I see agave syrup everywhere being sold as a so-called healthy sweetener. Agave syrup (made from the agave cactus) is sold as a natural alternative to sugar, and many people buy it, believing that it is healthy because it is not sugar.
Agave is no more ‘natural’ than sugar or other syrups, as it undergoes considerable processing. It is often recommended for diabetics as, chemically-speaking, it is mostly fructose, whereas sugar also contains glucose, which diabetics must avoid.
Unfortunately, consuming a lot of fructose tends to speed up the rate at which you accumulate body fat, especially the ‘visceral’ fat which is linked with heart disease. So it seems Agave syrup is not that healthy after all.
 Bantle JP, Raatz SK, Thomas W, Georgopoulos A (2000). Effects of dietary fructose on plasma lipids in healthy subjects. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 72, 1128-1134.
Among other things, my new E-book ‘Linda’s Flat Stomach Secrets’ advises on a much healthier natural sweetener. You can get by clicking here.
If you eat a healthy diet, you may find that vegetables and beans give you a bit of tummy gas. One of the best ways to combat this is to drink spice tea containing cinnamon and cloves. Cinnamon is a ‘carminative’, which means that it helps to control the intestinal bacteria which produce gas. It also helps to suppressing the growth of E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida yeast, and some parasitic worms.
In Chinese medicine, cinnamon is believed to aid weight loss by driving off excess water retention. In Western medicine, it is now suggested that consuming only half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day can help to prevent diabetes and the pre-diabetic condition known as ‘metabolic syndrome’ .
 Khan A, Safdar M et al. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2003 26(12) 3215-8.
Cinnamon can be sprinkled on cooked fruit, cereals or oats (porridge), and can also be added to curries. The ‘Yogi’ brand of spice teabags containing cinnamon is now available in many supermarkets and from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
When you are under stress all the time, you are constantly producing too much cortisol (a hormone produced by your adrenal glands). Cortisol not only suppresses your immune system and gives you water retention, it also reduces the power of most of your other hormones (including thyroid) and makes you accumulate fat around your middle.
Researchers have measured the waistline of large numbers of women and found that those with a large waistline but relatively slim arms and legs tended to suffer more from stress. If this sounds like your problem, it could be time to take up meditation as well as running and swimming!
This information (and plenty more) can be found in Linda’s Flat Stomach Secrets, available from
Food cravings are probably the most important cause of overweight. We all know what it’s like to even consider doing without our favourite foods…
I’ve used a helpful technique on myself and with my clients for many years. It’s based on how to successfully ration addictive foods. Let’s take chocolate as an example. Here are the Don’ts:
- Don’t keep it in the house.
- Don’t keep it in the house.
- Don’t keep it in the house.
Now that is clear (I hope…), here are the ‘Do’s':
- Do decide on your chocolate ration. E.g. instead of 1 medium bar once a day, decide on one medium bar once a week.
- You may already have a favourite chocolate brand, but now you are going to look for an expensive, luxury brand instead, that you can only buy if you travel some distance to a special shop. Find one that you like as much as (or preferably more) than your usual brand.
- On the allocated Treat Day, travel to the special shop, buy exactly the ration you have decided on, and no more. You can eat it whenever you want.
- During the rest of the week, a hot chocolate drink can help you feel that you’ve had a treat. I make mine by whisking a teaspoon of cocoa powder into a cup of hot rice milk. It’s not the real thing but if you’re determined to let it take your mind off your cravings then it will. Ready-made hot chocolate powders tend to be high in sugar so try to use pure cocoa powder for this. Rice milk and almond milk are naturally sweet.
Is alcohol your downfall?
For most people, going out with friends means consuming a lot of drinks with them. Don’t forget there are lots of brands of alcohol-free or low-alcohol beer. Wine can be mixed with sparkling mineral water to make a spritzer. At home, it’s too tempting to finish off a bottle of wine just to avoid wasting it. So buy half-bottles instead of full bottles.
I remember when I was a little girl, hearing on the radio that Otto Warburg had made a major breakthrough in finding a cure for cancer.
Warburg, a Nobel Prize Laureate, discovered that cancer cells live without oxygen. ‘The prime cause of cancer,’ he said, ‘is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar.’ This fermentation is known as glycolysis—the process whereby glucose can be metabolised into energy without the presence of oxygen.
Although Warburg’s discovery is widely accepted, his theory that the metabolism of cancer cells is the cause of cancer, is not. But maybe Warburg was closer to the truth than we think.
One of the fundamental principles of naturopathy is that degenerative disease begins in parts of the body where the circulation is obstructed. If blood, with its supply of oxygen, cannot get to an area, then the cells in that area will try to survive by altering their metabolism—producing energy from glucose by glycolysis. (This is normal—it does not make them cancer cells.) But if some damaged cell particles with this metabolism but without the normal cell blueprint, manage to reproduce, then perhaps we are looking at the beginnings of a tumour.
The white blood cells of the immune system should of course go into attack and destroy mode as soon as they find aberrant or cancerous cells. But if the circulation obstruction persists, white cells may not be able to travel to the site.
How does the circulation get obstructed?
If you have read my book the Waterfall Diet you will find a section about the effects of long-term inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s attempt to bring white blood cells to clean up damage or debris. Poisons or irritants which become lodged in the tissues (e.g. airborne pesticides, smoke, asbestos particles, plastic implants) can trigger long-term inflammation. Injuries sometimes stay inflamed for months or years, as I know from experience. I was involved in a minor car accident and severely wrenched one of my fingers. The joint was swollen for almost a year and only daily, vigorous massage eventually restored it to normal.
The problem with long-term inflammation is that it causes hardening of the inflamed tissues. The hardening process is caused by a protein known as fibrin, which accumulates at the site of the inflammation. This hardening is known as fibrosis, and it can severely restrict the flow of blood to the affected area.
You can imagine the effect this might have on tissues deep within the body, such as breast or lung tissue. Oxygen will be lacking, and aberrant cells could begin to develop there if the fibrosis persists in blocking the entry of sufficient white blood cells to search and destroy.
Natural cancer therapies
Many natural cancer therapies focus on diet. Fruits and vegetables contain natural anti-inflammatory substances. Vitamin C is also a natural anti-inflammatory, and megavitamin C therapy has been successfully used to treat cancer.
Other natural cancer therapies focus on reducing stress and promoting relaxation. This is extremely helpful to reduce the adrenal hormones which suppress the immune system and reduce the circulation (these hormones are, respectively, cortisol and adrenaline). Relaxation of course aids blood flow.
Improving the circulation
Applying warmth to the body is one of the best ways to induce relaxation. Josef Issels, the founder of the Issels clinics for cancer patients, was a firm advocate of using heat treatments such as hot baths and saunas. He believed that cancer cells are more sensitive to heat than normal cells. He was interested in the work of William B. Coley, a surgeon at the Memorial Hospital, New York, from 1893 to 1936, who pioneered “fever therapy” in cancer. After observing that several sarcoma patients went into remission after developing a superficial streptococcal infection of the skin accompanied by high fever, he started to treat cancer with bacterial vaccines designed to induce fevers.
In cases where heat treatments work, is it because heat kills the cancer cells, or because heat relaxes the blood vessels and allows more white blood cells to reach the site of the cancer?
Another kind of heat—from red chilli peppers—is also believed to have benefits against cancer. In 2006 Lehmann and colleagues writing in the journal Cancer Research, reported that administering chilli extract to cancer cells in a test tube caused them to “commit suicide” (the technical term for cell suicide is apoptosis).
Chilli seems to have two more potential benefits against cancer. It stimulates the circulation and gradually dissolves fibrin deposits. I found an extraordinary story on the internet which actually makes good sense if you take on board the points made in this article. Kelley Eidem’s story.
The enzymes bromelain and papain (from pineapples and papaya fruit, respectively) can also break down fibrin. Bromelain supplements have been effectively used in several trials to reduce inflammation caused by sports injuries.
In conclusion, I believe that Otto Warburg has steered us in the right direction by believing that oxygen is the key to the successful treatment of cancer. I’m very glad that the radio broadcast I heard when I was only 11 years old has stayed in my mind so vividly.
Click here to see details of Linda Lazarides’ one-year intensive training course in naturopathic nutritional therapy.
When it first became popular to drink green tea as a health drink, I bought some and tried it out after lunch one day. I never had trouble sleeping, but that night I could not sleep, and tossed and turned until after 4 a.m.
Soon afterwards I checked out the caffeine content and was shocked to discover that green tea often contains more caffeine than black tea. It seems that the younger the leaf, the more caffeine it contains. Young tea leaves can contain up to 5% caffeine, and green tea is frequently made from the youngest leaves.
Green tea is drunk for its flavonoids (known as catechins) and for its stimulating effect on metabolism (which in fact is largely due to the caffeine content). Green tea flavonoids are extremely powerful antioxidants, and this is one case where I think it is worth consuming the caffeine to get the health benefits. If you need to lose some weight, the effect on your metabolism is likely to help (see research), though you should be aware that too much caffeine can over-stimulate your nervous system, causing cause anxiety, a ‘wired’ feeling and insomnia.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ve probably bought a few things in the ‘diet’ section of the supermarket. Diet sodas, sugar-free yoghurt and other items containing artificial sweeteners.
When I was doing the research to write my latest E-book Linda’s Flat Stomach Secrets, I found some startling research carried out on rats which found that the rats who ate artificially-sweetened yoghurt gained more weight than the rats who ate sugar-sweetened yoghurt. It seems that sweeteners are very good appetite stimulants. Similar research on humans came up with the same results.
I find it quite astounding that this fact is kept so ‘secret’. And I feel very sorry for all the people out there who have been consuming these products in good faith and putting artificial sweetener pills in their tea and coffee.
More info about the new weight loss and body-shaping program I’ve written which includes this information and lots of other helpful stuff
I may be biased but I think low-carb and GI diets are on the way out. They’ve had a good run for their money, but I’ve just been trawling through the latest archives of medical research and have been discovering new facts which I think will make these diets obsolete.
I’ve worked a lot with overweight people, and it’s very clear that the biggest problem is not how to shed a few pounds by temporarily changing your eating habits. The biggest problem is food cravings. People can’t bear to give up their favourite foods for very long. The minute you’ve lost those pounds, you go straight back to the foods you crave, and the weight comes straight back too. We’ve all been there and know how tough it is.
No diet is the real solution unless it makes things less tough and really helps people to reduce their cravings.
New research is showing that certain food ingredients commonly found in the supermarket cart, not only intensify cravings, but also put your fat gain hormones into overdrive. This fat is gained mostly around your middle.
Neither low-carb, GI nor Weightwatchers programs take these new facts into account.
More info at www.health-diets.net/flat-stomach/
Water retention can masquerade as many other health problems, including arthritis, high blood pressure, PMS, pregnancy pre-eclampsia, idiopathic cyclic edema and chronic venous insufficiency.
Although it is often used for losing water weight, the Waterfall Diet is not just a weight-loss diet. It is a medical diet for the treatment of water retention, so can help to relieve any health problem which is mainly due to water retention.
Here are some stories from my case-book.
Marjorie: A Case Of Fatigue and Arthritis
Marjorie was a 48 year-old supervisor of a care home for the elderly. Despite a strict calorie-controlled diet, and being on her feet from 7 am until sometimes 9 pm most days of the week, up and down stairs, her weight would not budge from 12 stone (168 lbs). Worst of all, it was creeping slowly upwards despite eating little but salad with a small portion of lean grilled meat or fish, and thin wheat crackers for the last four years.
To find clues as to what might be causing Marjorie’s problem, I asked her if she ever suffered from niggling ailments like lack of energy, premenstrual symptoms, joint pains or headaches. It turned out that Marjorie’s doctor had diagnosed her with osteoarthritis because she had a constant pain in her knees, made much worse by walking upstairs. Marjorie had to take painkillers every day for her knee pains.
When I looked at Marjorie’s knees, they appeared quite swollen. I was fairly sure that Marjorie did not have arthritis at all, but water retention. I put Marjorie on the Waterfall Diet. After a few days, I got an excited phone call. ‘I just can’t seem to get off the loo,’ she told me, ‘I’ve been producing buckets and buckets of urine, and my clothes are so loose they’re hanging off me!’
Marjorie lost nearly 14 lbs in that first week. Two weeks later when she saw me again, she was ecstatic. ‘I’ve been constantly on the loo again and have lost another 7 lbs. My knee pains have completely gone, and I’m feeling so full of energy for the first time in years that I’m going to start an exercise class next week!
Marjorie lost a total of 22 lbs on Phase I of the Waterfall Diet, and to tell the truth it was extremely hard for me to get her off it. She was buying new clothes since her old ones didn’t fit her any more, toning up her body with exercises, and starting to take care of her appearance again. Within a few short months she was looking 10 years younger. The Waterfall Diet had helped Marjorie release excess water which was not only making her overweight but was also giving her fatigue and arthritis.
Barbara: A Case Of Pregnancy Pre-Eclampsia
Barbara consulted me in 1992 when she was seven months pregnant. She was aged 23 and a vegetarian, and it was her first baby.
She came somewhat reluctantly, brought along by her mother-in-law, because food was a problem. Her appetite was so poor that she only ate foods for their taste, not from hunger. While the rest of the family had a complete meal, she might pick only at a piece of cheesecake. Yet in spite of this she was very overweight.
Barbara was badly anaemic. Her haemoglobin levels had been progressively dropping since the early stages of pregnancy, despite increasing doses of iron prescribed by her GP and then by the hospital she attended. By the time she consulted me, her skin was extremely pale, and the anaemia was giving her severe water retention, particularly in her legs. The extra fluid was making Barbara overweight, and pushing her blood pressure sky high, and both Barbara and the baby were at risk. Barbara agreed to see me because her doctor wanted to keep her in hospital in order to give her iron injections. She had refused this, and was desperately seeking alternatives.
Barbara’s diet history was problematic, with a lot of fat, white bread, chocolate, fried and convenience foods and biscuits/cookies. She had received counselling about iron-rich foods recently from a hospital dietician, but told me that she couldn’t follow the advice because she had no appetite.
In taking Barbara’s history, I found that she also suffered from permanent sores in her mouth. For the first few months of her pregnancy she had felt nauseous 24 hours a day. I explained to Barbara that her dangerously high blood pressure was due to water retention, which in turn was due to anaemia caused by mineral deficiencies. But in Barbara’s case her symptoms pointed to zinc, not iron, as the deficient mineral. In fact I believed that the very large doses of prescribed iron were making her anaemia worse by interfering with zinc absorption from her food.
I asked Barbara to obtain permission from her doctor to stop the iron supplements, and I gave her instructions to follow along the lines of the Waterfall Diet.
To her doctor’s amazement, Barbara’s haemoglobin levels started to rise within days, and she went on to produce a healthy baby.
‘The most amazing diet ever!’ (BEST Magazine UK)
Amazon UK customer reviews
‘This book is crammed with useful information, hints and is one you will refer to again and again. I have tried this diet and after a week not only have I lost 8 pounds I feel great, I have more energy and my skin is clearing up.’
‘This book covers your health in so many ways instead of reducing you to a sugar/food addict like myself, but sees the other problems and addresses these and explains everything with diagrams and in-depth, interesting details. The writer must believe that the lay people of today are clever for her book informs you on everything you need to know in resonable depth. Writes about every possible way we can prevent water retention. It’s one of the best lay people’s books I have read…’
More reviews can be read on Amazon.co.uk.
Or download Low-Carb Dieting and the Waterfall Diet, an e-book which also provides full instructions for the diet.
Back in the 1980′s I trained as a Nutritional Therapist. I learned all about recommending balanced diets, vitamins and minerals, weight loss programs, and helping people with problems like irritable bowel and chronic tiredness.
But when I started working as a practitioner, I found that helping people to lose weight wasn’t as easy as I’d been led to believe. The people who consulted me had already tried every imaginable diet. They’d done low-calorie, detox, low-fat, low-carb, food-combining; dieting plus jogging and swimming, dieting plus gym. But they were still overweight. Many had been turned away by their doctor. I heard tearful, angry stories that ‘M doctor more or less accused me of stuffing myself with chocolate’. One woman was on the verge of desperation, eating less than 1,000 calories a day, jogging for half an hour every morning and going to the gym twice a week. But she still weighed 180 lbs and her weight was still slowly creeping upwards.
I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to let people down. I believed my clients when they told me they were working hard at their dieting; but that meant I had to discover something for them that hadn’t been part of my training.
My Quest Begins
One thing that a lot of my clients seemed to have in common was that their weight would go up and down quite dramatically in the course of a single day. Some would also complain of problems like swollen knees or painful breasts. Some had been diagnosed with arthritis and were on long-term painkillers. Others had tight and bloated tummies. I wondered if they could be suffering from hidden water retention. I asked them if their doctor had mentioned this, but everyone said “No”.
But this was all I had to go on. Only water retention can make someone’s weight go up and down by 4-5 pounds in the course of a single day. I started looking for all the information I could find to do with water retention. This was in the days before the Internet was around. Whenever I could I would travel to the Science Reference Library in central London, and spend a day finding out everything I could about water retention and its causes. This is a giant library, with thousands of medical journals going back many decades.
An Amazing Discovery
After several visits I made a truly stunning discovery. There are two very distinct types of water retention. Like most health professionals, I was familiar with one type, which is the swelling caused by a tired heart or faulty kidneys. In these cases there is too much water in the blood as well as in the tissues. This kind of problem is best treated with diuretics – medicines which stimulate your kidneys to work harder.
But then I discovered that there was another type of water retention. Like the first type, this can cause bloating, or swollen legs and ankles but may also be distributed all over the body, causing general weight gain. This is sometimes known as “idiopathic edema”, which means edema of unknown cause. I prefer to call it “Type 2 water retention“.
What Causes Type 2 Water Retention?
Fired with excitement, I trawled through hundreds of volumes of the “Index Medicus” looking for medical articles which might give me clues. It soon became clear that with Type 2 water retention, there is not necessarily a lot of water in the blood. In fact it is possible for your tissues to be bloated with water, and yet for your blood to be dehydrated. Some doctors warn that with this type of water retention it could be damaging to take diuretics.
Water is constantly being exchanged between your smallest blood vessels, and the spaces between your cells. Water collects in your tissues when it leaves your blood to bathe your cells but cannot get back again. As it collects in your tissue spaces, your body gradually expands (and gets heavier).
My next task was to find out why the water doesn’t return. One reason is congestion of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic vessels should act like an “overflow” to return it. But they can get overloaded.
Another important factor is histamine. If you’ve ever had a rash, insect bite or hay fever, you know that histamine makes your tissues swell up with water. That’s because histamine makes your smallest blood vessels leaky. If your whole body is making too much histamine, water leaks out of your blood and may stay in your tissue spaces.
Too much histamine in your kidneys is very damaging. Scientists in France have been researching how histamine and inflammation in the kidneys can be triggered by abnormal reactions to foods. This type of kidney problem is known as Nephrotic Syndrome. It becomes very hard to urinate, and your body swells up with water.
Type 2 water retention can also be caused by eating a Very Low Calorie Diet. One of my clients (“Barbara”) was a vegetarian who had been dieting on and off since she was 13 years old. When she consulted me, she was 24, and weighed 175 lbs. Her total food intake was truly shocking: a grapefruit and black coffee for breakfast, a dry cracker with lettuce and tomato for lunch (no dressing), and plain steamed vegetables for dinner. She ate nothing else at all…. ever, but still her weight was slowly creeping up.
All in all, I found seven separate causes of tissue water retention. The sad fact is that so many people with water retention don’t realise their problem is water. They think it’s fat, and go on a fat-loss diet. Then they end up eating too few calories and so their water retention problem gets worse. They may lose a bit of weight at first, but then the weight-loss levels out and they can’t get any further.
I Design The Waterfall Diet
Taking into account all these seven causes of water retention, I put together a plan of action that could get rid of as many of these causes as possible. First you have to identify which of the causes apply to you, and this involves a procedure to find your “safe foods”. I tried the program on my clients, and was truly amazed at the results. “Jennifer” started Phase I of the program on Thursday June 12th 1997 and I had no idea what result what we would get. But when she returned on Thursday June 26th Jennifer told me the wonderful news that she had lost 14 lbs in 10 days. “After about 2 days I just started urinating constantly” she said. “My bladder was always full, but my clothes started getting looser.” The many trips to the bathroom eased off around the 7th day, but the water and the excess weight did not return.
I wondered what should I call the program. In view of the trips to the bathroom “The Waterfall Diet” seemed most appropriate. Soon I had tested it on many more clients, written down all the details, and my book entitled The Waterfall Diet was published in 1999 and instantly became a best-seller in the UK.
Does The Diet Work for Everyone?
If your weight goes up and down by more than a pound or two in the space of a single day, then water retention is a definite possibility. But I don’t want to get your hopes up unduly. Not everyone will lose 14 lbs in just a week. About 30 per cent of people with Type 2 water retention lose 10 lbs in 7-10 days on this diet. You might be retaining just a couple of pounds of water, but that couple of pounds could be cooling down your metabolism and preventing fat loss.
Another benefit of the Waterfall Diet is it can help to confirm whether or not your tissues are retaining water. If you follow the diet carefully without achieving any water loss, then (if your doctor agrees) you probably don’t have water retention.