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  1. Beating Diabetes: Sharmilah's Story

    “You are young, you’re happy, and you’re full of life, but being overweight you are a ticking bomb.” Big is Gorgeous founder Sharmilah Begum was offended. She had come to meet Xndo founder Lars Brittsjo to talk about how the Singaporean weight and health management company could collaborate with BIG. At the end of the discussion he had challenged her about the health implications of her own weight. “When he said that I was a bit upset with him, because I felt that he judged me like everyone else,” Sharmilah said. “Just because you’re overweight you would always be unhealthy, right? I didn’t tell him I was upset with him, but I felt why is he telling me I’m a ticking bomb, you know? I don’t think I’ll be a ticking bomb, because I’m so active right? I love to eat, but I do exercise.” Sharmilah dismissed the challenge. Eight years later, the ticking stopped and the explosions began. Obesity, diabetes, and sickness A diagnosed diabetic, Sharmilah became sick; very sick. Small infirmities compounded and grew to become major problems. She was hospitalised several times and fought a constant battle with fatigue. The young, happy life she was living gradually disappeared beneath a cloud of pain and infirmity. “I was going from bad to worse. I was coming out with a lot of things, and all of it was diabetes related,” she said. “I had a carbuncle on my head that gave me a face stroke. I put a headband on and I wore big glasses. Everyone thought I was looking so diva, but actually I was going through head surgery. Underneath that headband was a bandage and behind those big glasses was a face that had melted down.”Before Xndo (100kg) and after (79kg and decreasing)[/caption] Against doctor’s predictions Sharmilah’s face recovered and movement returned. She remained positive and upbeat, but the sickness continued. She had a second operation on her head, then one on her toe, then her hand. All the while her energy level was diminishing. A sugar and carbohydrate lover, her blood sugar level was three times the healthy range, and her blood pressure was up to a dangerous 200. She pushed on but the normal demands of life and business often became too much and she’d fall sick again. Friends became worried, and business opportunities were lost. A seemingly continual stream of health conditions embattled her. Diabetes reversed through eating Eventually, with diabetes threatening her eyesight and doctors telling her she would go blind, Sharmilah saw Lars on Facebook and contacted him again. When they met, she reminded him of his words. “I said I finally understand what you mean by I’m a ticking bomb. He told me if you are willing to listen now, I’m willing to teach you what to do.” Following Lars’ advice Sharmilah began eating breakfast, a meal she had never liked. The effect was that she wasn’t as hungry during the day and ate less for lunch and dinner. She reduced carbohydrates in her diet, particularly white rice. She replaced her usually high calorie late night supper with an Xndo meal. She stopped eating sugar. She began to lose weight but her recovery stalled. She became even sicker, though she knew and could feel she was getting better. Her feet swelled, and she suffered dizziness. She often fell ill. Sharmilah said the detox process was long and painful. A lifetime of dependency upon carbs and sugar created a vicious kick back when they were removed, but she knew she had to endure it. Painful Sugar withdrawal “The whole body is telling you it can’t do it anymore. It’s going to give up on you. That’s how it is. I told myself to be gentle and patient. “If I were to be impatient I think I would have just given up and think that it’s impossible; that what Lars told me was just crap. But he made me understand that it’s not something that I should rush. As we talked I realised that he was trying to tell me that food is my poison, but food is also my remedy.   “It was hard initially. To tell me to give up on carbohydrate was the toughest thing to do. The first time when the doctor told me I had diabetes I didn’t cry. But when the nutritionist told me what I couldn’t eat, I cried, because I thought what is life if I can’t eat. “But what I liked about what Lars told me was that you have to eat to lose weight. You just have to eat the right way. He told me eat more protein. Eat more fiber. Just cut down on carbohydrate intake. I said, you mean I can still eat? He said, yes you have to eat! “As we talked I realized that he was trying to tell me that food is my poison, but food is also my remedy.” [caption id="attachment_720" align="alignnone" width="840"]Big Is Gorgeous magazine[/caption] Blood pressure and blood sugar normalized It has been a long road back to health, but two years later Sharmilah is a changed woman. She has dropped 21kg and is no longer constantly sick. At last reading her blood sugar was normal and her blood pressure has also normalized. Even her eyesight has improved, reversing from diabetes-induced near sightedness to the (unfortunately) more normal far sightedness. “I have to go and change my glasses, because I can’t see properly with these glasses now,” she laughed. “This is the body that I had before I had diabetes - the feeling, the energy. “It was terrible to live with diabetes. It was a living death. I feel that diabetes and obesity has robbed my life. My diabetes was due to obesity and because of this, I felt that I couldn’t go for the wealth that I wanted to, the business that I wanted to. I didn’t even want to have a relationship; I didn’t want to get married because I felt that if anyone was to be my partner it would really be an injustice to them.” Big is Gorgeous has always been about making plus sized women feel beautiful, and to fall in love with themselves. The message that women are beautiful at the size they are has been the driving passion behind Sharmilah’s life work. But her battle with obesity and diabetes has brought a change. She has faced a difficult truth and come through a terrible struggle. The carefree young woman who stubbornly continued on her way is wiser. BIG’s message hasn’t changed, but its messenger has. You can do it too! “I want to give my plus size girls hope now, because I know what obesity will do,” she said. “I’ve always wanted them to be healthy. But how do we put out that message to them, to be healthy? I think being the leader maybe God wanted me to experience all this and pick me up again. I’m sure all of them are going through what I’m going through, the pain and everything. “A lot of them are very impatient. They try something and expect in one week or two weeks time to see changes. I think you have to be gracious with yourself. You have to give your body time. You rush and you force and the body can’t handle it. “I’m not 100 percent recovered yet. I’ve still got 15kg to lose to get to my right weight. I’m still waiting for my feet to recover, my eyes to fully recover. So I want them to join me in the journey to recovery. “If they can hear my story, if they can understand my pain and I understand their pain, then we all know that we are in this together. I want to be a support to say let’s do it.”
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  2. 12 side effects of sugar

    There are reasons to avoid sugar that have nothing to do with a slimmer waistline. We know sugar leads to weight gain and obesity, and contributes to a growing number of diseases. Yet it seems the more research that is done, the more negative things we discover about sugar and its effects. Following are some of the more harmful side effects of sugar - and there are many! 1. Sugar is addictive Sugar affects the pleasure centres in our brains in exactly the same way hard drugs like cocaine and heroin do. Just like drugs, the more sugar we consume, the more we need in order to recapture the same feelings of pleasure. Once addicted, sugar creates powerful withdrawal symptoms that make it difficult to stop consuming it. 2. Sugar causes aging Sugar is proven to accelerate the aging process in our skin through a process called glycation. Sugar molecules attach to proteins and form harmful new advanced glycation end products(AGE). These molecules reduce the production and effect of collagen and elastin in our skin, leading to mottling, wrinkles, and sagging. 3. Sugar suppresses the immune system White blood cells need Vitamin C to effectively combat infection. Sugar and Vitamin C have a similar chemical structure so when you eat sugar it directly competes for space in our immune cells with Vitamin C. This results in a weakened defence for up to 5 hours after eating sugar. 4. Sugar causes anxiety and depression The peaks and troughs in blood glucose from eating sugar cause a yo-yoing mood effect that ends in fatigue, irritability, insomnia, and anxiety. Part of the reason for this is that high sugar, high carbohydrate foods use up the mood enhancing B vitamins and the nutrient chromium which is involved in the regulation of our moods. Many recent studies have shownthat high sugar diets are associated with an increased risk of depression. 5. Sugar increases triglycerides Triglycerides are one of the key indicators in heart disease. Extra calories which aren’t immediately utilized for energy, such as those from sugar, are converted into triglycerides and are normally stored in fat tissue. The danger is that some of the extra triglycerides created from sugar end up clinging to artery walls, inhibiting blood flow and leading to heart disease. 6. Sugar increases blood pressure Eating sugar causes significant increases in blood pressure independent of its effect upon weight gain (which also increases blood pressure). A recent analysisof 49 different trials showed that sugar contributes to high blood pressure directly, and that cutting back on how much we eat helps to reduce it. 7. Sugar affects digestion Eating too much sugar causes bad bacteria and yeast to rapidly multiply in our guts, creating inflammation and disrupting the delicate pH of our small intestines. That can lead to bloating, discomfort, constipation, and more serious diseases such as ulcers and leaky gut syndrome. On top of that, the inflammatory state created by eating too much sugar is a general cause of disease. 8. Sugar creates hormonal imbalance Because of its effect upon insulin which impacts all the other hormones in our bodies, sugar has a direct effect upon estrogen and testosterone levels. When insulin spikes it can lead to lower levels of the important sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which then can’t do its job in regulating the sex hormones. This affects our moods, and particularly affects women, making the effects of their normal hormonal cycle more extreme. 9. Sugar promotes tooth decay Sugar, along with other carbohydrates, is broken down by bacteria living in our mouths to produce an acid that combines with saliva to form plaque. Plaque, as we all know, leads to tooth decay. 10. Sugar increases water retention and bloating Sugar is a carbohydrate, and all carbohydrate causes fluid retention. This is because one of the things insulin does is to stimulate our kidneys to retain fluid. 11. Sugar can cause headaches and migraine Dehydration is a common cause of headache and sugar makes it worse. Increased blood sugar forces our bodies to dilute the extra sugar to keep it from causing harm, as sugar in our blood is actually toxic to our organs. Water is pulled from all parts of our bodies to do this, but our heads suffer the most. This cerebral dehydration often causes headaches. Sugar can also trigger migraines, although the exact reasons for this are not known. 12. Sugar makes us sleepy High blood sugar causes our bodies to over respond with high insulin levels. This inevitably leads to the well known post-sugar crash and fatigue as the rush of insulin rapidly depletes our blood of glucose. Sugar’s role in helping serotonin get to our brains also results in a surge of relaxation, and a double whammy of sleepiness. The good news! The good news is it's possible to reverse many of the harmful effects of sugar simply by no longer eating it. Xndo recommends a diet based upon a food pyramid that avoids sugar altogether, emphasizes protein and fiber, and limits carbohydrate. We provide the tools and products to help achieve that.  
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  3. Protein Shakes: Good for everyone

    Protein shakes are a great way to supplement your protein needs. While body builders have long used protein bars and shakes to boost their daily protein intake and build muscle post-workout, protein is not just for the fitness minded. An increased protein intake is beneficial for everyone. Protein builds muscle, balances blood sugar Protein helps our bodies build and maintain lean muscle, and provides a slow release of glucose into our blood stream, balancing blood sugar level and increasing satiety. All of which has positive effects on weight loss and general health. Snacking on a protein shake instead of other high carb fillers is a also good way to reduce overall daily calories while satisfying persistent hunger cravings. Choosing between the numerous available options can be confusing. Many are high in sugar and contain a lot of calories, defeating the purpose of using them. Others don’t contain enough protein to be beneficial, or the protein is of the wrong type. Some contain undesirable food substitutes and chemicals, or taste awful. To keep you from straying toward high calorie alternatives, a protein shake must be something that is easy to prepare and which you enjoy drinking. All protein is not the same A big differences between shakes is the protein they contain. The type of protein matters because some are better than others, and all have slightly different properties. One of the best and most popular protein additives is whey because it contains an impressive array of vitamins and minerals, as well as being a proven muscle builder. While there are other protein powders with more specific benefits, whey is a good all rounder, and a natural choice for a multi-purpose protein shake. To make it a bit easier to choose, here are some guidelines on what makes a good protein shake: Contains at least 40 percent of high quality protein - preferably more. Most shakes contain some carbohydrate for quick energy release, but each shake should not contain more than 200 calories in total. If possible choose a shake that includes heart healthy fats like MCT and Omega 3. No trans fat. It tastes good, and is easy to prepare. Xndo protein shakes are delicious and mix immediately in water. They are specifically designed to supplement protein intake as part of a protein dominant diet based upon a food pyramid that avoids sugar, emphasizes protein and fiber, and limits carbohydrate. Xndo shakes contain at least 45% (20g) high quality whey protein each, and are less than 170 calories.
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  4. Why does sugar make us fat?

    Sugar makes us fat, but why? The answer has to do with the way our bodies use and store energy. Fast blood sugar release When sugar or carbohydrate is digested, it is released into our blood as energy in the form of glucose. As soon as glucose hits our bloodstream, our pancreas produces insulin which tells our cells to begin soaking up the sugar and use it or store it. Any excess glucose is initially stored in our liver and muscles. If there is too much glucose entering our blood for our cells to use, the liver and our muscles become saturated with excess glucose and can’t store any more. The liver then begins converting the glucose into fatty acids and sending it back into the blood where it's taken to other areas of the body and stored as body fat. Sugar, such as the kind used to sweeten snacks and treats, breaks down into glucose very quickly and is released into the blood stream all at once. Because it's released rapidly most of it isn't used immediately and is turned straight into body fat. Sugar in our food also almost always provides unnecessary excessenergy that we don't need. That's why it generally makes us gain unwanted weight. Weight gain cycle In a diabolical biological twist, due to the way insulin works the weight gaining process caused by sugar is self-reinforcing. The glucose spikes caused by sugar create corresponding insulin spikes. Over time, the high levels of insulin fatigue the cells in our body and they stop responding to its message to absorb glucose from the blood. This is called insulin resistance, and leads to our pancreas having to produce even more insulin to get the same result. As we gain weight, the effect is increased until the insulin producing cells wear themselves out, at which point we can no longer produce enough insulin. This results in type 2 diabetes. Carbohydrates cause the same problem as sugar because they are basically just chains of sugar molecules linked together. In contrast, protein and fat provide a more even, slower release of glucose into our blood stream. This slower release makes it easier for our bodies to use the energy instead of having to store it as fat. It also means less insulin is needed to deal with the lower level of blood of sugar. Eat less sugar For this reason, and especially for weight loss, it is advisable to eat as little sugar as possible. Xndo recommends a diet based upon a food pyramid that avoids sugar altogether, emphasizes protein and fiber, and limits carbohydrate. We provide the tools and products to help you achieve that.
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  5. Sugar & Disease

    Sugar makes us fat, but that’s not the worst thing it does. Sugar is making us sick. Sugar consumption is now proven to contribute to a range of serious diseases. And the more of it we eat, the worse the effects are. Diabetes It is well known that sugar is a major contributor to obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome. This is because continual spikes in our blood sugar create corresponding spikes of insulin. Over time our cells stop responding to the continual barrage of insulin and so we have to produce more of it to compensate. The cycle continues until insulin stops working effectively. The cells in our bodies that produce insulin then become fatigued and slow down or stop producing it altogether, leaving sugar to circulate dangerously in the blood stream. That is diabetes. Cancer Sugar has been implicated in a range of cancers including colon and breast cancer. The truth is all cancer loves sugar. It is the number one food cancer cells prefer. Multiple studies show that a high level of sugar in our diet puts us at much higher risk of developing cancer. Perhaps the strongest evidence of the link between sugar and cancer is that scans used to find cancers in the body use radiolabelled glucose to highlight the cancerous cells. Within only hours of being introduced into the blood stream the sugar molecules accumulate where the hungry cancer cells are, and show up clearly on radiology scans. Sugar is used because there is nothing that better helps identify hidden cancer. Think about that. Heart Disease Heart disease is the number one killer worldwide. Until recently it was thought that saturated fat in our diet was the main cause. The latest research shows that is not true, and in fact fat may have nothing to do with heart disease at all. It is becoming increasingly clear that the main culprit’s are carbohydrate and sugar – which are basically the same thing as carbohydrate breaks down into sugar as soon as it hits our digestive systems Sugar contributes to heart disease by causing continual insulin spikes which inflame arterial walls, damaging their sensitive linings and creating a conditionthat greatly increases risk of the disease. Alzheimer's Disease Recent research shows a diet high in sugar and low in healthy fat is playing a significant role in the huge modern increase in Alzheimer's Disease. The affect of sugar on the brain and the danger of insulin resistance in the development of Alzheimer's is so critical that the disease has been called "type 3 diabetes". Just like our bodies, our brains are thought to produce insulinnecessary for the survival of our brain cells. Through a process identical to the one that causes diabetes, our brain cells become insulin resistant and no longer absorb the sugar required for normal function. They then run out of fuel and lose the ability to carry out complex processes, like forming memories. Fatty Liver Disease Along the way to all these diseases, sugar - and particularly processed fructose - causes liver damage which can result in Fatty Liver Disease, a condition where an excess of fat from the metabolism of sugar remains in the organ. FLD results in cirrhosis, liver cancer, and eventual liver failure. To top it all off, sugar interferes with immune function, creates imbalances in our digestive systems, is responsible for mood swings and irritability, and causes tooth decay. The News Isn't All Bad The good news is that reducing the amount of sugar we eat can reverse much of the damage it causes. Xndo recommends a food pyramid that avoids sugar as much as possible, emphasizes protein and fiber, and limits carbohydrate. We provide the tools and products to help you achieve that. 
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  6. You're fit, but are you healthy?

    Health and fitness are not the same thing. At 46 Andrew Boardman was the fittest he had ever been in his life. When he walked to the starting line of a marathon in Blackburn on August 3 2016 he expected to finish well, but he never made the race. He collapsed with a massive stroke minutes before the start. Less than 24 hours later he was dead. Mr Boardman's death shocked his family and friends, because as an experienced marathoner and triathlete he was extremely fit. His case could be viewed as isolated if not for numerous other examples of athletes dying under similar circumstance. Their deaths only underscore the reality that being fit does not mean being healthy. Fit Does Not Mean Healthy Healthy is defined as "being well", and basically means that your body is functioning properly. Fitness relates to stamina and strength. If you are fitter you can run faster and longer, lift heavier weight, and perform physical activities more easily, but it doesn't necessarily mean you are healthier. After many studies there is no clear evidence that fitness alone leads to longer and healthier life. The truth is what you eat is more important for health than how much you exercise. And because of the impact food has on your body it is actually possible to be fit and unhealthy at the same time. Regular exercise can be a part of staying healthy, but a conflict between fitness and health arises when exercise is accompanied by unhealthy eating. For example, for a long time it was believed that carbohydrate increased athletic response and recovery. The latest research is showing that a high carb diet is not the best energy solution, and is actually harmful in the long term even at increased fitness levels. The reason for this is that high levels of carbohydrate passing through your system increases the sugar that your body has to process. Not only is carbohydrate more easily turned into body fat, too much of it places stress upon your body, contributing to a state of inflammation, and leading to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and disease. There is new evidence that a high carb diet in elite athletes who would be considered by most to be “very healthy” actually contributes directly to increased levels of heart disease. You Are What You Eat By eating the wrong way you will become more unhealthy even if you exercise to get fitter. Exercise and fitness can’t make up for bad eating. Ultimately, you are what you eat. The solution is to combine a healthy diet with any fitness activities. At Xndo we recommend a balanced low carb diet with a variety of foods low in carbs and sugar, high in protein, with healthy fats and lots of vegetables for fibre. We provide the tools and products to achieve that balance. In short, chase protein, indulge in fiber, enjoy the fat, and avoid carbs. That way you can be both fit, and healthy.
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