What your DNA says about your health

Have you ever had your DNA analysed for your health? I'm not talking about the ancestral analysis people are doing to see if they are part Cherokee American Indian, but rather your individual DNA make-up that predisposes you to certain health conditions?

Maybe you're asking why you would want to do such a DNA test? I did it about 2 months ago and let me tell you the results are fascinating. It starts off with a quick swab in the mouth using an ear bud to get the DNA needed (and you were worried they would be taking blood from your eyeballs). 

DNAlysis Biotechnology has fast-become known as one of the leading genetic testing laboratories in in the world with a wide range of DNA tests available in the nutrigenomic and pharmacogenomic spheres (I copied that from their website... I can't pronounce those words let alone know what they mean) and they are based in Johannesburg (Illovo). 

In my layman's explanation of how it all works: we are all individually hardwired a certain way, in other words, predisposed to certain conditions, but your lifestyle and diet and can give the genes a helping hand if you know what genes need the help. That's where DNAlysis can make a difference.
DNAlysisThey process the DNA in their own state of the art laboratory in Illovo and give you the results a few weeks later. The costs are a few grand, depending on what aspects you want analysed. These are your options:
I had the reports done for:

There was over 40 pages of results and fortunately they have a trained professional that can help break down the data and give you information that you can action on. Without going into all the details about my specific results, here's some of the valuable information linked to my DNA:
  • I don't have fat genes, which means I'm not naturally prone to putting on weight. If I do... I'm stuffing my face with too much food
  • Carbs are not my friend. I should try steer clear of too many.
  • I have a propensity for soft tissue injury, so I need to warm up and stretch more at gym (I once tore my calf muscle by playing squash without warming up. I spent 3 weeks on crutches)
  • I have a high risk for nicotine addiction. Thank heavens I've never smoked as I might struggle to quit.
  • I have a low risk for Alzheimers
  • I'm prone to inflammation when injured, but my body doesn't always know when to switch off the healing process. Consuming Omega 3 oils can assist this gene
  • I have poor methylation (which has to do with the way your body fights free radicals, which could make me more prone to cancer... I had stage 3 cancer as a teenager). Apparently something as simple as consuming Brazil nuts daily (they contain an enzyme called selenium) which can assist this gene.
So, do you NEED to do this analysis? Not at all. But knowledge is power, and having DNAlysis test your DNA could definitely give you a nudge in the right direction!

Check out their website:

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Whipping my body back into shape

I've always been someone that looks after myself. I generally watch what I eat and go to gym a few times a week, but over time the food rules relax and before I know it I have an extra 5cm around the waist. It's so easy to say "yes" to the fries when you order out. About once a year I get a bee in my bonnet and get really strict with eating and lose those darn unwanted centimetres.

I am not some amazing fitness guru or health expert, but simply an average guy doing the basics. If you feel like losing a few kgs this is what I do:


Opti Grill
You have to have the correct tools in your box. First up, I always use my Optigrill to cook meat. It's like a George Foreman griller on steroids. It has intelligent settings so you don't have to keep opening the grill to see if your meat is done the way you like it. It measures the thickness of the cuts and knows how long the timing should be according to whether you want your meat rare, medium or well done.

It's great for steaks, chops and chicken. My tip though, if you're cooking chicken breasts (which are renowned for being dry), take them off the grill when it says they are cooked "rare". They are not under cooked, but you are able to catch them before they turn into the bottom of your shoe.

Cleaning it is easy as the grill plates just pop off and you can put them in the dishwasher.

Nutri bullet
My next little bit of magic is the NutriBullet. I use this if I feel like a mid-morning shake. The advantage of the NutriBullet over a traditional blender is that it doesn't remove any of the fibre, so you retain a lot more of the goodness. You can blend almost anything in this thing (I usually have a smoothie at about 9am, made up of a banana, carrot and almonds). It takes a few seconds to make and without too many loose bits, you can pop the container in the dishwasher afterwards. I normally make the smoothie in the morning and keep it in a flask until I feel like having it.

The trick to any healthy eating is to be prepared. If you're hungry and have nothing but junk food around you, you're gonna eat it. I am a tupperware king. If I know I'm out for most the day I'll make sure I have my smoothie and packed lunch with me.

Food rules

So what is lunch? In fact, what is breakfast and dinner? Let me say right off the bat, that I am not banting. Why, you may ask? Because I don't want to. It's as simple as that. I find that a lot of banting people try and indoctrinate you as if on some evangelical mission where they have to convert 5 people a day.

So I have no prescriptive eating plan, I just use some simple guidelines.

1) Gone is nibbing the girls' food (they often eat healthy, but also love things like chicken nuggets and mac & cheese).

2) Gone is the wine. Shit, how I miss that. They say a glass of red wine a night is fine, but my problem is, one glass is just enough for me to be happy enough to relax the rules and have a second glass, and a third. And then, after 3 glasses of wine, I want chocolate. So, no wine. Instead I drink about 3 cups of decaf green tea each night. It might not be wine in my hand, but at least I'm still sipping something in the evening.

3) Chocolate and all other forms of candy gone too

4) No sauces. If I want to juice up my meal I use olive oil or some apple cider vinegar

5) I'll sometimes have avo on cracker bread, but won't tuck into normal bread

By sticking to these rules I find that I can see a difference after 2 days. I wouldn't have dropped body fat that quickly, but that bloatedness disappears around my gut.

Some meals

Some people want examples of meals I eat so here are one or two things. It's by no means prescriptive and I'm not saying this is all you must eat. Just be sensible.

Woolies egg whitesBreakfast is always a double plated affair:
1) Small bowl of instant jungle oats (mixed with water and tiny splodge of milk). I sometimes add a squirt of honey

2) Egg whites mixed together and scrambled in a frying pan (use spray and cook, not oil). There's a lot of debate around eating the yolk, with latest research saying all is good as it contains a lot of the good fats and vitamins. I just prefer not to eat it when being strict, simply because that's what I've always done and I'm a creature of habit.  A good buy is the Woolies egg whites, which works out cheaper than buying the full eggs and tossing the yolk.

Mid morning I tend to have my nutri-bullet shake. I also carry 2 or 3 hard boiled eggs with me for those moments I want to pop something in my mouth (I squeeze the yolk out like a ripe pimple, but once again not saying YOU mustn't eat it).

Lunch/dinner is often the same thing:
1) Grilled chicken (cooked on the Optigrill)
2) Mashed sweet potato (it tastes just like normal mash. Simply buy the sweet potato in the packet from woolies, cook it in the microwave and then mash it will a little milk, salt and pepper)
3) Broccoli (once again, just steam a whole packet from Woolies and keep it in tupper ware)

Be creative, change the broccoli for cauliflower. If you're craving something like french fries, buy whole sweet potato, cut it into slices and grill it on the Optigrill. Have some avo on cracker bread. It's not about eating so clean that you might as well prepare for a bodybuilding competition. It's just about being sensible with your choices.

I still have a cheat meal and a glass (or 3) of wine once a week, and I'll lose a few kg over the next 2 to 3 weeks.

I'll post a before and after pic!

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My book is out soon. Here is the trailer...

I literally mean a "trailer"!  When I was growing up in England, I lived in a trailer park...


My autobiography is almost finished! The manuscript has been written and edited. The cover has been designed and the blurb at the back has been put together. Yesterday I was selecting photographs to go in the middle. "Beyond the Baldness" on shelves in time for Christmas. 

Speaking of Christmas, it's hard to believe that it's just 2 months away. My girls are already asking about when they are getting a new video from Father Christmas. Each year "he sends them one". Actually, it's from a great website called The site goes ready to produce videos sometime in November and they do a fantastic job of it. Here is Alyssa's from last year:

It's well worth leaving your email address on their website and they'll let you know when their 2015 Christmas portal is up and running! 

When it comes to Christmas gifts, this may be one worth considering... a NutriBullet. I received one yesterday and am giving it a test for a few days to evaluate it's practicality and usefulness. What I do like about it already, compared to normal juicers, this one retains all the pulp and fibre that is needed. I'll write a blog about it in a few days. 


Thanks for popping onto my blog! Chat soon! 

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The V snip done... easy peasy

For some guys, this is the much anticipated report back!

Right off the bat though, just to clarify when I said I was going for the snip, I meant vasectomy...  and not circumcision (it took me a while to figure out why some people on twitter were telling me to lay in salt water after the op).

Yesterday morning I was a little apprehensive on arriving at Morningside Clinic, but I think I was more anguished because, in preparation for the anaesthetic, I couldn't have my morning cup of coffee:


Fortunately, the kind Client Services team promised me a strong double espresso after the op so I calmed down, and started thinking about what was about to happen. Some dude was about to place his hand on my nut (yes, singular) and slice open the sac. That caused me to scream again:


Fortunately, and I think some guys really want to know this, they don't remove the ball. They simply snip and clip the pipe that transports the wigglies to the river of fluid. So when all is healed, you still have the fluid, just no swimmers. Your nut also still makes testosterone which enters your system via the blood stream (you don't fire your testosterone via your gun chamber anyway).

Layman's medical lesson over.  And I did have to lay down for a while after waking up:


All in all though I was in the hospital at 8am and on my feet and out by 11am:


It was such a small op that, in all honesty there is absolutely to be apprehensive about. Just make sure you remember the difference:
A urologist ties the tube
A vet chops off the nuts

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Okay boys, I'm going in!

Next Wednesday it's "snip snip"!

It's the conversation so many couples have once they've decided not to have any more kids. Nicole and I have 2 beautiful girls, and based on my history with testicular cancer, they were miracles in themselves.

Having said that, we've decided we DEFINITELY don't want an unexpected third child... and so I'm taking the plunge. Or rather the urologist is.

To cut through the misconceptions, it doesn't make you "limp" and they don't chop your balls off. They just tie a tube. In fact, since I only have one ball, I should get a 50% discount.

So for the lads who are contemplating having it done, I'll let you know how that goes.They say you're on the operating table for about 30 minutes, and in total only in the hospital for a morning. The next day you're back on your feet (even if you're walking like John Wayne with a swollen nut).

The irony is, after the op, you're supposed to "fire your gun" another 20 times before your pipes are considered wiggly-free. That's a LOT of firing if you've been married for while!

Anyway, I'm telling you about it on my blog because so many guys are scared of doing it. I'm more scared of an unexpected pregnancy, so the snip is looking quite favourable.

If my voice sounds a little higher next Saturday... you know why!


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Pilgrim's progress

The surgery went well. Tayla-Jean is home and back to her old self... with stitches on her chin. She was surprisingly calm when she had to go to hospital yesterday. I think now that she understands what its about and its to make her better, the rationalisation helped her deal with it. Besides, she's loving all the get well pressies!

Staying with Tayla-Jean, she is usually quite "camera averse" and does not like anyone pointing one at her (even Dad). So we were extremely happy that she was in the mood to pose for her annual school pics (before the chin incident):


Alyssa was also at the doctor yesterday as she has Pharyngitis (which I had last week). Her temperature has stabilised again and now it's just getting through a course of meds to sort out the issue.

Onto other news. Yesterday we wrapped up one of the TV shows I do for the year. For the last 13 years I've been hosting a Standard Bank show that is broadcast up Africa. Yesterday we filmed on the top balcony of the Standard Bank building in Rosebank. It has quite a view!


Onto my quest to shed a few kilos. I'm getting used to not drinking wine at night (never thought I'd say that!). Green tea is the replacement (if you do it, make sure it's the decaf one otherwise you'll be up all night like I was the first night I did it!). I've realised it's more about sipping SOMETHING at night, rather than it HAVING to be wine. I usually have 3 cups of decaf tea to make up for the 3 glasses of wine I was always having:


This morning I was down a few more hundred grams and sitting at 83kg (from 86.9kg last Monday) and this old body is starting to take shape again:


Another 2kg to go and i'll be where I want to be. I didn't go to gym at all last week as I had Pharyngitis, so looking forward to burning a few calories this week.

Are you doing it with me? If so, let me know how it's going!

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Surgery today

Sunday was just one of THOSE days where everything goes pear shaped.

In fact it started on Saturday when Eskom kicked in load shedding at Forest Hill City at 2pm, slap bang in the middle of payday weekend trade. I lost just over 50% of my turnover as everyone just left the mall and it never recovered after that. Hoping to make things up yesterday turned out to be an absolute disaster because thieves stole City of Tshwane power cables (for the fourth time in a month) and we could not trade at all. I lost 100% of my turnover for the busiest Sunday of the month.

Our frozen yoghurt machines pull a lot of 3 phase power, so as a small store, we simply can't afford a generator big enough (besides there would be no place to put it). But, even if we had a generator, with everyone leaving the mall during a blackout, we'd be trying to sell to nobody. The only option is for the mall to have a generator to power the stores, costing a couple of million. I feel it's their duty to keep feet in the mall, because these constant power cuts (whether by Eskom or thieves) is seriously damaging the reputation of Forest Hill City Mall. Businesses will start folding if this isn't sorted out soon.

As if that wasn't enough, we had our medical emergency on Sunday afternoon. Tayla-Jean slipped and smashed her chin into a tiled floor. It burst open like an over ripe tomato. As you read this blog today, she is in hospital where a plastic surgeon is operating on her. She has been very brave throughout the whole ordeal, but Nicole and I are wrecks!


And then the icing on the cake was Alyssa developing a 39C temperature last night. Fortunately this morning the temperature has subsided.

So forgive me for not sticking to my clean eating 100%, but by the end of Sunday I needed a cheat glass of wine! At least my meals were still on track and it's been a weekend of egg and chicken salad. Having dropped 3.5kg last week, I'm determined to drop another 1 or 2 this week to get the body fat percentage down.


On a lighter note, since I couldn't be at my store with no power, I joined the Vespa team for the biggest Vespa gathering ever in Johannesburg on Sunday morning. About 200 of us made our way through Sandton with the final stopping point being Parkhurst. We looked like a swarm of bees descending upon the restaurants late Sunday morning!


Here's to a good week ahead, where my girls get better, the power stays on, the Vespa stays upright, and my weight comes down.


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Day 5 of clean eating

It's now the beginning of day 5 of clean eating. I've had a few tweets from people (yes, TWEETS, not SWEETS), saying that they're doing it with me, so good to have you on board!

Yesterday's breakfast was once again a bowl of jungle oats and hot water along with a 4 egg white pancake.

About 3 hours later I was nibbly and chowed boiled egg whites I brought to work. It's not always the most appealing looking snack:


What you can't really notice in the above pic is that I'm in my SMOOCH store office, which is also the sweets storeroom. Packed behind me are 4 shelves full of candy and chocolate. I was good though, and just chugged down my eggs.

At 1pm I ate some left over hake from the day before (always a good idea to make more than you need so you have some food in the fridge when you need it):


And then yesterday afternoon I bought a gadget that I think is going to change the way I cook food from now on. My George Foreman packed up last week and I popped off to GAME to get a new one. While there I came across this machine, the TEFAL OPTI GRILL:

It retails for about R2600 (double the price of a Foreman), but the technology attached to it is brilliant! Once you tell it what you're cooking, its sensors measure the thickness of the food and it knows exactly how long to cook it for, even indicating when your steak is rare, medium or well done. It also has an option to cook chicken, fish etc from frozen.

Initially I thought it was a bit of a sales gimmick, so I gave it a test run with some ostrich steak. I'm no chef so I usually end up with a clump of tough meat, but this machine got it spot on:


The nicest part about the Opti-Grill is that you don't keep opening it up to check the food. It tells you when it's ready! So this was my 5pm meal.  I'm gonna try it with chicken a little later today and will let you know how it turns out. Oh, by the way, to clean it, simply click the heat plates off and stack them in the dishwasher! (This is not a sponsored blog. Mark simply likes chatting about gadgets that really work).

Nicole and I went out last night so I got a little nibbly around 8pm. We made a pitstop at Mezepoli and I snacked on a chicken kebab and some grilled calamari.


I'm showing all my meal pics because it keeps me in check, and also just goes to show that there's a variety of stuff to eat. Once again, it's no special meal plan, just clean eating. As of this morning I have gone from 86.9kg to 84.5kg since Monday.

Onto other news, I'll be a guest on the Casper Rasper Show on CliffCentral at 12pm today. Casper de Vries is a legendary South African comedian and I can't wait to hear how he rips me off!

And then, I'm back on radio tomorrow at 12pm with the Saturday Choose-a-Choon on Hot 91.9FM (which is now available on the TUNE IN app as well). I'll be playing all your favourite tunes from the 80s to now.

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UPDATE: Day 4 and 2kg lost

So it's been 3 full days that I haven't had a single cheat... and that means not even a single glass of wine. My replacement (which is not quite the same)... green tea!


I had 3 cups last night so landed up peeing like a racehorse during Johannesburg's violent storm at around 12am.

Dinner was also healthy. While the girls were tucking into spaghetti bolognese (which I LOVE), I was going with the healthier option, grilled hake and salad:


The good news is, I am already down from 86.9kg to 84.7kg. Not bad results. I think I'll continue posting my lunches and dinners on the blog so it'll force me to not cheat. And, I have laryngitis and feeling shitty so haven't even been burning the calories at gym this week.

It'll be a little harder tonight though as my mate owns Churchill's in Melrose Arch and we are there for his Christmas party this evening. It's going to be difficult just drinking water and not having a glass of wine or champagne, but I do things all or nothing. There can be NO cheating. My goal is to get down to 82kg (losing a total of about 5kg) by the end of next week.

I hate doing things alone. Why don't you do the healthy thing with me? (For details about my eating regime, see previous blog).

By the way, on a different note, lots of people have been asking how to listen to Hot 91.9 if they are not n Jo'burg North. As of yesterday, Hot 91.9 is now on TUNEIN Radio, so you can either listen via or download the TuneIn app to your phone!

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The Pilgrim household lurgies.

Just a quick morning blog from the Pilgrim household.

When one person becomes ill it has a domino effect on everyone. Little Alyssa has been ill with tummy problems for about 2 weeks. On Friday Nicole came down with flu and just as she gets better Tayla-Jean gets it,  so she's not at school today.

I'm also still man-down from the bloody spider bite. It's now 5 days since I had surgery where they cut out the infected flesh.  In fact, based on the colour of my bandage right now, it looks like someone's slaughtered a cat under there and I'm back off to the surgeon this morning to make sure the wound is indeed healing the way it should. I won't show you another picture!

Someone used to seeing blood and gore is my cardiologist. This last Friday was quite an emotional afternoon as I was booked to give a motivational talk at a Cardiologist conference and in the audience was the heart surgeon that saved my life. I've spoken to literally hundreds of audiences over the years, but this was a hard, yet immensely gratifying one as I was able to personally thank him whilst he sat with his colleagues and peers.

Dr Steingo will always be my hero. In fact, I'll never forget bumping into him the elevator the day Tayla-Jean was born and thanking him for saving my heart, so that my daughter could steal it.

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Poo, fish and other bits

So why does my daughter feel the need to poo in the bath EVERY single night? She's like Pavlov's dog hearing the bell ring, every time Alyssa gets in the water, she drops a parcel. I'm not going to go into any graphic detail, suffice to say that even with a rubber glove, it's still one hell of a mess to have to clean up!

It takes me back to the classic scene in Caddyshack: