Putting health back into your hands

Sugar Vs Fat

I stumbled across a Horizon programme on friday night on BBC2 called Fat Vs Sugar, and it displayed all the signs of being the kind of pop-science I can’t watch : I find their shallow agenda, narrow focus, and monumental lack of content (padded with 50 minutes of repetition, smarmy camera angles, and tight levis) all too infuriating.

However, I happened to switch back to this programme as they were starting to draw conclusions from the experiments they’d run. I am always interested in scientific data, as long as it is taken within the context it is set, so my interest was sustained for a while.

The premise was that two identical twins, both medical doctors (though that only gives the programme merit, not really the science) were to go on fundamentally different diets – one high in fat, the other high in sugars, and see what happens to their bodies, supposedly built from identical genes (ignoring epigenetics, individualised health histories etc.)

After a month, they were surprised to find that the high-sugar diet had increased his insulin production, but he retained a surprising level of stamina in endurance tests. No surprise there really, given that we are built to run on sugars – see article on our co-evolution with fruit sugars here.

Insulin and Sugars

Surely they should have been expecting high insulin levels, as it is this increased insulin-production in response to refined sugars that eventually exhausts the pancreas, and leads to the insulin failure known as diabetes.

As sugars are being forced into cells to keep the blood-sugar levels tolerable, rather than because the cells are calling for the sugars, these sugar-bloated cells can repackage the sugars as solid fats, and dump them back into the blood, where they don’t antagonise blood-sugar levels anymore, but do add to the fat-saturation levels of the blood and liver. These excess fats then get in the way of further insulation secretions, and lead to the diabetic phenomena found in a purely high-fat diet.

Insulin and Fats

To their surprise, the high fat diet had even higher levels of serum insulin than his sugary counterpart. This is because his system was trying to get the insulin through fat-saturated blood – a situation known to be as much a part of insulin elevation and inevitable pancreatic failure as a high sugar diet, so no news there either.

Fat Rats

At the end of the programme they went on to look at the surprising connections found in rats (though tenuous due to the species difference) around their diet-regulating habits regarding fats & sugars.

Captive rats can exist happily on a high fat diet, and do not show outward symptoms we associate to humans on such diets – IE; become obese or suffer coronary issues. And likewise on a high sugar diet.

But when fats and sugars are combined, in an irresistible concoction, all restraint goes out the window, and they gorge themselves to death – literally.

Notably this combination of high-sugar & high-fat exists nowhere in nature, so their systems have not had any evolutionary precedent to learn how to manage it.

Human Apes

Unlike with rats, there are plenty of high-sugar food examples in our lineage – in fact you could almost say that our 120 million years on a high-sugar, low-fat, fruit-rich diet defined apes as a creature separate from the rest of the mammals.

However, even in this deliberately evolved, high-nourishment environment we do not find high-fat AND high-sugar snacks. See the top fruits hereTropical

Actually, it is easy to leave the rats out of it, and simple look at which NATURAL foods humans are attracted to – that’s without preparing, mixing, cooking, peeling, or grinding the food at all. Can you think of ANYTHING aside from fruit that really grabs you by the tastebuds ?

And yet, there are no obese apes. Not one with diabetes. Nor hyperglycemia. And the dentistry-profession among the higher apes is notably lacking (or in any other animal for that matter !). Check out article on calcium saturation and distribution here.teeth

In fact all this has only come about since we started refining sugars into sugar, and fats into fat. And then mixing the two – ultimately to make palatable (and therefore saleable) large amounts of cheap, filling, storable grains.

Aside from stimulants like chocolate, tea and coffee, where else do we mix sugars and fats ?

Feel free to comment your answers below.

Hello Everyone,

Am still hoping someone from the October group will do some blogging, but here’s a few thoughts to be going on with.

Historically November has been a low month for me; probably tendency to SAD. When I realised this a few years ago I knew I had to make an effort in November to look after myself particularly well – maybe a few treats!  This month I have felt good; disappointingly the scales have not moved but I feel lighter and my clothes are looser.  I would like to recommend the shampoo and conditioner I bought while at Sura: Yaoh, the organic hemp seed oil products.  My hair is softer and in  better condition since using it.

Christmas is fast approaching, somewhat ironically I am having a family Christmas at home for the first time in years and of course my family will expect the whole deal.  I guess there’s a few of you with the same challenge.  My son would not forgive me if I did not make him mince pies etc etc.  So I will cook turkey with trimmings but plan to introduce some raw extras, maybe a raw starter to the meal and good salads to accompany cooked food.

For anyone into trying new recipes, here’s something with Christmas in mind.

Chocolate and almond truffles

1 cup organic raw whole almond butter

1/2 cup raw chocolate nibs

1/2 cup dates chopped small

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon grated root ginger

Optional: a few teaspoons of brandy

To coat:  desiccated coconut or carob powder or (if you want to cheat) drinking chocolate.

Grind the choc nibs in blender to powder.  I made the mixture from here  in a food processor.

Put all the ingredients in the mixer. When using the almond butter you will find the oil sitting on the top of the jar: if you use this the mixture will be too wet, avoid the oil and only add a little of it if you find the mixture too dry.

Mix well till even and add a few teaspoons of brandy if you want the alcoholic variety.

The spices can all be varied to taste, so taste as you go along!

Form mixture into small balls and roll in coating of choice; the warmth of your hands will melt the mixture sufficiently to help the process.  Leave in cool place, but not in public place or they are likely to disappear at speed.

The seasons greeting to all; may your Christmas be light, inspiring and healthy.


Hello again,  Do not have much in the way of news this week, so am hoping someone else from the group will volunteer a blog or two.

Am keeping to my commitment of around 75% raw; varies a bit, sometimes more, sometimes less depending on my activities and if I’m out or eating with others.  Cold weather definitely makes it harder.  Kate’s advice to me to avoid all grains is working well for me, before Sura I was on minimum wheat but ate other grains, so it was news that I should not be eating any grains at all.  This has a major impact on my diet but my digestive system likes the change.

Some of you know I do energy healing using something called Quantum Touch. This involves channelling life force energy which activates people’s own healing ability.  Since the detox week, my channelling has improved and I’m getting more powerful results which is proving very exciting.  I suppose my own system is just clearer which makes the process more effective.  Its also motivation to keep my system as clear as possible.

Warm wishes to everyone, hope all your raw food plans are thriving;  will someone else please write a blog.

Beryl xx


Hello Everyone,  I hope you are are doing well and feeling the benefit of our week in Devon.  By midweek last week my energy was really good, I am eating very predominately raw and enjoying it though by the weekend I have been feeling very hungry.  Maybe because the weather is colder and the comfort of cooked food is a temptation.  I have made the beetroot pate and the courgette hummus, both very good on salsa crackers, though I liked them better with some avocado added.

I was making fruit smoothies for breakfast before Sura, but am now making them with nut milk instead of fruit juice which is more satisfying.  I love the nut milks I am making which is new, but I like them strained so have been accruing the residue of nuts.  Today I experimented with using this for some biscuits:  I added some coconut oil, honey and grated lemon rind, stirred into paste and made small biscuits.  Not having a dehydrator I put them in my oven at 80degrees for an hour or two.  They are a bit fragile, but good to eat and I could not bear to throw the nut residue away.

Have only had one meal out since I returned home and managed to get a very good salad,  I have to confess having some ham with it.  Everyone says I look very good and my Thai masseur says my energy is totally different.

Don’t have further news at the moment so am adding a whimsical ditty in honour of Dao and his message!

My ancestor from long ago
Is agile, hale and hearty,
He leaps from branch to branch with glee
For him, life’s quite a party.
In contrast I am solid and stiff,
With trousers too tight and underwired bra;
Roast pork for lunch, the crackling too,
I wonder, have I evolved too far?
So I’m starting to eat a monkey diet,
Without the monkey mind chatter,
My trousers are looser, my mind is calm,
Instead of coffee I’m drinking water.

Apologies and warm regards to all.



Beryl has agreed to write a long-awaited account of her entry back into the world after her detox retreat with us 18-26th Oct 2013

This is her first entry. We love her candid manner, not trying to hide or dress anything up. I can give you explanations about your tooth Beryl, but this is your blog… Can’t wait for the next one.

Beryl’s Blog 

Hello Everyone.

After over 12 hours of travel it was wonderful to fall into my own bed on Friday night, though I was buzzing too much to readily fall asleep.  Did anyone have stomach ache?  My gut was really sore for a day or two.

Of course I had to get on the scales when I got home: they were exactly the same as when I left a week ago.  Big disappointment, and Daniel lost 10lbs – there’s no justice in the world!  Seriously though I’m pleased Natasha had told me she lost nothing the last time she did the programme, but lost after she got home.  Thank you Natasha, I shall keep that thought.

In spite of the scales, I do feel different, very difficult to describe.  I have believed for a long time the concepts Dao talked about enormous, maybe unlimited potential of humans, but now I have more a sense of it, it’s more kinaesthetic.  I’m excited to discover how this will take shape in my life.  One thing I’ve noticed this week is I’m throwing things out; it’s as though my house is undergoing its own colonics and I’m getting rid of old stuff – very interesting metaphor.

I lost a tooth on my way home, it literally fell out in pieces; does fasting make your teeth fall out I wondered.  The gap is quite near the front, so vanity will demand an implant: the cost of my Devon trip is escalating!

I went shopping on Saturday and spent a lot of money at the health food shop.  My cupboards are now the proud owners of Tamari, Tahini, organic cider vinegar amongst other tasty things with which to experiment.

I’ve been using a language pattern this week that I learnt from the Sedona method.  My version for this month is:

I could eat 75% raw if I choose;

I would like to eat 75% raw;

I will do it now.

It seems a good lead from the possibility to commitment; working for me!

I’ve been going out recently with a retired chef; yes, OK, you’re allowed to laugh.  Before Sura I’d had some fantasies of being cooked delicious gourmet meals, served, of course, in bed!  Oh dear, is this the universe having a joke?  Now I have to have a diplomatic negotiation; prognosis is poor.  Anyone know of any hot available men in North Wales who eat raw?  I have been accused of being choosey but this is ridiculous.

Finally, thank you to all the staff at Sura; you did a fabulous job and your claim that the detox retreat is life changing may well be right – I’ll keep you posted if it is for me.

Love and good wishes to everyone.   Beryl

See Dao’s unabridged article here

Antioxidants and flavonoids have received much media publicity of late, often touted as the key to anti-aging and vibrant health, as well as a cure for a range of serious illnesses. But what are these mystical, mythical substances? How and why do they work? Have we finally found our ‘magic bullet’ for youth and well-being or is this simply another float in the health and wellness parade?

What are they?

Antioxidants and flavonoids are found in many foods, but primarily in fresh fruits and vegetables. Seeds, nuts and legumes also contain high amounts.

Antioxidants comprise a broad branch of chemistry specifically designed to deal with the effect of oxygen when unleashed in the body. Oxygen creates instability by oxidizing, and thus destroying, many nutrients. This is especially true of the omega oils that constitute a major percentage of the nervous system and brain.

Antioxidants clean up and contain the damage caused by exposure to oxygen. To illustrate the effect of antioxidants, think of a firecracker lit inside a room versus a firecracker lit in a room underneath a blanket. Sparks will fly around in both instances, but the damage is largely contained by the blanket. Thus, antioxidants can be thought of as the body’s own ‘security blanket.’

Flavonoids are a sub-category of antioxidants: while flavonoids include and incorporate antioxidant properties, not all antioxidants are flavonoids. Preliminary research indicates that flavonoids modify allergens, viruses and carcinogens. In addition, flavonoids are shown in in vitro studies to also have anti-allergen, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, and anti-diarrheal activities, as well as an antiviral effect against several strains of viruses, among them polio.

Our jungle roots

Fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds have been around forever, so why are we just now finding out that they contain the ‘magic elixir’ to youth and vibrant health?

The answer to these questions lies in our ancestry, to a time when humans were still living in the forests and jungles and consuming copious amounts of fruit.  In those days, we were readily supplied with all the antioxidants and flavonoids we needed though a steady diet of fruit, fruit and more fruit. Fruit was an easy choice in the days when food was gathered from trees instead of supermarket shelves. No food in its natural state was more attractive and desirable than sweet, delicious fruit.

Fruit eaters by design

This was fine and dandy when we were still hanging out in the jungle. But in modern times our habits and diets have changed. Quick, easy access to packaged and processed foods has provided us with a greater selection, so fruit is often no longer our first choice. As a result, our diet has gradually become deficient in antioxidants and flavonoids, and our poor oxygen-damaged brains and bodies are suffering.

All animals face the challenge of defending the brain and the body against the effects of oxidization. Nature has dealt with this dilemma by giving all animals the ability to self-produce adequate amounts of antioxidants, all animals that is, except the great apes! Why? Because our lineage is designed by nature to consume massive amounts of fruit in order to satisfy our antioxidant needs. We therefore do not produce our own antioxidants, as most other animals do. The terrifying truth is that the average modern human diet now includes only around two percent of the antioxidant-rich foods we were designed to consume. Oxygen is wreaking havoc on our systems.

Evolutionary breakdown

In 100,000 years as homo sapiens we have still not managed to activate the single gene that other animals possess to create our own antioxidant protection. This is proof positive that we have not evolved as quickly as one might think – we still desperately need to eat raw fruits and vegetables.

We have therefore not suddenly discovered a magic potion. Antioxidants and flavonoids have been around for longer than mankind itself, contained in the food we were intended by nature to eat.  The problem lies in our deficient diets and our inability to evolve quickly enough to adapt to our changing circumstances and accommodate the radical change in our diet.


The three most obvious consequences of flavonoid depletion are:

Damage to the venous network: Veins and arteries are designed to transport oxygen and nutrients to the body. A deficiency of antioxidants and flavonoids in the blood is like a cleanup crew on strike: there is no one to mop up and contain the mess caused by the masses of oxygen carried by the blood to the body and the brain. As a result, the arterial walls suffer, becoming eroded, brittle and thin. Excessive bruising is one obvious symptom often attributed to oxidization damage of the venous system.

High cholesterol: Our cells cry out for more protection by releasing cholesterol. The lower the level of flavonoids, the higher the level of cholesterol in the blood. It is interesting to note that the basal level of cholesterol in the human blood is higher than in monkey blood, due to chronic antioxidant deficiency.

Oxidation damage to the brain: The brain is the most ‘oxygen hungry’ system in nature. It is comprised of around 80 percent omega fatty acids, among the most oxidizable substances on the planet. Antioxidant deficiency in the brain is therefore inevitable and universal. Symptoms of this type of oxidation damage range from fogginess and forgetfulness to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.

There is a solution!

Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruit is generally higher in antioxidants and flavonoids than vegetables, as flavonoids are more plentiful in the skin pigments of fruit. Berries are the highest in flavonoids, as they are brightly colored and have a large percentage of skin surface. Eat as much as possible of these sweet, juicy antioxidant bombs – especially when in season and locally grown.

Another great source of flavonoids is the white pith on the inside of oranges. This is a good choice in the winter months, when citrus fruit is in season and shipped relatively ripe.

A rule of thumb when searching for antioxidant and flavonoid-rich foods: Look for fruits and vegetables with colorful skin and flesh. The colors in fruit and vegetables are a sure sign of the presence of antioxidants and flavonoids. Eating as many different colors of fruit and vegetables as possible ensures diversity of these crucial nutrients in the diet.

So – make like your monkey ancestors and eat masses of fresh fruit and veg!

You will soon feel like swinging from the trees!



If you think you know what nutrition means, think again. Your concept needs ‘evolutionising’ !

Calling anyone with an interest in their own nutrition, plus practitioners who advise clients on diet.
As you will know if you have heard Dao talk before, his evolutionary angle on nutrition will revolutionise your relationship with food.


Dao is giving a day-long talk on the vitals he has learned from 20 years studying nutrition, as well as 15 years running detox retreats.

Delicious raw lunch and snacks provided, along with recipes, and a chance to chat to the raw chef.

Investment £100 health practitioners
£90 health students ( includes 7 hour CPD certification)
Concessions £60

book – 01803 840816 / dao@detoxnutrition.co.uk


We are apes, and should be eating mostly fruit, any way you slice it !


Place 1/2 cup organic almonds (from Spain if you can get them) in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Soak for at least 8 hours. Strain and rinse the almonds. Place in a blender with three cups of water. Blend on high speed until the almonds are liquified with the water. Strain through a nut milk bag or cheese cloth. Add:

1 pinch each of organic cinnamon
1 pinch himalayan or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of organic vanilla extract

Mix well and enjoy! Keeps 2-3 days in the refrigerator.

This tastes better than a chocolate milkshake!

1 medium-sized ripe banana
1 heaping tablespoon raw organic cacao
1 tablespoon (or to taste) raw sweetener: raw agave, coconut palm sugar, 2-3 fresh dates, etc.
1 scoop raw protein powder
1/4 cup walnuts (soaked 6 hours)
1 cup almond milk (receipe below)
1/2 cup ice cubes

Place all of the ingredients into a blender. Put the protein powder and raw cacao first so that it doesn’t end up stuck to the top of the bender when you start it up. Blend until creamy smooth. Enjoy!

Question for Dao:
I have been eating quite a bit of raw chocolate recently and wondering if it really is a good idea? I have been hearing conflicting reports on the benefits/detriments of consuming raw chocolate. What is your take on this subject?

As with most such arguments in the world of raw food my reaction is: ‘Here we go again…!’

There are pros and cons to consumption of raw chocolate or cacao. On one hand, dramatic effects on the body are often cited, such as insomnia, hallucinations, mood swings, etc. Although reference is made to the use of raw cacao by many South American native cultures to achieve expanded states of awareness, most people in our western culture see these conditions as being undesirable.

On the other hand, fans of raw chocolate rave about its tryptophan content, which converts to serotonin and tryptamines and gives you the famous anti-depressant ‘lift.’ And because it is a seed, cacao is chock-full of life-giving substances.

But as with all seeds, cocao protects itself from being eaten with a highly toxic shell that tastes extremely bitter – an effective natural defense mechanism! These toxins, numbering in the hundreds, enter the blood stream along with cacao’s beneficial ingredients.

So in short: cocao is both a highly-poisonous, toxin-filled, strategically-defended seed and a nutrient-rich, mood-elevating, brain-enhancing food!

When weighing the pros and cons of eating chocolate it is important to consider the following:

No one eats raw cacao on it’s own. Raw cocao is extremely bitter – it tastes disgusting! In order to eat chocolate much must be added to make it edible, often including sugar, fat and dairy products. It is these substances which attract most people to chocolate, not the mood-elevating qualities.

In addition, most raw chocolate is in fact not raw at all. It is often made, even at home, using things like cocao butter (heated to melt), cocao powder (heat-processed) and agave syrup (highly processed, often using heat).

However, even pseudo-raw chocolate is better than regular commercially-produced chocolate candy, which is manufactured using ingredients that are neither organically or ethically grown and often with dangerous sugars, fats and chemicals.

So basically the message is – be aware. Instead of simply glomming down a bar of chocolate, even the ones you make at home using organic ‘raw’ ingredients, think about what you are putting into your body make an informed choice.

In conclusion I would like to say that I do occasionally eat chocolate. I keep a form of raw cacao in my car to keep me alert on long journeys and my partner makes a mean batch of cacao-covered ‘buckwheaties’ that I sometimes just cannot resist!