‘Clean eating’: How good is it for you?

‘Clean eating’: How good is it for you?

'Clean eating': How good is it for you?



Young people are being warned that faddy diets are putting their health at risk.

The National Osteoporosis Society found that a fifth of under-25s were cutting out or reducing dairy in their diet, which can affect their bones.

One diet that – in its extreme form – recommends avoiding dairy is “clean eating”.

What is clean eating?

The idea is to only eat “clean” foods by cooking from scratch, choosing foods in their natural state, and eliminating refined sugar.

More extreme versions might exclude gluten, grains, dairy – or even encourage a raw food diet.

What’s on the menu?

A clean eater for three years, starts the day with a bowl of smoothie, frozen fruit, fresh fruit, oats and a nut butter.

 'Clean eating': How good is it for you?

Lunch might be a homemade soup or a mozzarella salad. For dinner a sweet potato bake or grass-fed, free range meat and homemade chips.

Other clean-eating classics are the kale smoothie, smashed avocado, chia seeds and quinoa.

Where does it come from?

It’s been around for about a decade.

A-list celebrities Gwyneth Paltrow, Katy Perry, Miranda Kerr and Jessica Alba are all reportedly fans. But it’s foodie vloggers and bloggers who have given the concept wings.

Clean Eating Alice, also known as Alice Liveing, has half a million Instagram followers and two cookbooks to her name.

In a recent interview with the Sun, she said she chose the term “clean eating” because it “perfectly encapsulated everything she wanted to do to to her own diet – clean it up, get rid of a lot of the processed rubbish and begin eating real food again.

She never once thought about restricting whole food groups from her diet, or placing metaphorical labels on foods and seeing them as either clean or unclean.”
Ella Mills – Deliciously Ella – thinks the word “clean” has come to mean something negative

 'Clean eating': How good is it for you?


Food blogger Ella Mills – better known as Deliciously Ella – has distanced herself from the “clean-eating” label.

In BBC documentary “Clean Eating: The Dirty Truth” she said the word “clean” had become too “loaded”.

Clean now implies dirty and that’s negative. When she first read the term, it meant natural, kind of unprocessed, and now it doesn’t mean that at all. It means diet. It means fad.

How widespread is it?

It’s unclear. Catherine Collins says it’s more of a lifestyle choice than a diet, which seems to appeal to teenage girls and women in their 20s.

It requires attention to detail and a certain attitude – you won’t find many 40-year-old mums with children doing it.

Is it good for you?

Pippa Selby started clean eating after suffering joint pain and dizzy spells following the birth of her daughter.

The 29-year-old picture researcher from east London says it was expensive changing her diet, but it has made a difference to how she feels.

But there was a point when she had to “step away” from it.

It’s easy to become obsessive about it.

It can be so restrictive and there’s so much on social media that you can feel under attack if you don’t eat the right foods.

The inference of “clean eating” is that a vegetable-based diet will make you slimmer, fitter, more attractive, and make you live longer.

When bloggers recommend cutting out major food groups like dairy and wheat without suggesting an alternative.

If you don’t look like Miranda Kerr now, says Collins, it’s probably not going to happen – her looks are down to good genes, a strict diet and exercise.

Outwardly, you can look vibrant and beautiful, but inwardly your body can be crying out for nutrition.

In 2010 Gwyneth Paltrow had the early stages of osteopenia, a precursor to the brittle bone disease osteoporosis, usually seen in women after the menopause.

Osteopenia can occur when someone cuts out food groups such as dairy, especially if it is a lifelong habit.

The most recent National Diet and Nutrition Study found the calcium intake of one in six women under 24 was deemed to be worryingly low.

A Mediterranean diet is the “nutritional blueprint for all ages”.

 'Clean eating': How good is it for you?

It has been advised to young women to think about what’s missing from those delicious-looking plates, posted on Instagram by the skinny and beautiful.

It’s a snapshot of their diet. There might have been a load of chocolate biscuits and purging in between.

The best diet is a varied one. A Mediterranean-style one of olive oil, vegetables, lean meat and a handful of nuts to snack on is a nutritional blueprint for people of all ages.

The more restrictive and the more caveats, the less healthy the diet.

What does the NHS say?

The NHS website offers eight tips for healthy eating:

  • Base your meals on starchy carbohydrates
  • Eat lots of fruit and veg
  • Eat more fish – including a portion of oily fish
  • Cut down on saturated fat and sugar
  • Eat less salt – no more than 6g a day for adults
  • Get active and be a healthy weight
  • Don’t get thirsty
  • Don’t skip breakfast

Bright light increases sexual satisfaction in men

Exposure to bright light can lead to greater sexual satisfaction in men who have low sexual desire.

Exposure to bright light can lead to greater sexual satisfaction in men who have low sexual desire.

Scientists from the University of Siena in Italy found that using a light box, similar to those used to treat some forms of depression, increased testosterone levels.

And this led to greater reported levels of sexual satisfaction. But they said more research was needed before it could be used as a treatment.

The researchers carried out their study on 38 men who had been diagnosed with disorders which cause a lack of interest in sex.

One half of the group was treated with a light box, while the other half was treated with an adapted light box which gave out significantly less light.

They were treated for half an hour early in the morning for two weeks.

When they retested the participants, they found that the group exposed to the bright light tripled their sexual satisfaction scores while the control group’s scores stayed roughly the same.

The researchers also found that testosterone levels increased in men who had been given the active light treatment from around 2.1 ng/ml to 3.6 ng/ml – but the control group showed no increase.

Prof Andrea Fagiolini, who led the study, said the increased levels of testosterone explained the greater reported sexual satisfaction.

Light therapy is where a special lamp called a light box is used to simulate exposure to sunlight.

A light box contains very bright fluorescent tubes – usually at least 10 times the intensity of household lights.

They are commonly used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder.

A patient looks into the light box and when light hits the back of the eye, messages are passed to the part of the brain that controls sleep, appetite, sex drive, temperature, mood and activity.

Some people seem to need a lot more light than others for their body to function normally.
Mimics nature

And he went on to explain how the light box treatment works. He said: “In the northern hemisphere, the body’s testosterone production naturally declines from November through until April and then rises steadily through the spring and summer with a peak in October.

“You see the effect of this in reproductive rates, with the month of June showing the highest rate of conception. The use of the light box really mimics what nature does.”

Prof Fagiolini said he thought the light therapy inhibited the pineal gland in the centre of the brain, which allowed more testosterone to be produced.

There are several possible reasons for lack of sexual desire and treatment depends on the underlying cause.

It can be treated with testosterone injections, antidepressants, and other medications.

The researchers believe that light therapy in the future may offer the benefits of medication, but with fewer side effects.

But he said they were not yet at the stage where they could recommend it as a clinical treatment.

The paper was presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) Congress in Vienna.