s especially raw vegan’s having the lowest incidence of cancer in many studies.

While I am not a vegan the studies I have read would seem to support the argument that eating a diet that includes a high intake of plant materials especially raw plant materials such as salads and non-starchy vegetables such as beetroot, carrot, cabbage et cetera are of great benefit to those of us who would seek to minimise our risk of prostate cancer.

Personally I will probably never become a vegan but having read the research material to write this paper I am considering moving towards a diet that includes only things like steamed fish, curries, casseroles, stews and other forms of non-charred meat. I am also not sure that I will ever be able to completely abstained from bacon but would certainly be seeking in future to minimise my intake of all processed meats.

Mar 122013

Increasingly researchers are looking at the effects of poor sleep on our workers and children.  And the products of that research increasingly tend to show that we underestimate both, our need for sleep , and the power of sleep.


During any stress event whether at work, at school or with our friends we produce cortisol which is a chemical designed to get us ready for fight or flight.  These chemicals are meant to be produced and burnt out by our actions.  This type of stress is actually good for us.

Unfortunately the type of stress that we subject ourselves to in today’s world means that these chemicals  just build up in our systems.  This type of stress is called chronic stress and is very bad for us.

This is where sleep becomes very important to us.  Poor or short sleep means that we will not handle stress as well, and that we are more prone to it.

Much of our recovery from chronic stress occurs during sleep. And while our bodies will need increased intakes of some of the chemicals that our bodies use during stress events we will also have a much increased need for sleep.

There are 2 major issues for people in thinking about sleep.  The first, and the most commonly misunderstood is sleep Hygiene.

Sleep Hygiene is all of the environmental and behavioural factors that control your sleep.  So there are issues to control such as;

  • Noise,
  • Light levels,
  • Air flow,
  • Temperature,
  • Disturbances such as pets,

Sleep disorders are less common and are what we often think of when we are actually just talking about sleep hygiene.  Sleep disorders are an actual medical issue and requires intervention by medical prfessionals.  Some examples of sleep disorders are;

  • Sleep walking,
  • Bruxism (grinding of the teeth)
  • Insomnia.

These sleep disorders can be caused by nutritional deficiencies or by psychological, psychiatric or health problems, so it is best to see your doctor and get a referral to a sleep professional if problems persist past a few weeks.

So how much do we actually need?

The national sleep foundation in america has done plenty of research on sleep.  Their research shows that teenagers are probably the most chronically sleep deprived (excepting parents of babies) and should still be

how much sleep

sleeping over 8.5 hours a day.

So parents if your teens are frustrating you try talking to them about sleep!




Sleep, it can have positive affects on our health, resilience, work, thinking and relationships.

When would now be a good time to become mindful about our sleep.


Sleep well and catch you soon!




Dec 312012

We hear a lot of discussions about which food is good or bad for us.  However I believe that this discussion tends to miss an important point.

All plants by their very nature produce chemicals to protect themselves against insects and bacteria. Some of these chemicals are remarkably similar in nature across a range of plants. One of the more important groups of these chemicals for us is the agglutinating lectins found in grains. They are designed to interrupt the digestive systems of the insects that prey on the grain.

As far as I am aware all plants produce these toxins. Carrots produce Falcarinol (carotatoxin) which in high enough doses produces neurotoxic responses.

These chemicals are in a fairly small dose in each seed but have a compounding affect and are not usually broken down by processing.

Until fairly recently no-one ate enough grain to see serious cumulative side effects or consequences from these chemicals. However research is showing that some of the our populations are starting to procure up to 40% of their energy come from grains alone. Hence we are starting to the the effects of compromised digestive systems.

I tend to believe that many of the immune disorders and behavioural issues that we are seeing may be moderated by these issues. For many of our populations a compromised digestive system is our primary immune interface with the world.

I am not ‘anti’ grain and am a nutrition educator. But I believe that we need to educate people to be aware of the issues that can arise from too heavy a reliance on any one factor in our diets. This includes any food that becomes to large a part of our diet.

Dec 142012

Brene Brown from University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.  At a TED talk this year Brene speaks about shame and vulnerability.

This is absolutely must see viewing for any parent or anyone in a relationship.

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Nov 052012

My sister sent me a link for this video.

She had a smiley on the email as I have been telling her this for years but have been ignored.  Hahaha.

It is a great video and explains some of the core issues that we cover in our seminars and workshops.

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Oct 052012

As a public health nutritionist I make attempts to stay in contact with current research in the field of human health and nutrition. An interesting phenomena in recent years has been the exploding growth of the use of soy products. Soy has been an accepted substitute for meat and dairy products for many years in the West and its use is continuing to grow.

In Asia soy products have been used for several millennia as protein substitute for people without easy access to meet, as a flavouring agent and as a nutritious food product. However its use in the West has not paralleled its use in Asia, as in Asia energy intakes are quite low.

In the West soy products have most often been a part of a high-energy diet. This high-energy diet has been question many times over the years by health professionals. Outcomes of these high-energy diets have been autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, some forms of cancer as well as type II diabetes. Interestingly, some recent research has started to look at the effects of diet on antisocial behaviour in children.

In line with this new research I have made it a point to stay current on research on soy products specifically on the phytoestrogens in soy products. While much research in the lab has been done on the effect of phytoestrogens little field research has been done in this area. However a recent research project [1]published in hormones and behaviour looked specifically at dietary intakes of phytoestrogens in the normal diets of red colubus monkeys in their normal habitat. This research shows an interesting change in the behaviour of these monkeys during seasons when their food supply included by levels of phytoestrogens.

The more the monkeys consumed oestrogenic plants the higher their rates of aggression and the lower their time spent on interpersonal relations. This raises an important question for parents who choose foods or dietary behaviours that contain high levels phytoestrogens.

An important question raised by this research is what is a safe level of soy intake in our children’s diets?

[1] – Hormones and Behavior – Estrogenic plant consumption predicts red colobus monkey (Procolobus rufomitratus) hormonal state and behavior. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2012, from


Sep 102012

We, all of us wonder how well we would parent. In fact, this question causes many to walk away from the idea altogether. And many who are not parents think, of course I could do it better. But is this true?
My experience has been that the first thing that we do is to succumb to time pressures. We focus on work, the kids, money, dieting, exercise and family. And the stress builds.
But when we do this we start to forget the most important thing about being parents, ‘our children learn by example.’
Your behaviour needs to show your children that a balanced and enjoyable life is possible. They need to learn that “yes, there are hard times.” But after the hard times are over, your life can be enjoyable, can be fun and can be worthwhile.
Children who see there parents enjoying life, know, with no doubts, that their life can be enjoyable!
What example is your life setting for your children?

Dec 302011

Recent research in evolutionary biology has shown that Australian aboriginals migrated out of Africa some 62-70,000 years ago(M. Rasmussen et al., 2011).  This predates the later Eurasian migration by approximately 40,000 years.  There is no current genetic research that places aboriginals at any closer date to current Eurasian phenotypes.

Considering that the Neolithic agricultural revolution is estimated to have begun only 10,000 years ago (Richards, 2002), this would appear to indicate that many, if not most, of the products of that revolution are foreign to the aboriginal digestive system.

Modern research on the Paleolithic diet (Cordain et al., 2005) supports the conclusion that many of the health issues facing modern aboriginals come from this leap into a standard Australian diet without any of the intervening evolutionary pressures that where face by Eurasians over the last 10,000 years.

Lactase persistence is the human ability to continue producing the requisite enzymes to digest dairy products.  Recent research(Itan, Jones, Ingram, Swallow, & Thomas, 2010) has shown that approximately 85% of post adolescent aboriginals have no ongoing ability to digest dairy products.

While further research is warranted current research into human neurobiology and nutrition would seem to support the position that aboriginal people in Australia should be moving from a standard Australian diet and moving towards of food lifestyle that excludes, dairy, cereal grains, processed oils, processed sugars, refined carbohydrates and solanaceae foods.

Cordain, L., Eaton, S. B., Sebastian, A., Mann, N., Lindeberg, S., Watkins, B. A., O’Keefe, J. H., et al. (2005). Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81(2), 341-54. Am Soc Nutrition. Retrieved from

Itan, Y., Jones, B. L., Ingram, C. J., Swallow, D. M., & Thomas, M. G. (2010). A worldwide correlation of lactase persistence phenotype and genotypes. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 10(1), 36. BioMed Central. Retrieved from

Rasmussen, M., Guo, X., Wang, Y., Lohmueller, K. E., Rasmussen, S., Albrechtsen, A., Skotte, L., et al. (2011). An Aboriginal Australian Genome Reveals Separate Human Dispersals into Asia. Science, 94(September), 94-8. American Association for the Advancement of Science. doi:10.1126/science.1211177

Richards, M. P. (2002). A brief review of the archaeological evidence for Palaeolithic and Neolithic subsistence. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 56(12), 16 p following 1262. Nature Publishing Group. Retrieved from

Dec 262011

One of the central tenants of our criminal justice system is that all actions are made by persons who can be held accountable for their behaviours.

This is the foundation of our belief that actions can be labelled good or bad.  They are performed by a comptetant person.

But what if this is not true?

While this can be useful it fails to take into account modern knowledge of nutrition and neurobiology.  One of the things that we are now familiar with is that almost any behaviour or congitive failure can be induced by removing nutrients from an animals diet.  We can induce paranoia, psychosis, aggression, anxiety, rstlessness, inability to concentrate and even learning difficulites.Recent studies in Jails in the USA  have shown that incidence of aggression in jails can be reduced by the addition of appropriate nutrients to the residents diet.  These studies have been repeated many times and show that diet can be a driver of cognition and behaviour.What does this mean for the criminal justice system?

The prime implication is that our perceptions of morality and responsibility is showing increasing weaknesses as the foundation of our criminal justice system.

In the Christian bible one of the first injunctions laid on man is to avoid eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Modern neurobiology is increasingly showing that this was good advice!  Morality may not be the best foundation of our legal system.

Maybe it is time to take the advice offered in the bible?